One parent's opinion on Southwestern

<p>My kid was accepted at several different schools, but liked the size and atmosphere of Southwestern. Largest class as a Freshman has been 26, which is a big difference from most schools. Only Rice really compares to the ability for the student to interact with professors. </p>

<p>However, you should know going in that most of those professors are very Progressive politically and that those beliefs are taught in the classroom. I would expect there to be some of that, but I expected that the purpose of a liberal arts education was exposure to a broad range of thought. That is not the case here. </p>

<p>I was surprise to hear of Economics professor discussing the stimulus failed because it wasn't large enough, that the government needs to do more to create jobs by spending more money and hiring more people to work for the government. </p>

<p>Environmental science class is about global warming. Global warming is taught as a fact and it is destroying the earth. It is caused by a petroleum based capitalism society, which is driven by the inherent greed found in a capitalistic economy. Our current petroleum based capitalism economy needs to be dismantled and the world economy needs to be rebuilt on a foundation of some type of green energy capitalism society. I was more then a little surprised that this was being taught in TEXAS.</p>

<p>My spouse and I have been very concerned about the political side of the education being provided at Southwestern. Progressive liberal politics seems to be a core part of every class, and opinions are presented as facts with no opposite or dissenting opinion or point of view presented or discussed. We're asked our kid if they have challenged any of the progressive 'facts' being taught, however there is a fear that doing so would jeopardize grades.</p>

<p>My spouse and I regret our Southwestern decision, and have encouraged our kid to transfer to a different school. We want our kid to be exposed to a broad range of theories and thoughts, and let them sort through it all and determine what they believe and we want them to have to skills to defend and debate their beliefs. That is not happening at Southwestern. Liberal progressive ideas are taught, researched by students, and papers written detailing that train of thought. As conservative Christians, we are alarmed at the thought of paying $40,000+ a year for this school to push our child in the opposite direction then they were raised. </p>

<p>So yes, Southwestern provides a lot of interaction with professors. And yes, Southwestern does a great job in getting kids to express and defend a thought/belief. Just be aware that they are not permitted to express and defend THEIR thoughts and beliefs, but the beliefs of the professors. And those beliefs may be quite different then yours.</p>

<p>Wow, is there anything else you'd like to include? Maybe the fact that Southwestern is a "green" campus where environmentally-friendly building materials are used and where they try to cut down on the use of paper and plastic in the dining hall . . . you know, liberal left-leaning stuff like that?!???</p>

<p>Seriously, I can't believe the one-side tone of your post. "Progressive liberal politics seems to be a core part of every class . . . ", are you kidding? EVERY CLASS????? Yes, pleeeeaaase have your kid transfer. My child is also finishing up this year as a freshman and I couldn't have a more different opinion.</p>

<p>Not interested in getting into some internet debate. But clearly my kid has not attended 'all' classes offered. So while I can not edit my post, let me say that I misspoke. I should of said '...a high percentage of the classes that my kid has attended". I could of provided other examples, but did not believe it necessary to make the point behind my opinion. </p>

<p>Any reasonable person understands the difference between having a green campus, and teaching the dismantling of our petroleum based capitalism economy and rebuilding a new economy built on green energy sources. And if you or anyone else has a better descriptive label of that theory (and others taught in other classes) then 'progressive liberal', I'm more then willing to restate my opinion using that label. It is a commonly used label, and I certainly did not intend to offend anyone by it's use. </p>

<p>Everyone has to make the difficult decision on which school appears to be the best fit for their requirements. I have read the books my kid is required to read and write on. My disappointment is not that these theories are being taught, but that ONLY these theories are being taught (again in a limited subset of classes in which we have experience). As I stated class size, access to professors, and class interaction is excellent. </p>

<p>Each student (and parent) may decide for themselves if that approach fits their requirements for a liberal arts education. My post is provided in the context of our experience, so that students and parents may make an informed decision. I am pleased to hear that Southwestern has met or exceeded your needs and expectations.</p>

<p>I know that this is an old post now two years ago, but these kids are most likely still enrolled in Southwestern. I wonder if upwardjoe was also interested in having creationism taught in the classes . . . . or was distracted by the theory of gravity presented as fact. After all, it’s a “theory” and several sides should be presented. Apples falling up lately anyone? </p>

<p>And there you have it. A response so thoughtful and balanced it could’ve come from a member of Southwestern faculty. The same group who hosted the Sex Symposium with such enlightened speakers as the author of ‘Joy of Anal Sex’, and Dan Savage who called the Bible “■■■■■■■■” and the Pope a “motherf**ker in a pointy hat” to provide balanced insight into the subject. A response that attacks the person who attempts to provide honest insight so that people may make an informed decision. </p>

<p>Back to the actual topic: There is one issue that has come up as a consequence of the combination of a being small school and the flexibility the university provides to it’s faculty. Professors appear to have the option on what classes they wish to teach from semester to semester. This is done not based upon demand, but rather just what a professor wishes to teach and they may wish not to teach the same class two semesters in a row… As a junior, my kid was unable to get take a prerequisite class required for their senior level classes for their major. That created a position where my kid is going into senior year without having taken the prerequisite class for senior year classes. We were facing having enough credits graduate, but not with the desired major we were expecting the school to provide. After some tense emails and conversations, my kid will now be taking both classes at the same time next semester. Not an ideal learning situation. </p>

<p>So again the basic question is: what is the priority of Southwestern University? Is it provide a deep understanding of chosen subject major in order to prepare the student for a career in the real word? Or it is to create an environment where teaching progressive social ideas take priority over all other learning? Going to the Sex Symposium to listen to Dan Savage was mandatory, but having a professor repeat a class to accommodate students who were blocked from signing up the first semester is not. </p>

<p>I see nothing wrong with what they are teaching… sounds like facts to me (including the facts of life, I guess, but they ARE college students). </p>

<p>maybe you should let your kid get on with his life including being exposed to the broader world. And probably smarter people that he has been so far.</p>

<p>By the way - the idea that the stimulus was too small was not that controversial an opinion. The evils of the stimulus were more of a glen beck-hyped phenomenon that anything else.</p>

<p>During the recession many states laid off hundreds of thousands of state employees, teachers, public service employees including peace officers, and the idea, which had wide support, was to provide stimulus funds to the states to rehire many of these. That wasn’t actually all THAT controversial - it is the kind of block funding the Republicans have long favored - but politics got in the way. Its not exactly some wild outlandishly idea that doesn’t belong in college class.</p>

<p>Get a grip.</p>

<p>Wow, I am glad I found this thread. Southwestern only recently landed on our radar. All the things the OP has disliked (though not, apparently, enough to have his kid transfer) are plusses for our family.</p>

<p>sally305, I have a child starting senior year at SU; he lives in an apartment in Georgetown, but we live about 20 minutes from there. Message me if you have any specific questions. </p>

I share the same concerns as the OP. As a white, American, married, heterosexual, male who makes his living in the oil and gas industry and lives in the suburbs, I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend my money sending my kids to a school that will spend 4 years indoctrinating them into the belief system that their father is essentially the devil incarnate and have them come home on breaks wanting to spit in my face. The OP is not concerned that these opinions are being expressed at Southwestern, only that they are being taught as FACT and a student’s grade is dependent upon accepting them as such. Just as you would be concerned if your child were taught NOTHING BUT creationism, he is similarly concerned about the one-sided nature of thought on campus. It is well known that college campuses are in general very hostile to what would be considered “conservative thought”. It is ironic because the liberal mantra is “tolerance” and "diversity”, however, the one thing liberals won’t tolerate is someone with an opinion that isn’t in lockstep with liberal orthodoxy (as evidenced by the vitriol and attack from the posters on this thread). Hence the requirement for “speech codes” on campus nowadays. My first courses in college were “Introduction to World Religion” and “Cultural Anthropology”. I was/am interested in learning more about the world and the wide range of ideas in it. So are my kids, and I expect them to have access to a wide range of ideas and then they can make their own decisions. It is for this reason that they, at the age of 12 and 9, have never been to a place of worship of any kind. I’ll let them figure out what they believe on their own and I will do my best to provide them with the resources necessary when asked, but I will not have them indoctrinated into any belief system, whether it is by a church or a university. I appreciate the OP for posting what he did. This is exactly the kind of information other parents come on this site to find out, and those attacking him really need to check themselves.

PhiGam Thank you.

As graduation was yesterday, this will be my final post. As you may note from the number of postings, I don’t spend as much time here as some. I don’t have some agenda to convince people one way or the other. My opinion is simply that, based upon our experience. Everyone will face the decision of what schools are a good fit for them. My son knows my opinions and beliefs, The purpose/benefit of a Liberal Arts education is to provide a broader knowledge and understand outside of what he gets at home. But expose and understand is different than indoctrination. But again that is only one aspect of choosing a school…

How well does Southwestern prepare students for “What’s Next”? In the end, my son is happy with the education he received at Southwestern. He was a business major with a specialization in finance. He believes that he has a better understanding than his friends at UT and Baylor. UT business school offers much more class options, which drill down into a specific subject matter. Southwestern clearly does not. However in discussions with his friends, he believes much of their education was more about memorization in order to pass a test, than a real understanding of how and why businesses function. And his UT friends were a little shocked to learn my son frequently had dinner at his professor’s house. Having said that, understand that much of that was due to one professor (Andy) who has quite a bit of actual business experience rather than spending their entire career in academia. So again, because Southwestern is a small school, the gain or loss of any one professor may have a substantial impact on the quality of the program. If you want to learn how to do data modeling, this is not the place. But as a business person with responsibility for hitting revenue numbers, budgets, hiring and firing people, I’ll take someone who understands the big picture, with good analytic and decision skills. I can hire an intern to build data models. So here’s my shout out to Andy: Thank you. While I didn’t get a chance to speak with you yesterday, we have met. When we were there 5 years ago for a senior day, we discussed the textbooks you use and you pulled out a copy of Porter’s ‘Competitive Analysis’ . That conversation was a key element of us choosing Southwestern.

From the graduation yesterday, Southwestern has a larger science program than their business program. There seemed to be many more chemistry and biology graduates than anything else. I can not speak to this program, other than to say they are adding a new facility with new labs. I assume that many of those student are heading to graduate school to continue their education. And several art majors, some of whom will probably be working at the cell phone store later this year. Which brings up the next topic…

Career Services. Career services at Southwestern is terrible. And I mean really, really terrible. I met one of their people a year or two ago, and my understanding was she was a Southwestern graduate that wan unable to get a job after graduation so Southwestern hired her. That’s pretty much what she told me. At the first meeting with Career Services my son was told to go to and search for companies he was interested in working for, and use LinkedIn to try to network with people who worked there. His second interaction with Career Services he asked for any alumni that worked in finance or investment banking that he could try to connect with. He received none, not even a response to his request. Which was interesting because the commencement speaker yesterday was a partner at Ernst & Young doing business development and consulting, he sits on the board of trustees of the university. Add to that another speaker was the President of the alumni association and a university trustee who is a director at Credit Suisse investment bank in Houston. The total contribution from Southwestern’s Career Services was to print out a list of business in the Austin area, and to direct him to Maybe it’s different for different majors, or maybe their focus is helping students get into grad school, but the better MBA programs require a couple a years of real world experience as consideration for acceptance. So the bottom line here is, if you choose Southwestern you are own your own once they hand you that degree. There is no career services, no job fairs, no companies coming on campus to conduct interviews, and no alumni network.

The Paideia program is being changed. The school will attempt to weave different disciplines into everyone’s education. My son, a Paideia scholar, believes the result will be a mile wide and a foot deep. The proof will be in the execution and I suspect it may take a few years to get dialed in a methodology that accomplishes it’s goal.

President Burger seems to be a nice guy, although it is too early to tell which direction the university will go under his leadership. He is known to interact with students on campus, to the point of getting personally involved in helping with homework. I have attempted to call him on at least 3 occasions, and each time he had someone else return the call. Might be he is still adjusting in his transition from classroom to administrator. Southwestern is in a negative cash flow, and they had some donors cancel large financial commitments when he was chosen. As with any organisation, there is disagreement on direction, which turns into internal politics. Having a President that skateboards around campus such looks hip, but does little to actually prepare kids and launch them into the next phase of their life. Not surprisingly, I am not the type of person who supports spending money on “feel good” campus and social projects when the university is in the red. The core purpose of the university is to provide an education that will prepare students for their chosen career.

As I said, my son enjoyed his time at Southwestern, and is happy with the education he received. And that is in direct comparison in speaking with his friends at UT and Baylor about their experiences. The counter is their schools set up multiple job interviews, and each received several job offers to choose from. So while my son believes he received a better education, his friends are receiving about $20,000 more in starting salary. Of course 10 years from now their income will be based upon their talent and effort, but in the short term one of his UT business school friends has a starting salary $24,000 higher than his. Every school will have pluses and minuses. Hopefully my comments will provide insight for those who are making the difficult decision of ‘what’s the best fit’.

That’s it for me. I’m sure that those with more time so spend here will follow up with a counter opinion, If someone has a specific question for myself, or my son, send me a direct message. I believe those get forwarded via email, and I’ll do my best to respond.

I appreciate your thoughtful post. I cant say I agree with everything, but it is good to hear different opinions.

You comments on career services hit home. My kids don’t go to SW. One chose UT and the other chose a small LAC that resembles SW. We were also struck by the difference in job placement/recruiting between UT and smaller schools. I don’t think college should be treated as trade school, with the sole purpose being finding a job at the end, but thinking about placement is important. My LAC son will go into it knowing he will have to look more on his own, be more creative in finding a job.