The Corporate City or the Scholarly Enclave?

Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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13 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    Good essay.

    I think “good American high school” means a public high-school in an upper-middle class suburb filled with professional parents. These high schools boast about their high SAT scores and numbers of students enrolled in AP classes. They do not make any pride or claims about encouraging a deep, intellectualism and love of study in their students. Students know they have to work hard and get good grades. They do not learn how to appreciate and love Mozart and Literature and be curious about art and science. The 4 or 5 on the AP exam is needed for completely practical reasons, not because someone really loves European History.

    I think your post is spot on. Different schools attract different kinds of people. I really wanted to go to a small liberal arts college where the maximum class size is usually around 30. More often less. I would have been lost at a school like Penn State filled with 500 person lectures and TAs. However, I meet a lot of people and the concept of a small liberal arts college scares them. They wanted to be in the big state school where attending lecture/class can be largely voluntary because most classes will have hundreds of students.Report

    • Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

      Private school kids think silly thoughts about what a 500 person lecture and TAs are like.
      Most schools have a few huge classes, but once you’re past freshman year, you’re fine.

      And freshman year stuff is easy stuff, anyhow.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    Is there any functional difference between a corporate city and a collge town?Report

    • NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq says:

      To me a college town implies independent businesses and an actual town.

      Ithaca is a College Town. Berkeley is a College Town. Amherst is a college town. These businesses might or might not cater to the college community.

      A big, state school in the middle of nowhere with everything being on campus and corporate run is a Corporate City. I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        What about Ann Arbor or whatever city Penn State is located in? One person’s college town is another person’s corporate city. After all, college towns pretty much only exist economically to provide services to the colleges near them. Ithaca and Ann Arbor would be nothing without Cornell, Ithacha, and the Unniversity of Michigan respectively. This requires a bit of boosterism that would make any college town a corporate city.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:

        Ann Arbor is a college town.

        Vassar would probably count as a scholarly enclave. The town of Poughkeepsie did not have much going on and got a bit violent after dark. There were only a few spaces off campus that students went to on a regular basis like one nearish 24 hour dinner called the Acrop. NYC and Boston were a bit too far away for easy, weekend commuting.

        We called it the Vassar Bubble for a reason. Most social life happened on campus and most students (98 or 99 percent) lived on-campus for all four years.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:

        Sometimes the violence would creep unto campus. I had a friend that was cold-cocked with a gun during my sophomore year right next to one of the gates.Report

      • Lyle in reply to NewDealer says:

        How many isolated state schools still exist. In Mi for example the upgraded normal schools (Eastern, Western, Central, and Northern exist in reasonable sized communities, Eastern is right next to Ann Arbor, Western is in Kalamazoo, Central is in Mount Pleasant with a pop of 26k and Northern is in Marquette). In Tx the same applies with schools in at least reasonable sized towns, except perhaps for Sull Ross in Alpine. A lot of schools are now metropolitian also.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to NewDealer says:

        In the late 80’s, early 90’s, “everybody” knew that if CU went away, Boulder would be devastated while if CSU went away, Fort Collins might lose a bead shop or two but be otherwise unchanged.

        Post internet boom, I imagine that that might have changed a little bit for Boulder but… if CSU went away, Fort Collins might lose a bead shop or two.Report

      • Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

        Penn State is NOT a corporate city. too many spinoffs.Report

  3. Pinky says:

    Two serious complications:

    Incoming college students rarely have any idea what they’re really like.
    Even if they did, they’d have no way to assess the particular collegiate environments.

    I think that Ethan’s trying to say that you can’t generalize from a college’s statistics. But I also don’t see how you can generalize from a faculty member’s or other student’s experience. Your college years are going to be affected by that one girl who rattles your brain, that teacher in an intro class that you expected to be boring, that roommate who exposes you to personality disorders you never dreamed of, and that friend who…well, I have no idea what door that friend will open, and neither does the high schooler who’s visiting the campus.

    Ethan’s theater kid may be interested in a school with a good drama program, but that’s not going to help him find the adjunct professor who clicks with him. And the funny thing is, that professor may be in the business program.Report

  4. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Good advice, Ethan. I’d add in Pinky’s reservations, though, and advise college students not to be afraid to transfer if they’re not finding what they’re looking for.Report

  5. ScarletNumber says:

    A good school is defined by the GIGO principle.Report