Oberlin: Funky intellectual community with lots of music, art and co-ops

Oberlin has a distinct history of challenging intellectual and social conventions. It was the first to adopt a policy to admit students of color and the first to educate women in an undergraduate program. This history shapes the diverse student experience today. Individuality is valued at Oberlin, which fosters strong bonds among an eclectic community of bright and talented students from around the world. Interestingly enough, much of the domestic student body hails from New York and California.oberlin music

Oberlin is an intellectual community where students explore ideas because they are inspired to learn, not for the sake of grades. Since 1920, more Oberlin graduates have earned Ph.D.s than have graduates of any other predominately undergraduate institution. Wow!

Acceptance: 33%

Freshmen from out of state: 95%

Most popular majors: politics, biology, music

Housing: All freshmen live on campus. Only seniors can live off-campus. The varied housing options include co-ops, several of which focused on foreign languages. For $5, students can rent up to two original works of art to decorate their room (what a deal!). Every dorm has a piano.

4-year Graduation rate: 73%

Academics: Oberlin has been a leader among liberal arts colleges that promote their science offerings, with biology and chemistry being two of their strongest departments. Undergraduates can also major in interdisciplinary programs like neuroscience and biopsychology.

There is no core curriculum but students must take classes humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Oberlin offers a winter term, which allows independent study in January. Undergrads must complete 3 winter terms to graduate.  75% study abroad and 65% engage in research with faculty mentors.

A nice perk to having a conservatory on campus is that private lessons are free when you take a music class for credit.

Social: Music is big on Oberlin’s campus. My tour guide boasted that there are 2-3 music events held on campus every day. Some of the most popular events feature music performances, such as orchestra concerts, jazz ensemble concerts, opera and theater productions, Friday Night Organ Pump concerts, and Hip Hop Conference. Student radio is the second largest organization. Students actively participate in 200 student groups and 70% engage in service projects.

Oberlin College & Conservatory

Financial: Oberlin offers merit aid and need-based financial aid, with 100% of need fully met.  Although the tuition and fees are $67,000, the average financial aid package is $37K. 83% of students receive scholarships. Oberlin offers both need-based and merit aid. Oberlin meets 100% of need.

What do you think about Oberlin? What about this college is a good fit for you? Please post your comments below.

This Stanford Alum loves University of Dayton

This evening in the NCAA Sweet 16, Stanford University will face off against University of Dayton . . . for the first time! The city of Dayton is abuzz just as I know Palo Alto is.

In today’s Dayton Daily News, there was a special pull-out section and full coverage on how Stanford is different from University of Dayton:

 The University of Dayton’s Cinderella story continues today as the men’s basketball team takes on Stanford University in the Sweet 16, a matchup pitting UD against one of the nation’s most academically elite schools.

But UD and Stanford University actually do have a few things in common: they’re both private schools; they have about the same number of undergraduates; and their basketball teams are both high seeds that scored a couple of upsets to get to the NCAA Basketball Tournament’s “Sweet 16.”

Beyond those similarities, however, the two schools’ paths diverge rather sharply. In many ways, UD is David to Stanford’s Goliath — and we’re not talking about the basketball matchup.

Stanford, for example, has the fifth-largest endowment among U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. UD ranks 164th.

Between 2011 and 2014, according to USASpending.gov, Stanford received more than $3 billion in federal grants and contracts. UD received $166 million.

Stanford’s most recent fund-raising campaign spanned five years, ended in early 2012 and generated $6.2 billion. Its athletic department spends $90 million a year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. UD, which doesn’t have a Division I scholarship football program, spends about $21 million.

On the academic front, Stanford is among the most selective schools in the country: 96 percent of its incoming freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. At UD, it’s about 24 percent. . . .

via Dayton Flyers to face Stanford in Sweet Sixteen game | www.daytondailynews.com.

The only difference they forgot to mention though is that Stanford is in California and University of Dayton is in Ohio. Many teens decide on a college based on the location and interestingly enough 46% of Stanford students are from California and 57% of UD students hail from Ohio.

This comparison between the 2 campuses brought to mind to me that there are so may great colleges in the US and several good fits for every college bound teen. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee but studied at Stanford University and now live in Dayton, Ohio. I have had some wonderful experiences with the University of Dayton and recognize that it’s a great fit for many college-bound students. My experience as an undergraduate and graduate student at Stanford was also a wonderful experience and I recognize that it’s a great fit for many college-bound students!

So, for tonight’s game, I’m rooting for . . . . both teams –  Go Stanford Cardinal! Go Dayton Flyers!


Knowing more about the culture of a college campus is important

Cedarville College

When I spoke at the National Urban Education Conference held at Cedarville University, I had no idea about many of the internal administrative struggles that the college is experiencing. Even during a recent tour several months ago, the admissions office never alluded to the controversies. It’s not that I would expect the admissions office to share such negative details about their university.

Six years ago, the college was sued when it fired two tenured professors. The faculty members claimed they were dismissed because they were too theologically conservative . . . [students and alumni] see the administrators’ departures and the proposed elimination of the philosophy major, as well as the Board of Trustees’ rejection of a proposal last year to establish a separate theology major, as a sign of a new doctrinal rigidity.

“With Dr. Bill Brown and Dr. Carl Ruby both gone, Cedarville loses its two most prominent voices for a robustly evangelical institution. With the philosophy major on the chopping block, Cedarville risks losing its credibility as a self-proclaimed liberal arts university,” concerned alumni and students wrote online, later continuing: “Over the past year, Cedarville University has taken several steps which seem to indicate a shift toward the more conservative/fundamentalist end of its constituency.”Even by the standards of its fellow members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an association of evangelical colleges, Cedarville is theologically and culturally conservative. Students are required to attend chapel five days a week. Every student is required to minor in the Bible. The college boasts of its belief that the Earth was created exactly as described in the Bible and says its graduates are “in the world but not of it.”

via Several controversies converge at Ohio Baptist college | Inside Higher Ed

However, I do expect prospective students and parents to be aware of these controversies. Prospective students may be spending 4-6 years of their life on that college campus. Internal strife among administrators and/or faculty will have an impact on classroom learning, social life on campus, and, in some cases, even financial awards.

Here are 4 things that students and parents can do to learn more about campus culture:

  • During a campus visit, ask the tough questions and meet with random students/faculty
  • Read the mission statement and president’s letter on the website and through other materials
  • Read several issues of the campus newspaper or underground newspaper
  • Listen to the student radio station

The bottom line is that college is your time, money, and future.

What else have you done to learn about the culture of a campus?

Don’t let the college sticker price fool you


When I remark to families that my students were offered $40K to $64K in scholarships, they are often surprised! Yes, I may boast about our results 🙂 . . . . but the point of my statement is to let families know that most college students pay less than the sticker price. That’s an especially important point for high school juniors who are researching and developing their college list. Do not be deterred by the sticker price.

There are so many scholarships and other funds available from the colleges that significantly reduce the price. Check out these findings:

Among full-time, first-time, degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students in the 2010-11 academic year:

4-year public institution:

Average price before aid: $17,600

Net price, after subtracting grant aid: $11,000

4-year private, nonprofit:

Average price: $34,000

Net price: $19,800

via College Students Often Pay Less Than Sticker Price – College Bound – Education Week.

In my recent talk with the Dayton Association of Tax Preparations, I shared the calculation for determining financial need. Every college determines “need” differently. So, even in cases where your family may have a higher income, the fact that you have additional children or private school tuition can all play a role in whether the college determines you have “need.” The other truth of the matter is that colleges want to recruit certain students. They may offer scholarships to a student in order to attract them to accept an offer of admission . . . which has nothing to do with whether that family can afford to pay or not.


College of the Week: Case Western . . . Best college in Ohio

Case Western

Graduation rate: 81%

When you’re on the campus of Case Western, you know you’re in Ohio but something about the feel of the campus is more like Boston, Massachusetts. The surrounding area is dense with trendy restaurants, a world class symphony hall, and unrivaled medical research facilities. The city of Cleveland gets a bad rap, but, after having lived in the city, I recognize that it is one of the most underrated cities in the country. So goes Cleveland . . . so goes Case to some degree. For college-bound applicants, Case sometimes is overlooked for the gem that it is. However . . . all 50 states are represented on their campus so its reputation is reaching all corners!

According to US News & World Report rankings, Case has been ranked as the “Best college in Ohio” and best value. (Way to go, Case!)

Enrollment: 4,200 undergrads; 5,600 grads

Academics: Case has several combined undergraduate/graduate programs, such as:

  • 6 year Dental program
  • Joint BA/Masters in Accounting

These may be a worth checking out for the student who knows well that they are interested in a particular field.

Social: Located in University Circle in Cleveland, there are plenty of dining, cultural, athletic, social activities within walking distance of Case.

Financial: Tuition and fees are $55,000 with about 75% of students receive scholarships. Starting with seniors who graduate in the Class of 2013, families must submit the CSS/Financial Profile to be considered for financial aid.

I must warn families that their housing policy is somewhat “open-minded.” Be sure you read about the varied option and certainly ask about housing when you visit the campus. If the student is uncomfortable with the housing situation, then it may not be a good fit. Certainly though, Case is worth a visit if everything else about it is a fit. Your on-campus impression will differ from your website visit.

Check out these campus photos of our visit to Case:

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Are there any college-bound students in Ohio?

Case Western

Recently, I was speaking with someone about the college-bound market in Ohio. He seemed surprised that there were even any students in Ohio who were college-bound. I didn’t take his comment personally but quickly disabused him of that notion. The state of Ohio had about 45K students who went to college in 2010. Of those students, 80% attended college in-state and the remainder attend college in other states, such as Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

On the flip side of this coin, students from all over the US attended college in Ohio. There are some real college gems here in the state of Ohio. What I have found interesting is that students who want to remain in-state for college only consider 2-3 colleges. Students tend to know about colleges closest to their home or the public brand-names of Ohio State or Miami of Ohio. An accomplished musician that worked with our Center had not heard of Oberlin and had no idea that it was located in Ohio. In fact, the majority of applicants to Oberlin come from California and New York, where many of their alums live.

There are over 2,000 four-year colleges and universities in the US. Any number of them could be a great fit for you. Each week on this blog, we will feature a new college that may be of interest to you. The College of the week will feature academic, social, and financial information plus insight from campus visits. Throughout the week, we will post application tips and other fun facts about the college of the week on our Facebook page. Please like us to get more tips.

Our purpose at the Compass College Advisory Center is to support each family’s success by applying to those colleges that are a great fit academically, socially, and financially wherever they are located.

Wittenberg offers much to students from near and far

A visit to Wittenberg University caught me by surprise. It’s located in Springfield Ohio and I’ve seen their campus signs along Interstate 70 countless times over the years without knowing all that this campus has to offer. Wittenberg is a small, liberal arts campus with 1,900 students and Lutheran-affiliated.

Special features of Wittenberg include:

Service Dog Program – Wittenberg students can participate in a community service project through 4 Paws for Ability. Through this program, volunteer students train a service dog for a semester.

Community Service requirement – The city of Springfield donated a building to Wittenberg. In exchange for that building, all students must volunteer 30 hours during their undergraduate years. What a great opportunity for students to support the surrounding community and for the Springfield community to have continued student involvement.

3-2 Nursing program – Nursing students can participate in a cooperative program, whereby three years are spent on the Wittenberg campus, then 2 years are spent on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Nursing students, therefore, finish with a Bachelors and Master’s Degree from two excellent institutions in less time!

Students from all over the US – Maybe I have “California” written on my forehead or something, but I always meet Californians wherever I go. However, I didn’t expect to meet a Californian in Springfield, Ohio. The first Wittenberg student I met hailed from Sacramento! We instantly connected and reminisced about the weather (of course, on a rainy afternoon).  Check out this quick video on why she chose Wittenberg University:

New president – Recent news from Wittenberg is that they just named their 14th and first female President, Dr. Laurie Joyner. Her tenure will be effective July 2012. A new president brings a new energy to campus. It will be exciting to see what those changes will be when I visit again. Perhaps the Sacramento student can share some tips with the new President Joyner, who’s moving from Rollins College in Florida!