Monday, July 26, 2010

Choosing a University in Chiclayo

This coming December Maribel’s son Brian will graduate from secondary school (high school in the States) at the ripe old age of 16. Also in December if he wants to continue his education without interruption he will need to take a university entrance exam. The entrance exam requires him to apply for admittance to a specific school within the university, e.g., business administration, mechanical engineering, etc. To me this is a mind boggling situation. What 16 year old has any idea about the career path they want to take? I’m told that the first two years are general education, so I don’t understand why it’s necessary to enroll in a specific discipline. It is possible during the first two years to apply to change disciplines, but there is a substantial financial cost associated with that change.

Trying to determine the ‘best university’ is a difficult process because of the lack of quantified data. To my knowledge job placement rates, teacher experience and qualifications, graduation rates and grade point averages are non-existent. Our plan of investigation is to ask all of those people we know who are in a position to voice an opinion what choice they would make or have made for their children. So far the early straw poll results show Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University, Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo University, and San Martin de Porres University as the front runners.

Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University apparently offers a quality education, and as a national university is, we are told much less expensive than the private schools, but all of those who recommended it also cautioned about the political climate, i.e., frequent protests by faculty and/or administrators usually about salaries. Some protests have lasted as long as 2 or 3 months.

The charge to take the entrance exam at Pedro Ruiz is $125, which is non-refundable whether the applicant is accepted or not. Because it costs less to attend than the private universities, there are always a large number of applicants applying for a very few number of vacancies. The odds of being accepted are not good.

We recently visited the university – located in the nearby city of Lambayeque, to get a feel for the campus. It has been in existence for nearly 35 years and is one of 27 national universities in Peru, with 5 being located in Lima. The day we were there it was virtually deserted; the students being on vacation and only a handful of staff in sight. There are no student dormitories. To me the campus is very attractive, and most of the buildings appear to be well maintained. The library and classrooms are what I would term utilitarian, but how fancy do they have to be for a good education?

We were told to avoid both the Señor de Sipan University and the Private University of Chiclayo because of a reputation for poor education. I don’t know if we’ll visit them or not but I am eager to visit the other private universities mentioned.

Several of the people we queried about universities volunteered the opinion that Brian should not choose lawyer or civil engineer as a career because “there are too many of them in Chiclayo.” I don’t know if that advice was tongue in cheek or not, as several of them were lawyers and civil engineers.


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