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Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:23 PM

So you're visiting a college campus. What would you ask?

In about 6 weeks, the beginning of the next phase of my family's life will begin: we will take OBKid1 on the first of what I suspect will be many college campus visits.

We are going as a family during pring break, and we will see 2-3 of the schools: One she's in which she's really interested; the other two she's semi-interested.

I saw this article: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-solution/2010/10/19/36-questions-to-ask-on-a-college-visit

The College Solution
36 Questions to Ask on a College Visit

One of the best ways to learn more about colleges is to visit their campuses.

When you're on a college campus, my advice is to slow down and ask a lot of questions.

Ideally, you'll want to talk with more than just the admission staff. Stop a few students during your stay and ask them what they like and don't like about their school. If you can talk to a professor or two, even better.

To make the most of your college visit, here are 36 questions that I'd recommend that you ask:


I looked at the 36 questions. Some were interesting. Some, I felt, were not practical. Mostly, I was struck by what wasn't asked: Does your school prefer the SAT? ACT? or both? My child has earned college credits through co-enrollment -- will they transfer to your school? Does your school have adequate dorms for freshman demand?

I plan to ask a lot of questions about financial aid and admissions. What would you ask? What do you think a parent should try to find out about the colleges their kid may attend?

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Reply So you're visiting a college campus. What would you ask? (Original post)
OmahaBlueDog Jan 2013 OP
no_hypocrisy Jan 2013 #1
rightsideout Jan 2013 #8
elleng Jan 2013 #2
OmahaBlueDog Jan 2013 #25
elleng Jan 2013 #26
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #3
mbperrin Jan 2013 #6
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #9
mbperrin Jan 2013 #21
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #22
mbperrin Jan 2013 #27
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #29
cali196lib99 Jan 2013 #31
OmahaBlueDog Jan 2013 #18
mbperrin Jan 2013 #4
quakerboy Jan 2013 #13
mbperrin Jan 2013 #20
teenagebambam Jan 2013 #5
OmahaBlueDog Jan 2013 #16
Still Sensible Jan 2013 #7
quakerboy Jan 2013 #14
knitter4democracy Jan 2013 #15
quakerboy Jan 2013 #30
Hangingon Jan 2013 #19
TlalocW Jan 2013 #10
TheBlackAdder Jan 2013 #11
peace13 Jan 2013 #12
LWolf Jan 2013 #17
teenagebambam Jan 2013 #23
OmahaBlueDog Jan 2013 #24
Fresh_Start Jan 2013 #28

Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:32 PM

1. What is the professor/teacher to student ratio in the largest and smallest classes?

How are examinations administered? Are they written or oral? Are the exams proctored?

May I tour the library?

What kind of laboratories are available for biology, chemistry, physics, and/or psychology?

May I tour the gymnasium?

What kind of mental health services are available on campus?

How far is the nearest hospital?

How often are fire drills practiced?

Are there any programs for students who need help with excess drinking?

What is the procedure for roommates who can't stand living together?

What does the college do to discourage or prevent racism and sexism and gender discrimination?

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:01 AM

8. Those are good questions

Before I forget, ask about internship programs.

We found out the answers to some of those questions first hand during my daughter's first year. She's 3 hours away at college.

First problem was the respiratory infection she came down with on a Friday evening after the Health Center was closed for the weekend. We told her to take a cab to the local hospital. I offered to come up and get her but she was miserable and needed medical attention quickly. So she took a cab and the hospital paid the cab to take her back after they treated her.

The next issue was the roommate situation which didn't work out. 3 of the roommates friends were in the room and my daughter asked them to keep it down a bit. It escalated from there. My daughter moved out the next week. Fortunately they found her another roommate to stay with which worked out better.

This year's roommate was just weird. Never said "hello" to us when we moved my daughter in. She just stared straight at her computer screen drawing Pokemon characters. We tried small talk with her but she never acknowledged us and my daughter said she never even said "Hi" to the RA when she came in to chat during the semester. Fortunately that girl moved out for the rest of the year to study in Japan last month.

My daughter got a new roommate a couple weeks ago and this one is normal. A transfer student. My daughter and her have been palling around together and they get along fine. For her third year she's hoping to get an apartment on campus with some friends.

Also ask about changing majors. My daughter was interested in Food Science but changed to MicroBiology and now to Ecology which is what she's more interested in. Out of high school, she worked an internship at the labs at the FDA Department of Agriculture studying E-Coli and Salmonella. They trained her to handle Level 3 Pathogens.

That does remind me. Ask about internship programs.

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:33 PM

2. How's the food?

Dorms OK?

Sorry, not being helpful at the moment. Did this with 2 daughters, visited a bunch of colleges, and much to my/our surprise, girls chose schools we hadn't seen or paid attention to. THAT, dear parents, is LIFE!

Have fun! College tours a great lifetime memory!

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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:12 PM

25. Thanks!

This is round 1 of what I initially envision as four rounds over the next 15 months. This is the Midwest round. There will als obe a Northeast round, a Mid-Atlantic/Southeast round, and a West Coast round.

It's going to ultimately come down to who accepts her and what kind of financial aid we can score.

OBKid 2 will be financially more straightforward - She wants to be a Husker.

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Reply #25)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:18 PM

26. Again, have a great time!

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:37 PM

3. Why rack up debt for a degree that will be useless when...

 

climate change induced famine, indebted governments and soaring energy costs will synergistically lead to the collapse of industrial civilization (though climate change is bad enough on its own).

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:48 PM

6. Cheer up! When the end comes, no one will be collecting student debt,

so get all you want! Man, the end of everything is just a license to do what you really want to do!

You've got it backwards on energy costs - they're falling and will fall for the foreseeable future. And government debt? Just paper. That only leads climate to deal with, and fortunately, more knowledge, not less, will be needed to deal with that.

Doom and gloomers usually have a comet to catch, and they're just a drag on the rest of us. Or do you think we might as well all put a bullet in our heads and avoid the pain to come? Start hanging with a better crowd or get some therapy if you really think that current high school grads might as well skip college because the end is soon.

We fleas on this planet dog have very little long-term effect, and a near-extinction event is not an extinction event. Knowledge can never be a waste. never.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:06 AM

9. Yeah, I thought of that a second after I posted

 

But that will debt burn as long as they can make it. Slaving at a day job in the meantime to pay it off doesn't sound like the best usage of time. My advice is to get out there and live your life on your terms while we still can.


You've got it backwards on energy costs - they're falling and will fall for the foreseeable future




We've extracted the low hanging fruit. Now were burning bitumen sands with a 3:1 to 5:1 return on energy invested. That does signal a coming age of cheap enery


And government debt? Just Paper

Energy builds economies, and dollars buy it. Debt will mater soon enough if it doesn't already.


Doom and gloomers usually have a comet to catch, and they're just a drag on the rest of us.

Funny how you don't address climate change, which billions are predicted to face famine because of. Are you not in the mood to laugh off famine?


and a near-extinction event is not an extinction event.

No, but when everyone but the Bushes and Kochs starve to death, its not always a walk in the park either. But, hell, Im glad theyll make it!


Knowledge can never be a waste. never.

No, but you don't need $100K in debt to obtain knowledge

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:07 PM

21. Where's your wind and solar? Wind is now 26% of all Texas electrical generation, and we've

been working on it less than 10 years. Zero fuel costs for solar or wind, can't be beat. I'm enjoying the 5.6 cent per KWH rate I get from my wind provider. TXU, they of the filthy coal and nuclear options, were charging me 20.2 cents.

Natural gas is also right at $2 now, way down from the $10 on your 5 year old chart.

And anyone who still wants to burn coal and petroleum? Well, they deserve what they get.

Debt is just a number - look at how many bankruptcies of major companies and even countries occur, and yet people go right on living.


I told you, we will need more knowledge on climate change, not less - I didn't ignore it at all.

Who paid $100k for education? My MAEd was $27,000 in 2003. I mean, of course, shop wisely, but education is essential. Or in the words of the immortal bumper sticker:

"Think education is expensive? Try ignorance."

Thanks for your replies - they're relevant and civil!

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #21)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:16 PM

22. Solar and Wind are at .31% and 4.43% of total online capacity nationwide, respectively

 

And anyone who still wants to burn coal and petroleum? Well, they deserve what they get.

We all get what happens when its burned, wherever its burned. China's emissions will kill us all, and apparently with 7 new coal plants being built a week in China and India, they want it plenty


Debt is just a number

Debt is an obligation to reciprocate the consumption of energy made in the past at some point in the future. If we acknowledge there is no will to reciprocate in the future, there will be no willingness or ability to consume it in the present in exchange for such "debt".


we will need more knowledge on climate change

We need more action. At the start of the century, it only took about 16 years of a 3% decline in emissions to keep us in arbitrarily "safe" limits. Now we are looking at a required 6% decline year to year (which climbs each year we do not hit that target). Soon, the only way to "save industrial civilization" will require a 15% decline (which would effectively require an economic collapse). At this rate, either the economy will be forced into a nose-dive (not likely), or climate will force civilization to take a nose-dive.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #22)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:39 PM

27. Yes, the nation as a whole is still mired in yesterday's energy. 26% of Texas electrical

generation is wind, and that includes nearly 1/4 of the generators shut down waiting on enough transmission lines to be completed to carry their load. These lines will be complete by March, and then we will cross the line on about 35% of our generated electricity. This is the future.

Your debt definition is simply nonsense.

Here: you borrow money to build a house. The house is built, in fact, millions of houses are built. Then, all the debtors simply refuse to pay. Houses are still there, and they will be distributed to somebody at a huge discount after they are repossessed. Banks never follow real ways to maximize their sales, because they are going to simply write it off their taxes anyway.

This is how I bought a small apartment complex years ago. People defaulted on a $500,000 debt. The bank auctioned it - there were two bidders, and I got it for $50,000 cash I had saved. Spent another $10,000 bringing it up to standard. Rents on these 8 units over the last 19 years are more than $1.5 million dollars. Now where did that debt go? Up into accounting smoke. Where did the apartments go? They're right there, earning rent every month. See? The debt was irrelevant. The real property is what matters.

And your action call will not happen because people are not going to consume less energy - instead, generate energy with no emissions - wind and solar. My bill is 70% lower than it used to be because I switched to a company that uses wind instead of coal and nuclear. Emit less, don't generate less.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #27)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:58 PM

29. "Your debt definition is simply nonsense."

 

No, its actually exactly what "debt" is in the rawest form. You consume energy working, you are given a token of debt, ensuring that society will adequately consume energy to produce a reciprocal product for you as a reward. You will not work for debt if you cannot be sure your consumption of energy is reciprocated. The willingness to reciprocate the consumption of energy must explicitly exist to initially encourage someone to do useful work (and consume energy). Otherwise, we are all working for free, or for an a simple hope that our work will maybe be reciprocated (not very motivating).


Here: you borrow money to build a house. The house is built, in fact, millions of houses are built. Then, all the debtors simply refuse to pay. Houses are still there, and they will be distributed to somebody at a huge discount after they are repossessed.

Sure, and now you have created a situation where further homes may not be built or financed because there is uncertainty the debt will ever be repaid. Then money is sapped from the economy from such uncertainty and the velocity of energy dips (leading to deficient demand and recessions). So now the central government has to step in, borrow their own money, and inject it to "fix" the problem...does that sound familiar?

So this becomes even more important in terms of ensuring you have a respectable currency to purchase the energy needed to do useful work in the first place (or it costs more and more to 'work' and increase the GDP, thereby lowering profits and incentive to invest). No one is going to accept a currency that may mean next to nothing tomorrow for energy, or products created by consuming energy. Unfortunately, the US has been paying a premium on the plurality of its oil since its fiscal policies led it off a cliff, leading to expensive work and an eventual reckoning:




And your action call will not happen because people are not going to consume less energy - instead, generate energy with no emissions - wind and solar.

What people are going to do is purchase new shiny products and export coal to China (and exports are surging) until we are all dead. Sounds like one hell of a plan.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #27)


Response to NoOneMan (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 08:50 AM

18. Because Mrs. OBD has threatened greivous harm to any OBkids not going to college

They fear mom more than famine, plague, or pestilence...

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:41 PM

4. 1, In-person visits are absolutely vital to choosing a school where your student can have success.

Yes, indeed, speak to some random students on campus - in the student union, in the cafeteria, some casual setting and tell them you're (your student needs to have this conversation) considering coming here, and what is the best thing, and what is the worst thing about the campus.

And I know you will find the following technique I used to be quite eccentric, but let me give you my thinking right up front. I believed then, and I do know, at age 60, that a college experience is a total experience - classroom, social, daily living, all of it. So when my time came, I had the opportunity to visit 3 different schools - Texas Tech, UT-Austin, and Texas A&M. I visited with other students, I looked the libraries over, the dormitory layouts and differences, and then I went to the dining halls and had a meal.

At Texas Tech, it was a large open cafeteria with a huge salad bar in the middle of the room made from a real wagon with huge wooden wheels. In the middle of that bar was a huge, perhaps as much as 3 feet square, Jell-O mold. Right in the middle of that mold, someone had clearly taken two hands and scooped out a huge portion of Jell-O, making a real shambles of the mold. No one else seemed to notice.

In Austin, we ate at the Jester Center, really new at that time, and were served on tin trays stamped with compartments for food. I thought then and now that it looked like I imagined jail would be.

At A&M, we ate in a dining hall with tablecloths on tables, student waiters in white, and were served family-style right at the tables with serving bowls of everything available. I thought that any school who put that much into eating was bound to be detail-oriented in other things, too. I was impressed. I then found out that one reason they used student waiters was to create more employment for students on-campus, because in those days, Bryan and College Station were just pretty small with few opportunities for students to work. They also had students working in the on-campus laundry service, landscaping departments and more.

I chose those darned Aggies.

So the best food gets it! No, the campus which seems to fit your own personality and needs and really seems to care about you and what you are studying is your choice.

Again, I apologize for the length and eccentricity of my post, but it worked for me.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 02:18 AM

13. Of course you should never make the mistake

of thinking that the food served on any specific planned visitation days, when its expected there may be parents present, is the same food that students are normally served.

Many a visitor to my college made that mistake, commenting on how wonderful the food was, how lucky we were.

Not saying you did this, it sounds like you just had a daily visitation, but many colleges have specific planned events to lure in potential students and their paying parents. And then later to bring them back and convince them its still worth the money. Don't fall for it. Pick your own day, see the real campus when its doesn't have an extra facade of amazing plastered over the top of everything.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 08:56 PM

20. You're right, of course.

But I was just there the 4th week of classes, nothing special going on, which was confirmed by 4 years of attendance. I hadn't really thought about mass visits, since no one in my family then or now has ever coordinated anything with anyone

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:44 PM

5. Does she know what she wants to major in?

If so, find a professor in that area and email them ahead of time. See if she can visit a class while she's there.

Ask if students in that major generally are able to graduate in 4 years (many people in the arts or arts education majors have too many credits in their degree programs to do so)

Ask what recent graduates are doing, if they're working in their degree area.

Also, pay real close attention to the neighborhood. Lots of colleges in bigger cities are located in areas without a lot of nearby food/entertainment options, or are in neighborhoods one wouldn't venture into at night. If the university doesn't have activities on-campus to compensate, the students get sick of that real quick.

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Response to teenagebambam (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 08:33 AM

16. Unfortunately, no

I had the same idea -- great minds thinking alike.

Also, pay real close attention to the neighborhood. Lots of colleges in bigger cities are located in areas without a lot of nearby food/entertainment options, or are in neighborhoods one wouldn't venture into at night. If the university doesn't have activities on-campus to compensate, the students get sick of that real quick.


At this stage, that's a big consideration. OBKid1 wants to go to a big-city school, so the surrounding areas and living options will be something I'll be interested to see.

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:51 PM

7. When I took my daughter on visits

I was concerned about campus security because she tended toward urban schools. Ultimately she went to The George Washington Unversity in DC. I was fortunate that during her orientation I got to talk to the chief of campus police. Turns out GW sits three blocks west of the White House adjacent to the State Department in Foggy Bottom, as a result it is one of the most secure campuses anywhere--an alarm triggers response from at least four agencies and there are emergency phone boxes on every block.

She graduated four years ago and is now getting her PhD at Michigan State. While she did great at GW and earned a great degree, she really missed out on a "college town" experience.... one of the reasons she ended up in East Lansing and loves it.

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Response to Still Sensible (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 02:22 AM

14. Oh man.

The MSU dairy has the best ice cream I have ever had. If she has somehow not discovered it, make sure she does. And there is an absolutely amazing Ethiopian restaurant in that area as well. Best you can get in this country, I suspect.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 06:29 AM

15. MSU Dairy Store is the best anywhere.

MSU is an amazing university. My dad worked at the cyclotron for 37 years, and I practically grew up there. He'd take us to the Dairy Store all the time.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #15)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 12:06 AM

30. Im normally skeptical of "best anywhere" claims

But its justified in this case. There is nowhere better for ice cream in any country(or state or province) I have ever visited.

But man cannot live on ice cream alone. Thus, one should visit Altu's Ethiopian cuisine for dinner, first. then sit talking with friends. And then go get ice cream at the MSU dairy. This is my prescription for what ails you. Or you. Or anyone else.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:31 PM

19. +1!

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:48 AM

10. Ask

With a serious, straight face, if the team mascot is really a large, bipedal animal.

TlalocW

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 01:23 AM

11. Most of the on-campus information is available on-line. Ask about off-campus concerns.

You're kids will most likely travel off-campus every so often. I'd ask about concerns about that.

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 01:31 AM

12. What percentage of the students...

Graduate in four years.

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 08:48 AM

17. In addition to the questions listed

I would simply spend some time at the school.

Talking to students and professors is a good idea.

Read message boards. Attend events or activities. Read the school newspaper. Browse the library. Read the local community paper's archives for stories about the school.

Get a feel for the flavor, the tone of the school.

Last year I spent a weekend at a private 4-year liberal arts college for a state-wide inservice. I got to do much of the above. I was wistful; I spent years and years taking classes at night, part time, from the local community college and a state university's local satellite campus. My choices, including area of study, were dictated by finances and by the limited local offerings. In my world, there weren't opportunities to go off to a big university, live in a dorm, and focus soley on my education. I had myself and others to support, and very limited means. When my sons left high school, the situation was much the same. While I was wandering that campus, I took a couple of pictures and sent them off to my oldest, working on his masters at a state university. He texted back, "Where are you???" I told him, and said, "if only we had $45,000 a year, you could be here, too."

The point being, I guess, that, as both a student and a parent, my primary concerns were always, "Can I pay for this?" For myself, it was also, "How will I pay the bills while I do this?" and "Which of the 3 degrees offered should I pursue, and what can I do with it after?"

I should have spent more time on that last question.

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:59 PM

23. Oh, and....

...if you can, find out when the faculty last had a raise. I just left teaching at a school where I hadn't had a raise in four years, and the pay was way under industry standard to start with. My facilities (music department) were falling down around me. Meanwhile, donors were pouring targeted donations into sports. Made for a lot of unhappy faculty (unless you were in athletics, I guess.)

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Response to teenagebambam (Reply #23)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:08 PM

24. Point well taken

Thanks!

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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:49 PM

28. You should get on the school websites now

for some of them, you need to schedule your visit weeks in advance especially if they are a more exclusive school.
If they are still in classes, see if your child can attend a lecture while you are there.
Walk the campus, makes sure your child is comfortable
Find out what percent of the students live on campus for freshman year and for all four years.
Its no fun being a live-in when everyone else is a commuter.
Find out about student organizations if your child has specific interests: e.g. Gilbert and Sullivan...
Advising!!!! Is there a freshman advisor different than their major advisor?
What are the undergraduate research opportunities.
What percent of the classes are taught by a full professor?
How many employers recruit on campus.
What percent of the last graduating class went to grad school versus employed versus....
What is the average debt of the recent graduates?



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