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SUCH Tour Feedback – Learn About Four Fantastic Schools in New York!

It is common practice for colleges and universities within close proximity of one another to invite small groups of college counselors to visit their campuses.  These special visit days allow counselors an opportunity to learn more about academics, residential life, study abroad options, admissions criteria, etc. at each school.  In addition, the counselors meet with current students and faculty to gauge what kind of student might be a “best fit” for the school.
I just returned from the SUCH Tour for College Counselors.  I spent three days exploring a variety of schools in New York: Skidmore College, Union College, Colgate University and Hamilton College.  I learned the following about each school.

SKIDMORE COLLEGE

·      For the class that will be entering in September 2016, nearly 50% of the class was accepted ED.  What this means for you – if Skidmore is a top pick and you will not have the need to shop for financial aid packages – apply early!

·      They offer a freshman year in London .. all accepted students are offered it, first come, first served.  If you have a travel bug and want a really new experience straight away, this might be a great option for you.

·      Skidmore requires the submission of the CSS Profile (financial aid form produced by the College Board). It is due by Feb 1.  If a student applies for financial aid and does not complete the required forms by the published deadlines, they will not be admitted.  No reminders or submission of the forms after an acceptance – no financial aid forms = no admission.

·      The largest growth in applications this admission cycle was from international students. This may partially be due to the fact that US News & World Report lists that school as one offering the most financial aid to international students.

·      Skidmore will use the Coalition Application – no disadvantage to those who don’t use it.

·      SAT optional for some programs.

·      Exercise Science is a very popular major.  We had a student panel with a couple of those majors – they all seemed to really love the program.

·      First Year Experience (pre-orientation trip) and Freshman Seminar (interesting courses) were also spoken about very highly.

·      Athletes talked about how supportive their professors were of them and their sport; commented on how professors and coaches communicate.

·      Before freshman year, a professor calls you over the summer to discuss your course selection.  Students loved having that communication prior to coming to campus.

·      There is a big new project called ProjectVis … grant from the Mellon Foundation that brings together faculty and students to train people in working with visual literacy in teaching & learning.

·      Summer Undergraduate Research Program – students can choose from 5/8/10 weeks. Paid, free room and board. Not just in Sciences. A French professor talked about working with students to translate a WWII document … French government ended up publishing it.

·      Science is booming … 1/3 of students major in Science.

·      One negative:  campus is looking a bit old/tired.  Nice dining hall, though. Also a beautiful new Music / Theater building (fun fact – from the air you can see that it is in the shape of a saxophone) 🙂

·      Saratoga Springs (small city that Skidmore is located in) is awesome.

·      Their motto:  “Creative Thought Matters”

·      Students seemed happy at Skidmore.  Good combination of artsy, science-focused and athletic students.

UNION COLLEGE

·      Big on integrating one subject into another. Lots of interdisciplinary work.  Example used was integrating English Lit into 3D Printing.

·      There is a company called “MakeBot” that produces 3d printers.  Company owned by Union alum – so there are 3D printers everywhere.

·      On a trimester system — ten weeks, 3 classes per trimester.  Union would not be good for students who have difficulty moving at a fast pace.

·      Mini-term – offered between Thanksgiving and January – good opportunities for athletes who can’t do an entire trimester away.

·      Union has graduated 90 college presidents (fun fact!).

·      Concerted effort is made for a disciplinary mix – both of working on teams and as individuals.

·      Test optional

·      The school is “good for a kid with his head in more than one academic space – Union is intentional about this”.

·      Liberal Arts with engineering

·      The professors advised the college counselors to send the English major who is willing to engage in something around STEM.

·      One of their grads was an English major who is now Dir of Social Media for a company called “Rethink Robotics”.

·      Minerva house system … in addition to a dorm, all students are assigned to a house on campus where they attend events, special meals, etc.  Students love that this gives them another place on campus to feel a family-type atmosphere.  Lots of interaction with professors via the Minerva houses.

·      Great alumni network.

·      While their art/theater progams are small, they have nice new facilities.

·      Gorgeous campus.  Small Greek life.  Nice dorms, Minerva houses, etc.

·      Schenectady (where Union is located) has a bad name — has a cool downtown – nice restaurants, a theater, etc.

·      I was definitely impressed by the level of alumni involvement – they provide lots of opportunities for students to intern, learn about different careers, etc.

COLGATE UNIVERSITY

·      They just initiated a new program for First Generation students.  A young woman on our student panel was in it and she spoke very highly of the support she gets from the program.  (if you are the first in your family to attend college, this might be a great program for you).

·      Great alumni network.  Sounds like alumni are often on campus doing career-related events

·      They have a Core Curriculum – 4+1 compulsory courses – Legacies of the Ancient World, Communities and Identities, Scientific Perspectives Challenges of Modernity are the four – +1 called Global Engagement.  The belief is that this core provides the skills of the citizen – the foundation of a liberal arts education. Gives the ability to engage with hard questions.

·      Lots of opportunity for research.  “Happens whenever a student wants it to happen”.  Students can apply for summer research opportunities initiated by faculty (they put out a call for what kinds of research they are doing) 50% acceptance rate.  There are research opportunities across disciplines.

·      Unique off campus study — faculty led, can cut across different disciplines.

·      For students who can’t do a full semester of off campus study, they offer “Extended Study” which is a course that ends with 3 weeks off campus in a place related to course.

·      Gorgeous, hilly campus.  Awesome Science center. Great dining hall and student center.

HAMILTON COLLEGE

·      Their philosophy:  1) Study what you love (they have an open curriculum) 2) Be Who You Are (they pride themselves in social diversity) 3) Find Your Future (know who you are).

·      Largest club on campus is the Outing Club .. you can “see” that walking around .. definitely lots of outdoorsy people.

·      Awesome new art center.  All senior Studio Art majors get their own studio space to use for their senior year.

·      Generous financial aid.

·      Encourages interviews – will Skype, but really prefer kids to visit to interview. Also, they think kids should wait til senior year to interview … the summer months help with focus, etc.

·      Test flexible (different options, depending on your strengths).

·      This year – 29% of admits were US students of color, 15% were first generation students.

·      97% of freshman return after freshman year.

·      Math is second most popular major.

·      While they have an open curriculum, they do have a Quantitative requirement, a Writing Intensive requirement (4 classes) and a Physical Education requirement (2 classes).

·      They tend to compete with Wesleyan, Grinnell and Carleton.

·      Beautiful campus – tons of gorgeous trees, nice buildings. Interestingly, this was the only school that showed us the athletic facility that was located right in the center of campus.  Lots of activity there.

I liked each of these schools for different reasons.  I encourage you to check out their websites.  Please contact me if you would like further feedback on any of these schools.

Author: Ellen Boucher

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