If you know what you want to study in college and want to earn a high quality undergraduate degree without having to take courses you aren’t interested in, it makes a lot of sense head over to merry old England ASAP! Find out the two reasons I am so keen on Americans (and any other students for that matter) earning their degree in England!
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.
Calls for improving the way students apply for financial aid have been flooding the college admissions world, thanks to two articles by college admissions writer/guru Eric Hoover. The first article goes into painful detail of the painful process (yes, it deserves two painfuls) many students experience filling out the CSS Profile, a financial aid application many colleges require in addition to the FAFSA. Not only does this monster weigh in at about 100 questions; students have to pay to submit it (although waivers are available).
This article was a – well, painful – reminder to everyone involved in college admissions of the awful realities of applying for financial aid – basically, the more you need the money, the harder it is for you to apply for it. Low-income families may be familiar with getting deluged with paperwork for mortgages and credit cards, but there’s something about making families go through myriad hoops to get a college education that simply keeps people up at night.
Eric gives us a glimpse of what some colleges are doing to ease this burden in a follow-up article featuring colleges that have dropped the CSS profile and developed their own shorter form of about thirty questions. By itself, that seems like a step in the right direction, but observers wonder if that really helps students. If they now have to answer thirty different questions to apply for aid at each of the five colleges they want to attend, that’s 150 questions. Does this make the CSS Profile look like a better deal?
It’s clear colleges need to make sure the aid they offer goes to those who truly need it, but if the process used to confirm eligibility is enough to keep students from applying for aid and for college in general, something’s got to give. Congress recognized the need to simplify the FAFSA form used to qualify for federal aid, reducing the questions from 108 to thirty-six. Is that enough of a change to have more students persist, especially when entering first-year classes are expected to decline significantly in the next few years?
If ever a situation existed that calls for major realignment, this is it – and two ideas are out there that could do exactly that. Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost for enrollment at Oregon State, took a look at some data when he was at DePaul, and he decided to examine the relationship between what a family is expected to pay for college – the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) – and the answer to just one question on the FAFSA – What is the parents’ adjusted gross income (AGI)?
The results are on Jon’s blog, and while I don’t claim to be a data person, I seem to recall something about how nice straight lines at a 45 degree angle tell you something is up between the two data points you just graphed.
To my knowledge, no one has ever done anything with this idea, but maybe it’s time they tried. Jon writes that Congress once considered reducing FAFSA to two questions: parental AGI and number of people living in the house. Yet, something clearly got in the way of taking that road, since the new FAFSA is stuck in the mid-thirties. Politicians hate to tempt people with programs that are too easy to apply for, so that may be at play. But look at those lines on Jon’s blog. Doesn’t that make you wonder?
If two questions seems like too easy a fix, colleges could also consider the supermarket approach to financial aid. More than one college admissions professional has said that college is one of the few commodities you agree to buy before you know what the price is. Cans of tuna have the price on them; so do new shoes and college textbooks. Once you see the price, then you pull out your wallet. But at best, colleges send the financial aid information with your acceptance, and most send it later.
That strikes a lot of people as a very backwards approach, and it was one of the things the Net Price Calculator was supposed to fix. But NPCs only take scholarships and grants into consideration, and many don’t include so-called “merit” scholarships. If you want to know how much your monthly loans will cost – or even how much your loan will be – that’s going to wait at least until you’re admitted.
What if a college decides it’s a supermarket, and puts the price on the goods before they’re sold? Reduce your in-house college financial aid form to two questions (AGI and people in the house) and use that to build a complete financial aid package within two weeks of receipt of the information – grants, loans, work study, the whole ticket. You include all kinds of disclaimers pointing out the student hasn’t been admitted yet, but IF they are, here’s what they can expect, give or take five percent. That’s a lot of wiggle room, but it’s better than what the student gets now – and if the two questions are as accurate as they appear to be, the wiggle room likely wouldn’t be necessary.
There may be a million reasons why this might not work, but hundreds of colleges just flipped their required SAT policies on their heads because reality said they had to – and test scores were considered untouchable by most of these places just twelve months ago. Higher education has a reputation for focusing on the solution and not the problem. The times we’re in give us a chance to break that mold and open up the gates of learning to thousands of students who are currently stuck on the outside looking in.
Starting Fall 2021, Rice University in Houston, Texas is adding a major to the over fifty it currently offers.
Developed by the School of Business, the new undergraduate business major is in response to demand from students for a deeper business education. It will provide a robust foundation in leadership and business fundamentals, including finance, accounting, marketing, organizational behavior, strategy and communications.
The program will be led by the same professors who teach in Rice’s current MBA and Master of Accounting programs and are integral to the School of Business’ tight-knit community of scholars. Students in the undergraduate business major will need to choose a concentration in either finance or management. You can find out more about the concentrations, as well as the Honors Program in business, on the Rice website.
If you only have one more spot to fill on your college list and it comes down to Northwestern University or Washington University in St. Louis, here are the factors you should consider before making the final cut.
Enjoy this installment of College List Deathmatch below!
In the past, aspiring entrepreneurs with interests in both engineering and business gained their expertise “in a silo,” says Chris Dito, Executive Director of the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program at the University of California, Berkeley. They might typically earn an engineering degree, and then learn the business management and leadership side later, either on the job or by earning another degree.
That was old way. The new way is the streamlined M.E.T program: a dual degree from Berkeley’s College of Engineering and Haas School of Business, earned in four years, integrating the knowledge, experience and career development of the intersecting fields. Students gain “a comprehensive understanding of technology innovation, ready to start their own company, lead innovation inside an established firm or contribute to a social-impact venture.”
The first cohort of fifty students began in the fall of 2017. Current high school seniors admitted as freshmen in 2019 will be just the third cohort, but already can benefit from enhancements to the program. One is the new addition of Bioengineering and Civil Engineering to the current engineering choices of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science; Industrial Engineering & Operations Research; and Mechanical Engineering. “I think that is the best kept secret we have about the program,” says Dito.
To spread the news, Berkeley is heavily marketing M.E.T. right now to reach students from around the nation and around the globe. Assembling a diverse group of candidates is essential to developing a unique cohort and international students are very much encouraged to apply.
The M.E.T. program is rigorous. A typical course load is five or six classes and 20 units each semester, versus four classes and 16 units for a typical Cal Berkeley undergraduate. M.E.T. freshmen, for example, take math, natural science, computer science, business administration, and M.E.T. special topics their first semester; by senior year, they’ll be completing their required upper division engineering, business and computer science courses, as well as M.E.T. special topics and elective business courses. By the time they graduate, they will have earned 150 course units.
How can students manage this? The answer, says Dito, is a carefully curated academic experience, with a built-in support system of advisors to help students select their courses and manage their schedules. M.E.T. students also receive multiple advantages, such as priority access to classes, special programming, information sessions, and a speaker series, as well as being part of a tight-knit community of peers.
To help keep stress in check, there is an enhanced student services team dedicated to M.E.T. students, in addition to regular campus resources. They have access to complimentary wellness services, mindfulness resources, and their own collaboration space with TVs and snacks. “M.E.T. students are well-resourced and well-served,” says Dito.
Berkeley’s proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco enriches the M.E.T. experience. “We have companies on campus almost every day,” says Dito, either specifically for M.E.T. students or for the campus at large. Many companies are interested in hiring summer interns the fall before, so students are securing those internships right now. If M.E.T. students are interested in companies Berkeley is not already working with, staff will reach out to them on the students’ behalf.
Part of the M.E.T. curriculum includes helping students maximize their career potential. They receive ongoing career development to increase their self awareness and boost their professional confidence; and participate in industry meet-ups and presentations to gain occupational awareness. “When they know both themselves and the world of work better, they can make better career-based decisions,” says Dito.
If it sounds as if this program was created just for you, consider a campus visit and tour. It won’t give you an admission advantage, but it can help you gain more clarity about your fit for the program. M.E.T. staff are available by appointment and every Friday afternoon to speak with prospective students.
To apply, you’ll select the engineering major, and choose the M.E.T. track. The University of California application is open August 1 to November 30, so you can start on the supplemental essay now; submission runs from November 1 to November 30. Potential candidates will be offered a 20-minute SKYPE interview with faculty by the end of January. Students who are not selected for the M.E.T. program will be automatically considered for admission to the College of Engineering; if they are admitted for the regular engineering program, they will be automatically added to the M.E.T. wait list.
It’s a question undecided applicants are always asking: what should I put down as my intended major on my college applications? The answer of course will depend on the exact colleges one is applying to and the potential majors one will consider; however, this year, 2017, as students get ready to apply during the 2017-2018 admissions cycle for Fall 2018 freshmen spots at America’s most selective colleges, there is one major that certainly deserves your attention more so than others. Drumroll please….
And the University of Southern California captured the No. 1 spot on the undergraduate list of schools (up from #2 in 2016). Southern Methodist University (SMU) took the top place on the graduate schools list (also up from #2 last year).
“USC Games represents an exciting collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science,” explains the USC Games website. “Incorporating elements of design, artistry, production and engineering, USC Games offers an utterly unique educational experience for students, and serves as the launching pad for them to play significant roles in the game design field.”
According to CNN Money and PayScale, video game design is in the top third of “best jobs” in America, with potential for substantial growth, great pay and satisfying work. What’s particularly appealing about the profession is that the industry is relatively new, so it’s still an innovative field open to pioneers and creative minds.
Formerly assigned to a far corner of the computer science department, game design has emerged as a respectable, multidisciplinary course of study. And schools hoping to cash in on the growing market for designers are building glitzy new facilities tricked out with cutting-edge technology and equipment.
The Princeton Review selected schools based on a survey of 150 institutions in the U.S., Canada and abroad offering video game design programs or courses. The 40-question survey asked schools to report on a range of topics from academic offerings and lab facilities to starting salaries and career achievements.
“Game design is an exciting field and programs are springing up in colleges all over the world, said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor in Chief. “The top schools on our lists have outstanding faculties and great facilities which will give students the skills and experience they need to pursue a career in this dynamic and burgeoning field.”
Although relatively new, George Mason University has a well-respected game design program in the Washington metropolitan area and has received recognition, along with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as among the 50 best game design schools and colleges by gamedesigning.org. Using slightly different criteria from that used by Princeton Review, GameDesigning ranks the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, and DigiPen Institute of Technology as the top three programs in the field.
And for the record, the Princeton Review’s top 25 undergraduate schools to study game design for 2017 are:
- University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
- Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
- DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
- Becker College (Worcester, MA)
- Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)
- New York University (Brooklyn, NY)
- The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
- Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
- Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- Bradley University (Peoria, IL)
- Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
- Champlain College (Burlington, VT)
- University of Wisconsin-Stout (Menomonie, WI)
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)
- The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)
- DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
- Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland)
- Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)
- University of California-Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
- Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH)
- Cogswell College (San Jose, CA)
- Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
- Miami University (Oxford, OH)
Keep in mind that like any other “ranking,” this list represents one organization’s opinions and should provide little more than “food for thought” or a starting place for a more thorough investigation of a whole range of video game design programs.
NOTE: George Mason University will be holding Game Design Open Houses on April 8 and April 22, 2017. This could be a great way to learn about game design in general and the George Mason program in specific. Interested students can reserve a space by emailing Mary Bean ([email protected]) or calling 703.993.5734.
Prospective veterinarians, including high school students or undergrads on a pre-professional veterinary track, should make a point of attending the 2017 Veterinary Medical Career Fair. Sponsored by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the fair is scheduled for Sunday, March 12, from 2:30 to 5 p.m., at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, in downtown Washington, D.C.
This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet veterinary medical school admissions officials, get advice on applying to veterinary school, and learn about various veterinary medical careers. It’s one of very few college fairs in the country targeted to students interested in pursuing careers in veterinary medicine, and families travel long distances to attend.
Already gathered for an annual conference, representatives from national and international colleges of veterinary medicine will be on hand to walk students through the application process while explaining the kinds of credentials necessary to attend any of the AAVMC member institutions.
For example, prospective veterinarians may be surprised to learn that some veterinary medical schools are interested in time spent in animal care related activities as early as high school. In fact, students considering veterinary careers are well advised to start keeping track of their volunteer hours in activities related to animals or animal care throughout all four years of high school.
And we’re not just talking about cats and dogs!
“This year’s event will feature a session on equine medicine because we know many students have visions of doing this type of work,” explained Dr. Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC senior director for institutional research and diversity. “We will also have a group of veterinary students talking about their experiences in vet school; it’s a session students won’t want to miss.”
By the way, US News lists veterinary medicine among the 100 “best” jobs of 2017, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the employment of veterinarians to grow nine percent through 2024, faster than average for all occupations.
And for high school students thinking ahead, the choice of undergraduate school could possibly fast track acceptance to veterinary medical colleges as opportunities exist for early admission to DVM programs by bypassing completion of the BS. For students committed to the field, this could mean significant savings in terms of time and money!
This year’s AAVMC event will offer four information sessions in addition to the career fair:
- 3:00 p.m.: Applying to Veterinary School (for all attendees)
- 4:00 p.m.: Equine Medicine (for all attendees) OR Veterinary Student Panel (for all attendees)
“Students visiting the career fair should consider asking about summer programs and how to get veterinary-related experience while still in high school,” suggested Dr. Greenhill. “Research programs are available with undergraduate ‘feeder’ opportunities at some vet schools.”
And there are prizes!
“Once again, we will have some of our limited edition ‘I’m a Future Vet’ t-shirts. This year’s shirt features a horse in honor of equine medicine, and for the first time ever, our shirts will be dated!,” said Dr. Greenhill. “Numerous other items, including some surprises, will be given to students who answer questions throughout our information sessions on Sunday, so get ready to engage with our speakers!”
Although not required, students are asked to register in advance for the fair. Last year’s event was very well attended, and early registration helps conference organizers do a better job. And note that while hourly parking is available at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, students and their families are strongly encouraged to take the Metro (Red Line exiting at the Woodley Park/Zoo Station).
But if you can’t attend, take the time to check out the AAVMC website for information on how to become a veterinarian.
If you only have one more spot to fill on your college list and it comes down to New York University or University of Southern California, here are the factors you should consider before making the final cut.