Wednesday, September 30, 2009

College Prowler is now FREE!

I have some great news for fans of The College Prowler. For the first time ever, the entire collection of single-school guides is now available absolutely FREE of charge at Students, parents, and counselors can view all the most up-to-date information from all the Prowler guidebooks by entering the website and clicking on “All Schools” under “College Search” on the homepage. That’s more than 45,000 pages of content on more than 270 schools.

High school students naturally seem to gravitate to the slightly irreverent, but always entertaining college reviews contained in the handy little booklets produced by Prowler staff. Recruited from school newspapers and journalism or English departments, student reporters at each campus randomly survey between 75 and 150 of their peers to generate school-specific content including editorial reviews, direct quotes, and a few miscellaneous but helpful statistics. Letter grades (A through F) reflecting student opinion are generated in various information categories including academics, local atmosphere, campus housing and dining, athletics, weather, nightlife, and transportation—to name a few. Some of the reviews can be frank and a little unsettling especially when addressing issues such as substance abuse and sex on campus. Nevertheless, the information tends to be up-to-date, engaging, and to the point. And, readers have access to biographical information on the authors from each school—no more anonymous marketing statements originating directly from the dean’s office, as is often the case with other guides.

Until recently, the complete collection of College Prowler guides was offered online as a subscription for $39.95 per year. Although competition from other campus reviews and guides no doubt contributed to the change of heart, the value is still there. Along with school profiles, the Prowler website also offers college search tools which students should find useful. To make best use of these tools, students will need to register, but the information required is absolutely minimal and the Prowler folks promise not to fill mailboxes with spam generated by registering (like other college search engines).

Individual guidebooks as well as the complete compilation of school profiles may still be purchased on the Prowler website. Experienced high school students know that the little orange books are great for taking along on college visits and confronting tour guides with annoying questions. Prowler is working on expanding the list of schools to 300 by next April and is always recruiting new salaried reporters on campuses already covered to keep their reviews on the cutting edge.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

College tails

Pets in a college dorm are usually restricted to minor members of the fish family—something like Tyrone, my son’s sorry-looking betta, or an equally inoffensive ornamental goldfish. But even these come with a set of responsibilities like regular facilities cleaning and/or vacation pet sitting. And anything larger would appear to pose allergy and space issues not easily resolved in typical congregate housing arrangements.

So it came as a surprise when I learned while visiting Eckerd College, in St. Petersburg, Florida, pets are not only allowed, but welcomed in dorms. I’m told pet owners are happy with the policy, and others really enjoy the interaction. Eckerd has permitted pets in dorms for decades and has had as many as 40 dwelling in three residences. Pet housing is typically full, and students are clamoring for more. Obviously, there are rules, some of which have evolved as a result of specific incidents such as the one involving the over-sized boa, but complaints appear minimal and Eckerd isn't about to ask students to leave their furry friends at home.

But Eckerd isn’t alone in its pet policies. Schools worried about losing pet-loving students to off-campus apartments are increasingly loosening pet restrictions in university housing. In fact, the trend has resulted in a ranking of the top 10 pet-friendly colleges by, which considered the kinds of pets permitted and the type of housing and number of units included. Points were also awarded based on school size, how long the school has had the policy in place, as well as prevailing rules concerning deposits or weight/breed restrictions. Here are the results:

1. Eckerd College, FL: Students are allowed to have cats and dogs (under 40 lbs.), as well as snakes and fish in 4 pet-friendly, air-conditioned dorm “clusters.”
2. Stephens College, MO: All students are required to live on campus but may have dogs, cats, hamsters, or guinea pigs on a pet floor for which they must apply in advance.
3. Washington & Jefferson College, PA: Cats, dogs (less than 40 lbs.), small birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, turtles and fish are permitted as long as they have been owned by student families for at least a year and are registered as well as spayed or neutered.
4. Principia College, IL: Seven dorms and university apartments allow dogs, cats, rabbits, caged animals, and aquatic pets.
5. Cal Tech, CA: All dorms allow cats, as well as small caged and aquatic animals, but rabbits and dogs are not permitted.
6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Students staying in the Ashton Woods apartments may keep up to two “companion animals” such as dogs, cats, rabbits and fish.
7. University of Idaho: Cats and birds are permitted in all of the university’s 4 apartment-style housing buildings; fish are allowed in all dorms.
8. MIT, MA: Cats are allowed in 4 of the university’s dorms as long as owners have the written consent of their roommates, is approved by the dorm’s “Pet Chair," has all shots, is neutered, and is registered with the campus housing office.
9. State University of New York at Canton: Mohawk Hall allows a maximum of 48 pets, not including dogs or snakes.
10. Lehigh University, PA: One dog or cat is allowed to live in each fraternity and sorority house on campus.