Oct 31, 2009

One Last Campus Ghost Story: The University of Toronto

Canadian colleges are increasingly popular destinations for American high school students. Our friends to the north are quick to point out that students studying in Canada have much in common with their counterparts in the U.S. and going over the border doesn’t necessarily mean giving up Halloween or other ghoulish campus traditions found nearer to home. With soaring Gothic spires and a history rich in colorful characters, the University of Toronto welcomes adventurous American students and can provide more than enough in the way of scary stories to satisfy even the most active imaginations.

One such tale documents the doomed lives and loves of a couple of 19th century stonemasons. It’s an all-too-familiar story: love goes wrong and the wronged take revenge. Hired in 1857 to complete decorative stonework for Toronto’s University College, Ivan Reznikoff mysteriously disappeared after discovering his fiancé’s infidelity with Paul Diabolos, the project foreman. Legend suggests that Reznikoff challenged Diabolos with a stonemason’s axe to avenge his honor but lost out to a quicker knife wielded by the cunning Diabolos, who later disposed of the body in an unfinished stairwell. To add insult to injury, Diabolos is said to have carved the face of Reznikoff into one of the monstrous gargoyles seen today by the southwest corner of University College.

Dishonored, murdered, and mocked, Reznikoff haunts the University of Toronto campus seeking students to listen to his sad story. To this day, a deep gash in one of the University’s doors gives proof that a fight occurred. And, the accidental discovery, in 1890, of a skeleton wearing a stone-mason’s belt hidden deep within a ventilation shaft of University College certainly appears to confirm the ghost’s story. Students are warned that Reznikoff tends to appear as a tall man clad in black with “lank hair” spilling out from under a pointed hat who accosts those who have indulged in a bit too much partying.

Oct 30, 2009

Being in the Top 20% Earns Automatic Admission to the University of Houston

Students can fast track college admissions by taking advantage of the University of Houston’s fantastic automatic admission program (scroll down the admissions webpage for specifics). It works like this: any student in the top 20% of their high school class, who has completed 15 academic credit hours and submits an application by February 1st, is automatically admitted to Houston’s next incoming freshman class. A student in the top 50% of their class will also be automatically admitted as long as they submit standardized test scores of at least 1000 (CR and Math) for the SAT or 21 (composite) for the ACT. No essays are required, and Houston responds within 7 to 10 days from the date the application is submitted. After that, you’re free to buy the t-shirt—provided you’ve met the requirements!

No, this isn’t just for Texas residents. The Houston automatic admissions policy extends to any high school student in any high school in the country. For students in high schools that do not rank, Houston will consider each applicant individually. Every effort will be made to fast track the application through the system and give a student the same prompt feedback. Students applying for the University of Houston music program need to audition, and future architects must submit a portfolio. Engineering students need at least Pre-Calculus and Physics, and along with Bauer Business School applicants, should have a combined SAT of 1050 for automatic admission. But those are the only special exceptions.

The University of Houston is the third largest university in Texas. With 40 cutting-edge research centers, Houston offers 109 majors in fields ranging from Hotel and Restaurant Management to Supply Chain and Logistics Technology. And, the Department of Chemical Engineering recently announced the addition of a Petroleum Engineering major to its undergraduate program, which is great news for anyone looking to make serious money immediately after graduation.

The University of Houston is not alone in offering automatic admissions. To learn more about other guaranteed or automatic undergraduate admissions programs check out Louisiana State University (LSU) or the University of Oregon.

Oct 29, 2009

Scary thoughts: What Keeps College-bound Seniors Up at Night

From fear of rejection to application DEADlines, high school seniors have way too much to worry about. To shed a little light on all the gloom, Cappex.com sampled a few scary thoughts and surveyed 600 college-bound high school seniors to see the top 10 things that keep them up at night. Just in time for Halloween, here are the results:

1. Getting rejected (77%)
2. Writing the application essay (50%)
3. Keeping up with deadlines (31%)
3. Finding scholarships (31%)
5. Applying for financial aid (29%)
6. Meeting a college’s GPA and test score requirements (26%)
7. Filling out applications (22%)
8. Narrowing down my list of college picks (18%)
9. Reading all the mail from colleges (12%)
10. Starting my list of college picks to explore (9%)

How does this spooky list compare with yours? Comment below or email me your top college application nightmares at Nancy@CollegeExplorations.com.

Photo provided by Cesarastudillo

Oct 28, 2009

College Costs Continue to Rise Despite Bad Economy

According to figures released by the College Board, college costs continued to rise for the 2009-10 school year despite bad overall economic conditions. Responding to state budget cuts, four-year public institutions increased tuition and fees by an average of 6.5 percent, while costs for out-of-state students went up by 6.2 percent. In dollars, the price of attending an in-state public college or university increased from $6591 to $7020, while the same expenses for out-of-state students went from $17,460 to $18,548. Including room and board, the average cost of attending an in-state college or university now stands at $15,213.

Private nonprofit four-year institutions posted somewhat smaller percent increases in tuition and fees. For the 2009-10 school year, private schools went up an average of 4.4 percent—down from about 6% in previous years. With room and board, the average cost of attending a private 4-year college or university beginning in the fall of 2009 is about $35,636 per year.

The data compiled by the College Board appears consistent with a report published earlier this year by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, in which they gleefully announced that private school tuition increased by only 4.3 percent. At the time it didn’t appear cause for celebration particularly since the national Consumer Price Index actually declined by 2.1 percent, from July, 2008 to July 2009.

With all the bad news about college costs, there is a small silver lining. While tuition and fees continue to increase, the College Board reports that most students do not pay list price. About two-thirds of all full time undergrads receive grants of one kind or another. Students at public colleges and universities average $5400 in grant aid and tax benefits. At private institutions, students receive about $14,400 in grant and tax benefits, effectively reducing net tuition for these students to $11,900 from $26,300.

Oct 27, 2009

Financial Aid: The University Insider’s Guide

Dean Douglas Christiansen of Vanderbilt University is back. This time, he introduces the complicated subject of financial aid in a video sequel to his extremely popular talk on college admissions. “Financial Aid: The University Insider’s Guide” gently takes the viewer through financial aid terminology and offers guidance on everything from the FAFSA to merit aid. Moving away from the “austere” or “green visor” image of financial aid offices, Dean Christiansen parks himself in front of a fireplace and returns to the familiar Q&A format from the admissions video. The goal is to arm families with basic information so they know the kinds of questions to ask and to encourage them to do so without apprehension or embarrassment.

Few families feel comfortable discussing personal finances. And, most families hate the thought that money might somehow affect where their kids go to college. Dean Christiansen encourages families to begin conversations early but strongly advises against setting up barriers before understanding the process. The single biggest mistake families make, he stresses, is “self-selecting” out of financial aid by not completing applications such as the FAFSA or CSS Profile. He warns against eliminating schools based on limited information and without knowing the kinds of support that may be available. He also insists that no question should be avoided out of fear that inquiries into aid may lead to disqualification from admission. Get educated, understand the terms, and ask about aid policies.

You won’t find a better beginning tutorial on financial aid. It’s fifteen minutes well spent.

Oct 26, 2009

First Glimmers of Optimism Among College Applicants

A recent survey of 1,400 high school seniors conducted by Cappex.com suggests the first glimmer of optimism about the economy among students actively planning for college. Conducted in cooperation with MeritAid.com, the study is a follow-up to research completed last October on attitudes toward college and the general affordability of post-secondary education. Only 7% of the students surveyed indicated they are putting college searches on hold because they don’t think their families will be able to pay for college. This is down from 16% a year ago. In addition, fewer students said they are now considering a "less prestigious" college because of affordability issues. “Families are finding ways to adjust and appear to see a recovery in sight,” remarked Chris Long, COO and President of Cappex. “In addition, colleges have continued to work hard to provide merit scholarships and other financial aid.”

Six months ago, optimism among high school students appeared to reach a significant low. In a study conducted by the College Board Art and Science Group, nearly one-third of the students surveyed indicated that their household income had declined, 23% reported that their families had “fallen on hard times,” and one in six revealed that economic circumstances forced them to change college plans. As a result, 41% of the students indicated they were giving more consideration to attending a public institution closer to home. Other cost-saving measures such as living at home and commuting or working part time to help with tuition payments were clearly on the table. These findings mirrored a NACAC study indicating that 71% of high schools reported an increase in the number of students who felt the need to choose more affordable options over their “dream schools.”

While the Cappex study doesn’t suggest a wholesale shift in attitude about college affordability, it may foreshadow growing confidence among students about their ability to find adequate resources to support college ambitions. How this plays out in application numbers and trends for the coming year remains to be seen.

Oct 25, 2009

Even More Campus Ghost Stories: College of William & Mary, GMU, and Georgetown University

Ghost stories come out of the woodwork this time of year, and colleges within driving distance of DC have more than their fair share.

College of William and Mary, Williamsburg VA

As the nation’s second oldest college, William and Mary claims the oldest academic building still in use on any campus in the US—the Sir Christopher Wren Building. Constructed between 1695 and 1700, Wren functioned as a hospital for French and American troops during the Revolutionary War and is said to be the site of at least one local haunting. Footsteps heard on the upper floors are thought to be those of a French soldier who died in the upstairs wards. Others believe the footsteps could only belong to Sir Christopher as he continues to admire the building he designed.

Located northeast of the Wren Building is the President’s House. The oldest official residence for a college president, the building housed many interesting personalities and boasts a colorful history since its original construction began in 1732. During the Civil War, the house served as the Federal Headquarters for the area and was used as a prison for captured southern soldiers. It is believed that the spirits of Confederate Army ghosts are still trying to escape from the house that imprisoned them and play tricks on unwitting visitors.

George Mason University, Fairfax VA

Folklorist Margaret Yocom, associate professor of English, is George Mason’s official “ghost keeper.” Over the years, Dr. Yocom has collected stories for the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive, a number of which document ghostly sightings in the area including a bizarre spirit who haunts the women’s crew team on the Occoquan River and a few strange occurrences at a local restaurant popular with Mason students.

One particularly gruesome story suggests that a small gazebo bordering Mason Pond on the Fairfax campus is frequented by the spirit of a young man who drowned under mysterious circumstances one night. The next morning, his body was allegedly found sitting in the gazebo by two women who happened to be visiting the area. Ever since, the man’s figure has been spotted standing at the edge of Mason Pond or sitting in the gazebo. His spirit beckons young women to join him but instantly disappears when approached.

Georgetown University, Washington DC

With twin Victorian spires dominating the local skyline, Georgetown’s Healy Hall sets the scene for a variety of campus pranks involving stolen clock hands as well as wild stories of student exploits within the labyrinthine tunnels that wind beneath the building. Constructed during the presidency of Father Patrick Healy, between 1877 and 1879, the former dormitory cost the University an enormous amount of money. The impossible debt eventually caused Healy’s retirement and death and could explain the restless nature of spirits haunting the large stone ediface.

Officially, the 5th floor of Healy Hall does not and never did exist. The Gothic design of the building lends itself to much speculation about secret sealed-off floors and ghostly inhabitants. One story suggests that a young Jesuit student accidently opened the Gates of the Underworld while reading forbidden chants in a book about exorcism within a secret room that is now among those sealed-off to students. Another story documents the gruesome death of a priest who was crushed while working on the clock in the building’s spire and whose groans may be heard by students walking the campus at night.

Since the filming of “The Exorcist” on campus, Georgetown students celebrate Halloween with a screening of the movie either on Copely lawn or in Gaston Hall. At midnight, students gather in the shadow of Healy Hall—at the gates of the Jesuit cemetery—and literally howl at the moon.
Image provided by Wikipedia.

Oct 23, 2009

SAT Score Choice™ Update

Over the past several weeks, an increasing number of colleges and universities added explanations of their SAT Score Choice policies to their websites. Short of providing all scores to all schools, it still remains a student's responsibility to make certain they are complying with these policies. Although improving, the information on the College Board website remains incomplete and students must fall back on whatever is provided by colleges. To be able to find score use policies by using the search function located front and center on the school homepage is a joy. Thank you to all the colleges and universities that took this recommendation to heart.

Vanderbilt University
In addition to a very clear explanation of school policy with regard to SAT Score Choice, Vanderbilt University provides an interesting poll on their website asking students to respond to a single question concerning the new program:

Will a college’s SAT score use policy (i.e., a college’s stance on SAT Score Choice) weigh into your decision to apply to that college?

○ Yes
○ No
○ Don’t know yet

Based on this somewhat unscientific survey, it appears that students are equally divided as to how they feel about differences in score reporting policies (click "view results"). It's certainly possible that students will take into consideration or at least notice a college’s stand on SAT Score Choice before applying. You might want to take the time to check out the Vanderbilt survey, and if you’re a student in the process of applying to college, voice your opinion.

Yale University
Going back to the issue of how to complete the Common Application so as to satisfy individual Score Choice policies, Yale University recently updated its website to include instructions on how to submit multiple versions of the Common App form:

“The online Common Application allows students to create an initial Common Application and then, after it has been submitted, to replicate that version, make changes to it, and save the new copy under a different name. You are allowed to make up to ten different versions (although we hope you don’t need to do that!). To accommodate different test reporting requirements you could create one application named ‘Score Choice’, in which you list your Score Choice colleges on the ‘My Colleges’ page. Then you could create another version as needed for colleges with requirements similar to Yale’s, listing those colleges on a separate ‘My Colleges’ page. (The system allows you to list a particular college on only one application ‘version’.) There are instructions for creating more than one application version in the Common Application Instructions section called ‘Application Versions’.”

Whether or not you agree with Yale’s stand in opposition to Score Choice, the information provided on the University website is second to none. Students are welcome to follow the original advice suggested by the Common App Support Center (repeated by the New York Times and Inside Higher Ed) and leave score information blank. But if this doesn’t work for some applicants, Yale’s solution is a good one.

The University of Michigan Will No Longer Recalculate GPA in the Admissions Process

After “careful consideration,” the University of Michigan has decided to no longer recalculate grade point averages for freshman and transfer applicants to the University. In an unusual announcement coming after the start of the 2009-10 application cycle, university officials stated that cumulative grade point averages (GPA’s) posted—weighted or unweighted—on students’ transcripts would be used to evaluate applications processed by the Office of Admissions. “The strength of the student’s individual curriculum challenge, grade trend, anticipated number of academic courses completed by the student’s anticipated enrollment date at the University and class rank [(if provided) for freshman applicants only] will remain the primary focus of the academic assessment of a student’s evaluation process.”

Many, certainly not all, colleges and universities routinely recalculate student GPA’s for the purpose of leveling the playing field among applicants from high schools using different grading scales. Typically, grades earned in academic courses in the five major subject areas are used—English, Social Studies, Math, Science, and Foreign Language. Some colleges will also use challenging courses in the arts such as those found in the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. Grades are generally calculated on a 4.0 scale (4.0 for A, 3.7 for A-, 3.3 for B+, 3.0 for B, down to 0 for F), although some colleges award extra points for honors, AP, and IB. The University of Michigan decision to no longer recalculate GPA favors those school systems with more generous grading scales as well as provisions for “weighting” or the addition of extra points for advanced or honors coursework and fits neatly with recent changes in the Fairfax County grading scale.

Evidently the University of Michigan determined that the margin of difference in GPA recalculation is “not significant enough to continue to sustain the effort.” In the view of the University, time could be better spent eliminating this step and focusing “on the review of applications and recruitment of students.” Applications already received and processed have been identified and those files will be evaluated based on the revised policy.

Oct 22, 2009

Military Families Are Now Guaranteed In-state Tuition

The Washington Metropolitan Area is home to thousands of military families representing every branch of service. Because these families bring so much to our communities and schools, it’s nice to be able to report good news affecting tuition rates for college-bound dependents.

As of July 1st, any service member or dependent on active duty anywhere in the US for more than 30 days is eligible for in-state tuition rates at all public colleges or universities located in the state where they reside or are permanently stationed. Thanks to a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act signed into law last summer, military families no longer have to deal with the vagaries of individual state laws regarding resident tuition benefits. Students enrolled under the new federal servicemember residency provisions are guaranteed in-state tuition status for as long as they stay in school—even if the family is reassigned to another state or overseas.

Before this law went into effect, most states offered military families in-state tuition, but their children ran the risk of ending up with higher bills if the parent was transferred or moved. With the new guarantees in place, these families will potentially save thousands of dollars:


In-state Tuition, Fees, Room and Board

Out-of-state Tuition, Fees, Room and Board

Savings Per year

College of William & Mary







$ 7,702

Frostburg University




George Mason University




Towson University




Mary Washington




University of Maryland—CP




University of Virginia








It’s possible that some colleges and universities may not be aware of the change in federal law. Questions should be directed to individual registrar offices or to the campus-based Veterans Affairs Office, if there is one. Otherwise contact the Department of Education’s Ombudsman’s Office at (toll free) 877.557.2572.

Oct 21, 2009

Public School Counseling Caseloads Continue to Rise

Today, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) published a report telling us what we already know: the caseloads of public school counselors are steadily increasing. According to NACAC’s 2009 State of College Admission report, nearly half of the public schools surveyed reported rising counselor caseloads this year with the average increase exceeding 53 students. And with the additional students, counselors reported increased work demands, not the least of which directly relate to the fact that 22% of last year’s high school seniors applied to seven or more colleges.

To illustrate the public school counseling crisis, the NACAC report uses counselor-to-student ratios. Among the states with the highest ratios are California (986 students per counselor), Minnesota (799 students per counselor), and Utah (720 students per counselor). Since the American School Counselor Association recommends the ratio of students to counselors not exceed 250:1, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how schools are reaching a breaking point in the quality of counseling available to students.

But caseloads are not the only problems counselors face, as the increasingly complex world of today’s high school forces them to wear a number of unrelated hats. They are test coordinators, schedulers, social/emotional/personal counselors, career advisors, and college counselors. In her 2005 report on “Counseling and College Counseling in America’s High Schools," Dr. Patricia McDonough reports the average high school student receives approximately 38 minutes per year from a school counselor on college advising. And, that’s the average. Suppose your counselor had a caseload along the lines of those found in California or Utah?

So what are school systems doing to fix this problem? Instead of loosening the purse strings and building stronger more personalized programs, schools are increasingly turning to automated systems such as Naviance or Family Connections to provide front line counseling services. The computerized counseling packages have it all: scattergrams, fill-in-the blank counselor recommendation forms, as well as college lists generated and handicapped by mysterious algorithms based on some mix of GPA and past performance. They are efficient, save time, and make it possible for schools to cut counselors and increase caseloads without sacrificing quality of service. Or do they?

The NACAC report should be a warning for parents, students and counselors. If the trend continues, personalized in-school counseling services will simply go away.

Oct 19, 2009

DC Residents Qualify for Huge Tuition Breaks at Public Institutions Nationwide

Left out of regional tuition exchange programs such as the Academic Common Market, residents of the District of Columbia have their own sweet deal for saving money at colleges and universities located throughout the US, Guam, or Puerto Rico. To increase college-going and broaden options for DC students, the Congress created the DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) which covers the difference in cost between in-state and out-of-state tuition at eligible public institutions for up to $10,000 per year or a total of $50,000 over the course of five years. DCTAG dollars may also be used to pay up to $2500 per year toward tuition at private colleges in the Washington Metropolitan Area (Prince George’s, Montgomery, Arlington, and Fairfax Counties as well as DC and the City of Alexandria) OR at any of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) nationwide OR at any participating public two-year college. DCTAG is neither need nor merit based.

To qualify for DCTAG, students must be US citizens, reside in the District for at least 12 consecutive months prior to application and must maintain continued residence throughout their time in college. They must apply within 3 years of graduation (or GED) and be accepted by a participating college or university. Application is relatively simple and requires submission of the DC OneApp, FAFSA, and some supporting documents.

According to a recent report from the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), 14,458 students have received $219 million in tuition grants for studies at over 300 colleges and universities since the DCTAG program was launched in 2000. Among the most popular local institutions receiving these grants are Montgomery College, DC Trinity, Bowie State, University of Maryland College Park, Virginia State, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Norfolk State University. DCTAG monies have also supported students at George Washington, Howard, Catholic, American, and Georgetown Universities.

Oct 18, 2009

More College Ghost Stories: OSU and Stanford University

Virtually every college has a least one alleged haunt frequented by a known ghost or spirit. There are resident ghosts, suicidal ghosts, lovers’ ghosts, and a few Greek ghosts. They may be found in libraries, residence halls, bell towers, and the remotest corners of any given campus. Some stories are legends, but most are told from personal experience as undergraduates are well known to possess an excess of imagination.

Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus OH

OSU boasts a campus rich in legend, folklore and a few really good ghost stories. Chief among the spirits are a mysterious lady of the lake, the professor whose cremated remains are walled up in a lecture hall, and the bizarre appearance of President Rutherford B. Hayes. But the most frequently-told story involves the first president of Ohio State University, Edward J. Orton, and the hall that bears his name.

One of the oldest buildings on the OSU campus, Orton Hall was constructed in 1893—two years after President Orton suffered a paralyzing stroke. The building appears as a gloomy Romanesque castle laboring under a façade of 40 different kinds of Ohio building stones painstakingly layered as they are found in the layers of the earth. The hall is topped by a bell tower, dedicated nearly 15 years after Orton’s death, containing 25,000 lbs. of bells tolling in the key of D flat. Encircling the tower are 24 columns decorated with monstrous-looking gargoyles which are actually reconstructions of prehistoric animals found in Ohio. The building houses OSU’s Geology Department as well as a Geology Museum which is often overlooked by visitors but which contains 10,000 specimens donated by President Orton.

In his last years, Orton spent considerable time reading by lamp light in the top of the bell tower, and there are obvious scorch marks on the inside ceiling of the tower room left by his lamp. Legend says visitors can see the light of his lamp flickering through the vertical slats surrounding the tower, as his ghost still reads in his favorite spot high above the geological collection he amassed during his lifetime. A guardian of the building, Orton is also reputed to chill the air and make noises in attempts to quiet disrespectful students.

There are a number of other really scary OSU ghost stories. You can find a few in the most recent edition of the Buckeye Loop.

Stanford University, Stanford CA

A seldom-told tale suggests the founding of Stanford University may have been the result of communications from the “other” world. Shortly after the tragic death of their only child, Leland Junior, Jane and Leland Stanford traveled to New York and Paris for a series of séances. According to Maud Lord Drake, who attended one of the séances, the idea for creating a university came directly from Leland Junior in a spirit communication channeled through her to his parents. Responding to published accounts of the event, Leland Stanford vehemently denied that this ever happened and insisted the idea for Stanford University came to him in a dream.

However true either story may be, it’s clear that Jane Stanford suffered her son’s death greatly and continued trying over the years to make contact with him via the “netherworld.” A grieving mother on a mission, Mrs. Stanford threw herself into the construction of the university that was to honor her lost son’s memory and supervised every detail down to designing the stained glass window found in Memorial Church illustrating Leland’s rise to heaven in the arms of angels.

Sometime in 1893, Mrs. Stanford had her son exhumed and moved from his original resting place to a grand marble and granite mausoleum, guarded by four fearsome sphinxes. Both parents would join him there in death. Mrs. Stanford also supervised construction of an ornate university museum, designed in the neoclassical style which she located not far from the mausoleum. The museum (now the Cantor Center for the Arts) housed a vast collection of family artifacts including objects collected by Leland Junior during his world travels. Both museum and mausoleum provided tangible symbols of Mrs. Stanford’s continued mourning, bearing striking resemblance to temples. Both are said to be haunted by her restless spirit, no doubt deeply disturbed by repeated earthquake damage and neglect over the years. Sightings of the great lady have been reported by visitors to the area, lending additional meaning to the poem she engraved on tablets carved from Leland Junior’s original crypt formed into a pyramid shaped marker standing sentry to his first burial place:





This is the second in a series of campus ghost stories. While on tour, be sure to ask your guide to point out these famous haunts.

Oct 16, 2009

How to Pay In-State Tuition at Out-of-State Schools

It’s no secret that the economy is keeping students closer to home for college, as families find crossing state lines means incurring large additional expense, the most obvious of which involves nonresident fees at public institutions. At some colleges the difference between nonresident and resident can be as much as almost $20,000 per year or nearly $80,000 over four years. And this is hardly chump change. But suppose there were a way to avoid these penalties, and pay in-state tuition at out-of-state schools? Interested?

Thanks to a number of regional “reciprocity” agreements, students have the opportunity to broaden college options and save money by applying for reduced tuition programs sponsored by state associations, such as the Academic Common Market, which is administered by the Southern Regional Education Board. In other words, paying in-state tuition at an out-of-state school may be possible if your state participates in an agreement with other states permitting students to attend public institutions across state borders and pay less than nonresident tuition. With the support of such tuition exchange programs, a student could pay the same to study out-of-state as they would in their own home state.

Here’s how it works. Suppose you are a Virginia resident and have your heart set on studying petroleum engineering—and why not? It’s only the highest paying undergraduate major surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Under the terms of the Academic Common Market, you would be eligible to enroll at either West Virginia University or Louisiana State University and automatically qualify for in-state tuition. Another Virginia resident wanting to study nuclear engineering could receive reduced tuition at Georgia Tech or the University of Tennessee. Or, a Maryland student determined to study dairy science would qualify for in-state tuition at Virginia Tech.

Unfortunately, these programs are not widely publicized. Students and parents have to do a little investigation and be ready to do extra paperwork at the time of application. Keep in mind that there are often limitations on the majors covered by reciprocity agreements and some flagship universities, like UVA, do not participate. But if you’re interested in an out-of-state bargain and want to explore options beyond your state’s public system, reciprocity agreements may be the way to go.

  • Academic Common Market (Southeastern States): Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Participating Virginia colleges and universities include Christopher Newport, College of William and Mary, George Mason, Longwood, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Radford, VA Tech, and VA State University.
  • Midwestern Higher Education Compact: Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Public institutions agree to charge students no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rates for specific programs.
  • New England Board of Higher Education: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. All 82 New England public colleges and universities participate in the “Tuition Break” program, enabling students to enroll in out-of-state public institutions at a discount.
  • Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Students pay only 150% of the receiving state’s resident tuition at over 140 participating public institutions.

Several states also participate in state-to-state programs including Illinois and Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Nevada and California. Note that many of these tuition exchange programs extend to graduate studies as well.

Click here for information on in-state tuition breaks for DC residents.

Oct 15, 2009

College Scholarships for Women Returning to School

It gives me great pleasure to help the Talbots Scholarship Foundation get word out about the 2010 Talbots Women’s Scholarship Fund and Nancy Talbot Scholarship Award. Targeted to women returning to full or part time undergraduate studies at two- or four-year colleges, universities, or vocational schools, this program is designed to “empower women to enrich themselves through learning and achieve a college education later in life.”

The Talbot’s Women’s Scholarship Fund will award $180,000 in college scholarships for the 2010 academic year, including ten $15,000 scholarships and one $30,000 scholarship to an extraordinary finalist demonstrating “courage, conviction and an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit.”

To qualify, applicants must be:

  • women currently residing in the US or Canada;
  • women who earned a high school diploma or their GED on or before September 2000;
  • enrolled or planning to enroll in a full or part time undergraduate course of study at an accredited two-, three-, or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school in the US or Canada;
  • attending the full 2010-11 academic year and receiving a degree no earlier than May 2011; and
  • must have at least two semesters (24 credit hours or more) remaining to complete an undergraduate degree as of the beginning of the 2010 fall academic term.

All applications must be submitted electronically by January 2, 2010, and only the first 5,000 eligible applications will be considered. Scholarship finalists will be selected based on a number of criteria including academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in community activities, honors, work experience, and a statement of educational and career goals. Registration and more information may be found on the Scholarship America website.

Oct 14, 2009

E-Book Offers Insider Strategies for Saving Money on College

The brilliant folks at Cappex recently announced publication of a new e-book entitled, 20 Insider Strategies to Save Money on College NOW, available FREE of charge on the Cappex.com website. The concept is simple: most students and their parents don’t know how to take full advantage of all the money-saving tools available to them and many miss out on financial aid simply because they don’t understand the process. To level the playing field, the book offers insider tips, strategies, tools, secrets, and other ways to help families in the never-ending quest to pay less for college.

If nothing else, the book's easy-to-understand guide to financial aid terminology is worth printing out and saving. From there, readers will learn the importance of choosing the right college list, how and when to apply for financial aid or merit scholarships, and what factors should go into making smart decisions about where to attend college. The book is simple, direct, and extremely helpful.

“This e-book is ideal for anyone seeking help paying for college. It sheds light on the top approaches,” suggests Chris Long, President of Cappex.com. “Among the approaches are a revealing look at merit scholarships, special strategies for saving on public and private colleges, and getting money that you don’t have to pay back.”

Founded in 2006 by the former CEO of FastWeb, Cappex offers college search tools designed to promote easy access to profiles and reviews of more than 3000 college and universities. A key support for the service is MeritAid.com, which provides Cappex with comprehensive details on about $11 billion in merit scholarships. Both websites are definitely worth investigating, as they offer an incredible wealth of information in addition to the search tools which form the basis of both services. Note that everything is free and that privacy is fully protected for those who choose to register on either website.

Oct 12, 2009

Ithaca College Pays Admitted Students $10K to Defer Enrollment

A funny thing happened at Ithaca College this year. Someone miscalculated, and the incoming freshman class is overenrolled by about 20%. Expecting the class of 2013 to come in somewhere between 1700 and 1750, enrollment officials were surprised to find 2027 students accepting offers of admission. No doubt the economy played into a series of decisions affecting Ithaca’s numbers, but the fact that the college experienced a decline in freshman enrollment in 2008 evidently made officials a little too anxious to make up ground.

Ithaca certainly wasn’t alone in underestimating freshman numbers. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities reports that dozens of private colleges experienced record enrollments this year. Baylor, Clemson, DePaul, Eckerd, Gonzaga, Guilford, Princeton, the University of Tampa, and Rice were among those institutions with record-breaking freshman classes. Locally, the University of Richmond, American University, Johns Hopkins University, Loyola of Maryland, and Trinity DC also exceeded projections for freshman enrollment.

So what now? Ithaca offered admitted students up to $10,000 each to defer enrollment for a year and provided $2,000 in incentives to upperclassmen to move off campus. Ithaca also quickly built a new dorm constructed in six weeks to the tune of $2.5 million. Johns Hopkins leased a small bed and breakfast and reopened a dorm due for renovation. Gonzaga rented a wing at the local Red Lion River Inn, replacing hotel furniture with much sturdier dorm items. Other schools converted study lounges to dorm rooms or shoved freshman into “forced” triples (defined as requiring three students to peacefully co-exist in space designed for two). Clemson asked resident advisors (RA’s) to give up their coveted singles and bunk with freshmen. To avoid an uprising, however, RA’s have been promised that this is a temporary arrangement.

Adjustments also had to be made in course offerings and financial aid. Additional lectures and class sections were brought on-line as colleges and universities hired more staff or found adjuncts willing to cover the overflow. Even though the extra students brought in more revenue, schools uniformly had to dig deep into their coffers to cover the financial aid needs presented by the larger-than-expected enrollments. Most, like the University of Richmond, with an over enrollment of 15%, expect a net gain. But then again, they’re not building a new dorm to house the extras.

For many of these schools, future enrollment policies will have to be carefully examined to avoid continued crowding or long-term stress on facilities. Too much of a good thing can have consequences. Here is how Ithaca is adjusting policies and spending:
  • Early Decision will be reinstated thereby giving the college more control over admissions earlier in the year
  • “Selectivity” will be raised to reduce total admissions for next year’s class
  • $1.2 million in additional funds will be allocated to hire nearly 50 part time and two new full time faculty members as well as to pay 30 current full time professors overload pay for teaching extra courses
  • Students housed in lounges will receive a 20% room reduction as well as free cable TV

And, 31 incoming freshmen paid to defer enrollment for a year for a total cost of $250,000 will most likely all show up this time next year making even fewer spaces available for the class of 2014.

Oct 11, 2009

Campus Ghost Stories: Washington and Lee University & Flagler College

Ghosts and goblins and apparitions of all sorts haunt the hallowed halls and dormitories of colleges and universities across the country. In honor of the approaching Halloween season, I’ve gathered a few scary stories including some legends, superstitions, and folklore to share over the next several weeks…or…as the spirit moves me.

Washington and Lee University (W&L), Lexington VA

Buried in a wooden box encased in concrete next to W&L’s Lee Chapel, General Robert E. Lee’s horse Traveller lives on in the form of a friendly spirit watching over the campus. Not long after the Civil War, Traveller accompanied Lee to what was then Washington College, as the General took over the presidency of the rural Virginia school. Lee took great pride in his large “Confederate” gray horse and built an impressive stable connected to the president’s house. A celebrity in his own right, Traveller eventually achieved fame as the author of a ghost-written volume documenting the Civil War through a horse’s eyes, and admirers came from all over the south to pluck hairs from his tail to keep as souvenirs of the general and his famous steed.

At the time of Lee’s death, Traveller was led behind the caisson bearing Lee’s casket. As an unofficial mascot, the horse wandered the campus at will, grazing on lawns and interacting with students. After his death, Traveller’s remains suffered a series of indignities until they finally found a resting place next to Lee Chapel. According to tradition, the doors to Traveller’s stable must remain open to allow his spirit to continue wandering the campus. Bad luck is sure to follow those foolish enough to close them, or so a former university president discovered. Students leave apples and sugar cubes outside the doors of the stable or on Traveller’s grave for good luck. Sometimes pennies are inexplicably left as well.

You can visit Traveller’s grave while on tour of the W&L campus. Be sure to bring apples—Traveller’s apple of choice is the Granny Smith.

Flagler College, St. Augustine FL

Central to the Flagler campus, Ponce de Leon Hall is the scene of many college ghost stories. Once the famous Ponce de Leon/Alcazar Hotel, constructed in the 1880’s by Henry Flagler, the hall is used as a freshman girls’ dormitory and dining hall. Its fabulous Spanish Renaissance architecture and Victorian interior including Tiffany stained glass windows inspire active imaginations and much student speculation.

Several of the most frequently told stories involve Flagler’s funeral which took place in the massive front foyer of the hotel. According to one tale, hotel windows were accidently closed during the funeral and Flagler’s trapped spirit found a home in a particular floor tile located to the left of the doors and toward the rear of the hall. Another variation suggests that Flagler’s coffin was dropped while being carried across the grand foyer leaving an illusion of his face and a skull on the tile. Either way, tour groups are encouraged to locate the tile and are reminded that Flagler’s spirit lives on in the building. Other stories involving Flagler’s wife and mistress complete the lore of the Ponce de Leon.

I’m looking for more campus ghost stories to feature between now and Halloween. If you have one or several to share, please email me at Nancy@CollegeExplorations.com.

Photos provided by Wikipedia and Placesaroundfl.

Oct 9, 2009

LSU: Guaranteed Admission for the Right Student

Hold that Tiger! Louisiana State University, located in historic Baton Rouge, offers an incomparable guaranteed admission program for the B/C student ready for the challenges of a big-school experience in a classic southern community. Here’s the deal--to claim automatic admission a student must have:

  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher (weighted or unweighted)
  • ACT/SAT scores of 22/1030 (minimum Eng/CR 18/450 and M 19/460)
  • 18 core high school credit units (Note that American Sign Language may count toward the 2 units required of foreign language)

For as long as space remains in the class, the admissions office will provide a decision within 48 hours of application. No strings. No binding clauses. Just a refreshingly uncomplicated admissions process designed to attract a wide variety of students. And the best part of all is the availability of all kinds of scholarship money thanks to the unfailing generosity of generations of loyal LSU alums. Out-of-state students with SAT’s totaling 1250 and 3.0 GPA qualify for full exemption from nonresident fees; nonresidents with SAT’s totaling 1330 and 3.0 GPA qualify for full exemption from all tuition and fees. And, those are just a few of the scholarship opportunities available at LSU!

The LSU campus is alive with school spirit and friendly faces. On a random day in October, at least two out of three students and school employees are decked out in school colors and Tiger paraphernalia. Anyone familiar with the college sports scene will recognize the LSU Tigers as perennial national contenders. And, what other school has a live tiger habitat located right beside an over-sized football stadium that positively rocks the Richter scale on Saturdays during the fall months? Team mascot Mike VI rules his den!

In addition to sports, LSU has plenty to offer in the way of academics and student life. Students major in everything from Cajun French to Petroleum Engineering. And, each year, LSU conducts more than 2,500 sponsored research projects funded by more than $140 million in external grants from an amazing assortment of funding sources including NIH, NASA, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, to name a few. The large but easy-to-navigate campus is beautifully landscaped with towering live oaks insured for millions gracing quads and walkways.

Make no mistake. This is a big school. The largest classroom holds 1000 students and clickers are among the tools routinely used by professors to keep up with the numbers. For the right student, however, the welcome and value are there.

Oct 7, 2009

The Commonwealth of Virginia vs. the College Board

As the College Board earnestly implores individual schools and school districts to discontinue the practice of publishing standardized test scores on student transcripts, the Commonwealth of Virginia is moving ahead with a plan requiring public school transcripts to include the highest test score earned “if available” on standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. According to Joe Wharff, a school counseling connections specialist within the Virginia Department of Education, all secondary schools were expected to have the new regulation in place for final transcripts by the end of the 2008-09 school year. Although most school divisions are assumed to be in compliance, Wharff was unaware of the status of several local school district efforts to amend transcripts to include test results.

Long before the issue of SAT Score Choice™ surfaced, the Virginia Board of Education adopted amended regulations governing secondary school transcripts (8 VAC 20-16-10 et. seq.). These revisions were made “to strengthen the transcript regulations and to bring them into conformity with amended or new state and federal laws as well as the needs of higher education.” Little did the Board know when they passed these regulations in 2007 that requiring schools to post standardized test results would fly in the face of College Board recommendations in 2009. Under the terms of Score Choice, publishing scores and sending them to colleges and universities without student permission potentially violates student intent to suppress or keep confidential certain test results. In other words, schools conforming to the new requirement could face consequences arising from release of scores to colleges that students don’t want them to see.

As if this isn’t bad enough, the wording of the new transcript requirement appears to force schools not only to post standardized test results but also to select the “higher” of those earned by individual students. This means keeping up-to-date on repeated test-taking attempts as well as researching approved concordance tables to determine whether a student’s ACT or SAT is the higher of the scores earned. In larger Virginia high schools, this could become a full time job.

Officials in Fairfax County are working with the Department of Education to see how best to implement the new requirements. For now, it appears that standardized test results will be posted on an “attachment” to the transcript which may or may not be sent to colleges. Individual high schools are awaiting guidance from the county before taking specific action with regard to posting scores or amending transcripts to conform to any of the other new requirements passed by the Board of Education. In the meantime, the College Board is standing by its recommendation that high schools should discontinue the practice of posting scores on transcripts. For Score Choice and any number of other reasons, it’s a really bad idea. Who owns these scores anyway?

Oct 5, 2009

Baltimore as a College Destination

According to the Baltimore Collegetown Network (BCN), the City of Baltimore is a fabulous place to go to college. With 16 post-secondary institutions and more than 120,000 students, Baltimore is basking in the success of a multi-billion dollar renaissance begun in the late 1970’s with the construction of Harborplace, the National Aquarium, the Raven's football stadium, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Go O's!

Located along an arm of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore—or Charm City—offers a lively arts scene, big time sports, large-scale business, thriving research organizations, and a variety of colleges and universities deserving of close investigation by students seeking easy access to the amenities of a busy east coast city with the advantages of a small town community. As a key resource, BCN wants to make it easy for visitors to discover what’s special about Baltimore and upgrade the city’s image as a college destination.

On its award-winning website, the Baltimore Collegetown Network provides a nifty planning device designed to facilitate college touring. Each of the 16 participating colleges and universities is profiled with links to college web pages outlining everything from admissions information and academics to parent resources and special events. In addition to basic college planning tools, the site offers a number of supplementary services including a listing of area internships, a roommate board, ticket discounts to area attractions, community volunteer opportunities, and a ride board. A variety of publications, including a glossy guide to Baltimore and its colleges and universities, is also offered free of charge on the website.

Through partnerships and marketing initiatives, BCN works to enhance the academic and social lives of Baltimore’s students as well as to increase professional development at the colleges located in and around the city. As part of its mission, BCN funds and operates the free Collegetown Shuttle which runs 7 days per week ferrying students to stops at 6 BCN member colleges and popular destinations like the Inner Harbor, Penn Station, and the Towson Town Center. BCN partner institutions open their libraries and classrooms to students in the network through such programs as the Baltimore Academic Libraries Consortium and the Baltimore Student Exchange Program. Twelve of the BCN colleges and universities allow students to cross-register for courses at other member institutions for up to two classes per year. Among the schools participating in the exchange are Goucher College, Loyola of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Towson University, UMBC, and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Check out the crab cakes or visit the Inner Harbor, but be sure to take the time learn what Baltimore has to offer as a college destination. If you haven’t visited for awhile, you may be surprised at what you find!

Oct 3, 2009

Common App Board Members Make Adjustments for Score Choice™

In response to a few glitches in the system, the members of the Board of Directors of the Common Application have agreed to adopt a “temporary” policy to deal with problems arising from implementation of SAT Score Choice™. The New York Times and Inside Higher Ed are reporting that students will now be allowed to skip—without penalty—questions requesting test dates and scores. While colleges generally evaluate students based on official scores received from standardized test organizations, the Common App asks students to self-report SAT's and/or ACT's so admissions officers can have the information to begin processing applications. Evidently, students are delaying submitting materials—official test score reports and applications—in order to evaluate their options under the new reporting program. Many are waiting to complete all testing before deciding which scores to send. And this is causing a problem.

Unfortunately, the guidance provided by the Common App on its website is not nearly as clear as what is being suggested by either news source. In fact, nowhere on the website is there any indication that students will be given a complete pass on the test section of the form. The only reference to the issue appears deep within the Common App Support Center and simply addresses the mechanics of submission:

“We recognize that you may find yourself in a position where some of your colleges require you to report your full testing history while others permit you to report your scores selectively or withhold them entirely. While the Tests section does not offer you the ability to differentiate your score reporting to reflect conflicting requirements, leaving this section blank or incomplete will not prevent you from submitting your application. Please understand, however, that colleges and universities may use the information provided in the Tests section to assist in the processing of an application before official results arrive…”

The Common App Board of Directors, representing all member institutions, seems aware of a need to communicate reassurance to students that they may skip these questions without being penalized in the application process—to hurry things along. In fact, they have been working directly with the College Board to find some resolution, according to Brian O’Reilly, President of the SAT. How this is being communicated to colleges and universities and what it means exactly remain to be seen. Common App officials suggest that the wording of the Board’s guidance was much more “nuanced” than what was announced, and it appears that further clarification may be in order.

It is worth noting that the Universal College Application has always been flexible and fairly clear when it comes to reporting test information. On the “online input" screens, certain fields are designated by red stars. Those fields are required to be able to submit. The fields pertaining to standardized testing are not marked with red stars and are considered optional. According to Josh Reiter, President of the Universal College App, this was by design so as to allow students time to complete testing and then decide which scores to request and officially submit.

Contrary to what was reported by The Times and Inside Higher Ed, both the Common App and the Universal College App permit students to create alternate application forms and send specially-tailored test information to specific colleges or universities. For those students understanding the requirements of the schools to which they are applying, this is a reasonable way to address the problem of differing score report policies. Although this was not the original intention of the function, it works for this purpose. Again, it is the responsibility of the student to conform to all score reporting policies--and that's not always too easy!

Oct 2, 2009

College Admissions Advice from Those Who Know: Part Three

Over the last two weeks, members of a local high school graduating class have offered college admissions advice on everything from grades and stress to scholarships and financial aid. In the last of a three-part series, they provide a few additional thoughts in response to the prompt, “What suggestions would you offer rising seniors that you wish someone had given you before your senior year?”
  • When visiting colleges, stay over with a student. Don’t just take a tour and go to the information center.
  • Definitely contact professors in the departments/programs you are interested in—they’re always willing to talk to prospective students and it’s a great way to feel out different schools. Show great amounts of active interest in your top choice schools, especially if you’re trying to get merit money, because it shows them that you’re genuinely interested and they’re more likely to offer money to a student who plans to actually attend.
  • Do not hesitate to apply somewhere that you like (or think you might like) because of its rank or prestige. If you could see yourself there, apply.
  • Start attacking outside scholarships as soon as possible. Your counselor and college/career center have huge lists. Unless your family’s loaded, money is probably going to be a big factor in deciding where you are going to end up going to college.
  • Don’t start thinking that after applications are in you will be home free. I was not prepared for the amount of time I would need to spend going to and from college interviews or filling out scholarship applications. It’s not a bad thing, but I wish I was more prepared for the continued time commitment.
  • Your college decision is about you, not your friends, family, or classmates. Do your applications early. Don’t freak out, everything will work out okay.
  • I would suggest that rising seniors take advantage of interview opportunities. After applying to various universities, some of them will offer optional interviews. These interviews, though they may seem intimidating, are a great opportunity to share a lot of good qualities. Interviews almost never hurt one’s application.
  • I approached my college application as a process of self-discovery (as various people and books advised me to do), which made it really stressful and difficult because obviously, it is hard to determine what you’re going to do with your life at the age of 17/18. So I think my advice to people would be not to take it too seriously. Just focus on being honest and trust your gut, and you’ll probably be happy wherever you end up.
  • Don’t get your hopes up too high; stay grounded when waiting for college acceptance and rejection letters, because you never can tell what it is that a school is looking for. Some people you would expect to get into certain colleges have been waitlisted or even rejected, so don’t be disappointed if it happens to you because every year they want something different. Don’t be afraid to apply to several safety schools or think that it’s a waste of time.
  • It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get into your top choice college. Take a deep breath and look at your options. Go visit the places where you’ve been accepted into and always keep an open mind. You just might find yourself falling in love with a college that you did even really think about before.

There it is—college admissions advice from those who know!

NOTE: I’m looking for other high school classes willing to provide similar advice and counsel on various topics related to college admissions. If you know of a class or group of high school students who might be interested in having their comments published here or on Examiner.com, please be in touch at Nancy@CollegeExplorations.com.

Oct 1, 2009

Do ACT Scores Play Better at Some Schools?

Every now and again, I hear a peculiar rumor from college counselors and others keeping close watch on college admissions trends. It goes something like this: the bar for college admissions is slightly lower for students submitting ACT scores at some schools than it is for those submitting SAT’s. In other words, when comparing a school’s average SAT scores with their average ACT’s, using a concordance table to translate, the ACT generally represents a slightly lower number. For example, Fiske lists mid-range SAT’s for the University of Mary Washington as 1090-1290 (M + CR). Mary Washington’s mid-range for ACT’s is 23-27, which translates to 1070-1220, using the ACT/SAT approved concordance table.

East coast students have traditionally taken the SAT’s. Midwestern and some western states promote the ACT. In fact, several states use the ACT for their statewide high school assessment program—the equivalent to Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) or Maryland School Assessment (MSA). It’s only been in recent years, with a little push from skilled counselors, that local students have begun to take the ACT in addition to the SAT. Because virtually all colleges and universities find the tests interchangeable and will accept either set of scores, it makes sense to probe the possibility that a student might do substantially better on one test than the other.

Now we come to find that what was a general “feeling” among counselors may in fact be true. A post by Jenifer Fox, contributor to The Huffington Post, documents a case in which a talented dancer whose SAT scores were somewhat below average for a particular liberal arts school was denied admission despite a strong GPA and wonderful recommendations. Determined and talented, she seemed a perfect fit for the school minus the lowly standardized tests. Incredulous at such a poor admissions decision, her counselor asked the college why she wasn’t admitted. The admissions rep coolly responded that had the student submitted her ACT scores instead of SAT’s, she would have been admitted. Evidently, this was because US News and World Report only collects SAT scores for this particular college leaving ACT’s unreported and a nonfactor in the computation of the school’s national ranking. Although the two sets of scores were virtually equivalent, the school was unwilling to have the girl bring them down in the all-important college rankings with her lower-than-school-average SAT scores. Without the USNWR reporting requirement, they would have taken a chance on her potential success.

Thus it appears that colleges could have some motivation for making exceptions for students whose scores don’t factor into their national prestige. And as a result, some of the standardized test score discrepancies—the lower mid-range averages for ACT’s—might just be founded in reality. Food for thought.