I really enjoyed this course! While DiPrete does spend a lot of time exploring the economic frameworks in which immobility occurs, the class really forces you to understand how race and class really effect widen our country's income gap. Overall great course.
My experience in this class was so painful that I have to write a review to warn others. Perhaps it was my lack of knowledge in Economics, but this course, which is under the Sociology department is run more like an upper-level econ course than anything else. While you can easily slide by all semester by skimming the readings and sharing a few full-sentence remarks in class, all of a sudden he hits you with the 20+ page research paper and you are not prepared at all. DiPrete is an average lecturer at best, the class is held in the basement of the Soc building which is pretty depressing AND DiPrete, while VERY INTELLIGENT, is not the best communicator or animated speaker. I cannot emphasize enough how unprepared I felt for that final paper and how long and laborious the process of writing it was. The paper has to be grounded in the course theme, but cannot be too lofty or general. He urges you to pull a topic from the readings, but they are so boring and hard to understand. The only solace about this course was that it only met one day a week so when it was over every Tuesday I sighed the biggest relief ever and dreaded the next Tuesday rolling around. Again, DiPrete is a nice dude, but not the finest lecturer. To summarize: you float through the semester, bored, but thinking that everything is okay, but then he hits you with the final paper and all hell breaks loose.
4 things to note: 1) His lecture is dreadfully boring - it is indeed painful. His reading assignment is interesting, though. 2) He is incredibly flexible with assignments 3) He is helpful as long as you are serious students 4) Fair grader
Professor Diprete is the single worst professor I have ever had during my 4 years at Columbia. His lectures were incredibly dry, and often just read his notes aloud while simultaneously using a laser pointer to unenthusiastically point at the screen. While the workload was incredibly light (only three 7-9 page papers), the possible topics were incredibly ambiguous and oddly phrased. When I emailed the T.A. (Rosemary McGunnigle) and asked her to elaborate on the topics, or better explain, she seemed offended and annoyed to be bothered with such an absurd request. Both Diprete and Rosemary were beyond unapproachable. They seemed annoyed, superior, and incredibly cold. One day in class, the professor openly berated a student for asking what he clearly deemed to be a stupid question. In general, stay away from participating in this class, unless you are regurgitating his opinion. The paper comments were equally offensive. He encouraged students to use outside sources of interest while researching the paper topics, however, if the findings from the source were not in agreement with his political ideology, regardless if they were from a reputable source, he would mark you down for not agreeing with his theories. Never before, have I experienced such a negative and unkind professor. I STRONGLY advise you to not take a class with this man, if you can help it. If you're looking for an easy workload, please note the unpleasant experience above and reconsider.
I found Professor DiPrete to be unavailable. He was never less than 15 minutes late for our appointments, and was often 30 or even 45 minutes late. Once he didn't show up at all (although I left after waiting 45 minutes so maybe he was just 50 minutes late). During our appointments he would often pick up his cell phone to talk to his kids and several times asked me to leave the room for 15 minutes while he made phone calls. I understand he's busy, but maybe he shouldn't teach a class which requires individual appointments with students if he doesn't really have the time. He is friendly and approachable and gives you the sense that he believes you can succeed. Perhaps he believes a little too much, as he would expect me to figure out complicated STATA stuff on my own which neither the TA for the class nor the Electronic Data Services staff could figure out. If you're planning on doing a project involving large data sets and STATA, I recommend you be comfortable and familiar with it on your own first, and seek out help very early on to see if you can get the help you need.
At first Diprete can come across as critical and not open to your ideas if they are different. However, you will soon learn that he is trying to get you to think about your ideas in a larger context. He is so funny and approachable and provides great advice for refining your topic.
Prof. Diprete is great and understable. He is somewhat flexible in term of paper submission. Although the class requires a lot of independent research Prof. Diprete was very reacheble throughout the course of the semester.