I feel strongly that a thoughtful college search should start with some “window shopping”. If you are a parent of a high school junior (or motivated sophomore), encourage your son or daughter to start now the serious phase of identifying schools that might offer what they are looking for in a college. If they have already started, that’s great, but it may still be helpful to read on.
Are you stuck on the essay? It is not uncommon to create an essay draft and find that it isn’t the personal and powerful statement that you had hoped for. If you have reached that stage, here are a few things that should help:
Dig deeper and spend some time reflecting on what makes you who you are. Consider how you might communicate that in your essay. Keep in mind that you need to be showing rather than telling the reader what you want him or her to learn about you.
Next, think of something you do, or something that matters to you, that you thought at first was too minor. While an idea may seem trivial for an essay in school, it can be a great one here. Because your goal here is to draft a personal statement that will capture attention.
Review your draft again and ask yourself if it is too broad (and likely dull). Taking on too big a topic is a trap students easily fall into. Choose an interesting element of that original story and make it the focus. Provide rich detail that will engage the reader and help you stand out in that reader’s mind.
Looking for a simple test of whether your essay is personal enough? It should be something only you could write!
Lists of colleges with odd nicknames are not hard to find, but they are usually dominated by well-known football or basketball schools. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Georgetown Hoyas and Virginia Tech Hokies come to mind. Some articles about “bad” nicknames will cite ones that don’t seem outlandish to me like Crimson Tide or Cornhuskers.
Most nicknames have a connection to the school’s history, geography or founders. Of course, that doesn’t explain the plethora of animal names, including tigers and wildcats showing up in surprising places like Baton Rouge, Clemson, Lexington and suburban Philadelphia. Odder still are the surreal geographic interpretations in place at upstate New York’s Le Moyne College (home of the Dolphins?) and Ohio’s Youngstown State (the Penguins?). Bad puns seem to be in vogue in the NYC metro area where we can find the Pace Setters and the Rider Broncs. I can contribute a few new ones for some colleges to consider. How about the Duke Ellingtons, George Washington Bridges or the Occidental Damage?
Staying east of the Mississippi and focusing on small and mid-size colleges, here are some nicknames that for my money are pretty odd or awkward:
Akron Zips Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Centenary Gentlemen (and Ladies) Connecticut College Camels Furman Paladins
LeMoyne Dolphins Manhattan Jaspers McDaniel Green Terror Millsaps Majors NYU Violets Pace Setters
Rider Broncs Rowan Profs Savannah College of Art & Design Bees Wabash Little Giants
Wheaton (MA) Lyons Williams Ephs Youngstown State Penguins
I just saw this article written by a student about her experience with campus visits. I wish I could say her comments are off-base, but they are mostly on target. Too many colleges fail to grasp that effective marketing means spelling out how you are different from the competition. Information sessions and tours as the key elements of campus visits become repetitive for students.
Colleges typically focus on what every school appears to believe are “hot buttons” for applicants. That means promising research opportunities from day one. Of course, the skeptics in the audience wonder how often the many grad students at State U. are going to step aside for college sophomores. Internships are plentiful as well and opportunities for study abroad, will of course, be amazing. Also, we never fail to hear that there are over [fill in the blank] clubs and organizations on campus. The professors are, of course, dedicated teachers and always accessible.
What would we like to hear more about on a campus visit? Maybe it would be helpful for a student to talk about the class registration process. Can I count on getting most or all of the classes I want or need every time? Who gets priority? An administrator or professor could tell us about the classroom experience they foster at this institution. Maybe someone could mention academic departments that are growing or hungering for more interested students. How about providing more details about the academic support services available. Is support primarily coming from peer tutors. Or are there professionals available to help with writing, time management and other needs? In either case, how are they chosen?
I think we would all like to know what makes this college distinctive, a top choice, relative to others like in this part of the country.
So what should the concerned student do on a campus visit that is not offering much to go by? Ask questions, and if you get incomplete or evasive answers, go to a dining hall or student center and ask some students. I have found that most are happy to help.SHARE:
I am excited to be offering another briefing for parents, called “Finding Your Way Through the College Admissions Maze”. This one will be at the Amesbury, MA library on Thursday, September 22nd starting at 7 PM. More information can be found in the attached flyer.
I have consistently received great feedback about the content provided in these briefings. If you’re local, this will be a great opportunity to get your questions answered. If you are not, just call me at (978) 918-3869 or use the contact form here, and we will set up a briefing just for you.
We’re Here to Help
We would be happy to spend an
hour with you to answer questions
about any part of the admissions
process. Call Jim at: (978) 918-3869
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org