How can a university be bad if it's made up of excellent programs?

When discussing their education, most ASU students expect the dreaded eye roll and soft “oh” after answering “What college do you attend?” This type of response makes it seem as if an education provided by ASU is not valid and does not suffice in the real world. But if someone were to respond with an answer such as “I'm a student at Cronkite” or “I'm attending the W.P Carey School of Business," all is right in the world. Why must students put up with this? Being a part of one of the many exceptional programs at ASU is the same thing as being part of ASU, is it not?

Before learning about any of the programs offered at ASU, people's knowledge of the University is limited to its bad reputation of crazy partying and abundance of alcohol around campus. These are characteristics spread around by word of mouth, stories on the news, sitcoms, and random sites on the Internet saying "there are parties everywhere!" People are always ready to speak badly of the University, but when it comes to looking at the facts, these thoughts don't add up.

People agree there are excellent academic opportunities for students in specific schools, but never admit this openly when speaking of ASU. Among all the negativity, the perception of the separate academic programs at ASU have become much more esteemed than the reputation of the University as a whole.

Let's look at some of these prestigious programs offered at the University. The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering rank in the top 25 percent for undergraduate programs of its kind. The faculty members exceed 300 and many of them have been given some of the highest awards in their fields.

The Herberger School of Arts is home to five different specialties, including art, music, dance, film and design. It has been nationally recognized for its excellence and is also home to the nation's first digital culture bachelor's of arts degree, which is a field becoming more prominent within the arts.

The W.P. Carey of School of Business is the "only school in Arizona among the top 30 in the nation" and in the "top five graduate schools of the West."

The students of Walter Cronkite School of Journalism have placed in the top 10 nationally in the Hearst Journalism Awards for the past 13 years, and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College moved up to No. 18 of graduate programs in education. Not only that, but ASU is among the top producers of U.S. Fulbright student scholarship winners, which is not something people are aware of when giving students the “dirty look” for attending ASU.

Now what about after college? Does ASU produce hard-working and successful professionals in the work field? According to a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal, ASU ranks No. 5 on a list of universities that produces the best qualified graduate students as preferred by employers.

It is also home to Barrett, the Honors College, which has more National Merit Scholars than MIT, Duke, Brown, Stanford or the University of California-Berkeley and was named the “Best Honors College” in the nation.

ASU is a leader in student entrepreneurship and community partnerships, and it continually offers new degrees in emerging fields. So perhaps the perception of ASU is being negatively influenced by the party reputation and crazy drinking stories. However, it is not possible to attend a horrible, yet brilliant school at the same time. Either ASU is a terrible school, or it is a school with remarkable academic programs — pick one.

Reach the columnist at or follow her on Twitter @TayNunz

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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