New York University – Where challenging academics and big-city living meet

If you are looking for challenging academics at a college where you can also enjoy a thriving city scene, you may want to consider New York University. Located primarily on Washington Square and in the heart of Greenwich Village, students will find trendy shops, galleries, bars and eateries in the surrounding blocks with SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown nearby. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about NYU:

Acceptance: 21%

Freshman retention: 90%

Freshmen out of state: 72%

Most popular majors: business, nursing, theater, individualized majors

4-year Graduation rate: 79%; 6-year: 88%

Student Community Diversity: 7.5% Black, 16% Latino, 21.7% International

 

Housing: While there was a time when NYU students had to “fend for themselves” in the outrageous New York housing market, students are now guaranteed four years of housing in one of the 22 residence halls. Most rooms have a private bath and are nicer than a lot of city apartments. Freshmen live in one of the freshman residence halls, many of which have themed floors. 43% of undergraduates live in university housing. NYU offers a free shuttle service to dorms that are farther away from academic buildings.

 

Campus dining halls offer extensive options, including a dedicated kosher eatery. Students also have plenty of inexpensive options  in the restaurants located downtown. Safety is taken very seriously at NYU. Students state that they see plenty of security officers patrolling, both on foot and in patrol cars. NYU Trolley & Escort Van Service provides door-to-door transportation until 3:00am so students (and parents) can be assured they will get back to their dorm safely.  

 

Academics: New York University’s Under the Core Curriculum prescribes freshman and sophomore to take courses in foreign language, expository writing, foundations of contemporary culture, and foundations of scientific inquiry. The foreign language options are much broader than most universities and include Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Modern Irish, Swahili, and Tagalog. 

 

Despite the large student population (27,000 undergraduates plus 25,000 graduate students), 59% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Even though many classes are taught by graduate students, most of the introductory courses are taught by a well-known, “top notch” professor. NYU students describe the faculty as being reasonably accessible. To help ensure student success, students meet with their academic advisor at least once every semester.

 

New York University boasts many noteworthy schools and programs. The Tisch School of the Arts has trained many successful actors and directors including Marcia Gay Harden and Martin Scorcese. The Stern School of Business is known for having an accounting program with a high job-placement rate. Students who are looking for more flexible schedules and the opportunity to engage in independent study can find that in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. 

 

Opportunities abound for the NYU student. The career center is very well-run and helps connect students to one of thousands of on-campus jobs, full-time jobs and internships. Also, with eleven academic sites internationally as well as exchange agreements with universities around the world, it’s no wonder 56% of NYU students take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: U of Southern California, Cornell, Boston U, Northeastern

 

Social: Understandably, the majority of social life takes place off-campus. Students can attend Broadway performances, shop in SoHo, or hang out in Greenwich Village without having to go too far. That’s not to say there is nothing to do on campus. Students can become involved with their choice of more than 600 clubs and organizations and attend on-campus concerts and movies. Fraternity and sorority events are another popular on-campus activity, although only 5% of men and 7% of women “go Greek.” 

 

In the spring, NYU hosts their Strawberry Festival, which features free berries, and many students march in the Halloween Parade that takes over Greenwich Village each October. The Violet Ball is another well-attended event, which gives students an excuse to get dressed up. 

 

Sports is not NYU’s greatest strength. However, they do have several successful programs, including men’s and women’s golf, swimming and diving, and men’s wrestling which all compete in Division III. One-third of students participate in intramural sports. 



Financial: New York University offers both need-based and merit scholarships. NYU does not offer any athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 66%, with 12% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $77,000, the average financial aid package is $37,000. Fifty-one percent of students receive financial aid.

Choosing a College: How to Find the Right Academic Fit

Choosing a College: How to Find the Right Academic Fit

Choosing a college isn’t a quick or easy decision for most students. Students must consider five key features of a school when choosing a college: Academic fit, Social fit, Financial fit, Vocational fit, and Cultural fit. 

Choosing a college based on academic fit.

Today, we’re going to discuss academic fit. As you can imagine, choosing a college with the right academic is critical. But what does it mean?

Academic fit refers to how the faculty teaches, the academic priorities of the college, and what the learning environment is like. It also refers to the distinct curriculum types a college may offer. A complete review of the college’s website and a campus visit can help with determining the academic fit and choosing a college that’s right for you. 

Make the most of your campus visit with these five top tips. 

Before even taking your first steps, it helps to understand the bigger picture of how colleges are distinguished by their different academic curriculums. In my experiences working with families, few give consideration to these distinctions. Often, they aren’t even aware they exist.

From a college admissions perspective, students should at least be aware of these distinctions when they write their application essays or interview at colleges. Once admitted, the college that the student attends can make a significant difference in the classes that students can take in college and their satisfaction with the academic rigor.

So, what are the three types of academic curriculums? Open, core, or distributed.

Let’s briefly discuss each type and their key differences, along with colleges to explore.

Is an open curriculum the right academic fit?

There are only a hand-full of colleges and universities that provide a truly open curriculum.

This means students are free to choose which classes they want to take. There are no general education requirements and students can design their own path to a major or concentration. There may be specific requirements within a particular major, but students are free to pick from any range of classes.

Some schools with an Open Curriculum:

The thing is, not every student can handle an open curriculum. Sure, these colleges may have the brand name. But students must be very disciplined to navigate four years of undergraduate in a school with an open curriculum.

Is Columbia University’s Core the right academic fit?

The use of a Core curriculum started in 1919 at Columbia College. It remains their primary approach to higher education. A Core curriculum means there are specific courses all students must take, regardless of their majors. (In fact, when you visit the Columbia campus, a building lists the authors of core readings for all undergrads.)

The idea is to provide every student with a broad range of knowledge in many subjects and to support intellectual growth.

Other colleges with a core curriculum:

  • Auburn University
  • Boston University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Notre Dame

Academic fit can be different at most colleges.

A distributed curriculum is a hybrid of a core and open curriculum.

There aren’t specific classes that every student is required to take. But, there are guidelines to the number of classes that each student must take in a given academic area. This curriculum provides the student with the flexibility to choose a class that interests them. At the same time, still providing a structure to their education.

Most colleges in the US have distribution requirements. What I enjoyed about a distributed curriculum when I attended Stanford is that I took classes in areas that I may not have learned about otherwise. For example, as an undergraduate, I studied Calculus, Petroleum Engineering, Philosophy. But I fell in love with Linguistics (a topic I had never heard of before college!).

A photo from my trip to Georgetown University

Colleges with distributed curriculum:

  • Bowdoin College
  • Cornell University
  • Dickinson College
  • Georgetown University
  • Northwestern University
  • Reed College
  • Stanford University
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of Tampa
  • Wellesley

Now, the next step to take with this insight is to match the needs and interests of the student. Let’s say a teen has an interest in engineering and doesn’t enjoy writing. Then, it’s important to research colleges that offer engineering with little to no writing requirements for graduation. An official campus visit is the next step before applying if a teen is still interested after the research is completed. 

How have you helped your teen with finding the right academic fit?

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you find the school with the right academic fit, click here to learn about my webinar.

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors

7 ways to support your child during the college application process

Morehouse College – an HBCU where strong academics meet a strong alumni network

Morehouse College is the only historically black 4-year liberal arts college for men and has an impressive roster of alumni,  including Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. Founded in 1867, this campus features 42 buildings (many of which are historic) on 61 acres near downtown Atlanta. Known as the most prestigious of the HBCU’s, one of Morehouse’s cornerstones is a strong alumni network ready to help with jobs and other opportunities. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Morehouse:

4-year Graduation rate: 33%, 6-year: 54%

Acceptance: 31%

Freshman retention: 85%

Freshmen out of state: 74% 

Most popular majors: business administration, biology, social sciences

Student Community Diversity: 95% Black, 0.5% Latino, 1% International

 

Housing: Students are required to live on campus their first three years, while seniors find their own off-campus housing. Students recommend Graves Hall for freshmen, which is Morehouse’s oldest dorm, built in 1889. Meal plans are required, which not everyone is thrilled about, but dining services has recently expanded to include more fast-food options and a coffee shop. 

 

Academics: Morehouse’s academics can be described as competitive and rigorous where classmates strive to do their best, while at the same time supporting their classmates. The general education program includes coursework in four major disciplines (humanities, natural sciences, math and social sciences), as well as “the unique African and African American heritage on which so much of our modern American culture is built.” To that end, the university hosts a series of campuswide assemblies called the Crown Forum presented by community leaders and national figures from different industries. In order to graduate, students must attend 6 presentations per semester for 6 semesters. 

 

Traditionally, STEM fields at Morehouse have been strong, although business and economics have recently risen in prominence. One of Morehouse’s gems is their engineering 3-2 program, which works in conjunction with Georgia Tech and other larger universities. The cinema, television and emerging media studies major is growing in popularity and a new major in Chinese studies is now available. For the student interested in participating in research, there are plenty of opportunities in the sciences, including a research partnership with NASA. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Davidson, Furman, Howard

 

Social: One of the most celebrated events is homecoming week, which is a joint effort with sister school, Spelman. This event is one of the largest at any of the HBCUs. Morehouse has four fraternities, which attract just 3% of students. Other crowd-drawing events on campus include football games, concerts, movies and religious programs. 

 

The Maroon Tigers compete in Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, with track and field being a recent conference champion. The basketball team has enjoyed some recent success as well. During football season, students road-trip to Hampton, Howard and Tuskegee. 

 

Financial: Morehouse offers need-based merits scholarships and 126 athletic scholarships. Although the tuition and fees are $47,700, the average financial aid package is $28,800. 80% of students receive financial aid.

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DePaul University – a politically liberal Roman Catholic university devoted to experiential learning

DePaul university offers a unique environment to learn and grow, one focused on students gaining field experience before graduation. Though it is the largest Roman Catholic university in the nation, DePaul has a reputation for being politically liberal and diverse. DePaul has two campuses: Lincoln Park is set in a fashionable Chicago neighborhood and houses the colleges of liberal arts and social sciences, science and health, education, and theater and music, while the Loop campus (20 minutes away by “the El”), is home to the colleges of business and communications, digital media, computing, and law, as well as the School for New Learning.

Here are a few quick facts about DePaul:

4-year Graduation rate:58%, 6-year: 71%

Acceptance: 70%

Freshman retention: 83%

Freshmen out of state: 36% 

Most popular majors: accounting, public relations/advertising, finance, psychology

Student Community Diversity: 8% Black, 19% Latino, 3% International

 

Housing: DePaul has traditionally been a commuter school, with only 18% of students living in university housing. Lincoln Park’s campus has 6 co-ed dorms and 6 townhouse and apartment buildings, while the Loop campus boasts a 1,700-student residence hall that includes a rooftop garden, fitness center, as well as music, art, and study rooms. Food choices on campus are limited, especially for students who eat a strictly vegan diet.

DePaul takes safety very seriously. Campus security is visible, patrolling both in cars and on foot. All dorms are accessible only by the swipe of a student ID at two doors (and in some dorms, three).

 

Academics: All freshmen are required to take either Discover Chicago or Explore Chicago to learn more about the city, as well as completing courses in composition and quantitative reasoning. Sophomores all take a course on multiculturalism in the United States, and every DePaul undergraduate participates in an experiential learning program which requires an internship, research, study abroad, or a service-learning experience. The School of Cinematic Arts has a partnership with Cinespace Chicago, the city’s premier movie studio to give students in those programs film and television production experience. Game design and animation are two other popular programs. DePaul offers a 6-year bachelor’s/law degree, as well as a number of other 5-year bachelor’s/master’s programs. 

 

Class sizes are often small; 41% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Professors teach at all levels and clerics teach some courses and celebrate Mass everyday. Mass is optional for students,  and students have the opportunity to join student organizations that represent all different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, University of Indiana at Urbana-Champaign

 

Social: It should come as no surprise that with the number of concert venues, sporting events, clubs, restaurants and bars in Chicago (and such a small percentage of students living on campus), that most of the social scene happens away from campus. Fraternities and sororities attract only 5% of men, and 11% of women, respectively. In the warmer months, Lake Michigan is a popular spot, and the annual outdoor Fest concert draws large crowds from both DePaul campuses. 

 

DePaul’s Blue Demons compete in the Big East Conference in 15 Division I sports, with men’s basketball being the biggest headliner. Men’s track and field, and women’s basketball, tennis, and softball have all won Big East tournaments recently. While Loyola is DePaul’s oldest rival, the games against Notre Dame draw the largest crowds. 

 

Financial: DePaul offers both need-based, as well as non-need based merit scholarships, and a small number of athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 71%, with 14% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $61,000, the average financial aid package is $21,100. 91% of students receive scholarships.

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Drexel University – co-op education at its best

If you are more tech-minded and looking to get a leg up on your career, Drexel with its co-op curriculum may be the place for you. Set in one of the now more desirable parts of downtown Philadelphia, Drexel University’s 123-acre, 20-block radius campus is adjacent to UPenn. Students will have their choice of plenty of restaurants, clubs, and places to shop, all accessible with the city’s public transit system. For those who like to stay in shape, how about getting your playlist queued up and heading for the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum like Rocky? 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Drexel:

4-year Graduation rate: not reported, 6-year: 71%

Acceptance: 77%

Freshman retention: 88%

Freshmen out of state: 59% 

Most popular majors: mechanical engineering, computer science, business administration, health professions

Student Community Diversity: 7% Black, 6.7% Latino, 11% International

 

Housing: The majority of freshmen live in one of nine co-ed residence halls while most upperclassmen reside in nearby apartments or fraternities houses. About 22% of the overall undergraduate population lives on campus. There are two main dining centers which serve food that is described as “adequate.” Foodies will be happy to hear that they can often find various food trucks parked around campus to grab a quick lunch. 

 

Students can also feel safer knowing that the dorms, library and physical education center are restricted to students with IDs and Drexel’s campus enforces strict policies to limit the amount of alcohol brought onto campus. 

 

Academics: Drexel is known for its innovative co-op program which combines high-tech academics with paying job opportunities for undergrads. Students alternate between periods of full-time study and full-time employment for their 4-5 year program. This adds up to 6-18 months of job experience, before graduation. In order to achieve this, Drexel operates year-round on a quarter system instead of semesters. Freshman and senior years (of a 5-year program) are completely on campus and the other three remaining years alternate between study and work.

 

All first-year students are required to take courses in English composition, math and two 1-credit courses: one that introduces university resources, and one on civic engagement in the local community. The Drexel Engineering Curriculum integrates math, physics, chemistry and engineering to help ensure students are well-rounded and able to write as well as design. Each freshman is assigned a “personal librarian” to help them best make use of the library’s extensive resources. 

 

Drexel’s professors are praised for their accessibility, and unlike many other universities, teaching assistants only run labs and study sessions. Fifty-five percent of all classes have fewer than 20 students. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Penn State, Syracuse, University of Pittsburgh, George Washington University

 

Social: Because so many live off campus and there is so much to do in the surrounding city of Philadelphia, campus tends to be a bit deserted on the weekends. Friday-night movies on campus are cheap and dorms often sponsor floor parties. Drexel has a moderate Greek life scene, with 14% of men and 13% of women pledging. 

 

While it can be difficult to get students involved in activities, what with the amount of schoolwork and co-op assignments, Drexel still boasts 18 Division I teams, which compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dragons do not have a football team, but their men’s and women’s basketball, crew, and soccer teams are strong. Do not make the mistake of assuming Drexel’s students don’t have school spirit. They make a show of “sacrificing” blue plastic chickens in demonstrations against their rivals, the University of Delaware Blue Hens. 

 

Financial: Drexel offers need-based financial aid, as well as non need-based merit scholarships, and a small number of athletic scholarships.The average percent of need met is 84%, with 33% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $75,000, the average financial aid package is $41,000. 100% of students receive some type of financial and and/or scholarships.

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Texas Christian University – where a quality liberal arts education and strong sense of community meet

Texas Christian University students describe the atmosphere of campus as being a part of a community, a family. Case in point: a typical Saturday afternoon for a TCU student involves painting yourself purple to cheer on your team, the Horned Frogs. Set on 277 well-maintained acres, TCU’s campus is a mix of different architectural styles, from neo-Georgian to contemporary. Most worth noting are the Walsh Center for Performing Arts, which is a vast 56,000 square foot performance hall and theatre complex, and the new Greek village. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Texas Christian University:

4-year Graduation rate: 71%, 6-year: 83%

Acceptance: 47%

Freshman retention: 91%

Freshmen out of state: 51% 

Most popular majors: nursing, communication studies, finance, accounting

Student Community Diversity: 5% Black, 14% Latino, 5% International

 

Housing: Nearly all freshmen (97%) and about 52% of undergrads overall live on campus. Dorm life is described as a good experience with up to date facilities. Fraternity and sorority members may live in their Greek houses after freshman year, but most juniors and seniors choose to live off campus. TCU has an evening transportation service and students say they feel safe on campus. 

 

While campus meals are given average reviews, one student said, “No one misses Sunday brunch.” A few of the most popular menu items for this meal include lobster macaroni and cheese, pastries and chocolate fountains.

 

Academics: Texas Christian University students can choose their major from 114 disciplines. The core curriculum has a base of a liberal arts education with an emphasis on critical thinking that is divided into three areas: essential competencies; human experience and endeavors; and heritage, mission, vision, and values. First-year students participate in freshman seminar courses, and there is a Frog Camp the summer before freshman year to help students transition to college life. 

 

The academic climate is one that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Most class sizes are small with over 40% having fewer than 20 students. For those who are looking for the opportunity to study abroad, TCU offers 250 programs in 54 countries; about one-third of undergraduates participate. 

 

TCU is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), but the atmosphere is not overtly religious. Lack of diversity is a top concern, but the university has been taking a lot more interest in diversity and inclusion efforts with recruitment and admissions, as well as in first-year experience programs.

 

Similar colleges to consider: Baylor, University of Southern California, Southern Methodist, Tulane

 

Social: Greek life is a big deal at Texas Christian, with 41% of men and 58% of women pledging. One of the most popular events is the annual fall concert which brings big-name acts to campus. Students also look forward to the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree, an event complete with carols, hot chocolate and cookies, a visit from Santa and his reindeer, and fireworks. 

 

Looking to get off campus for a bit? Surrounding Fort Worth is a cultured city with plenty of things to do, and Dallas is a short 45-minute drive to the east. Other popular road trip destinations for TCU students include Austin, San Antonio, the Gulf coast and Shreveport, Louisiana.

 

TCU boasts 21 athletic programs, which compete in the Big 12 Conference. Football, baseball and men’s tennis have all won recent conference championship titles. In the 2017-2018 season, 11 teams were nationally ranked including the equestrian and women’s rifle teams. 

 

Financial: Texas Christian University offers merit awards averaging $19,000 per person, as well as 356 athletic scholarships, in addition to need-based aid. The average percent of need met is 74%, with 37% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $73,500 (tuition for in- and out-of-state students is the same), the average financial aid package is $54,000. 75% of students receive scholarships and aid.

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University of Tampa offers students plenty of hands-on experience

University of Tampa is a private, residential college with a rich history. The central building, Plant Hall, once housed the Tampa Bay Hotel, a resort built by Henry B. Plant in 1891. The hotel closed in 1931 due to the Great Depression, and two years later became the main building for the relocated University of Tampa (formerly known as Tampa Junior College). UT now has 60 buildings on 110 landscaped acres where you can find cannons from the original harbor fort and the spot of the former Florida State Fair grounds where Babe Ruth hit his longest home run – 630 feet. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about University of Tampa:

4-year Graduation rate: 50%, 6-year: 61%

Acceptance: 56%

Freshman retention: 78%

Freshmen out of state: 80% 

Most popular majors: international business, biology, marketing, marine science

Student Community Diversity: 5% Black, 14% Latino, 9% International

 

Housing: Accommodations vary from private rooms with a shared bathroom, kitchen and common area to studio-style private suites. Nine of the twelve residence halls have been built since 1998 through a massive renovation project. The nearby Barrymore Hotel also houses students with shuttle services to and from campus. 93% of freshmen and about 49% of all undergrads live on campus. 

 

Academics: University of Tampa’s motto is “To be, rather than to seem to be” and offers the hands-on experiences to meet it. Undergraduates can choose from over 200 academic programs in four colleges: College of Arts and Letters; College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education; College of Natural and Health Sciences; and Skyes College of Business. Sykes College of Business has a stock market lab with terminals and plasma screen TVs so students can get the experience of being on a stock market exchange floor. The College of Natural and Health Sciences owns a remote marine science research lab on Tampa Bay, as well as extensive equipment to study the ecosystems of the Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. University of Tampa is also home to an ROTC unit. 

 

UT has liberal arts curriculum requirements including a first year seminar, courses in writing and inquiry, math, natural sciences, humanities and fine arts, social sciences, and global awareness. Another opportunity for UT undergrads is the study abroad program which places students in one of 70 countries; about a quarter of students participate. The Honors Program allows students to study 1:1 with faculty through enrichment and tutorials, internships, research, and classroom to community outreach. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Remington College, University of South Florida, University of Phoenix – West Florida Campus 

 

Social: The University of Tampa Spartans compete in Division II athletics and hold national titles in baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, golf, volleyball, and beach volleyball. The college’s football program folded in 1974 in order to keep the college afloat during a period of financial troubles. The Fitness and Recreation Center has two floors with 60,000 square feet of space and an on-campus aquatic center with a deep swimming section for scuba diving classes. 

 

The percentage of students who go Greek at UT is fairly small, about 6% of men and 11% of women. The most popular campus events include Global Village Simulation, Model UN debates, The MLK Day Service and Student Productions Comedy Shows. And, of course, there are plenty of things to do in surrounding Tampa, no matter what your interests are.

 

Financial: University of Tampa offers both grants and scholarships, however, they offer much more in non-need based than need-based aid.  Although the tuition and fees are $46,000 (tuition is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students), the average financial aid package is $13,400. 90% of students receive financial aid and/or scholarships.

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What your junior can do in December to prepare for college

If your teen is a junior, you are probably already overwhelmed with a lot of information coming from your teen’s school, neighbors, friends who have kids and maybe even your workplace. With that information overload, it can be hard sometimes to prioritize and stay on top of things. I want to make sure that you don’t get left behind in this process. 

Here are some things that you can do right now in the month of December. 

Researching Colleges 

The first action item would be researching colleges in order to learn whether or not that college is a good fit for them. When they find ones that are a good fit, they will likely thrive in terms of their years in college and that’s what we want for them. 

I’ve mentioned before the five areas of fit which are: academic, social, financial, vocational and cultural fit (You can refer to my previous article on fit here ). 

Decide Which Test They will Take 

The second thing they can be doing in the month of December is deciding which test they’re going to focus on –  the SAT or the ACT. Some states have one particular test as a graduation requirement, for example in Ohio, it is the ACT. However, many students still take the SAT because that’s the test that they favor. Taking both tests is actually no longer required. 

When students are taking both just for the sake of taking both, not only does it waste money, but it wastes time as well. I recommend that students focus on the one that’s best for them, which could even be based on the schedule or availability. Whatever it is, just focus on one test because colleges will take either one, there’s no need to do both. 

After they decide which test to focus on, they need to decide how they’re going to prepare. The month of December is a great time for them to prep for the test they’ll be taking. I usually recommend at least 6 to 12 weeks of prep time. 

 

      Read more about preparing the for test

 

Read a book for pleasure during winter break

There is plenty of research to support why teens should continue to read (and why they don’t do it, as well). Becoming a real reader can improve your teen’s vocabulary, make them a better writer, help them get into college, and enlarge their breadth of understanding of the world around them.  Click here to learn more

But did you know that one of the most commonly used prompts for college admissions essays is “Tell about a book you read for pleasure and why it should be required”?

 

So how can you get your teen to read during their “downtime?”

 

One resource I highly recommend is  Real Ballers Read – a popular Book-stagram with podcast interviews and other literary fun for teens from near-peer mentors. This is a great place to help your teen find a book to read during the winter break.

These are the important action steps that your junior can take during the month of December – researching colleges, determining which test they’re going to focus on (and how they will prepare for the test), and reading a book for pleasure over winter break. Starting this process now, as opposed to waiting until the new year, will make sure that your teen is on track and not feeling behind and rushed as we get into the spring. 

 

For more help with navigating junior year, sign up to receive my FREE College Prep Toolkit. This resource includes my Junior Year Roadmap, so you and your teen will know what they should be doing each month. 

(The) Ohio State University – where they do everything in a big way

The Ohio State University (yes, “The”) does everything in a big way – from campus size to sports to one-of-a-kind degree programs. The biggest of the Big Ten and boasting the third largest campus in the nation (with a larger operating budget than that of the state of Delaware), you can find your niche among the 52,000 students pursuing one of over 200 undergraduate majors. Despite the daunting 1,777-acre size of the campus, the grounds are nicely landscaped and a centrally located lake provides a place for students to find a little solitude. If the hike across campus isn’t enough to keep you in shape, you can always stop in at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center, which is the nation’s largest facility dedicated to student fitness, wellness and recreation.

 

Here are a few quick facts about Ohio State:

4-year Graduation rate: 62%, 6-year: 86%

Acceptance: 54%

Freshman retention: 94%

Freshmen out of state: 25% 

Most popular majors: psychology, communication, finance, biology

Student Community Diversity: 6% Black, 4% Latino, 9% International

 

Housing: Freshman and sophomores are required to live in one of the 42 residence halls unless they are commuting from home. Dorms are in three areas – North, South and Olentangy (those closest to the Olentangy River) and are home to 33% of the overall undergraduate population. Ohio State has a system of variable room rates, which are based on the type of accommodations, such as air conditioning, private bathroom, and number of roommates. 

 

Academics: In keeping with their commitment to liberal arts education, Ohio State has rigorous general education requirements in math, writing, foreign language, social science, natural science, and arts and humanities. Class sizes vary and tend to whittle down as students continue in their fields of study. The OSU honors program offers smaller class sizes (around 25 students), honors classes, priority scheduling, honors housing and co-curricular activities. 

The most celebrated departments are business, engineering, neuroscience, dance and design. Ohio State also has strong African-American and African studies programs and has the most extensive offering of African languages of any university in the United States. OSU also has the only programs in the nation in welding engineering and geodetic science, and was the first university in the country to offer an undergraduate program in data analytics. 

For those looking for experience outside of the classroom, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquire arranges research opportunities, which about 20% of students participate in. Internships in the state government, Fortune 500 companies and major tech and research organizations such as IBM Analytics Solution Lab and Battelle, are also available. Five percent of students engage in one of 200 study abroad programs, in more than 70 countries. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: University of Michigan, University of Indiana at Urbana-Champaign, Penn State, University of Wisconsin – Madison

 

Social: There is no shortage of opportunities for an active social life at Ohio State. On-campus housing groups plan various social events and the student union runs eateries, a tavern, movies and other activities. 13% of men and 14% of women go Greek, and while they may isolate themselves a bit with fraternity and sorority activities, there are over 1,400 student organizations for those who decide not to pledge. 

The metropolitan location of Ohio State means there is also a lot to do off-campus as well. Columbus has plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, golf courses and movie theaters nearby, and is also home to a symphony orchestra, ballet, and professional hockey and soccer teams. Students who want to go a little further out will find that they can easily get to Cleveland or Cincinnati, spend some time skiing in Mansfield, or enjoy reconnecting with nature at one of 19 area metro parks, or scenic Hocking Hills. 

One of OSU’s crown jewels is its lavish and successful college sports programs, offering 16 men’s, 17 women’s and 3 co-ed varsity teams. Ohio State takes home its fair share of conference titles (18 in the past couple years), and one student remarked that, “Football is somewhat like religion.” 

Popular on-campus events include the Homecoming Parade, BuckeyeThon (a philanthropy/dance marathon), Taste of OSU (international food festival), as well as a variety of other heritage festivals. 

 

Financial: Ohio State offers both need-based and non need-based merit aid. The average percent of need met is 74%, with 29% being fully met. 

Although the tuition and fees are $30,000 for in-state and $54,000 for out-of-state, the average financial aid package is $18,000. 70% of students receive financial aid and scholarships.

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Princeton University – a liberal arts college with strong computer science and engineering programs

Set in the picturesque town that is its namesake, Princeton University is a haven of Gothic and colonial architecture, as well as a few more modern buildings. The most notable building is Nassau Hall, which served as the temporary home of the Continental Congress in 1783. While known for its exclusivity, the office of admissions has been on the lookout for more students who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, including STEM majors, creative types, and high ability/low income students. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Princeton:

4-year Graduation rate: 90%, 6-year: 98%

Acceptance: 6%

Freshman retention: 83%

Freshmen out of state: 81% 

Most popular majors: computer science, economics, public administration

Student Community Diversity: 8% Black, 10% Latino, 12% International

 

Housing: Princeton’s dorms are grouped into six residential colleges, each with its own dining hall, faculty residents and social calendar. While some students do continue living in their residence hall through graduation, many juniors and seniors opt to occupy the nicer upperclassmen dorms. Only 4% of undergraduates choose to live off campus. 

 

Another feature of Princeton’s campus, and exclusive to upperclassmen, is eleven eating clubs, five of which admit members through a lottery.  These eating clubs are run by the students and unaffiliated with the school administration.

 

Academics: Princeton is one of the few top liberal arts universities with equally strong computer science and engineering programs. Their math and philosophy departments are among the best in the nation. All students must fulfill course requirements in epistemology and cognition, ethical thoughts and moral values, historical analysis, literature and the arts, quantitative reasoning, social analysis, and science and technology. Freshmen must also take a first year writing seminar with 70 options to choose from. During junior year, students work with a faculty member on 2 papers – 30 pages of work per semester on top of their regular work load. Students must also complete a senior thesis. 

 

Princeton is known as the smallest of the Big Three Ivies, which means that undergraduate students will find that 76% of classes have fewer than 20 students and around 70% of department heads teach introductory courses. Princeton is also unique in its approach to exams, including a two-week period before exams for students to catch up and an honor code that allows for unproctored exams. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania

 

Social: Virtually all social life takes place on campus through the aforementioned eating clubs and dorm parties. The college does not endorse any fraternities or sororities, but they do still exist in small numbers. Princeton boasts the oldest college radio station in the country, and those who are culturally inclined will be pleased to find plenty of art offerings both on and near campus. 

 

Varsity and intramural athletics are a big deal at Princeton. Eleven of the Tiger’s 38 Division I teams took home Ivy League conference titles in the 2017-2018 season, including men’s cross country and track and field, as well as women’s lacrosse, soccer and basketball. Every fall the freshman and sophomore classes square off in the Cane Spree, an intramural Olympics that has been a Princeton tradition since 1869. Other traditions include Communiversity Day, which is an international festival, and lawn parties are hosted in the spring. 

 

The surrounding town of Princeton, New Jersey has plenty of parks, woods and bike trails. When students do want to take a break from campus, they usually only venture as far as New York City or Philadelphia, both of which are an hour away (opposite directions) by train. 

 

Financial: Students are admitted to Princeton without regard for their financial need. Princeton offers need-based financial aid and has replaced loans with grants in their financial aid awards. The average percent of need met is 100%, with 100% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $77,000, the average financial aid package is $50,000. 85% of students receive financial aid. Princeton does not offer merit or athletic scholarships. 

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