Prof Chides U.S. World Report
was pleased to read that Oberlin students largely disregard the
U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Frankly, the rankings
always seemed rather vacuous to me; the ranking process misses the
mark in terms of understanding education. While learning is a process
that often begins collectively for both pedagogical and economic
reasons, it always ends with the individual. Comprehension and insight
take place ultimately in the intimacy of a single person’s
mind. Even if the U.S. News and World Report hopes to measure the
probability of getting a good education at a college, provides,
in the end, a pointless measurement. The composite measure of “rank”
tells prospective students and their parents, as well as current
students, virtually nothing at all about the quality of their education.
Whether or not learning takes place is heavily dependent on the
energy of faculty and students within a very particular environment
and often boils down to a set of individual commitments to education.
Having done my undergraduate years at Stanford University, I can
assure you that having a small student-faculty ratio, a vast endowment,
an internationally prominent faculty, enormous libraries, multi-million
dollar laboratories and computing facilities, and alumni of brilliance,
fame and power, all amount to absolutely nothing if faculty members
have no syllabi ready for the first day of classes and if students
fail to read their books.
Although I have been here only about two months, I can say with
some certainty that Oberlin faculty members and students prepare,
think and work with seriousness and dedication. No amount of money,
technology or “rank”
can substitute for such a foundation.
Richard Milton Juang
Visiting Instructor and Scholar in Residence
Department of English