Cover Story: View from Outside

How the 'experts' are ranking our area colleges

 


The 2002 college guides tell students and parents across the country the alleged bare facts about Greater Cincinnati schools — which student body is known for going on drunk benders, which university's classes are laid back, which institution has "crazy" professors.

From Barron's to the Fiske Guide, Kaplan's to the Insider's Guide to Colleges, each claims to be a campus expert. But there's little consistency to be found.

Some guides describe Greater Cincinnati as a large city, some label us a small town. Some say we're a pleasant Midwestern burg. Some call us a Southern locale. Some claim we're a cultural mecca, while others suggest we're a backwater village.

Here's what the major college guides for 2002 have to say about Greater Cincinnati's campuses. We've listed the colleges and universities as ranked by the number of guides that even bother to include them.

University of Cincinnati

Barron's Profiles of American Colleges
The Good News:
Nice diversity. "Students from 45 states and 78 foreign countries." The Bad News: Intolerable restriction. "Alcohol is not permitted (in dorms)." Inexplicable Remark: "All students may keep cars." Whew. We hate those colleges that confiscate your vehicle upon graduation.

College Board's College Handbook
The Good News: "82 percent of applicants admitted." The Bad News: "82 percent of applicants admitted."

Fiske Guide to Colleges
The Good News: "Most classes are laid back. ... One fine asset is the school's huge library. ... A good education at a reasonable price." The Bad News: "Some courses end up being quite large (in popular design courses, two people to a desk is not unusual). ... The criminal justice department needs to be improved. ... Dorms adequate but crowded. Cafeteria food bland but unappetizing. ... Somewhat run-down urban neighborhood." Error: "Location: City outskirts." Like West Chester or something? Inexplicable Remark: "The most popular roadtrip (among students is) white-water rafting in West Virginia."

Kaplan College Catalog
The Good News: "A strong engineering school with excellent music and performing arts programs." The Bad News: Actually, the engineering school doesn't have music or performing arts programs.

Peterson's
The Good News: "The University of Cincinnati is unified in its basic academic values but highly diverse in its educational opportunities." The Bad News: None.

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News: Ranked in third tier on magazine's list of "Best National Universities/Doctoral." Ranked No. 63 on list of "Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs." The Bad News: None.

Yale Daily News Insider's Guide to Colleges
The Good News: "Best part is only one real requirement: a year of freshman English." The Bad News: "Where students often reach consensus involves the food: 'It sucks.' 'It's disgusting.' 'Don't do it, man.' But again, there are always a few students who insist that 'it's edible.' " Error: "The largest cockroach in the world is rumored to live in Daniels." No, actually, it lives in Sawyer; it merely commutes every day to Daniels for brunch.

Miami University

Barron's Profiles of American Colleges
The Good News:
"Very competitive." "Zoology and accountancy are the strongest (programs) academically." The Bad News: "Graduate students teach 25 percent of introductory courses." (Comparably, no introductory courses are taught by graduate students at NKU.)

Fiske Guide to Colleges
The Good News: "One of 43 'Best Buy' Schools." The Bad News: Portrait of Indian chief still used in logo, despite university changing team name from Redskins to Redhawks out of respect for Native Americans. Inexplicable Remark: "Pulp and paper science degree is in a league of its own." Who gives a sheet?

Kaplan College Catalog
The Good News: "Educational best value. 330 companies recruited on campus." The Bad News: "Most popular major (is) marketing." Just what the world needs, more marketing majors. Inexplicable Remark: "80 percent of students graduated within six years." Remaining 20 percent suspected to be buried somewhere under campus ice hockey rink.

Princeton Review's Best 331 Colleges
The Good News: "Everyone gets drunk." The Bad News: "The 'Harvard of Ohio' forces you to work." "Miami cuts costs for everything from toilet paper to sub buns." Inexplicable Remark: "Great professors who would be seen as crazy in normal society."

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News: Ranked in second tier on magazine's list of "Best National Universities/ Doctoral." Ranked No. 28 on list of "Top 50 Public National Universities/Doctoral." The Bad News: None.

Yale Daily News Insider's Guide to Colleges
The Good News: "An active social scene set against a backdrop of colonial-style redbrick buildings." The Bad News: "Diversity at Miami (is described) as being 'diversity between what Abercrombie sweater you're wearing'." "Students agree that homosexual couples and interracial couples are not condoned by a large part of the student body." Inexplicable Remark: "Many students feel they take classes they do not want to take, only to fulfill a requirement." Duh, isn't that the very essence of college?

Northern Kentucky University

Barron's Profiles of American Colleges
The Good News:
"No introductory courses are taught by graduate students." The Bad News: "Non-competitive. ... 28 percent (of students) do not continue beyond their first year." Inexplicable Remark: "The mainframes are a DEC VAX 4600 and an AXP 4600." No way, that baby's a DEC VAX 5600 if we ever saw one.

College Board's College Handbook
The Good News: "Dormitories wired for high-speed internet access." The Bad News: "Special facilities (include) a cadaver lab." Bad karma in the cafeteria, we imagine. Error: "Commuter campus in small town." Inexplicable Remark: "Special study options include semester at sea." Well, sure, for those really annoying freshmen.

Kaplan College Catalog
The Good News for Males: "Undergrad enrollment: Men 41 percent, Women 59 percent." The Bad News for Males: "Single-sex dorms." Error: "Disabled accessible facilities." Yeah, if you can steer around the geese crap and newly poured cement. Inexplicable Remark: "Average student loan debt upon graduation is $18,900." Now wait a sec, if tuition is $2,754, and four years times $2,754 is merely $11,016, what gives here?

Peterson's
The Good News: "The campus is futuristic." The Bad News: "The university awards degrees in ... piano pedagogy." The shame of it all. Error: "Buildings are of modern, contemporary architectural design." Yes, if you consider Attica another example of modern, contemporary architectural design. Inexplicable Remark: "Applicants must meet the Kentucky pre-college curriculum requirements, with the exception of the world civilization requirement."

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News: Ranked in third tier on magazine's list of "Best Universities/Master's" in the South.

Xavier University

Barron's Profiles of American Colleges
The Good News:
"There are no fraternities or sororities." The Bad News: "There is cheerleading ... and pep band." Something to Brag On: "Library services include the card catalog." Ooooh. Inexplicable Remark: "Students may study abroad in Argentina." And the second prize is, I don't know, Guam?

College Board's College Handbook
The Good News for Liberal Peacenik Tree-Huggers: "Cooperative forestry and environmental program with Duke University." The Bad News for Liberal Peacenik Tree-Huggers: "Army, Air Force ROTC." Error: "Residential campus in large city." Large city? Inexplicable Remark: "3-day alcohol-free experience for freshmen." Meaning the other 362 days of the year are what? Inexplicable Remark No. 2: "Theme housing available." Mickey Mouse sheets and pillow cases extra.

Kaplan College Catalog
The Good News for Men: "Undergrad Enrollment: Men 41 percent, Women 59 percent." The Bad News for Men: "Women's Sports (include) rifle." Errors: Likely lots of them. An editor's note explains, "This school did not respond to a Kaplan request to confirm or correct the data." Inexplicable Remark: "Special Study Options (include) E. Pluribus Unum course, Manresa course."

Peterson's
The Good News: "Xavier is nationally recognized for providing a high-quality personalized education." The Bad News: "Majors offered (in) sports management/sports marketing." More spin doctors working for Mike Brown and Carl Lindner. Terrific. Error: "Xavier's own radio station (is) WVXU-FM." Yeah, and students see a lot of airtime on it.

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News: Ranked No. 7 on magazine's list of "Best Universities/Master's" in the Midwest. Ranked favorably on list of universities that graduate master's candidates with the least student loan debt. The Bad News: None.

Thomas More College
Barron's Profiles of American Colleges
The Good News:
"Competitive." The Bad News: Listed next to Transylvania University. Inexplicable Remark: "Popular campus events include Spring Pig Roast."

Kaplan College Catalog
The Good News: "Most popular majors of student body: Business, Biology." The Bad News: None.

Peterson's
The Good News: "Ranked in the top tier of Southern liberal arts colleges." The Bad News: "Southern?" It's 10 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. Inexplicable Remark: "Intramural sports offered include coed flag football, basketball and volleyball." Coed flag football?

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News: Ranked 17th on magazine's list of "Best Comprehensive Colleges in South." The Bad News: None.

College of Mount St. Joseph

Barron's Profiles of American Colleges
The Good News:
"Nursing, biology and art are the strongest (programs) academically." The Bad News: "The college offers study abroad ... in Korea." Inexplicable Remark: "Popular campus events include Mission Exploration Day."

College Board's College Handbook
The Good News: "Smoke-free campus." The Bad News: "85 percent of applicants admitted." Inexplicable Remark: "Freshmen permitted cars on campus." And sophomores, juniors and seniors aren't?

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News: Ranked eighth on magazine's list of "Great Schools at Great Prices in Midwest." Also ranked 18th on list of "Best Universities (for) Master's in Midwest." The Bad News: None.

Art Academy of Cincinnati

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News:
Ranked at top of magazine's list of "Best Schools With a Specialty/Fine Arts" in the nation. The Bad News: None.

The Union Institute

U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
The Good News:
Ranked in fourth tier on magazine's list of "Best National Universities/ Doctoral." The Bad News: Ranked "No. 1/Most Debt" on list of national universities that graduate doctoral candidates with the most student loan debt. ©

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