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| I was inspired to write this review of Goucher College after reading a New York Times article about the (lack of) success of 2011 graduates of a local private liberal arts college (Drew). This article made me reflect on my college experience and how much it really helped me. Did it help me? Was I the problem? What do I have to say about Goucher and where I am now? Because of these experiences, I'm not going to comment about stuff like the quality of food or housing (which are great, by the way).|
One of the major problems with Goucher College is that it's only known locally and within academic circles. Try applying to a company with Goucher College on your resume. It's very difficult to compete with Harvard graduates. I read a blog by a Harvard graduate about how he was disappointed with the lack of jobs being handed to him. He was also only able to land a SALES position with Google, nothing higher level. Granted that's a great start in any company in this economic climate, it just shows how this economy has become what my friend (who was accepted to Harvard Law) calls the Great Equalizer. Harvard graduates are competing for the jobs that lower-level graduates were fighting for. So, my point is that it's very difficult to compete with a 'small' name like Goucher College. So I guess the things that I should be reviewing are the things that Goucher College can help their students with that will get them jobs when they graduate (or at least a fighting chance at a job). I think the things that Goucher could help its students with are: internship experiences, work experiences, alumni/academic connections, networking opportunities, and the academics. I'll address how Goucher approaches each thing based on my experiences with professors and staff at Goucher.
Before I do that, let me tell you a little bit about my postgraduate experiences. I graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in Psychology. That was perhaps the worst mistake I could have made. Everyone and their brother studied Psychology, and so few people find success finding jobs in the field (with just a bachelors) that they change fields, which is what I will be doing in Fall 2013. The only work that I could find when I graduated was working part-time at the local TJ Maxx for minimum wage. That lasted for 6 months, then I went into a jobless depression for two years. My previous work experience included life guarding at summer camps, life guarding and teaching swimming at Goucher's pool, working in the post office and tons of volunteer/leadership experience with the Hillel organization on campus. How could I expect that with my background in a 'soft skills' field that I would find a legitimate job that would help me move out and on with life? After two years of unemployment, I found a job working with emotionally disturbed adolescents at a boarding school. That job helped me put some kind of experience on my resume and land a job with a local customer service call center. I worked there for three months, then I was hired to work as a behavioral health counselor at the local psychiatric hospital and to work at a newly relocated B2B marketing company. It's still telephone/customer service related work, but it's good office experience to put on my resume and a good way to pay for my expences. I would also like to say that there's no way that I could make it through this recession without my mom's financial support.
I did everything that I could to find a job, including networking at job fairs in NYC, contacting alumni on Goucher Connect's alumni database, and thoroughly looking through all of the job database websites. When I first graduated, I wanted to find a research assistantship that would give me experience to apply for a PsyD in clinical psychology. My plans changed after I couldn't find anything for two years. I enrolled with four different temp agencies. I sent out over 500 resumes and cover letters for jobs ranging from administrative assistat, to research assistant and everything in between. I even applied to be a corporate flight attendant. The hardest thing for me to realize was that even with all of the social networking, the temp agencies, the summer and year long work experiences, the leadership skills and the academic work, I was not going to find a job with my 'soft skills' background. If I could do it over, I would study something that was more marketable like accounting, engineering, or computer science. My advice to any undergraduate would be to study your major and computer science. Everything is about computers nowadays. If you can find a way to be a part of the computerization and replacement of humans, you'll be set.
The most important resource at Goucher College is the faculty. If you are in good contact and relation with your advisor and other faculty in your major, you're more likely to get good recommendations for internships, assistantships or jobs. I graduated three years ago, and I can still contact my advisor and other professors for recommendations. When I apply to graduate school this fall, I will be relying on those professors for their support and good words. I decided that I would not stay in Psychology because it is so hard to find anything without a masters or PhD/PsyD. I was lucky to find the behavioral health counselor job that I have now. No matter what your major at Goucher College is, connect with your professors. The professors are generally very good quality, and they care a lot about students finding work and exploring their field of study. But they are not going to help you find those opportunities, mostly because Goucher professors (and mostly professors at small private liberal arts colleges) tend not to be well connected within the industry or academic community.
Goucher College has alumni groups around the country (and the world), but most Goucher graduates are not in the top tier positions that can help you land your foot in the door. I searched through the Goucher Alumni network to find that there are not as many graduates in high ranking positions as I thought. I did get in touch with some Psychology professors, but no one could really reach out with any jobs or connections to other jobs. Also, the opportunities to connect with professionals from Goucher College are very few mostly because not many people attended Goucher. It's not like the ivy leagues or larger state schools where graduates are eager to help out new graduates find work.
I mentioned earlier that I was looking for research assistantships. It's so difficult to find a research assistantship on campus or off campus. The research assistantships on campus fill up so quickly, and the options off campus are few and far between because you're competing with Johns Hopkins University students. You might try to find something at University of Maryland or Towson University. And like I said earlier, Goucher professors are not well connected enough in the academic community to help you get an internship or research assistantship with a professor at another university.
The academics at Goucher are very good. However, I have a major complaint about the Psychology department: the Psychology department cares more about how you feel than what you know. I feel like they know that you're not academic enough to talk about knowledge, so you have to go with the topic of feelings. If I could do it all over, then I would study something else like sciences, mathematics or computer science.
Well, that's my lengthy review of Goucher. I hope it was helpful. Goucher has some other great resources, and some of the graduates go on to great schools like Oxford, Georgetown, Columbia and other top tier schools. Goucher can offer as much as you put into it. But you have to be focused and have a specific career path in mind. Find as many internships as you can get your hands on, and get as much undergraduate experience in your field as you can.
| Starting Job: store clerk (retail), Preparedness: D+, Reputation: C- |
|Mar 25 2012|| Alumna Female --
Class 2000 |
| Transferring out of Goucher College is still the best decision I have ever made. If you had any semblance of a social life before attending college, you probably do not belong there. If you can carry a conversation that doesn't involve Star Trek or World of Warcraft, you probably belong somewhere else. If your music taste isn't obscure and you don't put value in being "indie", you probably belong somewhere else. The president of the school was quoted for saying something along the lines of "if you didn't have any friends in high school, you'll have friends at Goucher". I don't think he was trying to be negative when he said that, but it says something about the type of students the school attracts nonetheless. Goucher has the most awkward student body I have come across. Every day felt like a competition to be weirder than everyone else. Students cared more about being different than making a difference. The professors I had at Goucher were also disappointing. I had some brilliant ones, but I also had a professor that barely spoke English and taught us the methods for glazing using the Korean names. When I transferred, this didn't go over well in my ceramics course. My mentor/adviser stopped talking to me/trying to help me after she found out I was transferring. Goucher College wasted tons of resources on a giant eyesore library they didn't need, when there is a definite housing crisis. They do not guarantee on-campus housing, even though their brochures say otherwise. As a freshman, I lived in a double that had been turned into a triple. The fire marshal told the school this was unacceptable and during room draw the next spring, hundreds of sophomores, juniors and seniors were turned away from living on campus simply because they had drawn a lottery number that was above the cutoff. Living in Towson isn't exactly fun, either. Because it is a college town, the cost of rent is inflated and in general, it's not the best place one could live. Yes, we're close to Baltimore... but not nearly as close as the school makes it sound. Baltimore is a great city, but Goucher is NOT as involved as they like to believe. In fact, the only time I was given an opportunity to volunteer was for a class taught by a professor that graduated from the same school I ended up attending/graduating. |
|Jan 12 2012|| 2nd Year Female --
Class 2011 |
| I have a very mixed review of my experience at Goucher College. I appreciate that I had professors who offered the time and resources to work one-on-one - without holding your hand - to really improve the quality of your academic work. But Goucher really has some major cracks in its social life and resources. |
Honestly, I attended Goucher because my mother attended Vassar, and she always valued her education. My father, on the other hand, attended Columbia U. and Yale U., and he was able to see Goucher for what it was: a gimmick. Goucher promotes cross-culture education, and it is well-known in the academic community, but it's really not a good place to explore and EXPERIENCE your field of study, as Goucher has very little resources to offer depending on your major. The few research positions available with a handfull of professors fill up very quickly, leaving you to find research assistantships/internships on your own. During my last year, they finally figured out that they had to advertise the professors' individual research to prospective students. But if you're really looking for a substantial research assistantship, you have to look at Johns Hopkins University or University of Maryland, which are already really competitive for research positions. Goucher does have some very strong positive points to promote: it is the first school in the country to have a study abroad policy as a part of every students' course of study, and it does send graduates to every level of graduate education (from the ivy leagues, to Oxford, to state univerisities). However, many of the other reviews that mention Goucher's drug culture and difficult-to-navigate social scene are correct. It's almost a past time to do drugs in the woods, or steal stuff from the cafeteria. And like someone stated, Goucher promotes individuality but does not practice it. The student body was also a little too mixed for my taste. There were a handful of really gifted students, but you also had some not-so-bright kids that made the campus atmosphere seem almost grundgy. Keep in mind, I graduated from Goucher before the Athenaeum was built, and I hear that the campus life has improved dramatically since its completion, so my view of the campus might also seem outdated.
One of my biggest issues was with campus security. When I took the issue to security, they told me that it wasn't a priority. The dean of students also offered me a casual rejection. At that time I realized that the political correctness of the campus was a gimmick policy. The social activism on campus is an advertising ploy to gain naive idealist students. I begged my mom to let me transfer to Rutgers, but she told me that I needed to stay at a school with the prestige, connections and support of Goucher. So far, I haven't seen those connections work for me.
Now that I am a graduate of two years, I am still unemployed and living at my parent's home. I applied to 300 jobs, heard back from four, hired by none. The volunteer research assistantship that I recently found was something I had to make happen on my own with career counseling from a different organization. Of course everyone has to pursue their own jobs, but if I had the resources and connections of a large state university or a larger private university, I would not still be unemployed. The Career Development Office still has a lot of developmening to do (three people work for fifteen hundred students).
A couple reviews did not rate Goucher's academia very highly, and I would like to say that for the most part that's inaccurate. I had very challenging professors in every department I studied in, especially the Biology department and the Psychology Department. The Biology department is full of some very well educated staff, and the premedical postbac program is one of the top in the country. I have also seen their literature and politics department send their students to very prestigious universities, such as Gerogetown and Oxford. Each professor has a unique set of accomplishments and backgrounds to offer to their students. And the small classroom size makes for excellent lecture conversations. I have only had one professor who I felt was not a serious academic, to my parents' standards or anyone else's standards. I was in only one class where I felt that if I had taken the course at a community college, I would have been in a more serious academic course. Also, I would highly recommend taking a course (or courses) at another university through Goucher's affiliate program. The affiliate program allows you to take courses at Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, Towson University and University of Baltimore. They also offer a ton of study abroad options, including a program with Oxford University.
As for the campus itself, everything's within an arm's reach, and the campus is a place to feel safe and nurtured. The center of town (with supermarkets, shopping, bars, etc.) is the place most of the students from other univerisities go for their needs. I do remember being able to exercise on campus at any hour of the day or night and feeling completely safe.
Overall, I would say that Goucher has some very strong points, but I would consider looking at a school with many more resources and a better-known name. I felt that I was supported by the faculty and staff, especially my advisor (who still sends out letters of recommendation two years after I graduated), and the environment at Goucher was very nurturing.
|Feb 22 2011|| 4th Year Female --
Class 2009 |