Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good Job, Budget Crunch University!

A former student is going to grad school (in math) at Budget Crunch University.

Former Student reports, in horror, that BCU's math department has gotten mean all of a sudden. Of the 20 first-year grad students in the math department this year, 10 of them were told: "Merry Christmas. Don't bother coming back for the spring semester." Yes, that is right, BCU kicked out half of its first year graduate students after one semester! No probation! No second chances!

Apparently this is not how things used to be run at BCU. Former Student hypothesizes that the budget situation was directly responsible for this -- that the math department did not want to pay to keep the graduate students for the spring semester. That seems unlikely, as most departments tend to budget for a full academic year and don't have the flexibility to turn things like TA fee waivers into real money for useful things.

I'm hoping that the real answer is that BCU has the balls to say that the job market sucks so much that mediocre mathematicians have no place in graduate school.

More likely there is a more realistic explanation midway between these -- something like BCU trying to improve its ranking on some list and discovering that grad students kicked out after one semester do not count against them as badly as grad students who drop out after eight years.

Based on the alarming lack of knowledge of basic calculus demonstrated by the math grad students at my own university, I am very impressed with BCU for thinning the herd so ruthlessly.