University of Pennsylvania

The Inexorable Tuition Escalation

The Inexorable Tuition Escalation

The cost of attending a college or university keeps rising without an apparent limit year in and year out.

To give a sense of the relentless rise, since the early 1980’s tuition has increased over 1000% while the consumer price index (CPI) has risen a relative paltry 240%.  From a slightly different perspective, in 1970 the percentage of the average household income it took to pay for tuition in a four-year college was 16%; by 2010 it was 36%.  As a consequence of the rising costs, students are taking on debt as never before.

Tracking Admission’s Yields

Tracking Admission’s Yields

One metric for keeping score on the vibrancy of a college is its yield rate: the percent of students who have been accepted who do, in fact, attend. 

In 2014, Harvard edged out Brigham Young University by 0.1%, to enjoy the highest yield in the country. BYU, which has been the yield champion in several prior years, accepts slightly fewer than half of those who apply, has a 19:1 student/faculty ratio, and tuition and room and board under $13,000. Great education, great football, and access to the Wasatch National Forest enable it to get 80% of those accepted to come.


Haunted Campuses

Haunted Campuses

The New York University (NYU) application essay reads: ‘NYU is global, urban, inspired, smart, connected, and bold. What can NYU offer you, and what can you offer NYU?’ Whatever you might offer NYU, NYU offers you a place in the elite of haunted campuses, along with a very good scare above and beyond its annual tuition rate of $45,000.

Founded in 1831, NYU has over 20,000 souls buried beneath its main campus. The land comprising Washington Square Park, NYU’s Greenwich Village location, was a ‘potter’s field,’ a graveyard for the indigent.  It also served as a mass grave for the thousands who died in the Yellow Fever epidemic of the 1820s. The Old University building, one of the first buildings built on the campus, was haunted by a young artist who committed suicide in one of its turrets.

The ‘Early Decision’ Decision

The ‘Early Decision’ Decision

Early admissions applications are becoming ever more prominent. This last December, Ivy College Prep, LLC helped students get accepted into Notre Dame early action (EA), and Brown, early decision (ED). Under early action (EA), the admitted applicant is free to apply to any other school and has until May 1st to make a final decision. Early Decision (ED), on the other hand, binds: if accepted the applicant’s admissions process is over.

Answering the ‘Why Us?” College Essay Question

  • The Importance of the ‘Why Us?’ Essay question
  • Improves your Candidacy and Knowledge of College
  • Takes 3-5 Hours to Write
  • Use ‘Evernote’ or another Note-taking Tool to Research

In many of the supplements to the Common Application you are likely to run into some form of the question ‘Why Us?” Here is the 2011 University of Pennsylvania rendition:

“Considering both the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying and the unique aspects of the University of Pennsylvania, what do you hope to learn from and contribute to the Penn community?”

If you answer this question well it will:

  1. Tell the admissions office that you’ve done your homework as to how you plan to exploit the university’s resources to the best of your ability.
  2. Give you a grasp of the specific college, department, and majors of interest along with the outstanding faculty members whose courses you might wish to take, or whom you might wish to have mentor you in undergraduate research projects.
  3. Expose you to special programs you may never knew existed such as dual major possibilities, or interdisciplinary studies.

Treat this question lightly or attempt to answer it without doing the necessary research and you might jeopardize your admissions chances. Furthermore, this question is asking what you know about the school in question, and what unique qualities it has that cannot be found anywhere else. If you respond by saying that you like Penn because it has a low student to faculty ratio, a solid reputation, or a location in a ‘dynamic’ urban area, you’re using broad generalities that don’t differentiate University of Pennsylvania from dozens of schools that share these same qualities. To answer it well, you need to know the University of Pennsylvania well, particularly its departments, student clubs, and extracurricular areas of interest. 

Expect to take around 3-5 hours of research and writing to gain familiarity. I’ve worked with a number of students, and none have produced a worthy essay in less time. The word limit for this essay is 500 words: squeezing everything into this limited space is not easy.

Let’s assume that you’re an applicant interested in economics which means you want to find out the ‘unique aspects’ of Penn’s offerings for potential economics majors; you also want to approach your search with a list of what it is you ‘hope to learn’ upon graduation. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a more meaningful exercise when evaluating any school on your list. To get the process started:

  1. Use a note taking program to capture what you run into on the web. Microsoft’s One Note isn’t bad; if you don’t have Microsoft Office, then download Evernote—it’s free, it’s easy to use, and it will save a lot of time.
  2. Read the Penn write up in the Fiske Guide to Colleges. It discusses strong departments within the school, special programs that are offered, and gives a general overview of the campus and student life.
  3. Read the write up on (the annual charge for access to over 200 college write ups is $25—they’re constantly updated). It reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the Penn curriculum. It also gives insights into the insidious presence of ‘political correctness’ in various departments.
  4. I then would go to the website of the Economics department in the School of Arts and Sciences, and explore the majors offered, their requirements, internships, research opportunities, special seminars…

For the University of Pennsylvania one student ended up with over 15 notes on the PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) major. Most were from the University of Pennsylvania website which detailed the program, the honor’s thesis, the Benjamin Franklin Scholar program, study abroad, internships, and undergraduate research opportunities. He then went on to explore specific extracurricular activities.

To write anything cogent for a “Why Us?” prompt you must do the necessary homework. If not, you’re likely to sound unsure. You need to have a self-confident tone that is a bit assertive. Lastly, the more you learn about Penn’s resources and programs, the more excited you’ll become about attending; you want to capture that spark of excitement in your essay, and hopefully, in your life.  

대학 에세이, “ 지원하는가?” 답하기

  • 이 질문의 중요성
  • 가고 싶은 대학에 대한 지식을 높이기
  • 3-5시간을 들이자
  • 리서치에서 ‘EverNote’등의 메모기능을 이용하자

Common Application의 보충자료의 대부분은 여러 가지 형식이지만, 한마디로 “왜 지원하는가?(Why Us?)이다.  2011년 University of Pennsylvania의 설문은 다음과 같다.

여러분이 지원하는 단과대학과 U. Penn 독특한 특성을 고려할 , 여러분은 이곳에서 무엇을 배우고자 하며, 어떻게 대학에 공헌할 있는가?

제대로 대답하고자 한다면 다음을 고려해야 한다:

  1. 여러분이 최선을 다해 대학의 자원을 어떻게 탐구할 것인지를 공부했다는 것을 입학심사관에게 말하자.
  2. 단과대학, 학과, 전공을 따라 우수한 어떤 교수의 과목을 수강하고 싶으며, 리서치 프로젝트을 위해 어떤 지도교수와 같이 연구하고 싶은지를 말하자.
  3. 여러분이 몰랐던 특별한 프로그램 (예를 들면, 이중 전공, 학문간 연구 등)에 관심을 가지게 됨을 말하자.

이 질문을 가볍게 취급하여 리서치를 않는다면, 입학의 기회는 어렵게 된다.  더욱이 이 질문은 여러분이 대학에 대해 무엇을 아는지, 또한 잘 알려지지 않은 대학의 독특한 특질을 아는지를 묻는 것이다.  만약, 여러분이 Penn이 교수 대 학생 비율이 낮고 명성있고 다이나믹한 도시에 위치해 있으므로 좋아한다고 한다면, 수십 개의 다른 비슷한 특징을 가진 대학과 구별되지 않는 평이한 일반성을 말한 것이다.  대답을 정말 잘 하기 위해서는 U. Penn에 대해 각 학과, 학생 클럽, 특활의 범위 등 자세히 알아야 한다.

그러므로 3-5시간을 투자하여 리서치를 해야 한다.  필자가 경험한 바로는 어떤 학생도 이보다 짧은 시간에 훌륭한 에세이를 쓰지 못했다.  또한 단어수가 500으로 제한되어 있다:  모든 것을 제한된 양에 채우는 것은 쉬운 일이 아니다.

 만약 여러분이 경제학에 관심있는 응시자라고 하자.  그러면, 잠재적인 U Penn의 경제학 전공자로서 이 대학의 독특한 점을 찾아야 한다.  또한 졸업 때까지 무엇을 배우고자 하는지에 대한 리서치를 해야 한다.  솔직히 말해서 대학을 정확히 평가하는 것이 쉽지는 않다.  다음의 과정을 따르면 가능하다. 

  1. 웹싸이트에서 캡쳐하는 메모장을 사용하라.  Microsoft의 One Note도 좋다; 만약 프로그램이 없으며, Evernote를 다운로드하자.  사용하기 쉽고 공짜이고 많은 시간을 절약해준다.
  2. Fiske Guide to College에서 유펜에 대해 읽자.  이 대학에서 강한 학과, 제공되는 특별 프로그램, 캠퍼스와 학생 생활에 대한 개요를 알 수 있다.
  3. 에서 대학에 대한 write up을 읽자 (200개 대학에 대한 글이 있으며, 계속 수정되며, 연회비는 25불이다).  여기에서 유펜의 커리쿨럼의 강,약점을 알 수 있다.  또한 학과에 대한 여러 소문에 대한 정확한 이해를 할 수 있다.
  4. 필자라면, School of Arts and Sciences에 있는 경제학과의 웹싸이트에서 전공에 따른 요구조건과 인턴쉽, 리서치 기회, 특별 강좌에 대해 알아보겠다.

유펜에 대해 한 학생은 PPE(철학, 정치학, 경제학)전공에 대해 15장의 노트를 만들었다.  대부분 웹싸이트에서 찾은 것으로 프로그램 소개, honor’s thesis, Benjamin Franklin Scholar program, study abroad, 인턴쉽, 리서치 기회 등 이었다.  또한 특별 활동에 대해서도 조사하였다.

“왜 지원하는가?”에 대해 설득력있게 설명하려면, 필요한 과제를 해야 한다.  그렇지 않으면, 여러분의 설명은 설득력이 없게 들린다.  단호하게 자신감을 가져야 한다.  끝으로, 유펜의 자원과 프로그램에 대해 많이 알면 알수록, 여러분은 더 가고 싶어질 것이다; 여러분의 에세이에서 이런 흥분의 빛이 빛난다면, 여러분의 인생도 빛나게 될 것이다.

The Nursing (BSN) Major Considered

Nursing is the third most popular college major, which isn’t a surprise when you consider the profession contains over 2.9 million registered nurses (RNs), who outnumber physicians four to one, and who, on average, earn just under $62,000 annually. That’s a lot of people making a reasonable income in a job that can be personally quite rewarding, though not without its challenges and difficulties.

College Presidents write an Admissions Essay

College Presidents write an Admissions Essay

The 6 May 2009 Wall Street Journal ‘turned the table’ on a group of college presidents from some of the most elite colleges in the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, Pomona College, Wesleyan College, and the University of Chicago.  The article entitled “Holding College Chiefs to their Words,” (6 May 2009, Wall Street Journal, p. D1 and D6,  featured each president tackling a challenging essay question from his or her school’s supplement to the Common Application (all the schools use the Common Application).

Reducing the Costs of your Bachelor's Degree

Reducing the Costs of your Bachelor's Degree

If you are fortunate enough to gain admission to Stanford, or any of the Ivy League schools, even if your family income is  slightly over $100,000 a year, you'll receive substantial grants. (See "Looking for a Well-Endowed College?" in this blog.)  Should you not be among the chosen elite, but have participated in an IB Diploma Programme, or took a slew of AP courses, you just might be able to skip a year, and get your Bachelors degree in 3 instead of (especially in the public schools) 5-6 years

College Board’s Score Choice Launches March 2009

  • Students Can Select which Scores to Submit
  • Some Selective Schools at odds with Program
If you take the ACT, you have control over which scores are submitted to which colleges. It’s a practice the ACT has had since its inception. Now the College Board, following the ACT lead, is introducing Score Choice. If you want to get more information on Score Choice, go to the following link: to get a copy of the fact sheet, and a PowerPoint presentation. Score Choice launches this March and will be available through the College Board’s website or customer service department. Since over 85% of students sign up for College Board tests on-line, in all likelihood, that’s where you’ll first encounter Score Choice. When signing up for the March 2009 SAT or Subject Tests, you can select the option “Choose Scores” next to each college you want to send a score to; that’s Score Choice. If you’ve already taken SATs prior to March, those scores will fall under the control of Score Choice. However, if you don’t select “Choose Scores,” all your scores will automatically be sent to all your schools. Assuming you’re using Score Choice, you’ll get a new screen for each school receiving your score. The screen will contain information on how the school reviews SAT scores. For example, if one of the schools is Yale University, the screen will mention that it uses the “highest sections score practice.” You’ll then find listed below this information, your list of SAT test dates with the high scores for each section highlighted. Finally, before sending scores to your college, a summary screen appears for your review. Actually, this isn’t the first time the College Board has gone to an elective score reporting system. From 1993-2002, any student taking the SAT Subject Test, at the time called SAT II, could elect to report only the top scores to the colleges they were applying to. The College Board elected to dispense with this option because a lot of students were forgetting to send their scores and missing their admissions deadlines. With Score Choice, should you forget to send scores, you will automatically receive an email notification from the College Board. Additionally, the College Board also felt that ending the practice would be fairer to lower income students who took the tests less frequently. (“SAT Changes Policy, Opening Rift with Colleges,” by Sara Rimer,, 31 December 2008). With any change, and this is no different, comes controversy. William Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions at Harvard, who is also a member of NACAC, which recently released a scathing report on the value of standardized tests, likes the idea of students being able to select which scores to submit, “Score Choice will help defuse some of the pressure and give students a sense that not everything is riding on the tests, which really is the case.”This view, however, is not shared by a number of admissions officers at several other highly selective colleges including Stanford, Claremont McKenna, Pomona College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern California. All of these schools want all the scores. Timothy Brunold, the USC director of admissions, mentioned in the 21 June 2008 LA Times: “We would prefer to see a student’s entire score history, because it gives us the context of how students earned their scores.” Bruce Poch, vice president and dean of admissions at Pomona College, is even more vocal on this point, “My own view is that tests are a transcript. I don’t get to choose which grades appear on a transcript any more than I get to suppress a driving record from an insurance company.” Score Choice is a calculated marketing ploy by the College Board to give it a more student focused feel (something its arch-rival, the ACT, has been nurturing since its inception). Regardless, anything that might reduce the gut wrenching pressures of the admissions process, and the specific stresses of standardized test performance, is welcome. It’s good that the College Board is trying to score points with its choice market, the student. Ralph Becker Founder, Ivy College Prep LLC --------------------------------------- 2009년 3월부터 College Board점수 선택 실시
  • 학생이 제출할 점수 선택
  • 명문대의 불신은 잔존
여러분이 ACT를 택했다면, 여러분은 여러 성적 중에서 어떤 성적을 대학에 보낼 지 결정할 수 있다.  ACT는 시작에서부터 이렇게 실시되었다.  이제 ACT를 따라서 College Board에서도 실시하게 되었으며, Power Point설명과 더불어 자세히 알리고 있다:  성적 선택이 올해 3월부터 실시되며, College Board의 웹싸이트와 고객 상담실을 통해 가능하다. 시험생의 85%가 온라인으로 시험을 신청하는데, 온라인에서 점수선택을 할 수 있다.  2009년 3월에 SAT/ Subject Tests를 본다면, 성적을 보낼 대학 다음에 “Choose Scores”의 선택을 택할 수 있다; 이것이 점수 선택(Score Choice)이다.  만약 여러분이 3월 이전에 SAT를 보았다면, 이 선택을 할 수 없다.  또한 여러분이 “Choose Scores”를 선택 않하면, 모든 점수는 자동으로 모든 대학으로 보내진다.  여러분이 이 선택을 한다고 할 때, 점수를 보내려는 대학들의 화면이 뜬다.  이 화면은 각 대학이 어떻게 SAT 점수를 보는지를 알려준다.  예를 들면, Yale 대학을 보면, 이 대학은 “가장 높은 영역별 성적”을 본다고 화면에서 알려준다.  그리고 여러분이 본 시험날짜에서 가장 높은 영역별 성적이 밝은 색깔로 나타난다.  마지막으로 성적을 대학에 보내기 전에 다시 화면이 나타나서 확인을 시켜준다. 사실, College Board에서 점수 선택 체계를 실시한 것이 이번이 처음은 아니다.  1993-2002까지 SAT Subject 시험(그 당시에는 SAT II로 불려짐)은 최고점을 선택해서 지망 대학에 보낼 수 있었다.  College Board가 이 선택을 없애 버린 이유는 많은 학생들이 점수 보내는 것을 잊어버리고 원서 마감일을 놓치기 때문이었다.  Score Choice에서는 점수 보내기를 잊어버리면, 자동으로 이메일로 통보를 받는다.  College Board는 이 시도가 시험을 덜 자주보는 낮은 수입의 가정의 학생들에게 더 공정한 것이라고 발표했다. 어떤 변화에도 반대는 있을 수 있다.  하바드대학의 입시 사정실 학장이며 NACAC회원인 William Fitzsimmons는 표준고사의 가치에 대해 불만스러운 보고서를 발표했었지만, 학생들이 보낼 점수를 선택할 수 있다는 점을 좋은 생각이라고 한다: “Score Choice는 학생들의 압박감을 줄여줄 수 있으며, 모든 것이 시험에 달려있다는 부담감을 덜 수 있는 경우가 된다.” 그러나, 이러한 견해가 다른 여러 명문대학들에서는 통하지 않는다: Stanford, Claremont McKenna, Pomona College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern California.  이 대학들은 모든 성적을 원한다.  USC의 입학사정관인 Timothy Brunold는 2008년 6월 21일 LA Times에서 “우리는 학생의 전 성적을 선호한다.  이것이 학생이 성적을 얻은 과정을 알게 하기 때문이다.”  Pomona College의 부학장이며 입학담당 학장인 Bruce Poch는 이 관점을 확실히 한다: “나의 견해는 시험성적들이 성적표이다:”보험회사에서 운전 기록을 요구하는 것과 마찬가지로 성적표에 나타나 점수 중에서 선택해서 보지 않는다.” Score Choice는 학생들에게 더 호감을 주기 위한 College Board의 계산된 시장 책략이다(경쟁자인 ACT가 지속적으로 성장하고 있다).  그럼에도 불구하고, 입학사정 과정의 압박감을 줄여줄 수 있고, 표준고사의 시험 스트레스를 줄인다면 무엇이든 환영이다.  College Board가 점수선택으로 학생들의 점수를 얻고자 하는 점은 좋은 것이다.