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STEM, Analytics and My Class of '19 Daughter
January 5, 2014 - 9:00pm

My older daughter is thinking that she may want to eventually go to med school. This idea is on our minds as we start to tour colleges, narrowing down where she will be applying this fall.

I’m honestly not totally sure how much impact we will have on our daughter’s college selection process. To the extent that her parents can advise (and that she wants to listen to our opinions), here is what is on our minds as we take the campus tour (and visit the campus website):

1. STEM Success:

My understanding is that there is a wide gap between the number of students who have a goal of eventually taking the MCAT and the number of students who successfully navigate all the requirements to sit for the exam. That the process of both applying and then possibly be accepted to a med school is a narrow funnel. That undergraduate education weeds out many potential med school applicants before they even get to the application stage.

What I want is for my daughter to have options. Choices. If she decides that being a doc is not for her than fine. What I don’t want is that choice to be made for her due to getting derailed from the pathway to med school.

When I think about her college choice I’ll be wondering about how good the school is in helping students meet their goals and objectives. If my daughter declares in her freshman year that her goal is to apply to medical school after 4 years then what is the probability that she will succeed?   

What conditions exist at the school that bolster and support a students' success in STEM fields?   

Has the school identified STEM success as a priority?

Can the school share data with prospective students (and their parents) about STEM success? Can these data be broken down by gender?

What sorts of real time analytics and data driven student support systems are in place to provide both early warnings for students, and feedback for faculty and advisors?

What sorts of investments are being made in large gateway courses that enable student support and eventual student success?

Does the school have a philosophy of “weeding out”, or does admission to the school imply an agreement to help the student reach her goals and objectives?

2. A Liberal Arts Background with Professional School Options:

I’m hoping that my daughter will have a liberal arts college experience. I want her to have the opportunity to take classes outside of those courses necessary to get her to med school.

I’m hoping that she can take classes in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts.  Yes, she will need her calculus and organic chemistry and physics and biology courses, but I also hope that she gets poetry and history and creative writing and whatever subject in which she is curious.

How does the school think about STEM preparation in a liberal arts context?

How does the college reconcile the desire to have a broad education background that focuses on learning how to think, with the needs to fulfill the rote requirements for applying to med school (or some other professional field)?

How do I gain confidence that my daughter’s college will be a place where she learns to think creatively, love the world of ideas, read critically, and think systematically - while at the same time doing what it takes to have open to her a professional career?

And I will want to hear more than rhetoric and platitudes. If I’m going to fork over tens-of-thousands (hundred of thousands?) of dollars in tuition than I will want to see the data.

Bring me some analytics on student STEM success in a liberal arts context.

Show me the numbers.    

Tell me what metrics you are using, and how those metrics are influencing how you are delivering your educational services.

My daughter and her parents will soon be showing up to your campus tour.   Are you ready for us?

 

 

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