|By Kevin on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 04:01 pm: Edit|
This might not exactly fit in the small vs big category but I am going to be a HS senior this fall. I have narrowed my list down to 12 colleges. Do you guys or any visitors out there have any opinions/info about these colleges you would like to share? Especially info about the city/location of them would be appreciated.
Dream Colleges: Brown, MIT, Pomona, Yale
Ball Park: Harvey Mudd, U of San Diego, Seattle U, Clark U, Willamette
Safety: U of Portland, Whitworth, California Lutheran U
|By David Hawsey on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 11:53 am: Edit|
Interesting list you have here. I can speak to a few of them, having worked nearby or alongside the campus and their faculty and staff over the last decade.
My first comment, though, pertains to why you consider the "dream" colleges a dream. Think carefully about what these schools have specifically for you that others don't. Forget about the illusion of prestige for a moment. Prestige (in my opinion) is a false prophet. What you need to concern yourself with is what specific skills, attitude and knowledge base you'll need to succeed in the professions you are interested in. Then, you should seek out the colleges that have the faculty and program strengths in those areas. Given this first thought, let me comment on a few other things about your list.
Why do you rank Willamette, Seattle U. and UC San Diego in the "ballpark", but put Cal Lutheran, Whitworth and Portland in the safety school zone? Based upon academic reputation inside higher education, Seattle U needs to drop down to "safety" and Whitworth should be up in your list. But remember, I just shared my opinion, based upon my knowledge of the programs, services and campus life available at each school in a general way. Seattle University, for example, is slightly more conservative (Jesuit institution) than California Lutheran (Lutheran Church - ELCA). The academic reputation in certain programs at Seattle exceeds that of Cal Lutheran. Overall, however, Whitworth enjoys a tremendous reputation up and down the west coast. But they are in a different part of the country than Seattle Univ. One is east of the Cascades, while the other sits right in Seattle.
See what's happening here? You need to share what your basic criteria are so we can provide you with more specific advice. Tell us what programs you are interested in, campus organizations and clubs, lifestyle and student life issues important to you, even the campus spirit, attitude and ethos -- that is a big one for a growing number of students. One example of this is the fact that at Cal Lutheran, spirituality is articulated and valued in a slightly different way than at the flagship Lutheran college on the west coast: Pacific Lutheran University. Both are ELCA Lutheran, which manifests itself in different ways at each school.
Want to play football? In my opinion, the only choice among the Division III schools you list for overall success in and out of the classroom, and on and off the field is PLU -- home of the Lutes, and one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football: Dr. Frosty Westering. He agrees that the term "student-athlete" means just that, and now in his fourth decade, he's got the track record to prove it. You'll find PLU at or near the top of the NCAA III championship list each year.
It may be that your first step is to do an inventory of who you are, and most important: how do you learn? Once you have some firm criteria you can share, write back and I'll be glad to give you an honest assessment of which college seems to fit YOUR profile the best, not the other way around.
|By Hoopster on Monday, September 24, 2001 - 09:17 pm: Edit|
Back to Small vs. Big - anyone have any thoughts on how effective honors colleges are at big state universities? It seems like lots of them have them these days. They all say they are like attending a "college within a colleges", etc., but I wonder how true that really is. Do you think the experience is a lot different than attending the same school and just signing up for challenging classes?
|By Dave Berry on Tuesday, September 25, 2001 - 07:41 am: Edit|
State university honors colleges can be a terrific value for the right student. The caveat is that the student will be present physically at a heavily populated campus setting. However, it's much more than just signing up for heavy duty classes.
Most honors colleges provide a lot of perks such as early registration (get the classes you want NOW!), first-rank professors (few, if any, TAs), MUCH smaller classes (many with a seminar-like atmosphere), special housing (usually among people interested in education rather than recreation), graduate-level library permissions (special long-term borrowings, special-collections access, etc.), and other school-specific incentives.
Getting in, though, can be challenging. Honors colleges are getting more popular every year, thus lowering the acceptance rates, just like other top-tier schools. The application process is also much more demanding than the usual, simple state university pocess. Essays, extra recs, and more stringent SAT and GPA criteria team up to screen out the marginal candidates.
Most honors college students I've known really love the experience. They feel "special," although not in a geeky sense. Their peers look up to them and they enjoy a generally higher level of self-esteem without appearing to be haughty.
There's an out-of-print book that may be of interest to you. It's called "Ivy League Programs at State School Prices" by Robert R. Sullivan and Karin R. Randolph. I just checked Amazon for availability and found that you can buy_it_used, which would be cool if your looking for a nice summary of the leading honors programs in America. I read this book when it came out and it impressed me very much with its high level of detail and objectivity. I hope you can find a copy.
|By Roger (Roger) on Monday, October 01, 2001 - 08:39 pm: Edit|
Originally posted by AMD, and accidentally deleted (hey, my intentions were good!):
1) Can someone compare the liberal arts experience vs. the state honors college experience, and comment on whether it is worth the extra money (particularly if the family is paying for it).
2) In the midwest, is it worth paying out of state tuition for Michigan or Wisconsin?
(hope this is close, AMD!)
|By AMD on Monday, October 01, 2001 - 09:55 pm: Edit|
Not a problem. I wonder what happened to my post. I concluded that I screwed up somehow. [I have a Chinese friend Ming Kai who never hesitates to own up - I love his 'I scoo up'. Must have rubbed off on to me. ;-)]
Anyway, I was responding to your invitation to post questions. As I was writing, I sensed that it was in the wrong thread. Thanks for moving it. Your summary is fine. I just want to add
1 a) I worry less about paying big dollars out of pocket for a more practical but highly personalized education at a place like Rose-Hulman or Harvey Mudd. However, I feel more anxious about the high cost of something leading to a low-paying job.
|By David Hawsey on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 03:19 pm: Edit|
Honors programs at large state universities were originally started to answer the criticism that the huge classes, and "cattle-drive" approach to educating tens of thousands of students was far too impersonal, and seemingly ineffective despite the lower cost of state tuition.
This concept has grown into entire "honors colleges", some with large, multi-million dollar endowments that appear to be set up to benefit the student directly. It is true that many students find the smaller-sized, more-personalized honors college approach, along with the services of a large university to be "just the ticket" and a good match for the value.
However, most centuries-old, private liberal arts colleges respond quickly that a liberal arts curriculum, along with the highly-personalized interaction with full-time faculty should be the norm, not a designated "honors" curriculum that just a few kids get at the staue university (and that all kids get at a smaller LAC).
What's more, every student at a LAC should have access to all the programs, presentations, undergraduate research opportunities, guest speakers and other VIP visitors, that are set apart for just a few at the larger university.
Finally, I have noticed that the honors colleges that have sprung up recently (Penn State, for example) touts a GPA and SAT/ACT average that seems no different than the private college's "normal" student. What that says about the opportunities for, and the quality of the rest of State U's student body is perplexing.
An honors college can be an exciting, perfect match for a student that seeks the services and excitement of a large state institution. However, please ask the right questions, such as whether the endowment (if any) for the honors college makes its way directly to students in the form of scholarships, research funds, and the like. And do honors graduates get special consideration ahead of normal graduates in recent job searches? Where's the proof?
It also occurs to me that any student who is "honors material" at a larger state university and chose this option more for net cost than simply the honors designation, should be eligible for one whopper of an academic scholarship at many private colleges, which should conceivably erase the price differential between public vs. private. This may work better at a US News Tier II or even III college than a Top 25 school, given the difficulty of getting in to a Top-tier college. Nevertheless, the "right fit", as we have said over and over again, has little to do with the reputation (perceived) of a college and more to do with the skills, knowledge, and attitude of success among both faculty and students.
|By AMD on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 05:37 pm: Edit|
"any student who is "honors material" at a larger state university and chose this option more for net cost than simply the honors designation, should be eligible for one whopper of an academic scholarship at many private colleges, which should conceivably erase the price differential between public vs. private."
The student involved has already been admitted to the honors college of Indiana University, which is instate for him. There is also the possibility of scholarships from IU, which he will know about only later. He is considering this offer very seriously. With this solid foundation are the other attempts ongoing and the questions.
a. Should he attempt to get into the honors colleges of Michigan/Wisconsin? The cost will be more. Will these have higher qualities than IU? If so, are the extra qualities worth the extra cost?
b. He is considering applying to several LACs: Kalamazoo, Depauw, Grinnell, Carleton. I think that he is likely to get some academic scholarships from the first three - I don't know about "whopper of an academic scholarship". All these are close to Tier 1 if not actually in Tier 1.
c. He is also interested in applying to a couple of Top 25 National universities.
d. He is also toying with the idea of applying to one ivy. He has received a lot of material from Yale and Princeton - the Princeton application materials are very impressive.
e. He has received letters from state universities offering full tuition.
The idea is to do the right things now, so that come April he will have a lot of good options. However, I am also interested in doing a lot of thinking up front now, so that it is easy to decide come April. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that he will get a fine education, in any of the top 500 colleges in the country - I am absolutely positive about this. He is interested in going to a 'name' college but he is also cost conscious. I am interested in making a very good decision among these (or other possibilities) and am looking for objective advice. Thanks.
|By Roger (Roger) on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 06:19 pm: Edit|
AMD, I'll comment on one topic where I can shed a bit of light. I've been exposed to the IU Honors program, where my daughter was accepted about 5 years ago. She spent a summer at IU while in high school, and really liked the school and the campus. The Honors College and some decent merit money made it extra attractive. She ended up finding her dream school out East, though, and didn't attend IU. IU was a strong second choice, though.
We attended an information session on the Honors College and visited its administration center. As presented, it was fairly impressive.
Since she didn't attend, I can't provide a first-hand perspective. A friend who DID enroll in the Honors college, though, conveyed that he was not impressed by the actual experience. I don't recall his exact words, but the sense of his remarks (as a sophomore, I think) were that the experience was nothing special and didn't differ much from what everyone else on campus got. PLEASE don't take these offhand remarks (that could be nothing more than teenage indifference) as gospel - rather, I'd take them as a suggestion that some first-hand research is needed. Your son should talk to people who have been in the program for a year or two and get some feedback.
Like most things in life, honors programs tend to be what you make of them. Lots of extra access to leading profs may be fantastic for a student who takes advantage of the opportunity, but worthless to a student interested only in completing his course requirements with a reasonable GPA.
By the way, be sure to check out the Wells Scholarship if you haven't already. It's a complete free ride to IU - they do everything but issue salary checks to the student. I think twenty are awarded per year (most of them in-state, AFAIK), and it's a fantastic deal. The student has to be nominated by the high school.
|By AMD on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 07:12 pm: Edit|
Thanks. I posted a note of thanks about ten minutes ago but I don't see it. I wonder whether I quit without hitting the Post button when the system shows me the preview.
|By I.M.A. Parent on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 07:37 pm: Edit|
Hi AMD! I've lurked the USNEWS board for some time name and believe I have seen some of your posts there... I see that you have individual threads going on Kzoo, Grinnell and DePauw... loved the "first three" thinking on merit, with the no-no meirt being Carleton... Our only real experience was with Grinnell (Kzoo w/o strength in desired program; DePauw not desired)... The merit at Grinnell came oddly; no stand apart forms, essays, etc -- just with (RD but early) acceptence letter and saying "by the way, here's $9,000 in merit" -- daughter did visit, and interviewed with admission rep locally when he visited our area. Got the idea that with Grinnell this happens more than a bit... As for Honors at larger school, this was route my second child took some years ago -- her advice to younger sibling was go LAC.
|By AMD on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 08:28 pm: Edit|
Thanks for the info.
Can I ask why 'DePauw not desired' and why your second child advised her younger sibling to go LAC?
By the way, I have not posted at all in the USNEWS board. Could you be thinking of somewhere else may be?
|By California Mom on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 08:43 pm: Edit|
I'm curious as to what you might have heard about the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State. They offered my son a free ride plus a $3500 stipend. He didn't go, but we also made a point of NOT throwing away the letters. One thing we saw it as was the ultimate safety - there was no deadline for the application, so if other colleges had not worked out, it seemed like something interesting to fall back on. Obviously, ASU is NOT a high-ranked or high-reputation school, but the honors college appears to be very much a separate college-within-a-college, and they also are pulling in a lot of Natl Merit Finalists with their offer. Basically, the info they sent us was low key but personalized.
We had similar offers from other state colleges and universities, but tossed the letters in the trash. Barrett was the only one that seemed intriguing.
|By I.M.A. Parent on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 09:27 pm: Edit|
hi again AMD .. oh so sorry ... if AMD doesn't mean A Midwestern Dad, apologies... and if it does, USNEWS has had a poster using screen name like that if not exactly like that.. DePauw: conservative and heavy Greek bottom line just made it not a consideration... likeso for several other good institutions as well (including my dark-horse favorite St. Olaf's but disinclined aspect there was church related)... Older child liked big school, had success at big school and in job market big school network has served her well, but her regard for the "honors" program she was accepted into was fairly limited... her teachers really did not seem that interested, still had TA's "show up" from time to time in prof's stead, daughter basically taught calculus class... but hey! that was her school at that time... she was more or less advising sister to go LAC as she really felt, based on her big school "honors" experience, that LAC was absolutely the best direction, this given the younger sister's inclinations and preferences (and this was never really case to decide; I did push for looking at some larger schools - including IU -- but the young one wanted small school/rural/small own-city setting from get go)
California Mom! Try USNEWS board (parents) and find thread with VADAD in title; open and find his email address there. His child is at ASU right now in honors program.
|By AMD on Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 10:22 pm: Edit|
We got similar letters from ASU, Pittsburgh, and the University of Oklahoma. This info may be of interest to parents in future years - I used to wonder how I could identify colleges that offer good merit money to National Merit Semifinalists and Finalists. Answer: The universities will contact you. CollegeConfidential: This info may be worth pointing out.
ASU made a reference to some Money magazine study that ranked its honors program high. This appears to be an old study - Money does not do such studies any more. Of the three Pittsburgh seems attractive.
You are thinking of Princeton Review site and not USNews site ;-) Thanks for the other info you have provided.
|By I.M.A. Parent on Wednesday, October 03, 2001 - 07:53 am: Edit|
Thanks AMD! Apparently mind went on vacation... yes, TPR... you have posted some very cogent stuff there... good luck in all your efforts
|By AMD on Wednesday, October 03, 2001 - 09:13 am: Edit|
Thanks I.M.A.Parent for your wishes of good luck. This has been rather stressful. Besides, I can't turn any college down. Each time we get something from Swarthmore or St. Olaf or Harvey Mudd or Rose-Hulman, all the old questions start all over again ;-) I am going to Disney World when this whole thing is over ;-)
|By Dave Berry on Wednesday, October 03, 2001 - 05:21 pm: Edit|
CaMom, I know very little about ASU honors, except what I've just read on their Web site, prompted by your question. My son was a Merit Finalist and got similar offers (also tossed, in light of his early Princeton acceptance).
I would daydream about being in high school again and having colleges and universities send me full-boat-bearing love letters. In my dreams, indeed!
|By Roger (Roger) on Sunday, October 14, 2001 - 04:37 pm: Edit|
AMD, one of the real challenges in the college search process is that there are multiple correct answers, but it's hard to predict with certainty WHICH are the correct ones! Plus, regardless of how good or bad the institutional fit is, the "micro-climate" that the student experiences can make a huge difference - a great prof, a lousy roommate, a really enjoyable club, etc., can all influence the student's feeling about the college.
The good news is that most students end up being pretty happy where they end up - even in those cases where there was a lot of uncertainty in the preceding year.
|By Poorboy on Sunday, October 21, 2001 - 07:28 pm: Edit|
"most students end up being pretty happy where they end up"
True, plus college isn't a life sentence - a kid can always transfer if he or she is really unhappy.
|By GFI on Sunday, October 28, 2001 - 08:39 pm: Edit|
>>a kid can always transfer if he or she is really unhappy<<
Transferring is a useful fallback when a college doesn't work out, but, all things being equal, it's certainly better to get it right the first time. Going through the four year experience with the same group of students is a plus. Freshman year is a unique year in the life of any young person, and squandering it in the wrong place, or, even worse, having it be a horrible experience, should be avoided if possible.
|By amd on Saturday, December 08, 2001 - 12:00 pm: Edit|
This follows up on something you touched on, in your Oct. 2, 2001 5.19 PM message.
I have been very impressed with the way Indiana University is conducting its Wells Scholars search - they have been very considerate of the feelings of finalists and parents, told us in great detail what is going to happen, when, etc. (We are awaiting the results at this time. This may be the answer to our prayers and the way of getting personal attention, without the SLAC costs.)
The program itself appears to be very impressive, disregarding the money aspect for the sake of discussion. In other words, the program alone makes it worthy of serious consideration, especially given the quality of the people running it. (My kid got several full ride offers from other colleges without even applying - including some throwing in money for computers etc. However, none had a similarly well-articulated program of events.)
|By njk on Thursday, February 28, 2002 - 03:57 pm: Edit|
Well, I'm not sure this is the right topic but maybe it's close. My daughter is a strong candidate for the Air Force Academy, yet her other top choice is Pomona. Quite different. How do we help her choose? any input would be welcome!
|By Dave Berry on Thursday, February 28, 2002 - 07:48 pm: Edit|
I'm assuming that your daughter has visited or will visit both schools. Also, I would highly recommend that your daughter speak with some current or former AFA cadets and ask some hard questions about the culture there. I saw an hour-long special on Discovery about women at the AFA and it wasn't all high Romance and adventure, by any means. I saw a lot of in-your-face yelling and screaming and freely flowing feminine tears. Maybe you could get a tape of that program by going to the Discovery Web site.
There's also the mandatory service commitment after AFA graduation. The world's a dangerous place, perhaps more now than ever before. If your daughter wants to spend the next near-decade in a military lifestyle, that's fine, but she should consider all the angles before pressing on. BTW, I have nothing against a military academy education. I was headed for the Naval Academy back in the mid-1960s until a small degree of color blindness derailed me.
While her peers are partying on weekends at Pomona, your daughter may well be pulling a fire watch from 2-6 a.m. in her barracks at the AFA. Take it from someone who knows all about that. Her best source of truth may well be the cadets. She should contact some of them.
Oh, I almost forgot...is money a critical factor in your daughter's college plans? Does she feel any pressure to take money pressure away from her family?
|By Laura Smith on Saturday, March 09, 2002 - 01:06 pm: Edit|
I would like to add some input for all high schoolers looking for a college. Prestige isn't everything and large state colleges aren't always the answer. From personal experience, let me tell you that you need to go to a college where you feel comfortable. You won't succeed unless you are comfortable being where you are. "Big Name Colleges" are impressive but they aren't always worth it. I went to ASU and turned down a presitgious scholarship becuase I wasn't comfortable there. I wouldn't reccommend a large state college to a small town kid unless the state college is close to home. Just some things to think about! Choose carefully, but always know- just because you start at a college doesn't mean you have to finish there.
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