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Hot in the presses
It feels good to start a new school year with a gust of compliments to buoy the spirit. McGill was sniffed out as one of this year's 12 hot colleges by the seventh annual edition of the Newsweek/Kaplan college report.
Martha Crago, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, said on the first day of classes she was "struck by the incredibly high mood on campus and pride of place - the animation, a certain buzz." It was great that "after years of budget cuts, we're managing, we're doing well, we've got a lot going for us."
Crago snapped up T-shirts boasting "Harvard, America's McGill" from the hawkers by Roddick Gates for her son (who wore it to a rugby game against Harvard), a former graduate student who's now attending Harvard, and a friend of hers who happens to be a Harvard Dean. "My son is starting McGill, and he felt 'Oh, wow, this where I'm going, this is who I am.'"
Kaplan's public relations assistant Tammy Fang says the editorial staff of Newsweek and Kaplan consider what the student and family are looking for. "It's a 'hidden treasures' list. We want to give families the chance to look beyond the brand-name schools that everyone knows, to expand their options."
"Kaplan's in tune with the education industry," she says. They looked at schools that had a large increase in applications. Our school "was selected for its strong academic programs, great campus life and prime location - qualities that make it a hot destination for students heading to college this year."
So where are the warm winds of trend blowing next? Must-apply schools are as fickle to predict as the next must-have tattoo. "The trends change year by year - no one knows offhand what's going to be hot in the upcoming school year," Fang says.
This year three factors played out in their top 12 picks, Fang says. Students were keen on science and technology, so schools with good engineering faculties made the grade. Also, community service opportunities were big. And in these economically tight times, parents are looking for "the best bang for their buck to fulfill the students' academic and social needs."
Other good news this year came with the 2003 edition of the Princeton Review guidebook, "The Best 345 Colleges." McGill ranked 15 in the "Great College Town" category. Princeton Review bases its rankings on grid-based questionnaires both online and, in paper version, on campus. Roughly 300 students were polled for each university.
Less laudatory is that McGill ranked 14 in the "Long lines and red tape" category. Students believe that "a root canal is more fun than registration at McGill." Fortunately, that's changing with the new Minerva system. The University's also number six in "Class discussions rare," in which University of Toronto ranked 12. Toronto also had the unenviable status of placing first in the category "Professors suck life out of material," and 16 in "Least happy students."
In their comments about academics, students call McGill the Harvard of Canada due to the vibrant profs and research opportunities. The "independent" yet "challenging" nature of a McGill education "teaches you to work for what you want and that you should never just slide by."
McGill students say Montreal is "an amazing city to live in," with its "French, laid-back, sexy, hedonistic attitude." Unlike in the States, rent is still relatively cheap and there's no problem with binge drinking, even though McGill students enjoy a tipple now and then. Other pluses are that sports-minded folks have Mount Royal to play on, artsy types have theatres to choose from, and hipsters have cafés to lounge in. Mais oui, we knew it all along.