My university is well-known in the automotive industry for turning out the best minds in engineering. It is NOT well known outside of the auto industry.
It’s small. I noticed enrollment going down when I was going there; empty dorm rooms, ever smaller classes, and fewer women. (The school is, at my last estimation, 85% male, and that percentage is growing.)
I just looked at my “Kettering Perspective” and noticed that they were building more buildings! This is a LEED building (very nice), but I don’t think the school needs more buildings. They have the Academic building, the Campus Center, the dorm, the Mott building, and the Rec Center. There are plenty of places to hold classes and labs, matter-of-fact, the “old” chemistry labs were still empty when I was done with classes in 2005. Granted, they may have filled those rooms by now, but I don’t think they’re at an over-crowding situation yet.
Here’s what I think they need to focus on:
- Enrollment. They need to work on getting students to the school, and then keeping them there. So many start out at the school, then drop out when they either can’t find a co-op job or can’t hack the classes. It’s hard.
- Women and minorities. Yes, yes, I’ll get smacked for saying it, but the school has very few women. Part of it is their attitude. “We can’t have a woman live in the ‘quiet unit’; the other girl dropped out.” Uhm, I’m not a “normal” woman… Those are freshmen you’re pairing me with; I’m 23 (I was at the time); those boys are jailbait. Apparently, a woman can’t go to a mostly male school without sleeping with every guy she meets.
- Job search after graduation. I’m not having much luck with their “services”. Mostly, it’s a website that has job postings for mid- to senior level people (mostly men) and nothing that’s for someone with her co-op and 1 year experience. I know the market sucks right now, but they could do something besides linking to Monster, right?
- Cost. Whoa momma, if you look at the cost for an education there, you’d crap your pants! They say that your “co-op” will cover a lot of your expenses. Uhm, no. Not everyone gets a cushy job at GM with a free apartment. I had to keep an apartment down in the Auburn Hills area, effectively paying double rent. So, no, I didn’t get any help with housing, and my piddly wages from my job didn’t cover the cost of it. I literally saved every penny I earned so I could pay for rent. I still (unfortunately) operate on that mindset, so I don’t spend money when I can and should. I’ll go without for a very long time before getting something.
- Being truthful to new students. Tell them about the difficulties of getting a co-op job; the lay-offs, the difficult classes… all that. I knew about how hard the classes were before I started, but has no clue how difficult it would be securing a co-op job. Took me forever, and I was accused of “not trying”. If I wasn’t trying, then why was I spending all that time on the internet and all the time bugging my co-op manager and all the time going on interviews all over the midwest (when I couldn’t afford the gas)?
- Encouraging the Greek system. Kettering has been effectively trying to kill the Greek system since I started there. They have hoops the Greeks have to jump through as well as stringent rules and requirements. Much of it is put upon the Greek community itself, but the school is very effective in forcing the Greeks into a small niche. It also doesn’t help that most of the RA’s are anti-Greek; the first opinion you get when you enter campus is your RA’s, and if they’re anti-Greek, then you probably won’t join a fraternity or a sorority.
- Encourage other courses of study besides mechanical engineering. Many non-ME students feel overshadowed by the ME influence.
If Kettering tries these things, I think things will be better for students.
Why they need more buildings is beyond me. Enrollment is down because students can’t get jobs and because the school is very cost prohibitive.