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Duncan to College Applicants: "Shop Around"

Ed Sec Says Comparing More Schools Will Lead to More Informed College Choices

July 3, 2012

Duncan to College Applicants: "Shop Around"

by Alexis Mattera

In the epic battle between quality versus quantity, it's the former that usually prevails but Arne Duncan has a slightly different proposal for soon-to-be college students: increase the quantity of schools you consider in order to find the best quality fit.

Though the annual Higher Education Research Institute survey reported that students are already employing that approach (just 12 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen applied to only one college in 2011), Education Secretary Duncan believes that too many students are making their college choices based on distance from home rather than price, majors and other factors vital to college completion and future success. He feels that if students apply to more schools and compare financial aid packages, they'll find the school and program that's right for them. But not everyone is buying into his "shop around" proposal. Lloyd Thacker, director of the admissions reform group Education Conservancy, said, "The problem with the admissions process is it's become too much like a transaction or consumer process, and less like an investment in education ... I'm not saying what he's doing is necessarily wrong but you need to be very thoughtful that good intentions are tied to sound research.”

Check out the full Inside Higher Ed article here and let us know what you think. Are you ready to go shopping with Duncan or will you be taking a different approach when applying to college?

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Unique Liberal Arts Colleges

July 3, 2012

Unique Liberal Arts Colleges

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Liberal arts students have a reputation for being a bit quirky and colleges catering specifically to these majors are no exception. Carleton College, Naropa University, Grinnell College and Deep Springs College are four such institutions renowned for their unique extracurricular activities, majors and more.

Besides being ranked the sixth-best liberal arts college by U.S. News and World Report, Carleton College is also famous for its unique extracurricular activities. For instance, students have organized multiple scavenger hunts for the bust of German playwright Friedrich Schiller since 1957 and the college is also famous for its Assassins Guild, whose members try to “kill” each other with Nerf guns, “poisonous” Tabasco sauce and “explosive” alarm clocks.

Naropa University is a private liberal arts college in Colorado which integrates meditation into the curriculum and offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western educational practices. Majors include Peace Studies, Contemplative Psychology and Traditional Eastern Arts...interesting, right?

Grinnell College is another private institution known for its independent majors. After their first year, students can tailor their majors to suit their preferences instead of following a rigid degree path. Also of note are the school's post-graduation "Grinnell Corps" programs, which allow students to help others in places ranging from Namibia to China. In addition, Grinnell has the highest per capita Peace Corp volunteer rate of any college, despite only having 1,500 students.

Deep Springs College is an exclusively male liberal arts college famous for its method of selecting 26 students and giving them all full scholarships. The professors knit, stargaze and have ping pong tournaments with their students and they also live within walking distance of the students’ dorms on a cattle ranch/alfalfa farm.

If you decide to attend one of these colleges, it’s safe to say you’ll be in for a college experience unlike any other!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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AP Courses In Demand in Boston ‘Burbs

July 16, 2012

AP Courses In Demand in Boston ‘Burbs

by Alexis Mattera

High school students are well aware of the competition they’ll face when they apply to college so they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make their transcripts and resumes stand out to admissions committees. One great way to do this is by taking Advanced Placement classes and as the demand for these courses increases, high schools are doing their part to accommodate all interested students.

Though a Boston Globe review of state data found students at area high schools take AP exams at widely different rates, schools in the city’s northern suburbs have recorded higher rates of AP participation. In Malden, for example, 40 percent of seniors in the class of 2010 took at least one AP exam during their high school careers and the city has even added AP courses in psychology, U.S. government and environmental science to meet the increasing demand. Why? Because administrators are removing barriers. “For lack of a better word, we go after the kids. Teachers, guidance counselors and administrators make sure kids know they have this opportunity,” Malden’s director of guidance, testing and academic support Manjula Karamcheti said.

Are all students succeeding? No, but educators feel the overall benefits of the AP experience can be more important than a student’s score on the test. “When you open up the access, you run the risk of allowing students in that maybe were on the cusp, and I think that’s a good thing,” said Jon Bernard, principal of North Reading High School, where 60 percent of students scored a 3 or higher on their AP exams last year. “Even if the student gets a 2 or a 1 on the exam, I still think they have gained a benefit that will allow them to be successful in their postsecondary pursuits.”

What do you think of this AP for all philosophy?

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Ready. Set. Apply!

Common App Now Live, Students Already Registering for Accounts

August 3, 2012

Ready. Set. Apply!

by Alexis Mattera

Sure, most high schools won’t be back in session for another month but some rising seniors aren’t wasting any time getting back into the academic swing of things: As of Tuesday evening, admissions season officially began with the launch of this year’s Common Application. According to the not-for-profit’s website, 300 individuals registered for Common Application accounts within the initial 30 minutes they were available this admissions cycle, with the first one coming in less than 60 seconds after the launch!

So should you use the Common Application? Seeing as though some of the most selective schools in the country (think UChicago and Columbia) have adopted it, we think it’s definitely worth it if you are applying to more than one school. The online system makes it very easy to complete and submit applications to multiple schools but some colleges and programs do require Common Appers to complete supplemental questions to gauge applicants’ knowledge of and interest in that specific school; these are NOT optional and neglecting to submit supplements means your application will be viewed as incomplete and will not be considered for admission.

Ready to get the application process started? Register for your own Common Application account today!

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Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

August 15, 2012

Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

by Alexis Mattera

An Olympic gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes but when you’ve managed to achieve this feat before even turning 18, what do you set as your next accomplishment? There are usually two options – attend college and perfect your craft or go pro and rack up endorsement deals – but figuring out the "right" choice is becoming more difficult for many up-and-coming student-athletes.

A perfect example is Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom who scored five medals at the London Olympics. She has made it clear that she wants to swim in college but if she does so, she will not be able to take advantage of the potentially millions of dollars in endorsements her Olympic success has afforded her. (The NCAA strictly prohibits athletes from accepting sponsorship and advertising money if they want to maintain their eligibility, though many athletes have petitioned this rule).

A recent article in The Atlantic details that going pro makes more sense for athletes in certain sports – for example, since the level of competition in collegiate gymnastics is lower, gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn’t hesitate to give up her amateur status...and sign a deal with Kellogg’s – but for Franklin, attending college would give her not only a chance to improve upon her already impressive swimming skills but earn a degree and have somewhat of a normal life after her time in the Olympic spotlight. Her choice? She hasn't announced it yet but it's her decision to make. "If Missy Franklin wants to go to school, bravo for her, and nobody who doesn't live inside her heart and mind should criticize it," said sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympians Brian Boitano and Kerri Strug to pros Troy Aikman and Steve Young.

What path do you think Franklin will follow? If you shared her situation, what would your choice be and why?

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College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

September 13, 2012

College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

by Alexis Mattera

Though taking a gap year has yet to win mass societal approval, it is getting a pretty big endorsement from one NYC school: Admitted students who opt to take time off between high school and college will now earn a full year of academic credit.

Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts and Global Citizen Year have partnered to offer incoming students who have been admitted to both programs the opportunity to earn 30 college credits as they support development projects in other countries. Participating students will spend their seven-month "bridge year" living with local families and bettering their host communities by teaching English and working as peer mentors; instead of being one year behind students who started traditional classes the previous fall, they’ll enter Lang as full-fledged sophomores. "There are a lot of worthy learning experiences in life but we don’t give academic credit for them," said Stephanie Browner, the Lang dean overseeing participating students. "I think this is the right way to launch yourself into college."

Lang is the first school to join forces with Global Citizen Year but founder Abby Falik is eagerly anticipating the impact her program will have on college campuses across the country. Would you take advantage of this opportunity at your school? Why or why not?

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Standardized Test Myths Debunked

September 21, 2012

Standardized Test Myths Debunked

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to preparing for standardized tests, everyone seems to have an opinion. Whether it’s the “when in doubt, choose C” mantra or that SAT/ACT prep courses are the only way to guarantee a high score, it’s important to note that while test tips are well-intentioned, they don’t necessarily translate into good or even practical advice. But don’t fret, the U.S. News & World Report has debunked seven popular standardized test myths to get you through the stressful process. Here are a few of our favorites:

Myth 1: Taking both tests will double your chances of doing well.

If you are remarkably better at one test, it should become evident pretty quickly after some practice. If it doesn't, then you are probably like most kids and will do equally well on either. Pick the test you feel more comfortable with and put your efforts into that test.

Myth 2: The ACT is an easier test than the SAT.

The ACT is a different test, not better or easier. In fact, most kids will get similar scores on both. Note though that most doesn't mean everyone—and might not mean you.

Myth 3: The SAT is more coachable than the ACT.

Familiarize yourself with both. Take a practice test of each. Then, compare not just your scores but also your relative strengths and weaknesses on each test. Which areas of weakness are likely to be the easiest for you to improve?

Myth 4: You should take the SAT or ACT as often as you can.

Unless you plan to start on the varsity SAT team, you are probably better served by taking the SAT and ACT only a couple of times.

For the entire list of debunked myths, click here.

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Your College Application Guide

October 9, 2012

Your College Application Guide

by Radha Jhatakia

For seniors in high school, it’s about that time to dive into your college applications. The process is rather involved and has the potential to become very stressful but here’s how you can go about it while retaining your sanity.

First, you likely already have a list of colleges you are considering but start narrowing down your top contenders. Look at the majors they offer and see if they have the programs you’re interested in. Check the cost – financial aid may play a key role in what college you attend – and also see if they have activities that interest you (a sport you want to play, a specific student organization, a Greek system, an honors program, etc.). What’s the on-campus housing situation and could you see yourself living in the dorms? Consider these questions and more when deciding whether or not to apply to a college.

Second, check all the application deadlines. Remember, besides the actual application, you must submit test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters and personal statements and you need adequate time to procure all of these items. Also, review the fees associated with each application; some schools let you apply for free or a discounted rate online but you should also consider requesting application fee waivers if money is tight.

Third, the personal statement is the biggest part of the college application because it represents your personality. You may have a high GPA, AP classes and extracurricular activities but so do many other students – what will set you apart from the rest of the application pool is how you present yourself in the personal statement. Have a teacher or parent review your personal statement and edit it for you before submitting it to your college of choice.

Fourth – and although this is fourth on this list, you still want to get it done early – request recommendation letters. Ask teachers you’ve worked with and trust well in advance if they can write on your behalf. Have two or three for each college that requires one. Along with your personal information/resume/school involvement list, give the teacher an envelope that is stamped and addressed to the college(s) to which you’re applying so they can submit their letters directly.

Last but not least, take all your tests on time. If you haven’t taken the ACT, SAT or SAT II tests, register for the next available date; check which tests your colleges require and sign up for those ASAP!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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The Common App Announces Big Changes

October 10, 2012

The Common App Announces Big Changes

by Alexis Mattera

Show of hands, people: Who has ever applied to college or is considering applying to college by using the Common Application? As the list of schools accepting this document grows (there are currently 488 members), so will the number of college hopefuls opting to use it. It’s incredibly convenient for students looking to apply to multiple schools but future applicants should know that big changes are afoot for the next admissions cycle.

According to representatives from the Common Application, changes – which will take effect on August 1, 2013 – include web-only submission and the removal of the popular "topic of your choice" essay option. Rules regarding the essays will also become more rigid: Students will be required to write at least 250 words but those who exceed the 500-word maximum will face an error message. Lastly, the ability to upload resumes will be eliminated unless specifically requested by a particular college.

What do you think of the Common App’s new approach? Will you welcome the changes or will they deter you from using this application method altogether?

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Scholarships.com Launches RightStudent College Recruitment Service

October 4, 2012

by Suada Kolovic

Highland Park, Ill. - Scholarships.com, one of the most widely-used and trusted free college scholarship search and financial aid information resources on the Internet, has recently launched RightStudent, a recruitment service designed to help college recruiters and admissions officers find the ideal students for their institutions.

“For more than 12 years, students, parents and educators have been using Scholarships.com to find scholarships, grants and other valuable financial aid information at no cost to them. And while we feel great about having played such an instrumental role in so many students’ journeys to and through college, we knew we could do more. And we are...with RightStudent.” said vice president Kevin Ladd. The benefits are two-fold: On the Scholarships.com side, students enter their information – which includes potential majors, extracurricular activities and family income level – to be matched with their ideal scholarship awards and on the RightStudent side, colleges can use this information to create campaigns that speak directly to their ideal applicants. “If a college is seeking a specific type of student, RightStudent can help them not only find that candidate but ultimately reach out and recruit them for their incoming class,” Ladd added.

RightStudent is currently offering interested colleges and universities a free demo and trial of its service. For more details about RightStudent and to schedule a demo, please visit www.rightstudent.com or call 847-432-1700.



About Scholarships.com

Since its founding in 1999, Scholarships.com has had one goal: to help students find money for college. More than a decade later, Scholarships.com is recognized by high schools, colleges and universities nationwide and remains a trusted option for students and parents navigating the college and financial aid processes. To obtain more information, order free materials or create a profile, visit www.scholarships.com.


Media Contact:

Kevin Ladd
RightStudent
Phone: 847-432-1700 x 111
knl@rightstudent.com

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