Jun 29, 2012

UVa Releases 2012-13 Essay Questions for First Year Applicants

The University of Virginia
Unlike the recently resolved UVa presidential fracas, there aren’t too many surprises among next year’s essay questions for the University of Virginia supplement to the Common Application. After all, they’ve been asking the same basic questions in one form or other for a long, long time.

In general, UVa continues to look for “passionate students” to join a “diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.”

Beyond the questions required by the Common Application, prospective ‘Hoos are asked to write two 250-word statements, the first of which ties into a school or major with the second requiring a response to one of four prompts.

As in past years, students applying to UVa’s College of Arts & Sciences are asked to discuss a work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature that “surprised, unsettled, or challenged” them in some way.
Applicants to Kinesiology and Nursing need to describe experiences that led them to choose these paths.
Prospective engineers are once again asked to come up with a “small engineering project,” without dollar limits. The sky’s the limit.
And architects will explain in 250 words or less what “excites” them about architecture.

For the second essay, the admissions office failed to come up with anything new.  The options remain the same as last year:
    • What is your favorite word and why?

    • Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.

    • Discuss your favorite place to get lost. (hint: this question was supposedly written by students who once lived in one of UVa’s residential colleges, Brown College at Monroe Hill).
    Or applicants may choose a fourth prompt which is to “discuss something you secretly like but pretend not to, or vice versa”—obviously begging the question of how UVa Rector Helen Dragas might respond, if presented with a similar 250-word essay option.

    The Common Application officially launches on August 1st after a brief hiatus at the end of July. This is when retooling takes place and new supplements are brought online.

    In the meantime, a 2012-13preview edition is available to download and take to the beach. Prospective UVa early action applicants would be wise to take it along and start drafting a few essays.

    Jun 27, 2012

    On the Road with the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling

    Butler University
    Undeterred by record-setting heat and drought conditions, the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) hit the road last week for its biannual “Micro Bus Tour of Colleges.”

    Starting at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, the tour took 39 school-based and independent counselors on a whirlwind tour of six additional Hoosier State colleges, all of which opened their doors for a closer look at facilities and programs.
    While the campuses seemed relatively quiet, admissions offices were working behind the scenes to put finishing touches on student recruitment programs scheduled for this fall.  Several campuses were taken over by summer campers while others were already welcoming newly-minted freshmen for transition programs.
    Here is a little more of what the 39 counselors learned about each school:
    • Lewis University is one of only 36 schools nationally, and the only one in Illinois, to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to offer an Air Traffic Control program.  With an estimated need for more than 15,000 air traffic controllers in the coming decade, Lewis offers programs designed to meet needs in aviation flight, management, maintenance, and security as well as in air traffic control.

    • While scholarships at the University of Notre Dame are largely needs-based and often limited to two years, the new Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program is a four-year merit-based opportunity offered to between 20 and 25 undergrads with the potential of having a “transformational impact on the world.”  Students must be nominated by their high schools to qualify for scholarships totaling $100,000 and supplemented by four fully funded summer enrichment experiences. 

    •  Formerly a two-year all male campus, Holy Cross College now offers a four-year co-ed program based on service learning, global “perspectives,” professional internships, and a capstone presentation.  With access to virtually all of the facilities and social programs at neighboring Notre Dame, Holy Cross offers a more personalized college experience and is open to working with undocumented students for whom scholarships are available. In addition, Holy Cross is one of few colleges nationally to offer a four-year tuition rate "lock" program.

    • Out-of-State minority students with cumulative GPA’s of 3.0 and above may automatically qualify for one of Ball State’s Academic Recognition Awards, enabling them to pay in-state tuition.  In the midst of the largest ongoing geothermal project in the country, Ball State University recently debuted the David Letterman Communication and Media Building connecting communication studies, journalism, telecommunications, and the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS).  It is also the home to Indiana Public Radio and 36 student-run media organizations.

    • Housed on a truly lovely campus on the site of Fairview Park, Butler University offers direct admit to both a 6-year pharmacy PhD program as well as a 5-year physician assistant program through the College of Pharmacy and Health Services.  Located in the culturally rich community of Indianapolis, Butler requires all students to attend eight or more cultural events as part of their graduation requirements.

    •  For fall 2013, admissions standards at IUPUI will increase for incoming freshmen, raising both minimum GPA and standardized test requirements.  For students with an interest in auto racing, IUPUI boasts of having the only motorsports engineering program in the country, which is offered through the Purdue connection and prepares students for careers in the motorsports industry as well as in automotive-related companies.

    •  The big news at Purdue is the decision to go to the Common Application beginning with the 2013-14 application cycle.  In addition, a new University Honors College is being organized to extend beyond scholarship students so as to bring in a more multi-talented, diverse group which will live and learn together.  Details are emerging on the application process as well as special Honors College residential and co-curricular learning opportunities.
    And thanks to Indiana state law, those colleges receiving state support must award college credit to any student earning a score of 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams.  Sweet!

    Jun 25, 2012

    12 Creative Ways Teen Entrepreneurs Can Serve Their Communities

    Not everyone is a “joiner.” More entrepreneurial students may prefer to think outside the box when it comes to creating volunteer activities or devising ways to serve their communities this summer.

    With a little imagination and willingness to tackle tasks others find boring or difficult, you can show initiative and hone managerial skills—qualities that colleges value and others appreciate.

    Consider a few of these ideas:

    1. Establish a donations program. Most nonprofits and churches need in-kind donations such as books, school supplies, or art materials. One local high school student collected used children’s books. She donated most but sold others through a yard sale, the proceeds from which she donated to a nonprofit.
    Hint: Use Facebook or other social networking sites to get the word out.

    2. Begin a tutoring service. Reach out to organizations serving younger children or look within your immediate community to volunteer your services as a tutor. You can even put your high school foreign language training to good use by working with English as a Second Language (ESL) students and adults.
    Hint: Teaching others will help sharpen your own skills.

    3. Be an entertainer. Gather friends and create a traveling road show appropriate for venues such as senior centers or summer camps. One local high school band volunteered to be the entertainment at a “prom” for retarded adults and was wildly received.
    Hint: These projects can evolve into great opportunities for a fledgling rock group or for the budding thespians among your inner circle of friends and if you can't perform you can always be the manager.

    4. Develop a curriculum. It can be as simple as kitchen science experiments or as comprehensive as one local student’s work on environmental issues which she developed into an educational program for children. Do some research, put together a project, and then approach organizations looking for activities or presentations to supplement their own.
    Hint: Summer camps are particularly receptive to scheduling special events or classes for campers.
    5.  Plant a community garden.  If you have a green thumb or love spending time in a garden, consider planting a “community” garden in which you grow fruits or vegetables for donation to a food bank—either the products themselves or proceeds from sales of products.  Plots may be rented through various community groups and nonprofit organizations or you can set aside dedicated space in your own backyard. 
    Hint: Any garden can double as a research laboratory for investigating niche science fair topics ranging from fertilizers to pest control.

    6. Support a child care center.  Read stories, develop art projects, coach easy sports concepts, or create a movement or stretching class. Share your knowledge and skills to enrich the program as well as provide relief to teaching staff over the summer.
    Hint: Inner city programs serving low-income children are in particular need of support.

    7. Use your computer skills. This can be as complex as offering to make or maintain a website for a local nonprofit or as simple as providing one-on-one support to an early learner or a senior citizen.
    Hint: Many seniors want to set up Facebook accounts to connect with old friends and family but simply don’t know how.

    8. Write for a local newspaper.  Submit an article on how students give back to their communities. Describe your experiences, interview local volunteers or volunteer organizations, or promote upcoming events.
    Hint: Published articles may be attached or linked to college applications.

    9. Create a blog. One local student developed a blog on her experiences living with cerebral palsy. Her suggestions and thoughtful commentary received responses from all over the country. Blogs are not difficult to create, and they can reflect a range of experiences, interests, or expertise.
    Hint: Well-written and maintained blogs can be of great interest to college admissions officers.

    10. Adopt a Highway or a Street.  Although rules vary by jurisdiction, most states will allow families and small independent groups to adopt highways. And many municipalities have street adoption programs. In Virginia, one member of the group must be 18, but the work crew can have members as young as 10. The adopting group will be asked to make a commitment to pick-up litter several times per year from an assigned segment of highway in return for training, equipment, and trash bags.
    Hint: Come up with a creative name for your group and write about your experiences or the kinds of trash you’re gathering (see numbers 8 and 9 above).

    11. Develop a product to support a cause. A couple of years ago, a local student used her sewing skills to make simple sundresses she marketed over the internet. She designed the dress, set up a website, obtained fabric donations, and solicited help from friends. All proceeds were donated to charity.
    Hint: This young lady had no trouble getting into college.

    12. Provide services for shut-ins. There are folks in your community who could use extra help but can’t afford to hire a professional service. Offer to be a companion, do light housekeeping, run errands, walk the dog, pull weeds, or organize the garage.
    Hint: You can support your volunteer effort with a paid enterprise marketed to those interested in “renting a kid” in your neighborhood.

    Some activities can have lives beyond the summer. They evolve into long-term service learning projects or new clubs at school.

    Be creative and industrious, but feel free to have a little fun too

    Jun 23, 2012

    Virginia Tech Moves Up in Undergrad Architectural Rankings

    University of Texas at Austin
    Once again, the Virginia Tech School of Architecture & Design was among a select group of programs recognized in the annual  America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools study conducted by DesignIntelligence in conjunction with the Greenway Group.

    In the only national college rankings focused exclusively on design, Virginia Tech moved up from fourth to third in the nation among undergraduate programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), coming in after Cornell and the University of Texas at Austin.

    As in previous years, the DesignIntelligence survey tapped professional practice leaders who have direct experience hiring and evaluating the performance of recent architecture and design graduates. For the four professions surveyed—architecture, landscape architecture, industrial design, and interior design—a total of 277 private practice organizations participated included in the study which analyzes which college and university programs have best prepared students for professional practice.

    Deans and chairs from 111 academic programs also participated in surveys, the data from which was presented separately from practitioner rankings.  And Tech was a clear favorite among academics.
    In addition to the top overall ranking, Tech’s undergraduate program in Interior Design tied for number 8 nationally.  The deans ranked the program number 3, citing “faculty, comprehensive education, and collaborative teaching approach” as particular strengths.

    The undergraduate Landscape Architecture program ranked 13, while the graduate program tied for number 12.  And the dean’s survey gave the undergraduate program in Industrial Design a second place, citing its “emphasis on human factors, comprehensive program, and quality of students.”

    Again this year, DesignIntelligence listed 25 “most admired” design educators, including Robert Dunay, Tech’s Director of the Center for Design Research, and Elizabeth Meyer, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia.

    In addition to the undergraduate program, Tech offers an MS in Architecture and a PhD in Architecture and Design Research. The school also offers continuing education courses in architecture and design for alums as well as summer workshops for high school students interested in learning more about the field.

    The top undergraduate architecture programs according to DesignIntelligence are:
    1. Cornell University (1st for 7 of the last 9 years)
    2. University of Texas at Austin (7 last year)
    3.  Virginia Tech (4)
    4. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (4)
    5. Rice University (3)
    6.  Rhode Island School of Design (11)
    7. Southern California Institute of Architecture (6) and Syracuse University (2)
    8. Iowa State University
    9. Pratt Institute (9)
    And the top graduate architecture programs are:
    1.  Harvard University (2 last year)
    2. Yale University (3)
    3. Columbia University (4)
    4. Washington University in St. Louis (9)
    5. Kansas State University
    6. Cornell University (6) and MIT (5)
    7.  University of Michigan (1) and University of Pennsylvania (8)
    8. University of Cincinnati (6)
    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 architecture programs.

    Jun 22, 2012

    A ‘Second Chance’ for $1000

    Any college-bound senior can enter. All that’s required is a ten-question multiple-choice quiz. And the quiz is “open book.”

    Through one of the more unique national scholarship competitions still available for this year, the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is offering a second “second chance” to win $1000.

    Here’s how it works:
    • Start by reading the “Fire Sprinkler Essay” about automatic fire sprinklers.
      Hint: print out the essay for later use.
    • Complete the registration page by clicking on the “Take Test Now” button. It requires pretty basic information like name, address, birth date, high school, and year of graduation. Income or financial need does NOT count for this contest.
    • Take the quiz by selecting answers based on the essay you already read. Because this is an “open book” test, you can refer back to your printout or use the essay text online to find correct answers.
    • Click on the “submit” button. You will receive immediate notification of questions answered incorrectly and a chance to correct your answers. Do it.
    • Click on the “submit” button again.
    Once you submit your answers, you will receive final score notification. For each question answered correctly, you receive one entry into a drawing for one of the scholarships. Ten entries are possible if you answer all questions correctly. Really, it’s that simple!

    Note that you will only be allowed to take the quiz once. Any attempt to try twice with a different name or address will result in automatic disqualification.

    Winners are not selected based on financial need, and students intending to attend trade school or a 2-year accredited associate degree program are welcome to apply. But all entries must be received by no later than noon on August 22, 2012.

    In addition to the online competition, several state AFSA chapters offer additional scholarships through separate essay contests. The Virginia Chapter annually awards 6 prizes totaling $3050.

    This year’s prizes went to Austin Shepherd of Albemarle High School, Kelly Sanborn of Westfield High School, Luke Quigley of Abingdon High School Rachel Chuang of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Morgan Dickens of Carroll County High School, and Karsten Coates of Washington and Lee High School,

    The bottom line for the AFSA is that you learn something about fire sprinklers. The scholarships are just a sweet incentive.

    Jun 20, 2012

    Transfer Students head to Warmer Climates

    According to data accumulated by USNews and World Report, schools in Texas, Florida, and California were popular destinations for transfer students in 2010. In fact, 14 out of the 15 colleges enrolling the most transfer students were located in warmer climates. Evidently, these schools had capacity to accept and enroll astonishing large numbers of transfers.

    There are many reasons students choose to move schools. Often money issues are involved. Or sometimes it’s a question of academics or a desire to be closer to home. And community college students make up a huge percentage of students moving from one institution to another.

    Even the Commander-in-Chief transferred during his college career.

    Based on data provided through the CDS, Arizona State University enrolled 6,158 transfer students and ranked number one among the nonprofit institutions providing transfer data.  And three schools in the California State University system each drew more than 3,500 transfers and ranked three, seven, and thirteen respectively.

    Also among the top transfer-friendly institutions were UMUC (3894), George Mason University (2452), Old Dominion University (2298), Virginia Commonwealth University (2007), Towson University (1971), and the University of Maryland College Park (1899).

    A quick review of local colleges and universities suggests a much more limited ability to accommodate transfer students. According to Common Data Set information, far fewer transfers were to be found at Johns Hopkins (37) and the University of Richmond (48). George Washington accepted 27 percent of its transfer applicants and enrolled 310 students, while Georgetown accepted 23 percent and enrolled 230 and

    The University of Virginia accepted 40 percent of those applying to transfer and enrolled 653, at the same time the College of William & Mary accepted 43 percent and enrolled 202.

    Among the local colleges admitting the highest percent of transfer applicants were James Madison University at 50 percent as well as the University of Mary Washington, Christopher Newport University, and American University—all at 67 percent which is only slightly above the previous national average cited by USNWR of 61.9 percent.

    The following is the USNWR list of 10 schools enrolling the most transfer students:

    1.  Arizona State University (6158)
    2. University of Central Florida (5896)
    3. Cal State Northridge (4477)
    4.  Florida International University (4527)
    5.  University of Texas—Arlington (4315)
    6. University of Houston (4171)
    7. Cal State Fullerton and Texas A&M—Commerce (4165)
    8. UMUC (3894)
    9. University of North Texas (3891)
    10. San Francisco State University (3760)
    11. Texas State University—San Marcos (3611)
    12. Cal State Sacramento (3556)
    13. Florida Atlantic University (3425)
    14. Northwest Florida State College (3272)
    15. University of South Florida (3242)

    Note that the numbers cited are from the 2010-11 CDS currently used by USNWR.  For more recent information, you may want to research 2011-12 CDS data posted on individual websites.

    Jun 18, 2012

    More Ways Community Service Opens Doors

    Brandeis Doors
    While finalizing summer plans, don’t forget to leave quality time for volunteer activities or projects. Incorporating service into your life is incredibly rewarding and almost always habit-forming. In fact, it can open doors for life.

    As you consider various volunteer options, look for opportunities that fit you—your interests and skills. You don’t have to travel across the world—look local. You can be deeply involved in a one-time event or you can sign-on for a couple of hours each week. It really doesn’t matter.

    And yes, it pays off handsomely. By sharing your time and talent with others, you:
    • Do some good. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to make a difference—change lives, support a cause, or improve your community.

    • Test-drive career options. If you’re thinking about medicine, teaching, or even large animal husbandry, spend volunteer hours in a clinic, a school or on a farm. Community service presents different vistas and provides opportunities to explore different career paths.

    • Polish job-readiness skills. Being dependable, on time, and responsible will not only make you a great volunteer but will also prepare you for entering the world of work. In addition, you can develop communication, organization, and invaluable “people” skills, all of which make you incredibly employable.

    • Expand your network. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends and build solid connections to businesses, schools, or other community-based organizations. These are the kinds of relationships that tend to grow and blossom, particularly if you find yourself working in a team or supporting a cause.

    • Get a recommendation: A byproduct of the volunteer experience can be a strong personal recommendation for college, scholarships, or future employment. While teachers and guidance counselors can speak of academic and school-based accomplishments, your best character references will come from among supervisors and co-workers in organizations to which you contributed volunteer hours.

    • Challenge your comfort zone. If life as a high school student has become a little boring and predictable, try volunteering in a totally unfamiliar part of your community or serving a population with which you don’t ordinarily come into contact. Expose yourself to new ideas, challenges and situations that will help you grow as a person.

    • Enhance scholarship opportunities.  Although service to others should be its own reward, there’s no question that many colleges, organizations, foundations, and businesses are willing to acknowledge outstanding community service by awarding very generous scholarships. Winners of these awards
      typically begin early and dedicate significant hours throughout their high school careers.

    • Hone leadership skills. As a volunteer, you may be presented with opportunities to build supervisory, management, or decision-making skills as a team leader or project organizer. These are talents that colleges, scholarship organizations, and future employers value highly.

    • Upgrade college portfolio. Yes, colleges want to see that you’ve done something more with your summer than texting or posting pictures on Facebook. To volunteer is to give strong evidence of character, commitment, and motivation—all of which are pluses in the college admissions process.

    • Discover an essay topic. The best college essays flow from personal experience. In fact, essay questions often ask about significant achievements, events, or people—all of which may be found in the act of volunteering.

    • Learn something. You learn by doing. And if you’re lucky, you may even be offered specific skill training you can take with you long after the event or project is completed.

    • Do some good. This cannot be overstated.

    In her commencement address at Virginia Tech, Michelle Obama reminded the Class of 2012 that “…often, it is only through serving others that we find what’s been missing in our own lives.”

    And at St. Mary’s College of Maryland last year, Deputy Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet pointed out that, “We grow by challenging ourselves—by stepping out of our comfort zone.” She added, “…the more you understand about the community around you, the more you understand about yourself….More than that, inevitably, you realize you got far more than you gave.”.”

    So step up and get involved. You really can make a difference!