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Spring 2009 Visits & News

on March 4, 2009 in College Visits, Summer Programs

GT-LChanges to Standardized Test Score Reporting The College Board recently announced that it will offer Score Choice (similar to the current ACT policy) for all tests beginning in March 2009. Rather than sending your colleges a cumulative report showing all test results, you will soon have the option to select only specific test date results to send. To take advantage of this option, students will no longer  be able to register for free score reports at the time of test registration. Instead, Score Choice will allow students to retroactively select which scores to send to colleges, even if the tests were taken prior to March 2009.

This new policy does not allow students to send individual sections of the test separately (Critical Reading, Math and Writing); rather, students may only select complete scores from a test sitting to be sent. However, results from Subject Tests taken on the same test date may be sent individually to colleges.

This new policy has generated considerable concern among colleges.  They believe that Score Choice will impact the admissions process by making it easier for students to play the system and prepare more extensively for tests, without allowing colleges to determine how many times the test was taken. As a result, some colleges will still require that all standardized test scores be reported (ACT and SAT), regardless of the Score Choice option.

It will be important to know the policy of each of the schools on your list before deciding which scores to report. This information can be reviewed on the college admissions web pages. However, many colleges are now reviewing their policies and may not decide how to address these changes until the Fall 2009 admissions process. The ACT is accepted as an alternative to the SAT at almost every college or university. Some colleges will allow ACT sub-scores to be mixed and matched at different test sittings.

Similar to the policy for the SAT at some colleges, schools will mix and match your best ACT scores, using the highest sub-score from different test dates. Again, these policies are college-specific, so it is important to understand how the colleges on your list will use this data. For example, the University of Washington will use only your highest complete set of scores from an individual sitting, rather than mixing and matching higher scores from different test dates.

Summer Programs on College Campuses

Many colleges across the country offer summer programs, allowing students to experience life on a college campus. This can help students preview a particular college and is also an excellent way for students to explore programs they might consider applying to as freshmen. By attending these summer focus programs,  students can get a real sense of whether a certain discipline will be a good match. Areas of study that require portfolios or direct applications might include architecture, engineering, industrial design, art, or theater, among a few. Start by finding colleges that are strong in certain departments, and then search for summer opportunities in these areas.

For example, Cornell University and Colorado State University have graduate veterinary programs and offer summer programs for high school students as a way to help them decide if this is the path they want to take. Cornell’s excellent hotel management program and architecture schools allow high school students to attend programs in these areas and obtain credit. Cornell also offers a more specific “Career Explorations Program.” Brown University offers a wide range of choices in many areas, from astronomy and philosophy to art and medicine, with both mini-courses and longer-term options. In the Northwest, Western Washington University offers programs ranging from Environmental Sciences and the Art of Filmmaking to Animation Programming and Criminal Law.

Reduced Tuition Offered at Public Institutions Around the Country Many public institutions around the country offer out-of-state residents the opportunity to attend at reduced tuition rates. The University of Minnesota is an example of a university with reduced tuition offerings to entice out-of-state students. You can use this search tool to explore the many options available throughout the US. Florida State University’s First Year Abroad program offers students in-state tuition upon their return. This can include engineering and science majors, with overseas options to start focusing on their majors.

In addition, Georgia Tech charges students in-state tuition plus $250 while studying engineering abroad at their French campus (top photo). Honors Colleges at many public institutions offer an alternative that should be considered for some students. You can explore these nationwide programs here.

Many of these programs include scholarship awards and provide additional support including smaller classes, extra advisor meetings, and enhanced overseas and research program opportunities. Read this overview of Honors Colleges, and then go to the websites of the various institutions to learn more about particular offerings, using the above link.

Washington residents may want to search the many college and university options that are available through the Washington Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). WUE allows students who are residents of Washington to enroll at participating college programs in other states at a reduced tuition rate. Learn more here, and make sure to explore the search tool offering a listing of programs and any GPA and/or standardized test score requirements.

Northwest College Updates

University of Washington update: The University of Washington is continuing to send out notifications on admissions in periodic batches; however, most applicants will not receive admission decisions until well into March. Many universities and colleges throughout the Northwest offer Spring Preview Days in April to allow juniors to experience the school during a full-day program of events. This Report in the Portland Monthly provides detailed descriptions of these colleges.

Even if you are widening your college list to include colleges outside the Northwest area, Spring Preview Days offer a great opportunity for students to learn more about different types of schools. Because college visits outside the area can be expensive, many students are choosing to explore choices closer to home before deciding what type of school might be best for them. For more information on a few Spring Preview Days for juniors, go to these links below, or check the admissions pages for schools not listed below.

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