You can guess why: I love it because we are, in fact, unapologetically and proudly, committed to and great in the arts. Right now we have graduates at the most selective visual art schools in the country (Cooper Union, RISD and others), pursuing music (Ithaca, Oberlin, Eastman and others), and studying theater (Boston Conservatory, Ithaca College) … You get the idea. We think a significant experience in the arts is part of what it means to be an educated person. This is why we’re committed to the arts and make sure we do an excellent job in that area.
But there’s another side, and you can guess that too: what some people really mean when they say Harley is an “arts school” is some sort of sideways, pejorative judgment about the school’s commitment to science, math, technology, rigor, etc. Ever heard this? Here’s important news: this judgment is stupid and wrong! Let’s make the case, starting with some numbers. Here are the average AP scores in math and science last year, contrasted with the national averages:
Biology 3.75 2.86
Calculus AB 4.71 2.91
Calculus BC 5.00 3.74
Chemistry 4.21 2.75
Computer Science A 3.27 3.17
Environmental Science 3.33 2.62
Physics 1 4.08 2.32
Statistics 4.40 2.85
Not too shabby.
Sure, you might say, the tests are great, but what about college and beyond? Where does it all actually lead? I love that question. The real test is in the long-term: have we, in fact, graduated people who are out in the world in the sciences, mathematics, technology or engineering? I’ve been at Harley since 2004 now, so the graduates from my first class (2005) are now about 31 years old, so—just from my years—there’s now a body of evidence about where the Harley program actually leads. Are there, in fact, Harley grads who are succeeding in STEM fields? Let’s poke around in a couple of classes…