The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor - Graduate (MS/PhD) Ratings|
|Total Grad Surveys||28|
|Avg years at University||2.2|
|Research Quality||A- (8.6)|
|Research Availability||B+ (7.9)|
|Research Funding||B+ (7.6)|
|Graduate Politics||B+ (7.9)|
|Not Errand Runners||B+ (8.1)|
|Degree Completion||B+ (8.0)|
|Alternative pay [ta/gsi]||B+ (7.7)|
|Sufficient Pay||B (7.0)|
|Education Quality||B (7.3)|
|Faculty Accessibility||B+ (8.1)|
|Useful Research||B+ (7.7)|
|"Individual" treatment||B (6.9)|
|Campus Beauty||A- (8.4)|
|Campus Maintenance||A- (8.3)|
|University Spending||B+ (8.0)|
|Scholastic Success||A- (8.2)|
|Surrounding City||A- (8.3)|
|Social Life/ Environment||B+ (7.7)|
The academics were definitely a mixed bag. The studio courses were exciting and very creative with a great set of experienced and creative professors to encourage your development in design and artistic sensibility.
The non-studio courses were not relevant. Many classmates would not even show up or bother to buy the book. These courses were supposed to cover useful technical information but you got a very general non-useful overview of things like structures, construction and environmental technology. I got the feeling that they were only there because they had to be, and designed to be easy and fluffy enough to not get in the way of studio classes.
There was definitely a philosophy of design concept/appearance is the most important thing. However, if you are looking for a job in architecture then I feel like you are seriously lacking in technical skills, and no one gets hired right out of school as a design architect.
One saving grace of this system is that Michigan has an excellent internship program. They do week long spring break internships (unpaid). That may not seem like much, however the list of firms you can ask to intern for are impressive. Additionally, sometimes as an architect what you need is to be able to make connections and visiting a firm for a week is an excellent way to network. I did this week long intern program and found it to be a good experience and would have interned for the firm over the summer if I didn't already have other plans.
Unfortunately these plans involved interning with a firm that wasn't directly set up with Michigan. This proved to be a very bad experience as the firm had expectations that I had a set of technical skills and understandings which I didn't have. At this point I realized how unprepared I would be to go to work for a firm that didn't have an understanding/relationship with University of Michigan. The firm itself was a terrible environment, so maybe more of a reflection of the firm than the Michigan. However, it did make me painfully aware of the technical skills and understandings I had not at all developed while in school.
The experience I had socially with the school was not a great one. I have a quiet book worm, down to earth personality, and found it really hard to make friends if I didn't want to take part in drinking heavily and/or going to sports games. Also, I came from a middle class background and felt at times looked down upon because I didn't come from a wealthy family or have a wardrobe of designer clothing. My class/year specifically I've heard from a student still there has been known to the faculty as one of the more cut throat groups of students to be at tcaup. I didn't feel like there was a helpful community of students, but more of an unhealthy environment where sometimes classmates would avoid helping each other or try to steal ideas and make them better than the person who originally came up with them.Overall I would not return to Michigan if I had the choice.
I came here because of reputation. U of M has been ranked #1 in Social Work for 12 years, so it would make sense to attend the #1 school of social work. Here are the pros and cons of the social work program and U of M.
The campus is pretty diverse (I am Asian American.). I never felt out of place, and the people in general treated me with respect.
Research here is quite impressive, even in Social Work which is a practical degree. I feel well-prepared to continue on with Ph.D.
Students in the social work comes from all over the country and various backgrounds. This made my learning experience truly unique.
I felt supported by my professors and advisors. I am sad to be leaving Ann Arbor in about a week.
U of M is well-recognized nation/world-wide. For example, I went to Korea last summer, and people were impressed with my status as a student of U of M. Alumni network is vast, and alumnis are well-respected wherever they go.
If you don't have a car, you're pretty much stuck at Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is a nice city, but there isn't whole lot to do here. Transportation isn't so great here. Bus comes every 30 minutes to an hour.
Ethnic restaurants here leaves something to be desired. If you're from Cali like me, you won't be impressed with the #1 Chinese restaurant in Ann Arbor. Everything is too pricey.
Social Work here is too research-focused. If you are embarking on clinical social work or clinical psychology, this isn't the best place (Try NYU or Columbia).
Professors in Social Work (and other depts) are too research-focused sometimes.
In social work, if you are not in tune with the mainstream, you'll feel left out (I know several people who experienced this).
Lack of activism here (compared to Berkeley)
Tuition is very pricey, if you are an out-of-state student.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about U of M. Good luck with your decision. A year (or two) from now, I'll make some comments about my impression of UIUC.
While my advisor, and some other faculty in my department were helpful in my research and toward my time to completion, I found that faculty were generally difficult to access. Many would never return emails and would try not to interact with students unless they absolutely had to do so. My other problem with my specific department, and to a lesser extent the university administration, were regarding ethics and some acts that I have found to be unsettling for an academic institution where learning is touted to be the primary objective. I have witnessed a situation where students were theatened in order to keep them quiet about problems within the school. Although I understand that the school is concerned about their reputation, it was obvious that the school was not concerned about the students' well-being. Their first concern was making sure that the students did not speak about the department's problems. Specific problems that I have had, such as abusive professors, were dismissed, even though several students had made formal complaints about this individual. I understand that the school does not the costly option of looking for a new professor, but lack of protection for students in the presence of this person showed that the school was once again not concerned about the well-being of it's students. Of course, this all becomes political and makes things very uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially since everyone realizes that there is a problem that has non yet been dealt with. This is not what I expected of a liberal institution, and certainly not what I expected out of my academic career. I feel that my education here was not of the highest quality because professors did not have time to meet with me, much less plan classes that were organized and thoughtful. I feel the push to finish a degree program without the proper classes and advisorship has caused research quality to decline. Funding problems have also caused the research quality to decline as most people cannot compose projects without the proper equipment.
Anyway, enough about military service. Let's move to academics. Now, please keep in mind that I can only speak from the perspective of a graduate engineering student. I will first tell you that most of the students here are brilliant. They work extremely hard, and they are extremely gifted. However, the classes are designed not to foster learning and understanding of the course material, but rather as "contests" to see which students are the smartest, forcing them into cutthroat competition. The assignments, exams, and projects do not test students on how well they understand the course material; they seem to be nothing more than indicators of who is the most gifted. This, in my opinion, is not what learning is all about. Although I was impressed with the relatively small class sizes, don't let that fool you into thinking that you will receive any attention from a professor. My assigned graduate advisor doesn't even know my name. I have to remind him when I come to see him for an appointment (which he usually has to postpone three or four times anyway). Unless you have a shining beacon on your forehead that reads "I have the potential to be the next Nobel Prize recipient", don't expect the faculty to take the slightest acknowledgement of you.
Finances. The education and resources available at the University of Michigan are definitely not worth the Ivy League price for out-of-state students like myself. I had a successful career as an Army officer (and I continue in the reserves) making an average of $60K a year , yet I cannot afford to pay for just one year of education (and this is after veterans benefits, loans, etc). Furthermore, the university has extremely low funding available for work-study programs (only $180K for a school of more than 40,000) and other types of financial aid. Also, the university does not have the graduate staff assistanships that you see at so many other universities. Unless you are here as a doctoral candidate with an external grant from the DoD, NASA, NSF (or other external source), don't expect a penny to come your way.
Social life. Perhaps I am just cold-hearted, unattractive, and full of body odor, but I have not made a single friend here at the university. I have never had a problem in social environments before, but this place is something else. I don't know if it's because engineering students are too engrossed in their work, or if they are afraid to befriend someone with whom they are competing for an 'A', but it almost seems that I am actually avoided by my fellow students. I have tried to attend a few graduate student organization meetings, and when I try to introduce myself, I get little or no reply. So, basically, I have given up in the social department.I have plenty more that I can say, but hopefully someone out there with a similar background will read this before making their decision.