The 2015 edition of the Princeton Review takes the most popular college majors and then matches them with the 20 leading universities for those majors, as determined by student surveys and by advisers that the Review uses to assist with the rankings.
Four public universities–Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan, and UT Austin–made the top 20 lists for all three business-related majors covered by the Review: Accounting, Business/Finance, and Marketing.
In addition, James Madison University, the University of Houston, Michigan State, and Miami University made the top 20 lists in at least two of the business-related fields:
James Madison and the University of Houston–accounting and marketing; Michigan State–accounting and business/finance; and Miami University–business/finance and marketing.
Fifteen additional public universities made one of the top 20 lists:
Clemson, College of Charleston, Penn State, Temple, Texas A&M, Illinois, and UT Dallas–accounting.
Arizona State, Christopher Newport, CUNY Baruch, CUNY Brooklyn, Florida State, Portland State, Ohio University, and UC Berkeley–business/finance.
Central Florida, South Florida, and Mississippi–marketing.
Editor’s Note: Soon we will publish individual profiles of 2015 Rhodes Scholars who are also public honors students.
Yes, and to no one’s surprise, the Rhodes Scholarships continue to be awarded disproportionately to students from Ivy League universities, along with those from MIT and Stanford. But outstanding students from Alabama Birmingham, Maryland, Michigan, UNC Chapel Hill, Tennessee Chattanooga, UT Austin, and UW-Eau Claire managed to earn what is probably the most prestigious scholarship in the world. Six of the seven are present or former students in their schools’ honors programs or colleges.
The latest list of Rhodes Scholars (awarded in November 2014 for the year 2015) includes four recipients from Yale, three each from Brown and Princeton, two from Harvard and one each from Cornell and Dartmouth, giving the Ivy League 14 of the 32 awards won by American Students for 2015. Rhodes awards for the year 2014 included 11 winners from Ivy schools; in 2013 there were 16.
The University of Virginia has had three Rhodes Scholars in the two previous years, but none in 2015. UVA and North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the leaders among all state universities in the number of Rhodes Scholars earned by their graduates. UVA has 50 Rhodes Scholars, and UNC Chapel Hill now has 49.
Below are the districts from which the 2015 scholars were chosen. Note that ALL BUT ONE of the winners from Districts 1 through 4 are from the Ivy League, illustrating yet again how difficult it is for public institutions in those districts to break through the Ivy Curtain and win the Rhodes award.
District 1 – Boston, MA
(Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont): The two winners are from Harvard and MIT. District 2 – New York, NY
(Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey): The two winners are from Yale and Harvard. District 3 – New York, NY
(New York): The two winners are from Yale and Princeton. District 4 – Philadelphia, PA
(Pennsylvania, Rhode Island): The two winners are from Yale and Brown. District 5 – Washington, DC
(Delaware, Maryland/DC): The two winners are from Maryland and Stanford. The Maryland scholar is Fang Y. Cao, a student in the Integrated Life Sciences Program in the U of Maryland Honors College. District 6 – Atlanta, GA
(Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina): The two winners are from UNC Chapel Hill and Dartmouth. The UNC scholar is Sarah M. Bufkin, a former Honors Carolina student. District 7 – Birmingham, AL
(Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi): The two winners are from UA Birmingham and Yale. The UAB scholar is Ameen Barghi, an honors college student. District 8 – Houston, TX
(Oklahoma, Texas): The two winners are from Brown and UT Austin. The UT Austin scholar is Sai P. Gourisankar, a Plan II honors student. District 9 – Indianapolis, IN
(Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia): The two winners are from Wabash College and Notre Dame. District 10 – Chicago, IL
(Illinois, Ohio): The two winners are from Cornell and the Air Force Academy. District 11 – Chicago, IL
(Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia): The two winners are from Michigan and UW-Eau Claire. The Michigan scholar is David S. Moore, a mechanical engineering major. The UW-Eau Claire scholar is honors program student Tayo A. Sanders II. District 12 – St. Louis, MO
(Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee): The winners are from MIT and Tennessee-Chattanooga. The UT-Chattanooga scholar is honors college student Robert A. Fisher. District 13 – Colorado Springs, CO
(Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming): The two winners are from Johns Hopkins and Stanford. District 14 – Seattle, WA
(Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington): The two winners are from Santa Clara University and the University of Puget Sound. District 15 – San Francisco, CA
(Arizona, California-North, Hawaii, Nevada): The two winners are from MIT and Princeton. District 16 – Los Angeles, CA
(California-South): The two winners are from Brown and Princeton.
We measure eight characteristics of the 50 honors programs we recently reviewed, but two of those characteristics–the number of honors courses and the size of honors classes–may be the most important for most parents and prospective students.
In our review, we use a scale of 2 to 5 “mortarboards” to rate the eight characteristics: (1) honors completion requirements; (2)the range and type of honors classes; (3) the average enrollment in honors class sections; (4) honors graduation rates; (5) ratio of honors students to honors staff; (6) honors housing; (7) prestigious awards earned by students; and (8) the availability of priority registration for classes.
In this post, we will focus on numbers 2 and 3 above, bearing in mind that a rating of 5 mortarboards is the highest possible rating, while a rating of 4.5 mortarboards is also outstanding.
When it comes to the highest achievement in both the range and type of honors classes and the availability of small honors classes, only one honors college received the highest rating possible–5 mortarboards–in both categories. With an impressive range of honors interdisciplinary seminars to go along with almost 70 department honors courses, the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College certainly has a lot of honors courses to choose from, along with an average honors class size of fewer than 15 students per section.
Here are nine other honors colleges and programs that have at least a 4.5 rating in both the range and type of courses offered and the average size of honors classes. Note: an average class size rating of 5.0 means the average class size is 15 students or fewer, and a 4.5 rating means that the average honors class size is 20 students or fewer.
Alabama Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=4.5
Arizona State Barrett Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=4.5
Indiana Hutton Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=4.5
Mississippi SMBHC: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=5.0
Penn State Schreyer Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5
South Carolina Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5
Temple University Honors Program: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5
UCLA Honors Program: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5
Colorado State Honors Program: range and type of honors courses=4.5; average class size=4.5
Texas Tech Honors College: range and type of honors courses=4.5; average class size=4.5
It is no coincidence that only one of the programs listed above has an overall honors rating (all 8 categories) of less than 4.0, and most have an overall rating of 4.5 or 5.0.
Part of our rating of honors colleges and programs involves a statistical comparison of the honors rating to the perception of the university as a whole. The “perception” baseline is the U.S. News ranking of the university, although we certainly do not believe that the magazine ranking is accurate or definitive when it comes to many public universities.
On a scale of 5, here are the comparative ratings for 11 honors programs that provide the most significant “value-added” component to the universities of which they are a part:
Arizona State, Barrett Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.5; Honors Rating=5.
Mississippi, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.0; Honors Rating=4.5
Texas Tech Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.0; Honors Rating=4.5
Univ of Arkansas Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.5; Honors Rating=4.5
Ohio University Honors Tutorial College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.5; Honors Rating=4.5
Oregon State, University Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.5; Honors Rating=4.5
South Carolina Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=3.0; Honors Rating=5.0
Kansas (KU) Honors Program: U.S. News University Ranking=3.5; Honors Rating=5.0
Oregon, Clark Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=3.0; Honors Rating=4.5
Oklahoma State Honors College: U.S. News University Ranking=2.5; Honors Rating=4.0
Temple University Honors Program: U.S. News University Ranking=3.0; Honors Rating=4.5
Although some honors professionals believe that separate residence halls (or sometimes floors) for honors students create an atmosphere of elitism in their programs, we do rate residence halls, and favor those that have suite-style rooms, in-house or adjacent dining facilities, air-conditioning, and relatively centralized locations on campus. We used campus maps to rate locations and spent a great deal of time researching the amenities of each residence hall.
With a maximum rating of 10.0, we assigned that highest rating to the residence halls of Arizona State’s Barrett Honors College. We assigned 9.75 ratings to the residence halls of the University of South Carolina Honors College; Temple University Honors Program; Texas A&M Honors Program; and the University of Utah Honors College.
Other honors colleges and programs with residence hall ratings of 9.5 or higher are Clemson’s Calhoun Honors College; the Florida State Honors Program; the University of Iowa Honors Program; the University of Kentucky Honors Program; the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College; the Texas Tech Honors College; and the University of Vermont Honors College. The University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Honors Program also has an outstanding residence facility opening in Fall 2014.
The following excerpts are from the current edition of A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs:
ASU’s Barrett Honors College: “We are the only university in the nation with our own entire 9-acre, $140 million, 600,000 square feet honors campus at Tempe, complete with everything a private college campus would have, besides things like the university health service and the student recreation center. On top of this, we have Barrett living communities on all four of ASU’s campuses in the Phoenix Valley, though the one described just above is at Tempe, the biggest campus of ASU. Each of the other three Barrett communities–at the ASU West, ASU Downtown Phoenix, and ASU Polytechnic campuses –have honors headquarter space with classrooms, computer labs, advising offices, social lounges, conference rooms and faculty offices.”
South Carolina Honors College: “The two residence halls, one for both freshmen and upperclassmen and the other for upperclassmen only, are both coed, air-conditioned, and have on-site laundry. They are conveniently located for access to many classroom buildings, and one, the 537-person Honors Residence Hall (freshmen and upperclassmen) has suite-style rooms and the Honeycomb Café on site. The Horseshoe is on the main quad and oldest section of the university and includes five buildings for 237 honors upperclassmen. The rooms there are apartment style—kitchen, living room, bathroom, and individual bedrooms.”
Temple University Honors Program: “The Honors Program Living-Learning Community is situated in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the 1300 Residence Hall on Temple University’s Main Campus. Located one block from the Honors Program advising office, the Honors LLC is a residential community of students in the program. The support of Honors Program staff, Honors Peer Mentors, and the Honors ActivitiesBoard helps foster relationships among upper and lowerclassmen through tailored programming and learning opportunities.
“1300 features Honors advising offices and a dedicated Honors classroom on the 3rd floor, where many Honors courses, including first-year seminars, are offered during the academic year. In addition, 1300 affords numerous recreation and dedicated study spaces.”
“The Honors spaces in 1300 are two-thirds suite-style and one-third apartment-style. They are air-conditioned and house 450 students. The Director tells us that 78% of Honors first-year students living on campus reside in 1300. Honors floors are coed with one gender per suite. The second and third floors are for first-year students, and the fourth floor is for upperclassmen. All apartments on the fourth floor have kitchenettes. Honors students may opt to live in the Honors LLC for all four years at Temple.”
Texas A&M Honors Program: “The two freshmen honors residence halls are McFadden and Lechner, with a combined capacity of about 400 students. Both are suite-style with connecting baths, air-conditioned (a necessity in Texas), with an interdisciplinary and critical-thinking living/learning themes. Both residence halls have on-site laundry and convenient dining is available at Sbisa Dining Hall, one of the largest dining halls in the country. Honors upperclassmen can choose to living in Clements Hall, which has amenities similar to those listed for the freshmen halls.”
“A freshman learning community seminar (LCS–1 hour, non-credit-bearing) has been developed to complement the Honors residential experience…
“One goal of the LCS is to help create smaller, academically supportive groups within the larger A&M community. It is also the hope of the LCS that students will discover the value of seeking opportunities to advance their own knowledge and skills outside of the classroom so students will continue to engage in co-curricular activities beyond their first year. The LCS is meant to push students to think and develop beyond their academic curriculum.”
University of Utah Honors College–“When the name on the primary honors residence hall is ‘Marriott,’ the chances are excellent that the hall will be remarkable–and so it is. The Donna Garff Marriott Honors Residential Community (MHRC) houses 309 honors students, 80% of them in suite-style rooms and the other 20% in traditional double rooms with hall baths.
“Freshmen and upperclassmen can choose from eight living/learning themes in the MHRC: First Year Experience; Outdoor Leadership and Education; Science and Engineering; Early Access and Leadership; Intellectual Traditions, Business; Engineering; or the Thesis Mentoring Community. The MHRC is fully air conditioned with multiple lounges and on-site laundry. Each apartment suite also has its own kitchen. The nearest dining hall is at the Heritage Center, but the MHRC has its own convenience store and deli. Other amenities include cable TV with HBO package, a ski wax room, indoor bicycle storage, an honors library, and high-speed internet.
“Twelve honors upperclassmen can live in the Honors Law House, a small living/learning community that is half suite-style and half traditional double rooms. Another 12 students can live in the similarly configured Honors Social Justice House or the Thesis Mentoring Community. Thirty freshmen are also housed in Sage Point Hall, featuring suite-style singles and doubles. The nearest dining for all four of these is at Heritage Center.”
In one of the most popular pieces ever posted by The New Republic, “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” former Yale professor William Deresiewicz sharply criticizes the elite education offered at Ivy League and other prestigious universities for producing graduates who have become efficient cognitive machines rather than passionate and creative thinkers with a deep understanding of themselves and the world.
“Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it,” he writes.
“Is there anything that I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit? I don’t have a satisfying answer, short of telling them to transfer to a public university. You cannot cogitate your way to sympathy with people of different backgrounds, still less to knowledge of them. You need to interact with them directly, and it has to be on an equal footing….”
(In fact, Deresiewicz also emphasizes that private liberal arts colleges, apart from the most selective, can still provide an education that invites students to move beyond their proven but allegedly narrow channels to success.)
Our position is not anti-Ivy League—but if Deresiewicz has a point about the class and cultural “bubble” of elite institutions, we believe that there is a middle path that offers highly-talented students a combination of rigorous, smaller classes within the context of large, truly diverse universities. Public university honors programs vary in the “elite” status conferred upon honors students, but in all cases honors students mix extensively with non-honors students, spending two-thirds to three-fourths of their class time with them, often in upper-division sections in which the majority of students are more focused and mature.
In some cases, prospective students look at public honors programs as a backup if they do not get into their dream school–an Ivy, Stanford, MIT, Chicago, Vanderbilt, etc. Aside from lower costs and somewhat less demanding entrance requirements (some are very high, however), public honors programs can also be appealing across state lines because of the tuition waivers and merit awards that many of them offer. A student in New York state, for example, can look to many excellent public honors options in warmer climates, as well as programs in New York and in neighboring states.
But again, if Deresiewicz is making a valid point with his criticisms, what some students consider as a backup choice–public honors programs–could in the long run turn out to be the best choice.
At the core of Deresiewicz’s polemic is his concern that the intense, instrumental focus on gaining admission to elite universities has forced talented students into narrow paths at increasingly early ages. By the time the students reach their dream schools (if they ever do so), many have set aside what they would have loved to learn in favor of what they have had to learn, or perhaps master is the better word. Once in place at Harvard, Yale, or MIT, according to Deresiewicz, they associate with others mostly like themselves, brilliant young people for whom thinking is not for nourishing the truest self but for pushing the self along an almost predetermined path.
“But it is only through the act of establishing communication between the mind and the heart, the mind and experience, that you become an individual, a unique being—a soul,” Deresiewicz writes. “The job of college is to assist you to begin to do that. Books, ideas, works of art and thought, the pressure of the minds around you that are looking for their own answers in their own ways.” [Emphasis added.]
One of the best things about the large public universities in which honors programs function is that diversity–and not only racial or gender diversity, but true class diversity—guarantees that there will be thousands of students with every perspective imaginable.
Some honors students and certainly many of their non-honors classmates are first or second generation college students who have to work at real jobs while they are going to school, or have to commute and thus deal with their parents and siblings at the same time they are being transformed by their learning.
Even if some honors students in the most selective public university programs have been as over-focused as the typical Ivy student on learning for admissions’ sake, these honors students will still spend much of their time with honors and non-honors students for whom learning has retained its edge—challenges to long-held beliefs, excitement in discovery, thrill in eventual accomplishment.
These are students who have not been jaded by years of stair-stepping their way into elite programs, but who have, out of necessity or adherence to an independent streak, taken a more circuitous and individualistic path. Having been less consumed by the college preparation grind along the way, they are more likely to be transformed by the college experience itself, a process that can be contagious. If Deresiewicz is right, they will be the students who find at least some of “their own answers in their own ways,” or, even better, find that the search for answers never ends.