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Thursday, March 28, 2013

University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Shelley Hillberry, Assistant Dean of Admissions of the University of Mary Washington who is the admissions rep for New Jersey. Shelley described Mary Washington students as intellectually, civically and socially engaged.

Physical campus / history - The University of Mary Washington is in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia on 172 acres. Before the school became co-ed in 1972, it was the woman’s college for the University of Virginia. The buildings are of Jeffersonian and Georgian architecture. There are no public roads through campus. The college is about 50 miles away from Washington DC and Richmond. The school’s location means there are plenty of internship opportunities.

The basics - University of Mary Washington is a public state college in Virginia. It is a mid-sized school with 4000 undergraduates and 1000 graduate students. The school has undergraduate colleges for Education, Business, and Arts & Sciences. There is an 83% retention from the freshman to sophomore year and 77% of students graduate in four years with a Bachelor’s degree. Students abide by an honor code.

Courses - Students have 40 credits of general education requirements, 40 credits in their major, and 40 credits of electives. The 40 credits of electives allow students to pursue a second major or a minor. The general education requirements include experiential learning (i.e., students must do at least one internship, study abroad, research, or community service learning).

Class size - Most classes have 22 to 24 students per class. The first year seminar is capped at 15 students. There are twelve larger general education classes with about 60 students.

Majors - Students don’t declare their major until after the sophomore year. Mary Washington is only one of six schools in the nation with an undergraduate historic preservation major. Popular majors are business, English, psychology, biology, history, international affairs, political science, historic preservation, computer science, foreign languages, and geography (with a GIS certificate).

Admissions - Admissions are holistic. The mid-50% of SAT scores for Critical Reading and Math are between 1050 and 1250 with the mid-50% of GPAs between 3.2 and 3.9. The school admits about 70% of the applicants. Interviews are recommended and are informational.

Students from outside of Virginia - The University of Mary Washington does not have an out-of-state quota. About 25% of the students are from outside of Virginia. There is merit aid available for out-of-state students. This year there were 114 applications from New Jersey with 24 depositing.

Honors Program - There is an Honors program, which takes about 50 students a year, typically students with SAT scores of 1300 or higher (Critical Reading and Math) and GPAs of 3.9 or higher. Students in the Honors program receive a $1-$2K grant.

Pre-med/Pre-vet - Pre-med students take advantage of internships at the hospital across the street from the campus. 80% of them go on to medical school. The pre-vet students often do an internship with whales.

Friday, March 22, 2013

College Admissions Trends 2013 - Part 4

The high school guidance personnel on the NJACAC panel spoke about their experiences with college admissions trends.

Bernice Hornchak, School Counselor at Bridgewater-Raritan High School indicated that caseloads had grown in the sixteen years she had worked at the school, with the current caseload of about 260 students per counselor. Counselor time is spent about 50% on college counseling, 30% on academic/career counseling, and 20% on other issues including school phobia and depression. Students have the same counselor all four years and the school uses Naviance, including eDocs. She indicated that some parents are misinformed about the application process, are anxious and want to get started on the application process in the 9th or 10th grade, and are overly concerned with selecting electives. She sees increased interest in education, criminal justice, and allied health majors. More students are taking advantage of Raritan Valley Community College, the local community college, and the NJ STARS program.

John Semcer, Director of Guidance (Emeritus) Mother Seton High School and Montclair High School commented on growing college wait lists, merit scholarships being offered by some colleges requiring applications by September 1, colleges wanting commitments for wrestlers and football players in 10th or 11th grade, kids graduating high school early to get a head start on college sports, college application fees rising, and high school guidance counselors having less and less time for college counseling. John indicated that at public schools guidance counselors spent an average of 24% of their time on college counseling and in private schools they spent an average of 55% of their time on college counseling.

If you are a high school guidance counselor or an independent college admissions consultant, do you have any other trends that you would like to share?

Monday, March 18, 2013

College Admissions Trends 2013 - Part 3

The college admissions personnel on the panel spoke about their schools.  This focuses on the trends shared by admissions personnel from Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Manhattanville College.

Paul Johnson, Assistant Vice President, Research and Enrollment Services at Rutgers University, indicated that applications were up by 6% this year. Rutgers has a new president who oversaw the merger of Rutgers and the Medical School. On the Livingston campus there is a new residence hall and a new business building. Rutgers handles 32,000 applications and values the right high school courses, grades, and standardized test scores. They admit by school with mid-ranges for GPA and test scores varying by school; this data is on their website. Rutgers would like more out-of-state and international students. While 50% of students change majors, it is very difficult to transfer into popular majors. School- to-school transfer requirements are on-line.

Shane Topping, Director of Admissions at Stevens Institute of Technology, spoke of a 22% increase in applications this year. A new president started in July 2011. The most popular major at Stevens is Mechanical Engineering. There is increased interest in Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Engineering. International applications are up. The school has a popular 5-year Masters program where the scholarship and financial aid from the undergraduate years continues to the 5th year. Stevens students have an average high school GPA of 3.8. A 20-25 minute interview is required and is important. For engineering and science majors they are looking to see students who have had 4 years of Math and Science.

Kevin O’Sullivan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Manhattanville College said his school is known for its international students and diversity. One thousand of their 5,000 applications are from international students. The school has students from 56 countries, with the biggest representation from Ecuador, Vietnam, China, Brazil and Canada. Thirty percent of their students study abroad in their European Union (EU) program based in Southern Germany, in which students visit every EU country. Manhattanville has NGO status, allowing their students access to UN programs. The school went test-optional four years ago. The size of the freshman class has grown from 407 to 608 students in the last two years. The undergraduate Sports Management program is new to the school. Manhattanville is working on developing a new accounting major. Management is the most popular major. Manhattanville values demonstrated interest. Admitted students have a solid B average with an average SAT score of 1100 (for Math and Critical Reading).

If you work in Admissions or Enrollment Management at a college, do you have any trends you want to share about your college?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

College Admissions Trends 2013 – Part 2

The college admissions personnel on the panel spoke about the admissions trends at their colleges. This post focuses on the comments from Rider University, Fordham University and TCNJ admissions personnel.

Susan Christian, Dean of Enrollment at Rider University commented that there was growth in interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), education, and fine and performing arts programs at Rider. There was an increase in the percentage of Hispanic students. The school had a new academic building, a new residential hall, and had improved their theatres. Rider looked at the strength of the high school student’s academic program and transcript. They had 8500 applications for 950 freshman seats. For the Westminster Choir College, the audition is a critical factor.

John Buckley, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Fordham University, noted that 40% of students are undeclared majors to start. At Fordham the biggest majors are biology and communications. When he started working at Fordham, the school received about 4000 applications a year; now they receive about 36000 applications, including 2500 international applications. Fordham admits students with an average 3.7 Grade Point Average (GPA) and an SAT score between 1830 and 2050 (3 sections). They look for an upward trend in grades, students who are leaders, and students who give service to their school/community. It is difficult to do an internal transfer into the business school.

Grecia Montero, Director of Admissions at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) saw a 7% increase in freshman applications this year, with an 11% increase in applications for biology majors. There is a new Education building, as well as a new Arts & Communication building. There was an increase in applicants from Massachusetts and Connecticut. The SAT was optional this year, for the first time. Acceptance is based on the department you are interested in. There were 11,000 applications with 4,000 acceptances. Students are typically from the top 10-15% of their class with SAT scores between 1250 and 1360 (for Critical Reading and Math). High school rank and test scores needed for admissions are more difficult for certain majors including Chemistry, Biology and Nursing. The school keeps track of student visits and communications with the school. TCNJ has no cap on out-of-state or international students.

The next post on college admissions trends will focus on the comments from admissions personnel at the remaining three colleges: Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Manhattanville College.

Monday, March 4, 2013

College Admissions Trends 2013 – Part 1 of 4

On February 26th, I attended a workshop at Rutgers University featuring a panel of college admissions and high school guidance personnel. They reviewed college admissions issues, concerns, and trends for members of the NJ Association of College Admission Counseling (NJACAC). The common themes were increased applications, more applications from international students, more demand for certain majors, continued building on-campus, and NJ state colleges looking for students from outside of NJ. Do any of these trends surprise you?

Some questions discussed included the impact of the economy on colleges and financial aid. Some private colleges are offering additional financial aid, with some discounting up to 50%. The panelists didn’t see how that could be supported on a long-term basis. Parents are asking more questions on college completion rates; it is taking students 5.6 years to graduate on the average. Some colleges are seeing the willingness to pay for college going down among those who can afford to pay. There is also an increase in families appealing financial aid awards. As parents, how has the economy impacted how you view a college education for your son or daughter?

In my next post, I will review the comments from the admissions personnel from Rider University, Fordham University, and The College of NJ (TCNJ).