Search This Blog

Friday, August 27, 2010

Muhlenberg College

In March, I visited Muhlenberg College, a small liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, located in a residential area of one-family homes in Allentown, Pennsylvania. While the school has a religious affiliation, ecumenism is the order of the day. One third of the students are Catholic, one third are Jewish and twenty percent are Protestant. The school calls itself "the caring college" because they feel the students and staff are warm, friendly and compassionate. The college's red doors are a Lutheran sign of welcome. Muhlenberg wants to "encourage students to live life to its fullest, do their best, be honest, deal openly with each other, and treat everyone as an individual."
The 2180 undergraduate students hail primarily from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Women outnumber men, as is often the case at liberal arts colleges. Most of the students are from middle and upper-middle class suburban families.
The school sits on eighty acres. In addition there is a forty acre arboretum and a forty acre wildlife sanctuary. Ninety-five percent of the students live on campus and eighty per cent stay on weekends.
Muhlenberg has small classes with only one percent having more than fifty students. Each freshman gets a first year advising team of four students and a faculty member. The college is strong in business, drama, dance, pre-med/biology, pre-law, English/writing, psychology, science, accounting and media/communications. All freshmen take a writing-intensive, discussion-intensive seminar capped at fifteen students. More than half the students study abroad for one or two semesters in their Junior or Senior year; they can choose from 150 programs in 35 countries.
You may be wondering what Muhlenberg students do for fun. Almost a quarter join one of the four fraternities or four sororities. They participate in some of the over one hundred clubs, intramural and club sports, or Muhlenberg's NCAA Division III Centennial Conference teams. Comedians perform every Thursday night. A capella groups and dance are popular. Students use the college shuttle to get to activities in Allentown including restaurants, bars, movies, bowling, ice-skating, and miniature golf.
Muhlenberg is selective and has a 37% acceptance rate with 60% of the students applying early decision. The college is SAT-optional; a graded paper and an interview can be used in place of the SAT.
Tuition plus room and board are $45,600. Sixty-five percent of students get some form of aid. Ninety four percent of need is met. Merit aid averaging $9,900, ranging from $1,000 to $16,000 per year is available for those scoring greater than 1600 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT.
There are additional photos of Muhlenberg College on my Web site. If you've visited Muhlenberg College recently or are a student there, share your thoughts on the college.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

College visits in late August or early September

It's best to visit colleges when class is in session. You get more of a feel for the school and its students.

If you have a colleges that you would like to visit now, find out when the Fall semester college classes resume. You can do this by calling each college or by going to their Website and searching for the "academic calendar". If the college classes resume before your high school opens, you may have an ideal opportunity to visit a few colleges which are in session in late August or early September.

A few colleges in the Northeast which begin classes before Labor Day are Clark University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Quinnipiac University, and the University of Connecticut.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lehigh University

In April, I walked the hilly campus of Lehigh University with its beautiful gothic architecture. Lehigh is a blend of liberal arts, business, and engineering in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While the School of Liberal Arts is the largest, the university is best known for its business and engineering programs. Lehigh has small classes, with 72% of classes having fewer than 30 students. There are also about 200 study abroad programs in 60 counties available.

While I was on campus, I saw a group of mechanical engineering students, working with local middle school students, racing plastic molded injected cars that they had designed and built. I also saw students working on different research projects, including a wheelchair with audio controls. In the halls, I observed numerous Integrated Product Team project displays.

Venture capital of between $200 and $200,000 is available to students to translate their ideas into a business. One former student, now 28, went this route and currently has a $6 million business in aquarium filters.

Lehigh University has strong career placement. In 2009, 95% of students were placed within 6 months.

Social life at Lehigh is thriving as well. The school has Division I athletics, with a strong rivalry against nearby Lafayette. There are over 40 club and intramural sports. 37% of the student body is involved in Greek life. There are over 150 clubs. Music, theatre, and visual arts are popular, with practice rooms open to all students. While I was visiting Lehigh University, I saw one of the clubs in action. A group of students who meet weekly to do arts and crafts, were painting pottery.

Financially, Lehigh has loan elimination for families with incomes of less than $50,000 and loan reduction to families with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000. Merit scholarships are an automatic program with 5 - 8% of students receiving merit aid. Academic merit aid can be up to full tuition. If a student graduates Lehigh with 3.75 grade point, they get a 5th year free.
For another photo of Lehigh, check out the photo gallery on my Website. I'd love to hear your impressions of Lehigh University.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Questions To Ask on Your College Visits

The National Survey For Student Engagement (NSSE) provides a great, free guide entitled A Pocket Guide to Choosing a College: Questions to ask on your college visits,to choosing a college. I recommend that you use this guide when you are visiting colleges.

NSSE collects information from thousands of students at hundreds of colleges through a 4-page survey. Responses to the survey provide information about the quality of their college experience. Some colleges provide their NSSE results to prospective students, if asked or post results on their Web site. If the colleges you are considering share their results, you can learn a lot about the college by reviewing them.

Share what you discovered from using the pocket guide or the NSSE results.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


MIT is unique in many ways.

There are almost as many women as men, which is unusual for a school where a large percentage of the students are studying engineering.

Freshmen are integrated with upperclassmen in the dorms. Each dorm has a faculty Housemaster who lives in the dorm. Freshmen move in and then are given an opportunity to change their housing assignment. Each of the dorms has its own personality. They have options I haven’t seen elsewhere. There are dorms where you can smoke, keep a cat, and paint your room any color you like. All freshmen don’t have to take a meal plan. It’s optional at certain dorms.

Majors are referred to by numbers. Classes are not listed as being 3 or 4 credits. They are listed with units, which is how many hours a student is expected to spend each week in and out of class. Students spend hours working collaboratively on p-sets (problem sets).

The first semester is Pass – No Record.

There are great pre-orientation and orientation programs. Pre-orientation lets you discover an area of study in a fun way, often with a trip. Perhaps you’d like to Discover Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Yellowstone on your pre-orientation trip.

There is a 4-week term in January called the Independent Activities Period (IAP). It is a time to try something new for credit or not for credit. Maybe you’ll want to participate in the Mystery Hunt. You can attend a lecture series, participate in a seminar, do independent research or just extend your winter break.

There are a large variety of educational opportunities. Many freshmen get involved in research. There are opportunities to work in groups on world problems and to do research abroad.

MIT overlooks the Charles River. It is close to the Red Line of the subway so you can travel around Cambridge and Boston easily.

To see another photo of MIT, check out the photo gallery on my Web site. If you’ve visited or attended MIT, share your experiences.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Common App Available

For rising seniors eager to get started on your college applications, the 2010-2011 Common App is now available.