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Found 2 results

  1. I was so pleased to read Cynthia's college visit reports from years back, that I decided to submit my own from Cal Tech. It's a small campus, definitely not what I'm accustomed to, but big enough to have several dining options and places to hang out on campus. Lots of house traditions and a culture of pranking, having goofy/nerdy fun. Very nerdy culture & pride. Pretty extreme honor system: Students can take home final exams and take them whenever they want before deadline. Exam instructions may say to allow 4 hours to take the test, open book, but no internet allowed, turn in by Friday. The dorm/houses were...charming? We were taken through a rec room, and gosh it smelled bad. I hate to say it, but why don't these schools make it a priority to make their living conditions a bit nicer? It does make such a difference, I think. Or maybe I'm just getting old. SURF=summer undergraduate research fellowships. Very easy to obtain, and it seems like practically all students take advantage of them. Our tour guide did research at JPL modeling Europa. Very cool! Lots of corporate recruiting, because these are generally very smart kids, but also lots of students go on for PhDs. I used to think CalTech was really all about physics (Feynmann?), and everything else is secondary. Not true. I had also feared that the freshman core classes would be an attempt to weed out students, but that also appears to be untrue. Lots of collaboration and help from peers and upper classmen. They assured me that students will not be admitted if it appears they will be unable to handle the core. Homeschool friendly: I think they admitted 6 students in the most recent freshman class?
  2. I meant to post this back in June, when everything was fresh in my mind. We visited with a rising freshman and sophomore, just to see what the school was like and what would be included in a college visit. I'm sure I would notice different things if I'd had a rising senior along. College Visit: West Virginia University WVU is the public university for West Virginia, located in Morgantown. We visited on a Thursday morning in early June. It was a spur of the moment decision to visit a campus we drive past on trips to visit family. We registered online the morning before. We had not arranged an individual meeting with an admissions counselor. The visiting families first went to the visitors’ center. Our high schoolers were each given a folder with info on the school and a WV shaped cookie. We were offered coffee or water while we waited. The visitors’ center is nicely appointed and seems pretty new. There was an interactive map of campus on one side and some cool stations where you could explore potential majors and see course descriptions. It was possible to save course info and then email it to yourself, creating something of a custom catalog for future reference. There was a briefing by an admissions counselor that covered the best aspects of WVU, admissions criteria and process and items of interest to attending students (like meal plans, and dorm selection process). The counselor answered questions and seemed knowledgeable. There were two other families on our tour, both with rising senior daughters. We had two students as tour guides, a senior journalism major and a junior animal science /pre-vet major. Both guides were very friendly, excited about the school and open to lots of questions. We were offered a free bottle of water for the trip and the loan of an umbrella (it was warm, but rainy). The tour was combined walking and small bus, driven by the guides. I would call WVU a medium sized public school. It has around 30,000 students with about 22,000 undergraduates. The admissions brief mentioned programs like internships and study abroad programs. However slightly fewer than 1,000 students did study abroad. I’m not sure if that is because of interest level or number of available spots, but the percentage seemed low to me. The 6 year graduation rate is 67% (right on the national average). One site labels it as “moderately difficult†for admissions, but I’d classify it as pretty open. 85% of students who apply are accepted (about 35% decide to attend), and the average SAT is 1045 (math/reading, writing is not a factor). Tuition is pretty low for out of state students. I think that it was within a couple thousand dollars of the list price for instate tuition at the flagship state school in my state. One guide mentioned a substantial merit aid award she received automatically based on test scores and gpa. The school draws heavily from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York and eastern Ohio. Many of their students come from smaller towns and schools. One of our guides had graduated in a class of 73. As such, they seem to put a lot of emphasis on helping students adjust to college and life in what for many is a much bigger pond than they are used to. The guides spoke highly of Fall Fest (a concert evening after the first week of classes), clubs and activities, availability of sports facilities for non-team use in the rec center and other programs designed to help with adjustment. For example, there is a counseling center that provides several free sessions to students, just to make sure they are adjusting to school. There is a faculty family assigned to each dorm, who acts as something of a surrogate family. One guide spoke of going over to have ice cream or play with their dog. The other guide had done several outdoor adventure programs, starting the summer before he arrived for freshman year. He spoke glowingly about how that had not only been fun, but had given him an instant network of people he knew on campus. Freshmen live on campus but 80% of upper classmen live off campus. There are many small houses around the college on one end and some newer apartment buildings around the other end of campus. Because it was summer, it was hard to get a sense of what this might look like in actuality. I did wonder if those small, close together houses end up as a rolling party on weekends. There were a couple dorms where the dorm living upperclassmen seemed to congregate. There is also a dorm associated with the honors college. Sports seem to be a big deal at the school. There aren’t professional sports teams in W. Va so the university team is very popular outside just the school. Football games are well attended and are probably a major focus of the campus social life. The campus is split into two main sections. Students might have classes on the downtown campus (older section) or the Evansdale campus (newer section). The campuses are connected by an automated monorail system and a campus bus system. There is parking available, but it's not useful for getting to classes. Cars for freshmen might be parked in a lot that is a fair walk away from dorms and academic buildings. I think cars are mostly used for travel outside Morgantown. The summer student body seemed diverse, including a number of students in hijab (I think there was either an Arabic language program or an English program with many Arabic speaking students, based on the groups I saw in one courtyard at lunch). Given the areas where they are pulling much of their student body, I think that there is a place here for both liberal and conservative students. The downtown section of campus had a large number of what looked like well established churches (the campus here abuts and in some areas is surrounded by town areas). An interested student could easily walk to services. The best thing I can say about the school is that while we visited mostly as a trial run first college visit, I left very encouraged and thinking that there were probably opportunities to be had for a motivated student. This school was an interesting example of the idea that larger school could be a good match because it provides so many opportunities for finding ones niche. I’m intrigued by the honors college and the merit aid for strong students. The admissions office sent a survey within a couple days of our visit. Then an admissions rep sent a personal email responding to several of the comments in my survey response. She also followed up this email with another when I asked questions about specific programs. I got the impression that admissions would be very interested in students with strong test scores and transcripts. It's been a while since we took the tour, so I'm sure there were things that I meant to include, but forgot. I'll try to answer questions if I can.
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