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America's Most Connected Campuses 429

Posted by michael
from the disruptive-technologies dept.
foghorn666 writes "Forbes and the Princeton Review have posted their list of America's Most Connected Campuses, which measures the technological capabilities of the country's 357 top colleges and universities. They're looking at infrastructure stuff like whether wireless networks are available, if you can register for classes online, and so on - not really curriculum. But the results are interesting, and the winner not a huge surprise: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute."
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America's Most Connected Campuses

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  • Not a surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frisky070802 (591229) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:17PM (#10600710) Journal
    RPI's not a huge surprise? I expected MIT at number one... not below the top 25. Same for many others. WTF?
    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:22PM (#10600834)

      MIT is in Cambridge Mass, where there are lots of interesting things to do. RPI is in... Troy, NY. I'd spend all my time on the Internet too if I were there.
    • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:4, Informative)

      by tonsofpcs (687961) <`moc.scpfosnot' `ta' `kcabhsals'> on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:27PM (#10600904) Homepage Journal
      RPI was the first technical institution. MIT is newer and is not as tech based as it is science based.
      • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MaestroRC (190789) on Friday October 22, 2004 @04:21PM (#10602865) Homepage
        But still, there are gross inconsistencies with the data on there when compared to reality. For example, my university, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, has the following:

        Is there a Wireless Network? (No)

        Well if our "nomad" network is not wireless, I don't know what is. And it's been around for about 7 years, starting out as a pre-802.11 network and then upgraded to 802.11b, and just this year upgraded to 802.11g.

        Does the school provide web pages? (No)

        Every student (rather, every person who has a valid NetID) can sign up for a free page and unix access. You just fill out a simple form and they send you the account info.

        Does the school stream audio or video of any courses? (No)

        We have a distance education program that streams audio out from a shitton of courses, including one of the classes I'm taking right now. I know this because it's annoying when something screws up and my professor has to take care of that rather than teaching me. And my freshman year they were streaming video online of my engineering fundamentals course, and storing it so we could review lectures later.

        Is a computer ethics policy in place for the school? (No)

        Then what is this [utk.edu]?

        Do students have access to Usenet newsgroups? (No)

        Well, according to this [utk.edu], we've had usenet access since at least 1995, but I would venture a guess that we had it earlier, since our first network access was a government partnership with Oak Ridge National Labs.

        Does the school provide multimedia equipment? (No)

        Well, what about this [utk.edu]? Or if they're thinking of in classrooms, almost every classroom has a projector and Smartboard (thing you can write on), and many have sound systems. In classrooms.

        Does the school offer courses in emerging technologies? (No)

        What the hell. You know, I think that that Internet2 Link we have, and all the related CS courses, including a project for a new file system structure for network storage is just for fun.

        Does the school stream its campus radio or TV stations? (No)
        Uhmmmm.... Try here [wutkradio.com]. Damn these people either suck or we suck at reporting.


        And I know for a fact we have more than 1000 computers that are provided by the university for students to use. We have almost that many in the library *alone*.

    • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by the quick brown fox (681969) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:27PM (#10600918)
      I believe there were some mistakes in the MIT data.

      Does the school provide Web pages?
      Can students register online?

      Both these answers were "No" according to the survey, but they should be "Yes".

      • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:4, Informative)

        by the quick brown fox (681969) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:30PM (#10600961)
        Oh, here's the MIT page [forbes.com]. I think with those two "No" answers corrected, MIT should be #3 on the list.
      • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Heh... there seem to be mistakes across the board, actually, glancing through some of the schools.
      • They said that UIUC doesn't provide Web pages, which they did do, at least from 96-00 when I was there.

        Also, I currently work for one of the top 10, and it certainly doesn't seem as well connected as UIUC did...
      • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:3, Informative)

        by AEton (654737)
        We can't register online. We can -pre-register online; you have to go to the office physically and hand in a piece of paper to confirm registration (or to add or drop classes), and freshmen don't get to preregister. (Anecdote: the freshman credit limit is 54 credit hours - four x 12ch classes + 1 x 6ch seminar. After the last class drop opportunity, the registrar's office reported one junior was signed up for 160some credit hours.)

        Other qualifications that made MIT not a very wired school:
        *We aren't provid
      • I believe there were some mistakes in the MIT data.

        I believe the whole thing is a load of crap. After getting tons of 404s from the links in the article, I managed to find the info on WPI [forbes.com]. According to Forbes, WPI doesn't offer online classes [wpi.edu], doesn't have a computer ethics policy [wpi.edu], doesn't provide multimedia equipment [wpi.edu], doesn't stream its radio station [wpi.edu]...

        Five minutes at their web site reveals information that Forbes couldn't find. And people get paid to do this? I'm in the wrong racket...

    • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by qplnm (228906)
      And what about CMU? A few years back they were considered way up there, if not #1. T1 to all the dorms by my freshman year (1996), wireless at big chunks of campus in 99, hell we had a robot that roamed the halls freely and took commands issued via a web site.

      Perhaps in the past few years there has been less of a focus on technology than there used to be.
      • Ok...here are the answers for Carnegie Mellon - the original and the truth. Either those who answered the questions don't know jack, or something's seriously wrong with the methodology.

        Is there a campuswide network? Yes Yes
        Is there a wireless network? Yes Yes
        Can students access e-mail away from school? Yes Yes
        Does the school provide Web pages? No You get webspace- you're supposed to write your own HTML

        Is this even a criteria? Why does the school have to provide you with a webpage?

        Does the schoo
      • Yea, we got juked.

        I guess things like having a Cray or two, or a (couple of) robotics lab(s), or chip manufacturing clean room doesn't really count.

        The statistic that I love is the computer/student ratio. 5,347 students 466 computers = 9:100.

        Jeez, when I was there (85-89) I think the *libraries* had more than that. Mostly Mac SE's & Mac II's at the time for public use, but the CS dept had tons of unix boxes, and PC's were also all over the place.

    • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:5, Informative)

      by QuantumFTL (197300) <justin...wick@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:32PM (#10600981)
      RPI's not a huge surprise? I expected MIT at number one... not below the top 25. Same for many others. WTF?

      Well, unlike MIT, RPI is much much more interested in technology and applied science than pure science - it is an "engineer factory" so to speak. Not only that, but their campus is tiny. A few wireless access points is all it takes to cover the entire place, unlike my school (Cornell University).

      When I was there last, it was hard to find a place without wireless or ethernet available. Very cool. Good job RPI!

      BTW, if you wonder what they do there, I was talking to Freeman Dyson the other day and he seemed to be very excited about their lightcraft [rpi.edu] - UFO looking space ships powered by earth-mounted laser generators. He seems to think they are much more likely to work than space elevators.

      Cheers,
      Justin
      • Re:Not a surprise? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Hoplite3 (671379) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:57PM (#10601357)
        My experince at RPI this summer was very different. There wasn't wireless coverage in the dorm where we were housed. Worse, to get on the wireless network seemed to require some windows-only tool (according to the confrence organizers), so I was SOL with a linux laptop. I didn't much care for the situation as a visitor. I hope it is different for the students.

        Then again, some of the measures of how wired the campus is seem a bit stilted. Online registration? Does it matter for small (1000 students) colleges? I'd rather talk with THE registrar personally than have some webform. She can ask me how things are going, suggest alternate courses, and generally keep the system running smoothly.
        • There wasn't wireless coverage in the dorm where we were housed. Worse, to get on the wireless network seemed to require some windows-only tool (according to the confrence organizers), so I was SOL with a linux laptop.

          I believe it's simply VPN, which they rightly use to make their wireless networks secure (WEP just ain't enough). I believe that VPN clients for linux have been readily available, but I can't say it's easy to set up in this case. The organizers were probably not familiar with the intrica
    • Bear in mind, the school holding the "top" spot goes in cycles. As a school that updates there internet backbone makes a huge leap forward on the list and then eventually gets passed while others upgrade.

      Also, fast access does not guarantee anything about the education. It's nice, yes, but being number 1 in internet speed is like being number 1 in number of campus dining options. It's nice, but not essential in creating a good campus atmosphere.

    • As many have pointed out the "study" is flawed. I emailed the editor a few corrections (below):

      Every user at MIT may place a website on their account see http://web.mit.edu/gorpwarp/www/ for instance.

      It's not clear where your # of computers came from but it seems inaccurate for numerous reasons. There are university owned computers (Athena) of which there are at least 330, department owned computers, and a special class of Athena machines known as quick stations in high-traffic areas with time-limited a

    • I expected MIT at number one... not below the top 25

      Speaking as an MIT grad (MechE '95) if my experience is any indication, I'm not too shocked.

      I recently spent some time in the Barker Engineering Library to perform some research. I had my laptop with me, so I fired up my Wi-Fi to see if there was an accessible network. Sure enough, there was. Like most open networks I've used at airports & hotels, you have to register with the service.

      However, unlike other networks I've used, you have to wait 5

  • I am pleasantly surprised to find my school ranked as #13 overall, ahead of Boston University, even!
    • BU may have a lot of computers, but its IT department is not so hot. I was at University of Oregon for undergrad (an Internet2 school) and it blows the pants off of BU in terms of user-friendliness, security, and variety of available systems. For cryin' out loud, they don't even support POP3S when they only give you 20M of storage and encourage the use of webmail.

      I'm really bitter about the downgrade in my computing experience since moving here. It's a fine school, but for what we're paying, I think we
    • I passed that info to my boss, mentioning that I graduated from #13. It did not, however, result in the raise I asked for.

      sincerely,
      Your Future

    • What's a little silly about the Forbes list is that one of the criteria is whether each dormitory has computer access in their LOBBIES. Uh, large universities that have hundreds of lobby areas like UB, aren't going to get that checkmark unless they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, whereas a small school can spend a fraction.

      Another thing: I would find having a laptop expense part of my tuition to be very obnoxious. What if I don't want one? What if I already have a desktop that I prefer to use? T

    • It's just one letter away from 133T!
  • Sad commentary... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by potus98 (741836) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:19PM (#10600765) Journal

    That every year I hear the rankings of Top 10 party schools in Time, Newsweek, and other mainstream media outlets. I never hear a thing about campus rankings on issues that actually matter unless I turn to (relatively) obscure news sources like /.

    • That every year I hear the rankings of Top 10 party schools in Time, Newsweek, and other mainstream media outlets. I never hear a thing about campus rankings on issues that actually matter unless I turn to (relatively) obscure news sources like /.

      Um...this is from Forbes, not Slashdot.

  • "...which measures the technological capabilities of the country's 357 top colleges and universities."

    But where's the survey measuring the technological capabilities of the students?
    • by commodoresloat (172735) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:44PM (#10601170)
      Or, often more importantly, of the faculty.

      I teach at a good sized state university, and we were well ahead of the curve in being "wired" (we could easily answer "yes" to almost all the questions on the forbes survey). But I have colleagues who don't know how to use their computers. While there are attempts to train faculty and draw them more into the information age, there are still far too many (usually older) faculty members (and staff) who are out of touch technologically. Department pages are very slow to be updated on the web (if they exist at all), students freely plagiarize from online sources knowing their professor won't use google to catch them, and computer labs are cesspools of viral activity because the OS's aren't kept up to date.

      What's worse, the university has bought into inflexible proprietary software solutions such as PeopleSoft, WebCT, and Blackboard to try to manage tasks which would be much better served by more flexible tools. I don't know as much about Peoplesoft (other than that I hate using it and it doesn't always work with my Mac), but my experience with the online teaching tools is that we would have been much better off with open source solutions like classweb [ucla.edu], being developed at UCLA.

      But of course it's a lot more difficult to measure such things on this sort of survey.

  • by TrollBridge (550878) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:20PM (#10600783) Homepage Journal
    With as much emphasis as the survey put on wireless networking, I'd think good security would be one of the most important factors in a well-wired campus.

    It's sad that something this high-profile apparently dismisses the importance of network security.
  • Or at least a Nokia sponsored campus?
  • by bennomatic (691188) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:22PM (#10600818) Homepage
    I remember dialing in with a 9600 baud modem to do my CS 60A (scheme) homework at UC Berkeley and only getting 2400 baud because of the answering modem's speed most of the time.

    And then once I got on, the slowdown was that our new superfast server (danube, IIRC) was bogged down running poorly written interpreted, recursive, memory-hogging programs by 500+ students all trying to get in under the wire.

    Sigh. The good old days.

  • I don't buy it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WilliamGeorge (816305) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:22PM (#10600830)
    A major portion of their analysis seems to be the ratio of students to computers, but that is rather unfair: they are only counting campus-owned computers, not the ones students bring with them. For example: my alma matter, the University of Washington, has two EXCELLENT, large computer labs, plus others scattered about the various buildings. They also have Wi-Fi network s (though not campus-wide). But still, the majority of students bring their own computers (wether laptops they carry or desktops in their dorms). And ya know what, it didn't even make the list! This is bull-crap!

    • Re:I don't buy it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dfj225 (587560)
      Yes, I was kind of surprised that my school, Drexel University, didn't make the list. Since Drexel is mostly an engineering/science/technology focused school, it seems like it should be up there. I know there is a lot of technology on our campus, plus everyone is required to own a computer. This means that there is not much use for the labs outside of commuters who don't have laptops, other small groups of people that need a lab, and the ones required for a class. Most of my geekier friend even have 2 or
      • The list deals primarily with computer:student ratio (of computers owned by the school, not students). Idiotic test for "most connected campus".

        Every student needs a computer at Drex. It's an absolute. And many people own multiple computers (workstation, server, laptop, PDA, etc.).

        "Does the school provide Web pages?" -> Yes, you just have to ask.

        "Does the school support handheld computers?" -> Yes, you add the MAC address to your account, same with all the other wireless devices.

        "Does the school p
        • I had the same thoughts when I read the Drexel listing. I graduated from there in '02 and was surprised what info they had wrong. Not only does Drexel provide web pages, I still have an account and update a site on their servers, as an alum.

          As far as not providing multimedia services... ARE THEY ON CRACK?? We have IMS which allows you to check out, for free, just about any multimedia equipment you want. We have projectors/sound systems in a huge number of campus buildings, and probably most importantly
    • actually I agree... My school has pretty much gotten rid of most of the computer labs (aside from high end unix, chem, and graphic design labs) because 99% of the students bring their own computers and very few actually use the public labs.
    • Yeah. Take a look at my alma mater, Columbia [forbes.com]. The stats are just plain wrong: there's a campuswide wireless network, many classes are offered online and some in streaming video, the school provides webspace (though admittedly it's still up to you to design your site), and both WKCR [columbia.edu] and WBAR [wbar.org] are streamed online. So why are these all red X's in Forbes' table?
    • Yea, they list RPI with a 24:100 computer to student ratio, but they require the students to own a computer (and have it with them if they live on campus). So shouldn't this really be 124:100?
    • Re:I don't buy it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Se7enLC (714730)
      I second that opinion that computer/student ratio is useless. Having computers in labs are for non-technological universities. Real geek schools expect the geeks to have their own PCs and spend the money on cooler equipment. WPI has campus-wide wifi (including all the dorms/apartments and even some fraternities), Internet2, and 10/100 in all buildings. Just because they don't have as many physical PCs sitting in labs doesn't mean that we aren't as connected! Compare that to MIT who doesn't even encrypt th
    • Yep:

      1. Why is forcing kids to buy a pc a great idea? This methodology skews in favor of forced choice, and does not count freely acquired computers owned. This makes things easy for campus IT depts, but is not necessarily the best thing for students.

      2. Some things appear to be factually incorrect- I am an American University alum - I had a web page hosted on their old VMS box in 97. They retired that circa 99, but I am fairly certain they have some facility for students to host pages - Forbes says there i
    • As an RPI student (3 running PC's and a few not-currently-running in my room right now), I can honestly say that every single student there has a computer. It's a requirement for being an undergrad to have a laptop, and I'd venture a guess that around 25% have a desktop in their rooms as well. Hell, I'm building one for my car even!
    • Never mind ones brought by students, how about ones issued by the school to the students?

      Since 1995, Grove City College has been handing every incoming freshman a shiny new Compaq laptop. (Would have been nice to have that when I was a freshman.) Yet GCC is listed with a miniscule 2:100 ratio! Well, duh! What use would a school have for rooms full of space heaters when they know everybody has a computer, because they gave every student one to keep?
    • Once upon a time, I was on the purchasing committee for the student computing labs at UW. Nothing feels more like wielding a wand of massive power like blowing $600,000 on Photoshop licenses per upgrade cycle. Or buying "discounted" $2500 21" Apple Cinema Displays so people can check their e-mails and use Word at the same time!

      Yes, I'm cynical and tried my best to prevent such wastage. Alas, I was oft overruled by the academia elite...

  • by LiquidMind (150126) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:22PM (#10600832)
    I read this on some IRC channel a couple'a years ago...

    A: this school i'm trying to apply for is asking me all these stupid questions. like "why do you want to attend our school?"
    B: tell them 'cuz you got a phat pipe that i can use to download porn, warez and mp3s.
  • not to nitpick... (Score:4, Informative)

    by npistentis (694431) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:25PM (#10600879)
    sadly, the most connected campus seems to be fairly irresponsible with their student data. 3 years ago, i did a search for a friend who went there, and got a hit on a page including student names matched with Social Security numbers and a test score. We sent an email to the IT guys there... a year later, I did it again- the page was still up, so I told them again. Out of curiosity, I just did the same search, and got the same list. How would you feel knowing that your school was this irresponsible with personal data?
    • Re:not to nitpick... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RPI Geek (640282)
      Do you think that the SS#s might have been the student ID #s? I remember a few years ago that a law was passed in NY requiring schools to NOT use SS#s as their student ID#s. Because of this RPI switched to another 9-digit number.

      I'd initially blame the professor who posted the page because there are places to post them electronically that can only be accessed through a password/login. Then I'd blame the IT staff because posting names matched to ID#s is a violation of RPI's privacy policy.

      RPI's networ
  • Rating Criteria (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anglete (782289)
    I have a problem with these ratings. According to the criteria, ratings are strongly based on how many computers there are per student. I dont know about your university, but i rarely use the campus computers. When i do, there are always many and they are mostly not used. Most people either have a desktop at home / dorm or a laptop they carry everywhere. To get my university to be on the top 25 on this list, they'll need to have even more unused machines scattered about campus.

    In summary, I disagree
    • And is specifies them as "campus owned" computers...

      At some schools - like my alma mater Rose-Hulman [rose-hulman.edu] - all of the students are required to buy laptops, so the "school owned" computer to student ratio is incredibly low.

      Of course, freshmen there have been required to buy laptops since 1995.
  • Way to go RPI (Score:2, Informative)

    by pertinax18 (569045)
    I graduated from RPI this past may and I can definitely agree with their assesment. Almost everything could be done online, from registering for class to attending class (via live video streams) to contacting the bursar or financial aid. They put a lot of effort into it and it is nice to see some recognition.
  • Maybe they can stop sending be letters begging for cash. I've still got student loans, for crying out loud!

    • Don't worry -- the RPI alumni association will continue to send letters and call, long after you've paid off the school loans.

      A friend of mine is the only person I know to avoid the RPI alumni plague -- before she left RPI, she changed her listed phone number to that of the Boston weather service.

  • UTexas (Score:2, Informative)

    I can do almost everything online short of actually going to class. Yet we're not even ranked. I call complete bullshit on this article.
    • Re:UTexas (Score:2, Informative)

      by iMaple (769378)
      Yes, I second this, At UT Austin, we do everything online , registartion, fee payment.
      Everyone has free webspace, resonable number of computers ( I mean noone as to wait), the library computers are good, the librarians have an online chat so you dont have to go over if you need to ask the librarian something, there is a huge number of online books for students, the best online Map collection. Ok I dont mean to troll, but we should have been ranked for sure ( the stats show NR for most fields, maybe they di
  • RPI sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Herbmaster (1486) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:29PM (#10600939)

    The only reason RPI is so high on the list is because the administration is a bunch of pandering suck-ups who will do whatever it takes to meet a trendy benchmark rather than actually earn respect the old fashioned way. RPI wants to be at the top of this list, so they excel at filling this requirements that Forbes is looking for. Yahoo does such a ranking, and for years RPI has been near the top of that list.

    In reality, RPI's dorm network is a mess, they manditorily firewall off all students, and computer labs have disappeared because since 1999 they've required all students to have a laptop (and essentially required them to run windows). They've had among the worst problems with file sharing and the RIAA. Sure, there "is a" wireless network. Great. Ooh, and email access off campus! Too bad Rensselaer alumni free email for life is, as of this month, no longer.

    • Re:RPI sucks (Score:3, Informative)

      by ldspartan (14035)
      Although it's been a few years since I've lived on campus, I do know some of the people who take care of the network, and I don't think calling it a mess is at all accurate. They firewall off students because students are dumb, and do dumb things, like getting infected with spam bots. And, if you have some semblance of a brain, getting around the firewall isn't very hard. As for off-campus mail support, I agree that sucks, but you can always VPN in and it works fine.

      Also, alum mail is broken because it's n
    • Re:RPI sucks (Score:3, Informative)

      by pertinax18 (569045)
      Yes it is true that the administration are a bunch of tools who really only care about rankings. But the other stuff you said was a little misinformed and outdated.

      Yes general purpose computer labs have dwindled in the past years, but everyone has a laptop why do you need a lab? And because of this, the money originally budgeted for labs can now be spend on high end specialized labs (like the new math/compsci labs running linux only).

      Also, nobody requires students to run windows, in fact there is a larg
  • According to this article, Dartmoth has 12000 computers for 4000 students???
  • I work at Bradley University (squeaked in at #24) and I don't think this makes any sense. While we have an Internet2 connection and several buildings have wireless, our commodity connection was completely running at 99% capacity last year. This year we've separated student housing onto a completely separate service provider. So I have plenty of bandwidth to spare from my office and academic labs, I still hear complaints form students in the dorms.

    Wouldn't calculating the bandwidth to student ratio make
    • Do you guys use a Packet Shaper? That helped where I went...
      • We have a packet shaper on the student side of the network, but not the academic and I'm glad. Packet shapping simply means that your moving one protocol down to move another protocol up. Soon or later things you want to work are too far down the list. You move those up, and the phone rings because now something else isn't working.

        I think the correct answer is to buy more bandwidth when you start averaging 50% utilitzation. It will pay for itself in reducing support calls.

        • Agreed. I went to Valpo and when we ran out of bandwidth and the packetshaper wasn't working well enough, we had to get a DS3 (partial, I believe). Personally, I think that this need for more bandwidth can be attributed to the bloated filesharing programs out there. Napster never ate up bandwidth like Kazaa does, and more students = more computers + more malware, etc. It is not a good time to be in university IT. People want more bandwidth, but never want to pay for it...
  • by kngthdn (820601) *
    This study makes no sense. My school, the University of Oregon, offers free web hosting [uoregon.edu], discounted computers [uobookstore.com], support for handheld computers [uoregon.edu], multimedia equipment to borrow [uoregon.edu], and courses in emerging technologies [uoregon.edu]. Why is all the information [forbes.com] at Forbes.com wrong?

    I'm not saying the UO is high tech, or that they should have been rated higher. I just wonder if they screwed up the data from other schools, too.
  • by NerveGas (168686) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:33PM (#10600999)

    Now has amazing connectivity. The entire campus (quite large) is entirely "lit up" with wireless hot-spots, and most buildings have an ethernet tap for every classroom seat.

    To make it better, in the student housing, for some pitifully low amount ($25?), you get a 20 megabit(!) connection. All paid for by student fees, of course.

    Now, I'm all for computers. But when tuition has tripled over the past ten years, parking costs have quadrupled, and student fees are going out the roof - all the time real services to students are decreasing - it makes me wonder if it's really worth it.

    Am I really going to be a better engineer if I have a 20 megabit connection to my home vs. a 1- or 2-megabit? Not really. Will a sociologist find better research to study over the 20-megabit connection? Nope.

    The matter extends into the classrooms - while some connectivity has a very good payoff, they've gone to such lengths that the cost has far, far exceeded the benefits. It's just plain irresponsible.

    steve
  • False information (Score:3, Informative)

    by ktulu1115 (567549) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:34PM (#10601022)
    Anyone else notice that their school had incorrect information? Funny, I never knew NJIT didn't host personal websites, I guess that makes my website [njit.edu] null and void under the DMCA... oh wait, I mean they just had misrepresented data.

    The reports of NJIT lacking a wireless network are greatly exaggerated.

    I also recall we were the top #1 wired school in the nation my frosh year or so ('99), but now not even given a rating despite a massive upgrade of equipment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:34PM (#10601026)
    NYU has aeron chairs in the library computer lab....doesn't that count for something? Or not, but maybe it explains why I pay $1000 a unit here.
  • Stay away! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zardus (464755) <yans@yancomm.net> on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:34PM (#10601027) Homepage Journal
    Don't be fooled by the promise of connectivity and online registration! If you care at all about your sanity, go somewhere else! RPI is not a g -- asfedj;sah( &Gfsogf AGOYD SABDAISLHD!! MUST ... KILL ... LINCOLN.....
    • I have to agree. Politics and stupid BS really kill RPI's potential. I left feeling there was so much more that could be done. In a lot of cases, it seemed only postgrad students got anything out of the place, and even that was hampered.
  • Pardon me while I go wash my salty, tear-stained face.

    *sob*

    I've been let down by my alma mater.

  • RPI (Score:4, Informative)

    by IceFox (18179) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:35PM (#10601042) Homepage
    So that is how they are going to get people to come to that dead town! Seriously, I visted there on my school tour. The campus is all on a hill and looked like half of it was under construction and the town was the last place I would care to live.
    • Re:RPI (Score:5, Funny)

      by Greyfox (87712) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:51PM (#10601249) Homepage Journal
      Yes, the town looks like a nuclear bomb went off there... and sure it rains all the time... and um... snow gets asshole deep on a camel in the winter... but the area does kind of grow on you. And um... you could do worse when global warming comes... it's ah... not like it's freaking New Jersey, or anything.
      • Re:RPI (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cnj (87028)
        it's ah... not like it's freaking New Jersey, or anything.

        Because Troy sure is nicer than Princeton, and damn if I don't love having it snow during commencement [rpi.edu] ceremonies in May!

    • So you're complaining that they're adding facilities, and you're complaining that the town its in is crappy? Where else can you live for $150 a month off campus?
      I'm not defending RPI, in my 5 years, I learned more from cutting the grass there than studying, but all the same, you really needed to look at it through different eyes.
  • Inaccurate (Score:5, Informative)

    by nns6561 (559085) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:36PM (#10601048)
    This article is completely inaccurate. I checked a couple of schools I'm familiar with and they were all missing multiple items. The rank is more a factor of whether the appropriate person filled out the form. In many schools, there are few administrators who actually know all of the services provided on the campus. Sadly, it's very difficult to get accurate information about technology at a school. The best way is probably to talk to a student. The admissions office has no idea what's going on. I remember listening to the admissions tour at one school. The tour guide lied on multiple facts which I had easy methods to verify. The tour guides are just there to sell the school.
  • by mmmmmhotpants (800341) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:42PM (#10601140)
    Case Study: California Institute of Technology (who recently broke networking speed records)

    The study says there is no wireless network (there is), school doesn't provide web pages (it does), can't register online (we do), no ethics policy (a very loose one: the honor code), school doesn't provide multimedia equipment (its available for use), doesn't stream its radio (our radio is only streamed).

    What the study got right: I don't think classes are provided online, students are not required to own a computer, tuition doesn't include a computer, and I don't think courses are offered in emerging technologies (if by emerging technologies you mean MS Word). I wouldn't want to go to a school that has these features.

    Personally, I think this idea of connectedness is a horrible measure of a school's IT saviness, and I'm not even talking about the erroneous study itself.
  • Completely wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:43PM (#10601151)
    I just looked over our school's info. A lot of it is wrong. It was off in at least three or four categories too, not just one or two.

    Anyone else's school got the wrong info for it? From what I saw of the school where I work, I wouldn't give this list much credence.
  • Usenet access (Score:4, Informative)

    by Octorian (14086) on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:44PM (#10601169) Homepage
    Ok, I graduated from RPI not too long ago, and noticed a glaring error in their report on the school. Yeah, I know we won this ranking, and I'm happy to see that. However, when I look at the question "Do students have access to Usenet newsgroups?" and see an "X" (no), I see something wrong.

    We definitely have Usenet access, and even have a bunch of rpi.* newsgroups accessable inside the school. Someone definitely overlooked something.
  • It's just a survey of what they claim to have, not whether any of it works. For example, my sister is a PhD candidate at Temple (#4) and says their IT is the most backward she has ever seen (dot matrix printers in student labs, for example)....

    A more useful survey would be one of the computing experiences of the outgoing class at different colleges, that would give a picture of what was really going on, rather than who has a buzzword savy PR department.
  • by colin_n (50370) on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:01PM (#10601423) Homepage Journal
    Its about time RPI was number one in something other than student depression and nothing to do around campus! Go Shirley! [rpi.edu]
  • by Hypharse (633766) on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:03PM (#10601446)
    Not only is this study biased towards universities that include new computers in the tuition (which is dumb since if I need a computer I'll get one if I don't I don't want to be forced to, but those that do decide to get a computer aren't included in the computer to student ratio), but it is also full of wrong information. Here is an example of where I go to grad school

    North Carolina State University [forbes.com]

    It says the school does not supply web pages. This is bull crap since I've had a website on the school server for over a year. Plus it explains right here on state's own server HOW to set up your web page.

    Create your own homepage [ncsu.edu]

    Heck, every freshman undergrad is required to take a computer class where they make their own website.

    Now down to the bottom, it says the school does not provide multimedia equipment. Again, completely false. Look at this site again on ncsu.edu

    Multimedia Reserve [ncsu.edu]

    This is why I hate school rankings like these. They are usually very misleading and often contain false information.

  • The Real Surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thunderstruck (210399) on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:07PM (#10601537)
    I'd expect a lot of smaller, more obscure schools to rank more highly. Particularly when the ratio of technology to student body is so heavily used. USD for example not only has a great ratio of desktops to students, but also provides PALMs to incomming students and has network/power conneectors for laptops at most classroom seats. Yet they only scored number 17.

    It would seem that a college with very few students would have a far easier time beating the ratio game.
  • by Ba3r (720309) on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:15PM (#10601718)
    1. %bandwidth used by Counterstrike & Warez Servers
    2. number of students that refer to their 'other' computers as boxxen
    3. number of students who let out bloodcurling yells when flashed with a UV lamp
    4. %students who respond "html" when asked for a programming language

    That being said, my school [rit.edu] was 12th, and unlike RPI, we have well over 10,000 students.
  • Flat Out Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@phatauNETBSDdio.org minus bsd> on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:19PM (#10601809) Homepage Journal
    Lets look at Penn State University [forbes.com], which happens to be my employer.
    • Is there a campuswide network?: yes
    • Is there a wireless network?: yes
    • Can students access e-mail away from school?: yes [psu.edu]
    • Does the school provide Web pages?: yes [psu.edu]
    • Does the school offer classes online?: [psu.edu]
    • Can students register online?: yes [psu.edu]
    • Can students do other administrative functions online?: yes [psu.edu]
    • Are students required to own a computer?: No, thats what labs are for!
    • :Can students get discounted computers? yes [psu.edu]
    • Does the school support handheld computers? yes
    • Does the school stream audio or video of any courses?: yes
    • Is network access available in dorm rooms?: yes
    • Is network access available in dormitory lounges?: yes
    • Is a computer ethics policy in place for the school?: yes [psu.edu]
    • :Do students have access to Usenet newsgroups?: yes
    • Does tuition include a computer?: No, thats what labs are for!
    • Does the school provide multimedia equipment?: yes
    • Does the school offer courses in emerging technologies?: yes
    • Does the school stream its campus radio or TV stations?: yes [lion-radio.org]
    Looks like they didn't even bother doing the minimal amount of research.
  • There's not just wrong answers for the schools on the list, there's a number of large schools missing from the list. For example, University of Wisconsin - Madison is the only UW school listed, even though UW-Stout would rank far higher on the list (wireless laptop for every student, computer registration, student web sites, etc). UW-Milwaukee isn't on there either, even though it's a larger school than many listed. Silly study is wrong in so many ways.
  • Too bad they just decided to revoke free email for their alumni ... instead charging $15/year for basic email service.
  • Some of the criteria for ranking seem like BS to me.

    For example, two of the questions they asked campuses were:

    Are students required to own a computer?

    Does tuition include cost for a personal computer for each student

    Looking at the full list of data, you'll find that many schools have computer:student ratios that are almost 10 times as high as ranked schools, but don't fall in the top 15. It seems to me that these schools are doing a lot more to provide computers for their lower income students-
  • They got PSU completely wrong.

    From the Top:

    Is there a campuswide network? Yes
    Hey, Forbes got one right!

    Is there a wireless network? No
    There is not wireless completely covering the huge campus, but there are wireless hotspots all over the place. This admittedly is a problem since only a handfull are centrally managed and use the University's central authentication system.

    Can students access e-mail away from school? No
    Yeah, because we don't offer POP3 [psu.edu] (SSL POP3 and Kerberized POP3 for that matter).
  • When you look under the info under each school, they sometimes get information incorrect.

    For example, University of Florida does require computers of new students (and has for a couple of years), this listing says they don't.

    They also do stream some classes over the internet (mostly buisness classes), the listing says that there are not classes streamed.

    Also, while they are listed as having campus wide wireless internet...it is not really campus wide. The heart of campus is covered...as are many of the
  • RPI is one of the top participators on i2hub [i2hub.com]. At least few terabytes are shared by those guys, and download speed from them (Im at UMBC) range from 150kb/sec-500kb/sec.
  • by wetshoe (683261) on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:52PM (#10602478)
    I'm not sure how they conducted the research for this article, but it wasn't very good. I'm a former student at George Washington University [gwu.edu] and MOST of the answers for GW are incorrect.

    I really can't tell how they did the research for the article. With so many basic wrong answers for GW, I can't imagine that they surveyed the schools themselves. Some of the questions that were wrong were the first things they tell you about on the tours when you visit; I can't imagine that GW wouldn't tell Forbes what they tell high school seniors. If the writer did the research himself, he needs to think about another career. The same can be said if they had interns doing the work, which is probably the case. But I still don't understand, many of these questions could have been answered by simple searches from GW's homepage.

    Simply said, this article has no founding whatsoever. If other school's information is as wrong as GW's, then this article can't even be taken with a grain of salt.

    • The letter I got back after writing the author:

      Thank you for your recent letter to Forbes.com regarding the "Most Connected Colleges" list.

      The data contained within this list was provided to us by The Princeton Review, therefore, we are unable to elaborate, clarify or alter the information contained therein. If you would like, you may direct your questions, concerns and comments directly to Erik Olson, Director of Guidebook Publications for The Princeton Review, at eriko@review.com. We will also be pass

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