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June & July 2008 Visits

on July 20, 2008 in College Visits

macalester-scienceRecent College Visits

As part of the IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Minneapolis this spring, we participated in extensive counselor tours of colleges in the area. We began our tour at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Top programs at this small Lutheran liberal arts college include forensics, drama, and theater. Many scholarships are available.

Our next stop was St. Olaf College, a small, liberal arts college in the Lutheran tradition, where over 60 percent of students in all majors (including Division III athletes) study abroad. A new $65 million science complex opens this fall on the beautiful campus. Strong programs at St. Olaf include bioinformatics, environmental science, neuroscience, languages, religion, English, psychology, economics, math, music, and the arts. Choir opportunities are extensive and include a conservatory-level experience with international tours. St. Olaf sends a very high number of students to PhD programs in math and statistics.

Carleton College, also in Northfield, Minnesota, is one of the most selective small liberal arts colleges in the country. Watch “Carleton Is…” for an excellent look at this dynamic campus. This campus, with just under 2,000 students, has a unique location surrounded by farm lands and offers a demonstration farm for students interested in the relevant field of food research.

Carleton (right photo) has a trimester curriculum, offering students the opportunity to take nine courses per year, one more course than students are able to take at many other colleges. This allows more flexibility in planning majors and is best for students who enjoy exploring a variety of topics. Over 66 percent of students study abroad, and students may spend up to two years overseas. Top programs include geology, physics, biology, political science, and international relations. Students here exude a strong sense of academic curiosity and prefer a balance between academics and other aspects of college life. At Carleton, this balance and passion for learning results in unpretentious collaboration, rather than competitiveness.

The president of Macalester College, Brian C. Rosenberg, launched our visit with an informative presentation at breakfast. Having recently completed an East Coast tour of small, liberal arts colleges, he was struck by how important it was to understand the qualities that make each college unique, when so many fall into the selective, liberal arts category. He highlighted the qualities that differentiate Macalester:

  1. a diverse international background that began in the 1930’s and continues today, with the highest percentage of international students (from 70 countries) of any college in the U.S.
  2. a location in an urban environment, with many local Fortune 500 companies offering internships and many classes taking students into a metropolitan area with strong cultural opportunities
  3. an environment in which students are encouraged to think about their excellent education in terms of their responsibility to give back to the community.

The opportunities for community service at Macalester are vast. Strong programs include a wide range of foreign languages, political science, economics, and international relations (Macalester’s science building is pictured above). Other courses offered are Arabic and a new Middle Eastern Studies program. The new recreation center that opens this fall will be the cornerstone of campus during the long winters.

Our final stop was the University of Minnesota, a large public university located in downtown Minneapolis. This beautiful university offers a wide variety of programs:Ê the Carlson School of Business; the College of Design (fashion merchandising and interior design options); The School of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources; the College of Education and Human Development; the College of Biological Sciences; the College of Liberal Arts; and the Institute of Technology. Students must apply to a specific school.

The university also offers an Honors Program that requires no separate application; students are automatically considered, based on their academic qualifications. Thirty-two living/learning communities are available, and they offer over 300 overseas programs in 67 countries. This year, the university substantially decreased out-of-state tuition to help build a more geographically diverse community, making the University of Minnesota an excellent option at a great price.

Update from the University of Washington

We recently attended the University of Washington’s meeting for counselors and received several updates on the admissions process and changes to programs. Here is a brief summary of some of the important topics covered:

  • There was emphasis on the value of continuing high school math through calculus. This is becoming very important in the admissions process, regardless of the major you are pursuing.
  • December 1st is the deadline for many scholarships.
  • Admission of freshmen to a variety of programs is expanding, so if you are interested in a particular program, check the appropriate box on the application to be considered. Programs include, but are not limited to, engineering (specify an area of interest and the department will review), business, and computer science.
  • The new Emerging Leaders Program in the engineering department includes full tuition at the UW as well as the option to live in housing similar to honors housing.
  • It is essential to maintain a rigorous program throughout your senior year of high school.
  • Honors College candidates (the applicant pool this year was the largest ever) should have the following characteristics: a sense of compassion and competence, a willingness to take risks, a strong interest in a specific academic area, and a history of a desire to explore the larger world.
  • Admissions officers thoroughly evaluate applications, and the quality and content of the essays is critical in the new holistic review process.

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