May 14, 2011

The 2011 ‘Colleges That Change Lives’ Tour Gets Into Gear

Next weekend, the annual Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) tour gets into full gear with an opening event in Orlando, Florida, followed by a quick trip up the coast to Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, May 22, the 40 CTCL schools will host hundreds of students from the DC area for two sessions—one in the morning and one in the afternoon—at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center. And you’re invited.

You say you never heard of these colleges? That’s partly the point.

When NYT's education writer Loren Pope originally came up with the CTCL idea, he was concerned that too many college choices were made based on misperception, misinformation, or even a total lack of information. And bad decisions lead to bad outcomes such as higher dropout, transfer, or failure rates.

To support a better college search process, Mr. Pope looked for colleges and universities that encourage a lifelong love of learning and provide “the foundation for a successful and fulfilling life beyond college.” He incorporated their descriptions into a best-selling book titled, The Colleges That Change Lives, which became the inspiration for the CTCL tour.

Loren Pope passed away in 2008, but his message lives on through the tireless efforts of CTCL executive director Marty O’Connell and her staff.

As a group, the CTCL schools share common characteristics including

  • low student-to-faculty ratios that foster collaboration, engaged learning, and personal attention

  • a commitment to undergraduate education focusing on the liberal arts and sciences

  • a living and learning environment that is primarily residential and emphasizes the benefits of community, personal growth, participation, and involvement

  • smaller student enrollments

  • out-of-classroom learning opportunities including participation in internships, study abroad, service to others, and special interest activities

  • holistic admission policies including several with “test-optional” routes to admission

  • alumni networks that stand ready to help graduates with professional and career development opportunities

In her speeches around the country, Marty O’Connell challenges students (and parents) to reconsider the notion that “a college can’t be any good if I’ve never heard of it.”

Using examples of “famous” people, she suggests that “the name and visibility of a college choice has much less to do with success in life than do the experience and opportunities students take advantage of during their college years.”

And where better than at one of the Colleges That Change Lives.

For more information on the Colleges That Change Lives and the 2011 tour, visit the CTCL website.

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