Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Week 11--Choosing a college, designing a curriculum?

Anne Dalke's picture

By 9 a.m. on Mon, Nov. 16, please post here  a one-paragraph analysis of the findings of your initial research into the dimensions of choosing a college (or its curriculum). Support that analysis with an annotated bibliography of three web sources.

rmilitello's picture

Choosing a College

 There were a lot of factors that I took into account when choosing a college, and surprisingly enough I was never too concerned with what the curriculum looked like. I was more concerned with how I felt when I visited the campus, and what the people were like. It was nice to know that the school was academically rigorous but what seemed more important was whether or not I would actually be happy there. Though if I had to choose one factor that contributed the most to my final decision, it would be the fact that Bryn Mawr is an all women's college. I was very surprised to find that I cared as much about a single-sex education as I did, but I thought it would make for a better environment in which I could thrive. I felt that I wanted to have confidence in a classroom, without the fear of constantly being competed with, as was my experience in high school. A number of people had told me that by attending an all women's college I would have more opportunities to succeed in subjects like math and science, and to have the opportunity to be good at subjects (and to also have support in those subjects) that I found particularly difficult in high school sounded somewhat appealing. I recently read a few articles that reinforced the idea that attending an all women's college can be extremely beneficial. One article was directed towards international students but I found it interesting because the article mentioned how women who went to single sex colleges had increased levels of confidence, while women who entered co-ed colleges actually had decreased levels of confidence. Also, students were more likely to choose male-dominated careers (things like the sciences) when they went to an all women's college. To my surprise a number of the articles I read all reinforced the same ideas. Some of which included facts like, women at all women's colleges are more engaged, and more self-confident due to a lack of pressure that is normally caused by males in the classroom. The articles also said that women are more likely to graduate and earn doctoral degrees than those who are in a co-ed institutions. Those women who have attended women's colleges seem genuinely satisfied with their decision to choose single-sex education, although at one point in their life they may have been skeptical of the idea. Many women have found that the women's institutions are so enthusiastic about them attending that they will provide a very good amount of financial aid, which is something that plays a large role in many student's final college decision. 

International Student Guide to the United States of America, "The Advantages of Choosing an All Women's College". <>

The 2009 High School Graduate, "Why Should you Attend an All Women's College?"<>

CBS Money Watch, "Ditching Boys: Why Attending an All Women's College is a Great Idea."<>

Rabbitbmc's picture

Creating a prestigous school of trade!

When I first began thinking about designing my own college curriculum, I began to try and pinpoint just what exactly makes a small liberal arts college, like Bryn Mawr, so prestigious. Is it the actual courses one can take, or the impressive campus, or simply being surrounded by a multitude of brilliant and accomplished young scholars? Is it the credibility of the college's name, or a mixture of all of these things? After some thought and research, I think that all of these factors lend to the credibility of a school, and the degree to which graduating from such a school can actually help in the real world.

If I were to make my own curriculum, it would not be for a small and privileged liberal arts college. I would want to create a school that has just as much prestige and force that Bryn Mawr does, but for a school that does not revolve solely around academics. Though I am thoroughly enjoying myself at college, I am a firm believer that not everyone is destined to be a "scholar". I try to create an education for people who didn't necessarily want to be a doctor, or a philosopher or a lawyer, but rather an environment for the future generations of mechanics, construction designers, carpenters, plumbers, painters, etc. (jobs and careers that I find to be of equal importance). If I were to make such a curriculum for a liberal arts school of "trade", I think that I would need to find out what makes prestige, because I would want my students to graduate knowing that their degree would hold some weight in the real world. To find out about the "prestige" of other colleges and how I could use this information to create a top-notch curriculum, I checked out the following sources:


Farrell, Greg, and USA TODAY. " - Does Harvard 'brand' matter anymore?." News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World - N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.


This source is from USA Today, and ruminates over whether or not the name of the ivy schools, such as Harvard, really hold as much gumption as some people think it does. The answer to think question seems to be almost always yes. Giving first hand accounts from Harvard grads, it seems to be pretty obvious that being branded a "Harvardian" can get one very far in life. This article gives examples of Harvard graduates that became anything ranging from bankers, TV producers, consultants, and casting directors- all of whom are leading very successful lives because of their "brand".


Tobias, Andrew. "Should You Turn Down Harvard? No. For prestige and             powerful friends, an Ivy League diploma is worth the price. - September 10, 1990." Business, financial, personal finance news - N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.



This source also uses Harvard as an example of one of the prestigious educations available today. This article would come in handy when I begin to think about the economics of creating a curriculum for a college of Trade. This article claims that it is worth it to pay top dollar for an education from Harvard, especially because of all the invaluable connections one can make while being there. In this case, how would I structure the tuition for my school? I would never want to make it as pricey as the Ivies, but in order to get the prestige that I want for such a curriculum, sufficient funds are a must.



Arenson, Karen W.. "Why College Isn't for Everyone - The New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.


I find this article to be very important towards my point because it incorporates my core idea that higher education has to change, and so does the idea that everyone MUST attend college. Not only this, but the article brings up statistics that show that the economy can't handle the mass amounts of people who think they need to attend college- there simply isn't the money for it. So this article comes back to my question, really what is so wrong with not attending an academic college of "reading, writing, and arithmetic". This is why I want to design, a solid, and respectable curriculum that would allow my students to succeed in the real world after graduation. I want a degree that would allow students to confidently work in a field that does not require the coursework of a "Bryn Mawr".


nbagaria's picture

Liberal Arts College


One of the reasons, in fact the only reason that I applied to Bryn Mawr was because it is a liberal arts college. Bryn Mawr’s curriculum gives someone who has varied interests a chance to study various seemingly unrelated subjects, while still being on some sort of an academic path (Bryn Mawr’s closed curriculum policy). The curriculum ensures that students have the ability to examine various subject matters without difficulty.
The following website talks about why a liberal arts curriculum is good for intellectual growth:
I was thrilled when I realize that the size of the student body at Bryn Mawr College was almost equal to that of my high school. This small size allows for close teacher and student interaction and a more intense intellectual growth than a large university setting.
These websites talks about the advantages of going to a small college for undergraduate studies:
This website gives a comprehensive overview of liberal arts colleges and their advantages and disadvantages:
pxie's picture

choosing a women's college...

I had never imagined that I would end up in a women’s college. I’ve attended co-ed primary school, middle school and high school. Thus I had no experience of living in single sex environment. The only reason that I applied to four women’s colleges was that it sounded new and interesting to me. But the result was somehow dramatic. I was accepted by three of the four women’s colleges I applied, but only four of eleven co-ed schools accepted me. I began to think that women’s college might be a better fit for me. And that’s why I came to Bryn Mawr.

After being here for about three months, I’ve found both the advantages and disadvantages of attending a women’s college. Overall, Bryn Mawr has met all my expectations of a small and academically outstanding liberal arts institution. The best thing about Bryn Mawr is that it takes care of its students so well that people feel at home here. Whenever I’m in trouble and reach out for help, there’s always someone to help out. Though Bryn Mawr doesn’t have million-volume books or enormous research opportunities, it still offers its students as much resource as they need. The alumnae connection is also one of the reason that many students chose to come here. We may not have as many as Nobel Prizers as some giant co-ed universities, but our alumnae connect to their Alma Mater more closely. However, Bryn Mawr makes itself like a giant bubble because a lot of reasons. Students are protected from the competition with men, the violence in society and all other cruel but real challenges we have to face in the future. Besides, as everyone complains, Bryn Mawr doesn’t have a normal social scene. Thus we lack the experience of cooperating and competing with opposite sex which is an essential skill for our future survival in society.

The websites below basically talks about the positive aspects of women’s college.   

Annotated Bibliography

Candi Brancato. “Advantages of Choosing a Women's College”. International Student Guide To The USA.

This article suggests that a women’s college graduate develops higher level of self-esteem and confidence. And women’s colleges students tend to choose science related or economics as their majors, which are traditionally considered as male disciplines.

Diane Millikan “Why Choose a Women's College?” High School Graduate.

The article states that students in women’s college have more access to leadership position than their counterparts in co-ed schools, and thus are more likely to become leaders in the future. Besides, women’s college students are not distracted by opposite sex and can focus on their studies better.

Cheri Lucas “Is a Women's College Right for Your Daughter?’’

Not like the previous two, this article mentions the shortcomings of a women’s college. It is more study based and thus is more trust worthy. It says women in women’s colleges cooperate more frequently with their peers and are more engaged. But women’s college is not a good choice for everyone. People have to make a decision based on their personalities and other factors.


ED's picture

I have questions about this project

 This isn't my posting for the annotated bib (see below posts), but I do have some questions I'd like to ask about this section of the course and our approaching designing task.

What is the "ultimate" goal here? I feel like we need to establish the greater-goal in redesigning a curriculum to take this seriously, i.e. if we're trying to do this real-life style, not high-school-debate style. I mean, it might not be as often as we'd like to think that people successfully a. set grandiose goals, b. pursue them, and c. end up with exactly what they'd dreamed of. A lot of success is due to trial and error. But in the Bryn Mawr context, don't we need a reason to change the current curriculum before we set out to change it?

Is the point to design a curriculum that WE think would be great, and to advertise it in such a way that convinces others that it's great (even if maybe it wouldn't be great for them)? The advertising part is meant to be realistic, like to hypothetically have our school get a high application rate and seem impressive/make a lot of money... Or is the point to design a curriculum that "everyone" will want to go to? Essentially, is this our "dream curriculum" or "in reality, this curriculum would 'work' for a diverse group of people." What are we working for? I'm guessing there's no uncomplicated answer to this... so I'm asking now to see if it's necessary to figure this out? Am I thinking too hard? 


Anne Dalke's picture

"curricula should be reviewed and, if necessary, revised..."

The opening paragraph of today's first reading, "Designing a college curriculum," reads
The curriculum is the heart of a student's college experience. The curriculum is a college's or university's primary means of changing students in directions valued by the faculty. Curricula should be reviewed and, if necessary, revised on a regular basis, better to serve the changing needs of both students and society broadly....

Does that answer your question? And raise others?

Sharaai's picture

liberal arts colleges

 One of the factors for choosing a college was the liberal arts. Since I tend tro change my mind a lot, I knew that a liberal arts college would give me more choices, making it less nerve wracking to be able to pick a major I really love.

When doing research, I searched for the advantages of a liberal arts college. I found an article with the pros and cons of a liberal arts school. It had a large amount of each and looking at them now, they describe Bryn Mawr College and the environment to a tee. One of the major of advantages is the small size which allows students to get personal help and not fade in the crowd, and the environment is very different from large, public colleges and universities. Another article spoke of a science career preparation at a liberal arts school. This article spoke of such things as the small size with a quality of teaching that cannot be gained in a large university, the advantage of taking non-science courses adds to “people skills” of the students. This is an essay written by someone who was looking at the idea that those who earned doctoral degrees often got their bachelor’s degree at a small, elite liberal arts school, Bryn Mawr College being the number 1 listen women’s college. The last article I looked at talked about how a liberal arts degree is an advantage in getting a steady career because as jobs are getting harder to get, a concentrated degree that is more popular at a university is less marketable than a degree from a liberal arts school. A  liberal arts school degree tells the job market that you took quantitative classes that were completely different than your said degree.
"Liberal Arts Colleges: Advantages and disadvantages of small private colleges and a liberal arts education |" Colleges | 27 Jan. 2007. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.
This article talks about the advantages and disadvantages of a liberal arts college. It describes the general liberal arts college, and gives many advantages and disadvantages. It is telling the reader how a liberal arts college would be very different from a large university, helping to make a decision. It is a very good article for those deciding on what kind of school to go to.
Standler, Ronald B. "Liberal Arts Colleges." Dr. R. Standler's personal homepage. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.
This essay was written around the fact that those who get doctoral degrees often get their bachelor’s degree from a small liberal arts school. This would in choosing what school to go to because it shows how it can help with a doctoral degree and to a better career.
Glass, Kathryn. "Is a Liberal Arts Degree an Advantage? -" Business News | Financial News | Personal Finance | Stock Market Quotes | Commodities Market | Currency Market - 22 Sept. 2008. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.
This article was published in Fox Business and is talking about how a liberal arts degree is an advantage in a bad economy because it allows those in the job market to assume that those applying for a job have had a well-rounded education and that it wasn’t so specialized that they won’t be flexible. Because most liberal arts colleges have mandatory quantitative courses, it helps for a person to go into different fields.
lkuswanto's picture

Quaker Consortium

 College consortium is something that really stands out to me when I was doing the college research. There are a few college consortiums in United States and one of them is the Quaker Consortium. I want to go to a small private liberal arts college where they have a small student faculty ratio. Yet, I still want to have access to courses at a university and other colleges. I know I will surely love my college, but there will definitely be a time where I need to get off campus for classes. Thus, I choose Bryn Mawr College.

Consortiums bring a group of colleges together and enable students to take advantage of courses, libraries, athletics, activities, and social opportunities at colleges other than their own. Bryn Mawr is part of the Quaker consortium with Haverford College, Swarthmore College, and University of Pennsylvania. Haverford and Swarthmore is the nation’s top liberal arts colleges (and so is Bryn Mawr) while University of Pennsylvania is an ivy league. Bryn Mawr students can take classes in Haverford, Swarthmore and University of Pennsylvania. For courses in UPenn, it must not be offered in the Bi-Co (Haverford and Bryn Mawr) while other kinds of courses may be taken within the Tri-Co (Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr).

“College Consortium”. Web. November 15, 2009.

“The Quaker Consortium”. University of Pennsylvania. Web. November 15 2009.

“Bi-Co, Tri-Co, and Penn”. Bryn Mawr College. Web. November 15 2009.

Calála's picture

Psychology of College Curriculums

Rebecca Joseph

Prof. Dalke

Food For Thought #10



Denson, Nida, Lori J. Vogelgesang, and Victor Saenz. "Can Service Learning and a College Climate of Service Lead to Increased Political Engagement After College? ." 11/04/2005. Higher Education Research Institute, Web. 12 Nov 2009. <>.


This paper focuses on the connection between service learning during college and political engagement after college. The results of the study showed a positive correlation between the amount of service learning during college and people’s levels of political engagement post- university. The paper is set up like a scientific paper, opening with an introduction and containing a results section and a discussion. This format gears the paper mostly to a scientific and academic audience, but the writing is accessible to anyone. The paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association and cites many other sources.


"Learning Communities for Freshmen Help Community College Students Succeed in Developmental...." Reuters. 11/03/2008. Thomson Reuters , Web. 12 Nov 2009. <>.


This article talks about an experiment done at Kingsborough University about how to help college freshman who enter college with inadequate. The experiment consisted of organizing students into “learning communities” within which they took specialized classes. This support proved effective in helping the freshman adjust to college. This study was sponsored by U.S. Department of Education, MDRC and the National Center

            for Postsecondary Research. The source is short and very easy to understand.


"College students think they're so special." msnbc. 27/02/2007. The Associated Press, Web. 12 Nov 2009. <>.


This article discusses how the current generation of college students is extremely narcissistic. This is based on work done by five psychologists using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. The article concludes that this widespread narcissism could have negative effects on American society. The article is directed at a general audience and is accessible since it is published on the msnbc website.


This week I looked at three sources that all explored different aspects of the psychology of education. By looking at these sources I was hoping to gain insight into what is important to consider when designing a college curriculum. One source that I came upon caught my eye because of the striking claim made in the title of the article. The article is called “College students think they’re so special: Study finds alarming rise in narcissism, self-centeredness in ‘Generation Me.’” As a college student I thought about whether I should be offended by this claim. However, when I read the rest of the article, it began to make sense. The article goes on to explain how “narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others” (College Students, 7). This led me to consider whether it would be possible to design a curriculum that would decrease the narcissism of our generation.

One of my other sources discussed the efficacy of service learning in a college environment and its effect on political engagement of college graduates. The study proved that there is a positive correlation between service learning and people’s participation in politics and social activism after graduating. The idea of service learning supports hands-on community projects that accompany a more traditional college curriculum. The article made me wonder whether the inclusion of community service and service learning projects as a central part of a curriculum could change the mindset of a generation that is currently so narcissistic. I believe that this exposure to the “real world” during college could better teach students how to be good citizens.

However, clearly service learning could not be the only component to a curriculum. The third source that I read talked about how “learning communities,” groups of freshman that take classes together their first semester, are extremely effective in helping students who enter college with inadequate preparation adjust to school.  This could be another piece of a successful curriculum. These three sources together gave me a better understanding of what to consider in designing an effective college curriculum.


Shayna S's picture

The Importance of the Alumni Network

Edit: I forgot to add the alumni websites to the annotated bibliography. This has been fixed.

Alumni networks tend to function primarily for the benefit of the college or the university itself. Colleges and universities rely heavily on donations to aid programs that would otherwise go unfunded in today's economy. Interviews and alumni profiling are important aspects of the alumni network for the college and university.

The Alumnae network of Bryn Mawr College performs many import activites that allow the college to function. Alumnae provide essential funding to the college that pays for renovations, scholarships, art collections, and other services that benefit students as well as dealing with interviews with prospective students. They also provide a network for jobs, which you can see at Smith college alumnae network provides similar benefits as well. They organize funding, alumnae trips, volunteer opportunites, interviews, and rally a strong network of women who can support future graduates. A bigger coed school like UC Davis also has an alumni network with similar functions to Bryn Mawr and Smith. An alumnus can volunteer, donate, and enjoy networking opportunities.

Bottom line:

Networks benefit both alumni and the colleges they represent. Alumni networks thus are an important aspect of choosing a college because of the opportunities that extend beyond obtaining your BA (or BS).


Annotated Bibliography for Alumni web sources:

Alumnae Association of Smith College. Alumnae Association of Smith College. Smith College. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.


Greenfield, Wendy M. ed. The Alumnae Bulletin. Aug. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.

Regents of the University of California, Davis campus, The. Cal Aggie Alumni Association. University of California, Davis. Web. 17 Nov. 2009.    <>.

These websites host forums, profiles, online donations, and more for alumni to use. Most of them feature online versions of their alumni magazines that provide print forms of alumni profiling, news about the college that would pertain to alumni, and commentary by alumni about other alumni, the college, or news. Most importantly, these websites allow the alumni networks of each college to more easily and conveinently connect.

 Annotated Bibliography for other web sources:

 Hoffman, Jan. "Rah! Rah! Resume!" The New York Times. 31 July 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

 This article relates the importance of alumni netwroks in helping alumni find jobs years after they graduate. Colleges hope to renew old loyalties and gain donations from alumni that they help. Web seminars or "Webinars" help to counsel alumni in searching for jobs. Connections for jobs through other alumni can also be found. In general, alumni networks are there to serve alumni while also serving the college.

 Tozzi, John. "Alumni Networks: Knotting the School Tie." Business Week. 12 Mar. 2008. Web. 16 Nov.          2009. <>.

 David Hernandez got laid off from his job at Eron in 2001. He decided to start his own company, Liberty Power. A few years later, the company is worth $193 million. He built his company's mangement team from his alumni network. Bussinesses centered around bringing alumni together to network have sprung up based on such circumstances as Hernandez. Tozzi uses such examples to suggest using (but not abusing) alumni connections to find bussiness partners, investors, or employees.

maliha's picture

Liberal Arts

      One of the major factors in my decision to even apply to Bryn Mawr was that it is a liberal arts college. The term liberal arts implies a certain looseness, that the curriculum is flexible and is open to being molded for each individual student. One of the sources I found was about the first year seminars that many liberal arts colleges have. One of the interesting things in it was that these seminars are becoming more linked with various disciplines instead of being constrained to one subject area. I also found a New York Times article from 1995 about a new accreditation agency for liberal arts schools. It said that the specialization goes against the real goal of colleges, which is to turn out people who can adapt to various situations. My last source,The Association of American Colleges and Universities, has a page on its website about practicing liberal arts education. This page discusses reasons why the liberal arts are prized or despised, and then takes the view that the liberal arts have changed greatly in the past and that it is going to have to change even more.
      The impression I received from these sources is that while liberal arts colleges have been around for a long time, they are continuously changing. There are efforts to reform the various ways in which these colleges try to achieve their goals and even the goals themselves.
Works Cited
"College Seminars for First-Year Students: Information from" Wiki Q&A combined with free online dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>.
Honan, William H. "A New Group Will Accredit Some Colleges." New York Times 6 Aug. 1995. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>.
"Publications | Practicing Liberal Education." Association of AmericanColleges and Universities. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>.

kdlz's picture

Biology Behind Ideal Learning?

 My findings highlight the biology behind successful institutions. From the first two articles, I can conclude that maybe standardized tests are not the ideal way to measure intelligence or level of achievement later on. Standardized testing, such as the SAT or IQ tests, are too simple and only test for a very small range of skills. Instead of trying to quantify intelligent or achievement (traits that are hard to quantify), it would be better to have more qualitative tests – such as real world application. Also, other more ‘unconscious’ factors may play into success – such as the time of day of classes. Some students function optimally in the morning, while others function optimally later on, thus students should either try to schedule classes when they are ‘functioning optimally’ or maybe some sort of rotating schedule should be implemented, giving students the opportunity to experience their classes at two different times. These articles raise the question of the biology and the ideal environment for learning. Maybe doing more research about what the ideal environment to learn in is, and what the ideal ‘measure’ of success or achievement would be. Also,  more scientific research on the biology behind the success of a rotating schedule would be helpful!


Kaufman, Scott B. "Confessions of a Late Bloomer." Psychology Today. 26 Oct. 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2009.  


This article discusses the biology behind early vs. late ‘bloomers’. It states that one of the most key parts of success is ability – which as some basis in the brain and in genes. However, simply because it is somewhat ‘hardwired into the brain’ does not mean that everyone develops their ability at the same time – ability can take time to develop. “Genes don’t act all at once but can take years to unfold”; many valuable abilities in society, such as creativity and leadership, rarely fully appear early on because they are complex abilities that are comprised of many different traits (and the ‘alignment of many different genes’). Not only that but the environment a person is in will also largely impact how ability will be expressed. Obstacles and ‘brick-walls’ have helped people succeed because it gave them the passion to (which is possibly the most important part). Many of the most successful people today were late bloomers – such as Chris Gardner, founder and CEO of Gardner Rich & Co. Thus, you cannot write someone off so quickly – teachers, parents, and “experts” cannot determine limits to what someone can achieve; everyone should be treated as if they have the potential to reach full bloom.


Kingsbury, Alex. "The Measure Of Learning." USA News & World Report. 3 Apr. 2007. Web. 15 Nov.

 2009. <>.

This article is about what qualifies a university or college as successful or to be ‘one of the best’. It discusses how US colleges are slowly falling behind their international counterparts because although every college ‘tries to help it’s student’s reach their full potential’ many colleges don’t know what full potential is, or how to tell whether their student’s have achieved it or not. While some argue that the best way to test this is to administer different types of standardized exams to graduating seniors as a means of measuring what exactly they have learned in their 4 years at college, other argue that this method tries to quantify what is ‘unquantifiable’ because standardized testing is too simplistic to determine what learning takes place. Some alternatives are portfolios, or different types of ‘real world application’ projects. Also, many demand that universities release more information about their students post-graduation (not just entering freshman.


Otto, Bob. "Brian Wood, San Gorgonio Principal, honored by Middle School Association." The Sun. Los

Angeles News Paper Group, 2 Dec. 2008. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

            This article is about the benefits of a rotating schedule. This Middle School implemented a rotating schedule – meaning that on some days students had classes A, B and C in the morning, and classes D, E, and F in the afternoon, and then on other days they had classes D, E, and F in the morning and A, B, and C in the afternoon. With a rotating schedule, teachers get to see their students at different times, meaning that if a student isn’t functioning optimally in the morning, he or she can still ‘function optimally’ in that class because he or she will also have that class in the afternoon.  In this specific school, after the rotating schedule was implemented, the school’s Academic Performance Index (API) rose by 33 points, indicating a benefit in a rotating schedule.


Avocado's picture

Economic Returns to Education!

 Bernasek, Anna. “What’s the Return on Education?”. The New York Times. Web.

           Dec. 11, 2005.

            Speaking on the US economy specifically, the article begins with a quote from Socrates— the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.  The author applies this quote to the American school system, asking if the $1 trillion dollars spent annually on education is worth it, and if so, how can such benefits be measured, that the system might be improved to reduce costs and increase efficiency?  To the individual an extra year of education increases their average wage by 10%, as well as increases their ability to contribute to society through technical ability and ingenuity.  However it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine how effective education, so obviously beneficial to the individual, affects the economy as a whole.  It seems logical that higher education should always affect an economy for the better, measuring for instance the growing clout of India and China in the international market.  Their citizens, in achieving higher education, have become competitive with American workers, who until now have enjoyed a decided advantage in ability, largely because of our universal high school education, implemented between 1910 and 1940.  The closing of the educational gap means that more time and energy should be spent on understanding the true value of education to the national economy, both to maintain a functional democracy and continue improving individual prospects.



The Economist Print Edition. “Higher Education and the Recession: It still pays to study”. Web. Sept. 9, 2009.

The article begins with the law of supply and demand, which says that an increase in supply of something tends to reduce its price.  It remarks, then, on the astounding exception that is higher education which, as so far, seems only to accrue more wealth to the individual.  There has been a significant increase in the number of college graduates over the years, and yet employers have not ceased to reward them for their investment.  The article concludes, therefore, that education must be an excellent investment for all, especially in the recession, when so many other things have lost their value.  However, state schools and private colleges are suffering visibly from cut costs or lost endowments, and as more students flock to higher education, good teachers become more scarce.  Also, it is important that economies, in order to be affected positively by such bountiful education, be able to incorporate graduates into the system, so that their acquired skills are put to good use.



World Bank. Economic Returns to Investment in Education: Ch. 2. Web. Accessed Nov. 14, 2009. 

            The chapter focuses on the conditions under which education can positively affect an economy.  There are indeed economic returns to the individual, i.e. through increased salary, social mobility, and technical/critical skill.  On the macro scale, however, investing in human capital does not necessarily generate economic growth.  Though an insufficient amount of education may certainly limit growth, it is not entirely certain that the reverse, having a more educated workforce, will carry the same level of effect.  Greater earnings for the more educated represent greater productivity— yet in some scenarios this is not so.  In countries where there are class distinctions, in which education is representative only of social status, no improvement to the economy can be seen.  Similarly in socialist systems, economic growth is impossible because of the government’s unwillingness to reward individuals economically on the basis of their productivity, preferring instead the politically powerful and privileged.  Education, then, is only useful on the macro scale if it is applied to specific circumstances, and in certain ways.  Only open economies, with heterogeneous communities, can implement effective higher education. Secondary education, also implemented by governments, is very worthwhile because it increases the capacity of the general workforce, assuming that workforce can then integrate itself back into society and be convinced to employ its talents productively.  In weak countries, then, with extremely poor infrastructure, the benefit of education is insignificant, and can even negatively impact society (the cost of educating a person outweighs the contributions that person can make to society as a result).  Standardized testing, small student-teacher ratios and critical thinking, rather than memorization based educations are all indicators that separate the beneficial education systems from the worthless. 



            There are indeed continuing economic returns to education, but the conditions under which the relationship remains positive are fairly specific.  It is found that open economies specifically are the only ones that can provide returns of any (positive) significance.  Heterogeneity, technique and quantity are all key factors in determining how economies, on a macro scale, will grow over time.  On the micro scale— benefits concerning individuals, colleges, communities— the benefit of education is perhaps immeasurable, and a given.  As far as engaging government spending, however, I think it would be extremely prudent to establish that unless the contributions given are adequate and non-restrictive, and the government that gives them has an infrastructure capable of handling new talent (which I’m fairly certain the US government does), the gains over time will be minimal at best.  How we teach also greatly affects the outcome.  Repetition of facts vs. critical thinking— in short, a liberal arts college in the United States with a small student-teacher ratio is exactly the kind of education that would provide for future economic expansion.  The advancements in technology that would move the economy forward can only be conceived and incorporated via creative minds which, I think, Bryn Mawr is prone to producing.



ED's picture

Intimate Classroom Setting

          I researched the psychological/intuitive aspect of choosing a college. What I found included: a report on Harvard that looked extensively into what aspects of a school make its students happy, the website of Whitman College (which reportedly has the happiest student body), and I read a few advice pages directed at students to help them change their habits to become happier/to make the most of their experience. The overarching quality I found was a small student to teacher ratio, which fosters meaningful relationships with professors and encourages students to be more invested in their work, and leads to their being happier doing it. A lot of the advice I read mentioned Barry Schwartz. This advice insisted that finding happiness is the job of each student more than the job of the college/university. Social relationships, being extroverted, and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone were all bits of advice that all of the sources I found held in common—but again, the strongest advice in each had something to do with having a close relationship with professors.

 Annotated Bibliography
1.) Alderman, Lesley. “What Makes a College Great?” Money Magazine. 5 Sept. 1995. 15 Nov. 2009. <>
               The Alderman piece really plugs the small school setting. The piece has a biased tone to it, and it is from 1995, but its claim is backed up with significant empirical evidence/stats. Lastly, it is useful because I consider CNN to be a trustworthy source. Here are some sections from it:
“[Parents look for] a school that delivers top-quality education at reasonable cost, … To students, however, a truly terrific college offers a small-community atmosphere as well as professors committed both to teaching--not research--and to giving students lots of individual attention, both in and out of the classroom.” “…think small. Kids at colleges with 2,000 or fewer students say they are more satisfied with their education, have less difficulty enrolling in courses and feel safer on campus than those at larger schools. Likewise students at private schools, which are generally smaller than the publics, give higher marks to their teachers and their overall education.”
                The Whitman website makes an impression; its layout is impeccable, inviting, and interactive—and not so progressive/new age that it becomes overwhelming or corny. In the academics pages, each area of study has a clear and concise description. The Whitman student must be passionate about learning and eager to work in real-life situations. It seems as though the respect and real-life action that Whitman asks of/provides for its students makes people there feel fulfilled. Another interesting aspect of what I believe makes students at Whitman so happy (whether they realize it or not—though I suspect they do) is how amazingly environmentally sustainable the whole institution is. Whitman is powered by wind energy, and even has a Conservation Committee staff.
3.) Zernike, Kate. "BOOKS; The Harvard Guide to Happiness." Rev. of The Harvard Guide to Happiness, by Richard J. Light. The New York Times Company, 8 Apr. 2001. Web. 15 Nov. 2009.
                Zernike writes about the specific observations and ensuing decisions made by Richard Light on how to make students “happier” (more engaged, invested, more social etc) at Harvard. There are a number of very simple, specific tactics mentioned that the school itself, not the students, could take, such as holding classes right before dinnertime to foster continued conversation between students after class. This is a useful resource (I think we may have even already seen this in class?) for the reason that it gives schools, not students, advice on how to make students happy. It does give some advice to students, however, but the type of school Harvard would have to be for its students to be able to adhere to this advice is implicit in the advice itself… It’s number-one recommendation is to “Meet the staff” and “become very close with at least one professor each semester.”
* Also looked at:
jrf's picture

the need for innovation

     My three sources are agreed that modern institutions of higher learning are in dire need of innovation to help them stop producing "products for which there is no market." All seem invested in producing adults with critical thinking skills and new ideas, whether those adults are released into academia or into the general workforce, and suggest that the way to produce this kind of learner is to build innovation and critical thinking into institutions of higher learning. In order to remain relevant over time, colleges and universities must be able to support intellectual risk-taking and non-traditional ways of thinking. A few sources drew connections between clearly-defined boundaries separating departments and boundaries to innovation. I'm interested in investigating further into how closely an institution's patterns of innovation should follow changes in the outside world-- it seems clear to me that very great removal can lead to stagnation, but would a university or college that was completely plugged in to world trends and fully able to implement changes on a whim be sturdy enough to last? Is it even possible to create a school in which this kind of idea shift can happen freely?

Annotated Bibliography

Haddawy, Peter, and Barbara Igel. "Fostering Innovation in Higher Education."
     Group for Earth Observation. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
     <>. This analysis of various efforts by institutions of higher education to foster innovation suggests that colleges should "serve as centers of innovation and society and the economy." To this end, the authors support systems of accreditation in which schools are judged according to whether they are fulfilling their stated purposes, rather than whether they meet any universal standard. The authors point to "entrepreneurship" as the ideal driving force for a school-- both as a source of innovative approaches to administration and as an attitude to be taught to students, in an environment that supports risk-taking and new ways of thinking.

Halberstam, J. Jack. "The End of the University as Who Knew It?" Bully Bloggers.
     N.p., 24 May 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
     This response to Mark C. Taylor's "End the University as We Know It" agrees that change is needed in American universities to make higher education more relevant to the modern world, but suggests that rather than "capitulate to market logics" by reimagining the university along economic lines, faculty need to reorganize themselves into more relevant departments. Halberstam emphasizes the need for risk-taking and innovation, and places a great deal of responsibility for this innovation in the hands of faculty, asking them to take charge before their superiors implement measures based in much less recent first-hand experience.

Wiley, David. "When Innovation Gets Difficult." iterating toward openness. N.p.,
     10 Nov. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>. This blog post also calls for institutional innovation in higher learning. The post and comments reference the expanding complexity of the ever-widening knowledge base that needs to be communicated to students. The author suggests that the present level of institutional innovation has served higher education reasonably well up until this point, but that the 21st century must be one of renewed and quickened change.

Jessica's picture

Alumni Giving

Bryn Mawr's liberal arts education has already been transformative for me. Preserving such a precious educational environment is an important goal. However, financial burden is huge on schools that provide small student to faculty ratio. Not only do hiring faculty members cost a lot, it also takes a lot to continue offering unique, specific courses that only a few out of the entire college community (which is small to begin with) are going to take each term. Unfortunately, liberal arts colleges are less popular than brand-named larger private universities and have to offer generous financial aid to attract students who would otherwise attend more renowned universities. The dilemma is that while financial aid "may be a valuable recruiting tool, colleges have to make up the income they forgo, which can amount to millions of dollars a year" (Finder). This is where the significance of promoting alumni giving comes in. "Much of the alumni donations are allocated toward faculty salaries, financial aid and funding for student-faculty research." (The Middlebury Campus). Increasing alumni giving could be a solution to preserving and maintaining liberal arts education that commits so much resources for each student. Fortunately, "small, prestigious liberal arts colleges tend to have a much higher alumni giveback rate as compared to the national average" and the distinguishable trait from these colleges is that "alums from these colleges tend to have formed more personal relationships with faculty and staff" (The Middlebury Campus). Research also shows that "those that live far away from the college will not respond as strongly to those endeavors" (Bruggink). This suggests that schools with most students living on-campus, such as Bryn Mawr, have the advantage in increasing alumni giving since students feel more attached to their campuses. While small liberal arts schools could face significantly greater financial burdens, my initial research reflects that they could use those endowment-draining characteristics of liberal arts education to, in turn, highlight advantages of it and thereby increase alumni donation.

Works Cited

Bruggink, Thomas H., and Kamran Siddiqui. "An econometric model of alumni giving: A case study for a liberal arts college." American Economist 39.2 (1995): 53-61. Tri-College Library. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.
The article presents an economic model of giving behavior of alumni from liberal arts colleges. It examines the influence of various factors such as income, age, alumni activity, being single, graduating with an engineering major, affiliation with a fraternity/sorority. The authors are critical and objective in evaluating the data. However, limits from utilizing a mathematical model are inevitable. The model presented does not acknowledge these limits but does suggest that the model is meant to be used as a guiding frame.

The Middlebury Campus. "College explores alumni donation trends." The Middlebury Campus. Middlebury College, 9 Sept. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.
The article is written from the point of view of a Middlebury College student. It focuses on Middlebury's alumni giveback rate, which increased to 62% with different strategies utilized. It compares Middlebury's giveback rate to those of public universities and similar private liberal arts colleges. Although it accurately describes in detail how Middlebury increased its giveback rate, it hardly recognizes the hardships that might occur in other institutions because it is a success story written from Middlebury's point of view.

Alan, Finder. "Aid Lets Smaller Colleges Ask, Why Pay for Ivy League Retail?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 1 Jan. 2006. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.
Finder clearly favors smaller liberal arts colleges than renowned Ivy League colleges. The article talks about the high price tag of liberal arts colleges and taking advantage of the ones that offer merit aids. Although the article provides a useful information on how a student can receive an Ivy League education at a "discount price" and how this perception is causing financial hardships for liberal arts colleges, it only talks about merit aid and leaves out need-based financial aid, which is becoming a greater financial burden in more prestigious institutions as socioeconomic diversity increases on campuses.

ygao's picture

"celebrate diversity!"

That's what a lot of different universities say on their college viewbooks for prospective students nowadays. It is a fact that most colleges and universities in America have become more aware of campus diversity. Therefore many have enlarged the international student or students of color population. Increasing student body diversity has positive effects on majority and minority students. One of them is that it increases interaction between different backgrounds and cultures that different races bring together to the same community. Another is that it helps shaping society, making an important impact on students' attitudes on racial issues. Students achieve more in a diverse community and tend to contribute more to the college.


Works Cited

Humphreys, Debra. "The Impact of Diversity on College Students: The Latest Research" Ford Foundation Campus Diversity Initiative, 1998. Web.

15 Nov.2009 <>

Milem, Jefferey. "Making Diversity Work on Campus: A Research-Based Perspective" Association of American College and Universities, 2008. Web.

15 Nov.2009 <>

Smith, Daryl."Diversity Works: The Emerging Picture of How Students Benefit"Association of American College and Universities, 2008. Web. 15

Nov.2009 <>

avietgirl's picture

Different in faculty salary in Private and Public Institution


In researching the salary of faculties, I have found that there is a difference between salaries of faculty at private and public institutions. Generally, average salary for faculty at private colleges is higher than that of public colleges. At the same time, the average pay for public and private institutions’ president is also rising. The salary for the presidents at public and private institution is about the same even though there are fewer students at private institutions. This contributes to the cost of private institution. There are a lot of faculties at both kind of institutions but at the private institutions; there are fewer students which mean a more student’s faculty interaction. There are fewer students to divide the cost of this by. So to maintain this kind of private education, the cost will be more per student.


Annotated Bibliography

Byrne, Richard. “Gap Persists Between Faculty Salaries at Public and Private Institutions.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 18 April, 2008. November 15, 2009. <

In this article, Richard Byrne talks about the different between the salary of faculty of private and public institution. He talks about how the gap can be felt “from the top to the bottom of the pay scale.” This article gives statistic along with a hint of reason on why this is so. In general private colleges pay its faculty more. However, faculty salary at private colleges is mostly likely to be target with budget cut.


Lewin, Tamar. “23 Private College Presidents Made More Than $1 Million.” The New York Times. 2 November, 2009. 15 November, 2009. <

This article talks about the rise in the presidents’ salary. How there are 23 presidents from private colleges made more than one million and over 100 presidents from private institution made over $500,000. It also stresses the fact that these data were made before the economic crisis and that many of these presidents have “moderated, or frozen, salary increases.”

Lewin, Tamar. “Presidents’ Pay Rises Faster at Public Universities Than Private Ones, Survey Finds.” The New York Times. 17 November, 2008. 15 November, 2009. <>

In this article, Lewin talks about how the rise in presidents’ salary is faster at public university than private ones. However, the highest earning president still comes from a private one. This article not only talks about the salary of president but also the salary of faculty between private and public university. It talks about how there is an interesting gap when comparing faculty salary. The average salary for faculty at public institutions is lower than those at private ones.



ellenv's picture

Learning Styles

A problem that all levels of education run into is the differences that appear between different learning styles of the students as well as variation in teaching styles that may not go along with a student's individual learning style. In creating a curriculum for Bryn Mawr or another college, it would be important to take this into account so that there could be a balance between courses that work well with each type of learner. A good deal of college courses are lecture courses in which the professors stand in front of the class and verbally go over the information for the class; oftentimes, students find that they are unable to absorb the most material this way, and thus the class can be much more of a struggle for them. Incorporating a greater amount of visuals will allow students to absorb the information for themselves rather than being left behind. While creating such classes may not be as much of an issue at Bryn Mawr which has smaller classes, there could still be classes in which having such hands-on activities would be impossible. This does not mean that all classes must be transformed so that everything is hands-on, it just means that attention should be directed towards deciding the requirements and set up of the courses. A combination of verbal (which includes both written and spoken language) and visual assignments would help achieve this goal.


Felder, Richard M. "Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering   Education." 1998

This source outlines the types of learners that appear in college and the connections between the different categories of learners. It acknowledges that in many cases, there is a gap between the teaching of the course and the way in which the students learn that can often lead them to feel inadequate. While most classes are taught lecture style, students often learn the material better if they have some sort of visual representation or demonstration. At the same time, some students work better when given the big picture idea rather than the details and other are much better at focusing on the details. The example used here is about Engineering professors who are big picture types while the students in their classes tend to be data based learners and because of that there is a disconnect between the two groups.

Santo, Susan A. "Learning Styles and Personalities." University of South Dakota

This source outlines the three ways in which professors can accommodate the fact that there are different types of learners in their classes. The first way is to look at each individual's learning style and then change the curriculum to match that. The second way to deal with this is to acknowledge a person's ideal style of learning and then turn them in the opposite direction so that they can learn how to strengthen their weaknesses. The third and final way is to ignore all learning differences and use all different types of teaching styles so that everyone is able to benefit and relate the class. 

Felder, Richard M. and Jodi Sperlin. "Applications, Reliability, and Validity of the Index of Learning Styles." North Carolina State University. 2004.

This source outlines the difference that have been shown between the groups of learns that exist. It says that sequential learners (who learn through increasingly difficult steps in material) tend to be "left-brain dominant, atomistic, analytic, serialist." While those that are global learners (they learn holistically and in big chunks at a time rather than in small pieces) are "right-brain dominant, holistic, hierarchical, and visual-spatial." This source also acknowledges that by simply figuring out someone's leaning style, you are unable to predict their strengths and weaknesses per-se. 

Annagibs's picture

Designing a College--economies of size

It would seem that small colleges do face difficulties that larger schools do not have to worry about because of their size.  Issues of finding funding (or needing more from unwilling donors), providing social and extra-curricular activities, and making attendance more affordable for the student body plague small colleges annually.  However, there are strengths in the smaller sized schools, such as strong teacher-to-student bonds, and greater academic flexibility. I believe that the best piece of advice comes from Peterson’s: schools that fall between a student body size of 1,000 to 3,000 students allow for the benefits of a smaller school’s academics, while also providing more social life typically attributed to large schools.

"Sizing Up Colleges: Big vs. Small." Find a College. 2009. Collegeboard, Web. 13 Nov 2009. <>. takes an even look at what both kinds of schools—small colleges and large universities—have and lack, and how that might determine the student’s experience at that type of school.  For small colleges, they highlight the strong teacher-to-student connection, the flexibility in designing a major, and the strong sense of community among the student body. However, Collegeboard notes the lack of well-known sports programs, the stifling social environment, and limited housing options. For large schools, they highlight the variety of majors/minors, distinguished faculty, and the range of academic and social opportunities. Large schools tend not to have faculty, but rather TAs teach classes. Also, there is less flexibility in the curriculum of a large university, as well as large, impersonal classes.

Petersons. "Big Colleges vs. Small." Ask the Dean. 2009. College Confidential, Web. 13 Nov 2009. <>


In Peterson’s article, he draws an important point that students often misjudge their preferences for school size and transfers are common if the size of the school is undesirable.  He notes that while small schools offer more personal attention to students who lack self-motivation or extroversion, they can be “stifling” and offer little in the way of a social life.  Schools in urban environments are the same: while they are situated in an urban setting, the school itself provides little in the way of extra-curricular activities or entertainment. This can get expensive for students.  Larger colleges make up for the pitfalls of smaller schools, but tend to lose sight of students who are not self-directed. Peterson’s final piece of advice is that students do the best at medium sized schools (meaning a student body of anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 students).

Selingo, Jeffry. "At Meeting of Small Private Colleges, Presidents Don't Worry Too Much About Economy." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 05 Jan 2009. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Web. 13 Nov 2009. <>.


In Jeffry Selingo’s article, he addresses a curious issue that surrounds small colleges during times of economic upheaval: how do we continue functioning with limited funds and a student body feeling the crunch of the recession?  Philanthropic foundations begin to pull out of supporting small colleges with money; colleges must make the embarrassing move to ask alumni and living donors to scholarships to contribute additional, annual gifts; the college does not get as much revenue because students opt for non-residential living arrangements. To make things a little more complicated, faculty has never been more bountiful than during times of recession. While this is good for the college academically, the hiring of new or additional faculty puts another financial burden on the small school.  Some colleges have adjusted their budget plans in order to asses how many accepted applicants will attend, which allows the school some flexibility in knowing how much to ask for from the students.  In all, although there are tough problems facing schools of a small size, it seems that because of the nature of their school they are able to be flexible and depend on their alumni for further financial assistance.


kgrassle's picture

The Optimal Learning Environment

 I was interested in educational psychology and how color, lighting, temperature, and room design all play an important role in creating an optimal learning environment.  Certain colors in a classroom have an impact on a student’s mood and ability to focus (Dagget et al).  Preferred colors for college-age students are green (evoking feelings of comfort and nature) and light yellow (happiness, lively) (Dagget et al).  These colors play a large role in attention span and can produce different physiological responses (Dagget et al).  Long wave colors such as red, orange, and yellow stimulate the autonomic nervous system so students are more alert in class rather than approaching learning passively (“Brain-based Learning 1—Optimal Learning Environments”).   Lighting in a classroom also impacts mood.  A study done by psychiatrist Wayne London found that soft full-spectrum lighting is optimal for learning because it is closest to natural light (Brain-based Learning 1—Optimal Environments).  During cold and gloomy winter months, these lights help boost energy, happiness, and keep attendance high.  In large college classes, the design of a room can have a large impact on the ability of students to hear the professor.  Carpet on the floor can reduce echoes that may distract from what the professor is saying (Lang).  The feeling of cleanliness and newness can also positively impact learning, and so newly refinished buildings often improve a student’s learning environment (Lang).  By creating classroom environments that nudge students toward a certain mood, it can result in more alert and active learners.    


Dagget, Dr. Willard R., Jeffrey E. Cobble, Steven J. Gertel. “Color in an Optimum

            Learning Environment.” International Center for Leadership in Education

            March 2008. 11 Nov. 2009.



The article discusses how different colors produce different physiological responses.  In the classroom, green, light yellow, blue, and purple can reduces stress, boredom, and passivity.  Red keeps students alert because it stimulates the autonomic nervous system, and blue results in a sedation effect.  Because these colors can result in physiological responses, using more than six colors can be overwhelming and have a negative impact on learning.  Colors can have different moods associated with them depending on a person’s cultural background.  In general, however, red will create an alert mood. 


Lang, Dale. “Essential Criteria for an Ideal Learning Environment.” New Horizons for

            Learning.  1996.  11 Nov. 2009.



Five main factors are associated with creating an optimal learning environment.  Noise control is essential for students to be able to hear the professor.  Large walls with ventilation in them helps block out noise from outside of the classroom, and carpet decreases any echoing that may occur.  Lighting that causes a glare on the chalkboard or walls can be distracting. Easy control of both temperature and technology in the classroom is also important.  If teachers are distracted by fluctuations in temperature or flustered by technological devices, it impacts instruction time and sometimes quality of the teaching.  The final important factor is the cleanliness and newness of a classroom environment.  Studies have shown that attendance and test scores go up in a cleaner environment.


“Brain-based Learning 1—Optimal Environments.” Nutshell Notes.  Nov. 2000. 11

            Nov. 2009.


Lighting and color are two important factors in the learning environment.  In 1988, psychiatrist Wayne London replaced fluorescent light bulbs with full-spectrum lighting in some classrooms.  This lead to a 65% drop in student absences.  Full-spectrum lighting is more similar to natural sunlight than fluorescent lighting.  This boosts mood, creating a more open attitude towards learning.  Color also impacts mood.  Red, orange, and yellow stimulate an active brain response, while green, blue, and violet are associated with relaxation.  

hlehman's picture


 When I think about what first attracted me to Bryn Mawr, one thing that immediately comes to mind is the traditions.  I decided to research the role traditions play at other colleges and universities and how important they are to students.  I compared Dartmouth College, University of Michigan, and Pomona College because they all vary in size and location. 

At each school traditions seem to be a major part of student life.  When I searched “traditions” on the U of M website, I was lead to a separate site about traditions and history.  University of Michigan has its own committee dedicated to traditions on campus and keeping them alive, as well as promoting their history.  Dartmouth is famous for their ancient traditions involving sports and homecoming night.  When I searched “traditions” on their website, I saw numerous articles by students about the special traditions on campus and one page even mentioned special student tours that focus on the school’s traditions.  While the traditions at Pomona do have the historical significance that bonds the traditions at Michigan and Dartmouth, traditions still seem to be a very vital part of students’ lives.  Finding information about the traditions at Pomona was slightly more difficult than Dartmouth and Michigan and I had to turn to other student sites such as Unigo to find details.  I think that Pomona traditions seem to be relatively new and student lead, so the website has not yet developed such devotion to traditions that Dartmouth and Michigan have. 

I think that my findings prove that no matter size, history, or location, traditions are about the students and in general, students enjoy their traditions and enjoy working to keep them alive.  Traditions are definitely something that attract students to schools and I think that overall, traditions seem to be growing at more and more universities. 


"Hill Winds, Granite Brains, and Other Dartmouth Traditions ." Dartmouth Parents and Grandparents. 01/08/2008. Dartmouth College, Web. 15 Nov 2009. <>.



"University of Michigan History and Traditions." University of Michigan. 09/27/2004. University of Michigan, Web. 15 Nov 2009. <>.



"Pomona College." Unigo. 11/29/2008. Unigo, Web. 15 Nov 2009. <>.


rshen's picture

Safety on Campuses

Safety is a major concern taken into account when choosing a school. We all want to be in an environment with a low level of crime on the campus. Bryn Mawr is a small, single-sex liberal arts school in a suburban setting. Although most reports on the Bi-Co Crime Blotter have to do with fairly benign car accidents and power failures, throughout the past (6/16/08- 2/05/09) some incidents have been reported on Bryn Mawr’s campus of suspicious phone calls and stalkers.
“1/28/09 3:25 PM
“11/6/08 10:46 AM
These incidents are the more serious offenses I sifted through the Bi-Co Crime Blotter site. From this, I was interested if Smith College, a single-sex college in a suburban North Hampton, area would also have similar offenses, or if these reports were more prevalent in Bryn Mawr.


The answer was a predictable, of course not. Debatably. The crime statistics on Smith College’s website, report that in the January-December 2006 year (most recent disclosed crime statistics report), there were two forcible sexual offenses, one case of arson, and six theft incidents exceeding $250.  Like Bryn Mawr, Smith has cases of theft, but also has more serious occurrences of sexual assault and arson. According to another source, the US Department of Education, Bryn Mawr has two more cases of forcible sexual assault and seven more cases of burglary than Smith College. Although these numbers are similar, the differences may be due to Bryn Mawr's more accessible location to the outside world and a co-ed college.I find that the data differences may be negligible compared to Bryn Mawr verses larger colleges and universities. Being a single sex college, Bryn Mawr and Smith have low rates of sexual assault.


No school is completely without crime, but being a single sex college helps. 
U.S. Department of Education. The Campus Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool.
The Bi-Co News Online.
Smith College Public Safety. Crime Information.


lcatlin's picture

Structure of Curriculum- closed & divisional requirements

            When discussing curriculum reform, its important to discuss the basic structure of a curriculum (i.e. closed curriculum and divisional requirements). I decided to look at the structure of Bryn Mawr’s curriculum and two other schools that are similar in other aspects of Bryn Mawr. At Bryn Mawr we must complete two credits above 2.0 in the three divisions: social science, natural science, and humanities. At Barnard, another all-women liberal arts college, students must complete one credit in reason and value, social analysis, historical studies, cultures in comparison, laboratory science, quantitative and deductive reasoning, language, literature, and the visual and performing arts. At Wellesley, another all-women liberal arts, students must complete three units from language and literature, and visual arts, music, theater, film, and video; three units from social and behavioral analysis, epistemology and cognition, religion, ethics, and moral philosophy, and historical studies; and three credits from natural and physical science and mathematical modeling and problem solving in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science. Within each of these groupings, some have more specific requirements, in the language and arts categories, one credit much come from each, and the last credit can come from either.

              After my brief research, the first thing I can appreciate is the simplicity of Bryn Mawr’s divisional requirements. All three colleges have requirements, as opposed to letting students taking whatever credits they want with no restrictions, which make them closed curriculums. However, Barnard has many more categories where students must take classes than Bryn Mawr’s. Wellesley seems to split their requirements into three sections like Bryn Mawr, but have specific sub categories where they have more confusing requirements, where within the three credits one must come from a specific sub category. Wellesley and Barnard’s curriculum are much more structured. I might be biased, but I believe Bryn Mawr structure is the best at being “liberal arts”. This is because students must dip their toes into different subjects that they wouldn’t normally, but still have the freedom to choose very widely within the divisional requirements. 

Kellmer, Tracy. Divisional Requirements. 25 Aug. 2008. Bryn Mawr College. 15 Nov. 2009 <>.

Articles of Governance. 2 Sept. 2008. Wellsley College. 15 Nov. 2009 <

The Curriculum. Barnard College. 15 Nov. 2009 <>.

thatcaliforniagirl13's picture



In researching the changes in demographics on college campuses, both inside and outside of the classroom, I found that the inclusion of diversity is imperative to a college curriculum. As the years pass, the minority groups, once seen as underrepresented, will eventually catch up with the white race on college campuses. As a result, colleges find it important for its student body to be more aware and knowledgeable of other cultures and races. The underrepresented voice is heard and at the same time, students are becoming well-rounded individuals. The faculty members as well as the students need to have some sort of diversity inside and outside of the classroom in order to mutually have a fine learning experience. 
Annotated Bibliography
Pat Seurkamp, Mary. “Changing Student Demographics.” University Business: Solutions for Higher Education Management. Oct. 2007. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>
In her article, Mary Pat Seurkamp discusses the demographic changes that have occurred to change the curriculums on college campuses. Seurkamp points out that these demographic changes are caused by the increase of minorities taking the path of higher education. She finds that as the years pass, the percentage of individuals from minorities will increase, almost equal to amount of white people on college campuses. The curriculum has to change to not only accommodate their needs but to also have a succeed in college. This article shows the steps colleges have to take in order to properly adjust to the changes in demographics. If the colleges’ curriculum wouldn’t adjust to the change in demographic, the minority groups wouldn’t excel. 
Clayton-Pedersen, Alma R. and Caryn McTighe Musil. “Multiculturalism in Higher Education - Demographics and Debates About Inclusion, An Aerial View of National Diversity Requirements.” Education Encyclopedia. n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. 
This article focuses on the debates about the addition of multiculturalism in the curriculums of higher education. While there are ideas that suggest that multiculturalism is necessary in a college curriculum to have those voices heard, many still believe that the learning of differences culture and diversity isn’t an imperative subject required of a higher education. Being knowledgeable and understanding of the diversity is what makes the individual well-rounded; that is one of the key objectives of an institution of higher education. The authors tend to lean more towards multicultural, offering statistics to the reader of what multiculturalism adds to the curriculum. This source gives examples of the importance of including multicultural classes in higher education for the purpose of having a well-rounded student body, not solely for the purpose of changes in demographics on college campuses.
Wood, Peter. “Back to School:  The Look of the Campus.” National Review Online. 3 Sept. 2003. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. 
In his article, Peter Wood discusses how the faculty members on college campuses view the inclusion of diversity in the curriculum. The faculty tends to want more diversity not only within the curriculum, but also in the college staff community. Wood found that the faculty found that a more diverse group of staff would promote a better experience for the students. They would be able to relate if they were also the same race or ethnicity and they would be able to teach their students something new. The diversity of the student body and faculty both create a better learning experience for everyone. The admission of individuals of minority groups tend to be somewhat less prepared for college, however, that takes nothing away from the learning experience. This article provides information more from the perspective of a faculty member. It illustrates the ways in which a professor or advisor can benefit from the diversity and demography changes. 


jtm715's picture

The Economics of Dining Services in the Current Economy


I chose to focus my research on the economic decisions and difficulties that come with dining services at colleges. The first article I found, from a magazine focusing on changes in the food industry, was an overview of the many changes schools had to make for the 2009-10 academic year because of the economic downturn. After reading that article, I decided to look at changes in dining services in the past two years since the downturn for a large university, Harvard, and a small liberal arts college, Grinnell. The article on Grinnell talked about the decision to consolidate two dining halls, but instead of just using one of the dining halls, the college actually built an entirely new building. I think this is actually beneficial in the long run, because they won't have to make any more changes for a long time, and they used the construction to expand their catering service and increase revenue. Alternatively, Harvard's endowment decreased by 27% over the year, and the Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) decided to eliminate the hot breakfast option. I found this information on a blog the HUDS runs as a forum for the students to contact them about dining at Harvard. The comments on the blog post about eliminating breakfast all agreed that this decision was a bad idea, citing the number of students that do use the service and the necessity of having breakfast in the morning, as nutritionists say it is the most important meal of the day.



Works Cited

Hume, Scott. “College Dining: Smart Strategies for Tough Times.” Restaurants & Institutions. Reed Buisness Information, 1 Aug. 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>. This article covers what many colleges are doing about food services at a time when they need to cut costs for the new academic year with the recent economic downturn. It mentions some of the schools that were forced to consolidate their dining halls, including the College of Wooster or cut meal options entirely, like Harvard University’s decision to stop offering a hot breakfast. Colleges are unsure about the number of students that are financially able to return or come to the schools and it’s affecting their ability to plan their food services before the start of the school year. Many colleges looked at cutting their associations with food service corporations such as Aramark and Sodexo, and found that making some foods from scratch actually cuts costs. These food corporations are also helping the colleges they work with by showing them discounts in food products and offering them deals. At the same time, the colleges’ dining halls are still making an effort to become more environmentally-friendly by increasing the use of on-campus farms, and offering more products in biodegradable packaging.

Mayer, Ted. “Residential Dining Changes.” Harvard University Dining Services: A Forum for Dialogue Between Students and Harvard University Dining Services’ Executive Director, Ted Mayer. Harvard University Dining Services, 11 May 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>. This is a blog post from Harvard’s Dining Services executive director, explaining the reasoning behind their decision to cut the hot breakfast service for the 2009-10 academic year. Following a need for a 7.6% decrease in food spending, the Dining Services (HUDS) chose to offer continental breakfast options because they found that only 30% of students use the hot breakfast services. The changes also affected HUDS staff, and they were offered an early retirement package. Students have the opportunity to comment at the end of the blog post, and every post is against the change, and often asks for compromises in the breakfast plan.

White, Lisa. “Grinnell’s Dining Overhall, Grinnell Iowa.” Food Service Equipment & Supplies. Reed Buisness Information, 15 Dec. 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>. This article, from a newsmagazine that covers new innovations or changes in the professional food industry, is about the changes Grinnell College made to their dining program for the 1500 students on campus. Grinnell had two main dining halls that needed to be consolidated in to one new building with a budget of $42 million, and the college hoped to make the new dining hall as environmentally friendly as possible. The U.S. Green Building Council approved their design and the college constructed a dining hall that would accommodate the multitude of food options the dining hall offers, from a vegan bar to a pizza area to a stir-fry wok station. They also increased their catering service, which brings in $650,000 in yearly revenue. The article also mentions that with the new facility, their equipment repair costs went from $3,500 to $18,000.

Lydia Jessup's picture

The Honor Code

 Many colleges in the United States have honor codes, all with different systems of leadership and enforcement.  The honor codes at Bryn Mawr and Haverford are not just a promise not to cheat or steal; they are an integral part of social and academic life.  I wanted to compare the bi-co honor codes to the honor codes at other colleges.  I chose to examine the honor systems at Middlebury College, William and Mary, and Davidson College.  The honor codes at Middlebury and Davidson are similar to the Bryn Mawr honor code because they give students the freedom to self-schedule their exams and take them without a proctor.  The William and Mary honor code and that of Middlebury are similar because they both focus on academic integrity.  I found that this is the most common type of honor code in colleges across the United States with a student run committee to oversee it.  The Davidson and Bi-co honor codes are more unique because they incorporate a social honor code.  This binds the students to conduct themselves with integrity in all aspects of their lives, which creates a different atmosphere on these campuses than at other institutions.       

The honor code is a tradition at William and Mary that started in 1736.  The goal of the honor code is to build a community of trust.  Each student pledges, “not to lie, cheat or steal, either in [his or her] academic or personal life.”  Students report violations of the honor code to the student run honor counsels (Councils).  The Middlebury honor code was enacted in 1965 and is also focused on “intellectual honesty”.  Both student and faculty members serve on the judicial boards.  Examinations are not proctored and are self-scheduled (Honesty Statement).  At Davidson College, there is an academic and social honor code that was formed in 1837. The academic and social honor codes work together to create “an atmosphere of openness and mutual trust.”  Tests are also not proctored and are self-scheduled, and the Honor Council is student run (Honor Code).


Works Cited

"Academic Honesty Statement." Middlebury College. Web. 10 Nov. 2009. <>.

"Emphasizing the Honor Code." Davidson. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>.

 "Honor Code & Councils." William and Mary. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <>.

Maiya Zwerling's picture

Small School

 There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to small colleges according to these articles. The major advantages of a small school are the small class sizes, the access to teachers and focus teachers have on the students, the close community atmosphere, and the power given to the students to influence their community. All of these aspects create a long lasting experience that teaches their student how to think. On the other hand, small colleges cost an incredible amount that can put many students into debt for years to come. In additions, students find themselves in a community without diversity, there are fewer people to meet in the university, and the opportunities allotted at bigger universities pertaining to class sizes and academic research are not as readily available at smaller colleges. A particularly interesting argument against small schools is that more elite smaller schools create an ignorant environment that stops people from interacting with those of the different class or ethnicity. I strongly disagree with this argument. Deresiwicz, the author of this particular article, attended all Ivy League schools for his education and taught at Yale for a decade. He claims, “My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to, regardless of their class”. Although I understand the basis of the arguments, I find his argument ignorant and too general. He makes extreme generalizations about college students but disregards their experience prior to college. Many people go to public schools and interact with a variety of races and classes. College experiences are supposed to create tolerance and general respect for others because people live in a community. Overall, both of these arguments are strong and have basis. A student must base their decision on which type of school best fits their needs. 


Annotated Bibliography


Deresiewicz, William. "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education." The American Scholar, the magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. 2008. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.


Deresiewicz argues that small and elite universities create a sheltered community that creates ignorance when communicating with others outside of the community. Because they have never had to communicate with people from different class/cultures, they do not know how too. He claims that all communities like this are ignorant and continue their ignorance in their adult hood. In the future, like him, students will not be able to communicate with workers such as plumbers or mechanics.


This is an accredited source because it comes from an elite collection of articles and the author is a professor from Yale. He does not cite information, mostly because it is opinion based. There are few facts that need to be cited and his opinions are information I can use when analyzing the options.


I will use this information because it is a very opinionated argument that I can spend time arguing against.


Rockler-Gladen, Naomi. "Liberal Arts Colleges: Advantages and disadvantages of small private colleges and a liberal arts education |" Colleges | 21 Jan. 2007. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.


This article clearly lays out the advantages and disadvantages of small colleges. For disadvantages the author discusses such ideas as the high costs, lack of diversity, lesser amount of people in the community, more sheltered environment, and fewer options available for the students. For the advantages, the article mentions the attention a student receives from the teachers, the close knit community, the academic emphasis on students, the more access to classes, the ability to stay engaged, and the easy ability to get involved in opportunities even if they are limited.


This article comes from a source of online magazines and articles about a variety of topics. Because it is accredited in this sense, I can trust the source. It lays out the information clearly and which makes it easier to understand. It does not back up its information’s with other sources and so this lets me know its most likely opinion. Overall, I can use this information.


I will apply this to my research because it clearly lays out the pros and cons to my argument. In essence, the information allotted is my argument.


"What are the Advantages of a Small University?" Yellow Pages: Superpages Yellow Pages, Maps, Driving Directions, Weather... Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.


This article gives a brief summary of the advantages that come with attending a small college or university. They mention the strong teacher/student relationships, the easy access and navigation on the campus, the friendly environment, and the increase of opportunities in both athletic and social programs in the community.


This source is trust worthy in that it gives a succinct summary of the advantages of small colleges. Because it is simply a summary and does not go into further explanations – makes generalizations that many could make by observing such schools – it has trust worthy information. The author is not cited and there aren’t citations that this information comes from, letting me know that this is probably mostly opinion and has little scholarly evidence to back it up.


This source gives me a strong summary of some of the advantages of small schools which I can apply to dissecting the good and bad aspects of curriculums.