Special Programs

The University of Utah’s Bargain Honors Program

The University of Utah’s Bargain Honors Program

High-quality education in the form of Honors Colleges in Public Universities is becoming ever more common. Within the University of California system most have, including UCLA, UCI, and five of the six colleges of UCSD, special honors programs. The reason behind the growth of these honors programs is public universities want to keep their best students at home, in state, and challenged by a curriculum many believe can only be obtained from the most selective universities.


Udacity and the Evolution of Nanodegrees

Udacity and the Evolution of Nanodegrees

The problems facing higher education today are legion: escalating tuition costs; spiraling student debt; political correctness; underachieving students; professorial emphasis on research to the detriment of undergraduate teaching; adjunct professors earning starvation wages, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

One company, however, within the MOOC (massive open online courses) ranks, Udacity, appears to have latched onto a solution that addresses many of the abovementioned ills: its nanodegree programs.

Post Baccalaureate Medical Options

Post Baccalaureate Medical Options

Should you, after graduating from college, hear the call of medicine, regardless of whether your transcript contains a generous dose of premed classes or not, all is not lost. You still might address your medical aspirations by joining a Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program (PB).

The list of programs, there are several hundred, can be found on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) site, and span the universe of making a career change, enhancing your academic record (improving your GPA), or being part of a group underrepresented in medicine, or economically or educationally disadvantaged.

The ROTC Option

The ROTC Option

If you have contemplated applying to a service academy such as West Point or Annapolis, or if you are applying to one of them, you might want to also consider applying for an ROTC scholarship at one of the more than 1100 colleges that are part of the ROTC program.

The Reserved Officer Training Corp (ROTC) originated with the National Defense Act of 1916.  Each branch has its own unique requirements, service obligations, and availability. If you wish to get a better sense of the workings of the various programs, take a look at the ‘Guide to Understanding ROTC Programs here.

Save Thousands of Dollars with Western University Exchange (WUE)

Save Thousands of Dollars with Western University Exchange (WUE)

Last year 26,700 students from fifteen western states (including California) saved $210 million by enrolling in universities and colleges outside their home states through the Western University Exchange (WUE)—pronounced “woo-wee”-- program. That ‘saved’ sum almost equals 4,200 students’ paying full, out-of-state costs for one year at UC Berkeley.

The Honors College and ASU’s Barrett’s Honors Program

If you want a solid alternative to the elite private college experience, without the $230,000 price tag, then public college honors programs warrant consideration.

Though honors programs within many public colleges have been around for years, including University of Michigan’s LSA Honors Program, and University of Virginia’s Echols Scholars Program, many students and their families are unaware of the opportunities honors programs provide.

The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), (www.nchchonors.org), describes an honors program as a small college within the bountiful resources of a large university that provides personal attention, top faculty, scintillating seminars, numerous research opportunities and internships, and oftentimes scholarship money.

Public University Honors (PUH) (www.publicuniversityhonors.com)   provides criteria to measure the ‘overall excellence’ of an honors program, Listed in order of importance:

  1. The number of honors classes necessary to fulfill  graduation requirements (the more the better)
  2. Prestigious scholarships (Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Truman etc.) awarded honors participants  
  3. Special honors housing 
  4. Select honors study abroad programs
  5. Priority registration.   

With this criteria in hand, PUH recently ranked honors programs, noting that among the top programs, ‘distinctions’ were slight: for example, differentiating among housing on campuses quickly becomes subjective. In any case, among the larger honors programs, those with more than 1,800 students, the top five were:

  1. University of Michigan, LSA Honors Program
  2. Arizona State University, Barrett Honors College
  3. University of Georgia, Honors Program
  4. Penn State University, Schreyer Honors College
  5. University of Minnesota, Honors Program

While Arizona State’s (ASU) regular undergraduate school accepts 89% of applicants, and is best known for its Earth Sciences department, which ranks 17th nationally,  ASU’s Barrett Honors Program requires a minimum SAT score of 1300 (out of 1600), or an ACT composite of 29, a GPA of 3.75+ (unweighted) and an essay.  In other words, Barrett’s is one of the most select colleges in the country set within a land grant mega university.

Arizona State’s honors program was created by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1988, one of the first eminent honors programs in the country. After a $10 million gift to ASU from Craig Barrett, the then CEO of Intel, and his wife, who was an ASU alumna, the Honors College assumed Barrett’s name. The Barrett campus comprises seven residence halls all of which have classrooms for seminars and classes held exclusively for honors students.

Looking at the above PUH criteria for ‘overall excellence’ in an honors program, Barrett’s Honors Program satisfies all of them. Freshmen entering Barrett’s Honors Program are required to take 30% of their total graduation credits in honor’s courses. This ensures rigor and more access to smaller class size and faculty. Additionally, the Barrett Honors students are among the best in the country. ASU was awarded 26 student Fulbright scholarships (out of 60 applications) for 2013-2014. That is third among all the colleges in the country, just behind Harvard and the University of Michigan. Barrett’s also leads in recruiting National Merit Finalists: in 2006, it had over 180 National Merit Scholars enroll.

Barrett Honor’s students also have access to dedicated Honor’s Faculty Fellows along with over 1400 honors faculty across all the ASU colleges. Its housing is spacious and central, the dining hall offers exceptional range and quality, while the Honor’s Hall contains its own exercise gym, coffee shop, computer lab, and lounge area. Beyond this Barrett has a ‘three pronged advisory system’, exceptional research opportunities and funding, and even its own endowment.

Despite all this, Barrett’s gets no respect: among the top 50 public university honors programs it is perceived as 48 (Public University Honors). However, when measured by the students for ‘overall excellence’, it always ranks among the top three.

If you are feeling alienated and underappreciated by the run for the Ivies, or the other highly selective schools dotted across the country, public universities might prove to be an antidote. Apply, visit and consider them. They might be the perfect alternative to launch you toward your own drive for excellence.

College Coop Programs

In Germany, the economic powerhouse of the European Union, its century old Apprenticeship program, also called the Dual System, is a critical component in its current economic prosperity. The program integrates apprenticeship with ‘vocational schooling,’ and involves the cooperation among businesses, government, and ‘chambers’ (employers’ organizations). This apprenticeship program transitions students, year after year, into world-class workers with real responsibilities. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the US had something similar?

While the German apprenticeship program begins in the high schools, the US has ‘coop’ programs available in certain colleges. In a coop program, a student spends six months in class and then takes that classroom knowledge and works, either domestically or internationally, for a company the next six months. The benefits accrue to both companies and students.

Companies that sponsor coop programs enjoy having talented and motivated students work for them for 3-6 month periods. If these students perform, the company might then opt to hire them upon graduation, as studies show coop students often have high rates of productivity (after all they already know the company), and have a strong interest in the company (coop students focus their company search on those in their field of interest). Companies also gain a firsthand understanding of which colleges, and departments within these colleges, provide the best, most promising workers.  Such a relationship for a company can prove a goldmine.  

The students also benefit. As part of a company, students learn to apply classroom theory to work challenges. They can also begin to establish professional networks, gain valuable experience to add to their resumes and expand their job search options (should companies in which they’ve cooped not retain their services). Better, students earn wages as they work in coops. At Drexel (PA), RIT (NY), and the University of Cincinnati, six months of coop wages can add up to an average of $15,000. Better still, unlike earnings from a summer job, coop wages are not counted as student earnings by FAFSA, so whatever a student makes in a coop program will not affect his or her financial aid package. This is why many coop students gain their degrees with little to no debt.  

As mentioned, the coop experience can even be with an overseas company. The World Association for Cooperative Education (WACE), based in Lowell, Massachusetts, provides for global work opportunities, and contains over 50 US member institutions. Additionally, 80 of the Top Fortune 100 companies have coop programs both domestically and overseas, to attract talented students.

Northeastern University (NEU) in Boston, MA, which was founded as a YMCA educational program, today has one of the leading coop programs in the country. At NEU a student can elect to take two 4-6 month coops and graduate in 4 years, or three coops and finish with a degree in five years. NEU has coops in over 37 states and 60 countries. The way the program works, students are assigned a coop coordinator and are required to take a ‘coop preparation course’. The Coop course includes requirements of a job search: career exploration, writing resumes, interviewing, proper decorum at work. Students attain coop positions just like most job searchers, submitting resumes and going through the complete job search process. Employers make the final selection decisions. When in a coop, a student cannot combine it with studies- work is usually demanding enough by itself. NEU does not charge students tuition when they are involved in their coop efforts.  90% of NEU students participate in the coop program. 

Coop programs can also be found at Elon University (NC), NYU, USC, and Purdue, among the dozens of institutions.

The intent of Leland Stanford, and his wife Jane, when they bequeathed their 8,000 acres of farmland 35 miles south of San Francisco, to found a university in the name of his 15 year old son, Leland Junior, who died of typhoid fever, was “to qualify its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life.” The entrepreneurial spirit at Stanford, consequently, flourished. The coop programs equally aspire to this same end.   


Getting on the Rhode (or Fulbright) to Undergraduate Greatness

A stellar undergraduate performance shows a solid work ethic and a propensity to learn. Add to the mix, a Fulbright or Rhodes scholarship and you are among the most elite undergraduates in the country. Only 865 Fulbright Scholarships (to graduating seniors from US campuses—all told there are 8,000 Fulbright awards granted each year) and a mere 32 Rhodes Scholarships were awarded this past year. Aiming to be a recipient of either one is an excellent way to bolster your undergraduate experience. Even falling short will end in excellence—and that, after all, is the intention of your college years.

Fulbright Scholarships have been awarded since 1946 by the US State Department. Senator Fulbright, a former Rhodes Scholar himself, and a graduate of the University of Arkansas, proposed that the Fulbright serve, “to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and, thereby, increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.” It’s good to be optimistic. Since the program’s initiation, over 300,000 people have participated: 43 Fulbright alumni have gone on to receive Nobel prizes, and 78 have won Pulitzer prizes. 

Winning a Fulbright is a combination of hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. Most Fulbright applicants begin thinking about a project during the second semester of their junior years. The project needs to be important to both the US and a second country. Installing a utility grade wind turbine with a small carbon footprint, on a promontory in South Sudan, to supply power to a water purification facility, with a portion of the components to be manufactured in Juba, might gain the seal of approval. The key is to propose something that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.   

To make the task a wee bit more challenging, the skills you are bringing should not be accessible in the host country.  Yet, you’ll need to note on the application the skills you’ll obtain through the proposed project, and detail how they might benefit the US. The whole process comes down to why should Fulbright invest in your project and your academic development? It is a lot like applying for a job: difficult and tortuous, but, with tenacity, eminently achievable.

To win a Rhodes, however, you almost have to be Clark Kent. The Rhodes scholarships were established in 1902, by Cecil Rhodes, the founder of De Beers. Rhodes scholars must first be nominated by their colleges or universities. They then are judged by scholastic attainments, athletic success, fellowship, and leadership prowess.  Candidates then must submit to a series of interviews, both formal and informal. Finally, each November, winners are announced, and the following October Rhodes scholars head to Oxford for two years to gain a second bachelor’s, an MPhil, or DPhil.

This year’s Rhodes recipients include a graduate from Bard College in New York, and another from Cal State Long Beach; neither school has ever graduated a Rhodes recipient before. Ronan Farrow, the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, graduated from Bard at the age of 15, and finished Yale Law School at 21, where he edited the Yale Journal of International Affairs. He speaks six languages and is currently a special advisor to the Secretary of State. Stephanie Bryson, a double major in German and International Studies, has won numerous German scholarships including a year at Humboldt University in Berlin, and is finishing her masters at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service studying German and European Studies.

With fewer than 1800 living Rhodes Scholars in the world, being among them is an unrivalled distinction. Its ranks include President Bill Clinton and Walter Isaacson (the former chairman of CNN, and biographer of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs).

Thinking about what it is that you want out of your undergraduate years is time well spent. Desire creates involvement, and the more consumed you become in accomplishing something great, something you may never have thought possible, the more likely you just might be awarded a Fulbright or, if all the stars line up, a Rhodes.

Yale University in Singapore—the Liberal Arts in Asia—and its Discontents


  • Singapore becoming university hub for Asia
  • Dozens of top flight universities have joint ventures in Singapore
  • Yale NUS project creating tension in New Haven

The small city state of Singapore, with a population of just over 5 million, is quickly becoming the educational hub of Asia. Prior to the turn of the 21st century, Singapore offered postsecondary degrees almost solely through its two large flagship universities: National University of Singapore (NUS), and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Then, in January 2000, Singapore Management University opened its doors, followed by Singapore Institute of Management (2005), Singapore Institute of Technology (2009), Singapore University of Technology and Design (2011), and, coming soon, Yale/NUS (2013).

Although Yale already has a joint program with Peking University in China, the Yale/NUS liberal arts college will establish Yale’s permanent presence in the heart of Southeast Asia. The campus will begin its first class of 150 students in August of 2013 (actually in July—as the first class will be provided a month long orientation in New Haven, CT). The plan is for class size to increase, over the next several years, to 250 students per class, raising total enrollment to 1000.

Yale-NUS college will now be added to the already extensive list of alliances between US, along with European and Australian, universities and the various colleges and technical schools in Singapore: Chapman University in Film & TV production, University of Chicago Booth School of Business Asia Campus, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Johns Hopkins Division of Biomedical Sciences (NUS), Singapore Stanford Partnership (NTU), Singapore MIT Alliance (NTU), Cornell School of Hospitality Management (NTU), UN Las Vegas, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore…and this is but a sample of Singapore’s educational pulse.

While a number of the universities listed above are involved in exchange of faculty, specific course design and curriculum development, the Yale NUS joint venture will be a brand new university, anchored in Singapore, with  BS and BA degrees across, initially, 14 majors, awarded by NUS, yet with the full resources of the Yale Alumni available to all graduates. The government of Singapore, through NUS, is financing the entire program, which includes building a separate campus with three residential colleges. Each college will have its own dining, student facilities, quads, and rector, who will live among the students (all modeled upon Yale’s residential college system). Classrooms will be integrated into the residential colleges as well.

The cost for an international student to attend is 15,000 Singapore dollars per semester (about $12,000 US) and all students accepted will receive 50% scholarship for room and board which reduces room and board to $1,400 US per semester. Double the sum for the school year, and the total cost is well under US $30,000, which is competitive with the costs of many UC campuses (though flying half way around the world might add a bit to the calculation).   

Naturally, not all parties on the Yale side are happy about the coming premiere of Yale NUS. The joint venture with NUS was initiated by two members of the Yale Corporation (which is the governing body of Yale chaired by the President of Yale, a board of trustees, the governor of Connecticut, and alumni fellows who serve staggered 6-year terms) who were advisors on the Government of Singapore’s investment portfolio. The chief faculty critic, Seyla Benhabib, a political science professor, put the position of Yale’s faculty in very blunt terms: “Leaving aside this venture’s naïve missionary sentiment, one must ask: Do we need to go to Singapore to advance … a revival of the liberal arts?” (“What’s at Stake at Yale-NUS”, Yale Daily News, 4 April 2012) After which a resolution was passed by the faculty calling into question issues of civil and political rights within the state of Singapore (and the fact that the faculty will be involved with curriculum development and staffing—without having any voice in the decision.) This provoked President Levine of Yale to comment that the tone of Ms. Benhabib’s resolution “carried a sense of moral superiority that I found unbecoming.”

The launch of the Yale-NUS College is coming with its own brand of fireworks—adding just a splash of hot chili sauce to Yale’s Singapore Sling.

School Year Plan—Why the Type of School Year Plan might be important to you


  • Semester Plan
  • Quarter, or Trimester Plan
  • 4-1-4 Plans, How They Work
  • Block Plan
  • Special Plans: K-Plan

 “The Sizing up Survey” in the Fiske Guide to Colleges asks a number of preference questions to help students figure out good college matches: location, setting, size, cost, athletics, extracurricular, public vs. private, campus culture, academics, and ‘other factors.’ Unfortunately, in certain areas, especially ‘academics’, many students not only don’t have any answers, they don’t even have a clue what they’re looking for, nor do they have much time to contemplate what an ideal learning experience might be. One area to get a grasp of ‘academics,’ beyond whether the school has general education courses, a core curriculum, or distribution requirements, is to know how colleges divvy up their school year, and how these various divisions might jive with learning styles.  

The traditional curriculum, found at most universities-including 7 of the 8 Ivy League schools, is the semester system. Typically a semester is 15-17 weeks with each semester containing 4 to 5 courses. A number of these colleges start the academic year in mid to late August, but they do end the year earlier, usually around mid-May, allowing students to get a jump on internships or summer jobs. There also is a 2-3 week break around Christmas. A key benefit of the semester system is if students get behind in their classes, there is sufficient time to catch up. However, for procrastinators, the semester system can cover up a lot of waste and inefficiencies.

The quarter system, which is also known as the trimester system, divides the school year into three quarters, and usually has a summer quarter as well. Each quarter is around 10 weeks, and usually includes 3-4 classes. The quarter system, however, moves rapidly. Within weeks of starting a class, students are already preparing for mid-terms. Get behind or mess up an assignment, and there is not much time to compensate. All the University of California campuses, except Berkeley, are on the quarter system. Stanford and Dartmouth are as well, with Dartmouth requiring all undergraduates to attend at least one summer quarter sometime in their career.

The 4-1-4 program is the traditional semester program with 4-month semesters on either side of January, which is 1 month set aside to take one or two classes, study abroad, or perform an internship. A number of schools including Middlebury (VT), MIT, Williams (MA), and the University of San Diego have 4-1-4 academic years. One concern, which some students voice, is the costliness of the January term for, at the most, only two classes.

The Block Plan allots 4-5 weeks for students to immerse themselves in one subject. Cornell College (Iowa) adopted the block plan in 1978. Colorado College is also a practitioner. While some subjects such as computer science (particularly programming), social sciences, and humanities, are well attuned to block study, for math, science, or foreign languages, should students not understand a concept, or miss a day, they can get seriously behind, and with only 3-4 weeks, never catch up.  

Kalamazoo College’s K-Plan is a special course of study that features experiential learning, or "learning-by-doing." Nearly 20% of all classes, a significant portion of the coursework, are: internships and externships, study abroad programs, senior projects, and in service-learning, which is volunteering and working within the community. This takes what is learned in class and immediately applies it to the real world. Some students learn best through application—this is a good program of study for such learners.  

There are many approaches to curriculum at the university level. By the way, a list of the colleges which use these various curricula can be found at http://www.internationalcounselor.org/archives/1877. Considering which might best fit your learning style: semester, trimester, 4-1-4, block plan, or a more hands on approach to learning, where classroom theories are constantly being put to the test, warrants thought. If you find a university that acknowledges your learning style and builds upon it, you’ve probably found a good place to learn and succeed—and that’s what good college matches are all about.  

대학 학제: 여러분에게 중요한 이유

  • 일년 2 학기(semester)
  • 4학기(quarter), 또는 3학기 (trimester)
  • 4-1-4 학제
  • 블록(Block)
  • 특별: K-Plan

대학입학안내서 Fiske Guide to Colleges의 ‘대학 조사하기’(The Sizing up the Survey)에는 학생이 본인에게 맞는 대학을 찾도록 여러 가지 질문을 던지고 있다: 위치, 전경, 크기, 가격, 운동, 특활, 공립 혹은 사립, 캠퍼스 문화, 학업, 그 외 다른 요소들.  불행히도 학업적인 면에 있어서 많은 학생들은 답을 갖고 있지 않으며, 더욱이 각자가 무엇을 원하는지, 어떤 이상적인 교육경험에 대해 충분히 생각할 시간이 없다.  학교의 교양과정이나 핵심 교과과정이나 요구조건 등을 고려하기 전에 고려할 학업에 대한 한 영역은 그 학교의 학제를 아는 것이며, 어떻게 본인의 학습 스타일과 맞추는가 이다.

아이비리그의 8개교 중 7대학이 택하는 전통적인 교과과정은 2학기(semester)제 이다.  한 학기가 보통 15-17주이며, 4-5과목을 수강한다.  많은 대학들이 8월 중순에 시작하고 5월 중순에 마치며, 학생들이 여름 직업이나 인턴쉽을 가질 수 있다.  또한 2-3주의 크리스마스 휴식이 있다.  가장 좋은 점은 학생들이 뒤처지더라도 충분히 따라잡을 시간을 가질 수 있다.  그러나 미루는 학생들은 많은 시간을 낭비하며 비효율적이다.

쿼터제는 흔히 3학기제이며, 3개의 쿼터로 나뉘어지고 보통 여름 쿼터도 있다.  각 쿼터는 10주이며, 보통 3-4과목을 수강한다.  한편, 쿼터제는 빨리 지나간다.  수업이 시작되자마자 학생들은 중간고사를 준비한다.  뒤처지면 과제준비는 엉망이 되며, 회복할 시간이 없다.  University of California는 Berkeley만 빼고 모두 쿼터제이다.  Stanford와 Dartmouth역시 이 제도이며, Dartmouth는 모든 학부생에게 적어도 한번은 여름학기를 수강하도록 한다.

4-1-4프로그램은 1월 전후로 4개월의 학기제이며, 한 달은 1-2과목을 study abroad로 듣거나 인턴쉽을 하도록 하는 2학기제 이다.  Middlebury(VT), MIT, Williams (MA), University of San Diego등은 4-1-4 학제이다.  한편, 학생들은 1월에 2과목만 듣는 것은 낭비라고 말한다.

Block Plan은 한 과목을 4-5주에 집중하도록 한다.  Cornell College(Iowa)는 1978년에 이 제도를 도입했다.  Colorado College도 실험 중에 있다.  컴퓨터 공학(프로그래밍), 사회과학, 인문학은 block study에 잘 맞는 반면, 수학, 과학, 외국어는 학생들이 개념을 이해하지 못하거나, 하루를 빠지면, 뒤쳐져서 결코 따라가지 못하게 된다.

Kalamazoo College의 K-Plan은 경험 학습, 즉 ‘learning-by-doing’의 특성을 갖춘 특별과정이다.  모든 과목의 20%정도가 다음과 같은 것들을 요구한다: 인턴쉽, externship, 해외학습, 지역사회에서 일하기 등.  교실에서 배운 것을 바로 현장에 적용하도록 한다.  어떤 학생들은 현장에서 더 잘한다.  이 프로그램은 그런 학생들에게 잘 맞다.

대학에는 교과과정에 여러 가지 방법들이 있다.  대학의 다양한 교과과정에 대해서는 http://www.internationalcounselor.org/archives/1877에 잘 나와있다.  여러분의 학습스타일을 고려하여, 2학기제, 3학기제, 4-1-4제, 혹은 실습위주 제도를 시험하여 고려하길 바란다.  여러분의 학습스타일에 맞는 대학을 찾아서 간다면, 아마도 잘 배우고 성공적인 곳이 될 것이다—이 점이 바로 대학을 잘 고르는 것이다.