Sep 25, 2012

The ‘Colleges That Change Lives’ Adds Four New Members

University of Puget Sound

It’s official!  The Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) nonprofit membership organization is expanding to include four new colleges.

Following the release of the newest edition of the book, Colleges That Change Lives, the 40 charter CTCL members voted to extend membership invitations to Hillsdale College (MI), St. Mary’s College of California, University of Puget Sound (WA), and Willamette University (OR).

“We are delighted that Puget Sound is being recognized for the distinctive educational and personal growth our students experience here,” said Puget Sound President Ronald R. Thomas.

Colleges That Change Lives was originally written by former New York Times education editor Loren Pope and was first published in 1996.  Before his death in 2008 at the age of 98, Pope oversaw two revisions of the book.

For the latest edition, writer Hilary Masell Oswald conducted all-new college tours, including extensive interviews of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and built on Pope’s original work to create an entirely updated and revised guide.

And for the first time since 1996, the roster of colleges included in the book has been adjusted slightly.

“We are delighted to welcome Hillsdale, St. Mary’s, Puget Sound and Willamette into the CTCL ‘family,’” said Martha (Marty) O’Connell, executive director of the nonprofit Colleges That Change Lives.  “Hilary Oswald certainly was able to channel Loren’ Pope’s philosophy of identifying life changing liberal arts colleges in choosing these four outstanding institutions.”              

This is also the first time since the founding of the organization in 2006 that additional colleges have been invited to join.  The book and the nonprofit are separate entities, so the addition of the four colleges brings the CTCL membership to 44.

“It is great to expand our geographic membership,” added O’Connell.  “Perhaps we will no longer face the questions about so few colleges in the west!”

As an organization, CTCL is dedicated to the advancement and support of a student-centered college search process.  

Members travel together and meet with students and families during the school year through a series of presentations and college fairs.

“As we travel throughout the country and visit with families looking for a college, we hear that they want not only an institution that will prepare their student for professional opportunities but will provide a truly transformational education, said John Sullivan, dean of admission and financial aid at Eckerd College.  

“We look forward to continuing our work with like-minded schools included in the book, touring together to meet with parents and students and telling them about the ways Eckerd College changes lives.”

For more about the nonprofit group Colleges That Change Lives visit:, and for more  about the Penguin book Colleges That Change Lives visit:,,9780143122302,00.html?Colleges_That_Change_Lives_Loren_Pope.

Sep 24, 2012

Colleges Seek Artistically Talented Students

Corcoran College of Art & Design Portfolio Day

Students in performing and visual arts have amazing opportunities to hone their talent at a variety of postsecondary schools with specialized arts programs. And if you have talent, colleges and conservatories want to meet and introduce themselves at a series of targeted college fairs.

This fall, high school singers, dancers, and artists should consider attending one of 19 Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) College Fairs sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Or if you are more specifically interested in visual arts, the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) sponsors a series of Portfolio Days in 42 US and Canadian cities.

NACAC’s PVA College Fairs are looking for students interested in pursuing undergraduate or graduate study in theater, visual arts, graphic design, music, dance, or other related disciplines. These fairs bring together experts who provide information on educational opportunities, admission requirements, and financial aid. They also advise on portfolio development and auditions.

Free and open to the public, PVA College Fairs do not require pre-registration, although the opportunity to register is offered online for many fairs including the one scheduled for Sunday, October 28, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

An entirely separate program, NPDA Portfolio Days offer opportunities for students to receive free advice, counseling, and critique from some of the best academics in the art business.
Portfolio days begin in late September at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver and end in January at the Ringling College of Art & Design, in Sarasota, Florida.

And Portfolio Days are incredible events. Students drive long distances to stand in lines clutching portfolios, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and other work. They bring sketchbooks, works in progress, and finished pieces—some small and others quite large.

At the head of each line, experts from NASAD-accredited colleges take considerable time to offer support and constructive criticism, as well as to give pointers on how to build a portfolio. No one is hurried, and every question is answered. Several (not all) participating schools even accept portfolios on the spot as the visual portion of an individual application.

Also free and open to the public, Portfolio Days require no registration and operate on a first come, first served basis. Students from the DC area can attend on Saturday, December 1 at the Corcoran College of Art & Design or Sunday, December 2, at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  A third event will be held on Saturday, December 8 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Note that the PVA College Fairs and the NPDA Portfolio days are not restricted to high school seniors. Underclassmen are strongly encouraged to get a head start by taking advantage of the opportunity to get free advising from experts in the arts.

More information on Portfolio Days may be found on the NPDA website. A complete schedule of PVA College Fairs as well as terrific advice on the application process for performing and visual arts students is provided on the NACAC website.

Sep 22, 2012

International Colleges Debut at the 2012 FCPS College Fair and Night

Miami of Ohio

Anyone who has attended a FCPS College Fair or College Night knows these tend to be hectic events. With about 400 colleges and thousands of high school students and their families in attendance, things get a little crazy with lines building early at the exhibits.
Each October, FCPS college fairs are among the largest and best attended in the DC area.  For the first time this year, the fairs will feature colleges from Canada, the United Kingdom, and one from Australia.

And once again, students are invited to “pre-register” online using a program that links them with colleges through the magic of a barcode scanned during visits with admissions representatives attending the fair.

“The online registration process creates a barcode that students bring with them to the fair,” said Marian M. Kendrick, FCPS College Fair/College Night liaison. “It streamlines the process for students and colleges and improves the flow of the whole fair.”

Students who have attended National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) fairs will recognize the scanners. The technology is provided by and is the same as that used by NACAC since 2007.

Logging on to the 2012 FCPS College Fair & Night registration site, students provide basic contact information, an indication of academic interests, and graduation year and high school.
In return, they receive an “Admittance Pass” (personalized barcode) that is printed out and brought to the fair. College reps scan the barcode as a way to retrieve information thereby eliminating the need for visitors to complete individual registration cards at every table.

After the fair, students return home with the usual stack of glossy brochures and a few business cards. Colleges return with important information on interested students.

“Two to three days after the fair, colleges will have all their leads emailed to them in an Excel spreadsheet, so they can start the follow-up process right away,” Mrs. Kendrick explained.
But the system isn’t perfect, and colleges complain about the “strength” of the leads they receive through the electronic system.  Students who blow past an exhibit and wave the scanner in the direction of the admissions representative aren’t demonstrating the kind of serious interest they like to see.
To reinforce interest, students should take time to ask a few questions and collect a business card.  Later in the evening, follow-up with a quick note to the person with whom you spoke underscoring your interest and desire to investigate the school further.

The 2012 College Fair will be held at Fair Oaks Shopping Mall on Sunday, October 21, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm, and College Night will take place at Hayfield Secondary School on Monday, October 22, from 7:00 to 9:00.

Students planning to attend either event are encouraged, but not required to pre-register. Those who have not pre-registered, however, will not be given barcodes on the night of the fair. They’re on their own with low-tech methods of providing information to colleges. Pre-printed labels for this purpose are recommended.

For more information or to see the growing list of colleges participating in the 2012 College Fair & Night, visit the FCPS School Counseling Services webpage.

Sep 21, 2012

College Fairs showcase Graduate School

Original home of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

College fairs aren’t just for high school students anymore.  As increasing numbers of undergrads are considering postgraduate programs, new graduate school fairs are springing up across the country.

One of the more visible fairs is being produced by Idealist, a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of connecting people, organizations and resources.

Idealist Grad Fairs connect prospective students with graduate schools in fields such as public administration, international affairs, education, public policy, public interest law, social work, nonprofit management, global and public health, theology, environmental science, and socially responsible business.

Locally, fairs are being organized in Baltimore and Washington, DC.

The DC fair is being hosted by the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the Washington Convention Center on September 28th and will feature about 250 graduate school programs including the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford Graduate School of Education, the UCLA Field School of Public Health, and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Health.   

The Baltimore event will take place in the Glass Pavilion at Johns Hopkins University on September 27th and will include representatives from the Boston University School of Social Work, Columbia University Teacher's College, and the Yale School of Public Health.  Both are free and open to the public.

For more information or to RSVP either event, visit the Idealist website.

Sep 19, 2012

Colleges Adjust Admissions Policies for 2012-13

Every year, there comes some reshuffling of practices and policies governing submission of college applications. And this year is no exception, as institutions work to control the management and flow of paper while still keeping an eye on the “business” of college admissions.

It’s no secret that colleges want to increase applicant pools, improve yield, and find ways to identify best-fit applicants who will not only return after freshman year but also graduate within four to six years of matriculation.

But once they get applications in the door, admissions offices face some very real management issues. And most are neither increasing staff nor budgets for application review.

To tackle the problem of providing thorough reviews of growing numbers of applications, colleges adjust application deadlines and requirements. Some of the more popular changes for this year include:
  • Shifting deadlines: By moving deadlines up, college administrators provide staff with more time to organize and review applications. And by shifting the entire process forward, colleges have the additional benefit of being able to notify students sooner and possibly get a jump on the competition.  But a few colleges, like Georgia Tech, reconsidered overly-aggressive deadlines and loosened up a little by moving them back a few weeks. 
  • Adding new early admission (EA and ED) options: Students applying under these early programs provide a “demonstrated interest” element to their applications and are rewarded with early notifications. And colleges using ED and EDII benefit from being able to “lock in” students with binding commitments. These policies not only help admissions offices control the flow of application materials coming into the office but also make “yield” a little more predictable for the head counters.
  • Reducing dependence on standardized tests:  A number of colleges announced new test “optional” or “flexible” policies this year, even as late as last week.  In fact, the list published by FairTest now includes 875 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions that do not require all or many applicants to submit test scores.
  • Improving efficiency through technology: Colleges are increasingly signing on with electronic providers such as the Common Application, the Universal College Application, and other application products more specifically tailored to their needs. In addition, colleges are transitioning to online reading, thereby reducing paper and the need for extra support staff.
Locally, American University added Early Decision II.  Emory & Henry, Roanoke, and Virginia Intermont joined the Common Application.  St. Mary’s College of Maryland became an “exclusive” member of the Common Application and did away with most of the old supplement including the video essay option. 

Other colleges reporting changes include (EA = early action; ED = early decision; RD = regular decision):
  • Agnes Scott College moved RD back to 3/15
  • American University added EDII (1/15)
  • Augsburg College added EA (11/15) and EAII (12/15)
  • Bentley University moved EA up to 11/1
  • Boston College added a supplemental essay (and the choices are challenging)
  • Boston University no longer requires Subject Tests
  • Carroll University added ED (11/15)
  • Centre College added ED (12/1) and EDII (1/15)
  • Champlain College added EDII (1/1)
  • Claremont McKenna College moved ED up to 11/1
  • Clark University is now Test Optional
  • College of St. Rose is now Test Optional
  • College of Wooster moved ED up to 11/1 and added EDII (1/15)
  • Columbia University now allows Score Choice
  • Drew University moved ED back to 11/15 and dropped EDII and EA
  • Drexel University added ED (11/15) and set RD deadline (1/15)
  • Earlham College moved ED up to 11/1 and EA up to 12/1
  • Flagler College moved RD up to 3/1
  • Georgia Tech moved EA back to 10/15
  • Hope College added EA (11/1)
  • Illinois College added EAII (2/15)
  • Immaculata University added EA (12/1)
  • Ithaca College added EA (12/1) and went Test Optional
  • Lees-McRea is now Test Optional
  • Lycoming College added EA (11/1)
  • Miami of Ohio moved ED back to 11/15
  • Middlebury College moved ED up to 11/10
  • Moravian College eliminated EA
  • Mount St. Mary added ED (11/15) and EA (1/10)
  • New York Institute of Technology added EA (12/1)
  • Nichols College added EA (12/1)
  • Notre Dame de Namur University added EAII (2/1)
  • Ohio State University joined the Common Application
  • Otterbein University eliminated EA and online applications submitted after 11/1 will no longer be free
  • Providence College added ED (12/1)
  • Quinnipiac University moved ED back to 11/1
  • Rhode Island School of Design joined the Common Application
  • Santa Clara University added ED (11/1) in addition to EA (11/1)
  • Sarah Lawrence adopted a “Test Optional” policy and will now consider scores if submitted
  • St. John’s College (Annapolis and Santa Fe) added EA (11/15) and EAII (1/15)
  • Stetson University eliminated ED
  • Susquehanna University moved ED back to 12/1
  • University of Connecticut added EA (12/1) and moved RD up to 1/15
  • University of Kentucky moved EA back to 1/15
  • University of Rochester is now Test Flexible and moved EDII up to 1/1
  • University of San Diego eliminated EA and moved RD up to 12/15
  • University of Tennessee joined the Common Application
  • Washington & Lee moved ED up to 11/1 
  • Wofford College added EA (11/15)

Please note that all admissions policies are subject to change at any time.  And in fact, some may be changing at this very minute.  So check and re-check individual college websites for the most up-to-date information on deadlines and requirements.