Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"It Depends...."

by Erik Ormberg

Takeaways from the February 2nd, 2017 college admissions panel

On Thursday, February 2nd six college representatives addressed a crowd of over one hundred parents and students on the nuances of the college admissions process.

The representatives from each school gave a brief overview of their institution. Boston College is a Jesuit institution with four major concentrations: College of Arts and Sciences, Management, Education and Nursing. Curry College emphasized their 20:1 student to faculty ratio. Connecticut College praised the benefits of their four year advisory program and honor code. UMASS Amherst offers free tutoring for a wide variety of 100 and 200 level courses. Bentley spoke to the belief that they want their applicants to “exhaust all opportunities at their high school.” 

The major theme of the evening revolved around the specifics of applying. Many people are looking for black and white answers to a very gray process. A lot of the questions, given by parents through a google form, were met with the recurring response of the evening: “it depends.” The often asked question, “Is it better to get an A in a college level one course or a B in an honors course?” was discussed with no clear cut answer. The closest we could come to a resolution was the search for balance. 

Boston College spoke to that “balance.” Students should seek balance when creating a schedule and when looking at colleges. Boston College also encouraged students to, “take a little risk” when choosing courses.

Bridgewater touted its affordability. Admissions Director Gregg Meyer stated that in the past fifteen years the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has poured over five-hundred million dollars into Bridgewater’s campus alone.

UMASS Amherst combines affordability and competitiveness with accessibility for Massachusetts residents. Seventy-five percent of students at UMASS Amherst are residents of Massachusetts.

Bentley offers twenty-four majors combining liberal arts with a concentration that is primarily in the business field. Bentley’s 4200 students represent over 100 different countries.

Connecticut College offers a unique Pathways Program where students study a subject within a major.

The PAL (Program for the Advancement of Learning) at Curry is a comprehensive support service program for students with learning differences. About one quarter of Curry’s student body is supported by PAL.

Many questions about test scores, essays, GPA recalculations and “need blind” admissions were again filed into the bin labeled: “IT DEPENDS”. The representatives encouraged families to look at the specific requirements in admissions that are unique to each institution. They also encouraged STUDENT ADVOCACY. When it comes time to decide who is contacting the colleges for information, demonstrated interest (calls and emails), should come from the applicant.

The other statement that resonated Thursday evening was, “this process (college admissions) is not fair.” And as harsh as that may sound it does echo with truth. Every year in guidance our eyebrows are raised with surprise and shock at certain admissions decisions. The major takeaway of the night: BALANCE. Taking a balanced caseload and finding a balance of REACH, FIT and SAFETY schools remains the mission for all students as they enter the future planning process.

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