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College Applicants: Brainstorm essays, fine-tune lists and get ready to apply!

For rising seniors, summer takes on a whole new meaning.

Ah, June. Many students associate it with freedom and relaxation - and they should. For our rising seniors, however, the candidacies now become very real. We brainstorm essays, fine-tune lists and get ready for the Common App. There isn't a day that college issues don't make headlines, however, and families should be concerned about their investments. So let's take a look at the issues, unCommon style. 



While the Liberal Arts Get Practical . . .

Followers of this blog know I mean it when I say that colleges need to deliver communications and problem-solving skills. The undergraduate experience becomes all the more valuable when a college taps into interdisciplinary approaches and opens curricular and extracurricular opportunities to non-majors.That's just the approach taken at Denison University, as explained by President Adam Weinberg. He also argues that while the liberal arts "can propel them to success in any career . . . We need to give students a life-shaping education that launches them quickly and successfully into lives and careers." To Weinberg and the staff at Denison, that includes going where students are, including dorms, first-year experiences and athletics, to address career planning. The Granville, OH, university makes certificate programs designed by outsiders available to its students. To the university's credit, they even measure success through a net promoter score as determined by students and alumni.

Denison gets it!


. . . CS Majors Don't Always Have it Easy

You would think the road is somewhat easier for computer science majors. Yet they face scrutiny not just when applying to competitive CS programs but also when seeking employment. According to a Wall Street Journal article, computer science students now "graduate into a world of fewer opportunities." What gives?It starts with supply; the volume of CS majors has risen some 140 percent in a 10-year period. Employers can be picky; they want experience and may demand AI skills when hiring. As the Journal points out, "comp-sci majors from top-tier schools can still get jobs . . . They are just not all going to Facebook or Google."

UVA hosts Tech Night Takeovers.

As reported in Inside Higher Ed, top institutions such as Georgia Tech and Cornell continue to work on integrating AI in the curriculum. BU is addressing AI from the beginning of a student's experience, focusing on research and ethical use in freshman writing. 


What to Major In? What to Major In? (That's a Double Major!)

Even when I argue that acquiring skills may be more important to the student than their choice of major, the entire topic is a constant source of stress. While a significant percentage will change their mind once matriculating, students still need to indicate their choice of major when applying. Recently, the Wall Street Journal took a look at majors during the 2009-19 period and reported that “graduates who majored in two unconnected disciplines—say, a natural science and a social science, such as biology and sociology—were the most insulated from market shocks.”


Northeastern: The Conquests Continue

Every app season, I deal with questions from students applying to Northeastern. If they agree to consider an alternative campus, improving their odds of acceptance, which should they choose? Then when they're accepted to, which city should they pick and how soon should they deposit?

Now we learn that the Boston-based machine is merging with Marymount Manhattan, the home of which is praised by Northeastern President Joseph Aoun as having “status as a financial and media capital” with a “fast-growing technology sector.” So even it if the merger doesn't make sense on the surface - MMC is known for performing arts - it gives Northeastern yet another foothold in a major metro area. Calling itself Northeastern University - New York City, the merged campus is bound to attract the attention of applicants.Still, many students aren't getting caught up in the hype and are selecting public research universities over private colleges like Northeastern. When the Journal looked at The Colleges Where You're Most Likely to Have a Positive Return on Your Investment, it found some happy grads of their in-state colleges, including business students from Utah and Houston, or from Michigan Ross (no shock).


AD, AD, Who's the Most Beautiful Campus of Them All?

We don't need AI-generated images of college campuses when there are so many beauties from which to choose. Recently, Architectural Digest assembled the Most 64 Beautiful Campuses in America. While I was expecting to see favorites like Vassar, UVA, Dartmouth or Duke, the University of Hawaii at Manoa topped the list, followed by St. John's Santa Fe (a Great Books college) and Minnesota's St. Olaf College. As for some of my favorites, here's where they stand: Vassar (35), Duke (37), UVA (40) and Dartmouth (42). Williams (58).

Speaking of Dartmouth, Big Green is investing big time in making the campus sustainable. According to Inside Higher Ed, Dartmouth is spending $500 million to make changes, including steam to hot water using an underground structure. They expect a 20 percent gain in efficiency as a result. 


Name Your Peers!

Peers matter, don't they? So I enjoyed this year's update in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which reported on what institutions' responses were to the DOE when asked about their peers. Thanks, @Jeff Selingo, for pointing out that Princeton has no peers!   

Princeton, then Brown. You can't make this up. 


To this year's grads and their families, many congratulations! It's been a joy working with you. And if you have a rising senior or underclassman, don't forget to schedule a call or meeting before the summer heats up. 


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