Dec 30, 2009
At year’s end, it’s traditional to give thanks for all the many blessings received during the previous twelve months and to look forward to the coming year with a renewed sense of optimism. The following are fifteen reasons college-bound students should be giving thanks this year:
15. Fewer Advanced Placement (AP) course offerings
14. College tour guides who mastered the art of walking backwards
13. 830 “test optional” colleges and universities
12. College information sessions lasting no more than 30 minutes
11. Rolling admissions
10. The ability to substitute ACT scores for SAT’s
9. Free on-campus visitor parking
8. The demise of SAT antonym questions—this happened in 1994 but you still should be thankful
7. 391 colleges and universities using the Common Application
6. Merit scholarships
5. Applications without essay supplements
4. Online application fee waivers
3. Colleges not requiring SAT Subject Tests
2. Teachers and guidance counselors still willing to write recommendations
And most important of all:
1. Family and friends who support and love you!
Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!
Dec 29, 2009
While a tuition hike for Virginia students would not be surprising, the magnitude might raise serious affordability issues for students already struggling to pay rapidly increasing tuition bills. A decade ago, tuition excluding room and board was a little over $4,000 for in-state students and about $17,000 for out-of-state students per year. With last year’s increase, residents now pay $9,672 and nonresidents are charged a whopping $31,672 per year.
A state-wide 15 percent reduction in funding for four-year colleges resulted in general belt-tightening measures for all of Virginia’s public institutions. Both the College of William and Mary and the University of Mary Washington were forced into unusual mid-year tuition increases to cover part of the shortfall.
At UVA, the $19 million reduction in state revenue was exacerbated by losses in the school’s endowment, which declined from $5.1 billion on June 30, 2008 to $3.9 billion six months later. So far, administrators remain committed to offering financial aid to anyone who needs it, but to cover these growing expenses they may have to look beyond job eliminations for sources of revenue. Pushing the state-imposed limit on non-resident students and/or drastically increasing tuition rates for all students seem most likely.
Last year’s tuition increases of 4 percent for in-state students and 7 percent for out-of-state students were far lower than originally estimated because of the receipt of federal stimulus funding. Without a similar boost in revenues, UVA may be forced to look at double-digit increases. If so, prospective students, as well as those already on campus, should be prepared to make serious adjustments to their education budgets. Relative value and college financing strategies also might also come into play if tuition goes up by more than 10 percent.
Hopefully, the UVA Board of Visitors will act early in the new year so as to give students and their families adequate notice of any tuition increases planned for next fall. Last year, tuition rates were set two weeks before the May 1st deadline by which enrollment decisions must be finalized for incoming freshmen. If early signals coming from Charlottesville are any indication, UVA administrators already have an idea how big the hit will be and they should share that information sooner rather than later.
Dec 26, 2009
While this can be a good thing, what is often overlooked is how thoroughly feelings for the principle college rival can be instilled in the minds of those dragged to sporting events or forced to endure annual clashes broadcast on cable sports networks. Conscious or subconscious, rivalry definitely can affect what schools are included on college lists. More often or not, it works toward elimination, although exceptionally rebellious students have been known to aggravate parents by gravitating toward the most hated of college rivals.
So which side are you on? To get an idea of the scope of the rivalry issue, the following is a list of some of the more familiar college rivals in alphabetical order. Like everything else involving rivalries, no one agrees on a ranking:
- Alabama vs. Auburn (“The Iron Bowl”)
- Alabama vs. Tennessee
- Amherst vs. Williams (“The Biggest Little Game in America”)
- Army vs. Navy (“The Commander in Chief Trophy”)
- Auburn vs. Georgia (“The Oldest Rivalry in the Deep South”)
- BYU vs. Utah (“The Holy War”)
- Cal vs. Stanford (“The Big Game”)
- Clemson vs. South Carolina (“Battle of the Palmetto State")
- Duke vs. UNC (“The Battle of Tobacco Road”)
- Florida vs. Florida State (“The Sunshine Showdown”)
- Florida vs. Georgia (“The World’s Largest Cocktail Party”)
- Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (“Clean, Old-fashioned Hate”)
- Grambling vs. Southern (“The Bayou Classic”)
- Harvard vs. Yale (“The Game”)
- Indiana vs. Purdue (“The Old Oaken Bucket”)
- Kansas vs. Missouri (“The Border War”)
- Lafayette vs. Lehigh (“The Game”)
- Michigan vs. Ohio State (“The Game”)
- Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (“Paul Bunyan’s Axe”)
- Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
- Notre Dame vs. USC (“The Jeweled Shillelagh”)
- Oklahoma vs. Texas (“The Red River Shootout”)
- Oregon vs. Oregon State (“The Civil War”)
- Pittsburg vs. West Virginia (“The Backyard Brawl”)
- Richmond vs. William and Mary ("The South's Oldest Rivalry")
- Texax vs. Texas A&M (“The Lone Star Showdown”)
- UCLA vs. USC (“The Victory Bell”)
- Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (“The Commonwealth Cup”)
- Washington vs. Washington State (“The Apple Cup”)
Locally, the Universities of Maryland and Virginia enjoy an intense "border" rivalry. VCU and ODU compete in the Colonial Athletic Association for basketball bragging rights, and Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland are among the nation's oldest lacrosse rivals.
Off the field of sports, MIT and Caltech are bitter rivals in pranks and academics. And the most intense chess rivalry in the nation is said to be between UMBC and the University of Texas—Dallas. Who knew?
Dec 24, 2009
1. Which eight universities make up the Ivy League?
2. Why are the colors of the University of Memphis blue and gray?
3. What is the longest continuous rivalry (and most played games) in college football?
4. At which university was Gatorade invented?
5. At which universities was Legally Blond filmed?
6. How many colleges are in the Big 10 athletic conference?
7. Which university has graduated the most US presidents?
8. Which college won the first NCAA Division 1 basketball championship?
9. At which university was Cheez Whiz created?
10. Which university claims both the first and the last person to walk on the moon?
11. Which college is located in the nation’s oldest city?
12. Which college football team first used numbers on its jerseys?
13. Where was the first homecoming celebrated?
14. What do the films Sweet Home Alabama and Remember the Titans have in common?
15. Which college was the first to grant a bachelors degree to an African American student?
16. From which college did Mr. Rogers graduate?
17. Which US president founded and designed the University of Virginia?
18. Which college established the first alumni association?
19. Which college in the US reported the first incident of “streaking?”
20. What was the first coeducational college in the US?
21. For which college humor publication did Conan O’Brien write?
22. Name the world’s only university in which all programs and services are designed to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing.
23. At which college was the first Greek-letter student society founded in the US?
24. What was the first college mascot? (Bonus points for the mascot's name)
25. In which state is Miami University located?
Answers: 1. Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale; 2. To symbolize the reunification of the US after the Civil War; 3. Lafayette vs. Lehigh (1884); 4. University of Florida; 5. USC, Caltech, and UCLA; 6. 11; 7. Harvard; 8. University of Oregon; 9. Rutgers; 10. Purdue University (Armstong and Cernan); 11. Flagler College in St. Augustine FL; 12. University of Pennsylvania; 13. University of Missouri; 14. Both were filmed at Berry College in Georgia; 15. Middlebury College (Alexander L. Twilight); 16. Rollins College in Florida; 17. Thomas Jefferson; 18. Williams College; 19. Washington and Lee University (1804); 20. Oberlin College; 21. The Harvard Lampoon; 22. Gallaudet in Washington DC; 23. College of William and Mary (Phi Beta Kappa in 1776); 24. Yale’s Bulldog (Handsome Dan); 25. Ohio
Dec 23, 2009
Last month, the US Commission on Civil Rights announced that it is conducting an investigation of DC area colleges to determine whether admissions offices are discriminating against women in admissions. Nineteen colleges and universities representing a range of four-year institutions have been selected for review including:
- Historically black:
Howard University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Universityof Maryland Eastern Shore, and Virginia Union University
Catholic University, Loyola of Maryland, and Messiah College
- Highly selective private institutions:
Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and Gettysburg College
- Very selective private institution:
- Moderately selective private institutions:
Goucher College, College, and York College of Pennsylvania Goldey-Beacom College, Washington
- Moderately selective public institutions:
Shepherd University, Sippensburg University of Pennsylvania, , and University of Maryland Baltimore County Universityof Delaware
It’s no secret that women dominate college enrollment and currently represent 57 percent of all undergraduate students. By 2018, the total number of women on US campuses is projected to rise to 59 percent. They graduate from high school in higher numbers, are more likely to take college entrance tests such as the SAT, go on to college in higher numbers, and are more likely to complete their undergraduate education. Last year, 58 percent of all bachelors’ degrees were awarded to women.
The question the Civil Rights Commission hopes to resolve is whether colleges are attempting to fix undergraduate gender imbalances by discriminating against female applicants. In other words, are highly qualified women being unfairly rejected in favor of less qualified men to keep campuses closer to a 50/50 gender split?
The Commission might start by simply comparing rates of admission for men and women at each of the colleges being investigated. The following chart was generated using the most recent Common Data Set information found on a sample of area college websites:
William & Mary
Washington & Lee
Data not made available
Data not made available
St. Mary’s of MD
Data not made available
Note that both
A more complete analysis aimed at determining possible discrimination in admissions would involve a review of data over time as well as comparisons of credentials, proposed majors, and financial aid awarded. Presumably this information is what is being subpoenaed by the Civil Rights Commission. For now, it’s interesting to compare how different colleges and universities dealt with gender imbalances within their applicant pools during the most recent year for which data is available. It was clearly more difficult to be admitted as a woman to the
All that is known about the colleges selected for investigation is that they are within 100 miles of DC and are representative of six categories of four-year institutions. "There is no suggestion that any of these schools are doing anything wrong," said Lenore Ostrowsky, the commission's acting chief of public affairs. "They just fit the profile."
Dec 21, 2009
High school seniors are notorious procrastinators. Without going through all twelve tedious verses, here’s my gift to those of you who are still shoveling out and struggling to meet deadlines:
The College Applicant’s Twelve Days of Christmas
I still have lots to do
A heart-warming personal essay
On the fifth Day of Christmas
I still have lots to do
FIVE TEACHER REC’s
Three campus visits
Two college fairs
And a heart-warming personal essay
On the twelfth Day of Christmas
I still have lots to do
Twelve apps a-waiting
Eleven shorter essays
Ten score requests
Nine transcript forms
Eight school reports
Seven different deadlines
Six email thank-you’s
FIVE TEACHER REC’s
Three campus visits
Two college fairs
And a heart-warming personal essay!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Dec 19, 2009
In case you missed the WSJ On Campus webcast, Inside the Admissions Office, Unigo is posting short, easy-to-digest video clips on its website summarizing key topics covered by the broadcast that took place earlier this month. Segments feature the deans of admission from Bryn Mawr, Grinnell, Marquette, Penn, Princeton, the University of Vermont, Wesleyan, and Williams responding to questions posed online from students across the US. Highlights include answers to:
- How many colleges should you apply to?
- What makes a great college essay?
- Do you need a prospective major, or is it okay to be undecided?
- What red flags can kill your application?
- How important are the SAT’s and other standardized tests?
- Does it help to include supplementary materials with your application?
Unigo is a free web-based guide to US colleges and universities containing student-generated reviews, advice, and video. It is consistently among favorite college search websites named by members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).
Go directly to the Unigo website to access the clips or watch the entire webcast. Several segments are also posted on YouTube. No registration or personal details are required to view any of the videos on either site.
To get started, take a few minutes and watch the clip posted below to learn how a typical admissions office actually operates. In this segment, the deans reveal the process by which an application makes it from reader to admit. You might be surprised at how many reviews each application receives during an evaluation and how much time readers spend on each application.
Together, these videos contain a wealth of information. No matter where you are in the college admissions process, the insights and advice offered will point you in the right direction and hopefully relieve a little stress along the way.
Dec 18, 2009
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Adam Joshua Smargon, a list of nearly all US college and university nicknames resides on a single web page. With a little programming magic, here is a ranking of the top 10 based on his list:
1. Eagles (58 institutions)
2. Tigers (45)
3. Bulldogs (39)
4. Cougars (32)
4. Wildcats (32)
6. Panthers (31)
7. Lions (30)
7. Pioneers (30)
7. Warriors (30)
10. Knights (26)
Although feral felines dominate the list, the Eagle with 58 colleges and universities won hands down. Add Golden Eagles (15), Screaming Eagles (2), Marauding Eagles, Running Eagles (1), and Bald Eagles (1), and the competition isn’t even close. Locally, both American University and the University of Mary Washington use the eagle as their mascot.
But big birds and cats aren’t the only warrior beasts supported by college fans. Breeds of dogs are also very popular. While Bulldogs (39) top the list, Huskies (9), Greyhounds (5), Terriers (5), Retrievers (1), Great Danes (1), and McDaniel College’s Green Terriers are among the canines cheered at various institutions.
Weather events also are popular and include Tornados (3), Storms (3), Hurricanes (3), Cyclones (3), Thunder (2), Lightning (1), and Savage Storm (1). Insects including Yellow Jackets (18), Bees (2), Spiders (1), Fire Ants (1), and Boll Weevils (1) populate college campuses as well.
Five schools use the Engineers as their mascot. Guess what these students study? Hint: MIT is one.
Religion is another popular theme as Saints (22), Crusaders (23), Preachers (2), Missionaries (1), Monks (1), Friars (1), and Battling Bishops (2) are holier than not. Then again there are the Devils (1), Red Devils (2), Blue Devils (4), and the Demons (1).
There are certainly the puzzling—Hilltoppers (4), Lumberjacks (4), Kangaroos (3), Privateers (2), and Camels (2). But the periennial "worst" nicknames have to include Horned Frogs (Texas Christian), Stumpies (SUNY College of Environmental Science), Dirtbags (CA State—Long Beach), Jumbos (Tufts), Gorillas (Pittsburg State), and Vandals (University of Idaho).
Dec 17, 2009
In the meantime, the Common App continues to post impressive statistics. Applicant registrations are up 15 percent over 2008—more than 673,600 individuals have registered to-date. In addition, the number of submitted applications is up 24 percent over last year. And on November 30 at 3:15:17, a student from Northfield VT became the one-millionth unique individual to submit an application through Common App Online since the current system was launched on July 1, 2007.
As usual, the Common App warns students not to wait until the last minute to submit applications. Not surprisingly, tens of thousands of students wait until midnight on the day their applications are due to submit online. By going through this process a few days or even hours earlier, the online support team and/or the colleges to which you are applying will be in a better position to help if you have questions or technical issues that need addressing. You also are less likely to experience server delays or snafus as the system becomes clogged by procrastinators.
Finally, if you’ve ever wondered what winter is like for admissions staff reading your applications, check out a video produced by Common App member, the University of Delaware. While not quite ready for prime time, the cast of Reading Season: The Musikal appeals to applicants to feel their pain. Not.
Dec 16, 2009
For anyone unfamiliar with the system, many colleges offer students the opportunity to submit early applications for possible admission notification before the holidays or the first of the New Year. These programs usually fall into two general categories. Early Decision (ED) is binding and commits the student to attend the institution to which he or she applied. Early Action (EA) is a nonbinding decision that allows a student to keep options open by not necessarily making a commitment to attend if accepted. There are variations on the theme, but this is the basic difference between the two forms of early application.
While framed as a “service” to readers, the NYT running tally serves little purpose other than to ratchet up anxiety among students and families continuing to wade through the college admissions process. Judging from the numbers provided, students still completing regular admission applications face significant uphill battles for remaining seats at those colleges already nailing down large numbers of early applicants. A Dartmouth graduate, Jacques Steinberg reports that under the best of circumstances only 60 percent of Dartmouth's incoming class remains “up for grabs” as a result of recent binding offers of admission. Over 30 percent of the available seats at Duke, Amherst, Northwestern, and Wesleyan are already committed, and only about 60 percent remain unfilled at Middlebury and Williams, according to numbers reported by the Times.
Unfortunately, the tally also feeds into a desire to appear increasingly “exclusive” among colleges and universities seeking to climb up the US News and World Report ranking. Reporting the number of acceptances versus total number of applications received—this early in the game—appears to provide some institutions with a sense of superiority they hope to convey to future applicants. Credit to Yale University for unabashedly admitting that nonbinding early applications decreased by 5.2 percent this year and making no public apologies for why that might be the case (hint: Score Choice).
One reader took clear exception to the Times article, suggesting that “[w]riting about this isn’t an act of analysis, it’s the indulgence of an obsessive hobby.” He goes on to say, “…we treat the admissions process with all the critical thought of someone praying over a handful of lottery tickets.”
In the meantime, the running tally of early admissions figures reads more like a thread from College Confidential than anything remotely approaching a "demystification" of the college admissions process. As one reader commented, “This blog should do better.”