College Profiles & Rankings

The Economist’s College Ranking

The Economist’s College Ranking

Several years ago the Department of Education proposed its own college rankings. Many institutions serving the postsecondary market in the United States demurred.   

Consequently, the Obama Administration decided not to go forward with the ranking. It did, however, make its treasure trove of data available on the Education Department’s College Scorecard website, which went live September 12th.

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Researching a College: Grinnell a Case Study

Researching a College: Grinnell a Case Study

The better you know prospective campuses, the better you can figure out which might fit in with your postsecondary expectations. If you don’t have any or few expectations formed as yet, doing some research will get your thoughts of college into motion.

A good place to begin a search is with guides such as Fiske, Princeton Review, The Ultimate Guide to America’s Best Colleges, and the Yale Daily News Insider’s Guide to Colleges.  

 

Getting to Know Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Getting to Know Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, (SLO) nestled on the California coast, lives and breathes its motto, ‘Learning by Doing,’ in engineering, business, architecture, viticulture, and all its newer majors such as statistics.

Consequently, employers admire and seek SLO graduates. However, joining the ranks of Musty the Mustang is becoming ever more competitive. For fall 2014 less than 31% of applicants were admitted. Getting into many of SLO’s showcase majors, such as engineering, business, science or architecture is tough.  The engineering programs, for example, accepted less than 23% of applicants.

 

Finding the Best Professors

Finding the Best Professors

When boiling down the college experience to its essence, students usually best remember getting to know one or two professors who were pivotal in sparking their curiosity and jumpstarting their motivation.

Richard Light of Harvard School of Education in his Making the Most of College, Students Speak Their Minds, describes the factors that define faculty who ‘make a difference.’ Professor Light interviewed over 1400 students to isolate his list of important factors

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.

Go Midwest Young Man

Go Midwest Young Man
Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune in 1871 told RL Sanderson, a correspondent, to go West, ‘where men are wanted, and where employment is not bestowed as alms.’ Had Mr. Greeley been around today, and the question was finding solid educational opportunities, he might well have altered his direction to the Midwest.

Soka University of America, the Newest Orange County Liberal Arts College

Soka University of America, the Newest Orange County Liberal Arts College
When first describing Soka University of America (SUA) in Aliso Viejo in Orange County it’s tempting to draw an analogy to Pepperdine in Malibu: both campuses are mere miles from the Pacific and have stunningly beautiful campuses…but then the analogy begins to falter.  

Grove City College, a Hidden Gem

On occasion people ask me where are the hidden college gems?

I have a found that the 50 Best Colleges list (www.thebestschools.org) is a pretty good source of hidden gems. The list’s primary criterion is that college is for undergraduates, not graduate students—which eliminates many of the big names, such as Harvard or Northwestern. It surveys the record of achievement among a college’s graduates to determine whether they have the skills to succeed in the real world. It also considers whether a college offers a ‘diversity of courses’ free of dogmatism, ideology or political correctness, delivers academic rigor so that students master their subjects, and watches its expenses to avoid adding an unwieldy debt load that indentures many graduates for decades to come. 

True Values in Public Education

Consumers Digest in 2011 published its list of Top 100 college values; it included real values.

Number one on the list is Truman State University (TSU) (Kirksville, MO), followed by the University of Minnesota-Morris (UMM) (Morris, MN).  Both have out-of-state costs comparable to Cal State’s in-state costs, yet they offer substantially higher graduation rates, smaller class sizes, and a load of major selections that are not impacted. To this duo of public values add FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. FIT in Manhattan is one of the top five fashion design schools in the world (it includes Calvin Klein among its alumni), and has a COA under $30,000. This is a serious value.

Holy Cross (Worcester, MA) and a Word from its Admissions Director

Few California high school students know of a small Jesuit liberal arts school located in the city of Worcester Massachusetts.

If their thoughts turn to Massachusetts colleges they might include the red bricks of Harvard, the eclectic mixture of buildings at MIT, the bucolic campuses of Amherst and Williams, or the alluring charms of Wellesley, Mount Holyoke or Smith. However, Worcester warrants consideration with its bevy of over 15 colleges including Worcester Polytechnic, Clark University, and, of course, Holy Cross.

Founded in 1843, Holy Cross is the oldest Catholic college in New England. With 2,900 undergraduates, and an admissions rate of 34%, Holy Cross has a freshman seminar program, Montserrat, which integrates topics and writing in small classes that build professor student collaboration. Its Honors Program is especially challenging, though it is limited to 36 students from each entering class, requiring a senior thesis which is published in house and presented at a year-end conference.   

The 174-acre campus is a registered arboretum (something Holy Cross shares with Carleton, Haverford, and Swarthmore, to name a few).

Though Holy Cross is not a research university, it is part of the Worcester Consortium which includes 12 universities and colleges throughout the Worcester area including the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Beyond this, it offers a 3-2 dual engineering degree with Dartmouth and Columbia, and a 5-year BS/MBA program with Clark University.

Though Holy Cross has strong departments in English, history, economics, and accounting, the Political Science and Classics departments are probably among the finest in the country. All political science majors take introductory courses in American government, political philosophy, comparative politics, and international relations. The upper division courses are uniformly taught by outstanding faculty, such as Denise Schaeffer, who teaches a course in Political Philosophy. In the Rate My Professor website, one student wrote, “This woman is amazing. She's completely brilliant and got me interested in political philosophy when I thought I would hate it.” The 432 Holy Cross professors collectively earned a rating of 3.77 out of 5.0. Holy Cross’s Classics department is one of the strongest and largest in the country according to CollegeGuide.org. Two professors not only help students with their Latin and Greek, but take students during spring break to Italy to capture the glory of Rome first hand. The department even holds chariot races for local Worcester high school students.

Two things I admire about Holy Cross are its 95% freshman retention rate and its 89% 4-year graduation rate, which matches the graduation rates of Williams, Yale, Duke, Annapolis, and Columbia.

So, what does it take to gain admission into this impressive Jesuit liberal arts college? First, according to Ann McDermott (’79) the director of admissions, in her article in the New York Times, “How One Evaluates a Transcript,” your transcript must pass muster. Foremost, the admissions office is looking for candidates who have not tried to protect their GPAs by taking easy courses. Rather they want candidates who are not afraid of taking risks or even sacrificing a grade in the quest to quench a limitless curiosity.

In answer to the question is it better to get an “A” in a college preparatory (CP) course, instead of a “B” or possible “C” in an AP or IB HL course, she wants to see the ‘hard earned’ “C.” Challenge yourself in high school, and chances are you’ll do the same in college and beyond. That is the type of candidate Holy Cross seeks. The transcript will also show evidence that you’ve planned ahead: your course choices will allow you to build strengths across your education, leaving you with multiple options for potential majors and fields of exploration.

If you have the right stuff, and your transcript confirms your capabilities, you might be invited to become a Holy Cross Crusader and join in the next chariot race to become the new Ben-Hur of Worcester. That might make the 2500 mile trek to Worcester a racier adventure.