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Seniors, choose your college wisely

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By Todd Borden | Guest Opinion | November 7, 2011

Ah, November. Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, the best weather of the year in Santa Barbara. But November is the cruelest month for seniors because it brings college applications.

I have two daughters, ages 9 and 7 and we already talk about where they are going to college. Well, not exactly where they are going, but where they are not going—any campus of the University of California. And why is this? Because these “research universities” have very little interest in actually educating 18-22-year-olds.

At the University of California the teaching of undergraduates is an inconvenience that gets in the way of the real business of the university–professors’ research. It is an open secret that the more luminary a professor becomes through his/her research, the less he/she will be asked to teach. So who does the actual teaching? Graduate students and part-time faculty members with no job security and continuity at the school. These people might be great instructors (or not), but they are not the people you expect to be your mentors when you sign a contract that pays the university $25,000 a year.

Another problem is that at the University of California classes are large. How large? At UC Santa Barbara their largest lecture hall, Campbell Hall, holds 880 students. The good part about having very large classes is that you might actually get to enroll in a class with one of those big name UC professors—I had a class from Walter Capps in Campbell Hall—but you won’t be able to interact with them; what kind of interaction can a professor have with 880 students? And lecture halls with capacities of 100-400 are legion on these campuses.

The University of California undoubtedly has a great reputation. But where did they get this reputation? They justly received it for two reasons. First they do have great faculties and these faculties provide wonderful graduate educations (Master’s degrees and PhDs). I recognize this fact, and tell my daughters that if they want to earn a graduate degree they should definitely consider the University of California. Why this contradiction in my message? Because graduate students have direct contact with the faculty members and are actually mentored by them in meaningful ways. The second reason the UCs have a great reputation is that UCs used to be cheap. When I went there, (last century) I paid about $1300 a year in “registration fees.” The UCs prided themselves on not having tuition, they just had “fees.” Well now the “fees” are $13,200 a year. And with the university facing a billion dollar budget-gap, “fees” are expected to increase to more than $20,000 within the next few years; when “fees” go north of $10,000 they are no longer “fees,” they are tuition. And when you add $1200 a month for room and board, as Senator Dirksen famously said: “you’re talking real money!”

What is my advice on choosing a college? Start by looking at Santa Barbara City College. The instructors there are paid to teach and not for research. You can get to know your professors there, and they can assist you in ways that UC professors simply can’t. And if you want a particularly good education, sign up for their honors program; in my opinion you will not find a better freshman/sophomore education anywhere in California (Pomona College perhaps being the exception). And all of this for about $1000 a year in fees. If SBCC doesn’t interest you, explore private colleges. It is true that they are more expensive than UCs, but they offer financial aid packages that can reduce the cost, and, in some cases, make their cost comparable to UCs. It is true they might not have any Noble Laureates on staff like the UC, but their instructors might actually know your name.

My god-children in San Diego recently went on a college tour. The family had a great time, and were impressed by many colleges. But when I asked about what the tours guides had to say, I was told that the tour centered around the holy trinity of a college student’s life: dorm rooms, dining commons, and recreation facilities (if the school has Division I athletics the trinity grows to include football and basketball). When harder questions were posed, such as: what is the average size of lower-division classes?, how many courses are graded by teaching assistants?, and what is the availability of professors for consultation?, I was told that the answers became rather vague. This amounts to a kind of bait-and-switch—entice you with creature comforts while ignoring the real purpose of college. When my kids are seniors, and I am about to break out my checkbook for college, I am going to know the answers to those harder questions because I want my money to actually go to my kids’ education, and not to gourmet dining commons, luxurious dorm rooms, and paying the professors to write another book.

Does this mean that UCs are terrible? Not at all, and I have seen some students thrive there. However, when you get a group of UC graduates together, it is remarkable how often the conversation turns to the factory-like education that is received. When I enrolled in my graduate program, at Middlebury College, and heard the Middlebury undergraduates speak about their educations, it stunned me—and really hammered home how much I had missed out on my education by attending a UC.

So when it comes to college, look around, go against conventional-wisdom, think outside-the-box in order to decide what is best for you and your future.

Todd Borden is the English Department Chair at Dos Pueblos High School

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16 Responses to “Seniors, choose your college wisely”

  1. Linda Adler-Kassner on November 8th, 2011 9:56 AM

    To the Editor:

    As a Professor and the Director of the Writing Program at UCSB, I read Todd Borden’s editorial on a UC education with great interest. Ultimately, I think that Mr. Borden paints the UC faculty with too broad a brush and does an extreme disservice to many excellent instructors. To illustrate, I’ll focus on UCSB — since that’s the campus I know best.

    Mr. Borden suggests that “the teaching of undergraduates is an inconvenience that gets in the way of the real business of the university – professors’ research,” and that “graduate students and part-time faculty with no job security and continuity at the school” do most of the teaching. The fact is, there are relatively few “part-time” faculty at UCSB. Instead, there are programs like the UCSB Writing Program, whose instructors are full time lecturers who are expert teachers and who devote an enormous amount of time and energy to their teaching. All of these instructors have advanced degrees; about 80 percent have Ph.D.s, and many have taught in the Writing Program for over 15 years.

    Each year, over 6500 undergraduates take the Writing Program’s classes (first-year writing, aka “freshman composition”, or upper division classes). UCSB Writing Program instructors help students develop the writing, reading, and critical analysis skills to be successful in college, civic life, and career. Equally important, though, they invest an enormous amount of energy in mentoring students through their UCSB experiences. Similarly, the graduate students who teach in the Writing Program receive extensive training, mentoring, and support through their teaching experiences with us. They go on positions at schools ranging from SBCC to liberal arts colleges, both of which Mr. Borden cites as institutions more invested in undergraduate education, as well as positions in universities like UCSB. But these future faculty members hone their skills as teachers — with support and mentoring — teaching at UCSB.

    While lecturers like those in the Writing Program and graduate students are not in the employment category labeled “Professor” (Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor), there are also many in that category, including myself, who devote an enormous amount of time and energy to our teaching. I teach Writing 2, the required lower-division writing class in the UC (aka “freshman comp”) each year. I regularly work with other professors who also teach general education classes. In fact, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang teaches an undergraduate class in his field of engineering regularly.

    It’s true that UCSB, like all UC campuses, have been hit hard by budget cuts – and that in the absence of dwindling state support, that costs have risen. But even in large lecture classes, many UC faculty are invested in undergraduates and their learning. Additionally, because these faculty members also are focused on research, undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in the process of innovative research by collaborating with faculty.

    There’s no doubt that that UCSB is large, and that its faculty are invested in research. But that size and investment doesn’t mean that students’ experience is uniform, that faculty aren’t invested in teaching, or that students will get lost in the system. As at other schools like SBCC, students can have a great experience wherever they go. UCSB provides access to teachers with a wide range of experience who can be extremely invested in students’ educations, and unique opportunities for students to learn with some of the best.

    Linda Adler-Kassner
    Professor of Writing and Director, UCSB Writing Program


  2. Bowen Shallanberger on November 9th, 2011 10:28 PM

    Todd Borden brings up a very interesting and sensitive issue in his article for The Charger Account, “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely.” Mr. Borden’s argument is that the University of California campuses are far from the great institutions they are reputed to be. Mr. Borden begins by introducing that the UC schools are for the most part research universities, and as such, do not care about teaching undergraduates. Mr. Borden goes on to explain that since most of the time part-time faculty or graduate students are teaching, combined with the fact that the overwhelming majority of classes are very large, UCs have an educational environment that is insufficient. Mr. Borden also addresses his concern that these schools are becoming much too costly. Mr. Borden states his disappointment at the current expected rates of $20,000+ for tuition. The solution presented to this is to look at either Santa Barbara City College as an option, or private colleges. Mr. Borden concludes his piece by reminding readers that he is not saying all parts of the UCs are bad, just that there are better, more available options out there.
    While I agree with Mr. Borden’s very persuasive argument that the UCs do not effectively educate students, as well as cost too much, he could have been just as successful without being as tough and opinionated as he was. Mr. Borden does an extremely good job of structuring, supporting, and presenting his claims, leaving the focus on those claims themselves. The first argument presented by Mr. Borden is that he would not allow his daughters to attend a UC “Because these “research universities” have very little interest in actually educating 18-22-year-olds.” His point is that they (the UCs) care more about research than education. This is reflected nation wide. The quality of education in America is constantly in question, due to a myriad of factors, from federal regulation to the universities and even to the students themselves. The fact that there are outside factors affecting the college system in America (such as the government and the economy) is something Mr. Borden could have mentioned, but instead he focuses on the faults of the universities instead. However, this does not change the fact that he is correct. There is a frightening attitude of indifference to education, within the universities as stated, as well as from the federal level. Other writers have pointed this out as well. For instance, Naomi Schaeffer Riley of the Los Angeles Times states in her article “It’s Time To Get Back To Teaching” that “Promotion and tenure decisions are made based on a record of publication, not teaching.” It’s hard to hear, but it is true. Fortunately, many are starting to realize this. Hopefully others like Riley and Mr. Borden will come to see the other factors that are detrimental to the college system, such as economic factors and society’s role in how colleges act (what society demands from colleges affects what they will do). The other claim Mr. Borden makes is that the UCs are too expensive for the quality of undergraduate education that they give. While it is true that the costs of the University of California are skyrocketing compared to how much they used to be, much of this is either because of, or can be fixed by other factors. For example, better education for students will lead them to better (higher paying) jobs, leading to less debt. Also, the economy and the government’s policies on education heavily affect money for universities. Mr. Borden does an outstanding job of presenting the university’s own flaws, but he, and others ,must also see as well as address the other forces that affect universities.
    Work Cited
    Borden, Todd. “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely” The Charger Account 7 November 2011.
    Riley, Naomi Schaeffer. “It’s Time To Get Back To Teaching” Los Angeles Times 15 June 2011.


  3. Niles Sterner on November 10th, 2011 12:02 AM

    In Todd Borden’s recent opinion piece “seniors, choose your college wisely” he believes that students who are applying to college should consider community and private schools over the U.C.’s; he believes these school to be the better option. Borden begins his article with a personal appeal regarding his two daughters, who he will not allow to attend the Universities of California. He moves on to describe why he feels this way by claiming that the universities view teaching undergraduates as an “inconvenience” because it will get in the way of their research projects. Borden also states that the people to pick up the slack of the professors are the graduate students. These are not the people to be trusted with higher education when spending large sums of money for school. Borden also addresses that the size of college classes gets in the way of personal education. He states that a class size of 400 gives little opportunity for a professor to really get to know their students. College tuition to attend a UC has risen to the point that it is no longer viewed as a inexpensive quality education. Solutions he proposes are that students should consider going to community colleges as honors programs at these schools will give you a more personal experience. Professors at these institutions will not be distracted by research obligations. Private colleges are another solution he proposes for the same reason. The high tuition that these colleges require can be brought down by finacial programs, and scholarships. Borden also believes that he will have to answer the important questions about college with his own children. He will not pay for a school for there facilities or faculty research ventures, but rather the quality of the education his children will receive. He concludes with degrees and that the UCs are an excellent place to receive your PhD or masters as students have direct access to the professional faculty. His final thought is students should think outside the norms when it comes to college as they may end up getting a better education.
    In regards to his article I feel that Borden has made a valid opinion piece. He supplies ample personal evidence that seems to be credible as he is the English department head. He is a father and his occupation gives him insight into the college world. Borden also has front hand experience when dealing with the UCs as he himself attended one. He can draw comparison with what he experienced and what a current applicant may face . His opinions are also backed up by others who have looked into the issues that he brings up . A recent piece in The Los Angeles Times followed the issue of professors preferring research to actual instruction. It stated that “The incentives for American professors are the same at every institution. Promotion and tenure decisions are made based on a record of publication, not teaching” it illustrates that professors receive better pay for there research rather than time spent in the class room. He was although very specific about the city college in Santa Barbara. Its worth reminding that SBCC is one of the top ten community schools in the state. This is a hole in his argument as not all community schools will be as good as he raves they are. This argument fault is solved by adding in private schools as another solution. Although there are obvious cost problems associated with these schools he states that they can be overcome with scholarships and financial programs. His argument appears to be well formulated but is very specific . His views may not hold up as well in other parts of the state. As concerned for Dos Pueblos students it can be seen as an insightful piece.

    Works Cited
    Borden, Todd. “Seniors Choose your College Wisely.” The Charger Account 7 November 2011.
    Riley Schaefer, Naomi. “It’s Time To Get Back To Teaching.” Los Angeles Times 15 June 2011


  4. Taylor Racich on December 12th, 2011 11:36 PM

    In Todd Borden’s article, “ Seniors, choose your college wisely” Borden brings up the fact that students should pick their college for the main purpose of college, being taught. Not only does Borden explain the fact that UC’s have huge class sizes that make for less direct interactions with the teacher compared to private colleges or community colleges, but the bigger problem that teachers are not teaching at UC’s because they are too busy getting paid to do research. He does make his opinion clear through his past experience at UCSB by advising students not to pick a college for its name or reputation but its focus on teaching. Borden believes smaller class sizes such as SBCC are beneficial because the teachers are paid to teach but may not be known as a, “big name UC professor.” In the end Borden does believe the UC colleges have a good reputation through a great faculty for graduates but not for undergraduates and puts his past experience behind his reasoning as to why students should listen to his opinion to be able to choose wisely between colleges.
    I disagree with Mr Borden in his thought that a larger class might not be the greatest learning place because school is what you make of it and there are those students that are going to seek out the professor’s office hours and make it a small learning environment where the professor knows their name. Borden reasons that because of the large class sizes at the UC’s students are not able to interact with their professor in a lecture hall of 880 students. Even though these class sizes are large Borden dismisses the fact that students can go to office hours and get that direct interaction. Also Borden stresses the main reasons he believes a student should choose a college by stating, “what is the average size of lower-division classes? How many courses are graded by teaching assistants? and what is the availability of professors for consultation?.” But even though these are his main factors into choosing a college some students are drawn to a college to gain the American college experience or a, “big name UC professor” where the social life is better compared to a private school. Although Borden sees larger class sizes with graduate students or part time faculty members teaching when the actual teacher is doing research decreasing the worth of a students education. But sometimes these part time faculty members work extra hard to teach the class because they want to be secure full time professors whereas a professor that is secure may lack the excitement about teaching. Even though Borden thinks that the UC system has “little interst in actually educating” and in other words, “ poorly prepares [students] for the future” without teaching them. By having a larger class size the student has to take initiative and gets a taste of the real world where you have to work hard to succeed whereas the private school students gets the help to them without question and may have a hard time when it comes to competing for a job.



  5. TW Borden on December 16th, 2011 9:23 AM

    Here is a link to an article from the New York Times regarding, essentially, the same topic that I wrote about. It is entitled “Our Universities, Why Are They Failing?” Well, it’s similar if I was better read, a deeper thinker, and a more accomplished writer. But it basically says the same thing; the University of California (and all public universities) were an acceptable deal-with-the-devil when they were cheap, but now that they are expensive, better educational experiences abound where students can actually receive individual attention from tenured faculty members for not much more (and in some cases less!) money.


  6. Chen-Ching Lin on November 8th, 2012 5:06 PM

    Within his article, Todd Borden states points that I agree with such as the education people get within college campuses besides UC’s are better in that it is more cost efficient and students learn more. For example “Start by looking at Santa Barbara City College…in my opinion you will not find a better freshman/sophomore education anywhere in California” (Borden). Through this, Borden creates the point that students will have a better education during their freshman and sophomore years at a community (or private) college such as Santa Barbara City College. However, there is a minor drawback to this college plan that Borden has proposed. When applying for a job, recruiters would prefer seeing an UC degree on their resume rather than the applicant going to a college like Santa Barbara City College. Overall, Borden states a strong point but has a minor gap in that a graduate from a community (and smaller private) colleges are just not as favored as an graduate from an UC campus.


  7. Valentina Dabos on November 8th, 2012 10:26 PM

    In the article “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely,” Todd Borden declares that undergraduates are of little importance to the University of California, so incoming college freshmen should choose the more affordable city college option. While he makes a valid point, he fails to recognize the importance of online education when compared to the increasing cost of large research universities. City colleges offer a cheaper alternative to the college experience and the possibility of teacher to student interactions that UCs cannot, but with the increasing popularization of the internet, it is time to question whether or not online college is a better option. Borden states that city colleges don’t usually “have any Noble Laureates on staff like the UC,” but this flaw could be fixed with online education. Not only can students be taught by accredited and extremely educated professors from around the world, but these professors can reach thousands of different students at once with the use of the web. David Brooks addresses the growing popularity of online education in his article “The Campus Tsunami.” He presents the idea that online higher education can make it “easier to tailor a learning experience to an individual student’s pace and preferences.” The mobility and flexibility of online education, in addition to how inexpensive it can usually be, makes online college a more than reasonable alternative to large research colleges that do not sufficiently focus on undergraduates. If Borden had presented online education as an alternative, his claim that students have other options for college would be reinforced and he would have appeared more credible.

    Borden, Todd. “Seniors Choose your College Wisely.” The Charger Account 7 November 2011.
    Brooks, Davis. “The Campus Tsunami.” The New York Times 3 May 2012.


  8. Raven Bouregy on November 8th, 2012 10:32 PM

    In the article “Seniors Choose Your College Wisely,” Todd Borden asserts that students should no longer continue looking at UCs, as the UC system views its undergraduates as a burden, and that students should instead look to alternate places of higher learning. While he talks extensively on the negatives of system of the Universities of California , he spends little time giving other options or advice. Borden does address the solution of going to a city college as a viable alternative for the skyrocketing cost of college tuition and dampening of college education; however he never touched upon the option of online colleges. It is true that city colleges (at least the local SBCC) are wonderful schools that offer extensive student-teacher interactions, but at the same time online courses are becoming more and more popular, as well as affordable to college students. In David Brooks’ article “The Campus Tsunami,” the online solution is addressed in great detail. According to Brooks, “online learning will give millions of students access to the world’s best teachers.” This would be a major plus to many students in today’s society. This also touches upon the topic of professors that Borden talks about in his article. Borden states that “at the University of California the teaching of undergraduates is an inconvenience that gets in the way of the real business of the university–professors’ research.” The online solution offered in “The Campus Tsunami” is a wonderful example of an alternative form of education in that it would provide more students with teachers who would have it in for their students’ best interest. Take Khan Academy for instance. This online learning tool (though certainly not up to the college caliber) is run by someone who truly enjoys spreading knowledge and helping students around the world. The concepts are somewhat similar in that in both cases, people who want to help for the benefit of others are running these online resources. More than that, some universities are offering this online education for free. In a day and age where students are entering into strong symbiotic relationships with their laptops, it seems only logical for there to be an increased option of online colleges. And guess what? There is! Because online college would be substantially less expensive than the current tuition, because this generation is becoming more dependent on computer technology, and because college professors are becoming more and more enamored with staying in their office doing research and sending out student teachers, the online option seems to be a very smart and cost effective alternative to in-class lectures. Overall, Borden’s article proved to be well written and informative, however it could have used some information about online schooling.
    Works Cited
    Borden, Todd. “Seniors, Choose your College Wisely.” The Charger Account 7 November 2011.
    Brooks, David. “The Campus Tsunami.” New York Times 3 May 2012.


  9. Prakash Prajapati on November 8th, 2012 11:41 PM

    In his article, “Seniors, choose your college wisely” Todd Borden discusses a very important topic of college which is choosing between colleges. He argues that community colleges are very worthy of being recognized as they provide more one on one attention so that the student may have better understanding of what he or she is learning about.
    I fully agree with Borden only because our community college is actually ranked as one of the best community colleges. Also i fully support that going to a community college first and then going to a UC or an Ivy League is a much better idea as it is cost effective and the material that will be provided at either college is prone to be, for the most part the same. Since you are receiving more one on one attention at Community colleges you don’t feel the urge to have to cheat or do some sort horrendous thing to make you pass the class. I feel that since Borden himself has experienced the best of both worlds, he is able to draw great comparisons since they can differ greatly in ways that any regular person would not assume. Still i feel that Borden is mostly acknowledging SBCC as it has had its own reputation. What Borden fails to establish is that not every community college is like a SBCC or one the great CC’s and fails to state that if community college is acting just as bad as a UC then it good to think of your options and decide accordingly. Although the cost may be low and financial aid will help support in paying for it, it may provide you with just as bad personal attention any UC. Yet i still find Borden’s article to be very thorough and appealing as it informs you of which paths could you be taking for the superior learning experience and cheaper way as well.


  10. Jessica Brest on November 8th, 2012 11:56 PM

    While I agree with Todd Borden’s claims against attending a California University in his article “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely,” I believe he could have included and criticized the value university education has in the working environment. Borden mentions that when attending a UC college you lack the integrated and more in depth learning that you can receive at CC because UC professors “have very little interest in actually educating” the average student. While it is true that CC professors will be more focused on teaching and applying the curriculum to their students because that is what they are paid to do, it is also true that UC education is viewed by the public as a more valuable education and therefore could possibly give you an edge in the workforce. The highest degree you can receive after graduating from a community college is a bachelors degree, which, in fact, fills the requirements for many career choices, yet if an employer is going through the resumes of two potential employees and one graduated with a degree from a university while the other a degree from a CC, most officials would lean more towards the university educated applicant due to its higher status in society. Sometimes just being involved with bigger names and higher status schools can get you farther in society because of its reputation. Borden clearly explains that UC’s have high reputations because they “have great faculties” who “provide wonderful graduate educations” and the fact that one used to be able to pay a fairly cheap price to attend one. He also mentions how these reasons do not exactly stand true anymore, yet many are oblivious to that fact and the connotation of a university education sounds to most as an admirable level of education and intelligence because of its reputation and superior title in the community. If you choose a community college in order to get a better education than you would receive at any UC, it still may not easily get you into any career you want. Universities of California ultimately have the predominant reputation.


  11. Nicole Berari on November 8th, 2012 11:57 PM

    Nicole Berari
    Mr. Borden
    English 110, Period 3
    8 November 2012
    Critique of “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely”
    In his article, “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely,” Borden claims that the education of undergraduates at University of California schools is not worth the costly tuition due to excessively large classes and professors’ lack of interest in teaching rather than researching. However, Borden’s obvious bias toward UC schools and his lack of credible evidence- other than himself- formulate an unreliable claim. His view of the UC system is tainted by the personally unsatisfactory education that he received there, creating a strongly one- sided argument in the article. His partiality is clearly depicted when he states that he “had missed out on [his] education by attending a UC” (par. 8). While Borden does have a reason to criticize this institution, his personal experience with UC schools introduces a bias into the article that ultimately creates a strongly one-sided argument, making his claim questionable. Adding to the questionability of Borden’s argument is the lack of credible evidence he provides to support his claim against UC schools. Although he offers his firsthand experience of the education he received there, it is not enough evidence to assert that the UC system is inefficient at teaching undergraduates. To create a logical argument and establish his thesis’s credibility, Borden should have provided concrete evidence of undergraduates’ dissatisfaction with UC education with statistics or other reliable sources. By using only his own bias experience to support his thesis, he composes a one-sided, unreliable argument.
    Work Cited
    Borden, Todd. “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely.” The Charger Account 7 November 2011


  12. Samuel Chu on November 9th, 2012 12:06 AM

    Todd Borden implies that it is mainly “research universities” that do not focus their attention on undergraduate education. However, this problem is prevalent in most colleges in America, including teaching universities and liberal arts colleges. Borden’s first-hand experience in research and private college education bolsters the audiences opinion on his reliability. Additionally, it adds weight to the authors remarks on the quality differences of the education in these universities. The author claims that research universities, specifically University of California, “have very little interest in actually educating 18-22-year-olds” (Borden). It is obvious that these institutions are not interested in teaching undergraduates; their main focus is performing research. Since much of the research is directed by professors, part-time faculty members are left to teach classes that have hundreds of students. Such large class sizes makes direct interaction with faculty members difficult. Thus, these research universities fail to attain the holy grail of education: individual student attention. Borden recommends applicants to attend colleges where “instructors are paid to teach and not for research” (Borden). However, even colleges that focus on teaching share similar problems with research universities. In her Los Angeles Times article, Naomi Riley asserts that “The incentives for American professors are the same at every institution. Promotion and tenure decisions are made based on a record of publication, not teaching” (Riley). Professors have no reason to choose teaching over research. The more time they spend in the classroom, the less they are paid. Just as in research universities, teaching is left to part-time faculty that are paid low wages. The meager salaries they receive force them to look for other teaching opportunities in other campuses. Because of this, most part-time faculty in teaching universities cannot devote their attention to individual students. Students in both research and teaching universities are not getting the education they have paid for.

    Works Cited
    Borden, Todd. “Seniors, Choose your College Wisely.” The Charger Account 7 November 2011.
    Riley Schaefer, Naomi. “It’s Time To Get Back To Teaching.” Los Angeles Times 15 June 2011.


  13. Delia Bullock on November 9th, 2012 6:52 AM

    Todd Borden addresses timely and sensitive issues in his recent opinion piece “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely,” but he makes too many generalizations in characterizing “the real business of the university” and neglects to mention the drawbacks of attending a UC alternative. Borden claims that UC’s, are mainly concerned with their graduate programs, leaving their undergraduate classes to be taught by “students and part-time faculty members with no job security and continuity at the school.” However, the article, “The Advantages of a Liberal Arts College in a Great Research University,” by David Marshall, refutes this claim with the statistic that “66% of [UCSB] upper-division student credit units were taught by our professorial and Academic Senate faculty. Another 28% were taught by Lecturers.” This means only 6% of these classes at UCSB were taught by the part-timers Borden described. Borden does bring up troubling issues of large class sizes and rising tuitions, but it important to remember that it is easy to attack UC’s in a vacuum. When we look at these universities in comparison to their alternatives, it becomes clear they are still one of the best and most inexpensive ways to receive an education. UC’s provide students with great teachers, but most importantly put them in a very competitive position when applying to graduate schools. Their tuition is climbing, but they are still far less expensive then the private schools that make students equally as competitive. It is true that larger class sizes are more likely at UC’s than these private school equivalents, but this does not mean that a student’s education necessarily has to suffer. At a UC, if a student is put in a large class, they can still seek out individual attention by attending office hours or visiting the on campus tutoring labs. City Colleges are one of the UC’s cheapest alternatives and do provide a great education, but unfortunately it is becoming more difficult for students to transfer into higher–level colleges after their two years at City College. With a close examination, it is clear that each one of these college systems has its drawbacks. Though UC’s can have large class sizes, it should be remembered that they employ caring professors and are able to provide a relatively inexpensive, quality education that makes students competitive for the next step in their education.


  14. Tabbie Magner on November 9th, 2012 6:58 AM

    In the article “Seniors, choose your college wisely,” Todd Borden makes the claim that although UC’s have some of the highest elite reputations, they are not the ideal schools to attend when looking for the highest elite education. Borden is right when he says that the class sizes on UC campus’ can be large and don’t allow for individuals to get interaction with the professor, but he is wrong to say that these large classes are the reason students are not receiving the greatest education possible. Of course, for some, the large lecture hall way of learning may not be the ideal situation. For many students though, who are just breaking away from high school and beginning lives on their own, this is just what they need. College is a place where students should begin gathering and developing skills that will not only help them with the classes they are taking, but with the rest of their lives. Borden gives his readers the option of city college as an alternative to the UC program, claiming that at Santa Barbara City College professors “can assist you in ways that UC professors simply can’t”. This is a valid point, but is that what these students really need? College should not be just another extension of high school where students are coddled and never learn to study independently. By having a greater number of students in classrooms, undergrads are forced to struggle with questions and learn to find solutions for themselves as opposed relying on a teacher to provide all the correct answers. When it comes to class sizes, it is worth it to have professors that are renowned in their subject area because they are the best in their field. Great professors inspire the students that they teach and allow them to become motivated about subjects that can then become their future professions. While Borden’s claims about class size and costs are compelling, the truth is that UC’s do provide a top rate education by offering inspirational professors as well as an education that is not just an extension of high school.


  15. Rachel Fry on November 9th, 2012 9:44 AM

    In an article published on The Charger Account, “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely,” author Todd Borden explains that University of California colleges focus too much on the research needs of their professors and the social lives of their students, rather than on their students’ education and preparation for the future. While this may be true, Universities of California do not need to change anything.The UC experience that Borden described in his article is only based on one college. Not all colleges are strongest in their English department. Just because the author did not get the education he wanted, does not mean that a math major at the same school did not walk away with a diploma feeling as if they could take on the world. In Borden’s article, he says that with such large classes it is hard to “Interact with [the professors].” This may be important for students who learn best by interacting with their teacher, but not every student is the same. In a mathematics class with only 30 students, it is still sometimes hard to grasp a concept. Many students who are struggling, turn to their good friend “Khan Academy,” which is a collage of YouTube videos created by one man in order to explain thousands of math or science concepts. Why is it so important for there to be a smaller student teacher ratio, if so many people learn better online anyway? Although Borden thinks that he “missed out on [his] education by attending a UC,” this may not be the case with someone else. The type of person who would apply to a UC college may have different goals or aspirations than one who would frown upon the way UC’s go about their business. Not every career is better off with a degree from a major college. If a person has plans to work in the movie industry, or become a social worker, or a therapist, they might do better going to a school that encourages a social life, rather than a college that forces students to be buried in books from morning till dawn. In an article published by Penn State, author Michael J. Leonard says that “up to 50 percent of college students change their majors at least once before graduation, and some change several times.” Rather than forcing these undecided students to bury themselves in homework and hideout in their dorms like hermits, UC’s allow for a less stressful environment in which a student can try out new things. Since they were not forced to spend every college night on a date with their textbook, they were able to interact with people, some of whom might influence their career decisions. While education is very important in order to “make it” in the real world, so is confidence. Why is the nerd always being picked on in every cheesy high school movie? It is because the nerds being portrayed in these movies are incredibly annoying and socially awkward. Why does being smart always seem to bring to mind the image of a socially awkward nerd? Stereotypical nerds spend most of their Friday nights studying for a test they will be taking in 3 months. Yes this will greatly improve their education, but it does no good to their social skills. If an employer were to sit down with a confident stud that came up with reasonable answers to their questions, they would likely hire this stud over an annoying bookworm who got every question right. The Universities of California have no major faults in their education system. Future careers rely on people skills almost as much as they rely on an outstanding education. UC’s offer both at somewhat reasonable prices, and therefore should keep things the way they are.

    Work Cited
    Borden, Todd. “Seniors, Choose Your College Wisely.” The Charger Account 07 November 2011
    Leonard, Michael J. “Major Decisions.” Penn State 12 March, 2010.


  16. Allan Acebu on November 10th, 2012 1:43 PM

    In the article, “Seniors, choose your college wisely”, Todd Borden explains the criticisms that he has with the education quality in the large California universities and presents his views on what a quality education should be. Borden sees the large, popular, decorated colleges as very impersonal and too expensive for what they are actually worth. He believes that smaller colleges usually have smaller undergraduate class sizes, which means more personal and individual attention from the professors.
    I’ve spent more than my fair share of time on the UCSB campus and have been fortunate enough to see how a large California university operates. I am able to see the logic behind Borden’s reasoning that when college professors are able to meet individually with each student, they are usually better off. Students may feel alienated or invisible in class sizes larger than 75 because they are unable to develop a bond with the instructor. When students meet with their professors in a more intimate environment, they are able to receive better feedback and are more likely to have their questions answered or be able to receive help if they need it. On the UCSB campus, the Campbell Arts & Lectures Hall, which Borden says can hold almost 900 students, always hosts performances by comedians, dance troupes, and even opera. Even though they call it a lecture hall, it always felt like a theater to me, and the seats make you feel comfortable, but small; a feeling that I doubt would help you learn.
    However, as Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa note in their article, “College, Too Easy For Its Own Good”, “In much of higher education, the problem is in part that undergraduate education is no longer a priority.” This is increasingly true, as professors seem to spend more time with their upperclassmen, than with their undergraduates. Why i think this is happening, is because professors want to instruct those who already know the material: those who already know the basics of organic chemistry or calculus, people who are on familiar ground. These students are also known as: honor students. These are students who worked hard in high school to be placed in these upper and college level classes, or went out of their way to take an additional course at their local community college or online. Colleges may be out for profit, $25,000 a year according to Borden, but that is because they need to place you in general education courses first, before you start getting into the core coursework for the field you are interested in. They need to spend time and money on the thousands of students who are taking courses that are already offered to those who put effort into high school, making sure they can walk before they start running.
    At the same time, students need to be proactive in their education so they can get the best value out of their money. Arum and Roksa say that, “Some academic programs and colleges are quite rigorous, and some students we found pushed themselves and excelled.” Students applying for colleges should know what classes they need and what courses they are ready for. I definitely agree with Borden when he says to, “Start with Santa Barbara City College…in my opinion, you will not find a better freshman/sophomore education anywhere in California.” For students that are unsure of their abilities, those that need individual help to review advanced coursework, and those that are experiencing financial troubles, there are better options like community college and smaller colleges such as the Cal States. If you have spent your time being proactive in high school, you are definitely ready to be working with university professors on research projects. If not, there are plenty of campuses with instructors that are willing to take the time to educate you to the same level.


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Seniors, choose your college wisely