Prep Talk Blog > June 2011

Unigo Expert NetworkThis blog post is provided by the Unigo Expert Network, a group of top education experts from across the U.S. answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school. To have your questions answered visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

“My brother keeps telling me that I should consider size as I start applying to schools but I’m not sold – what makes a school large or small, and what are some of the more subtle advantages/disadvantages of both?”– John W., Portland, OR

  Colleges’ Sizes Can Be Deceptive- - It's More Than a Numbers Game
Yolanda Watson Spiva, Executive Director, Project GRAD Atlanta

Don't let the number of students in attendance intimidate you from looking at a college that has lots of students, or a smaller one that you think may not have lots of majors or courses to offer. Many large colleges have smaller academic departments that provide more intimate interaction with other students as well as faculty. Likewise, most small colleges tend to have a variety of majors and courses to appeal to its diverse student body. In large and small schools, alike, you are likely to take core courses with larger numbers of students, until you begin taking your major courses. Let your goals for your major and extracurricular activities serve as your priority rather than school size.
 
  Larger May Be Better
Nancy McDuff, Associate Vice President for Admissions & Enrollment Management, University of Georgia

In their college searches, students are often limited in their experiences based on what their high schools are like and they narrow their college choices based on what they think they know.  A good student can find success in any environment, large, medium or small. But students can optimize their experiences when they have the most options.  Large universities provide a broader range of types of students to know and learn alongside.  Not only breadth of majors, but depth in the academic areas will be more prevalent at a large school.  Opportunities to take leadership roles will expand as the number of student run organizations increases, as will the scope of potential items to add to the student’s resume.
 
  What Works for You?
Danny Reynolds, Director of College Counseling, Palmer Trinity School

Colleges are considered “small” when they have fewer than 5,000 students, “mid-sized” between 5,000 and 15,000 students, and so on. When considering size, contemplate what kind of learning environment and social setting you’re seeking. If you like being surrounded by familiar faces and want intimate, discussion-based classes from the start, go with a smaller school. At larger schools, you’ll have an abundance of social opportunities, which is great for the student who will take it upon his/herself to find his/her niche. In addition, intro level courses are large and often taught by TAs, but become smaller as students begin to specialize. 
 

Get the full story from 35 more experts -- including the Dean of Admissions at University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan University, and more -- at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork. To send your question to our experts, visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

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Yep, that’s right. This month, both Justin Bieber and Lightning McQueen are participating in benefits for College Track – one in a concert and the other in a movie screening.

College Track is an after school, college prep program for under-resourced high school students who want to go to college. The organization’s goal is to “transform low-income communities into places where college readiness and college graduation are the norms,” according to the College Track site. Programs currently operate in California and Louisiana.

And Justin Bieber isn’t the only star supporting College Track. Both Ashton Kutcher and MC Hammer, who also support the organization, gave the singer kudos for donating his time and talent, according to this blog.

High school students committed to graduating can apply for the program here. Individuals who want to support College Track can make donations or volunteer.

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Unigo Expert NetworkThis blog post is provided by the Unigo Expert Network, a group of top education experts from across the U.S. answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school. To have your questions answered visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

“I know that college visits are a great idea, but my family doesn’t have the time or money to visit some of the schools I’m really interested in.  What else can I do?”– Jennifer R., Tampa Bay, FL

  Gather As Much Information As Possible If You Can't Make a Visit
Jill Madenberg, Independent Educational Consultant  

Attend college fairs, speak to representatives, take a virtual tour and ask your high school to host an Alumni Day.  When former students come back for a visit, you get an inside view through their eyes of the college experiences at different campuses.  Additionally, after you get your admissions decisions, see where you are accepted and ask the schools if they can provide you with transportation to visit.  Visiting a campus is absolutely the best way to see if it feels right for you.  If you can't do that, many schools offer the opportunity for you to ask students questions through the school’s websites.
 
  Research and Reaching Out Can Replace Campus Visits -- for Now
Craig Meister, President, Tactical College Consulting

There are cheap and less time-consuming alternatives to campus visits that will develop your familiarity with colleges and increase your chances of admission. Conduct research on specific college websites, look for student reviews online, and read college guidebooks.  Then, armed with more knowledge, reach out by email or phone to college admissions officers at the colleges that most intrigue you. Introduce yourself and ask questions that you could not find answers to online. You will learn a lot and impress college reps at the same time. Once accepted, though, make every effort to visit before picking a college.
 
  Make a Virtual Visit to College Campuses
Bob Tillman, Director of College Placement, Creighton Preparatory School

There are many ways to learn about life on a college campus other than making a college visit. The computer offers many possibilities. You can access the online student newspaper and read it frequently to get an idea of student life and campus issues. Contact some of the students on Facebook who are attending that college and ask them about their experiences at the college.  You can also contact students in a specific department who are majoring in the area that you want to pursue. There are also many colleges that offer blogs on their websites where you can learn about first-year student life at college. 
 

Get the full story from 35 more experts -- including the Dean of Admissions at University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan University, and more -- at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork. To send your question to our experts, visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

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BNET recently reported on 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellows. The 20 fellows receive $100,000 each, over two years, to drop out of – or plain not attend – college in order to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal, established the foundation and funds the award.

But is Thiel telling today’s young people that college is a waste of time?

We here at MyCollegeOptions.org would disagree. We have a whole section of articles and opinions explaining why college is important.

In the BNET piece, Lanny Goodman – an entrepreneur himself – said this in favor of college: “What we don’t need in this country is more uneducated entrepreneurs with no sense of history, culture or values other than making money. I’m sorry, but business is about living. Life is not about business. Without education and a larger context than making money, how are we to make rational decisions that benefit society and the planet for generations to come rather than just what will benefit our shareholders for the next quarter?”

What do you think of a program that encourages leadership without college to provide a basis?

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