Jun 30, 2014

25 colleges with super fast internet

Brandeis University came in No. 5 in the TestMy.net study

Taking an unusual twist on college rankings, ValoreBooks working together with TestMy.net analyzed colleges and universities for internet speed—differences in upload and download rates.

And it turns out that money in the bank doesn’t mean much when it comes to providing students with speedy internet.  In fact, some colleges you might expect to provide first class service in terms of network speed are actually “rather mediocre.”

“Notably, the college with the highest download speeds is not Harvard [23.1 Mbps] or Yale [25.6 Mbps], as one might expect,” suggests the researchers at ValoreBooks.  “Instead, Lamar State College in Port Arthur, Texas wins the gold medal for download speeds, clocking in at 154.8 Megabits per second.”

This is significantly faster than downloads at Stanford University (56.8 Mbps), Princeton (15.5 Mbps), or MIT (20.7 Mbps).

And internet speed matters.  Researchers depend on the capability to transmit information for their work.  Professors depend on it for instructional purposes, and students increasingly expect colleges to provide fast internet service in every area of campus.

Colleges are no doubt continuously playing catch-up when it comes to technology and the Internet.  It’s a constant challenge to upgrade and update.  But it is curious to see which colleges put a premium on internet speed benefiting the entire campus community.

“While Internet speed may not be the most important factor at play when choosing a college, a school’s investment in its technological infrastructure reflects its commitment to innovation—which should be on a prospective student’s checklist,” concludes ValoreBooks and TestMy.net.

On a website designed for self-testing, TestMy.net published average download speed test results from several local colleges and universities including the University of Maryland (52.6 Mbps), Georgetown University (26.1 Mbps), Old Dominion University (24.2 Mbps), the University of Virginia (17.7 Mbps), Radford University (17.5 Mbps), Longwood University (17.4 Mbps), and James Madison University (16.7 Mbps).

And for the record, the following colleges tested with the fastest internet speeds (ranked by download + upload):
  1. Lamar State College—Port Arthur
  2. Delaware Technical and Community College
  3. Suffolk University
  4. Texas A&M University
  5. Brandeis University
  6. Metropolitan State University of Denver
  7. University of Wyoming at Laramie
  8. Carroll College
  9. Rice University
  10. Langston University
  11. Clarkson College
  12. Central Michigan University
  13. Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  14. Bucknell University
  15. Houston Community College
  16. University of Texas at Austin
  17. University of Minnesota at St. Paul
  18. Columbia-Green Community College
  19. Taylor University
  20. Saginaw Valley State University
  21. Drexel University
  22. Oklahoma State University
  23. Emerson College
  24. University of New Orleans
  25. Occidental College

Jun 27, 2014

On the road in Oregon with the Higher Education Consultants Association

Willamette University

Loving the crystal blue skies and moderate temperatures characteristic of springtime in the Pacific
Northwest, two busloads of independent college consultants (IEC’s) took to the Oregon highways for college tours following the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) Annual Conference in Portland.

And they were rewarded with exquisite campuses showcasing Oregon’s geographic diversity and natural beauty.  Although the five colleges visited by each of the post-conference tours were relatively quiet, the enthusiasm and warm welcome from administrators, staff, and students working during the summer more than made up for any shortage of undergrads on campus.

Here is a little of what the HECA tour groups learned over the course of two very full days:

University of Oregon
Why a Duck?  Well, why not a Duck?  Founded in 1876, the University of Oregon is the state’s flagship institution.  Towering shade trees dominate the 295-acre campus located in Eugene—the quintessential college town.  With more than 200 comprehensive academic programs, the UO offers something for everyone and at a very reasonable price. In fact, out-of-state students can easily establish residency after their freshman year to benefit from low in-state tuition.

The UO commitment to environment and sustainability is evident throughout campus.  Earlier this year, the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building became the first higher education laboratory in Oregon to be awarded LEED Platinum certification—the highest possible—by the U.S. Green Building Council.  The 103,000 square-foot Lewis building is the home of biologists, chemists, neuroscientists, and other researchers working together under a single roof.

For prospective architects, the UO’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts tops several lists including the DesignIntelligence ranking of programs in sustainable design education.  The architecture program takes five years, and students receiving merit money have the opportunity to benefit from a 5-year guarantee covering time to complete the program.

Oregon State University
Situated 90 miles south of Portland and an hour from the Cascades or the Pacific Coast, Oregon State University boasts of its status as a leading research university.  One of 73 land-grant universities, Oregon State is also recognized as a sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant institution—only one of two in the U.S. (the other is Cornell).  The 400-acrea main campus includes a Historic District, making Oregon State one of few university campuses listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

And Oregon State is rapidly growing.  In fact, this year’s freshman class increased by 11 percent.  Six major construction projects including a new residence hall, new classroom buildings, and cultural center upgrades, are well under way.

Undergrads entering Oregon State as freshmen or transfer students are automatically reviewed for scholarship eligibility—no application is required.  And students who have completed the full International Baccalaureate diploma with a score of 30 or higher may be awarded a minimum of $3,000 per year, renewable for up to four years.

Pacific University Oregon
Pacific University began as a school for orphans from the Oregon Trail in 1849 and was modeled after the best schools of New England.  Today, Pacific University serves nearly 3,500 students (22 percent from Hawaii) on campuses in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Eugene, and Woodburn.

Exercise Science is the most popular major at Pacific University, and course work includes biology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, motor learning and nutrition in two main tracks:  integrative physiology and motor behavior.   Students in the Advantage Scholars Program may apply for an early decision admission to Pacific’s health professions programs during their junior year. Those who successfully complete program requirements will be offered one guaranteed interview with the Pacific University Graduate or Professional Program of their choice.

Each year, the Na Haumana O Hawai’I (NHOH) organizes a campus-wide luau designed to celebrate and share culture with the extended Pacific community.  With an average crowd of 2,000, 8,000 pounds of cargo gets shipped in from the islands making this event the largest student organized luau west of the Mississippi.

Linfield College
Once known as McMinnville College, Linfield’s main campus is located on 193 “park-like” acres.  In recent years, Linfield has more than doubled in size allowing for an increase in the student body and the development of new facilities.  An expanded library on the far edge of campus has given the college better space for research and collaborative study.

The Linfield Center for the Northwest (LCN) facilitates regionally-based internships, community service and service learning opportunities.  Housed within the LCN, is the Oregon Wine History Archive chronicles the Oregon wine industry and includes historical documents from winery owners, growers, researchers, marketers, and sellers.  The Center is currently involved in a larger Oregon Wine History Project designed to involve students in research related to Oregon’s wine industry.

Linfield’s largest major, nursing is a “transfer-only” program located on the Portland campus.  Students apply to the nursing program after completing prerequisites at the McMinnville campus.

Willamette University
One street away from the Oregon State Capitol in Salem and co-located with Tokyo International University of America, Willamette University is situated on a stunning historic campus.  Founded in 1842, Willamette was the first university established in the western United States and one of the earliest coeducational institutions in the U.S.

In addition to the 60-acre main campus, Willamette owns the 305-acre Zena Forest and Farm, which provides for onsite classes, research, and a student-operated farm and garden.  Part of the farm is dedicated to the Summer Institute in Sustainable Agriculture where students live in a farmhouse for six weeks and take classes in agroecology and sustainable agriculture.

Willamette offers various talent scholarships (music, forensics, and theatre) requiring a separate application or audition in addition to materials submitted for admission.  Students may apply for talent scholarships in conjunction with either the Early Action or Regular Decision application timeline.

Jun 25, 2014

Even more ways to make the most of the summer before senior year

For the college-bound, the months between junior and senior years are crucial for jumpstarting the application process. 

It’s also a great time for discovering new interests, adding to your resume, and otherwise positioning yourself for beginning the ultimate transition from high school senior to college freshman.

The first day of the last year of high school will be here before you know it.  But in the meantime, here are ways you can make the most of the summer before senior year:
  • Work.  Options range from flipping burgers at the shore to organizing a book drive, conducting research, or hammering nails for Habitat for Humanity.  By the time you’ve completed junior year of high school, you should be old enough and responsible enough to work—full or part time, paid or unpaid.  Work builds character, introduces career options, teaches skills, and expands your network in important ways.  Don’t miss the opportunity to add to your resume while learning something about yourself and others.
  • Visit CollegesCampus tours don’t stop just because undergrads are off doing other things.  Now is the time to check out the last few colleges on your list and refine your ideas of how location, size or architecture affects your thinking about a particular campus. And by the way, the summer is a great time for more relaxed conversations with admissions staff, coaches, or professors in departments you may be targeting.
  • Nail Down the List.  Take a deep breath and begin eliminating schools that don’t really appeal or offer what you want.  Zero in on places representing the best fit—academically, socially, and financially—and begin committing to a realistic list of schools to which you intend to apply.
  • Demonstrate Interest.  Beyond visiting campuses, engage in a systematic demonstrated interest campaign.  Be proactive by getting on mailing lists, requesting information, initiating correspondence, and attending local events.  In addition to showing your favorite schools a little love, you might just learn something important about campus culture or new initiatives college administrators want to sell to prospective applicants.
  • Get Organized.  There are a billion moving parts to the college admissions process.  Get a handle on them by creating a spreadsheet of colleges on your list and noting deadlines, requirements (recommendations, test score submission, interviews), important admissions policies (early action vs. early decision), and application quirks (supplements, scholarships, honors).  Also, make note of which colleges use the Common Application, the Universal College Application (UCA), or other school-based forms.
  • Do the Clerical Part.  There’s no reason not to complete the simple stuff as soon as applications go on line or are made available on college websites.  Note that the UCA will go live on July 1st and the Common Application will be ready on August 1st.  Other applications and supplements will appear on websites as the summer progresses. 
  •  Draft Essays. Now is the time to begin brainstorming and drafting essays. Explore a variety of topics and don’t be afraid to change direction or discard work that’s going nowhere.  This is the advantage of writing and reflecting during summer months before the pressures of senior year cut into Zen time.
  • Prep for Standardized Tests.  You’ve probably taken the ACT and/or the SAT at least once.  If you didn’t knock the ball out of the park the first time (and most don’t), plan to prep for a fall retake.  Get a tutor, sign-up for a class, or simply sit at the kitchen table and take timed practice tests.  Work on vocabulary and grammar—these are learned skills that involve repetition like playing the piano or improving your ERA. 
  •  Research and Apply for Scholarships.  The scholarship hunt should begin now—not after all your college applications have been submitted.  A surprising number of scholarships have applications due early in the school year and use essay prompts similar to those you’re working on for colleges.  Use FastWeb or Cappex to get an overview of what’s out there.  And while you’re at it, explore the FAFSA4caster with your parents for a little financial reality testing and apply early for that all-important FAFSA pin number.
  •  Secure Recommendations. If you haven’t done so already, try to get in touch with at least two core academic teachers from junior year to ask for college recommendations.  You may or may not need both, but it’s always a good idea to have two teachers willing to support you.  Don’t delay—teachers may limit the number of recommendations they’re willing to write or they may want to get started before school begins. And be sure to provide recommenders with whatever background information they request—at a minimum, a resume and cover note. 
  • Schedule Interviews. Note that many colleges offer on-campus interviews during the summer.  You want to be able to check these requirements off your list sooner rather than later.  Colleges make it easy to combine interviews with campus tours, but you have to schedule early to get days and times that work for you.
  • Position Yourself for Fall Classes.  Be aware that senior year courses and grades can be very important in admissions decisions.  Colleges want to see upward trends in grades, and they care very much that you continue to challenge yourself academically.  Obtain texts for any challenging and/or AP/IB classes and “study forward” during the summer.  If necessary, give your tutor a call and go over the first few chapters of material you know will keep you up late at night come September.
  •  Read, Relax, and Enjoy Yourself.  A year from now, you’ll be packing your bags!

Jun 23, 2014

Transfer students continue migrating toward warmer climates

University of Central Florida

According to data compiled by US News, transfer students are continuing their migration toward warmer climates. Colleges and universities in California, Florida, and Texas dominated the list of most popular destinations for transfers last year. 

And from a practical standpoint, these are schools that have capacity to accept and enroll astonishingly 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. 

The National Student Clearinghouse reports that one-third of all students transfer at least once within five years, with the majority of transfers occurring in students’ second year.

And community college students make up a huge percentage of students moving from one institution to another.

Even President Obama transferred across country during his college career.

Among the “ranked” colleges and universities providing U.S. News with transfer data, the University of Texas at Arlington topped the list with 8,649 students transferring in. In fact, three of the top transfer destinations were located in the Lone Star State:  UT Arlington, University of Houston, and the University of North Texas.

A quick review of local colleges and universities also suggests significant transfer movement at some larger institutions. 
UMUC (3677 transfers), Old Dominion University (2284), George Mason University (2104), Virginia Commonwealth University (2021), the University of Maryland (1854) and Towson University (2105) enrolled the most transfer students.

According to even more recent Common Data Set information, far fewer transfers were to be found at other local institutions including Johns Hopkins (45) and the University of Richmond (52).

With more spots to fill, George Washington accepted 41 percent of its transfer applicants and enrolled 438 students, while James Madison University accepted 52 percent of its applicants and enrolled 621 students.

University of Virginia accepted 41 percent of those applying to transfer and enrolled 671, at the same time the College of William and Mary accepted 43 percent of its transfer applicants and enrolled 185.

With high retention and graduation rates, Washington and Lee University doesn’t have much of a transfer program.  Last year 71 students applied, 5 were admitted, and none enrolled.

On the other side of the spectrum, among the local colleges admitting the highest percent of transfer applicants were the
University of Mary Washington (79%), St. Mary’s College of Maryland (72%), Virginia Tech (64%), and American University (60%).

The following is the
U.S. News list of nonprofit universities enrolling the most transfer students:

  • University of  Texas—Arlington (8649)
  • Arizona State University (7228)
  • University of Central Florida (6110)
  • California State University—Fullerton (4343)
  • University of Houston (4299)
  • Florida International University (4248)
  • California State University—Northridge (3978)
  • California State University—Long Beach (3940)
  • University of South Florida (3902)
  • University of North Texas (3929)

Note that despite real interest in transfer data, the federal government doesn’t really keep track of these numbers outside of asking for a voluntary “transfer-out” rate. 

Local transfer-out rates are provided by the Johns Hopkins University (2%), UVa (4%), College of William and Mary (7%), Washington and Lee University (8%), Randolph-Macon College (12%), University of Maryland College Park (14%), St. Mary’s College of Maryland (19%), George Mason University (21%), and the University of Mary Washington (23%). 

Many more institutions are not so forthcoming with their information and simply leave the question blank.