There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. And while the media tends to focus on just a handful of schools, we at College Coach encourage students to think outside the box during their college selection process and explore a wide range of colleges, including this week’s School Spotlight, Rider University. What began over 150 years ago as a private business college for just 50 students has emerged as a comprehensive university for 4,100 with outstanding opportunities in athletics, music, and elementary education. The Rider Broncs compete in 20 DI sports, with special strengths in wrestling and swimming. The College of Business even offers a co-major in sport management that features one-of-a-kind internships (with the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Flyers) for students seeking hands-on experiences. In 1992, Rider merged with the Westminster Choir College, one of the preeminent music schools in the country. Located on Rider’s Princeton, NJ campus, the Westminster Choir College enrolls 320 undergraduates in audition-only programs such as music education and vocal performance. What else is there to study at Rider? How about cybersecurity, exercise science, or public relations (in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) or game design or musical theatre (in the School of Fine and Performing Arts)? Good to know: The College of Business, that was recently renamed after Rider alumnus Norm Brodsky, offers accelerated business management programs that lead to a bachelor’s degree in as little as three years, or an MBA or MAcc (Master of Accountancy) in four!
There is a scholarship (or many scholarships) out there for everyone. In this week’s Scholarship Spotlight, we look at scholarships for scouting. Hey Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available to you. Scholarships are offered from local, regional, and national associations. Our blog details a couple of options, but look out for additional opportunities from your local association where you can win more money tied to your commitment to scouting. For more information on scouting scholarships and how to apply, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
Some years ago on a soccer sideline somewhere, or maybe in the chatty pre-show moments of a high school theatre performance, a mom or dad started the dreadful rumor that one must complete hundreds of hours of community service in order to even be considered for admission to the top colleges and universities in the country. Since that day, this misinformation has been taken as gospel by college-bound high school students and their parents. But they’re wrong. Let’s all pause for a moment and say this together: there is nothing extra special about community service. For more information about how colleges view community service, and extracurricular activities as a whole, read the latest post on the Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
When college students graduate, they have a grace period of a few months before they need to start repaying their student loans. As that grace period is coming to an end, we have some thoughts on getting started on the repayment portion which we share on the latest episode of our podcast, Getting In: A College Coach Conversation. In other segments, we’ll discuss who should consider a gap year, and offer suggestions for next steps if you are deferred in the early round from any of your colleges of interest. To listen, say, “Alexa, play Getting In: A College Coach Conversation.”
I’ve often been asked how U.S. colleges go about admitting international students. The questions are usually centered upon quotas—limits to how many students can be admitted from a particular region of the world. Because certain countries often send such “incredible” students to U.S. colleges, and only a few of them are admitted year to year to a given school, there must be a predetermined number of admission slots per country goes the thinking. Right? Wrong. Most admission officers don’t have an imagined number of admits in mind when comparing applicants from one country against another’s. Instead, when sifting through a set of applications, they might pivot towards the “best” applications they’ve seen in a given context, regardless of country. “Best,” you see, is often variable; there’s more than one version of it. What’s valued in one part of the world might look different in another. For more on how the international student admissions process works at U.S. universities, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. And while the media tends to focus on just a handful of schools, we at College Coach encourage students to think outside the box during their college selection process and explore a wide range of colleges, including this week’s School Spotlight, University of Kansas. The University of Kansas may be big on spirit, but that doesn’t mean students will get lost in the shuffle. With just over 19,000 undergraduates, KU provides a big school feel with an amazingly strong sense of community. First year students are especially made to feel at home through a series of welcome programs and seminars, one of which – aptly named University 101 – provides students with the ins and outs of making the most of their new collegiate environment. KU attracts many top students within the Sunflower State, but there’s a major financial incentive for out-of-towners to attend, too. Non Kansas residents can earn up to $16,000 per year (renewable for four years) if they present a top GPA and SAT/ACT scores; this is equivalent to paying in-state tuition! Known for its dedication to teaching and research, KU provides outstanding opportunities for undergraduates to pursue independent research. Students can receive a $1000 Undergraduate Research Award to conduct original research on topics as diverse as trans-affirming healthcare (in the School of Social Welfare) and microbiomes of amphibians from the Philippines (in the department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology). Fun fact: Jayhawks know how to stay busy outside of the classroom, too! There are over 550 clubs and organizations for students to get involved in, and over 80,000 hours of community service were performed by students last year.
There is a scholarship (or many scholarships) out there for everyone. In this week’s Scholarship Spotlight, we look at the Clark Global Scholars Program Scholarship. International students who wish to study in the United States often have limited opportunities for funding. The Global Scholars Program (GSP) at Clark University, however, provides scholarship dollars to incoming international students who have demonstrated considerable leadership skills in their home countries. The program allows the good work of recipients to continue on campus with mandatory community service participation. Additionally, scholarship winners benefit from a dedicated mentor during their entire college experience. For more information on this scholarship and how to apply, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
The Bowdoin supplement asks applicants to first identify which of the lines from “The Offer of the College,” a poem written in 1906 by Bowdoin president William DeWitt Hyde, most resonate with them. Applicants are then invited to provide an optional short essay of 250 words to reflect on their chosen line and how it has meaning for them.
Now, in the world of college essay supplements, there are optional essays and “optional” essays. This supplement falls into the latter category: it is optional in name only. Bowdoin admits about 15% of its applicants and, while they don’t publish statistics on admit rate for students who do and do not respond to this “optional” prompt, we’d be willing to bet that non-respondents are rarely offered a space in the freshman class.
So that means you’re writing it! And if you’re interested in Bowdoin, we think you should be excited to do so. This is a great prompt for two reasons. First, it does a wonderful job of introducing students to Bowdoin. In this short piece, you learn that Bowdoin has over a century of history, that it is defined by its community, that it places value in both humanity and the Earth. Second, the prompt gives applicants so much freedom to provide an answer that is deeply personal. Instead of responding to one narrow question, you have the opportunity to choose from among nine possible options, connecting aspects of who you are to who you might be at Bowdoin.
And it’s the person you’re allowed to be at Bowdoin that I would encourage you to emphasize in this short response. Your essay should be aspirational with a hint of retrospective. Find the line that makes you most excited about being a college student and ask yourself why it holds such sway for you. Someone who has never felt the freedom of conducting an independent research project in a well-stocked chemistry lab might be drawn to the line about having “…resources behind you in whatever task you undertake.” A student who grew up in a concrete jungle might look forward to four years of learning in Nature, and the relationship with the natural world that can be developed in the upper right of the United States. It is the rare essay supplement that finds its way to being deeply personal, and you should be excited at the space you’re given here to share what you most look forward to about life as a Bowdoin undergraduate.
The spirit of this piece is poetic, but you needn’t provide any kind of literary analysis here. It’s a version of “Why Bowdoin?” but won’t require research into courses or professors or the number of clubs available to incoming freshmen. It’s 250 words where you’re invited to imagine what college might mean to you—how your life might be different for the next four years—and the flavor of the opportunities that might be your most prized. Enjoy sharing that excitement with the Bowdoin admission office!
To read the full poem and see more of College Coach Ian Fisher’s insight on how to approach the Bowdoin supplement, check out our blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
The first time College Coach Sally Ganga read over Smith College’s supplemental essay question, her response was, “Wow! This one is different!” See for yourself:
We know that colleges ask a lot of hard questions on their applications. This one is not so hard and we promise, there is no hidden agenda – just have fun! If you had a theme song – a piece of music that describes you, what would it be and why? Please include the name of the song and the artist. (200 words)
As she describes in her recent blog post, Sally loves that the Smith admission officers clearly do want students to have fun with this. As they say, there is no hidden agenda. Instead, they are looking for a playful, non-academic way to learn more about who you are outside the classroom and your structured extra-curricular activities. So, don’t choose a song because you think it will impress them! It doesn’t need to be on the soundtrack for Hamilton or something similarly revered (although it could be if it really is your theme song). If you want a Rihanna, Beyoncé, or Taylor Swift song to be the subject of this essay, go for it! Pop music is fine. Side note: In Sally’s experience, essays about romantic love do not impress in the admission process, so you may want to stay clear of love songs.
After you’ve settled on your theme song, make sure to explain WHY you chose it. And the “why” shouldn’t just be because it is pretty. Think carefully about why you picked this song above all the others you could have. Be authentic. Being overly clever in order to try and be original will likely backfire. Feel free to discuss lyrics, melody, etc.,—all aspects of the song are fair game. But, also remember you only have 200 words to use, so an essay focused on one or two aspects of why this song represents you will be likely be more effective than one that tries to catalog everything about the song, which may result in a more surface discussion.
And, in case you’re wondering, Sally’s theme song would be Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris.” While she don’t feel the same sense of melancholy about a past life the protagonist of the song does, Sally does relate to the descriptions of those moments when you feel free and unencumbered and the joy in those moments, whether in Paris or elsewhere.
There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. And while the media tends to focus on just a handful of schools, we at College Coach encourage students to think outside the box during their college selection process and explore a wide range of colleges, including this week’s School Spotlight, Agnes Scott College. Agnes Scott College, a private, liberal arts school, enrolls almost 1,000 undergraduates (all women!) on its 100-acre campus, located just six miles from downtown Atlanta. An amazing 48 percent of students study abroad during their time at Agnes Scott, and students also enjoy participating in one of the oldest honor systems in the country. Although Agnes Scott is a liberal arts college (where majoring in biochemistry and minoring in human rights is both possible and probable), students can also study professionally aligned programs including business management, engineering (through a dual degree with Georgia Tech), and computer science (through a dual degree with Emory University). What are some of the benefits of attending a women’s college? In addition to creating both a supportive and empowering learning environment, Agnes Scott also places a heavy emphasis on developing students’ leadership qualities. Whether through leadership retreats, the LeaderStories speaker series, or the Women’s Bridge to Business program, the women at Agnes Scott are taught how to create meaningful change in their communities. Good to know: Any applicant who has a 3.75 GPA, 1250 SAT, or 26 ACT (and meets the College’s minimum application requirements) is automatically qualified for a $25,000 merit Trailblazer Scholarship, renewable for up to four years!