VMI is making the top 10 of Best Colleges in America

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by Maximus, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. Maximus

    Maximus Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,484
    Likes Received:
    0
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    VMI also was listed again in the US News rankings as well as the #3 Public liberal arts college and its engineering programs were listed in the top 10 in the country as well:
    http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/college/liberal-arts-top-public

    Supporting these rankings with some reality- (According to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Military_Institute )
    VMI has the highest ratio of Rhodes scholars to graduates of any state College or University in the country - 2 in the past 5 years including 2009 and 11 total ( more than all of the other SMCs combined) & in 2008 a Marshall scholar and two Rhodes finalists. Faculty to student ratio of 10-1 with 96% of the faculty possessing a PHD & virtually every faculty member engaged in teaching as their primary responsiblity- this is combined with an NCAA sports team participation rate of approximately 40% of the Corps, Commissioning rate of about 56% this year and the highest alumni giving rate in the country (endowment is almost $400 million at last count). All of that and you get free haircuts and sleep on a cot too! Who could ask for anything more?!
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2009
  3. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is the key. This is what keeps Keydets coming back. Any service academy or SMC you attend will keep you constantly wondering why you're there. It's a tough, tough lifestyle and you know that all of your friends are having a blast partying it up at other schools. You get frustrated with the administration and the system sucks the life and energy right out of ya. The #1 reason most of my Brother Rats and I didn't quit was because of the professors. The quality of education is second to none in that regard.

    When they say "96% of the faculty possess Ph.Ds," that's what they mean, folks. We're an undergraduate school only, which means no grad assistants filling in for the Ph.Ds and grading your papers and exams while the professor you signed up to be taught by is off writing scholarly papers to make the school look better. We've had professors interviewed as experts on History Channel specials. My profi for my Politics of Latin America class provided a review on the back panel of one of the books we read for that course, an indication of his level of expertise and notoriety within the field. Oh yeah, by the way, he was also a two-time Fulbright Scholar. My Academic Advisor as a Spanish major has native fluency after spending 18 years living and teaching in Spain, as well as co-authoring four different Spanish textbooks (to include a grammar book targeted to heritage speakers).

    I did two undergraduate research projects. My mentors for both of them were Ph.Ds. This is almost unheard of at the undergraduate level. I worked one on one with them, designing my own research projects under their guidance, picking the brain of a Ph.D as I went along. Most students don't get that kind of personal mentorship until they're working on their Masters theses. They have to compete with 300+ other students to work with a Ph.D, and most of the time that results in being one of 3-5 undergrads handling the leg work and number crunching for the Ph.D's research project. Please don't get me wrong; there's a lot to be said for learning the research process by watching an expert model it for you. But I'm a learn by doing kind of person, so the individualized attention I got for my research projects was incredible.

    VMI isn't a big name school for faculty research. There are plenty of opportunities for them to take sabbaticals to work on stuff, but our professors aren't working in higher education to advance their own careers. They're drawn to VMI and they stay at VMI because they love cadets, and they love teaching. And that makes all the difference in the world: they aren't professors, they're teachers. I recently landed a job as the high school Spanish teacher at Massanutten Military Academy, and the best preparation I had for this position was the quality of education I got at VMI. My Department Head and Academic Advisor have been fantastic resources so far. But the main thing is that I had many wonderful examples of good teaching throughout my four years there. Obviously some professors are more skillful than others, but I really can't say enough about the VMI Faculty. Heck, when I had out-patient surgery during my First Class year, I had three Ph.Ds open their homes to me in case I needed a quieter, more pleasant environment to recover in. The best thing that happened in my education to prepare me for teaching was being able to watch so many truly talented and passionate teachers in action, and now they've risen to the occasion of providing mentorship for a brand new high school teacher.

    Academic standards are high. More than one class kicked my butt and stretched me beyond what I thought I was capable of. The individual attention was fantastic, though. If you're willing to put out in the class room, the vast majority of the professors will bend over backwards to help you succeed in their classes. Many of them had evening office hours. Many also did TAC duty in barracks, and cadets would line up for homework help. I once brought a draft of an English paper to discuss with my professor when she was on duty, and we walked around the barracks as she did her checks (on a Saturday night, no less!) discussing it.

    Working within the International Studies & Political Science Department (as a major, and then when I dropped the double major to a minor), I never knew for sure what my professors' personal politics were. They played devil's advocate all the time to test us. If a cadet stated an opinion, the professor would debate it with them to force them to truly process and then articulate their arguments. There was plenty of playful banter, but their main goal was to teach us how to think for ourselves. Within the hierarchy and structure of barracks life, there's little room for debate and critical thinking. The professors in the IS Department thrive on affording cadets that opportunity. And that's why they're there. They live for that stuff.

    I'll be the first to admit that each SMC has different strengths and weaknesses. I love VMI, but it's not for everyone. I respect what the other SMCs are doing. But if you're serious about getting a quality education -- especially within the liberal arts, although our engineering and hard science programs are top notch, too -- I would highly recommend that you consider VMI. Go visit if you can and set up meetings with the Department Heads of all the different majors you're considering. Visit every college you're even remotely considering, because you won't know for sure if it's what you're looking for until you see it.

    Jackie M. Briski '09
     
  4. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Messages:
    4,826
    Likes Received:
    2
    This reminds me -
    I recently read "Dreamers of the Day" by Mary Doria Russell.
    It's historical fiction and centers around the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference when the Middle East was redrawn and Iraq was created. Characters of the book included Lady Gertrude Bell, TE Lawrence and Winston Churchill.
    Anyway - in the back of my copy was an interview with the Author conducted by LTC Roger C Thompson, Professor of English at VMI.
    Neat interview and a great read.
     
  5. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    0
    LTC Thompson ROCKS!!! For anyone going to VMI, if you have the chance, take a class with LTC T. He'll teach you all about Uncle Waldo (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

    He was also the one who taught me how to be satisfied with a B in an English class. I'd only ever gotten A's throughout high school, to include the full year of college freshman English I took as a high school senior. LTC Thompson kicked my butt in Survey of American Lit, and I was very proud to turn my midterm C into a B at finals.
     

Share This Page