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UH-Manoa up for critiques by guidebook


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POSTED: Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The University of Hawaii at Manoa could be considered next year in the annual Princeton Review college guidebooks that rate America's top party schools and other aspects of college life—good and bad—from information generated by student surveys.

Administrators and students doubt the university would score high as a party school, perhaps the review's most infamous category, but in the past students have rated UH-Manoa as having “;Dorms Like Dungeons,”; “;Long Lines and Red Tape,”; and a place where “;Students Almost Never Study.”;

Perhaps that is why UH-Manoa did not participate in the Princeton Review's surveys last year and was dropped from the 2009 and 2010 editions of America's Best Colleges, America's Best Western Schools and America's Best Value Colleges guidebooks.

Tim Merrill of the vice chancellor for academic affairs office at UH-Manoa said he has contacted the company and offered the current administration's cooperation in making sure students fill out the surveys this fall.

Merrill said he is not sure why UH-Manoa stopped working with the Princeton Review.

While the student surveys are not scientific, he said, the information does provide administrators, parents and potential students with an indication of what students think of the school.

Merrill said the guidebook can help the university with its marketing and public relations, but, he noted, “;it can backfire when schools are listed as a top party school.”;

UH-Manoa was listed in 2008 as among America's Best Value Colleges. But for the first time in 20 years, the school did not make last year's America's Best Colleges guidebook.

Hawaii Pacific University is the only isle school included in the guidebooks and is listed as among the Best Western Schools.

The UH-Manoa law school, which had enough student survey participation, is listed in the current Princeton Review's Best Law School guidebook and is ranked second as having the “;Best Environment for Minority Students,”; “;Most Diverse Faculty”; and “;Most Welcoming of Older Students.”;

Robert Franek, lead author of the college guidebooks, said there is no guarantee UH-Manoa will be included in the review's publications next year. He said academics and other factors also go into the decision to include a school.

But he said, “;We have to be able to collect student surveys,”; and there was not enough response from UH-Manoa students in the last two years and the school was dropped.

Franek said the review collects about 120,000 student surveys, the majority filled out online, each year. The response rate averages to about 325 surveys per school.

The company works with school administrators to publicize the surveys and make sure enough students fill them out, he said.

“;I think there's a great value to giving current students a voice,”; Franek said.

“;Some of the categories are tongue in cheek,”; he said. “;What we do that we think is very valuable is craft lots of ranking lists. ... If residence halls, food and diversity are interesting to you as a college-bound student, then those are the rankings we have.”;