College Visit Report: Washington U & Mizzou

July 17, 2007 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

What a contrast!  If only colleges realized the impact of the speakers at their information sessions!

On our way to the University of Missouri to check out their journalism school (“J-school”), we stopped at Washington University in St. Louis on a lark.  My daughter fell in love with the “collegiate Gothic” architecture.  We decided to crash the information session.  Wow!  The elderly environmental engineering professor was such a great speaker, touting the flexibility of Wash U, the research opportunities, and the desire the faculty has to get to know the students personally.  By the end of the info session, my daughter said, “I don’t even know what environmental engineering is, but I want to take it to have him as a professor.”  My husband’s reaction was “he makes me want to go back to college.”

Contrast that with Mizzou, where we attended only a J-school info session.  The presenter talked ex-cru-ci-a-ting-ly slowly, depicted the journalism program as incredibly rigid & the opportunities to follow the concentration you want as slim (particulary if you want to get into “convergence journalism” which he pitched as the place to be), and left my husband saying “now I remember why I hated college”.

Notwithstanding the speakers…

WashU has an interesting approach to encouraging research, actually encouraging students to take a 1-credit course where professors explain what research they are conducting, so you can figure out who you want to do research with.  The overall mantra was “flexibility”, particularly in designing custom majors.   Lots of great speakers, especially political, and a well known architecture school.  For music majors and non-music majors, football games feature a drop-in pep band – no practices, just pass out the music in the stadium, sight read, and have fun!  The stadium, by the way, is a National Historic Landmark, so it will always have that close-to-the field feel, free of skyboxes and retractable roofs.  But don’t let the small football stadium fool you  – WashU is one of the best-endowed colleges in the country.

Mizzou, of course, is know for having the best J-school in the country, the one that all the others model themselves upon.  The college actually runs the main daily paper in Columbia, and we toured the newsroom, saw the Post-It note story board where the editors were meeting to decide which stories would make the paper that day.   Students clearly get real-world experience here and the facilities are top-notch.

But my daughter’s take is that Columbia is too small of a town for her.  She concluded that the only way she would attend Mizzou was if she absolutely positively knew she wanted to major in journalism.


Entry filed under: College Visit Report, engineering, MO, research, Univ of Missouri, Washington Univ.

College Visit Report: MIT College Visit Report: Northwestern

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Insights and advice from a parent of two gifted teenagers



July 2007
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