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The recently released 2006 Fiske Guide to Colleges has given McGill a healthy endorsement, citing "strong preprofessional programs and a diverse student body" as two of the university's primary drawing cards. Called "the best college guide you can buy" by USA Today, the annual Fiske Guide has been one of the most popular resource books for parents and prospective students for more than 20 years.
Fiske lauds McGill's academics, highlighting a "renowned" management program and the "sure bets" of political science, religious studies and philosophy. And, while "the sciences receive universal praise," the guide's analysis maintains that "there is no denying that the university's strengths lie in preprofessional programs such as medicine, law and engineering."
At the core of this academic success lies McGill's faculty. The guide hands out high marks to professors for their "knowledge and accessibility outside of class."
While the publication doesn't rank institutions against each other, it does grade them in three areas; academics, social life and quality of life. In academics, McGill earned four-and-a-half on a scale of five-the same score as the other Canadian universities included in the publication; Queen's University, University of British Columbia and University of Toronto. However, McGill ranked higher for social life and quality of life than the latter two. Of the more than 300 institutions included in the 2006 edition, McGill was one of only 45 identified as a "Best Buy," a label reserved for schools that "offer remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost."
The picture isn't entirely rosy, however. For example, the guide asserts that while McGill's career counseling "receives high marks," the university's academic advising is "a bureaucratic tangle." Bruce Shore, dean of students, admits that there have been problems in the past, but that the Committee of Student Affairs, which he chairs, has been addressing the issue for some time now. "Our first step was to create a report that identified the different kinds and levels of counseling available to students. These definitions are now explicitly spelled out in the Student Handbook. Next, we want to define how access to and quality of that advising can be enhanced."