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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA

General: Lebanon Valley College (LVC) is a private residential college of 1630 students on a 345-acre campus in Annville, Pennsylvania, 10 minutes from Hershey. The buildings are architecturally mixed and the college has impressive physical education facilities. The 4-year graduation rate is 70%. About one quarter of students are commuters. The remaining students have housing for all four years.

What’s new: The school has just started a self-designed major, which must include at least two disciplines.  The school has a new President, Dr. Lewis Evitts Thayne, who came on August 1. He would like to increase the school’s diversity geographically, ethnically, internationally, and racially. Arnold Field was renovated over the summer with artificial turf, track resurfacing, and new lighting.

Academics: Teaching is the #1 priority for professors. Classes are generally small, with an average class size of 20. The largest classroom on campus holds 70 students. The school encourages students to study abroad/away, do internships and/or research. Students often do travel abroad in the summer (e.g., education majors in London, business students in the Netherlands). In addition to travel abroad in about a dozen countries, there is study away in Philadelphia and Washington DC. Education placements start in the freshman year. One hundred employers come to campus in January.

The school is probably best-known for its 6-year Physical Therapy (PT) program. The school also has other unusual majors including actuarial science, music business, music recording technology, and digital communications.

Extra-curricular activities: The school has Greek life, Division III sports, including football, and a Marching Band. There are 540 student athletes, 120 students in the marching band, and 100 students involved with the theatre. There are 90 clubs and organizations, including many faith-based groups. The students do over 18,000 hours of community service a year. There is a 4-day social justice program in January. 300 to 400 students attend the Friday night comedy series.

Admissions: The school has rolling admissions with 60 – 65% acceptance rate. The school is test optional.

All of the 4 types of music majors require an audition.

In order to apply for the PT program students must have shadowed physical therapists for at least 15 hours in each of two different clinical settings. Only 85 students are accepted to the PT program out of about 500 applications. PT students are admitted to the college first and then considered for the major.

Financial Aid: 98% of LVC students get some form of financial aid. There is both need-based and merit aid.

The top 30% of students get academic scholarships. Merit aid of 50% off of tuition is provided to students in the top 10% of their high school class. Merit aid of one third off of tuition is provided to students in the top 20% of their high school class. Merit aid of 25% off of tuition is provided to students in the top 30% of their high school class. Students with an SAT score of 1100 (2 sections) with no ranking or ranking lower than 30%, have an opportunity for a merit scholarship via an interview.

There are multicultural scholarships valued between $2 and $12K.

PT majors receive one-third off scholarship for their 5th and 6th year of school.

LVC and Bias: When I visited in mid-November, a freshman had found a piece of paper with a sketch of a person lynched. The school responded quickly. There was a special edition of the school newspaper, a student and faculty gathering to raise awareness and speak out against racism, and the president responded. The school has a Bias Response Team, which was created in 2005 after several incidents of racial and homophobic comments in which two students were charged.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Albright College, Reading, PA

The Basics - Albright is a small college in Reading, PA. Most of the classes have 15 to 25 students; only 2 classrooms hold more than 40 students. Two thirds of the students take a dual major and 1 in 3 students is a minority or international student. Albright is known for its business and arts programs.

Academics - The school is on a 4-1-4 calendar and has a new Gen ed (general education) requirements. Gen ed requirements include a first year seminar class of 15-18 students with lots of reading and writing, a composition class, a foreign language requirement, foundations (i.e., one course in each of five areas), connections (i.e., two classes on cultural or biological diversity), synthesis (i.e., a class with two teachers) and experience events (e.g., study abroad, study off-campus, internship, research or service learning). Students can study abroad after two semesters and there are some scholarships available for study abroad. Some majors require an internship.

Extracurricular Activities - Greek life and athletics, especially Division III football, basketball and swimming are important here. 12% of men and 18% of women go Greek. There is a great health and wellness building. Popular activities are ultimate Frisbee, rugby, and the comic club. One school tradition is to throw you in the pond, which is more like a fountain, on your birthday.

Admissions - The school has rolling admissions with decisions starting on October 1. Students generally hear if they have been accepted two weeks after they apply. This year there were 1500 applications by Labor Day. The school uses the Common App without a supplement. The mid 50 % for GPA was 3.1 to 3.7. The mid 50% score for the SAT (for Critical Reading and Math was 1000 – 1170. The school is test-optional.

Building on Campus - The college is building a new $30 million science facility, is doing a $5million upgrade to the building that houses business, accounting and political science, and is doing a $10 million library renovation.

Financial Aid - The big news at Albright is that starting in the Fall of 2013, Albright will meet 100% of demonstrated financial need! Expect to have a Stafford loan and to do work-study. The school is need blind. There is also merit aid available. Most scholarships are between $5K and $25K. There are 2 full scholarships per year. There are also awards of between $500 and $5K for arts, participation, being a member of National Honor Society, and for Methodists.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York

On Friday, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Louis Santiago, Director of Admissions at Marist College, Kate Budzinski, Assistant Director of Admissions at Marist College, and 17 other independent college consultants.

The Basics – Marist College’s main campus is located on the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York. Marist has about 4500 undergraduate students, with an average class size of between 20 and 25 students. There are over 80 clubs and organizations, Greek life, ROTC, and Division I athletics. The Cost of Attendance is $42K per year; there are need-based, merit, and athletic scholarships.  Marist is broken up into colleges that focus on (1) communication and arts, (2) business, (3) computer science and mathematics, (4) liberal arts, (5) science, (6) social and behavioral sciences and (7) management.

Admissions – About 31% of Marist applicants are accepted. The mid-50% of Fall 2012 applicants had a GPA between 88 and 93 and an SAT score between 1730 and 1950. Marist is test-optional. Fashion design, fashion merchandising, and studio art have special requirements for admission.

What’s Special – Special programs at Marist include a semester-long internship in New York City, a semester-long internship in Washington D.C., a freshman-year in Florence, Italy, and a branch campus in Florence, Italy where student may spend up to four years. There is a class in the business school where the students invest the Marist endowment. Marist has special services for up to 50 new students with Learning Differences each year. The college has a 25-year partnership with IBM.

What’s New – A redesigned core curriculum, which is more flexible, will be offered starting this Fall. A new music building will be also be opening in the Fall. Marist is planning to offer 14 full-ride technology scholarships.

Programs for high school students – Marist has pre-college summer programs in both Poughkeepsie and Florence for rising high school juniors and rising high school seniors.

What is your experience with Marist College?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA

Science Building (Biology, Chemistry, and some Environmental Science)

Performing Arts Building

Academic Center

College Center

Concert Choir
 Just the Facts - Juniata College is a private, residential liberal arts and sciences college of 1600 students on a 110-acre main campus with a 315-acre Nature Preserve and a 365-acre Environmental Studies Field Station. The school is located in the small town of Huntingdon, in central Pennsylvania.

Academics - Juniata students can develop their own major, called a Point of Emphasis, and 30% of students do. Every student has two advisors, to help them every step of the way. Classes are small and professors are available. The school is well known for its science programs.

Study abroad is very popular. 48% of the class of 2012 had an international experience. Juniata is one of 5 schools to receive the Paul Simon award for promoting internationalism.

What’s new - Juniata will be getting a new college president. They are down to 4 candidates and the students have been involved in the selection.

Juniata received a $1 million research grant in May to implement and integrate a Genomics Leadership Initiative. They plan to establish a structured research program, with 40 summer research fellowships in which undergrads use state-of-the-art science and technology related to genomics.

The food court is being renovated. A new residence hall with singles will be built.

Socially - There are more than 90 clubs and organizations. Popular clubs include Star Wars, Circle K (volunteer), ultimate frisbee, and student government. Seventy percent of students are involved in community service. Volleyball is most popular sport to watch on campus. There are no fraternities or sororities at Juniata.

Fun things to do on campus include Mountain Day (classes cancelled for a day of outdoor fun), Madrigal Dinner (formal dinner and dance), Springfest, Storming of the Arch, Mountain Day of the Mind (conference for undergrad research), artist series, movies, speakers, and the Pig Roast.

Financial Aid - Juniata has both need-based and merit-based aid. On the average, the college meets 90% of need. There are significant merit scholarships with values up to the full Cost of Attendance.

After college – 95% of graduates were employed or in graduate school six months after graduation. One hundred companies were represented at the February career fair for jobs and internships. 94% of pre-med and health profession students are admitted to medical or professional school. 100% of students applying to law school were admitted.

What's your experience with Juniata College?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA

Messiah College is a private, residential, co-educational Christian college with about 3000 undergrads, about 12 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Religious faith is central. Students come from many different Christian backgrounds – non-denominational, Baptist, Methodist, and Brethren in Christ. The college mission is to “educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.” Students and Faculty sign a statement of faith and abide by the community covenant. There is a required chapel.

Messiah is a college of liberal and applied arts and sciences that offers more than 80 majors. The largest and strongest departments at Messiah are nursing and the engineering departments. Sustainability is a relatively new major; Messiah is 1 of only 4 Christian colleges offering this major. There are 8 new majors since 2011: Chinese business, Chinese studies, Dance, Digital media, Ethnic and area studies, Film and media arts, Public relations, and Musical theatre. Messiah has an Honors program.

Through the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research, students can work with international mission agencies in areas like communications, education, energy, microeconomic development, sustainability, and transportation. Study abroad is very popular with students studying in over 40 countries. There is a branch of campus in Philadelphia that allows students to spend a semester taking classes at Temple University.

Division III sports are huge, with men’s and women’s soccer being outstanding. In 2005, 2008, and 2009, Messiah won men’s and women’s soccer national championships. Messiah has had 12 national team championships in the last decade. Messiah athletes meet weekly for Bible study. There is no football team.

Messiah has over 70 clubs and organizations. Messiah students volunteer more than 124,000 hours of community service annually.

The school has a new center for Worship and the Performing Arts opening in January 2013. The school has a natural history museum.

Messiah has both need-based and merit/talent-based aid. The merit/talent-based aid can cover up to 100% of tuition costs.

Messiah reviews applications on a rolling basis with decisions announced starting in mid-September.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

 Earlier this month, I attended Drexel University’s Counselor Open House.

Basics - Drexel has:
  • 12,750 undergrads from 41 states and 74 countries with an average class size of 18 students.
  • 12 academic colleges with more than 70 undergraduate majors.
Drexel is on a quarter system. There are 4 ten-week quarters each year. This is a fast-paced environment so good time management skills are critical.

The campus is undergoing an expansion. You can see my photos of the:
  • New LeBow Business School construction; the building should be open this Fall. 
  • Chestnut Street Retail and Residential Complex.
Co-op - Drexel is known for its co-op programs. Majors allow zero, one or three co-op experiences. Check on-line to see how many co-ops your intended major offers.

A co-op experience is a half-year long. Students who do zero or one co-op can finish their degree in four years. Students who do three co-ops will be in college five years. The tuition rate per year varies based on how many co-ops you plan to do. For a 4-year program, tuition is $41,500 per year. For a 5-year program, tuition is $33,800 per year. Students take a Co-op 101 class before a co-op assignment; in that class they learn about things like the job search and resume writing.

Some co-op assignments are paid and some are unpaid. Specifics are on the Drexel web site. As an example, engineers are paid for co-op experiences, while Fashion majors are not paid. If a co-op is unpaid, it is no more than 20 hours per week, allowing the student to work for pay elsewhere the rest of the week. Co-ops can be local, national or international. 85% of co-ops are within 50 miles of Philly. Students who take an international co-op receive a stipend to defer travel costs.

Other experiential learning opportunities - Undergrads have an opportunity to do research in the summer after their Freshman year in the STAR program. Students often have an opportunity to do experiential learning for companies as part of their studies (e.g., marketing campaigns for car companies). In the business school, there is a business consulting class where groups of five students are assigned to projects for non-profit organizations. Students do reflective writing in an electronic portfolio to tie together classes, co-op experiences, and other experiential learning. There is a Senior capstone project.

Academic services include tutoring at the Dragon Learning Center, a Math lab, an office of Disability Resources, pre-law and pre-health advising, and add-on sections of a half-credit for key courses for at-risk students, career development and career services, co-op services including co-op coordinators by major.

Applying to Drexel - Drexel uses the Common App. There is no application fee. The average high school student admitted to Drexel had a 3.6 GPA and an average SAT score of 1220 (Critical Reading and Math).

Drexel has changed from rolling admissions to Early Decision and Regular Decision. Early Decision applications are due on 11/15 with a decision by mid-December. Regular decision applications are due on 1/15 with a 3/28 decision. Portfolios are needed for Graphic and Fashion Design. To get in the Dance Program, you need to audition.

All applications are reviewed for merit aid, without a separate application. National Merit Finalists get a full-tuition scholarship. An alumni endorsement scholarship is worth $1000.

The earned income form co-ops does not impact the student’s Expected Family Contribution.

Social Life - There are over 300 clubs. Drexel has Division I athletics, as well as intramural and club sports. All students can participate in music, theatre, and dance. There are 14 music ensembles.

Honors Program - Students with a high GPA and SAT will be considered for the Honors Program. High school students accepted into the Honors program averaged a 3.9 unweighted GPA average and 1380 on the SAT (2 sections). Students with a 3.5 unweighted GPA and a 1350 on the SAT have a good chance to get in the Honors Program. There is honors housing for 400 Freshmen; Drexel is working on establishing Honors housing for Sophomores. Honors students get free tickets to cultural events, have opportunities for travel or to present research, get priority registration, special advising, and graduate with distinction. Honors students need to take a number of Honors classes or turn regular classes into Honors classes by doing an extra project. Students in the Honors program are encouraged to volunteer and to visit Philly. Students in the Honors program have a major advisor and an Honors advisor.

Who would be happy here? I think a career-minded student that wants a co-op experience, who likes the city, who can manage their time, and can readily switch between work and school, might like Drexel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

I attended an RIT breakfast for counselors hosted by Ashley Hennigan, Assistant Director Undergraduate Admissions today.  Here are some highlights.

What kind of student likes RIT?

A student focused on a career, who likes a larger school, and would like a co-op experience would be happy at RIT, if they don't mind cold weather and a predominantly male student body.

RIT Basics:

RIT has about 15,000 undergraduates, out of a total student body of 18,000. These include 1300 deaf and hard of hearing students. About two thirds of RIT students are male.
RIT is the 11th largest private university in the US.  It is the second largest in computing, and third largest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

RIT offers 90 majors in 9 colleges including colleges of applied science and technology; business; computing and information sciences; engineering; health sciences and technology; imaging arts and sciences; liberal arts; National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID); and the college of science.

There are 35 accelerated dual degree programs (Bachelors and Masters) .

The average class size is 25 with 90% of classes having less than 50 students. Students start taking classes in their likely major in their Freshman year. They declare their major at the end of the first year. Students have real-life experiences in their majors.

RIT is in a suburban area, six miles from downtown Rochester. RIT has 245 buildings on 1300 acres, primarily built of brick.  They were all built in 1968 or later. Students can have a car in the Freshman year and RIT provides a free shuttle that goes off-campus.  There are 11 colleges in the Rochester, New York vicinity.  Five of these colleges are within five miles of RIT.

Weather-wise, an RIT student should be prepared for an average of 90 inches of snow per year, starting around Halloween.

Fraternities and sororities are popular, as are Division I hockey and video games.

What’s new at RIT?

Starting in the Fall 2013, the school calendar switches from quarters to 15-week semesters.

RIT applications:

RIT admits students by major, and applications are read by major. Students can list up to three majors on their applications, including undecided majors. 58% of the students who apply are accepted, although this varies by major. Among the hardest programs to get into are Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Game Design, Film and Animation, and Physician Assistant. An art portfolio is required for the School of Art and the School of Design, which are two of the six schools in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

The SAT Range for Middle 50% of Accepted Applicants varies by academic area. For example, the range for Engineering is 1790 – 2030, while the range for Engineering Technology is 1580 – 1820.

Co-op education:

RIT has a hundred years of co-op education.  They have 2000 co-op education employers in 50 states and 40 countries. Many majors require one or more co-op experiences, generally after the Sophomore year. Some majors with heavier co-op requirements (e.g., Engineering) take five years to complete. Seventy per cent of students end up working for a company that they had a co-op experience with.

Financial Considerations:

The cost of an academic year is about $44,000. The cost is about $24,000 for NTID students and hearing students majoring in American Sign Language. The school offers merit and need-based aid.  SAT/ACT scores are important for merit aid.

Early Decision:
The Early Decision (ED) at RIT is more friendly than most. It is easier to get in during ED than Regular Decision. Students who apply ED don’t have to commit to attending if they feel the school will not be affordable for them when they get their financial aid package. ED applications are due on December 1.

RIT Honors:

The top 5% of RIT students are in RIT Honors, which provides the students with early registration, a scholarship, a travel stipend, specialized housing, some unique courses, and more.

Fun facts:

RIT has the Guinness World Record for Mud Tug of War and for Dodgeball.

For high school Juniors:

RIT offers two 2-day program in the summer for rising Seniors to explore, investigate, and sample academic and career paths. This will give students an opportunity to get a taste of four possible majors/careers out of 68 highlighted, as well as to stay overnight in an RIT residence hall.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Dreaded College Application Essay

Put yourself in the place of an admissions officer. You have hundreds of applications to read. You have just read an application filled with grades, scores, lists of courses and activities. It’s time to read the college essay. The last thing you want to read is a poorly-written essay that could have been written by any high school student.

Instead of dreading the essay, think of it as an opportunity to make your application come alive. It will change you from a bunch of numbers to an interesting person that the admissions officer would like to have as an incoming freshman. The essay is your opportunity to share something important with the admissions officer that doesn’t appear elsewhere on the application.

A memorable essay starts with the right topic. Read the essay prompt and instructions. Then, get in touch with yourself and brainstorm possible ideas. Pick a topic that you have firsthand experience with and that is important to you. Allow enough time to write the essay and then to edit it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Five Things for High School Seniors To Do Now

For high school seniors, college application deadlines are just around the corner. Here are five things to do now, to be ready for fall application deadlines.

1. Finalize the college list and know the due dates. Generally, I recommend that students apply to no more than nine colleges, including stretch, match and safe schools. College application deadlines vary, and some schools have application due dates as early as October. For each school on your final college list, decide whether to apply early decision, early action or regular decision. Record the application and financial aid due dates.

2. Schedule Fall tests. If you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT, or want to take them again, check that the scores will be available by the college due dates, and then register. October is often the last test date that will be scored in time.

3. Schedule college visits. Many colleges use “enthusiasm to attend” as one of their admissions criteria. Visiting is an excellent way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and to learn more about the college. If possible, schedule an interview when you visit.  You may be able visit some colleges that are in session, before high school resumes. 

4. Get teacher recommendations. If you did not ask teachers for recommendations in the Spring, do it as soon as school starts. Notify your guidance counselor if you will be applying to schools early admission, since they also need to prepare a recommendation and get other materials ready for your applications.

5. Finish applications, including essays early. Your applications are critical and should be treated as such. Your essays will take time to write and revise.  Plan enough time to revise each essay three or four times.  Make sure to proofread your applications, including essays carefully.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Clay College, Millville, NJ

 I was walking down High Street in Millville, NJ when I came upon a storefront with a sign that said Clay College, Cumberland County College. I went inside and found myself in a gallery. Beyond the gallery was a spacious ceramic arts studio with fifteen pottery wheels and four kilns.

Jackie Sandro, the Clay College Director who also teaches Ceramics, gave me an impromptu tour of the facility and answered my questions. At the Clay College facility, students build pottery and sculpture using hand building and the pottery wheel. Students at can get an Associate in Arts in Ceramics or an Academic Certificate in Ceramics. The Fall 2012 for-credit Ceramics offerings include Ceramics I, Sculptural Ceramics, Ceramic Technologies, Clay Co-op Experience - Gallery, Clay Co-op Experience – Studio, and Craft Business Practices.

If you are looking for a public New Jersey community college, with a program in Ceramics, learn more about Clay College, Cumberland County College.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

August 1 Launch of the Common App

On August 1st, the Common Application, also known as the Common App, becomes available for use. While many colleges have their own college applications, 456 institutions use the Common App, making it easier for students to apply to multiple colleges.

The Common Application that will be launched on August 1 is very similar to the one used last year. To see the changes for first-year applications, students can look at the highlighted sections in the preview application.

The most dreaded portion of the Common App is the writing section. Students need to write a 250 – 500 word essay on a topic of their choice or on one of the five options provided. They also need to write about an extracurricular activity or work experience in the small space provided. Many colleges have a supplement to the Common App that may require additional essays.

I recommend that students write their essays before school resumes in September and life becomes more hectic. If you don’t think you’ll get it done without some structure, try my "Common Application Boot Camp With A Friend" or my 1-on-1 services.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Will I Afford College?

Parents worry about how much college will cost and how they will afford college. Other than purchasing a home, college is usually the largest investment a family will make. Hopefully, families have been saving for college from the time their children were small. But with four years of college costing as much as a quarter of a million dollars, family savings are typically not enough.

A common misconception that parents have is that their financial salvation will come in the form of private scholarships. Private scholarships make up only 6% of all scholarships.   

The biggest source of aid is through the colleges. Families can save thousands of dollars by selecting the right colleges. Some parents might jump to the wrong conclusion when reading this. They might think that this means their child needs to attend a college with a low sticker price. Colleges, however, are like airplanes. Different people are paying different amounts for the same service. Surprisingly, private colleges may be less expensive than a public in-state college. 

Students need to select colleges that fit them financially, as well as academically and socially. The junior year of high school is a great time to begin the college selection process. If you are a rising senior, and haven’t considered the following financial questions, try to address them now. 

On the financial side, you need to know:
  1. How much money has been saved for college?
  2. How much need-based aid do you qualify for?
  3. Which colleges meet a high percent of need?
  4. Which colleges meet the need primarily with grants, instead of loans and work/study?
  5. How much merit aid do you qualify for?
  6. How many years will it take to graduate? (Students will want to check the 4-year, 5-year and 6-year graduation rates at the colleges they are considering.) 
  7. How much money is the most the student should borrow?
  8. How much money is the most the parents should borrow?
Some families, without the money to pay the college sticker price, ignore these issues and stick their heads in the sand. I don’t recommend that since the family may run out of money before college is completed or the student/family may be saddled with incredible debt for years to come.

Other families invest significant time to research these issues. Some families hire an independent college admissions professional like me, who understands these issues and the available resources, saving the family money and preventing the family from taking on too much debt.
What has your experience been?  What questions do you have?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Unique Approaches to Higher Education

Are you looking for a unique approach to Higher Education? Here are three unique approaches presented at the June Higher Education Consultants Association Conference.

At St. John’s College, in Annapolis and Santa Fe, there are no majors. St. John’s College is a great books college. Students read and explore a common body of works with their classmates and teachers.

Champlain College students are career-minded. The school describes its curriculum as upside down. Students start taking classes in their major as freshmen and begin working at internships early.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock is a very small college for intellectually curious tenth and eleventh graders.  These students are academically and socially ready for college before they graduate from high school.

Is one of these colleges right for you?  What other unique approaches appeal to you?

Monday, July 9, 2012

What will I do when I graduate college?

If you are wondering whether you will get a job in your field when you graduate college, or get into the graduate school of your dreams, ask colleges for data on recent graduating classes. Lynn O’Shaughnessy, speaking at the Higher Education Consultants Association Conference, recommends that when you receive post-graduation data from colleges, you should also ask what percent of the graduating class the data was based on. Often, the reports are based on self-reporting by only 5% of the college's graduating class.

A few colleges provide a clear and complete post-graduation picture. Lynn O'Shaughnessy cited reporting by St Olaf College and Bucknell University as a best practice. St. Olaf College gathered data on 92% of their 2011 graduates and prepared this 64-page report and Bucknell University gathered data on 97% of their 2011 graduates and prepared this 58-page report.

What kind of information does your college, or the colleges you are considering, provide about their graduates? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Twelve College Transfer Tips

If you are a college student with plans to transfer, here are twelve tips from the Higher Education Consultants Association Conference session on understanding the transfer process.


  1.  Stay for at least a year at a college, before transferring.
  2. Save the syllabus, not just the course description, from each class you take. This will improve the chance that the college you are transferring to will accept your credits.
  3. Get involved at your current school and develop a relationship with your professors.
  4. Establish a relationship with the transfer advisor. 
  5. Work with your academic advisor to evaluate your level of performance relative to your current college and the college you want to transfer to.
  6. Get a sense about transfer student life, by talking with other students who transferred to the colleges you are considering.
  7. Become familiar with the requirements (e.g., minimum and maximum number of credits, as well as test requirements) for transfer student applicants at the colleges you are considering. They vary considerably from college to college. Make sure that you meet more than the minimum standards, because entrance may be selective. 
  8. Check out, if you are transferring from a NJ community college.

Know that: 
  1. Some colleges may reserve a certain number of seats for students transferring from other particular colleges.
  2. Some schools don’t have merit aid for transfer students.
  3. Less money, less housing and fewer seats are generally available for a mid-year transfer, than for a fall transfer.
  1. Write, “I’m transferring because my current college stinks,” in your application essay about why you want to transfer to College X.
What are your transfer experiences? What do you wish someone told you about transferring? What tips would you add to this list?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

College Trends and Hot Topics - Part 3

The admissions personnel on the Higher Education Consultants Association college admissions panel answered the following questions on current trends and hot topics.

How do you know a student wrote the college essay? 
  • The prose style of a 17-year old is different than a 40-year old. 
  • Essays written by committee loose their force. 
  • The main essay and supplement essays are consistent.  If they are in doubt, they compare the essays to the SAT writing sample.
What gender issues are colleges facing?
  • Liberal arts colleges are becoming increasingly female.  Some liberal arts colleges are looking to keep the percent of men at greater than 40%.
  • There are too few women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
How should high school students spend their summer?
  • Do something constructive.
  • Test some idea, like "what is it like to work?" or "what is field x like?"
What is the role of the interview in the admissions decision?
  • The Muhlenberg College representative indicated that 75% of students are interviewed by their admissions staff on campus or off-site.  Their interview is both evaluative and informational.  The college wants to get at intangibles like what is the student hoping for and whether the student is kind and civil.
  • The Dartmouth College representative said that alumni conduct the interviews and score the prospective students on a 1 - 5 rating score.  41% of the students interviewed received a score of 4 or 5.  Dartmouth is interested in learning why the students want to attend their college.
  • At Rutgers University, students from the Pharmacy School and the Mason Gross School have interviews.
How are you using social media?
  • Rutgers University does not read the student's Facebook page.
  • After students were accepted to Dartmouth College, they could participate in a Class of 2016 page.  High school students could video chat with current Dartmouth College students.
What's happening with Spring admits?
  • Brandeis University has been accepting students who applied for the Fall term as Spring admits for seven or eight years.  This allows then to fill the space made available because students are studying abroad.  The students who are Spring admits have their own orientation, make a good transition to Brandeis University, and turn out well.
Do any of these answers surprise you?  Are there other questions that you wish they discussed?

Monday, June 25, 2012

College Trends and Hot Topics - Part 2

The panel of admissions personnel at the Higher Education Consultants Association Conference discussed "What intangible factors make a student stand out?"

Chris Hooker-Haring, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Muhlenberg College, valued energy, sustained commitment, intellectual curiosity, and authenticity.

Lou Hirsch, Director of Admissions at the University of Delaware, indicated that he didn't expect applicants to be Olympic Gold Medalists.  He wanted to know who the student is and how did he get that way.  He wants to learn how the student's activities shaped them.  When the letters of recommendation and student's essays mesh, he found it compelling.

Mark Spencer, Director of Admissions  at Brandeis University, said that admissions officers sometimes have a bias.  If the admissions officer feels connected to the student because of their story, that student had an advantage.

Brian Estrada, Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College, talked about valuing students who are open to learning from others, as well as students who others can learn from.  Dartmouth College considers moral development and peer recommendations.

Courtney McAnuff, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Rutgers University, said the Rutgers admissions office does not see race, gender or high school when evaluating applications.  Rutgers University is concerned about how students work with diverse situations and want to have a well-rounded class. 

What intangible factors do you think make a student stand out?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

College Trends and Hot Topics - Part 1

I attended the Higher Education Consultants Association Conference this week.  Here’s what’s happening in college admissions, according to key admissions personnel who participated in a panel entitled "College Trends and Hot Topics: Admissions 2012."

Courtney McAnuff, Vice President of Enrollment Management for Rutgers University indicated that he was looking at a proposal to merge UMDNJ with Rutgers, which now seems likely. He was also looking into the merger of Rowan and Rutgers Camden. The size of the Rutgers freshmen class will be reduced for the next three years, because retention is up.

Brian Estrada, Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College said, with the April nomination of their college president to lead the World Bank, Dartmouth is looking for a new college president. This year Dartmouth had 23,000 applicants and accepted 2200 of them. 1104 students will be attending, and Dartmouth may accept 5 more students from the wait list.

Mark Spencer, Director of Admissions at Brandeis University said parents are becoming more concerned about college costs. This year a lower percent of students stayed on the wait list and a lower percent of students are accepting a spot off of the wait list.

Lou Hirsch, Director of Admissions at the University of Delaware indicated that his school had the same situation with the wait list as Brandeis. Parents seemed more concerned with college cost and “have gotten over if their child doesn’t get into their first choice school.”

Chris Hooker-Haring, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Muhlenberg College told the independent counselors that Muhlenberg had over 5000 applicants this year. They admitted about 50% of their incoming class through Early Decision. It took longer to get to their target class size this spring and there were more conversations with parents about money and value.

In a future blog post, I will cover the panel’s input on college essays, gender imbalance at college, how high school students should spend the summer, college interviews, college use of social media, and spring admits.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Update on Landmark College

Earlier this month, Landmark College, a college serving students with language-based learning disabilities, announced three new academic programs would be starting this Fall:
  1. BA in Liberal Studies
  2. Associate of Science in Life Sciences
  3. Associate of Science in Computer Science/Gaming.

For more information on Landmark College, see my original blog post on this school.

What's your experience with Landmark College and how do you view these new academic programs?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fordham University (Bronx, NY)

Fordham University is the Jesuit University of New York, one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States, with three undergraduate colleges and two New York campuses. The Fordham mission is to care for the entire person, strive for greatness, and to develop men and women for others by providing community service, locally and abroad.

I visited the Rose Hill campus in a working-class neighborhood in the Bronx, which houses the Fordham College at Rose Hill and the Gabelli School of Business. In 2010, the College of Business Administration was renamed the Gabelli School of Business after Mario Gabelli made a 25 million dollar gift to Fordham. You might know my tour guide, a young woman from Basking Ridge. She is a triplet who graduated from Ridge High School, is studying at the Gabelli School, studied abroad in Italy, is a member of the crew team, and has had internships.

The other campus is the 8-acre Lincoln Center campus in the heart of Manhattan, which houses the Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Both the Fordham College at Rose Hill and the Fordham College in Lincoln Center offer majors in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. There are a few majors that are only offered at one of these two colleges. Some sciences are only offered in Rose Hill and dance, theatre and social work are only offered in Lincoln Center.

The Rose Hill campus is home to 5000 undergraduates, 80% who live on campus and 20% who commute. The campus covers 85 green acres in the middle of a city neighborhood in the Bronx. It is a green, Gothic oasis close to the Metro-North train, bus and subway transportation, which provides students an opportunity to intern or take advantage of the arts/nightlife in Manhattan. The school runs a shuttle service, the Ram Van, between the two campuses, as well as a late-night Rose Hill Off-campus shuttle. The school is also close to the sights of the Bronx, and is across the street from the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden.

The Fordham College at Rose Hill has 3300 undergraduates majoring in the liberal arts and sciences. The Gabelli School has 1700 undergraduate students majoring in business; a new business building with expanded, new capabilities will be opening in the Fall. The Rose Hill campus also has five year BS/MBA programs and 5 year Bachelor’s/Masters programs.

The Lincoln Center campus has 1750 undergraduate. Half are residential and half are commuters.

Housing is guaranteed all four years at both campuses.

The school has a large core curriculum and a small average class size of 22 students. The core curriculum includes two theology classes, but these are not limited to Catholic theology.

The Division I athletics are housed in the Bronx campus. There are 143 clubs and organizations. Internships, community service, campus ministry, and study abroad are popular. Fordham provides access to over 2600 internships and three quarters of Fordham students have had at least one internship by graduation. There are over 165 study abroad programs.

Fordham University accepts the Common Application and the SAT or ACT. They admitted 42% of applicants with an average GPA of 3.7 and the mid-50% score on the SAT of 1830 – 2050. They provide both merit and need-based financial aid. They have both Early Action and regular admission. Early Action applications, as well as all Dance/Theatre applications, are due on 11/1. Regular admission applications are due on 1/15. Students can receive credit for AP exams.

If you are a student looking to study liberal arts and sciences, or business at a private Catholic college with a campus in a city environment, the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University may be for you. If you have visited or recently attended the Fordham University Rose Hill campus, what did you think of the school?

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's Not Too Late

Some of you are suffering because you didn't get into the college of your dream or even worse, you didn't get into any college that you want to attend this Fall.  Don't despair, because it is not too late!  Over 375 colleges are still accepting Freshmen and/or transfer students for the Fall, and some of these have financial aid money left.

Monday, April 30, 2012

University Of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)

 On Friday, I had lunch with the NJ representative for the University of Georgia (UGA), along with about ten other college admissions consultants. I thought I’d share some of what I heard about University of Georgia:

  • If you are thinking of applying, make sure to take at least 4 years of science in high school. This is a requirement.
  •  If you are planning to apply Early Action (EA), don’t get caught snoozing. The EA application is due on October 15th.
  • Thirty per cent of students are from outside of Georgia. It isn’t easier or harder to get in if you are from outside of Georgia.
  • The Foundation Fellowship provides about 20 students a year with a significant scholarship, opportunities for study abroad, research, conference participation and enrichment (e.g., Honors program, seminars, mentoring). For out-of-state students this translates to a $15,700 stipend (in addition to a Regents Out-of-State Tuition Waiver). If you are interested in this opportunity you must apply for it by November 1.
  • Out of state students who study abroad, pay in-state tuition that semester.
  • Athens, where the college is located, is a college town of a 100,000 with a big music scene, about 60 miles from Atlanta
  • The college is big: about 26,000 undergraduate students, 605 acres, 170 majors, 600 student organizations. In the Fall of 2013, electrical and mechanical engineering majors are being added.
  • Students are required to live on campus their freshman year. While housing is guaranteed all four years, most students move off-campus after the first year.
  • The info on accepted students is: Mid-50% range for GPA of admitted students : 3.74-4.04 (the GPA that UGA calculates based on the core courses taken in HS, and looking at the actual grades on the transcript).  Mid-50% range for the SAT CR and M: 1190-1360.  Mid-50% range for the SAT Writing: 580-690.  Mid-50% range for the ACT: 27-31.  Average number of AP/IB courses: Approximately 6
  • The honors program enrolled 531 students for the fall of 2011 with: Mid-50% range for GPA of admitted students : 4.0 – 4.2 (the GPA that UGA calculates based on the core courses taken in HS, and looking at the actual grades on the transcript). Mid-50% range for the SAT CR and M: 1430-1490. Average SAT Writing: 712.  Mid-50% range for the ACT: 32-33
  • For more information on the college, check out their blog on




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barnard College (New York, NY)

If you are looking for a small women’s liberal arts college in New York City, Barnard College may be right for you. My two nieces attended Barnard and loved it.

The school is located in Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan and can be reached by subway (the 1 train to the 116th Street - Columbia University stop). The campus has a variety of building styles, is one block wide and goes from West 116th Street to West 120th Street. The Barnard campus is on one side of Broadway and the Columbia University campus is on the other side.

Barnard is the home to about 2400 undergraduate women, with 95% of them living in the dorms on campus. The freshman dorms are arranged around a quad. Housing is guaranteed all four years, as long as you don’t leave the dorms and decide you want to come back.

All students must take two first year foundation courses (English and a seminar) and nine area requirements. Barnard offers 50 majors and their students can pursue special degree programs with a number of other schools in the area including Columbia University, Julliard, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Manhattan School of Music. Barnard students can cross-register for courses at Columbia, and Columbia students (male or female) can cross-register for courses at Barnard. The Barnard classes are small and are never taught by graduate teaching assistants.

Barnard students take advantage of all New York City offers in terms of culture, education, nightlife, and internships. Study abroad, internships, research, and volunteering are popular. There are as more internship opportunities at Barnard than students. Barnard students also can participate in clubs and sports on their own campus or at Columbia. Barnard students participate in Division I, Ivy League Varsity sports in the Columbia/Barnard Consortium.

Some memorable annual campus events include:

  • Midnight Breakfast - Deans and administrators serve the students breakfast the night before the beginning of finals
  • The Big Sub - Students eat a 700 foot sub sandwich
  • President Obama speaking at the 2012 Barnard graduation.

About 21 per cent of Barnard applicants are accepted. All financial aid is need-based and for US students, it is need-blind. The college meets 100% of need and tries to keep loans to a minimum. There is no merit aid.

If you are a female high school student, does Barnard sound appealing to you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey

My tour guide, Emily was enthusiastic about Montclair State University, a diverse public university in suburban Montclair, NJ with over 14,000 undergrads. She took us through the 250-acre campus, consisting primarily of Spanish mission-style buildings, some with a view of the Manhattan skyline. She was among the nearly 5000 students living on campus.

Montclair State has over 250 undergraduate programs in the College of the Arts; College of Education and Human Services; College of Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Science and Mathematics; and School of Business. The average class size at Montclair State is 23. If a class is offered as a large lecture, the school also offers a smaller class as an option.
The school has over 120 clubs, Greek Life (which is not a dominant force on campus), and Division III athletics (Go Red Hawks). There are two train stations and a bus stop on campus, enabling students without a car access to Manhattan. There are also travel abroad opportunities that range in length from one week to an academic year.

If you've visited or attended Montclair State, what was your impression?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ

You think you want to attend a New Jersey public college, but Rutgers isn't for you.  Perhaps Rutgers is too big for you or is too hard for you to get into.  In late March, I visited two schools in Northern New Jersey that you might want to consider: William Paterson University and Montclair State University. 

In this blog post, I'll focus on William Paterson University (shown in these photos)  The next blog post will be on Montclair State University.

William Paterson University sits on a 370-acre campus in suburban Wayne; there are one or two buildings off-campus with a shuttle bus servicing them, including the “messy” art building.

The school has a diverse undergraduate enrollment just shy of 10,000, with a quarter of the student body living on campus. Housing, made up of suites and apartments, and is guaranteed all four years. Commuters should allocate time to find parking and to walk to class.

Students attend small classes, averaging 21 students and can major in one of 48 majors in 5 colleges: Arts and Communications; Business; Education; Humanities and Sciences; and Science and Health. Four new majors are being added in the Fall: Sports Management, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Environmental Sustainability. Students need 120 credits to graduate. Forty credits make up the general education requirements. There are pre-professional programs as well as an Honors College.

Some special facilities on campus are the new science building, nursing simulation labs, financial learning center, TV broadcast studios, radio station, and redesigned student center. Travel abroad and National Student Exchange (i.e., where you spend a semester at another US college) are available.

The average high school student admitted to WPU had a 3.1 GPA and a 1050 SAT (Critical Reading and Math); credentials for the nursing school are more stringent. To qualify for an academic scholarship, students need a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and 1050 on their SATs. There are also scholarships for talented artists ranging from $1K to $10K.

The college has about 80 clubs, Greek Life, Division III athletics, trips off-campus on weekends (e.g., ski trips, trips to Canada, trips to Atlantic City), and a NJ Transit bus that takes students to places like New York City and the Willowbrook Shopping Mall. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 2 PM no classes are scheduled; this is a great time for clubs to meet. The big issue in the Pioneer newspaper was that the Student Government Association ran out of funds for the remainder of the spring semester, causing many club events to be cancelled or postponed.