Dis-SAT-isfaction: More Schools Go Test Optional

Money: “If standardized tests fill you with fear, you’re in luck. Students are no longer required to submit SAT and ACT scores to apply to a growing number of colleges — and not just ones you’ve never heard of. In the past few years, high-profile schools like the University of Chicago have joined test-optional mainstays like Bates College in changing their admissions policies to favor a more holistic review process.”

“Test-optional advocates argue that the exams aren’t good measures of students’ college readiness, can unnecessarily increase the stress around college applications, and don’t accurately predict success. And colleges that have nixed their SAT and ACT requirements benefit, too. They typically get more applicants and become more diverse after going test optional.”

“FairTest keeps a running list of more than 1,000 test-optional schools. In most cases, applicants can choose to submit their SAT and ACT scores if they think it will improve their applications — they’re simply not forced to.”


Northeastern Acquires Global Presence

The Wall Street Journal: “Northeastern University, a onetime blue-collar commuter school in Boston, is continuing a yearslong international expansion with the purchase of a small, private college in central London. The acquisition of The New College of the Humanities, a six-year-old private college with about 200 students, underscores the growing pressures and incentives for universities to globalize their business model in an era of rising competition, shifting demographics and increasing nationalism.”

“Universities around the world have been establishing branch campuses at an accelerating clip for several years. The Northeastern purchase is unusual in that instead of building a branch, the university is acquiring a school that is already established, accomplishing overnight what typically takes several years.”

“Just a handful of U.S. schools—mostly for-profits—have bought schools in other countries. Generally, schools that are seeking to expand globally choose to build a branch campus. In 2000, there were about 50 international branch campuses built by universities from around the world. There are now more than 250 … Northeastern has been aggressively opening campuses in the U.S. and Canada for several years. It now has campuses open or under construction in Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Charlotte, Vancouver and Toronto. The school has plans to expand to Asia.”


Acceptance May Be Easier Than You Think

Inside Higher Ed: “The annual ‘State of College Admission’ report is important for several reasons. One is that it dispels the myth — propagated by many who write about college admissions — that it’s impossible to get into college. You know the articles about how one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be admitted to Stanford. Perhaps true for Stanford. But as the report — issued by the National Association for College Admission Counseling — demonstrates, it’s actually not hard to get into college. The average four-year college admits nearly two-thirds of those who apply, and this is true from year to year in the study, going up or down by a point or so.”

“This year’s report comes out amid a renewed national debate, prompted by the lawsuit against Harvard University, over the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions. NACAC asked colleges about seven student characteristics and how important they are in admissions. Despite the debate over race-based affirmative action (in which some say colleges should pay more attention to socioeconomic status as opposed to race), colleges reporting paying more attention to first-generation status than to race/ethnicity.”

“Academic factors… count, the report finds. Of the top eight factors, only one (demonstrated interest) is not based on academics. Demonstrated interest is a measure of whether an applicant is really interested, such as whether she visited a campus or engaged with the admissions staff … This year’s survey shows that early options are increasing in popularity among applicants. Further, the data confirm the conventional wisdom that, for most applicants, odds of admission are greater when applying early than regular decision.”


Villanova Student Creates ‘Campus-Commerce’ App

The Villanovan: “Chris Maguire, a junior in the Villanova School of Business, is launching an app exclusive to the University community this month. The app, NovaMark, is a marketplace for students to buy and sell anything from textbooks to old sneakers to furniture. Maguire’s goal with NovaMark is to reduce students’ waste and save them time and money.”

“With NovaMark, students will be able to post the things they don’t want to bring home for low prices so someone else can enjoy them … a University email must be used to create an account within the app, so it will only be University students buying and selling goods. This dramatically reduces the radius for picking up items which allows students to avoid shipping fees or paying for transportation to and from an off campus store.”


Animal House: Pet-Friendly Dorm @ PA School

Penn Live: “Going off to college brings a lot of unfamiliarity, and it can be even worse when you have to leave your beloved family pet behind. Starting this spring, students at Lock Haven University … can bring their pets to school. The university will be the first in the Pennsylvania’s State System to introduce a pet-friendly residence hall, the school said in a news release.”

“Students will be allowed to bring a ‘long-term pet,’ which is defined as ‘under the primary care of the resident or their family for at least three months,’ to live in North Hall. Pets must also be at least 6 months old, and the university created a policy with ‘strict guidelines concerning the species, breeds and sizes of animals permitted.’ Allowed pets include cats, dogs under 40 pounds with breed restrictions, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and fish.”

Lock Haven President Robert Pignatello comments: “Introducing a pet-friendly residence hall is about increasing opportunities for our students. The Haven is a great place to live and learn — and allowing students to bring a beloved pet to campus will only enhance their residential experience. We look forward to welcoming students and their animal companions to campus in January.”


How Cornell Decides

Cornell Sun: “Unlike many other colleges, which review all applications from a central undergraduate admissions office, Cornell has a ‘somewhat unique system’ … Once an application is submitted, it will be given to the one — and only — college or school that the student is applying to, where his or her material will undergo a ‘first review’ … About 80 percent, or over 40,000 of the applicants, will be chosen to proceed to the next step. Only after the applicant has successfully passed the academic review, the admissions staff will consider other components of his or her application — such as recommendation letters and extracurricular activities.”

“In addition to the level of performance … Cornell also looks at how demanding those courses are. In colleges like CALS, where students must pick a major or at least specify a general subject in their applications, admission officers will also take into consideration whether the students have taken and performed well in classes relevant to their intended major … Another important and yet often overlooked factor is the college-specific essay, more commonly known as the ‘why’ essay, which is reviewed in both the first and the subsequent steps of admissions. The essay is the opportunity for students to demonstrate both their writing skills and that they have taken the time to research and learn about Cornell.”

Cornell looks “for students who can make the most out of the ‘any person … any study’ environment, who can learn from and collaborate with students from all kinds of backgrounds and majors. Sometimes, this quality … even outweighs academic performances in the evaluation process … Admission officers also look for other qualities that would contribute to the Cornell community, such as persistence and community ties. While Cornell doesn’t expect ‘a long list of activities,’ admissions staff hope to discover these values from the essay and extracurricular activities … A passion for contributing to and becoming part of the community is also extremely important.”


ESports Gaining Ground @ UMN

Star Tribune: “The University of Minnesota is home to a nationally-ranked team that doesn’t practice on a court or field, but instead on the virtual battlefield of popular computer game Overwatch. The university’s Overwatch team is currently in its preseason, competing against other schools such as Arizona State University and Texas Tech University … Players competed for over $120,000 in scholarships last year. The championship tournament won’t be held until spring, but more than 300 colleges enter teams to compete.”

“During preseason, members of the team play two matches every Sunday and practice between two and five hours each week. Practices might include playing the game solo or with friends, watching professionals online or reviewing tape from previous matches. The video game is gaining popularity at the University of Minnesota, which now has five other university squads in addition to the main team competing in the national tournament.”

“Colin Agur, a journalism professor who teaches the course ‘Digital Games and Society,’ said competitive video game companies seem to be targeting college campuses … Agur added that, if done right, esports can be a relatively cheap and worthwhile addition to the University’s collegiate sports.”


There’s a Fund for That: Quirky College Scholarships

CNBC: “Few families can cover the skyrocketing cost of college outright. Luckily, there are more than 7 million scholarships available to help …here are a few of the more obscure awards: “High school students must create and wear promwear made from Duck Brand duct tape and/or crafting tape, then upload a photo in their creation during prom season and vote online for the best dressed. Winners in best dress and best tux each receive $10,000.” Tall Club Scholarships “are specifically for students under 21, attending their first year of college, and who meet the height requirements of at least 5′ 10″ for women and 6′ 2″ for men.”

“For those with a sweet tooth, the Love of Chocolate Foundation provides scholarships to students planning to pursue specialized training in pastry arts … Four scholarships are available to promote the research, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of dolls, including antiques, collectibles and modern dolls … students can win scholarships by volunteering. There are a number of community service projects that apply, such as spreading the word about the dangers of impaired driving, which includes driving while drunk, high or drowsy … All high school seniors in Arkansas who successfully demonstrate their duck calls have a chance to win some college aid.”


BU-tiful: New Data Sciences Center Dazzles

Architect’s Newspaper: “A new architectural era is dawning at Boston University (BU) with the announcement of the building of the Data Sciences Center on the university’s main Charles River campus. First, it is a bit of design daring not commonly seen in Boston: a ziggurat-shaped tower with multiple cantilevers that will be the tallest building on campus. But moreover, it represents a break from the past for an institution that eschewed contemporary architectural patronage for more than two generations.”

The new building is described as “a ‘vertical campus’ that celebrates the importance of data science by bringing together the mathematics and statistics departments and the computer science department under one roof.The architect said the building’s spaces ‘spiral’ around an interior atrium that is all about spontaneous encounters with colleagues and students that are essential in the data sciences field.”

“The cantilevered and stepped massing yields several advantages. It forms balconies and green roofs that allow occupants fresh air and stunning views of the Boston skyline and Charles River. It will cause a play of light and shadow. And, significantly, it will appear to be a beehive at night, with loft-like interior spaces highly conducive to work and creativity 24/7. Without specifically stating it, it is clear that BU wants a new architectural profile commensurate with those of Harvard University and MIT.”


Fun Facts for Harvard Hopefuls

The Wall Street Journal: “Harvard’s admissions office pays special attention to recruits from 20 U.S. states labeled internally as ‘sparse country’ because students from those places, including Maine, Arizona and Montana, are relatively underrepresented on campus … Applicants from two dockets—the greater New York City and Boston areas—had admit rates of 11.3% and 12.8%, respectively, for the class of 2018. That’s roughly double the rates for other dockets … For the class of 2018, 7.4% of applicants who said they planned to study humanities were admitted, compared with 4.6% of aspiring engineers and computer scientists.”

“Harvard instructs admissions officers to give top marks to recommendation letters if they are ‘truly over the top,’ with phrases like ‘the best ever’ or ‘one of the best in X years’ … At trial, Harvard highlighted moving applicant essays, including one from a Vietnamese immigrant who was bullied in school for his accent … Harvard’s interviewer handbook said applicants who were “bland” should get low marks on the personal rating, which measures their personal qualities through their essays, recommendations and interviews … Roughly 86% of recruited varsity athletes who apply to Harvard were admitted, according to trial testimony.”

“Children of major donors often get flagged by the development and admissions offices … Socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants also get special consideration … And the admit rate among students with at least one parent who graduated from Harvard was 33.6%, more than five times the rate for everyone else … Harvard admitted 14.5% of early-action applicants for the class of 2022, and about 2.9% of regular-decision applicants.”