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UMass grads tell Globe writer where she can stick her article about their alma mater

Anna B rips into Tracy Jan's article in the Globe on the suckitude of UMass Amherst:

She is my age and she went to Stanford. Stanford costs about $38,000 per year now. Guess which one of us graduated with no student loan debt? ME! Maybe Umass Amherst has a bad rep because snobs like Tracy Jan love perpetuating that myth. Guess what? Umass Amherst was an amazing experience for me and I learned a lot. Sure, my dorm didn't have maids or ivy growing up its walls facing the quad. But I sure liked graduating debt free.

Dave Copeland, who also graduated from UMass and now teaches a class at Bridgewater State College, also tears into elitists in a tough economy when not everybody can afford a private college:

You want see a driven kid, find one who could have gone to those top-tier, state-system schools Jan gushes over in her article but, for whatever reason they ended up at a Bridgewater State or a UMass. There's a bit of a "fuck you, I can do this and don't tell me I can't" attitude that, frankly keeps me as an instructor on my toes. It's really hard to be dismissive of a student’s shortcomings saying "well, they are just Bridgewater State students" after you've been on campus for much more than a semester.

And it's really fun to be in that kind of classroom.

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Between 1989 and 1990, I decided not to apply to the Ivy League schools. I applied to eight colleges and got accepted to all eight.

The schools? Framingham State College (now Framingham State University), University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts of Boston, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Rhode Island, University of Hartford, Brandeis (well, one high-level college) and Southeastern Massachusetts University, which became University of Massachusetts of Dartmouth.

I graduated from Umass Dartmouth in 1994. The four years I spent at UMassD totaled about $40,000 - and that included in-state tuition, room, board and fees - but that was 1990's money. I had the loans through MEFA and they were paid off March 2005. It took me 10 years at $225 per month, but you can imagine my pure, unbridled ecstasy when I got the letters telling me my payments were over.

Then there was the one semester of graduate school (long story short: it didn't work out) at UNH that cost $9094. I paid $100 per month from 1996 to 2008.

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The Pioneer Valley-sized chip on my shoulder reacted poorly to that story. There must have been a better way for her to report this topic without sounding like she didn't want to get her opera gloves dirty with state school dirt. Aren't there cheese farms and mall condos to cover?

And to the UMass grads that have replied to the story: Capitalize the M. This isn't "massachusetts." Maybe that story did have a point...

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Maybe for you we'll spell Douche bag with a capital "D".

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I was reminded of an episode four years back, when students at UMass Boston accused the Globe of bias (see the Universal Hub post here). For good reason, too. Never mind that the Globe's offices are within shouting distance of UMB and there are many other schools located nearby; the paper's higher education coverage was overwhelmingly oriented toward Harvard and BC (the latter because of sports) according to database searches of school references in Globe headlines.

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That being said, Umass Amherst is no free lunch. I believe the school still costs 22K a year. Other state schools do not cost that much across the country for their residents.

Plus there is a TON of financial aid being thrown around from these private schools still. And that is despite the down economy. As clearysquared notes above, take out a loan and you can basically play it out like a mortgage without the fear of having your house forclosed.

It all depends on what you want to do though too.

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2010-2011 In-state tuition and fees: $12,084;
Out-of-state tuition and fees: $20,307

2009 Endowment: $158,318,262

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http://www.umass.edu/admissions/financing/


Estimated costs for 2010-2011: (subject to change)

| | In-State | Out-of-State | NERSP* |
|==================================================|
| Tuition/Fees | $11,732 | $23,628 | $14,855 |
| Room/Board | $8,814 | $8,814 | $8,814 |
| Total | $20,545 | $32,442 | $23,669 |

In-state cost is $22K after Bud Light fees.

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Thanks for that. I was thinking though that if one is looking to go to school cheaply, tuition is really the only thing you can't change except for through scholarships etc. You can certainly live on much much less than $8814 a year though.

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And you weren't just thinking about cheap schools. You were thinking about proving Pete Nice wrong when he was actually right.

You can take room and board figures off of any school. Plus as freshman you cannot live off campus at most schools.

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Third person self references? anonarama no likey!!

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You can say whatever you want about Pete Nice. But when you talk smack about Pete Nice's google skills there is going to be a problem.

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Only uneducated clowns use phrases like "talk smack." ;-)

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UMass has tuition ... and it has this additional fee thing that is way more huge!

I think these totals are correct, but it does actually harm their corporate tuition assistance plan business because they split it into tuition and an enormous fee, where private colleges just have one number. Some tuition assistance programs won't cover the fee even if the total is way less than BU. Go figure!

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My employer reimburses for tuition only. At RCC each credit costs $26 in tuition and $107 in fees.

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http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college...

Cost of Attendance In-state: $22,593

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Tuition is nice, but he's right Eeka. Add in housing and other costs and UMASS is easily $22 now a days.

It was 15K a year in loans when I went in 01-05, and has only gone up.

Still, it's much better then out of state, or private institutions. And funding has got better since Romney left the state.

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I actually had a one year grace period with my mother and father, who had paid during my time there, and I overtook them in 1995.

The payments I made of $225 a month, when you think about it, are downright cheap compared to attending a school that's $150K after four years (over a 15 year loan period, at 3.25% interest, it comes to about $1347 a month, so Pete Nice is right around the mark) - and I was paying 8.5% interest back then until the loan was paid off. For an in-state student at one of the state schools, with room and board, tuition and fees included, student loans would be around $738 a month - more than half of what you'd pay for the bigger school.

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But still owed 30K when I got out around 1993. But then I bounced around and worked at different colleges getting different grad degrees that were paid by the school in exchange for working there. But I was able to put off those loans when I couldn't pay them (As you can with most college loans) and not have to pay if you are a student at a current school.

But basically your average family could not afford to pay 25K a year back then. So I paid a third up front (through my parents and my summer work), loaned a third, and had a third on scholorship.

My nephew is a senior at Bowdoin this year. His parents make about 75K a year with 3 kids. The school lets those kids pay 15K a year without any loans.

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there is a school-wide mission to rip this sort of elitism to shreds. It's a University full of smart, wily dishwashers working their way through, and I was in more than one class that tore an adjunct from a fancy school a few new ones because s/he didn't respect us intellectually (and oh, you can sense it). Our chess club routinely destroys the Harvard and BU clubs; they are very aggressive and showy about it, almost jockish. Hilarity.

I don't walk down the sidewalk waiting for someone to knock the chip off anymore since I've graduated, but I still lie in wait for people pooh-poohing my beloved Martian Work Camp By The Bay, UMB. It's like family; I will talk trash about it all day long to an alum or a fellow student, but if I hear someone from another school say so much as that it's hard to get to by public transportation, watch out.

Didn't leave any comments on the story, though. Other people savaged the writer to the point that I felt any of my contributions would have been superfluous. Poor dear, I don't think she had any idea what kind of hornet's nest she was sticking her hand into.

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... is one of the few places I know of where you don't get smarmy kids doing everything but their lectures and homework on parental money. I have friends who were grad student TAs and professors who complain about students and parents at more "elite" schools, but I never ever had that happen to me there. Very little parent-fueled grade grubbing there. Sure, drunks and asshats and clueless kids go there - they just don't seem to last.

When students work two jobs to both live and study, and go to school on top, they tend to be a bit more serious about what they do. I suspect many community colleges have similarly serious students. Some of these "top" colleges are merely warehouses of rich kids who either don't know what they want, or aren't willing to work for it, or think working for it means automatic success or teachers are being mean.

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I believe Umass Lowell and Umass Boston are doing the right things in places where Amherst may be failing. Umass Lowell has some fantastic science engineering programs as well as one of the first online degree programs in the area. Umass Boston has also upgraded all of their facilities in the last 10 years and have some great undergrad and grad programs.

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Amherst just put up several new science and lab buildings.

I have several friends that went there back when they only had the old facilities and they're both well into their doctorate programs.

UMASS is no slouch in science, engineering, computer science's and math.

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With few exceptions, all college educations are the same. They all use the same books, and do the same lab experiments. Those famous professors at Harvard? Very few of them actually teach undergrads. You get out what you put in. I graduated from UMASS-Boston with not a penny of debt, and got into a top grad school. There were no frats, no parties, and no sports, but plenty of learning.

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"With few exceptions, all college educations are the same"

Not quite true. I think I get what you're saying in that it doesn't matter as much as people think it does whether one went to a name-brand school, but there are differences in types of colleges. In a liberal arts school without TAs, one is being taught entirely by professors who are experts in their fields. And classes have 5-20 students in them, so the professor knows your name and knows whether you know the material and you participate in the discussions every class meeting.

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... i believe that you can get a great education out of *any* college or university, but that doesn't mean it's going to work for every kid.

i went to many schools -- one tiny liberal arts party school (undergrad), night school at a massachusetts community college (undergrad), one tiny quaker college (undergrad), and one huge university (graduate school). i got a kick ass education from all of them. but some of them worked better for me than others.

for example, dave copeland is hella smart, and i am glad that umass worked for him, and that he's now taking those smarts and passing it on to other kids. i, personally, would not have thrived at umass. it wouldn't be a good fit for the kid that i was, and i would have dropped out, similar to how i dropped out of my tiny, expensive, elite, party school. it was a disaster and a mockery of an education. wasn't the schools fault. just a bad mix of school and me.

college is all about the right school for YOU. and it's important to look at all sorts of factors in figuring that out. education simply isn't one size fits all.

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Went to from a stimulating, fulfilling undergraduate experience in the humanities at SUNY to grad school at Harvard 30 yrs ago. The dept I entered had a deservedly negative reputation which I ignored, thinking that the "H" degree would be worth it: big mistake. My experience was miserable beyond belief. Two of my lauded professors had so much contempt for each other (and, needless to say, vanity,) that each would leave as soon as the other began to speak at any dept function.
The lot of profs were so boring that attending "seminars" felt like sitting in a tomb... I'll admit that dept was as bad as Harvard gets. It is, however, true that many of the famous profs in other depts had little interest in teaching.
Today I toured Northeastern with my son, now a HS senior. At week's end we'll visit UMass Amherst...
I am relieved to think that wherever he goes, he'll do better than he would at Harvard.

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Tribalistic hair-splitting over the much larger issue: Most people are anti-intellectuals who should not go to college and do not need to go to college. College is the new high school, and a gigantic scam, wherever it is and at whatever supposed rank.

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Depends on what you're going to put into it.

I went to a large regional HS and knew about 50 kids who got into and attended UMass Amherst. By the start of Sophomore year only about 25 were left.

Very few actually transferred, and many flunked out or quit because they couldn't find a proper way to balance social freedom vs getting actual school work done. Some of it being the schools size, for others it was everything else that college offered that they couldn't handle.

The rest of us have done well, and many of them are doing well now too.

It's not a scam; but it's not for everyone.

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What a Stanford Snob without a clue might look like:

IMAGE(http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/profile-ak-snc1/v22939/1708/113/n533775264_7514.jpg)

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=533775264

Go figure, looks like she's from The West Coast / Oregon. Also sort of ironic is she "likes" the High School Journalism Institute, which states:

The High School Journalism Institute, a collaboration between The Oregonian and Oregon State University, gathers two dozen students for a reporting/writing summer camp. Its goal: promote diversity in newsrooms of the future.

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Someone buy me a new life please - it is Ever-so-clear that that ain't the kind of Oregon that I grew up with.

I lived in a Trailer Park and Stanford wouldn't send me anything until I used my High School Counselor's address (after inviting me to request an application based on my SAT scores). I took the second card they sent my counselor, used his house address, and it showed up quite quickly. Ditto for a friend of mine who even lived in the very wealthy community of Lake Oswego - he had to borrow an address to actually get the application they invited him to ask for.

They apparently didn't send applications to people with an apartment number or trailer space number in their address. My counselor repeated this experiment and the results held. As a result, now I won't even let my sons apply there. I'll send my geekspawn to Caltech if he wants to go to California. I'd be plenty happy if he went to UMass Lowell for undergrad, too. Fuck them.

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You're posting Facebook photos of a journalist calling her a "Stanford snob?" Huh? Can someone--anyone--point out to me the scathing personal attacks on UMass in this article or how the background of the writer intruded in any way into the story? You guys are being tetchy and defensive in the extreme--she's a reporter; it's not a personal opinion piece. I know plenty of people who went to UMass, including two of my most brilliant and successful friends, but can't we also acknowledge the issues the story discusses--cuts in funding, a general lack of morale, perception as a party school, deteriorating infrastructure? The story points out that students from MA are choosing other state schools over UMass, not zipping off to Princeton. I really think a lot of you missed the point completely.

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My brother goes to UMass Amherst and I go to BU. I have to say all this talk about UMass versus high ranked school is there are kernels of truth.

Unless she is just outright making up the statistics, they hold weight that have to addressed. Some can be disputed, one can debate on the importance of tenured professors or the number of professors in the English department. The size of the endowment, graduation rate (seriously, 50 percent?), state cuts to the university budget, and lagging SAT scores are much harder to ignore.

UMass should go after the best professors, increase the endowment to help achieve such aims, and something is very telling if only half the student body graduates 4 years after matriculation. For those who defend Amherst by talking of how well you done since, well what about the other half who didn't graduate in 4 years. Perhaps it is the student, but something's off when you compare numbers like that against other schools. Problems like that must be addressed.

Now, I'm not saying Amherst is a bad school. I'm damn sure that my brother will do just fine after college, maybe even better than me. For most careers and aims in life, you won't find too much of a difference by the school itself.

I need to also point out by those who are ripping into high ranked schools by talking about debt, many schools do offer a great amount of scholarships and financial aid. Now if one have a choice between 200k of debt or 0 debt at Amherst, I would have to say Amherst, but there's plenty who will not be 200k in debt.

Every school have its bright kids and the not so bright ones. Thousands graduate each year, so of course you'll find those who do just fine after and those who didn't. It's up to each individual student in the end.

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At UMass Lowell, at least, many undergrads were not getting any help from mom and dad and were taking their time so they could work full-time to support themselves.

Most non-state schools lack the flexibility to support that mode of matriculation, and their price is so high that it isn't possible to work and pay as you go and just take a bit longer.

I went through grad school at UMass Lowell while working and having small children and I could do that because the school is set up to support taking a long time at part-time speed while working full or part-time elsewhere. I graduated debt-free because of that. Many more elite schools do not have programs that accommodate that way of getting through - they just think you'll take loans and mom and dad will help you out. That's why a lot of first-generation-to-college and children of immigrants who don't want a party school and want a good technical education end up at UMass Lowell.

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First, I do want to point out that many elite schools can also offer enough financial aid (the non-loan kind) that make them a viable option. This is not always the course. Some people get offered a full ride, others are told to borrow money.

Back more on the main point, I have met some kids who went to UMass Lowell and UMass Boston, the culture there is definitely different from Amherst. If people take more than 4 years there, it is understandable. From what I can tell, the majority are what you said. Most are paying on their own with no outside help. It attracts students who primary concerns is to study and working enough to survive.

UMass Amherst is not that type of school. Most are living on campus and many are not paying as their go with work. More importantly, many don't have the same mentality as those in Lowell/Boston. I hate to say this, but Amherst have its party reputation for a reason backed by people I know who goes/went to Amherst. Perhaps a large portion of the student body is taking a year off to work, but Amherst is not Lowell/Boston.

Thus, such problems pointed in the article needs to be addressed. Perhaps she exaggerates and I can show it to my brother to get his opinion, but I think there are kernels of truth in it.

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UMass Amherst is not that type of school. Most are living on campus and many are not paying as their go with work. More importantly, many don't have the same mentality as those in Lowell/Boston. I hate to say this, but Amherst have its party reputation for a reason backed by people I know who goes/went to Amherst.

Did your friends graduate? Did you attend any classes, besides visiting them on weekends?

Either way, that wasn't my experience at UMASS. If you didn't do the work, and if you didn't go to the classes, you either quit before you hit a embarrassing GPA, or they bounced you out of the university. I watched it happen to others.

Sure, there are opportunities to party, and drink, and goof off every night; but that goes with the huge university life of any large, top state school.

I moved to Boston directly after UMASS, and I can tell you BU and BC students party just as hard as anywhere, especially in Allston and Brookline. I've lived in Somerville for a summer, and Tuffs students are the same. Hell, I've even partied with Harvard kids in their dorms (And ok, they were a bit different, but not much).

There is no difference in the college party culture between schools, besides it's size in comparison to the student body size. Some schools, and some residents are more vocal then others, but the problems (blown out or not) are always the same.

UMASS really is nothing special in that regard.

In fact, they've instituted polices that have cracked down on non-existent issues when the new police chief rolled into town and needed to make name for herself. They have state troopers manning dorm entrances and conducting walk throughs while housing has become much less tolerant of deviant behavior. They put an end to the traditional Hobart Hoedown, a large unofficial block party, with threat of arrest and police brutality because the university didn't like it.

This isn't your Marcus Camby era school anymore, where you could walk around spring fling with an open container. They don't even let you in with a sub 3.0 HS GPA unless you have a laundry list of other things making you an attractive candidate.

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Adam--how is this article an "essay?" I clicked through expecting some snotty little personal rant and that's not what I found.

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I've changed "essay" to "article."

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I have to confess that while it is definitely not in my nature to see the glass as half-full, I read the article as the Globe trying to draw some attention to the problem of underfunding the state colleges and universities (or are they all universities now? This is what the Legislature spends its time on - what entities can call themselves - rather than finding ways to make sure they are properly resourced). In that respect, I saw it as a decent story.

I can also echo Mr. Copeland's account. While I am not an instructor, I am a professional in my early 30s who has been taking science classes at one of the community colleges over the past year. I will be the first to admit that I have not seen what I expected, which was a bunch of kids who did not like to be in school and were there solely because their parents told them that if they didn't go, they had to move out.

The kids or young adults in these classes (most range in age from 18-24) are for the most part very dedicated and driven. They are sequencing DNA rather than sending IMs to each other (really). After getting to know a little about many of them, I discovered that they are are also making a very good financial choice - getting and associates degree at $151 a credit (plus the fees, which are, btw, more than than tuition number), which credits MUST be accepted by the UMass system (under the community college compact that the state set up) so long as they do well enough to meet the entrance requirements. I must also say that the level of instruction and the dedication of the professors, adjunct and tenured, has surpassed my expectations.

We will never keep all of our local students local, because, frankly, they are in demand at places like Michigan and the like (remember, our public school systems are pretty much the envy of the rest of the states). We shouldn't want to, either. A lot of those kids will go to Michigan or wherever, and come back having been exposed to people with ideas and worldviews different than those that predominate around here. Considering that we (on UHub) often grouse about the parochialism in and around Boston, this is not a bad thing.

So let's make sure UMass is properly resourced and is the institution that it should be, but lets not worry if Ashley from Ashland, Winnie from Wayland and Nathan from Newton go to Michigan for undergrad. Let's just do what we can make sure that they come back for their graduate work and then start companies here.

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The backlash to this article reminds of the vitriol usually reserved here for those elitists who suggest that Dorchester or Mattapan might not be the best places in the area to live and raise a family. But can you really blame people who look at the map of where most of the murders happen, or look at some of the statistics in this story ($181 million endowment vs. Michigan's $6 billion, for example) and decide to make a different choice?

The financial aspect is a huge concern, but we're not always comparing $0 vs. $200K over four years. UMass is far from free, and private colleges and elite state schools can make up some of the difference by offering significant scholarships and grants, especially to those top-tier students so coveted by UMass.

I used to be one of those students, and as the first person in my family to attend college I wanted to aim high. So with my parents' support, I took on some debt to attend the best school that accepted me. But I'll admit there was some intellectual arrogance at play, too -- did I really belong at ZooMass with the guys from high school who spent every weekend trying to put down a 30 rack of Bud Lights?

Of course this was idiotic reasoning on my part, but reputation still counts for a lot. The challenge for UMass is to bring its reputation in line with the quality of its education and the success of its grads.

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Hey I googled Bridgewater State College, and couldn't find it. Kept getting hits for Bridgewater State University... what gives?

;)

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Wikipedia says:

As of July 22, 2010, the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate have voted to change BSC to University status and its name to Bridgewater State University. The measure was signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on July 28, 2010.[2][3]

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Wherever most Bostonians went to school, I have reluctantly come to realize that they did not receive even a minimal education. What a town of ignorant, simple-minded loudmouths.

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How's the weather down there in Charlotte?

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Not.

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Elephant in the room. It's a root cause of why so many things are broken.

The Globe doesn't disable comments on half their articles because they don't want all the the ad impressions from the wealth of thoughtful Boston community dialog.

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Tracy Jan is clearly an academic snob. I take from her article that a high school students without 4.0's are not worth having around. The timing of the article on the eve of 5,000 freshmen beginning their academic careers at UMass is just mean spirited. My son is one of those 5,000. He graduated with only a 3.6. Yet, we continue to love him. He actually was accepted at all of the other U's mentioned in the article along with Providence College. He chose UMass for many reasons. Including, diversity of majors, quality of the food, ability of students to actually attend sporting events (see UConn) and cost. The number of tenured professors did not factor in. While Ms. Jan likely holds little hope for my son and the thousands of other non 4.0's, I am not ready to concede his future. You see, one never knows. I will assume that Tracy Jan had a 4.0 in high school and then attended a prestigious university. Yet, despite all of that promise, six years into a career at the Globe she is still basically writing the same article over and over (ref. Suffolk University) and toils at the same job she had in Oregon. Some people peak too early. If Tracy Jan is the bar that defines the product of the academies elite, my money is on my son and UMass to clear it with ease.

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Quality of the food, is that a joke?

You must have meant off campus.

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Quality of food, availability of spectator sports, quantity of cheap beer, accessibility of poontang...

All important lifestyle things, but they have little to do with becoming a knowledgeable, thinking person. Nor do they have much to do with lining up a career. Unless your career is in providing said goods and services.

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Come to grips with it. These are seventeen year old kids. The colleges know what they are merketing toward. Look At UNH's web site. Seven different videos on the food services. Most colege brochures highlight athletics and dorm life. We should not be dropping off fully developed adults on the college doorstep. Grow up too fast,you end up a snob.

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Quality of food as in "whoa, dude, they have foot-long hotdogs!" might not be so related, but when I interviewed at a few colleges and was taken to lunch by student hosts or admissions people, some of the schools had nothing I could eat. At these schools, the students who have personal/religious/medical reasons that they can't eat the food are "allowed" to live off campus and not participate in meal plans.

At the time I was attending community college and living various places, and I very much wanted the campus life where you live with people and can attend lunchtime discussion groups and things, so this figured fairly heavily in to my choice of a four-year college. Living in an on-campus residence with all that went on there and participating in dining hall things like foreign language tables and discussions with various professors absolutely shaped my personal development and my eventual career.

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I'm always a little stunned by the local politics of resentment - both by the depth of the vitriol directed at local private universities and their graduates, and by its ultimately self-defeating nature. Howie Carr and the Herald have built a whole business-model around tapping this passion; it not infrequently bubbles to the surface in local politics, as well.

Here's an entire thread, largely devoted to debating the relative merits of public and private universities in Massachusetts, with innumerable accusations of elitism and snobbery. But the article to which this thread responds isn't about private education. The entire point of the story is that those Massachusetts residents born without trust funds, or who choose for reasons financial or personal not to attend private schools, are getting a raw deal. It's an anti-elitist article, and it's getting bashed for elitism.

The comparison that it makes is not between UMass and Harvard, but between UMass and UMichigan. Or UVA, or Cal, or UNC. And the list it offers could have been considerably longer. Our flagship campus doesn't measure up to those of other states that share our profile - liberal and heavily urban. So that's one group of students we're failing. Then there are the state colleges, which have recently chosen to rebrand themselves as universities. That's nice. But it's not substitute for a meaningful investment that would produce a real upgrade in quality. And our community colleges are chronically overenrolled and under-resourced.

Yes, most of the students at these campuses are bright and hard-working. Yes, they deserve our respect. And that's precisely why we should be outraged that our political leaders are consistently underfunding higher-education in this state. Our students are as good as anyone's, but they're not receiving the support they should. Our faculties are excellent, but stretched far too thin.

But instead of applauding Tracy Jan for shining the spotlight on the endemic failures of public higher education in this state, it seems bloggers and commenters would rather excoriate her for having the temerity to criticize the way things are around here. Her sins, as best I can make out, are not being a local, and not having the proper blue-collar credentials. It's impossible for me to understand how her degree from Stanford invalidates the indictment she offers. If she'd attended UMass Lowell, would the article be easier to swallow? Why?

What this whole conversation reveals is an important reason why the status quo has prevailed for so many years. There's a feeling in this state that pursuing a quality education is akin to putting on airs; it's the modern version of putting up lace-curtains in your windows. Nevermind that better public universities are the shortest and most reliable path to ensuring that our children have the opportunity to succeed in life. In Boston, we've always known how to treat the lace-curtain crowd.

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Her sins, as best I can make out, are not being a local, and not having the proper blue-collar credentials. It's impossible for me to understand how her degree from Stanford invalidates the indictment she offers. If she'd attended UMass Lowell, would the article be easier to swallow? Why?

Yeah, I think a lot of stuff is getting overshadowed by exactly that.

That being said, her background (aka the Globe's targeted audience...) might have something to do with why the article focuses on a white upper-class suburban college-bound young woman whose parents are able and willing to pay for whatever school is going to be the best for her. She also doesn't seem to fit the profile in the first place of someone who'd go to a small/medium New England school that isn't gung-ho about football. Is she really the best example of who the public universities are screwing?

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Interesting point.

But my take on the article was that the Globe intends to keep after this issue for a while. It was starting off with an article that offered a general overview of the problem, coupled with a specific focus on our flagship campus. And Maggie Davis does indeed represent a particular problem. Our flagship campus appears to be attractive to students who can't afford other options, and don't land scholarships to better schools. Every year, some 4,500 Massachusetts kids enroll in Vermont, New Hampshire or Connecticut, even though it costs their families a heck of a lot more. And those who make it into a top-tier public university jump at the opportunity, if they can afford it.

That's Maggie Davis - a young woman with the financial resources to go to the best school to which she was admitted. And yes, it's a problem that UMass Amherst wasn't even on her radar. If we only hang on to the bright young people in this state who have no choice but to stick around, we're not doing too well.

Here's an interesting contrast. UMass Medical School in Worcester is quite good. Admissions are fiercely competitive. It's amazingly cheap - tuition and fees are something like $16k a year. But you can only attend if you've been a Massachusetts resident for at least five years.

The results are instructive. The medical school is among the top-ten nationwide for primary care. We have a huge shortage of primary care providers in this state, something which the local profusion of ultra-elite private medical schools does relatively little to alleviate. They tend to crank out specialists, most of whom match to residencies elsewhere in the country. But UMass grads are more likely to be primary-practitioners. Since they have to have roots here, they're more likely to stay in-state for residency, or to return home from a residency elsewhere. And because their education is heavily subsidized, their debt burdens are low enough to make relatively poorly-paying primary care a practical option. The result is that even aspiring doctors from relatively wealthy families will apply to UMass, and medical school becomes a far less daunting prospect for those of middle- and working-class backgrounds.

So why can't UMass Amherst perform at that level? We don't need to pull in students from out of state, just to have their heftier tuitions subsidize the system. We just need to decide that keeping our brightest young people here in Massachusetts, and offering them unparalleled educational opportunities, ought to be a priority.

I hope that future stories will look at the rest of the system, too - at the State Colleges Universities, and how some perform better than others, but all are dramatically underresourced. And it would be nice to see this sort of critical coverage of higher education extended to the oft-neglected community college system, which could also use an upgrade. But for the first article to highlight the fact that our flagship campus attracts mostly students who don't have other options seems eminently fair to me.

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is that people assume that "state" schools are going to be a lot cheaper just because they are public. This is often not the case. It would be interesting to see general stats and individual stories regarding who can get what financial aid and who actually does get it.

Even when I was in high school, Umass Amherst gave me zero financial aid, and it would have been more expensive than other private schools I applied to and received financial aid packages too.

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If you watched the video that went along with the article, you would realize that she wanted to to go Michigan because she wanted to go to a big-name sports school in order to drink beer and watch the games on ESPN.

And also, if you have access to see her profile pictures on facebook you would see that the second one shows her wearing Michigan garb and chugging a beer with a sexually explicit message about virginity printed on the side of it. ("Are you a virgin? Do you want help? Call this number...")

THAT type of student is not a UMass student. I am in agreement with the earlier comment that points out how students at other schools party just as hard if not harder than UMass students. More importantly I think that the facebook faux-pas by Maggie Davis is enough to make any notions of wanting to escape a "party school" null and void. Underage drinking is a huge national problem that needs to be addressed, and UMass has done a great job over the past four years that I have been there of doing that. My only alcohol-abstaining friends are fellow Minutemen.

Oh, and just to clarify a couple of points for some generalizations I've seen in reading this thread:

1. Not all Bostonians (or was it just those against this article?) are cold-blooded meat-and-potatoes people who are against the upper echelons of society. I come from a pretty well-off family with educated parents that have secure jobs in the medical industry. Most UMass grads that I know in the Boston area are also pretty successful considering the alumni network that the school has in the area and, you guessed it, the quality of education that the school provides.

2. To the lovely BU student who is so supportive of their brother at UMass: not all of us get to enjoy financial aid! Because my parents are successful (only to a point: my Mom is a single Mom and my Dad has nothing to do with me and we have the same worries about the future as most people do) I didn't get ANY financial aid. I know of many other people who are in the same situation and thus attend UMass with me. Take note: I graduated in the top 20 of my high school class, speak two languages fluently (almost three and have started a fourth), am a singer and play three instruments and did this all while holding down a job to help fund my activities. It's great if you can get it, but YOUR school only gave me $4000 in LOANS (not your fault but a perfect example). Simply put, financial aid is a crapshoot and most people I know had an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) that was higher than expected and rather hard to swallow.

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This UVM graduate finds her perspective on my alma mater to be hilarious. Out-of-state enrollment in UVM is actually pretty controversial up there, especially since at least some of those Massachusetts kids are...ill-behaved.

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I'm really happy you're the higher education beat reporter. I'm gonna let you finish, but UMASS was just ranked 33 in the states and 56th out of the top 200 schools globally.

oops!

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