I’m Bob Poulsen, an Oregon parent of a high school senior. While researching colleges, I couldn’t find an efficient web tool to display US colleges on a map. So, being a web designer, I built one!
Let me show you some of the features of College Overlook, my new free web app.
After first viewing a map of all US colleges awarding Bachelor’s Degrees — over 1,700 according to the US Department of Education — accessible filters can then be applied to include or exclude groups of colleges based on size, acceptance rate, governance (public/private/religious), Common App acceptance, and more. That way you can map only the institutions that interest you most!
To save work for later, click “Save” (the download button with the arrow facing down) and you will get a unique URL that references your list of colleges, and your most recent map view. Set a bookmark, or share your unique link with others via email or social media. If you share this link with yourself, you’ll be able to view your work from any device, any time.
So, that’s what I created!
In May, 2022, I published this app on the web at https://CollegeOverlook.com
PS – The map can also be configured to check for colleges offering Associates Degrees.
Dorm rooms – especially those visited on college tours – all look quite similar. Dining halls are increasingly “Gucci,” while science labs look like science labs. Try spending some of your time on campus visiting a place that is far more important than all of those mentioned above!
The ups and downs of the quarantine gave college admissions officers and school counselors a taste of application life to come, as the birth rate for high school graduates continues to slide, and the need to develop new approaches to recruit students increases. As the profession continues to try and improve college access, and knowing that small differences can make a big difference, here are some considerations for both sides of the desk to ponder this summer over a well-deserved glass of lemonade:
Colleges—move your deadline dates. November 1 (early applications), January 1 (regular applications), and May 1 (many deposits) are all big dates in the college application world—and they all fell on a Sunday or a holiday this year. I don’t understand this, since the admissions offices weren’t open, and the vast majority of high school seniors had no access to counselors or other application helpers the day of and before the deadlines.
This needs to change. Yes, students need to be responsible, and should learn to plan ahead—but perhaps that lesson is better applied to deadlines for things they’ve done before (like papers), not with things they are doing for the first time (like applying to college). The first Tuesday in November, the second Tuesday in January, and the first Tuesday in May would solve this problem nicely, increasing the quality and quantity of applications to boot. Georgia Tech made the move, and they get kaboodles of applications. It’s an easy, but important, change.
High Schools—stop working holidays. Moving the January 1 deadline to a date when high schools are in session is also overdue for school counselors, who have taken a serious shellacking this year with all the student mental health issues arising from COVID. School counselors have always been overworked, but never able to use the December holidays to recover, since they were expected to help their students make January 1 college deadlines.
It’s time to take a stand. Assuming the colleges move their deadlines, counselors need to learn to let go. Send a note to all senior families early in November, letting them know your vacation is—well, a vacation. If you really can’t let go of your students for that long—or if the colleges unwisely cling to January 1– set two days of vacation for online office hours, and take a breath all the other days. You have mastered online office hours this year. Let them be your friend.
Colleges—keep innovating. One (and perhaps the only) upside of the quarantine was the ability of college admissions offices to adapt major chunks of their traditional approach to recruitment. Test optional, drive-thru tours, and online high school visits suggested it might be OK for everyone to get their hopes up, that some real college admissions reform was in the air.
In a post-vaccine world, we see more signs of returning to “normal” than creating new normal. Reinventing the entire admissions process is no easy feat, to be sure, but how hard might it be for admissions offices to spend half a day this summer doing “What ifs” to one part of the application process? Do that for five years, and you have a new admissions paradigm, and a more accessible one—the thing you say you keep wanting.
High schools— mental health and college access aren’t either/or. I will legitimately blow my top if I read one more post from a high school counselor insisting that the increase in COVID-related mental health needs makes it impossible to do any effective college counseling.
School counseling as a profession has long been showing a mental health bias at the expense of quality college counseling, and this year just seems to have widened the gap. Counselor training programs plant the seeds of this bias— training programs devote about 7 classes to mental health training, and none to college counseling—and all of this must stop, if only because the dichotomy is a false one.
Discouraged, depressed high school students light up like a hilltop church on Christmas Eve when I tell them college gives them a fresh start to life and learning, proof enough that college counseling affects mental health. That, plus the American School Counselor Association says college counseling is part of the job. Counselors truly are overworked, so they can’t do everything they want in any part of counseling. That said, college can still be part of a key to a better self. More counselors need to see that, and act on it.
Everyone—stop beating up on the Ivies. The Ivies and their equally tough-to-get-into institutions largely decided to go test optional this year. For some reason, this gave a lot of students with B averages the hope that they too could pahk the cah in the yahd, now that they didn’t have to reveal their test scores.
So—more students applied to the Ivies this year than last year. The Ivies didn’t admit more students this year than last year. That means their admit rate had to go down, and more students were denied.
That isn’t news—it’s math. And if you want to blame the Ivies for encouraging students to apply who didn’t really stand a chance of getting in, you’re going to need to make a thousand more jackets for that club. If you think the Ivies take too few Pell-eligible students, say that. If you think they admit too many legacies, stay that. But don’t beat them up for proving the laws of basic ratios. Any other college in their shoes would have to do the same thing. (Besides, it’s the national media who has left our society with the impression that there are only 25 colleges in America.)
Everyone—about Kiddos. It’s no secret that college is largely a time of youth, especially with the expansion of adolescence into the early twenties and beyond. But college is also a time to help young people embrace the opportunities of adulthood, skills and attitudes that sometimes require setting the desires of self to one side.
This goal would be more easily achieved if we saw students—and if they saw themselves– as capable of embracing a larger sense of self by referring to them as students, not Kiddos. They don’t need to grow up in a hurry or, with the right kind of help, succumb to the media images of college choice as a high stakes pressure cooker. But they also need something more than just a pat on the head and a verbal affirmation that’s the equivalent of a lollipop. Let’s try calling them students.
University of Exeter, a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive UK universities, has shared some exciting news for prospective international students: a new scholarship opportunity.
The UK university, which has four campuses – Streatham and St Luke’s (both of which are in Exeter) and Truro and Penryn (both of which are in Cornwall), is offering a range of full, £10,000 and £5,000 tuition fee scholarships for international fee-paying students starting in September 2021. These undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarships are on offer across a number of academic programs. In particular, Global Excellence Scholarships recognize high academic achievement and assist students in accessing Exeter’s dynamic teaching and learning community. For more information click here.
Yet, news of Exeter’s international student scholarships isn’t all there is to report from the southwest of England. Exeter is also currently running a number of online live chats for a number of undergraduate programs. These live chats are a chance to talk to a current student and, where available, a member from an academic department from the subject a student is interested in studying. Students can ask any questions about course content, teaching, assessment, applying and student life at Exeter. To find dates and sign up for such a chat click here.
Meanwhile, if a chat isn’t enough for you, but you can’t make it to Exeter’s campus in person, the university’s new virtual tours are the next best thing. These 360 Virtual Campus Tours of Exeter’s impressive campuses in Devon and Cornwall allow students to take a look around the university’s accommodations, sports centre, library, seminar rooms, and lecture theaters. To learn and experience more of Exeter and its campuses, we recommend perusing the university’s YouTube channel.
With so much valuable information at your fingertips online, there’s not better time to seriously consider studying at Exeter.
Bryn Mawr College’s admissions team members know that visiting campus is a huge benefit for students navigating the college search process. Yet, they also recognize that the cost of visiting campus can be a barrier to many students. As a result, Bryn Mawr, a women’s liberal arts college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania with roughly 1,300 undergraduates, wants to make the campus visit possible for more students, which is why it is launching a new fly-in program – Bryn Mawr Road Scholars – starting Fall 2019.
Bryn Mawr will fund Road Scholars’ travel to campus for one of three selected Senior Stay programs throughout the fall. During the Senior Stay, Road Scholars will have opportunities to connect with Bryn Mawr’s admissions team, attend a class, sleep in Bryn Mawr dorms, and explore all that the Bryn Mawr community has to offer.
Bryn Mawr’s Road Scholar program is designed to support high school seniors who come from “historically underrepresented backgrounds,” which Bryn Mawr defines as “African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, and First-Generation students.”
To learn more about the Road Scholar program, click here. If you are a high school counselor and know a student who is a good fit for this program, you are invited to fill out Bryn Mawr’s nomination form by clicking here.
Case Western Reserve University is still accepting student applications for its Diversity Overnight program, which lasts from November 10-11, 2019. Applications for November’s immersive visit dates are due by October 1, 2019.
According to Robert R. McCullough, Case Western’s Dean of Undergraduate Admission, the university’s Diversity Overnight is designed for “smart and curious high school seniors from diverse backgrounds, to give them an in-depth look at the opportunities available to our students.”
Diversity Overnight students stay in a residence hall with a student host, engage with faculty, and learn about the many opportunities available to students at on Case Western Reserve University’s campus and throughout the surrounding University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.
Best of all, Case Western Reserve covers the cost of meals and lodging for students accepted to this program and is also able to assist with travel expenses and arrangements.
Claremont McKenna College’s 2019 fall fly-in program, known as Preview, takes place from October 12 through 15, 2019 and is designed for rising high school seniors who would be first-generation college students and rising high school seniors from “diverse backgrounds,” who Claremont McKenna describes as being, “traditionally underrepresented in higher education.” All transportation costs, housing accommodations, and meals during the program are covered by the college.
The application for Preview, which requires completion of six short essays and submission of a high school transcript and list of senior year courses, is available through August 15, 2019
Applicants and their high school counselors will be notified of the college’s final selection by Tuesday, August 23. 2019. During the program students will have the opportunity to attend classes, explore Claremont McKenna’s eleven research institutes, attend a presentation at the Athenaeum, connect with current students and professors, and generally experience life on and around campus.
Southern California’s Claremont McKenna College (often referred to colloquially as CMC), which has approximately 1,300 students, practices need-blind admissions – students are admitted without regard to their family’s financial resources, pledges to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need of those applicants admitted.
Rising high school seniors with questions about Claremont McKenna College generally or Preview specifically are encouraged to contact [email protected] or 909-621-8088.
The dean of admission and financial aid at Williams College, a small (approximately 2,000 undergraduates) and selective (approximately 12.4% overall acceptance rate for fall 2019 first-year entry) private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts, wants to make sure students know about important opportunities and updates for students interested in applying for 2020.
Liz Creighton, Williams’ Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, has informed high school counselors that interested students should apply for the 2019 Windows on Williams (WOW) program by either the July 1 or August 1 deadline. The amazing WOW program gives more than 200 stellar rising high school seniors the opportunity to spend three all-expenses-paid days on the Williams campus. While diverse rising seniors are encouraged to applying, Creighton notes that, “preference will be given to students who couldn’t otherwise afford to visit.”
Those rising seniors who want to hear from Williams about their WOW decision by July 20 should apply by the July 1 deadline, and those who want to hear about their WOW decision by August 20 should apply by August 1. Rising seniors with questions should contact Williams with any questions.
Creighton also underscored Williams’ longstanding commitment to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need and providing free textbooks and course materials to all financial aid recipients; yet, she also shared that moving forward there are additional opportunities to support students with financial need. Of particular note are the following four initiatives:
- Williams’ new “Free Summer” initiative gives students the opportunity to select up to two summers during their Williams career when their summer earnings contribution will be replaced by additional grant funding from the college. The powers that be at Williams hope this new policy will allow students to consider educationally valuable but unpaid or low-paid summer opportunities that they otherwise couldn’t.
- The Williams Health Insurance Grant now covers the full cost of health insurance for all aid recipients who don’t have insurance that meets the college’s requirements. Students also have access to an Emergency Medical Fund to cover the cost of unanticipated medical expenses like new eyeglasses and emergency dental care.
- All financial aid recipients now get free storage for their personal belongings during summers and study abroad.
- Through the First Yard Fund, incoming first-year students with the greatest financial need will receive a $300 startup grant in mid-July to help them buy personal items they need for college, like a winter coat and boots, dorm room supplies, etc.
MyinTuition gives prospects more of an idea of how affordable Williams can be for those accepted.
Williams also offers travel stipends to high schools and community-based organizations who serve low-income students. Counselors interested in learning about how they and their students can connect with Williams in their local areas, are invited by Creighton to contact their regional admission officer.
They say that Iowa sweet corn is knee high by the Fourth of July. Well, we say that University of Iowa has grown much taller, so much so that it’s time for Iowa Hawkeyes’ to be invited to the big boys’ table. Not only do University of Iowa athletic teams compete in the Big 10 against major powerhouses like Penn State, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, and Purdue; University of Iowa’s students, academic programs, and campus rival its more selective Big 10 rivals. In fact, if you are looking for a SAFE and large campus in an urban area that is also filled with everything from sports teams to root for and Greeks to join, University of Iowa is likely a superior choice to its bigger name Big 10 rivals.
Tag along on our recent visit to Iowa City to explore University of Iowa up close.
With summer upon us, many families take road trips, and parents of high school students may think about including one or two campus visits along the way. This is a great idea – as long as you understand you cannot get a true sense of a college culture when you visit during the summer. The campus will feel completely different once it is swarming with students and professors during the semester. However, it’s still better to visit colleges during the summer than not to visit at all. If you live in the Northeast and can plan visits for late August, that’s ideal because many college campuses start in late August while high schools usually begin around Labor Day. By late August, most college campuses are in full swing.
Visiting colleges with my daughter Amanda was incredibly enjoyable because we made sure not to let it get stressful. Instead, we focused on learning the factors she wanted and did not want in a college and getting a sense of the feel of each school. As I wrote in my new book, Love the Journey to College: Guidance from an Admissions Consultant and Her Daughter:
It may sound crazy, but I think that your first visits should include three colleges to which you do not think you will actually apply. Here’s why: if you are lucky enough to have visited colleges early in this process (maybe in 10th grade), your attitude and grades may shift a lot before you apply during your senior year. Don’t get caught up in the “name-brand schools;” visit schools to just learn as much as you can about what it means to attend college.
Many families traveling to Boston like to visit the magnificent Harvard Quad. And why not, it’s a world-renowned university in one of the best cities in the US to attend college. But the reality is that even if you have phenomenal grades and near-perfect scores, you will probably not get into Harvard. Also, keep in mind that Harvard does not count ‘demonstrating interest.’ This means that unlike many other private colleges in our country that track your interest (such as visiting) as a factor in admissions, Harvard does not. So while it may seem fun to visit this top-tier school, you should really want to focus on schools that you have a better chance of getting into. So if you must visit Harvard, please remember that there are about 80 colleges that combine to bring 250,000 college students to the Boston area. Find several other colleges in the vicinity that appeal to you while visiting the city and make the trip fun and enjoyable, and not stressful.
If you can find colleges early in this process that you love and think you can get into, that can be a game changer for your emotional well-being as you navigate high school. Amanda, co-author of Love the Journey to College: Guidance from an Admissions Consultant and Her Daughter, said, “I can’t even explain to you how nice it was to be ecstatic about schools that I knew should accept me comfortably. From private, liberal arts schools to state schools and their honors programs, I had options that I loved and was excited about in tenth grade.”
Think of visiting colleges like window shopping, especially when you first begin. You are looking to evaluate what it is important to you. If you walk into a lecture auditorium that seats 1,000 students and you currently attend a small high school, that lecture hall may feel overwhelming to you. On the other hand, it may be exciting to have some anonymity if you felt a small classroom was too confining. There is no right or wrong way to feel about college. Your likes/interests may change over time, and this is 100% fine. There are about 4,000 colleges in America and dozens of them will meet your academic and social interests.
For initial visits, try to visit a city school, a rural school, a small private school and a big state school. This will give you an idea of the different options throughout the country. It’s often hard to find the time during the school year to visit colleges, but going when students and professors who are typically on campus is the best way to really understand the school’s culture. Depending on where you live, you can even start by driving locally to colleges near your home. If getting to campuses is too much, or if you are trying to watch your budget, go online; the virtual tour is a great resource to at least give you a sense of a college’s physical layout.
Editor’s Note: We are happy to welcome Jill as an occasional contributor to Admissions Intel. For more insights into the journey to college, we encourage you to Pre-order Jill’s book, which comes out on August 1, 2017.