Why Top Universities Are Better
27 June 2017 | Pago Pago, American Samoa
There is a sentiment among the population that one university is a good as another, none are truly better and a degree from one is about the same as a degree from another. That is patently false. Employers know it. Institutions know it and the universities themselves know it. But why is the contrary true?
First, top universities have higher admission standards and get smarter and more able students. Secondly, they have much lower student faculty ratios. Chicago for example has professor for each seven students. Classes are small. Third, only tenure track faculty are used for teaching in most cases. No TA's that can barely speak English. No adjunct faculty paid $12/hour for teaching an occasional filler class or section.
Fourth, the faculty are much better and are paid much more. The is competition is fierce for the best faculty. Starting salaries at top universities are uniformly about $115,000 a year for new assistant professors last time I looked. They are better teachers, have better research ideas and generally do better. Additionally, Chicago, for an example I know, gives out many awards annually of $25,000 each for excellence in teaching. Fifth, top universities get and have the top senior faculty. They often but not exclusively teach the graduate students and get the best undergrads interested in going to graduate school.
Smarter and more able students, top quality teachers, smaller classes, much interactive discussion, both during and after class totally blows away on-line education or the instruction in huge lecture classes common to most state universities where students rarely even meet their teachers who are often TA's or adjunct faculty. The level and quality of discussion and scope and depth of learning is much greater. Just a totally different experience.
The American public knows better, but pretends not to because admission is tough and many did not get accepted. It is fashionable in the extreme to disparage the students of top universities but I have lived and worked among them my whole life so just don't believe it. The few exceptions do not break the rule and even they have a tendency to come around later.