U of Delaware: Five Things You Might Not Know

The University of Delaware campus somehow manages to be inviting even in the dead of winter, when most of its palpable energy moves indoors. Precisely because it was a snowy Monday afternoon, and visitors were few, the two of us were treated to a personal tour by five (!) undergrads, each more enthusiastic than the next. That was the first surprise. The second was the five things they told us that most applicants probably don’t know about the University of Delaware. Number one is the the school’s 350-acre, 100-cow, teaching farm and creamery that makes and markets ice cream. The UDairy Creamery not only enables students to learn about dairy production, food science and sustainable agriculture, but also business management and finance. A rotating menu of 34 flavors is available to students on campus and to outsiders via bulk orders.

That UD was the first college to offer study abroad back in 1923 is a second little-known fact. What’s more, UD’s World Scholars program allows students to study abroad during their first semester freshman year, live in an on-campus International House sophomore year and then study abroad a second time junior year. Seniors are invited to networking opportunities with global professionals, and a special symposium. A global outlook is a major feature of the UD community, which relates to our third little-known fact: UD’s Student Center displays about 100 flags representing the home countries of its international students. The flags are changed annually as students come and go.

Number four: Students can take a four- or five-week intensive course during winter break, shoehorning a semester of learning (and credit) into a single month to catch up, get ahead, or perhaps make room for a semester abroad. And coming in at number five, at the end of our tour, is the full, 2,220 square-foot trading floor, complete with Reuters and Bloomberg data feeds, where members of The Blue Hen Investment Club student-manage some $2 million in assets. We didn’t have time to visit Vita Nova, the university’s four-star, student-run restaurant, or stay at the student-run UD Marriott, but both certainly underscore the hands-on ethos that marks UD as a surprisingly engaging school that consistently punches above its weight.


Forbes Ranks Schools For International Students

Forbes: “Though America still hosts over a million foreign learners, first-time international undergraduates in the U.S. sank 6.6% in 2017 according to the IIE, a nonprofit that tracks international exchange in education. Even the schools that prioritize international students have been hit by the trend. At Forbes’ 50 Top Schools for International Students of 2019 (full list below), the percentage of undergraduates who were international surged from 7.6% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2016. In 2017, it nudged to 11.5%, a mere 0.2% increase.”

“To put together our best schools for international student ranking, we used experts’ insights and our philosophy of ‘outputs over inputs.’ We weight school quality at 60%, based on our Top Colleges rankings’ methodology. Drawing from the federal government’s IPEDS database, we weigh international student six-year graduation rate at 15% of our ranking. We reward schools with full-need aid or need-blind admission policies for international students, data we draw from schools’ websites, with 5% of our ranking each.”

“Schools with high enrollment figures in international students’ most popular majors like engineering, business and math are rewarded up to 5% (per the IIE and the government’s College Scorecard database). The size of schools’ international student body (measured as a percentage of undergrads and calculated by IPEDS) accounts for 5% of our score. The remaining 5% of the score is based on the number of foreign-born workers in the college’s combined statistical area, from the U.S. Census.”

Here is the full list of the 2019 Top Schools for International Students:

Princeton University
Yale University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Columbia University
California Institute of Technology
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Amherst College
Stanford University
Babson College
University of Pennsylvania
Claremont McKenna College
Georgetown University
Brown University
New York University
Pomona College
Cornell University
Johns Hopkins University
Lafayette College
University of Chicago
Dartmouth College
University of California-Los Angeles
University of Notre Dame
Harvey Mudd College
Barnard College
Northwestern University
Carnegie Mellon University
Rice University
Swarthmore College
Tufts University
Williams College
Vassar College
University of Southern California
Vanderbilt University
Bowdoin College
Haverford College
Pitzer College
Washington University in St Louis
Bates College
Wesleyan University
Wellesley College
University of California-Berkeley
Boston College
Middlebury College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Carleton College
University of Maryland-College Park
Grinnell College
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Colgate University


Pet Sounds: LaSalle Creates ‘Animal House’

Philadelphia Inquirer: “The student body is getting some furry company — the four-legged kind — at La Salle University. The Catholic college in the city’s Logan neighborhood announced this week that it would become the first in the region to allow upperclassmen to have dogs as pets in a residence hall, beginning in the fall. Dogs fit for admission must weigh under 30 pounds. Certain larger or more aggressive breeds — including Dobermans, German shepherds, pit bulls, and Rottweilers — need not apply. The idea grew out of a university twice-a-year event where faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their pets to work to mingle with the student body.”

“Schools locally and nationally, including La Salle, allow dogs and other pets if they are required for therapeutic reasons or if they are service animals. At La Salle, 14 “emotional support” animals currently live on campus, including 11 dogs, two cats, and a gecko. Some colleges also allow pets for simple joy. Delaware Valley University welcomes fish, hermit crabs, “approved snakes,” lizards and amphibians, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, mice, and rabbits. At one time, cats could come, too. But the school put a pause on that.”

“Nationally, some universities are known for their pet-friendly policies and appear on a variety of top 20 or 25 pet-friendly college lists. At Stephens College in Missouri, the president’s office offers dog treats, and there’s a doggy day-care on campus. Few schools in Pennsylvania appear on the lists, with the exceptions of Delaware Valley; Washington and Jefferson in the western part of the state, where eligible dogs and cats must weigh 40 pounds or less; and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, where dogs and cats are allowed in fraternity and sorority houses.”


Student View: How To Get Into UT Austin

The Daily Texan: “Current and former students who offer insight into UT admissions and campus life have become popular, unofficial faces of the University to prospective students on YouTube … Before her freshman year, marketing sophomore Julia Wezio made a YouTube video titled “How I got Into UT Austin Tips + Advice,” and today, Wezio’s video has over 33,000 views — more than any single video UT’s YouTube channel has made in about two years. Marketing junior Lynette Adkins also reached thousands of views on videos covering topics such as the cost of attending UT and study abroad.”

“Miguel Wasielewski, executive director of UT Admissions, said in an email the advice of current students is best when coupled with information provided by college representatives. Wezio, who watched YouTube videos from other UT students before applying, said she also thinks her success was partially driven by the authenticity of her content.”

Wezio comments: “It’s not so much that UT is trying to hide something from you, but it’s more so that they have to use that official language. They have to keep a certain image. When you’re talking to a student who can share their unfiltered voice and be honest with you, I think they’re going to be more honest, obviously about the negative things, but a lot more honest with the positive things too.”


SAT vs. ACT: What’s The Difference?

US News: “The ACT and the SAT both assess arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, so much of the mathematical content will still apply if you switch exams. However, you should note that the SAT includes a distinct subsection for Problem Solving and Data Analysis, while the ACT includes Statistics and Probability instead … The ACT Writing prompt requires you to read a brief text that introduces an issue, followed by three distinctly different perspectives on the issue. In your response, you must draw upon the given perspectives to state and justify your own point of view.The SAT essay is different in that it is an exercise in rhetorical analysis. On the SAT, you must read a text and show which devices the author uses to build his or her argument.”

“Unlike the SAT, the ACT contains a dedicated science section. Despite its name, however, the ACT Science section primarily tests students’ critical thinking and reading skills, as well as their understanding of scientific skills like the scientific method … If you intend to switch from the SAT to the ACT, you should devote study time to reviewing skills from your science classes, but rest assured that you do not need to master every scientific concept and term. Similarly, the SAT Reading portion assesses vocabulary in context more heavily than does ACT Reading. Students transitioning to the SAT should address this difference by adding more vocabulary questions to their review regimen.

“In general, the ACT is a more fast-paced examination. The ACT contains more questions, although the questions are typically more straightforward than those on the SAT. On the ACT, you have approximately 36 seconds per English question, 60 seconds per math question, and 52.5 seconds per reading question. Compare these numbers to the SAT, on which you have about 48 seconds per writing and language question, 75 seconds per reading question, and roughly 83 seconds per math question. For the essay portion, you are allowed 40 minutes on the ACT, versus 50 minutes on the SAT.”


How to Measure ‘Performance’ for Admissions?

Education Week: “Imagine a high school where students skip standardized end-of-course tests. Instead, to pass a class or graduate, they show off the results of big projects they’ve done, such as analyzing why the United States lost the Vietnam War or how geometric patterns can be used to produce solar energy … The trouble is that most college admissions officers already must review tall stacks of applications quickly. Few can carve out more time to read long descriptions of students’ work or watch videos of their presentations … how can college admissions officers get a quick and accurate sense of what students from performance-based schools have accomplished? A few projects around the country are trying to answer that question.”

“One of those initiatives, Reimagining College Access, wants to lower a key barrier to considering performance assessments in students’ admission applications: colleges’ software systems … most colleges use software systems designed to process students’ grades and test scores, but they can’t accept videos, research papers, and other projects. Reimagining College Access … works to create or find online platforms that can accept those kinds of student work. With the resources to spend more time on each student’s application, the most selective private colleges are the ones most likely to be able to examine more complex forms of student work … The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for instance, allows students to upload ‘creative portfolios’ that capture research, visual and performing arts, and maker projects.”

“A project based in New England has designed model profiles to help schools that use performance assessments convey their work clearly to colleges. They’ve also designed model transcripts to reflect the nature of students’ work in performance-based schools … The new model transcript provides more detailed information than ordinary transcripts. It uses a 1-4 grading scale for students’ courses. But it also provides grades for crosscutting skills, like problem-solving, and for mastery of specific standards within each subject. In English, for instance, students’ proficiency is graded separately in reading comprehension, reading interpretation, writing range, writing research, discussion, and presentation.”


Drexel’s New ‘Honors College’ Complex

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Joining a trend among universities across the country, Drexel University will develop a residential complex for its more than 1,500 Pennoni Honors College students, paying for part of the cost through a new $5 million donation, the school has announced … The money also will go toward a 10,800-square-foot, two-story glass and stone extension onto the building that will house three seminar rooms, study and social lounges, and honors college offices … So-called honors colleges, which have more stringent admission and academic requirements for students, have been proliferating around the country, along with programs to house those students.”

“The gift, which was announced Tuesday and is one of the larger ones the honors programs have received, will make Drexel ‘more appealing for students who might otherwise consider a liberal arts school,’ said Paula Marantz Cohen, dean of the honors college. ‘They can get the best of both worlds: the co-op and the interdisciplinary experience’ … The honors complex will create an ‘intellectual oasis’ where ‘students from all disciplines can gather to discuss ideas, take seminar-style, cross-disciplinary courses, and learn more about opportunities for research, fellowships and mentoring on campus,’ Marantz Cohen was quoted as saying in a news release.”

“Drexel’s Honors College houses five initiatives: the Honors Program, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, the Center for Scholar Development and the Center for Marketing and Media. A new Center for Civil Discourse is also in the works and aims to bring together students, activists, and experts in analyzing today’s political climate.”


College Tours: Providence & Bryant

Our students sometimes comment that their college campus tours are a blur, that one seems pretty much like the next. This is understandable, given that so many schools tend to cover similar points in their information sessions, and make the same stops during campus tours. Yet, it’s usually not that hard to “hear” what makes a school different, and special. Such was our experience while visiting two Rhode Island schools located fewer than ten miles apart — Providence College and Bryant University — earlier this week.

At a glance, the two schools differ in terms of size (Providence is small/medium-sized, while Bryant is just plain small). They are also different by dint of diversity (Providence is 80% Catholic) and selectivity (Providence acceptance is about 56% and Bryant 72%). What stood out most, however, was the way in which the two schools are similar: They both highlight their heritage and how that informs what they offer, both conceptually and in practice.

Providence was founded in 1917 by Dominicans, whose organizing principle is a quest for “truth.” This manifests itself in at least two notable ways, most visibly in the white-robed friars who roam the campus. Less obvious, but just as significant, is the two-year, cross-discipline course in Western Civilization required of all incoming students that explores human history through literature, philosophy, art and, yes, theology. The goal is to teach students how to think. Our tour guide confirmed that this orientation serves students well no matter their eventual academic focus (he is a theater major).

Bryant got its start in 1863, originally as a business college in downtown Providence. In 1967, Earl Tupper of Tupperware fame donated about 400 acres in Smithfield, RI and the school relocated there. The college later became a university with the addition of a liberal arts school, but its roots in business remains its raison d’etre. The beauty is that students combine business and humanities studies to work towards what Bryant calls a “culture of innovation.” Its spectacular Academic Innovation Center gives the concept a jewel-box of a home, its classrooms featuring collaborative clusters of desks surrounded by walls of whiteboards, encouraging a free and open exchange of ideas.

It’s highly unlikely one would come to appreciate any of this without visiting these two very impressive schools because neither institution’s website truly captures its essence. Providence buries the freshman-year immersion in Western Civilization that may define its key point of difference, and Bryant does not cover the origin story that makes it what it is at all. Admissions officers at both schools did a much better job of telling their respective stories, as did the tour guides (with a special shout-out to senior William Oser at Providence, who was as informative as he was entertaining). If you don’t believe us, watch William’s Vogue-style, 53-question interview with Fr. Brian Shanley, president of Providence College:

Our advice, then, is that when you visit college campuses, lean in and listen carefully. The sound you hear may be that of the perfect school for you.


The Top 10 Schools for Transfer Students

US News: “It is not unusual for students to transfer from one college to another. In fact, according to a report published last year by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 38 percent of students who began college in fall 2011 switched schools within six years … Among the 1,187 ranked schools that reported data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average number of newly enrolled transfer students in fall 2017 was 492. However, these schools varied widely in the number of transfer students they welcomed, with the six institutions that had the most transfers each enrolling more than 5,000 of these students, while schools at the other end of the spectrum had fewer than 10.”

“While the average transfer student acceptance rate among all ranked schools was 63 percent in fall 2017, 17 colleges reported that they accepted every transfer applicant … Seven of the schools with the most transfers are National Universities, research-focused institutions that offer a plethora of college majors, plus a variety of master’s and doctoral programs. The three remaining schools are Regional Universities, schools that grant a variety of bachelor’s degrees and some master’s degrees but few doctorates. The majority of these 10 institutions are public schools; the only private institution on this list is Liberty University in Virginia, a Christian school.”

The top 10 schools for transfers are: University of Central Florida, University of Texas-Arlington, Liberty University, University of Houston, Florida International University, California State University-Northridge, San Jose State University, University of North Texas, University of South Florida, California State University-Long Beach.


A Brief History of The College Dorm

Smithsonian: Carla Yanni, author of Living on Campus: An Architectural History of the American Dormitory (Univ. of Minnesota Press), details the history of undergraduate college dormitories, from the first purposefully built lodgings in colonial America to dorm takeovers during the student protests of 1968. As Yanni writes, ‘Residence halls are not mute containers for the temporary storage of youthful bodies and emergent minds’; they reveal and ‘constitute historical evidence of the educational ideals of the people who built them’ … The first US colleges were sponsored by Protestant denominations and tended to be isolated, in rural locations or small towns, to distance students from the corrupting influence of the city … so the undergraduate experience took on a semi-monastic aura.”

“By the 1920s and ’30s, dormitories had become crucibles in which deans and other university administrators, acting in loco parentis, transfigured children into adults … All students would, ideally, live on campus to get the full benefit of the collegiate experience … But thanks to the GI Bill after World War II, a new influx of students challenged this emphasis on campus living; there simply wasn’t enough space to house all of them. This led to the growth of … cookie-cutter dorms that were relatively quick and inexpensive to build … These residence halls made students feel anonymous, more products than people.”

In the 1960s, at the “Kresge College at the University of California, Santa Cruz … the residential area … included not just dormitories but cafés, launderettes, meeting spaces, and classrooms in what were termed ‘living-learning units’ … Americans have come to accept dormitories as an essential and integral part of the undergraduate experience, one that should help students achieve academic excellence and fulfill their demands for apartment-like and therefore independent adult living, while also providing opportunities for meaningful interaction.”