Who’s The Most Selective Of Them All?

Chron: “College ranking site Niche just released its ranking of America’s most selective colleges. The study looks primarily — about 60 percent — at each school’s acceptance rate, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education. The other factors are SAT/ACT scores in the 75th and 25 percentile. Niche compiles this data based on the department of education as well as self-reported data from Niche readers. On the list are some familiar Ivy League campuses, as well as some lesser-known schools. Claremont, California reigns supreme as the town with the highest concentration of most selective universities.”

Not surprising, the top five are: Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, Yale and Princeton. You can review the complete list here.

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Prompt Attention: Common App Questions for 2019

CommonApp.org: “The Common Application has announced that the 2019-2020 essay prompts will remain the same as the 2018-2019 essay prompts. Based on extensive counselor feedback, the existing essay prompts provide great flexibility for applicants to tell their unique stories in their own voice. Retaining the essay prompts provides the added benefit of consistency for students, counselors, parents, and members during the admissions process … Plus, with essay prompts remaining the same, students rolling over their existing Common App accounts have more time to plan and prepare their applications prior to the final year of high school.”

“During the 2018-2019 application year, the most popular topic of choice was: ‘Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.’ (24.1%). The next most popular topics were: ‘Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.’ (23.7%), followed by ‘The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?’ (21.1%).”

The questions are:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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20 Great Photos from Bates College

Move-In Day for the Class of 2022 at Chu and Kalperis halls.
“As I passed a Kalperis Hall room on the morning of Opening Day for the Class of 2022, Anders Landgren, age 15, was taking what I am sure was a well-deserved rest after he and his sibling Lizzie, age 8, had helped big sister Anna ’22 settle into her new digs.” A gallery of 20 fantastic images of Bates College by photographer Theophil Syslo. (link to gallery)

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Gather: Dickison College Farm ‘Pops Up’ a Restaurant

The Sentinel: “From its roots in the student gardens of the late 1990s, the Dickinson College Farm has been at the forefront of promoting local food. The 80-acre USDA-certified organic farm near Boiling Springs gives students hands-on experiences not only in growing food but also in preparing and selling it to the campus dining hall as well as its Campus Supported Agriculture program and the weekly Farmers On the Square in downtown Carlisle … Its most recent addition brings the food cycle full circle with many of the students who grow the food helping to prep the food and acting as servers at its pop-up restaurant, Gather.”

Jenn Halpin, director and farm manager of the Dickinson College Farm, comments: “Gather represents the growing interest in food entrepreneurism among Dickinson students, especially those who are employed at the college farm … With help from students and farm staff, a campus venue is transformed into a fine dining farm-to-table restaurant. Students are trained to assist guest chefs with meal preparations and plating, in addition to managing ‘front of the house’ meal service.”

She adds: “Ultimately, Gather aspires to build community through food. Dinner guests are treated to a uniquely elegant dining experience while students gain further insight into small business development, team work, and customer service all the while expanding their culinary horizons.”

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Special Programs Help Prepare Freshmen

The Washington Post: The Educational Opportunity Program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, “designed to prepare students for their first year in college, subjects them to 15-hour days full of classes and study sessions … Its requirements were a shock to most of the 18-year-olds in the program. Many received their high school diploma less than a week before the session started. Before students really knew what they agreed to, they surrendered their cellphones and were followed when they went to the bathroom during class.”

“But most agree it’s worth it. Educational Opportunity Programs, a feature of university systems in several states, have shown that a carefully structured combination of demanding academics and intensive support can launch vulnerable students to success during their first year in college. Students then often go on to graduate at higher rates than their peers.”

“New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Program is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It’s a positive vestige of the riots that roiled Newark in 1967. In the aftermath, state legislators allocated money to help urban students who weren’t getting a good enough K-12 education attend and succeed at the state’s colleges. Similar programs popped up nationwide around the same time, but not all remain. The largest programs are in California, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington state.”

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Planetarium is ‘High Point’ at HPU

Greensboro: At High Point University, “The Wanek School of Undergraduate Sciences is more than 70 percent complete and on schedule to open in August. Not only will this four-story building serve as the new home for the university’s growing undergraduate programs in biology, chemistry and physics, the $65 million facility will also complement the university’s graduate-level offerings in pharmacy and the health sciences.”

“The main lobby of the new science building is nearly 50 feet high, topped by a cupola. A hallway leads into the building past big windows that show off two labs — microbiology on the left, physics on the right. At the end of the hallway is one of the building’s key features: a planetarium with 125 stadium-style seats and an overhead dome that’s 50 feet in diameter. HPU students will use the planetarium for earth studies, astronomy and other science courses. It’ll also be the site of one of the few planetarium operations courses in the country, said Brad Barlow, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy.”

“The science building will have classrooms, faculty offices and 30 labs, including ones for animal, insect and cadaver research. It also will have a makerspace so students can work on their own projects outside of class. Next door to the Wanek building, HPU will erect a 15,000-square-foot conservatory that will house a new greenhouse for botany research and to grow the trees, shrubs and flowers that are planted throughout campus.”

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UMass: ‘ZooMass’ No More?

The Boston Globe: “In boosting its academic profile, UMass is following the path previously taken by several local private colleges, notably Boston College, Tufts University, Boston University, and, most recently, Northeastern University … Still, there are different implications when the state’s flagship public university becomes less accessible. For starters, there are lots of parents who are dumbfounded — and furious — when their kids get rejection letters from UMass. After all, they grew up when the place was known as ‘ZooMass,’ a safety school more associated with call-the-cops ragers than academic rigor.”

“The acceptance rate for UMass Amherst hasn’t changed much — it’s 60 percent, down just a couple of points from when he arrived. But the pool has grown stronger. UMass is now attracting many more students who have the credentials to get into selective private colleges but go public because their families make too much money to qualify for significant financial aid, yet not enough to cover private tuition without signing on for lots of loans. UMass isn’t cheap — about $30,000 per year for in-state tuition, fees, and room and board — but that is less than half of the going rate at most privates.”

Meanwhile: “UMass Amherst bought a campus in Newton after Mount Ida, a small college drowning in debt, suddenly shuttered last spring … having a presence in the humming east will allow UMass students to spend a semester or two in the Mount Ida dorms, pursuing the internships they need to graduate with work experience.” The Mount Ida campus may also serve as “a tool to recruit rising-star faculty who have the potential to leave their mark in the life sciences and technology fields — and can bring in large grants — but who are too attracted to the vibrant scene radiating from MIT in Cambridge to consider moving to Western Massachusetts.”

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University of Chicago Expands in Paris

UChicago News: “The University of Chicago will expand its presence in Paris through the construction of a new building … growing opportunities for education, research and scholarly engagement across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Expected to open in 2022, the project will double UChicago’s space in Paris and replace the University’s existing Center.”

“The Center in Paris hosts activities across the University, serving as home to UChicago’s largest undergraduate study abroad program, a hub for research and scholarly collaborations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and a focal point for a wide variety of alumni activities. The new project will grow the space for these activities through such additions as a theater, laboratory and café … The project is comprised of two interlinking parts: the new UChicago Center in Paris and a mixed-use development not owned or operated by the University. The two parts will be housed in separate buildings connected through shared outdoor space.”

“The Center in Paris project will support faculty research and collaborations across the region, including housing dedicated workspaces for research teams and visiting scholars. It will serve as an administrative center for programs and events, including supporting alumni and admissions activities, and serving as a link to distinguished colleges, universities and organizations in the region.”

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Round 1: Early Applications Jump Again

The Washington Post: “At the University of Virginia, most applications arrive by Nov. 1 for the first round of freshman admissions. There were about 25,000 early hopefuls for the public flagship university’s Class of 2023, up 17 percent from the previous year. They will learn this month whether they got in. Those who applied in the second round, ahead of the regular Jan. 1 deadline, will receive decisions by the end of March. Everyone admitted has until May 1 to decide whether to enroll.”

“U-Va. is hardly alone. Many schools, public and private, report significant increases in early applications.” For example, compared to a year ago, the percentage increase in early applications jumped 19% at Duke, 21% at Brown, 39% at Rice, and 42% at New York University. “At the University of Rochester, about 1,200 applied for fall early decision. That was up 35 percent from the year before.” Jonathan Burdick, Rochester’s dean of admissions and financial aid comments: “The numbers keep growing rapidly. We’ve had double-digit increases each year for as long as I can remember.”

“Occasionally, Burdick said, students admitted through early decision will try to break the rules and keep shopping. Such students run ‘a genuine risk’ of having their offers revoked, he said, if schools learn a contract has been broken. Burdick said he tells prospective students: ‘Please don’t apply early unless you love Rochester and it’s definitely where you want to be’.”

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How Many APs Is AP-propriate?

US News: “Advanced Placement classes can set applicants apart in a competitive college admissions environment, demonstrating the ability to perform well on more challenging coursework. Experts say performing well in AP courses often signals readiness for college. But for students looking to land at a top college, the question of how many AP courses to take persists … for those academically unprepared for the challenge, struggling in AP courses can backfire, with low grades and exam scores reflecting negatively on college applications.”

“A 2013 study conducted by admissions officials at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill found almost no difference in the first year GPA for students who took five college-level classes during high school compared with those who took six or more. Based on these findings, UNC officials remarked in the study they will encourage students ‘to pursue at least five college-level courses’ during high school.”

“Jack Whelan, director of college guidance at Providence Day School in North Carolina, says he generally sees students taking too many AP classes in high school rather than too few … While experts say AP courses are viewed favorably by admissions officers, Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling and outreach at The Derryfield School in New Hampshire, notes colleges will consider a student’s application in the context of the curriculum offered at his or her high school, meaning the applicant won’t be penalized if few or no AP classes are available.”

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