College Visit Report - Part 1

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: College Visit Report - Part 1
By Kinshasa (Kinshasa) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 06:22 pm: Edit

This report will be written in several stages. We visited nine schools in fifteen days, never more than one college a day. S had decided he wanted the following in a college: under 10,000 undergraduates, in or near a big East Coast city, strong liberal arts programs. We threw in two urban schools with about 15,000 undergrads (Boston U. and NYU). Two schools were small LACs (Drew and Goucher). The remaining schools were Brandeis, Johns Hopkins, George Washington, Georgetown and American.

We started in Boston...

BOSTON UNIVERSITY – Why did we bother looking at any other schools after BU? This is the ONE. That old “gut” feeling, combined with definite advantages. BU awarded more credit for AP classes than any other school, for example. He’d earn eight credits for AP Art History (a one year course, equivalent to two courses at BU) and only four credits at other schools. BU students take four classes a semester, not five, which is the norm at some colleges. S says he worked his ass off in high school, and he doesn’t want to kill himself in college. He wants time to participate in clubs, intramural sports, etc.

S is interested in political science, history, and international relations, and all three departments are in the College of Arts and Sciences. Enrolling in CAS will give him more flexibility. Internships and study abroad opportunities are abundant.

BU had more of a campus feel than we anticipated for a school in a city. Definite grassy areas and quad-type areas, not a public park like Washington Square at NYU. Bay State Road, a main college road, has no commerce, so traffic is light.

Housing is guaranteed for four years, important in Boston. After midnight, visitors to dorms other than their own must be signed in. BU is constructing more dorms and a new 7500 seat arena on the west end of campus. Dorms allow “microfridges” only, which can be rented for about $200/year. Every year, BU renovates two of the Bay State Road smaller residences.

Safety and security was impressive, with plenty of blue lights and call boxes.

Ten percent of students are offered merit awards. There are Latin scholarships offered by the Classical Studies Department ranging from half tuition to full tuition. Winners are chosen based on test scores of an exam to be given November 13. S is excited about this opportunity. In general, BU is generous with merit aid.

Adcom said that the regular decision acceptance rate was 40% last year. Middle SAT range was 1250-1400, and ACT 29.

The guide pointed out the BU Hillel House, and the construction-in-progress of the new Hillel House, which will be five times the size of the old one. (This fall, BU will offer a kosher dining plan.). After four years of all-boys high school, S likes the idea of a large female to male ratio!

BU clubs include ice broomball and people watching. The guide told us that the university paid for the people watching club to go to Florida …evidently to watch people. I wonder if they set up in the lobby of a Miami Beach hotel.

BRANDEIS -- Coffee, cookies and lemonade at Brandeis. From this day I started keeping notes on the snacks offered to prospective students.

We liked the campus. Dorm rooms were among the biggest we saw. A desktop would fit in the room easily. There are two main dining areas, not in the dorms. There are two freshman dorms and one sophomore dorm. Overall we had a good impression of the facilities.

A potpourri of facts, in no particular order: 3100 undergraduates, average class size 17. Student to faculty ratio 8:1. 66% of classes enroll 19 or fewer students. Over 50% of Brandeis students have at least one internship, and 23% of juniors study abroad. 75% of students are from outside Massachusetts, and 17 world religions are represented. 55-60% of students are Jewish. Law school acceptance rate is 94%, and medical school acceptance rate is 82%. 20% of the class is filled through early decision. Regular decision acceptance rate is 40%. Median SAT 1350, ACT 31. Lots of merit aid here.

Brandeis runs a shuttle into Boston Thursday-Sunday, and the commuter rail station is on the edge of campus. S felt the academics were probably better than Boston University, and he could be happy at Brandeis, but the prospect of living in Boston was more enticing than in a suburb.

To be continued...

By Clipper (Clipper) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 07:47 pm: Edit

Can't wait to hear more!

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 07:47 pm: Edit

DS attends BU. Your description of the school is why he chose it over the other places to which he was accepted. He truthfully loved everything about BU and Boston. DS says the rumors about grade deflation at BU are accurate. He felt he was well prepared in high school, but the academics at BU were rigorous and challenging. The sense of "campus" is Boston...there are tons of things to do all the time. Many places offer student discounts or deals of some kind. Just one note. BU does allow refrigerators not to exceed 4 cu. ft. The only microwaves you can have are with the rented microfridges, but you CAN bring your own little fridge and many students do. We are also looking at schools for DD (a rising junior). I'm looking forward to hearing some of your reports, although DD wants a warm climate!

By Clipper (Clipper) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:07 pm: Edit

When my daughter was looking we visited a few of the schools on your list. I am interested in hearing your perspective. It is funny how some kids will love a school and others will hate it. We unfortunately never got to Boston to look at colleges even though she applied to Boston College. Boston U and Tufts were on her long list but dropped off. She was also interested in international relations but more particularly in going to law school so she wanted a college that would give her a good spring board.
Are you from the east coast or are you coming from the west?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:22 pm: Edit

My daughter felt the same way about BU and Brandeis as your son.

By Kinshasa (Kinshasa) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:33 pm: Edit

Thumper1, I did read about the grade deflation. Maybe that's why the normal load is only four courses. You're right about the refrigerators, the guide did mention that they were OK, just not the microwaves. I think S will be well prepared (7 APs and lots of honors classes). He is going to apply early decision. Clipper, I know your daughter is going to Georgetown... that was the next to last school we visited, and both S and I disliked it intensely for reasons to be explained in that report. We live in northern California.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

We just finished a college visit trip to College of Charleston, U of South Carolina, U of Richmond, Davidson, and Elon. If anyone is interested, I'll post our impressions from our tours. The short story is our daughter liked College of Charleston, U of South Carolina, and Davidson (very different schools). She hated U of Richmond and felt Elon was "so, so". I'd be glad to post more if there is an interest.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 09:59 pm: Edit

Please post Thumper, and continue Kinshasa.

By Patient (Patient) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 10:53 pm: Edit

Yes, second that!

By Clipper (Clipper) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 05:34 pm: Edit

Kinsasha - I could probably figure out why some people dislike Georgetown - there has been some discussion on this board before. I can see some problems with the school myself but my daughter chose it anyway - it wasn't her first or second choice. I hate to say she is just going to go bc it fit her criteria in certain areas - mostly the law school acceptance rate, being in the city, and internship possibilities. She is in the SFS and I hope she will like it.
I will look forward to reading your analysis. I will probably agree with you on some aspects!

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