researching colleges

When "Going Greek" is Part of Your College Research...

Thank you to Mary Dell Harrington of Grown and Flown for including our advice in her excellent post today,  When Joining a Sorority is Part of the College Decision. Harrington looks at where to begin and important factors -- like time and money -- to consider, interviews National Panhellenic Conference Chair Jean Mrasek, provides some great research resources and takes us inside her own sisterhood experience. Whether or not you want to follow in Elle Woods' footsteps, it's a great read that will give you some great info about evaluating the social aspect of college campuses.

Prestige is Not a Synonym for Fit: Beyond the Rankings

It's not where you go, it's what you do when you get there. Over at Teen Life, we're talking getting beyond the rankings to find schools that are the right fit -- and what you'll do when you get there. Check out Why You Should Look Beyond College Rankings...  Thanks for having us, Randi Mazzella!

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Applying to College

Colleges aren't asking 17-year-olds to do anything 17-year-olds are not 
capable of doing. College Admission is on the Siena College blog talking maintaining calm in the face of college admission -- Quick Tips for Staying Calm During the College Application Process. Check it out for more advice, support, and quick tips! 

What's really important junior year?

Get the lowdown on grades, extracurriculars and more in our conversation with Teen Life, Dealing with Junior Year StressJunior year is important but, more significantly, it feels important because there is so much going on. Students are juggling a lot -- testing, extracurriculars, campus visits, researching colleges.  But, despite what you hear, applying to college is not rocket science. There is no secret. It doesn't require an advanced degree. Colleges aren't asking 17-year-olds to do anything that 17-year-olds aren't capable of doing.  Applying to college is like any large project, you just need to break it down into smaller manageable parts. Keep that in mind as you start this process.

Juniors: This one says college, that one says university -- What's in a name?

 

As you research colleges for an initial list of schools to which you may apply, understanding how they "name" or characterize themselves may provide important information. Whether a school is a “college” or a “university” can make a difference.

Most— but not all— colleges and universities offer a liberal education. That doesn’t refer to politics! “Liberal” in this case goes back to the original meaning of the word: “unrestricted.” It’s an educational approach where a student is called on to examine problems and issues from multiple vantage points and learns how to think, communicate, question, and probe. The rationale behind a liberal education is that the world is changing rapidly and training for a specific discipline or job is ultimately less practical than learning how to be ready for a world unknown.

Undergraduate education in the United States is dominated by institutions that hold to the notion that a liberal education is the best way to prepare for a life of significance, meaning, and means. There are, however, also terrificc options that do not insist students be liberally educated.

Juniors: Find your foundation schools -- the ones where you can build a foundation for success in life!

Juniors, one of your tasks now and over the coming summer months is to begin to put together a list of colleges to which you may apply. Our Counselor of the Month Trevor Rusert of Pennsylvania's Sewickley Academy has some great advice about how to start:

Rather than start with the college where you have almost no chance for acceptance, let’s start by applying to 4-5 outstanding colleges where your chances for admission are strong (i.e., your GPA is above the average GPA of accepted students from your school, and your standardized test results are above or at the top of the average range).  We no longer call them “safety schools” because that tends to carry a negative connotation.  Just because one school is easier to gain admission to than another does not mean that you are sacrificing quality of education.  Therefore, we call these colleges “foundation schools”.  These are the schools where you can build a foundation for success in life.  Places where you can receive an outstanding education, and go on to launch a successful career.  The application process is kind of like building a house.  You don’t start by planning a rooftop swimming pool (that is probably not realistic), you start by building a strong foundation.

Find your foundation schools! This time next year, you'll be glad you did.

 

Trevor Rusert, Sewickley Academy

We want to tell you a story. A story that we think gets to the heart of who most high school college counselors are -- at least the ones every parent wishes for their son or daughter. This is a story about Trevor Rusert and a student named Amanda.

Amanda lives with her father, a single parent. Her family is working class and Amanda had a significant scholarship to attend Sewickley Academy in Pennsylvania where Rusert is Director of College Guidance. But her scholarship didn't cover everything, so Amanda worked 30 hours a week at McDonald's as shift manager -- 6 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then full shifts on the weekend -- to make up the difference. In the summertime, she worked with Sewickley's maintenance crew during the day and was back at McDonald's at night -- 70-plus hours a week.

Juniors: Don't forget to find out what goes on in the classrooms on a college visit

One of the mistakes we see students make in the college admission process is failing to find out enough about the academic life of a school -- what actually goes on in the classrooms.  In a Chronicle of Higher Education piece, What We Don't Talk About on the Admissions Tour, James M. Lang, associate professor of English, director of the college honors program at Assumption College and parent to a member of the class of 2017, states the case for finding out as much about the teaching and learning as the food service on a college campus.

 

Like any parent of a prospective student at a residential college, we are preparing for our child to live on her own for the first time. What shape will that new life take? I want to be able to envision my daughter in her new room, and gain a sense of what her peers will be like, and know that she will have access to food and facilities that will allow her to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Should you consider a women's college?

Studies have found that in classrooms of women students participate more actively and report higher levels of learning, higher order thinking, and more academic challenge throughout their four years than do women in coed settings. Political consultant and Bryn Mawr graduate Carrie Wofford has a great opinion piece in US News on women's colleges and the women who graduate from their programs. But there's even more information here that could be important to consider in your college search. For example, students at women's colleges report more interaction with faculty. And if tradition and community bonds are important to you, a women's college may be the place you're looking for. Read the whole piece here.

Hat tip: Ellen Michelson, parent of a Bryn Mawr, Class of 2009, graduate.

Photo of Hillary Clinton at Wellesley from LIFE magazine archives

You should never go to the best institution you get into...

Did you know? You should never attend the best college you're admitted to? Some fascinating statistics and counter-intuitive insights from the master of such Malcolm Gladwell. Thank you to DePaul University's Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Jon Boeckenstedt for forwarding this amazing short talk by Gladwell at Google's Zeitgeist Americas 2013. As Boeckenstedt points out on his Admissions Weblog, Gladwell covers a number of issues parents and admission officers always want to hear more about including whether it's better to be a small fish in a big pond and why firms that only hire from the "best schools" are probably making a mistake. It's worth the time to watch here!

 

Pages