Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Talbots offers generous scholarship for women returning to college

It gives us great pleasure to help the Talbots Scholarship Foundation get word out about the 2010 Talbots Women’s Scholarship Fund and Nancy Talbot Scholarship Award. Targeted to women returning to full or part time undergraduate studies at two- or four-year colleges, universities, or vocational schools, this program is designed to “empower women to enrich themselves through learning and achieve a college education later in life."

The Talbot’s Women’s Scholarship Fund will award $180,000 in college scholarships for the 2010 academic year, including ten $15,000 scholarships and one $30,000 scholarship to an extraordinary finalist demonstrating “courage, conviction and an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit.”To qualify, applicants must be:

  • women who earned a high school diploma or their GED on or before September 2000;

  • enrolled or planning to enroll in a full or part time undergraduate course of study at an accredited two-, three-, or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school in the US or Canada;

  • attending the full 2010-11 academic year and receiving a degree no earlier than May 2011; and

  • must have at least two semesters (24 credit hours or more) remaining to complete an undergraduate degree as of the beginning of the 2010 fall academic term.

All applications must be submitted electronically by January 2, 2010, and only the first 5,000 eligible applications will be considered. Scholarship finalists will be selected based on a number of criteria including academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in community activities, honors, work experience, and a statement of educational and career goals. Registration and more information may be found on the Scholarship America website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ten reasons college freshmen look forward to coming home for Thanksgiving

Many of those high school students who were stressing over essays and application deadlines this time last year are getting ready to celebrate their first Thanksgiving as college freshmen. While Mom’s home cooking and a miraculously clean bathroom rank high on the list of reasons why freshmen look forward to Thanksgiving break, it might surprise some college applicants how much life changes and why home looks pretty good after a couple of months in a dorm.

For a little insight into the undergraduate living experience, here are 10 reasons college freshmen look forward to coming home for Thanksgiving:

10. At home, mashed potatoes and stuffing are not served with an ice cream scoop.
9. No one asks to borrow your favorite sweater, calculus book, a video, or iPod.
8. For at least four days, there is no need to wear flip flops in the shower or worry about who’s using your soap.
7. Laundry facilities may be available other than between 3 and 4 AM; quarters or other forms of payment are not required.
6. Access to a car may be within the realm of possibility.
5. A Student ID isn’t necessary to get in the house or access your bedroom.
4. No one in your family is likely to bang on your door after midnight and want to "talk."
3. Earplugs are not necessary to block out your roommate’s music, snoring, and/or video games.
2. You know it’s your hair in the drain.
1. And for better or worse, Thanksgiving dinner is not served on a tray.

Welcome home to all those fortunate enough to get there!

Photo from jelene's photostream on Flickr

Monday, November 23, 2009

Charta Squad rap video 'Relax' goes viral

BROOKLYN—When Art Samuels, Director of College Guidance and Culture at Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Charter High School (WCHS), originally posted a link to the SAT rap music video “Relax” on the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) E-List little did he expect to create an international sensation. “This is a stressful time of year for counselors,” explained Samuels. “I just thought the video could lighten things up a little.” And it did.

Since the communication went out to college admissions professionals, the Charta Squad SAT video has been enjoyed by over 14,000 visitors to YouTube—and the number is growing hourly as word spreads through the blogosphere as well as on college admissions websites such as Cappex, College Confidential, and the UVA Admissions Blog. Even The Chronicle of Higher Education included mention of the SAT rap video in a weekly news wrap-up. “The internet is an amazing thing,” commented Athena Apostolou, "Relax" co-producer and editor.

Shot in WCHS classrooms and hallways, the 4-minute video is based on 18 minutes of footage that was neither scripted nor rehearsed. “It sort of wrote itself,” according to Ms. Apostolou, who teaches art to students at WCHS. “We did it because we could really imagine how much the kids would enjoy it. What students wouldn’t want to see their teachers dancing around and singing?” Science teacher John Sullivan—who along with Art Samuels wrote the lyrics—added, “It was a ‘fun’ thing meant to demystify the SAT’s and get the kids to ‘relax.’”

In the past week, Samuels has been contacted by hundreds of counselors from all over the country requesting permission to use the video or adapt it for their students. One email came from China asking for a written copy of the lyrics. “The kids never let it die,” according to Samuels. “I’m known around school as the ‘guy in the video.’” Even Samuels’s dentist got in on the act, “He asked for my autograph.”

Based on the overwhelming response, Samuels definitely thinks the Charta Squad will come together for a sequel. "We accomplished our goals which were to get kids excited about the SAT, have fun, and take away stress."

“At the end of the day, it’s all for the students,” concluded Ms. Apostolou. "That’s why we’re in the profession—to help our kids succeed.”

Photo from Lisa Liang's photostream on Flickr

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Students in the top 20% of their class can earn automatic admission to the University of Houston

Students can fast track college admissions by taking advantage of the University of Houston’s fantastic automatic admission program (scroll down to the bottom of the admissions webpage for specifics). It works like this: any student in the top 20% of their high school class, who has completed 15 academic credit hours and submits an application by February 1st, is automatically admitted to Houston’s next incoming freshman class. A student in the top 50% of their class will also be automatically admitted as long as they submit standardized test scores of at least 1000 (CR and Math) for the SAT or 21 (composite) for the ACT. No essays are required, and Houston responds within 7 to 10 days from the date the application is submitted. After that, you’re free to buy the t-shirt—provided you’ve met the requirements!

No, this isn’t just for Texas residents. The Houston automatic admissions policy extends to any high school student in any high school in the country. For students in high schools that do not rank, Houston will consider each applicant individually. Every effort will be made to fast track the application through the system and give a student the same prompt feedback. Students applying for the University of Houston music program need to audition, and future architects must submit a portfolio. Engineering students need at least Pre-Calculus and Physics, and along with Bauer Business School applicants, should have a combined SAT of 1050 for automatic admission. But those are the only special exceptions.

The University of Houston is the third largest university in Texas. With 40 cutting-edge research centers, Houston offers 109 majors in fields ranging from Hotel and Restaurant Management to Supply Chain and Logistics Technology. And, the Department of Chemical Engineering recently announced the addition of a Petroleum Engineering major to its undergraduate program, which is great news for anyone looking to make serious money immediately after graduation.The University of Houston is not alone in offering automatic admissions. To learn more about other guaranteed or automatic undergraduate admissions programs check out Louisiana State University (LSU) or the University of Oregon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brooklyn's Williamsburg Charter School raps SAT advice in music video 'Relax'

The college office and teachers of the Williamsburg Charter High School*, in Brooklyn, New York, have produced the best SAT video ever! Titled Relax, by the Charta Squad, four minutes of solid SAT advice are packed into a truly inspired rap worthy of a public service award from the Grammies or MTV. And to think families pay thousands of dollars for this kind of SAT insider information!

“Relax!,” is the underlying message the Charta Squad rappers beat out to a music video choreographed in familiar classrooms and hallways. Set two alarm clocks, eat a good breakfast, sharpen the pencils, and pack a watch, some water, calculator, and a snack. There’s even a shout out to analogies for old school viewers. “I got my SAT pants on. Got my SAT dance on.” But don’t forget to, “Relax, relax, relax.”

An SAT tutor sums it up, “This is easily the most brilliant thing I’ve seen regarding the SAT in freaking years.” And the stars of our show are the teachers, counselors, and security staff of the Williamsburg Charter High School.

MTV are you listening? Get the word out. "Relax" deserves a national audience.

*WCHS is part of the Believe High Schools Network

Photo from Lisa Liang's photostream.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

3.4 GPA earns automatic admission to the University of Oregon

Why a duck? Because to become a University of Oregon "Duck," any high school applicant may receive automatic undergraduate admission by simply achieving a 3.4 GPA—regardless of grade scale or weighting policy or whatever. If your transcript contains both weighted and unweighted GPA’s, UO will take the higher to qualify for automatic admission—they want to accept great students. Go Ducks!

Not even the Marx Brothers in their famous Cocoanuts routine could complain about this opportunity for solid B students to gain admission to a wonderful school in a beautiful part of the country. And evidently, so many have discovered this secret that University of Oregon officials had to lift the automatic-admit GPA from 3.25 to 3.4 for the 2009-2010 admissions cycle. Since about 70% of this year’s freshman class was admitted under this policy (including lots of Californians shut out of their system), little room was left for the UO admissions committee to make selections from among the rest of the applicants. This potentially created problems filling specialized positions in the Marching Duck Band or the mighty Duck football team. And, these aren’t just Oregonians. About one-third to 40% comes from out of state to enjoy the college town atmosphere offered in Eugene OR and the 295-acre UO campus lined with 2000 varieties of trees.

There are other guaranteed admission policies in effect across the country, but most have restrictions that make them less universally applicable. A more controversial policy in Texas requires the University of Texas to take the top 10% of graduating seniors in any Texas high school. The University of North Dakota posts a chart indicating requirements for automatic admission, and the University of Houston guarantees admission to anyone in the top 20% of their high school class. Other less choosy schools post automatic admissions standards for prospective students to meet. But few are as successful as the University of Oregon in actually improving admissions statistics through this relatively painless admissions policy. In fact, the average GPA for the class of 2013 is 3.68, and that’s with using the lower standard for guaranteed admission.

There are a few strings that come with the Duck offer. Students must graduate from a regionally accredited high school and have 16 college preparatory units with grades of C- or better. They must also submit a completed application by January 15, 2010 (this application will be used to consider applicants for the Clark Honors College). Earlier applications get first choice on housing. BTW, to reach Oregon admissions, you dial 1-800-BE A DUCK. Gotta love it!Why a duck? No, viaduct.

Why a chicken? No, that’s the University of Delaware.

Photo provided by KYZ

Monday, November 16, 2009

LSU offers guaranteed admission for B/C students

Hold that Tiger! Louisiana State University, located in historic Baton Rouge, offers an incomparable guaranteed admission program for the B/C student ready for the challenges of a big-school experience in a classic southern community. Here’s the deal--to claim automatic admission a student must have:

  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher (weighted or unweighted)

  • ACT/SAT scores of 22/1030 (minimum Eng/CR 18/450 and M 19/460)

  • 18 core high school credit units (Note that American Sign Language may count toward the 2 units required of foreign language)

For as long as space remains in the class, the admissions office will provide a decision within 48 hours of application. No strings. No binding clauses. Just a refreshingly uncomplicated admissions process designed to attract a wide variety of students. And the best part of all is the availability of all kinds of scholarship money thanks to the unfailing generosity of generations of loyal LSU alums. Out-of-state students with SAT’s totaling 1250 and 3.0 GPA qualify for full exemption from nonresident fees; nonresidents with SAT’s totaling 1330 and 3.0 GPA qualify for full exemption from all tuition and fees. And, those are just a few of the scholarship opportunities available at LSU!

The LSU campus is alive with school spirit and friendly faces. On a random day on campus, at least two out of three students and school employees are decked out in school colors and Tiger paraphernalia. Anyone familiar with the college sports scene will recognize the LSU Tigers as perennial national contenders. And, what other school has a live tiger habitat located right beside an over-sized football stadium that positively rocks the Richter scale on Saturdays during the fall months? Team mascot Mike VI rules his den!

In addition to sports, LSU has plenty to offer in the way of academics and student life. Students major in everything from Cajun French to Petroleum Engineering. And, each year, LSU conducts more than 2,500 sponsored research projects funded by more than $140 million in external grants from an amazing assortment of funding sources including NIH, NASA, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, to name a few. The large but easy-to-navigate campus is beautifully landscaped with towering live oaks insured for millions gracing quads and walkways.

Make no mistake. This is a big school. The largest classroom holds 1000 students and clickers are among the tools routinely used by professors to keep up with the numbers. For the right student, however, the welcome and value are there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Colleges offering a taste of the good life

When I went away to college, I frankly gave very little thought to the quality of the amenities package I could expect as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. I knew the water in the pool at the Weightman Gym was reputed to be very cold, but what fool would be sampling the waters if you could pass the mandatory swim test? Hot tub? I don’t think so. Climbing wall—well maybe, if you count getting over the brick and mortar fa├žade that surrounded the women’s dorm. Computer access? Yes, but the darn thing took up an entire city block. Parking? Not likely unless you paid off one of the proprietors of the many mob-own lots that surrounded campus. Then again, who would think of bringing a car to Philadelphia? I certainly didn’t.

But times have changed. The twenty-first century college student expects a certain quality of life. Running late to class? Can’t find a parking spot? Don’t stress: the University of Southern California (USC) offers daily valet service. You can toss the keys to an attendant Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Or, you can make a parking reservation online for expedited service. Columbia University and Cal State Sacramento also offer some combination of valet and “premium” parking for students. New York City, I understand, but what’s the parking issue at Cal State? Then there’s Florida International University, where you can leave your car with the valet and order up a wash and wax while taking your accounting midterm or attending an anthropology lecture.

High Point University in North Carolina also offers a valet service, but ups the ante with the availability of a concierge desk, free treats from a roaming ice cream truck, and a hot tub conveniently located in the center of campus. The High Point concierge handles maintenance requests, gives restaurant recommendations, sends out dry cleaning, and provides automated wake-up calls effectively doing away with one particular excuse for missing class. It's all part of President Nido Qubein's plan to acclimate students to the good life. And judging from the happy students and pristine campus, he might be onto something.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Save money by using AMTRAK to visit colleges

High school juniors and seniors considering fall campus visits may want to take advantage of special Amtrak buy-one-get-one half price train fares. Partnering with Campus Visit Magazine, Amtrak is now offering reduced-price train tickets for students and their families traveling to college campuses. It works this way: the student buys a full-price adult fare ticket and their parent or guardian travels for half-price through December 16, 2009. It's like BOGO for train tickets instead of shoes. To obtain this discount, you need to know the following:

  • The offer is only good for high school juniors or seniors traveling with a parent or guardian.
    Tickets must be booked at least 3 days in advance--no exceptions.

  • Up to 2 additional children (ages 2-15) may accompany the family for half-off a full-fare ticket.

  • Some black out dates apply (Sept. 4 & 7, Nov. 24-25 & 28-30).

  • This discount does not apply to Acela trains.

If this works for you, then

  • Go to and fill out a short form about your trip.

  • Press the submit button to get your special Amtrak promotion code--WRITE IT DOWN.

  • If you haven't already done so, register for the Amtrak Guest Rewards program (you'll earn 1,000 bonus points).

  • Book your ticket by phone: 800-USA-RAIL or 800-872-7245, using your special promotion code.

  • Pick up your tickets from an agent (you can't use the kiosk) and be prepared to show identification.

  • Enjoy your trip!

Many campuses are within reasonable walking distance from major train stations. For example, both Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania are easily reached from the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Other campuses may require connecting to a subway. Regardless, you don't necessarily need a car to visit colleges. And with these fares, Amtrak is making your trip even more affordable.