The Australian National University (ANU) is a terrible university and will ruin your future (1 Viewer)

DaveTbar

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I spent 4 years as an undergraduate at the Australian National University followed by another 4 years doing a PhD at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. Here is my experience of this terrible, pathetic excuse for a university.

At the end of high school, I was the top student at my school in Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, and second in Physics. My SAT score, or whatever they call it now, ranked me in the top 1.34% of students in the nation. I was voted most likely to become an entrepreneur at my school. I clearly had a gift for science and a go-getter mentality. However, coming from a poor working class family in Canberra, they could not afford to send me to UNSW where I wanted to do chemical engineering, and since no one in my family had ever gone to a university before, there was no guidance they could offer me regarding scholarships or alternative methods to get me to where I wanted to be. So instead I was forced to go to what was the only university in my home town of Canberra: the ANU.

Of course I started on a Bachelor of Science degree, but the choice of courses available was pathetic. At that time there were no practical courses available, none at all. There were no medical or engineering schools. The ANU is a research university that receives block funding from the government, which means that rather than having to compete for grants, the ANU simply receives a large sum of money from the government and gets to choose whatever it wants to do with it. You can imagine how this tended to breed a culture of uncompetitiveness and inaction.

The ANU is also a research university, which means it does basic research, basically finding out things because there are things are things to find out, kind of like climbing Mt. Everest, "because it's there." As part of their obligation to the undergraduate culture, researchers are required to teach, which of course they have absolutely no training in, no desire to do for the most part, and aren't very good at. This sums up pretty much everything about how this university works with regard to undergraduate education, a bunch of bumbling academics begrudgingly teaching students with their non-existent teaching skills.

Somewhere among my first few days of orientation at the ANU I was to choose the courses that I would undertake, and hence my future. Since there was nothing I really wanted to do, and no one to give me any career or course guidance, I chose chemistry and some biology courses. The person who looked at my choices clearly did not care what they were doing or what my choices were. They were a spider geneticist (aka a useless twit who produces nothing for society) and was clearly just fulfilling his undergraduate obligations in a begrudging manner, and with no training or real idea of what he was doing. That first experience at the ANU pretty much sums up my entire experience of the place, a bunch of bumbling academics who mostly produce nothing for society and don't really know what they're doing, sitting around getting free money, and not having to be competitive or useful.

Well four years later and I had a bachelor of science degree with honors, and absolutely no professional development, no job search skills, and no skills that would be useful in any kind of employment whatsoever. Basically what I had was a general bullshit degree, a piece of toilet paper that said I belonged to the middle class. I guess I should have realized that at the time and just used my general bullshit degree to get a general bullshit job. Instead I tried volunteering at the John Curtin School of Medical Research where I'd spent the honors year of my degree, in the hopes they'd see my interest and enthusiasm and hire me for something, anything. However, not only were they not interested in me, but they didn't even care about helping me to find employment in the field they had trained me in, my very field of interest and expertise. And this was a medical research school. Why would be want people doing medicine research? What a bunch of losers.

Keep in mind, this was during an era when the ANU was regularly getting ranked as having the worst graduate outcome of any university in the country, with 50% of its graduates still unemployed 5 years after finishing their degrees. This just gives you more idea of how much the ANU cares about it's students. It doesn't. The career counseling center at the time was a small room lost somewhere on the side of the campus, staffed by about three people who didn't even notice when you walked into the place. Utterly useless.

Eventually I went on to do a PhD, mistakenly thinking that being more qualified in a bunch of useless crap would somehow improve my chances of employment. Did anyone at the ANU advice me against this or give me second thoughts? Hell no, they didn't give a crap about my future career or well being. After I completed that PhD I once again hoped for employment at the John Curtin School, but instead was offered a lowly position as a research assistant for 3 months. I immediately expressed my disgust at this. Eventually I simply left this stupid university for a postdoc in Switzerland, and then went on to another postdoc in San Diego, California. Eventually I quit my career in research because it had no relevance to anything going on in the world.

Today I live in San Diego, California. I feel so betrayed by the ANU and the Australian higher education system in general that I have no desire to ever return to Australia or to academia, or to ever contribute anything to that country or the crappy university that wasted years of my life. I left my science career over 13 years ago. I now work in the multi-billion dollar mobile telecommunications industry and have done much better with my life ever since I left behind that stupid pointless career path that the ANU put me on. I'm married, my house is paid off, I'm in a wealthy and dynamic industry, and I'm a US citizen.

As a comparison, we have the University of California San Diego here where I live. It is surrounded by companies, businesses, and startups that have been spawned from it through the education of its students. These businesses bring billions of dollars of income to this city. It's quite a contrast when I look at the ANU and think about what it has surrounding it, and how much that continues to the city of Canberra. NOTHING!!

And what became of the other highly ranked science students from my high school. They came from fairly well off families and went to good universities like UNSW, USyd, and elsewhere, and they were given good guidance in their careers. And what did they end up becoming? A surgeon, a civil engineer, an organic chemist who makes chemicals for a global pharmaceutical company, various other high-powered careers. My bachelor degree and PhD papers are still sitting in a box somewhere in my garage. I don't even put them on my resume anymore, as they are irrelevant and not worth anything, they provide no skills that could be useful to any business anywhere.

So if you want to send your career into a fatal death-dive and end up with a general bullshit degree and no hope of employment, if you want to wreck your future and waste years of your life on meaningless nonsense, the ANU is the place for you. As a German professor once told me during her sabbatical at the John Curtin School during my PhD days, "This is the place you come to when you want to do nothing".
 

franktheman

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I spent 4 years as an undergraduate at the Australian National University followed by another 4 years doing a PhD at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. Here is my experience of this terrible, pathetic excuse for a university.

At the end of high school, I was the top student at my school in Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, and second in Physics. My SAT score, or whatever they call it now, ranked me in the top 1.34% of students in the nation. I was voted most likely to become an entrepreneur at my school. I clearly had a gift for science and a go-getter mentality. However, coming from a poor working class family in Canberra, they could not afford to send me to UNSW where I wanted to do chemical engineering, and since no one in my family had ever gone to a university before, there was no guidance they could offer me regarding scholarships or alternative methods to get me to where I wanted to be. So instead I was forced to go to what was the only university in my home town of Canberra: the ANU.

Of course I started on a Bachelor of Science degree, but the choice of courses available was pathetic. At that time there were no practical courses available, none at all. There were no medical or engineering schools. The ANU is a research university that receives block funding from the government, which means that rather than having to compete for grants, the ANU simply receives a large sum of money from the government and gets to choose whatever it wants to do with it. You can imagine how this tended to breed a culture of uncompetitiveness and inaction.

The ANU is also a research university, which means it does basic research, basically finding out things because there are things are things to find out, kind of like climbing Mt. Everest, "because it's there." As part of their obligation to the undergraduate culture, researchers are required to teach, which of course they have absolutely no training in, no desire to do for the most part, and aren't very good at. This sums up pretty much everything about how this university works with regard to undergraduate education, a bunch of bumbling academics begrudgingly teaching students with their non-existent teaching skills.

Somewhere among my first few days of orientation at the ANU I was to choose the courses that I would undertake, and hence my future. Since there was nothing I really wanted to do, and no one to give me any career or course guidance, I chose chemistry and some biology courses. The person who looked at my choices clearly did not care what they were doing or what my choices were. They were a spider geneticist (aka a useless twit who produces nothing for society) and was clearly just fulfilling his undergraduate obligations in a begrudging manner, and with no training or real idea of what he was doing. That first experience at the ANU pretty much sums up my entire experience of the place, a bunch of bumbling academics who mostly produce nothing for society and don't really know what they're doing, sitting around getting free money, and not having to be competitive or useful.

Well four years later and I had a bachelor of science degree with honors, and absolutely no professional development, no job search skills, and no skills that would be useful in any kind of employment whatsoever. Basically what I had was a general bullshit degree, a piece of toilet paper that said I belonged to the middle class. I guess I should have realized that at the time and just used my general bullshit degree to get a general bullshit job. Instead I tried volunteering at the John Curtin School of Medical Research where I'd spent the honors year of my degree, in the hopes they'd see my interest and enthusiasm and hire me for something, anything. However, not only were they not interested in me, but they didn't even care about helping me to find employment in the field they had trained me in, my very field of interest and expertise. And this was a medical research school. Why would be want people doing medicine research? What a bunch of losers.

Keep in mind, this was during an era when the ANU was regularly getting ranked as having the worst graduate outcome of any university in the country, with 50% of its graduates still unemployed 5 years after finishing their degrees. This just gives you more idea of how much the ANU cares about it's students. It doesn't. The career counseling center at the time was a small room lost somewhere on the side of the campus, staffed by about three people who didn't even notice when you walked into the place. Utterly useless.

Eventually I went on to do a PhD, mistakenly thinking that being more qualified in a bunch of useless crap would somehow improve my chances of employment. Did anyone at the ANU advice me against this or give me second thoughts? Hell no, they didn't give a crap about my future career or well being. After I completed that PhD I once again hoped for employment at the John Curtin School, but instead was offered a lowly position as a research assistant for 3 months. I immediately expressed my disgust at this. Eventually I simply left this stupid university for a postdoc in Switzerland, and then went on to another postdoc in San Diego, California. Eventually I quit my career in research because it had no relevance to anything going on in the world.

Today I live in San Diego, California. I feel so betrayed by the ANU and the Australian higher education system in general that I have no desire to ever return to Australia or to academia, or to ever contribute anything to that country or the crappy university that wasted years of my life. I left my science career over 13 years ago. I now work in the multi-billion dollar mobile telecommunications industry and have done much better with my life ever since I left behind that stupid pointless career path that the ANU put me on. I'm married, my house is paid off, I'm in a wealthy and dynamic industry, and I'm a US citizen.

As a comparison, we have the University of California San Diego here where I live. It is surrounded by companies, businesses, and startups that have been spawned from it through the education of its students. These businesses bring billions of dollars of income to this city. It's quite a contrast when I look at the ANU and think about what it has surrounding it, and how much that continues to the city of Canberra. NOTHING!!

And what became of the other highly ranked science students from my high school. They came from fairly well off families and went to good universities like UNSW, USyd, and elsewhere, and they were given good guidance in their careers. And what did they end up becoming? A surgeon, a civil engineer, an organic chemist who makes chemicals for a global pharmaceutical company, various other high-powered careers. My bachelor degree and PhD papers are still sitting in a box somewhere in my garage. I don't even put them on my resume anymore, as they are irrelevant and not worth anything, they provide no skills that could be useful to any business anywhere.

So if you want to send your career into a fatal death-dive and end up with a general bullshit degree and no hope of employment, if you want to wreck your future and waste years of your life on meaningless nonsense, the ANU is the place for you. As a German professor once told me during her sabbatical at the John Curtin School during my PhD days, "This is the place you come to when you want to do nothing".
Sounds compelling.
Might want to edit your profile, it say you finished high school on 2015.
 

pistachioman

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Eventually I quit my career in research because it had no relevance to anything going on in the world.
Off course you will feel that way if you were never actually interested in your work from the start as you have implied but were just doing it cause you had the intellectual ability.
end up with a general bullshit degree and no hope of employment, if you want to wreck your future and waste years of your life on meaningless nonsense, the ANU is the place for you.
I don't think you can fault ANU with this. Even if you did bachelor of science at UNSW or USYD, you would probably still have the same outcomes with a bachelor of science degree. A lot of people with this degree are unable to find employment in their related field.
we have the University of California San Diego here where I live. It is surrounded by companies, businesses, and startups that have been spawned from it through the education of its students. These businesses bring billions of dollars of income to this city. It's quite a contrast when I look at the ANU and think about what it has surrounding it, and how much that continues to the city of Canberra.
Yeh I mean you can't compare ACT to a state like California.

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But its good to know that your doing great now career-wise, you deserve it after all that you have been through.
 
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Dichromate

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Funny that ANU seems to produce a lot of bitter grads.

At the end of high school, I was the top student at my school in Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, and second in Physics. My SAT score, or whatever they call it now, ranked me in the top 1.34% of students in the nation. I was voted most likely to become an entrepreneur at my school. I clearly had a gift for science and a go-getter mentality. However, coming from a poor working class family in Canberra, they could not afford to send me to UNSW where I wanted to do chemical engineering, and since no one in my family had ever gone to a university before, there was no guidance they could offer me regarding scholarships or alternative methods to get me to where I wanted to be. So instead I was forced to go to what was the only university in my home town of Canberra: the ANU.
This is a pretty familiar story. Many high achieving students in Canberra are just railroaded into going to ANU because there isn't any other option besides deferring unless their parents are willing and able to help them move interstate.
If you've done well in school to the end of year 12 you'll feel you don't want to 'waste' 2-3 years deferring uni to just work, get some money behind you and move to another city, though it's probably the best option (or it was back when you could get reliable work right after you finished school).

Of course I started on a Bachelor of Science degree, but the choice of courses available was pathetic. At that time there were no practical courses available, none at all. There were no medical or engineering schools. The ANU is a research university that receives block funding from the government, which means that rather than having to compete for grants, the ANU simply receives a large sum of money from the government and gets to choose whatever it wants to do with it. You can imagine how this tended to breed a culture of uncompetitiveness and inaction.
ANU has an Engineering school now and a lot of people I went to school with went there. Almost all of them have had mediocre or poor career outcomes due studying this weird niche electronics & mechatronics focused systems engineering degree instead of Civil, Mechanical, or Electrical engineering where all the jobs are.

Most school leavers don't understand that they're signing up to do a very niche degree and even if they do, their parents won't support them moving to Sydney or Melbourne to study Engineering at a normal Engineering School when "you can do an Engineering degree right here!"

Some guys dicking around with robots looks cool to a year 12 kid and their parents but it's hard to get paid to do that in Australia outside of a University.


That first experience at the ANU pretty much sums up my entire experience of the place, a bunch of bumbling academics who mostly produce nothing for society and don't really know what they're doing, sitting around getting free money, and not having to be competitive or useful.
I had an experience in a first year course where the lecturer explicitly said that his role was not to teach us. What were we even paying for then?

When I went back to uni at a different University years later I didn't encounter this obnoxious attitude, I'm sure there are lecturers who don't enjoy teaching that much but overall I thought they were pretty good and much more interested in seeing students learn.

As a comparison, we have the University of California San Diego here where I live. It is surrounded by companies, businesses, and startups that have been spawned from it through the education of its students. These businesses bring billions of dollars of income to this city. It's quite a contrast when I look at the ANU and think about what it has surrounding it, and how much that continues to the city of Canberra. NOTHING!!
Honestly what kind of startup would you even found in Canberra and why would you do it there? Even cities like Adelaide or Perth would be better places to do it. Cheaper housing and lower cost of living, cheaper office space and a better and more rounded local skill base.

Canberra is not an ordinary city and ANU is not an ordinary Go8 University and these two things compound.
Canberra should have had an ordinary, more rounded University that would look more like Newcastle, Wollongong, UWA or Adelaide, with more undergrads, subjects like teaching and nursing and a normal undergrad/postgrad split. They could call it the University of Canberra.
UC as is gets starved of higher achieving students by ANU while ANU is overwhelmingly research focused, has niche offerings in many areas and doesn't give a damn about undergrads besides their money.

So if you want to send your career into a fatal death-dive and end up with a general bullshit degree and no hope of employment, if you want to wreck your future and waste years of your life on meaningless nonsense, the ANU is the place for you. As a German professor once told me during her sabbatical at the John Curtin School during my PhD days, "This is the place you come to when you want to do nothing".
She could easily have been talking about Canberra and not just John Curtin and been just as correct. It's a cultural thing that suffuses Canberra, too many people who get to live comfortably off money other people earned, all in the one place.
 
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Drdusk

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This makes me sad =(

People who prove themselves good enough should have a right to a great education, not just the people from better off families
 

DaveTbar

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Some good replies here. I think the main thing to note is that the ANU doesn't, or at least didn't when I was there, give good career counseling, job search skills, and professional development. This is on top of not offering courses that give people skills that will be useful in the workforce.

This can be said of much of university education. Consider that a modern university education, other than professional courses such as engineering, medicine, law, computer science etc, serves mostly as just a signal to employers. The content of your education is not important, merely the signal. The signal is that you contain the trinity of characteristics that employers hope will make you a successful employee: intelligence, conscientiousness, and conformity. This is why employers seek employees with education, because the drudgery to obtain educational success is the same drudgery required for job success. An intelligent employee will learn his job fast, a conscientious employee will labor until the job is done right, and a conformist employee obeys superiors and works well with team members.

But does a university education reliably signal these traits? One can only say "maybe" at best.. Does it give people useful skills for the real world? Almost definitely not. There's a lot more can be read on the subject in the following books:

dubyadubyadubya.amazon.com/Case-against-Education-System-Waste/dp/0691174652
dubyadubyadubya.amazon.com/Coddling-American-Mind-Intentions-Generation/dp/0735224897
dubyadubyadubya.amazon.com/Cracks-Ivory-Tower-Higher-Education/dp/0190846283
 

DaveTbar

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Dimchromate has some very valid points. Growing up in Canberra just sets you up for failure. Canberra is a city with no industries and no reason for being there. It's merely a by-product of the indecisiveness of some aristocrats who couldn't decide whether to make Sydney or Melbourne the capital, so they chose a small farming community about half way between with a population of 26 people, and proceeded to turn it into the capital. Rather than rely on the existing infrastructure of Sydney or Melbourne, they created a city that's a financial burden on the nation:, roads, water works, electrical grid, etc, to serve nothing more than an administrative bureaucracy. My ancestors were pioneers of the region and simply got caught up in the noise and fuss of this artificial city with no purpose.

And of course what university but the ANU could take something useful like engineering and turn it into something useless and theoretical like "AI robotics" or whatever. People have worked on that problem for 35 years and still haven't produced a useful domestic robotics product beyond the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Meanwhile we have industrial robots and AI processes doing useful things in industry everywhere. It seems clear to me that the ANU is dedicated to teaching you how to become a bumbling academic rather than becoming a useful asset to industry and society. That's why people in industry prefer not to hire people who been in the academic system too long, PhDs and researchers and the like, because they've been coddled by the university system and are unable to produce on deliverables within a specific deadline, and have no concept of a marketable product.

Looking at the egos of the people in academia however, you'd think they're all very important people who make the world go around. Industry makes the world go around, academia just bumbles around in ever-diminishing circles and doesn't produce anything useful most of the time. I wouldn't be surprised if the ANU had programs for nuclear fusion and interstellar travel, two other bogus fields that will never produce anything useful, yet are espoused by academics for their own personal gain, by pulling the wool over the eyes of those who don't understand the science behind them.

From my experience, academics can be pretty accurately described as people from fairly wealthy families for whom money has never been a major concern in their life, and so employment and income have not been major goals in their lives and they've thus been able to pursue frivolous dreams that have little to no outcome. Welcome to the Australian National University, the grrreatest university in the world!! Or so they'd like you to think. In reality it's just a bumble fest of over-inflated egos studying useless crap and feeding off free handouts.
 
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Cherrybomb56

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wow this is so sad to hear, it's good that so much thing have happened to you, still you did'nt give up and now see where you are, your successfull
 

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