Sunday, July 20, 2008

NU - The expensive choice for summer crash courses

The long hot days of summer must be here; not necessarily evidenced by the weather, though it has been hot the past few days, but by the types of articles that make it into the Tribune's main section. Saturday's paper featured a lengthy piece on summer science courses at Northwestern, written in such a way as to suggest that this was something really unusual. Perhaps that is the case at one of the world's most prestigious educational institutions, but at the humble COD it is standard practice during the short summer session to offer the first year chemistry course (or the second year organic) in ten weeks. NU is on quarters and they offer three classes in 9 weeks (3 weeks each). Okay, that is one week less than our two five week semester classes but, hey, that is NU after all.

We refer to them affectionately as the "suicides," though I am not aware of any actual evidence to support that appellation. As the article noted, the casualties are usually heavy: during the first half this summer, 10 out of 24 fell by the wayside; but unusually 22 out of 24 are still hanging in there. Many, if not most, of our students visit from other universities to take the course at a massive discount. I would like to tell the Tribune author that a student could take the classes at COD for maybe $1500 compared with the $9K shelled out at NU. Before you all come back with the old community college line, I should tell you that many of the students find the COD experience to be better than their "real" university education, and many tell me how well prepared they are for tests like PCATs and MCATs. So I think we do something right. It might lack the cache of NU but COD, at least in chemistry, provides an excellent value-for-money education. It's more than just ash trays.

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