Sep 29, 2011
For Virginia students, the markdown makes attending Seton Hall less expensive than attending the College of William and Mary or the University of Virginia where in-state tuitions (not including some additional student fees) are now pegged at $13,132 and $11,794, respectively.
“This initiative reflects Seton Hall’s commitment to serving our community and putting a high quality, personalized education within reach of more students and their families,” said Dr. Gabriel Esteban, president of Seton Hall University. “In this way, we make a first-class, private Catholic college experience as affordable and accessible to students as a public university.”
In addition to rewarding high-achieving students, university officials contend the program “assures parents that their son or daughter will receive a quality private education from a prestigious university in a smaller, more nurturing environment.”
With the cost of a college education increasing at rates most families find difficult to digest, the Seton Hall discount could provide welcome relief. And it will be interesting to see if other postsecondary institutions look for novel ways to address parental complaints in the ailing economy.
So far, only The University of the South at Sewanee, a liberal arts college in Tennessee, has made tuition adjustments by reducing its total annual bill for students by 10 percent.
Founded in 1859, Seton Hall has over 5,000 undergraduate students, with 82 percent of them living on its suburban campus 14 miles west of Manhattan. It has almost as many students in graduate programs including law, business, and health sciences.
To be eligible for the lower tuition, students must apply by the nonbinding December 15 “early action” deadline. Note that students who file the FAFSA may also be eligible to receive additional need-based financial aid.
The program is open to students from all states, and no special application is required. Any student who applies to Seton Hall and meets the academic criteria will automatically receive the lower tuition rate.
For more information or to learn more about other programs and opportunities, visit the Seton Hall website.
Sep 28, 2011
Don’t wander the room. Be purposeful and serious about the business of getting to know colleges.
All of this is good advice, but there are a few more secrets from college fair organizers on how you should approach these events.
“Students shouldn’t just start at one end of the fair and work their way down a row of tables,” said Marian Kendrick, organizer of the FCPS College Fair and College Night events. “They should target colleges in which they are interested and not waste time standing in long lines for colleges they know are visiting their high schools in coming weeks.”
And to get the most out of a college fair, follow these other simple tips:
- Pre-register. For fairs offering the opportunity to pre-register online, feel free to go ahead let them know you’re coming. Not only will it save time, but for some fairs you’ll be rewarded with a handy barcode you can use to leave contact information with college reps.
- Print labels. Print out labels with your name, mailing and email addresses, phone number, and year of graduation. Then use the labels to stick onto registration cards and mailing lists. This simple tip will leave you more time to have “meaningful” conversations with college reps. Even if the fair is “automated,” bring a few labels as colleges frequently appear at the last minute and don’t always have access to the barcode system.
- Bring a backpack. Even though many colleges are going increasingly “green” and don’t make as much print material available, a fair is still an opportunity to collect glossy brochures and handouts. Be prepared with a backpack or something similar to cart the stuff home.
- Be organized. Draw up a list of colleges with which you intend to make contact. If a map is provided in advance, by all means note locations in the conference hall and think about how you’ll get from one exhibit to another.
- Prepare. Have 3 to 5 questions ready to ask. Don’t look foolish by asking for information that’s readily available on the college website or in print materials. Probe for insight and ask follow-up questions to deepen your understanding.
- Explore. Try to visit with schools you might not have considered or whose names seem less familiar to you. Fairs offer low-risk opportunities for broadening your horizons.
- Get business cards. For those schools in which you know you are interested or those schools where you made a great connection with the rep, get a business card. Follow-up with a brief email after the event referring to your conversation. Thank you notes are always appreciated.
- Sort through the material. After you get home, sort through the information you received. Read it even. Then file everything you think might be useful later.
- Start early. Don’t wait until fall of senior year to attend your first college fair event. Get familiar with the “fair scene” by visiting local events early in your high school career.
This is the third in a series of articles on fall college fairs.
Sep 26, 2011
Massive and overwhelming or small and targeted, college fairs can take place in convention centers and arenas or they can be held in school gyms or nearby shopping malls.
And there are many great reasons why students and families should take time out of their busy schedules to participate:
1. Begin the conversation. Fairs bring students together with representatives from multiple colleges and universities—all in one location. Instead of surfing the net for information, students and families experience the very real benefit of beginning a conversation in real time and getting immediate feedback from someone who knows the school and details of campus life.
2. Discover new schools. Somewhere in the collection of colleges and universities represented at a college fair, there are bound to be schools you’ve never heard of or never seriously considered. A fair offers a low risk opportunity for you to learn a little more and to allow yourself to be captivated by something different or off the beaten track.
3. Self-confidence. Fairs offer the opportunity to develop a little self-confidence in your approach to colleges and admissions staff. After that first face-to-face encounter, you’ll find future conversations will become much easier and discussions will flow. You’ll also begin to understand that colleges are truly interested in YOU and what you can bring to their campuses.
4. Budget savings. Driving to a nearby fair is lots cheaper than visiting a bunch of colleges in which you may or may not be really interested. While there’s nothing like setting foot on a campus to get a feel for it, fairs can help travel budgets by whittling down the list of schools on the grand tour.
5. Common interests. Colleges with something in common frequently travel and sponsor fairs together. For example, Jesuit colleges visit cities and make presentations as a group called the Jesuit Excellence Tour or JET for short. The Claremont Colleges and the Colleges That Change Lives do the same. If you think you’re interested in one Jesuit college, get introduced to other similar schools by attending a JET College Night. Along the same lines, get a feel for all of the Claremont Colleges by attending one of their events.
6. Focus. College fairs force students to sharpen their focus on colleges. By asking related questions to a series of college reps, you begin to get a notion of similarities and differences. And for better or worse, these events tend to facilitate simple comparisons based on quality of presentation or the connections you are able to make with staff.
7. Free advice. Many larger fairs have “counseling centers” where students can get guidance and ask questions about specific colleges and programs participating in the events. They also have resources for those seeking information on testing, course selection, and application completion.
8. Financial aid information. Some fairs offer presentations on financial aid and how to obtain financial support for college. Colleges are aware how important this information may be to college choice and frequently offer materials on specific merit scholarships or aid programs.
Sep 24, 2011
Over the next few months, singers, dancers, and artists should consider attending one of 19 Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) College Fairs sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
Or if you are more specifically interested in visual arts, the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) sponsors a series of Portfolio Days in 43 US and Canadian cities.
NACAC’s PVA College Fairs are looking for students interested in pursuing undergraduate or graduate study in theater, visual arts, graphic design, music, dance, or other related disciplines. These fairs bring together experts who provide information on educational opportunities, admission requirements, and financial aid. They also advise on portfolio development and auditions.
Free and open to the public, PVA College Fairs do not require pre-registration, although the opportunity to register is offered online for many fairs including the one scheduled for Sunday, November 6, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
An entirely separate program, NPDA Portfolio Days offer opportunities for students to receive free advice, counseling, and critique from some of the best academics in the art business.
And Portfolio Days are incredible events. Students drive from the furthest reaches of the country and stand in long lines clutching portfolios, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and other work. They bring sketchbooks, works in progress, and finished pieces—some small and others quite large.
At the head of each line, experts from NASAD-accredited colleges take considerable time to offer support and constructive criticism, as well as to give pointers on how to build a portfolio. No one is hurried, and every question is answered. Several (not all) participating schools even accept portfolios on the spot as the visual portion of an individual application.
Also free and open to the public, Portfolio Days require no registration and operate on a first come, first served basis. Students from the DC area can attend on Saturday, November 5, at the Hartford Art School in Richmond; Saturday, December 3, at the Corcoran College of Art & Design; or Sunday, December 4, at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Note that the PVA College Fairs and the NPDA Portfolio days are not restricted to high school seniors. Underclassmen are strongly encouraged to get a head start by taking advantage of the opportunity to get free advising early in the game from experts in the arts.
More information on Portfolio Days may be found on the NPDA website. A complete schedule of PVA College Fairs as well as terrific advice on the application process for performing and visual arts students is provided on the NACAC website.
Sep 23, 2011
More telling may be the number of colleges expanding their off-campus capacity to provide interviews, including those conducted by admissions staff as well as by alumni representatives.
And why would this be? In the same NACAC report, 48 percent of responding colleges placed considerable to moderate importance on an applicant’s “demonstrated interest,” or actions taken to signal whether he or she is likely to attend if admitted.
Because students are taking advantage of application technology and applying to more colleges, schools are having a hard time determining a candidate’s true level of interest, and this has a measurable impact on “yield” or the percent of students ultimately accepting an offer of admissions.
Not only does accuracy in projected yield ensure seats will be filled, but it also helps avoid overcrowding in dorms. Above all, because yield is a factor in determining “best” colleges for some rankings, enrollment management types are very sensitive to data suggesting their invitations are not being accepted.
Since the interview can be an excellent method of gauging true interest, colleges are increasingly turning to these more personal interactions with applicants to supplement information provided on an application. But recognizing that on-campus interviews are not feasible for everyone, accommodations are being made to bring interviewers to candidates.
Here are some of the colleges currently scheduling interviews in the DC area:
Alfred University: October 11 (Holiday Inn, Greenbelt) and November 1 (Holliday Inn Express, Manassas). Appointments are required and may be made by calling the Office of Admissions at 800-541-9229.
Allegheny College: October 17 (McLean) and October 26 (Baltimore). Schedule an appointment by contacting MaryAnn Vrabel at 814-332-4727 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College of Wooster: September 28 (Radisson Cross Keys, Baltimore), October 3 (Hilton Tysons Corner), and October 4 (Chevy Chase Pavilion).
Eckerd College: October 9 for Bethesda area students (Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion) and October 22 for DC area students (Hilton Garden Inn DC). Virginia interviews will be conducted between October 11 and 21. Contact Michael Brown at brownrm@Eckerd.com to schedule an appointment.
Gettysburg College: October 3 (Fairfax), October 4 & 5 (Arlington), and October 20 (Annapolis). For more information, call (800) 431-0803.
Harvey Mudd College: Interviews will be available at the Embassy Suites Hotel at Chevy Chase Pavilion, on Sunday, September 25. Registration information may be found on the Harvey Mudd website.
Juniata College: October 16 (Crowne Plaza Rockville), October 23 (Crowne Plaza Baltimore), and November 1 (Crowne Plaza McLean) Registration is available on the Juniata website.
Lafayette College: Baltimore (October 4 & 6), Richmond (October 18 & 19), and Bethesda (November 1-3). Appointments may be scheduled by emailing Chris La Tempa (email@example.com) or by phone at 610-330-55.
Lawrence University: DC interviews will be conducted on November 3, from 3:00 to 5:00. For more information contact Paris Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org). Lawrence also offers "GreenInterviews," which is a fancy way of describing interviews conducted by phone or over Skype.
Lehigh University: September 26, from 4:00 to 7:30, at the Annapolis Barnes and Noble and November 12, from 9:15 to 3:00, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. RSVP Required with Ms. Johnnie Whisner (email@example.com) or 610-758-3100.
LeMoyne College: October 17 (Residence Inn, DC), November 14 (Bethesda Marriott), and November 15 (Spring Hill Suites, Baltimore). Call the Office of Admission at 800-333-4733 for an appointment.
University of Delaware: Interviews will be conducted on November 6th at the Washington DC Dupont Circle Hotel, from 2:00 to 5:00. Students can visit the U Del website for more details.
University of New Haven: Regional interviews will be scheduled in DC on November 12 and in Fairfax on October 17. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
University of Rochester: September 29 (DC), October 15 (Alexandria), November 20 (McLean), and January 7 (Bethesda). Register for specific times on the school website.
Whitman College: Interviews may be scheduled with Kevin Dyerly, on October 10 & 11, at the Embassy Suites, Tysons Corner. For more information, visit Whitman's admissions website.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute: September 25 (Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church) and September 26 (Bethesda Marriott).
Note: if you have already had an on campus interview, you do not need to schedule a second off campus interview.
Sep 21, 2011
According to a survey being released by Inside Higher Ed to coincide with the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) annual conference in New Orleans, more than half of the admissions officers at public research institutions and more than a third at 4-year colleges admitted they placed a priority on recruiting students in the past year who don’t need financial aid and can pay full freight—tuition, room, board, and those pesky fees.
Results from the survey of 462 admissions directors and enrollment managers conducted in the past month suggest that admissions decisions are affected by considerations other than grades and tests. Ten percent of the respondents from all four-year colleges and nearly 20 percent at private liberal arts schools said that the full-pay students being admitted had lower grades and scores.
And it wasn’t just about the money. The same group concedes that minority students, athletes, veterans, alumni children, and international students (usually full pay), and because of gender inequities in the applicant pool—men—got an advantage in the admissions process.
In a “clash of values” with senior-level administrators, 24 percent of the admissions directors also report receiving pressure to admit applicants with connections to trustees or development (fundraising) officials. And over 53 percent complain that coaching by counselors and parents makes it “truly difficult to learn about applicants.”
Other findings in the report draw a clear picture of an industry at odds with itself:
- Among all 4-year institutions, the admissions strategy of recruiting more out-of-state students (who at public institutions pay more) ranked higher than providing more aide for low- and middle-income students
- 12% of the admissions directors reported that their colleges no longer required standardized testing for admission, but 25 percent thought tests should be optional
- 65% support policies barring the use of paid agents to recruit foreign students, but most admit their institutions are considering or are already using such agents
- 25% report a serious problem created by plagiarism in essays but two-thirds of the survey participants say essays “convey important information about applicants”
- Almost 52% rated private high school guidance counselors as very effective resources for student applicants and over 22% also gave independent/private counselors high ratings on the same question, but public high school guidance counselors didn’t make the list
- 91% agree with the practice of admitting men with lower grades and test scores for the purpose of achieving gender balance in their institutions
More information and the complete set of data tables supporting survey findings may be found on the Inside Higher Ed website.
Sep 20, 2011
One of many NIH projects supporting science education, SciLife brings together students, parents, and educators for a day of workshops and speakers with special expertise in health and biomedical fields. The goal is to engage high school students in underserved communities through a series of practical workshops on career exploration and college planning.
The program addresses such issues as choosing the right college, budgeting for college, preparing for the college transition, what professors expect of students, and mistakes to avoid while in college—all in the context of promoting greater interest in health and medical science.
This year’s event, scheduled for October 15th, at Trinity Washington University, has a number of interesting workshops on the agenda including:
- Applying to College—Do’s and Don’ts
- From High School to College—Making the Transition
- Pointers from the Professors
- Been there…Done that—A Panel of Current College Students
Registration is available on the SciLife website. There is no cost for attending, and lunch is provided. But hurry, as class sizes are limited and filled on a first-come, first served basis.
Photo courtesy of Trinity Washington University
Sep 19, 2011
For example, it’s not surprising that the number of education majors has taken a real hit—down five percent in 10 years—but would you have guessed that during the same period majors in park, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies rose by 92 percent?
Or did you know that Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia, grew by 342% in five-year period ending in 2009?
For those who don’t have a subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education, I am sharing 15 higher-ed statistics you may find interesting or at least useful conversation starters:
- Among freshmen, 21.7 percent characterize themselves as “conservative," while 27.3 percent are "liberal."
- Over 19 percent of college freshmen hope to earn a Ph.D., while 10.2 percent want to join the medical profession as doctors, vets, or dentists.
- The most degrees awarded in 2009 went to health professions and related clinical sciences (165,185); the fewest went to library science (116).
- Overall undergraduate enrollment went up by 38 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2009, with the highest growth in Arizona (149%), Iowa (92%), Georgia (77%), West Virginia (56%), and Florida (54%).
- A little over 3 percent of all undergrads are veterans, and 1 percent is on active duty or in the reserves.
- Twenty percent of all first-time undergrads took at least one remedial class.
- The number of high school graduates is projected to grow by 10 percent in the next 10 years, with most northeastern states experiencing declines while Texas and Florida each expect to grow by 24 percent.
- Twenty-three percent of full time undergrads (24 years old or younger) work 20 hours or more per week.
- The most popular field of study/major is business (13.7%) and, the least popular is agriculture (0.7%).
- The most frequently cited religious preference was Roman Catholic (26.6%); the least frequently cited was Quaker (0.2%).
- The fastest growing field in terms of growth in bachelor’s degrees awarded, is “military technologies” which went up by a whopping 2650%.
- Over 30 percent of all Asians, age 25 and over have earned at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Slightly over 47% of students came from households earning less than $40,000, while 11% came from household earning over $120,000.
- Most students under 30 attend school on a part time basis (58.2%).
- The percent of students feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do increased from 18.1% in 1985 to 29.1% in 2010, with nearly 10 percent indicating there was a very good chance they would seek personal counseling.
Sep 17, 2011
By entering scholarship competitions, you demonstrate initiative and desire to support your college goals. If you win or place, you have something tangible to show for the effort. But even if you don’t win, you can benefit from the experience by taking a risk or learning something new.
Here are four scholarship opportunities where the learning can be just as valuable as the award:
- Joe Foss Institute 2011 Veterans Day Contest. With a top prize of $5,000, this contest requires a student to “adopt” a military veteran, get involved in that person’s life, and write a 1500 word essay describing the experience. It’s not about simply “interviewing” a veteran, but more about commitment and understanding. Entries are due by October 9, 2011, and will be judged on the basis of creativity, theme, clarity of ideas, and basic mechanics. For more information or to download contest guidelines, go to the Joe Foss Institute website.
• AES Engineering Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded on the basis of a 1000-word essay responding to a specific question concerning the impact of national disasters on the global economy. It’s not huge money ($500), but it’s an opportunity to think about an important issue and to take a position on that issue. There is no application packet, and essays must be submitted electronically by October 7, 2011. More information is available on the AES website.
• Ayn Rand Essay Contests. Open to high school seniors as well as undergrads and graduate students, the Atlas Shrugged contest offers students the opportunity to consider one of three questions based on the novel by Ayn Rand. The top prize is $10,000, but there are many other lesser prizes awarded. No application is required, and essays (800 to 1600 words) may be submitted electronically or postmarked by September 17, 2011. Although this is one of the more popular Ayn Rand competitions, the Ayn Rand Institute sponsors several annual essay contests offering 680 prizes and more than $99,000 in prize money. Another, based on The Fountainhead, is open to high school juniors and seniors and is due on April 26, 2012. Visit the Ayn Rand Institute website for specifics.
- Horatio Alger Scholarship. The Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program assists high school students who have faced and overcome great obstacles. Scholarships are awarded to eligible high school seniors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Students must demonstrate financial need, academic achievement, as well as involvement in co-curricular and community activities. With 104 $20,000 scholarships, this is a serious competition requiring three relatively short essays including a personal statement (150-200 words), an adversity statement (250-300 words), and a description of educational and career goals (250-300 words). The online application deadline is midnight on October 30, 2011, and all supplemental materials must be postmarked by the same date. More information is available on the Horatio Alger Association website.
You can find other similar competitions on reputable scholarship websites such as FastWeb or Cappex. Just don’t get distracted by the relentless emailing that comes as a result of registering with these sites.
Sep 16, 2011
The list, including results from a survey of student veterans for the first time, names colleges, universities and trade schools “that are doing the most to embrace American military service members and veterans as students.”
Only American, George Washington University, and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences earned the distinction in DC for nonprofit institutions.
In Virginia, Averett University, the College of William & Mary, Ferrum College, George Mason University, Hampden-Sydney College, James Madison University, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Marymount, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Regent, Roanoke, Virginia Tech, Virginia Wesleyan, and Washington and Lee University made the list of 4-year baccalaureate programs offering the best education, value, and welcome to veterans.
And in Maryland, Frostburg State University, Hood College, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Salisbury University, McDaniel College, Stevenson University, Towson, University of Maryland—College Park, and UMUC were among the 4-year nonprofits considered “military friendly.”
“The Military Friendly Schools list is the go-to resource for prospective student veterans searching for schools that provide the right overall experience,” said Michael Dakduk, executive director for the Student Veterans of America. “Nothing is more compelling than actual feedback from current student veterans.”
The list is compiled using survey research as well as input from government agencies and private organizations administering education benefits. A panel of experts assigned weight to each of the following categories:
- Certifications, programs and policies suggesting a school’s non-financial efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students. This category includes VA-approval to accept the GI Bill SOC membership, academic credit for CLEP and ACE, and flexible learning programs (45%).
- Financial commitment to efforts to recruit and retain these students. This includes Yellow Ribbon program membership, tuition benefits, and percent of overall recruitment budget allocated to recruiting military students (35%).
- The number and percent of military and veteran students currently enrolled (15%).
- Other miscellaneous considerations including academic accreditations (5%).
In short, the schools making the list are mainly those that have made an investment to reach out to and enroll military and veteran students.
Sep 14, 2011
And they are pleasantly surprised at what they find among Canada’s 4-year undergraduate baccalaureate programs.
“I decided to apply to McGill because I knew it was a good school,” explained Sarah Brooks, a local graduate of Walt Whitman High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. “I also liked the idea that tuition was much less than at a lot of schools in the States.”
The number of US undergraduate and graduate students crossing the border to attend college in Canada has increased exponentially in the past ten years, from 2500 in 2001 to over 10,000 in 2011.
And here are 10 great reasons why:
- Quality of Education. Canadian degrees are entirely comparable to those earned in the US. Colleges and universities maintain high standards of academic excellence and are consistently recognized in top international rankings.
- Value. International student tuition in Canada ranges from $8,000 to $26,000 (US), making studying in Canada a tremendous value for U.S. students. As an added bonus, Americans in Canadian baccalaureate programs are eligible for US federal financial aid as well as numerous Canadian scholarships.
- Educational Opportunities. Canada has over 90 universities and more than 150 colleges ranging from world-class research institutions to small liberal arts schools. US students can find just the right “fit” in terms of size, character, and the availability of specific programs and majors.
- SAT/ACT Optional Admissions. While Canadian universities will accept and consider standardized test scores, most do not require them. Grades and curriculum are much more important factors in determining admissions.
- Visas. Student visas are remarkably easy to obtain. American citizens studying in Canada can apply for their visa at the Point of Entry at major airports and border crossings.
- Quality of Life. Canada is an incredibly safe place in which to live and study. A low cost of living together with the scenic beauty of the countryside makes Canada very attractive to American undergrads.
- International Experience. Canada is close to home—but a world away! Without crossing an ocean or sometimes changing time zones, US students have the opportunity to explore a new culture as they engage in an international campus community. And the global perspective gained while studying in Canada will open doors around the world after graduation.
- Graduate School. Canadian degrees are recognized by all the top graduate and professional schools in the US as well as in Canada. The quality of a Canadian education will support applications to the best law, business, and medical schools.
- Employment. Canadian universities have outstanding job placement rates—both in Canada and the US. With a student visa, you qualify for employment opportunities in any of the provinces as well as closer to home in the US.
- Network. Thousands of graduates of Canadian universities live and work in the US, and the ability to connect with so many alumni is a real plus on many different levels.
Canadian universities follow same Bachelor’s/Master’s/PhD-Professional system as in the States. Canadian colleges, however, are more similar to US community colleges, granting certificates and diplomas.
Last year, Canadian universities educated over 1.5 million students and were responsible for over $10 billion in ongoing research. The schools are welcoming to American students, and the opportunities are every bit as attractive as those found at US colleges and universities.
“The experience of living in Montreal for four years and the quality of the education I got were definitely the best things about going to school at McGill,” said Ms. Brooks, who is currently a graduate student at Cornell University. “When it came time to apply to jobs and later grad school, the fact that I had studied in Canada was not a problem—people knew about McGill and that it was a great school, so it actually helped me.”
Specific application procedures and deadlines vary by institution. For the best and most current information on how to apply, contact individual colleges and universities directly (a complete list is provided on the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada website).
But in the meantime, to learn more about Canada’s colleges and universities, check out Maclean’s Magazine OnCampus or visit the Education au/in Canada website.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sep 13, 2011
After results were tallied, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) and George Mason University came in numbers one and two respectively for institutions “worth watching because they are making promising and innovative changes.”
Last spring, college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans were asked to nominate up to 10 colleges in their peer ranking category “that are making improvements in academics, faculty, students, campus life, diversity and facilities.”
This question allowed officials to pick schools that are rapidly evolving in ways that may not be immediately evident to college-bound students and their parents. Colleges in this competition are ranked in order of the number of nominations received.
This is the third year UMBC has topped the national university list, while GMU rose to 2nd from 5th place in 2010. In the same ranking, the University of Maryland-College Park went up from number 20 to number 8, making its debut as a top 10 up-and-coming school.
“We are delighted to be recognized as one of America’s most innovative universities and a national leader in undergraduate education,” commented UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III. “UMBC is committed not only to helping students find success in the classroom, but also to encouraging them to develop a vision for themselves well beyond their years.”
Among national liberal arts colleges, the University of Richmond earned a 3rd place. And Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, came in 6th for up-and-coming regional universities located in the south.
Like other rankings, the lists of “up-and-coming colleges” should only be used as conversation starters. These are schools that have crept onto the radar of college administrators for some reason and could be interesting based on innovations in programming or improvements in facilities.
The value of a college’s location on the list is less important than the fact that they’ve made it onto the list at all. Someone somewhere thinks they might offer something new or different. So you might too.
Here are the national universities USNWR lists as top up-and-coming institutions:
- UMBC (1)
- GMU (2)
- Indiana University-Purdue University (3)
- Clemson University (4)
- University of Central Florida (4)
- Drexel University (6)
- Tulane University (6)
- Arizona State University (8)
- Ball State University (8)
- Northeastern University (8)
- Ohio State-Columbus (8)
- Purdue University-West Lafayette (8)
- University of Maryland-College Park (8)
- University of Southern California (8)
- University of South Florida (8)
Sep 10, 2011
The take away from the story is that the “single biggest advantage students can easily give themselves for getting into a top university” is to apply early decision.
I might argue that the admissions advantage mainly goes to the college or university clearing a path toward guaranteed yield (percent of students accepting an invitation to attend) and angling for higher position on any one of several rankings ladders.
The advantage is less clear for students pressured into making final decisions so early in the game. There’s no buyers’ remorse here. Once you, your parents, and your guidance counselor sign the Early Decision Agreement, you’re committed to attend if admitted.
And the college now holds all the cards. The staff not only decides your admissibility, but they also have a very real advantage in the financial aid side of the equation.
Yes, there is a small loophole that suggests you can get out of your ED commitment if the financial aid package is totally insufficient to meet your needs. And yes, colleges may consider pleas for additional aid.
But it’s no secret that many colleges hold special enticements and certain merit money for those regular decision applicants who might be just a teensy bit harder to recruit.
In other words, colleges take advantage of the fact that ED applicants are all theirs. They get the benefit of having a secure yield without giving up as much money.
Make no mistake. Many of the most highly “selective” colleges play this game. When Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia gave up their ED policies a few years ago, they expected colleges across the country to agree with the conclusion that ED disadvantaged students and hoped they would lead a charge against the unfairness of ED.
Guess what? Colleges with successful ED programs looked the other way, including my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, which has skillfully used ED to climb straight up the USNWR rankings.
The Daily Beast certainly makes good points about the advantages of ED. But be aware of the downside. The applicant pool tends to be the strongest—both in terms of academics and special advantages (legacy or sports)—and most organized.
Once you’re lured into the ED application, you’re locked-in, colleges have little motivation to open their pocketbooks, and students who may still be polishing their academic records or clearly don’t fit the profile risk the other “ED”—early denial.
The following are the Daily Beast’s nominations for colleges that love early decision (ED percent admitted/RD percent admitted):
- Dickinson College (73%/46%)
- Bucknell University (62%/27%)
- Davidson College (58%/26%)
- Barnard College (53%/25%)
- Colorado College (52%/32%)
- Bates College (48%/30%)
- Carleton College (47%/29%)
- Johns Hopkins University (44%/24%)
- Wesleyan University (43%/19%)
- Vassar College (41%22%)
- Williams College (40%/17%)
- Northwestern University (39%/26%)
- Middlebury College (36%/16%)
- University of Pennsylvania (34%/11%)
- Amherst College (34%/14%)
- Cornell University (33%/17%)
- Vanderbilt University (32%/16%)
- Duke University (30%/15%)
- Dartmouth College (29%/10%)
Sep 9, 2011
Although the SAT continues to reign supreme on the east and west coasts, the ACT is rapidly gaining ground in the popularity contest—not as a replacement so much as a supplement.
It’s now common practice for students to take both and compare results. Because the tests are entirely interchangeable at virtually every college and university in the country, students are free to pick whichever results best represent them on their applications.
But it’s not just about individual test comparisons on a concordance table.
Because an increasing number of colleges are willing to “superscore” ACT results—take the highest subscores from multiple test dates—the ACT is providing an additional element of flexibility that may be attractive to some applicants.
Most colleges have traditionally superscored the SAT but not the ACT. And almost all colleges focus their SAT superscoring only on the Critical Reading and Math sections of the SAT.
Superscoring the ACT is a little trickier because it involves 4 separate scores. In fact, the ACT doesn’t encourage superscoring and requires students to pay separately for each set of scores sent to colleges. This makes providing the necessary information a bit more expensive.
To superscore the ACT, colleges basically recompute the “composite” score by selecting the highest subscores from different test dates, in order to come up with a new higher composite or “superscore.”
For example, consider a student who takes the April ACT and receives a 25 reading, 32 math, 28 English, and 30 science subscores. Together these scores generate a 29 composite. If the same student retakes the ACT the following September and receives a 27 reading, 30 math, 26 English, and 32 science, the composite score is once again 29.
Superscoring the tests combines the best scores from each resulting in a 27 reading, 32 math, 28 English, and a 32 science. The new composite is 30. On a concordance table, the student just went from a 1300 to a 1340 for the SAT (combined Critical Reading and Math). If the ACT English scores include Writing, the SAT combined scores jumped to 2000 from 1940.
As a service to college-bound students and their families, Todd Johnson, of College Admissions Partners, has carefully tracked colleges that superscore ACT’s. Because colleges are constantly shifting their admissions policies and procedures, this has become an enormous task. He maintains the list, updates it frequently, and is willing to share this valuable resource.
Todd’s list contains a number of local colleges and universities that superscore including American University, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Loyola University of Maryland, Towson University, Virginia Tech, and Washington and Lee University.
Other big names superscoring the ACT include Amherst, Boston College, Brandeis, Brown, CalTech, Carnegie Melon, Connecticut College, FSU, Georgia Tech, Indiana University-Bloomington, NYU, Pomona, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Wesleyan University. The California State University System as well as the NCAA Clearinghouse also superscore the ACT.
It’s always best to check with individual colleges and universities for the most up-to-date information on admissions policies. But if the possibility of superscoring the ACT could make a difference in your test-taking strategies or admissions prospects, take a look at the list compiled by Todd Johnson, on the College Admissions Partners website.
Sep 7, 2011
It’s no secret that colleges want to increase applicant pools, improve yield, and find ways to identify best-fit applicants who will not only return after freshman year but also graduate within four to six years of matriculation.
“…they intend to keep growing their tsunami of applicants,” commented Dodge Johnson, current president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).
But once they get applications in the door, admissions offices face some very real management issues. And most are neither increasing staff nor budgets for application review.
To tackle the problem of providing thorough reviews of growing numbers of applications, colleges adjust application procedures. Some of the more popular changes for this year include:
- Moving up deadlines: The additional weeks provide staff with more time to organize and review applications. By shifting the entire process forward, colleges have the additional benefit of being able to notify students sooner and possibly get a jump on the "competition."
- Adding new Early Action (EA) options: Students applying under these nonbinding early programs provide a “demonstrated interest” element to their applications and are rewarded with early notifications—it’s a win/win for students and schools. This process also helps admissions offices control the flow of application materials coming into the office.
- Improving efficiency through technology: Colleges are increasingly signing on with electronic providers such as the Common Application, the Universal College Application, and other application products more specifically tailored to their needs. In addition, colleges are transitioning to online reading, thereby reducing paper and the need for extra support staff.
Locally, Christopher Newport, Towson University, Saint Mary’s College of Maryland, and Salisbury University have joined the Common Application, and American has become an “exclusive” user. UVa is implementing a new nonbinding Early Action (EA) program, and the University of Mary Washington moved its EA deadline from January 15 to November 15.
“The University of Mary Washington moved Early Action so that we can have additional time for application review,” said Kim Johnston, UMW’s Dean of Admissions. “Moving to a November 15 deadline also enables us to notify those applicants sooner than our previous admission plans.”
Other colleges reporting changes include (EA = early action; ED = early decision; RD = regular decision):
American University: Now an exclusive user of the Common Application
Assumption College: EA moved to 11/1; added new EA II program (1/10)
Bryant University: Now test-optional
Butler University: EA moved to 11/1 and RD to 2/1; ended EA II
Cedar Crest College: Added EA (2/15)
Centenary College: Moved EA up to 12/1
Champlain College: Ended ED II
Clark University: Moved EA up to 11/1
College of Wooster: Moved EA up to 11/15 from 12/15
Colorado State University: Added EA (12/1)
Curry College: Switched from ED to EA (12/1)
Drexel University: Added ED (11/15) for Westphal College of Media Arts & Design; BA/BS/MD accelerated degree program applications due 11/15; RD 2/1
Eckerd College: Instituted EA beginning this fall. Students who apply and complete by 11-15 will have a decision in the mail by 12-15
Fairfield University: New ED program (1/1)
Flagler College: Moved ED deadline to 11-1 from 12-1
Furman University: New EA program (11/15)
Guilford College: EA moved up to 11/15; added new EA II (1/15)
Harvard University: Added new Single-Choice Early Action program (11/1)
Hendrix College: Added new EA (11/15) and EA II (2/1)
Hollins University: ED moved to 11/1; added new EA program (12/1)
Juniata College: ED moved to 11/15
Marist College: Moved ED to Nov. 1, EA to Nov. 15, and RD to Feb. 1
Marlboro College: ED moved to 11/15; EA moved to 1/15
Merrimack College: Added new ED program (11/1)
Ohio Northern University: Added new EA program (11/1) and new EA II program (12/1)
Princeton University: Added new Single-Choice Early Action program (11/1)
Quinnipiac University: Added new ED program (10/15)
Ripon College: Added new EA program (11/01) and new EA II program (12/01)
Salisbury University: First year as a Common App member; test-optional policy is now permanent
Trinity University: Moved EA to 11/15
University of Mary Washington: Moved EA to 11/15
University of New England: Changed from ED to EA (12/1)
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill: First year as Common App member; moved EA to 10/15 from 11/1
University of Rochester: Added ED II (2/1)
University of Virginia: Added new nonbinding EA program (11/1)
Wake Forest University: Moved ED to 11/15
Williamette University: Moved EA to 11/1; added EA II (12/1)
Xavier University: Moved EA to 12/1 from 2/1
While this is the most up-to-date information provided either by the college or the Common Application, it’s always best to check directly with the colleges and universities.
Sep 6, 2011
To celebrate the first day of school for DC area students south of the Potomac, here are a few surefire tips for earning grades colleges are bound to notice:
- Show up. And not just physically, although that’s a good first step. Attend class with the intent to learn. Avoid distractions such as reading other materials, texting, surreptitiously surfing the net on your handheld device, or talking to the student next to you.
- Get Organized. Invest in a planner and use it. When your teacher announces an assignment, write it down. Check off assignments as they’re completed and always scan ahead to see what’s on the horizon. You’d be amazed how handy a planner is—log in club meetings, dentist appointments, or consultations with your guidance counselor. The more you use a planner, the better organized you will become.
- Sit close to the front of the classroom. Students who sit in one of the first few rows generally earn better grades than those who sit toward the back. Sorry. It's just true!
- Ask questions. If you don’t “get” something, the chances are excellent that others in the class also don’t understand. Inquisitive students are engaged students.
- Join in class discussions. Teachers notice who is paying attention through class participation. This can play to your advantage when it comes time to giving out grades. Besides, discussions and class content are much more likely to be imprinted on your mind if you’ve gotten involved.
- Take good class notes. You’ll be taking notes for the rest of your academic career, so learn and practice these skills now. Find a system that works for you and use it.
- Listen. Listen “between the lines” for subtle messages. Many teachers provide strong clues about the most important elements in a lesson—even going so far as to say something about a topic’s relevance to the next quiz or test. The best students pick up on these clues.
- Ask for help. The key is not to wait until you’ve fallen hopelessly behind. Your front line source of help is your teacher, who should be very invested in your success. Stay after class or make an appointment for after-school help. If this doesn’t work, seek outside support. Try classmates or find a tutor if necessary.
- Keep up. Finish assignments before they are due. Actually turning in the work helps too. And if offered, go a step further and respond to extra credit opportunities.
- Read actively. Active reading involves more than scanning words on a page. For some students, it means underlining, highlighting, or annotating materials. Others develop lists of key words and summarize materials as they read.
- Study daily. Successful students commit some time every day to active studying—reading, writing, and reviewing. This may also mean outlining, making flash cards, participating in study groups, or rewriting notes. Students who work steadily on coursework do better than those who study in large chunks, and they definitely outperform students who cram.
- Upgrade writing skills. Learn to proofread, revise, and correct written work. At the same time, take steps to increase vocabulary and develop facility with basic grammar. Improved writing skill strengthens critical thinking as well as listening, reading, and speaking abilities. It also pays off outside the classroom with higher standardized test scores.
- Limit internet distractions. There is no reason to have Facebook or any social networking distraction going while doing homework. In fact, it’s likely you can complete most assignments without even turning the computer on. Consider studying somewhere away from the single biggest “attractive nuisance” in the house—your computer.
- Avoid overscheduling. Keeping in mind the relative importance of GPA in the college admissions process, be smart about the number of outside time commitments interfering with your ability to study and complete assignments on time. Time management will become increasingly important as you go further in your education.
- Develop test taking know-how. Successful test taking avoids carelessness and rests on a few simple strategies like following directions, becoming familiar with different kinds of questions, and understanding how the test will be graded.
- Get enough sleep. Go to bed at a reasonable time and turn off your cellphone. Better yet, leave the cellphone in the kitchen. No text message is ever that important.
Sep 5, 2011
The Fairfax County Public School system (FCPS) expects 177,629 students for the start of the 2011-12 school year—enough to make FCPS the largest district by far in Virginia and the 11th-largest in the U.S.
Arlington Public Schools are expected open with the largest enrollment since the early 1970’s—22,245. And the Alexandria City Public Schools estimate an enrollment of about 12,400.
But once again, the priorities of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (VHTA) trump those of Virginia’s school children by keeping the lid on legislation to move up opening day to match the earlier start dates of competing districts.
DC, local private schools, and Montgomery, Frederick, and Prince George’s counties all opened weeks ago, effectively jumpstarting the race for college-bound students to prepare for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams later in the school year.
These students aren’t constrained by calendars extending so late into June that some summer programs, laboratory internships, and mentorship opportunities are out of the question. And they probably won’t have administrative issues with a few colleges moving early application deadlines to October or ACT’s administered four days after the start of school.
But the post-Labor Day start is so important to the tourism lobby that the VHTA lists it as number three on a list of 2011 legislative accomplishments that includes reducing health permit fees and the establishment of a tax credit for vineyards and wineries.
The theory is that keeping schools closed until Labor Day helps local businesses, especially Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens, by giving families more time to visit amusement parks.
It also gives country clubs and tourist attractions additional weeks before they are forced to give up student workers. Unless participating in fall sports or band, high school students may presumably work until the last day of summer or until the pool closes for the season.
Northern Virginia school systems definitely do not love the law, which may only be circumvented by state waivers that are very seldom granted. In fact, FCPS routinely adds a request to allow the county to set its own start date in the school system’s legislative package for the General Assembly and calls for a repeal of Code of Virginia Sec. 22.1-79.1.
But waivers are only granted to school systems that “have been closed an average of eight days per year during any five of the last 10 years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failure, or other emergency situations.”
Last spring, Delegate Bill Cleaveland broadened the list with House Bill 1483, which allows a school system to open prior to Labor Day if it is “surrounded” by a neighboring district that’s opening earlier. The bill reopened the discussion but didn’t solve the problem—in northern Virginia only Loudoun County qualified for a waiver for the 2011-12 school year based on bad weather.
In recent years, VHTA has foiled as many as 10 proposals to rid Virginia of its current post-Labor Day school start date and give districts the authority to set calendars to start when they want.
And yet those most concerned with selling the College Board’s Advanced Placement product to local school districts—Jay Mathews and the Washington POST—remain strangely silent on the issue. AP’s are given to all students on the same dates in May, regardless of when their schools opened. And a late start squeezes time for transition as well as puts students at a disadvantage.
Schools evidently don’t hold a candle to the power of the state’s tourism industry. We know why the legislature won’t budge, but is it the advertising revenue that keeps the POST so quiet?
Sep 3, 2011
But there’s relief in sight. For the first time, students are invited to “pre-register” online using a program that links them with colleges through the magic of a barcode scanned during visits with admissions
representatives attending the fair.
And voila! No more tedious registration cards and time wasted that could be used chatting up the person who might actually be reading your application in a few months.
“The online registration process creates a barcode that students bring with them to the fair,” said Marian M. Kendrick, FCPS College Fair/College Night liaison. “It streamlines the process for students and colleges and improves the flow of the whole fair.”
Students who have attended National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) fairs will recognize the scanners. The technology being introduced at this year’s FCPS College Fair & Night is provided by gotocollegefairs.com and is the same as that used by NACAC since 2007.
Logging on to the 2011 FCPS College Fair & Night registration site, students provide basic contact information, an indication of academic interests, and graduation year and high school. In return, they receive an “Admittance Pass” (personalized barcode) that is printed out and brought to the fair. College reps scan the barcode as a way to retrieve information thereby eliminating the need for visitors to complete individual registration cards at every table.
After the fair, students return home with usual glossy brochures and a stack of business cards. Colleges return with important information on interested students.
“Two to three days after the fair, colleges will have all their leads emailed to them in an Excel spreadsheet, so they can start the follow-up process right away,” Mrs. Kendrick explained.
The FCPS 2011 College Fair will be held at Fair Oaks Shopping Mall on Sunday, October 16, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm, and College Night will take place at Hayfield Secondary School on Monday, October 17, from 7:00 to 9:00.
Students planning to attend either event are encouraged, but not required to pre-register. Those who have not pre-registered, however, will not be given barcodes. They’re on their own with low-tech methods of providing information to colleges.
For more information or to see the growing list of colleges participating in the 2011 College Fair & Night, visit the FCPS School Counseling Services webpage.
Sep 2, 2011
But in reality, the vast majority of students want a college education to support career goals and improve their quality of life—regardless of where the school happens to land on the USNWR pecking order.
They aren’t looking for prestige or counting notches from the top of rankings. They are looking for the opportunity to learn and grow.
To show who today’s undergrads really are, The Chronicle recently crunched some numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). What they found isn’t too surprising to those of us who work with local college-bound high school students and routinely visit campuses all over the country.
In a nutshell, most college students are actually attending community colleges and public four-year institutions, and a huge percent of those students attend school on a part time basis (35 percent).
In fact, the college “experience” for most students isn’t all about climbing walls and lazy rivers. Students coming from families with smaller annual incomes are not as likely to go to a four-year selective college that offers these kinds of perks. And because they’re often working, it’s got to be all about the studying.
Here are The Chronicle’s results:
- 39.4% of undergrads attend community college
- 37.5% attend a public 4-year institution
- 16.5% attend private nonprofits
- 0.4% attend Ivy League colleges
- 25.1% come from families or living situations with incomes less than $20,000/year
- 2.1% have incomes over $200,000
For students with families earning less than $40,000:
- 50% attend a public 2-year institution
- 22.7% attend a public 4-year institution
- 8.6% attend a private, nonprofit institution