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Big Apple Schools Hunter and Brooklyn Colleges Shine at Their Core

By Denise Romano, Oren Yaniv and Elizabeth Lazarowitz

Aug. 18, 2009 (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS) -- When it comes to the basics, both Hunter and Brooklyn colleges get an A.

Columbia costs 10 times as much as the CUNY schools but only scored a B in a new study of colleges' core education requirements.

"Education is not simply about offering hundreds of classes," said Anne Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. "It's important to ensure students have a broad-based knowledge and skills to succeed after they graduate."

Hunter and Brooklyn colleges were among just seven universities nationwide that got top marks out of 130 colleges that the group studied.

Brooklyn and Hunter got A's for requiring classes in six out of seven key areas: writing, math, science, foreign language, literature and history or American government. Economics was the only basic course not mandatory.

"At the beginning, you ask yourself, 'Why do I have to take it?' But in the end, you learn a lot," said Katarina Kubekova, 29, an anthropology major who graduated from Hunter last year.

On the council's new Web site, WhatWillTheyLearn.com, parents and prospective students can search by school or state to see which of the core subjects each college requires.

College advisers warn that students should consider many factors in picking a school and strict curriculum rules are not right for everyone, said New York-based college admissions counselor Bari Norman.

Still, Norman said, "You don't want to come out with such limited training and education."

Elizabeth Baker, 29, a biology major at Brooklyn College, doesn't mind being forced to take courses outside her specialty.

The science buff even finds English "refreshing."

"You get an idea of what else is out there," she said. "Taking classes you don't normally take opens eyes and doors."

Columbia got a B from the group because it doesn't make economics, history or math mandatory.

The pricey Ivy League institution notes that it has one of the nation's most venerable set of core education courses as well as "an integrated and rich curriculum."

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