Monday, September 8, 2014

Different Ways to Think About and Apply to College

High school students, especially seniors, can't help but think about college. So much of their high school career -- coursework, extracurricular activities, grades, and standardized exams -- have been undertaken with thoughts of how these will translate into college acceptances by the second semester of senior year. Many students have spent time in recent months visiting campuses and deciding where they want to submit applications this fall.

Before you or your senior decides where to apply and, ultimately, where to enroll, we'd like to make a suggestion that may help inform your decision process.

Take the time to read or re-read the book Colleges That Change Lives: 
40 Schools That Will Change the
Way You Think About Colleges, by Loren Pope. Originally written in 1996, with a current 2013-14 edition updated by Hilary Masell Oswald, this book is a breath of fresh air in the world of competitive admissions, large schools, and ivy envy that permeates many students' college search. The narrative descriptions of these almost universally small colleges focus on the quality of teaching, the engagement of students with their professors, curriculum, and classmates, and the impact that this kind of personalized instruction has on alumni long after graduation.Most of the schools in this book accept a large percentage of applicants -- and a large number are SAT/ACT optional and take a goodly number of "B" students. But the education they provide is rigorous and meaningful, with many having a required core curriculum that gives students a deep understanding of their world and its unifying themes. Most have significant study abroad components, and it is clear that the authors believe this gives their students a significant advantage after graduation. 

Just a few examples of the different programs described in the book are:
  • Emory and Henry College in Virginia, where, as the book notes, they do "a very good job supporting students who haven't hit their stride yet" with strong academic support services.
  • Cornell College in Iowa (which the authors stress was the first Cornell, founded some dozen years before the ivy league Cornell), whose 1200 students study under a Block Plan, where they take one course at a time in an academic year of eight blocks of three and a half weeks each.
  • Goucher College, in Maryland, where the 1500 students are required to spend at least one term abroad -- even if just the three-week January term or a summer. The book notes that around 30 percent of the students go abroad twice. One aspect of Goucher that is newer than even the most up-to-date revision of this book is that students can apply in one of several ways, including via video. The video application, only available for students who are applying via the non-binding, early action application, asks students to submit a short video about themselves and their goals. It is not the only way to apply to Goucher, but it may be just the way for some students to best demonstrate what makes them a desirable candidate. Take a look for yourself and see what you think. We hope this becomes a common way for other schools to learn about their applicants. 

No comments:

Post a Comment