Tag Archives: secondYear

CollegeQandA asks: What is career fair and why should I go?

What is career fair?

What is a university career fair?  This isn’t that interesting a question, and as you can imagine, career fair has employers come the university to talk to students about careers at their respective companies/institutions.  A university can have a university wide career fair, but there can also be smaller career fairs that are focusing on a particular area or degree.  Most people think that career fairs should be attended in your graduating year where you dress up, and finally, look for a job post graduation.  The wiser among you should go early and often to learn and prepare for your career.  Nobody else will.

University career fairWhy should I go to career fair?

Well, yes, fourth year is a good time to go to career fair and try and find your future employer, but to be prepared for this culminating experience I suggest you go in your first, second, and third year too.  You want to go to learn how the career fair is done, and how you need to be prepared for the event.   For example, at Miami during career fair almost everyone is dressed in a business suit/attire, and students will line up to do short interviews with their prepared resumes that might be followed up with a post fair longer interview.  If you walk into the fair without the proper attire, then unless you’re looking to be recognized for your uniqueness, you stand out as unprepared.  Just knowing your basic career fair flow stops you from making these simple errors.

Also, just like doing integration, playing an instrument, or writing an essay, networking and interviewing are skills that need to be practiced.  Where can you get this practice beyond the mock interviews your career center might provide?  Career fair in your first and second year is great time to practice without any major consequences.  Also, you might find an internship early that will lead to your future career.

Keep in mind, university will help you develop some skills, but getting a job and the skills need to both get said job and perform well at it are your responsibility.  Career fair is a small piece of this, but one you should not ignore.

Credits: photo titled: SNRE Career Fair; by University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment 


CollegeQandA asks: Why are my class sizes so big in my first and second years in college?

Welcome to BIG 101

“In this class you will have three multiple choice exams.  You will need to read the text book and learn the material from this lecture.  If you are having problems, then talk to your assigned TA.  You will find your assigned TA on the online course system.  Exam one is in four weeks, so let’s begin…”, said some professor in my imaginary past.  The reason it’s imaginary is because I don’t remember one thing a professor said to me in my big classes (150+), which included physics, chemistry, computer science, calculus, economics, and linear algebra.  Not one useful word.

So, why are my classes large?

bees in bee hive
Pack those classes full

Well, you might learn this in economics if you pay attention, but one factor is economies of scale.  First, take a look at one of the metrics reported by your university – student to faculty ratio.  The main factor here is faculty are paid employees and need to be hired, retained, and compensated – so they cost money.  For a university to keep the student to faculty ratio low they can do a number of things:

  • Charge a lot for tuition
  • Have another revenue source that compensates there professors this for example donations to the endowment
  • Higher adjuncts and part-time instructors
  • Increase how many courses professors teach
  • Have big classes for early introductory courses taught by instructors

So, first beware of the metric student to faculty ratio as an indicator of small classes or an indicator of whether you’ll be on a first name basis with your professors.

By making a class large, a university can bring in significant tuition dollars at the cost of one teacher and some cheap teaching assistants.  Then they can let their star research faculty and senior members teach small senior classes.  Now, the metric averages to a good number.

Is the quality of learning worse in big classes?

That depends – probably.  Introductory courses have been taught for a long time, there are hundreds of textbooks, tested methods, online material, and other related ideas to how to effectively teach a big class.  Have we measured to see if there is a difference?   We have done many studies, but I would argue from the perspective of large populations of students the overall impact on learning is small.  Therefore, the economical benefit is justifiable.

However, you as the individual can not stand for this above argument.  Pick the learning environment that is best for you, and you should take a look at actual class sizes at your potential universities to get a true picture of what it will be like for you.


photo credit: nest via photopin (license)