Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Colleges that Change Lives"

I attended the Colleges That Change Lives College Fair on May 24, 2007 in Randolph, MA.

The 40 colleges from Loren Pope's book travel the country together conducting spring college fairs. I wanted to speak with certain colleges I know little about, and renew acquaintances with reps that have visited Cheverus. Their website has lots more info, and profiles all 40 colleges.

Loren Pope was education editor for the NY Times before he wrote this immensely popular book featuring 40 "unassuming, less well-known" colleges. (He also wrote Looking Beyond the Ivy League, and Cheverus juniors read chapter 1 as part of College Advising class.) Through extensive on-campus research, he uncovered 40 colleges that excel in the following areas:
  • small class sizes
  • faculty that teach undergraduates
  • students are well-prepared to go on to grad school, med school, law school
  • students are interested in learning, taking risks, asking questions
  • less competitive community

The colleges do not have to be small overall, but must have small class sizes. The largest of the 40 colleges has 5,000 undergrads.

Evergreen State College in Washington state and New College of Florida are the only 2 public colleges on the list of 40. The rest are private.

Reed College is an interesting place for intellectuals in Oregon. Their admit rate plummeted recently from 40% to 33%. Darn.

Allegheny College in PA is one of Princeton Review's best bargains. It's in the area of PA between Ohio and NY and looks like those who enjoy the outdoors may like it here. The town population is 30,000.

Hope College is a Christian school where the largest classes are introductory ones with 50-60 students. They offer fine arts scholarships and are located in Michigan.

St. John's has locations in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Annapolis, MD. The entire curriculum focues on "the great books". Very unique college. Faculty are called tutors to emphasize their differing role from most colleges. Freshman seminar is one of 5 classes you'll take and books are read and discussed with 2 tutors. Math class is next, where you'll read Euclid. Language? You'll learn Greek and translate texts. Everyone takes chorus! They boast a high 87% freshman retention rate. This place is for the self-motivated student who is not afraid to become engaged in class. In fact, you have to! Small, at 500 students, so there's nowhere to hide!

Nearby, we have Clark University in Worcester. They have an unbeatable reputation for their psychology major.

Before the Fair began, CTCL staff gave a brief talk about today's college process. They reminded the audience that the average admit rate among all U.S. colleges is 77%. But, the media focus on the small number of highly selective colleges whose admit rates are under 15%, making it seem like it is impossible to get in anywhere! CTCL urged parents and students to decide for themselves, don't let rankings decide where they apply to college, and not to be scared off by media accounts of impossible admit rates.

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