School Profile: Find Your Personal Greatness at West Point

The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York is not your ordinary liberal arts college. Ranked #33 among colleges in the Veritas Elite College Rankings, the US Military Academy is a prestigious liberal arts college, and one of the oldest military academies in the world, that enrolls over 4,600 students (military cadets) who upon graduation enter the military as officers to serve five year tours of duty. There is no tuition, and student housing and meal plans are free. There is even a small monthly stipend while attending school. Summer sessions are spent in military training.

West Point is dedicated to developing leaders. They combine a rigorous academic life with an equally regimented and disciplined lifestyle. As one of the first engineering schools in the nation, it still offers civil, electrical, environmental, mechanical, systems, and nuclear engineering programs as well as engineering management. Other academic departments include behavioral sciences and leadership, chemistry and life science, English and philosophy, foreign languages, history, law, mathematical sciences, and social sciences. Research at the college is divided into twenty-two centers from the Center for Molecular Science to West Point Center for the Rule of Law. Students participate in research associated with their degree choice at the appropriate centers. Admission is based on the Student-Athlete-Leader (SAL) model, so prospective students should focus their attention on strengthening all three areas prior to application.

All students/cadets live in one of the barracks buildings on campus. They are required to attend meals at least twice daily at West Point’s Washington Hall, or the “mess hall,” where there is a rotating selection of meals. All cadets eat at tables of ten in thirty-minute intervals. There is no Greek life on campus. Clubs and organizations number over 100 athletic and non-athletic clubs including glee, theater, and sailing. Free time is limited due to rigorous academics and multiple military trainings and duties. The campus is located 90 minutes from New York City in a largely rural New York setting. The social scene is limited due to location and the fact that West Point is a regimented military school. Drinking is allowed only for students who are 21 and over, and cadets are randomly and regularly drug tested. The student body is predominately white and male; it is more racially diverse than gender diverse. If you are looking for a laid-back party school, this college couldn’t be further from that. If you are looking for an environment that focuses on excellence, discipline, leadership, and honor, then this could be just the place for you.

Athletics and fitness are important to West Point; it is an NCAA Division I program with 25 men’s and women’s competitive varsity sports teams. West Point Army Black Knight’s biggest rival is the Naval Academy, especially in football, whom they play as the last Division I football game of the season each December. Other rivalries include Notre Dame and Rutgers. The Army Black Knights also compete with Navy and Air Force for the Commander-In-Chief’s Award annually. Attendance at football games is mandatory, and all cadets are required to stand throughout the game. They have not had a winning season in several years. The men’s lacrosse team has won several national championships and is a regular top sixteen contender. The women’s basketball team has also had a number of winning seasons. All students are required to participate either on a sports team or on an intramural team every semester all four years.

West Point is steeped in tradition. Each class designs its own class crest which is put on one side of the traditional class ring. Senior cadets receive their rings on Ring Weekend. Graduates are listed in General Cullum’s Biographical of Officers and Graduates in numerical order from 1802 to the present. Bugle Notes is a collection of songs, poems, stories, traditions, and facts about West Point that first year cadets – or plebes, must memorize during their basic training. The Sedgwick’s spurs superstition is employed by cadets fearing the failure of an exam; they spin the spur on a statue of John Sedgwick and race back to the barracks avoiding capture by Sedgwick’s ghost. The Goat-Engineer game pits the lower half of the senior class against the upper half in an eight-man football game. If the goats (lower half of the class) win, it foretells of a victory over Navy that year; if the engineers win, Navy will beat Army in the big game. These are a few of many proud traditions at West Point.

West Point has a saying, “Much of the history we teach was made by the people we taught,” and there is no shortage of notable historical figures who have come out of the school. Notable graduates include two Presidents of the United States, three International Heads of State, and several members of congress and other high ranking government officials. Over seventy Medal of Honor recipients, 18 NASA astronauts, three Heisman Trophy winners, and several famous military generals. If you are in search of personal greatness and a way to serve your country, West Point is for you.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Will Cornell University be Your New Home?

Cornell University is located in beautiful Ithaca, New York. Ranked #29 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings, it is among the top universities in the nation, boasting excellent facilities, faculty, and resources among other things. This is the perfect place to find a home away from home while working on your higher education and career goals. Amazing amenities, programs, and activities are among its many enduring qualities.

This is a place where you can take a canoe ride on Bebee Lake after a final exam to release some tension, walk through the botanical gardens after a study session, or hit the town with a few classmates to enjoy one of the many local eateries after class. You can find almost anything your heart’s desires on campus, from the Cornell Cinema to The Big Red Barn, a social hub for students to mingle and relax. If you’re looking for a top of the line education, strong community, and a place to call home for at least four years, Cornell is the university for you.

Cornell University wants to prepare their students for life’s journey, and their comprehensive academic plan allows them to do just that. By combining liberal arts with scientific examination students gain an education that focuses them on the global outlook, and provides them with the capability of overcoming challenges using critical thinking. There are seven undergraduate schools within Cornell offering a wide range of study and opportunity. Cornell offers more than 4,000 courses, over 60 undergraduate majors and roughly 90 graduate fields, allowing students an exceptional amount of freedom over their academic careers.

Aside from undergraduate degrees, there are many opportunities for advanced degrees, outreach programs, and continuing education. Cornell University enriches higher learning with their wide range of Institutes, Laboratories, Centers, and Programs.

It is one of the larger campuses, so much so that it has its own zip code, but don’t let that intimidate you; the well thought out design gives it a homey feel. Cornell has an amazing arboretum where you can enjoy nice walks, energizing bike rides, and luxurious botanical gardens. It’s a tranquil place to relax while working on your studies. There are several different types of housing opportunities that allow students to feel a sense of community, from high rise dormitories to themed living communities. Cornell offers a wide range of eateries both on and off campus. Along with a plethora of student services, they also boast an extensive health and wellness sector where students can receive top-of-the-line healthcare from primary care to counseling services.

Athletics and physical education are held in the highest regard at Cornell, whether you’re part of one of the 36 Division I teams or just enjoying some fitness classes at one of their state-of-the-art facilities.  The 36 varsity teams compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and are also part of the Ivy League. Cornell has earned many Division I championships over the years as well as won the Ivy League championship in football three times. Along with having successful varsity teams, they also open their athletic facilities for all students use. They boast excellent intramural programs, top tier physical education programs, and fun outdoor activities like the climbing wall. Cornell University is about achievement; making your mind, body, and spirit the best it can be. Their amazing facilities and programs manifest that philosophy.

This university has embraced tradition since its opening day on October 7, 1868, beginning with its chimes concerts. The chimes play three times a day making it one of the most frequently played chimes in the world. While new traditions have popped up frequently over the years, one of the oldest is the Dragon Day tradition. This is where first year architecture and art students create an enormous dragon and parade it throughout the campus leading it to be absorbed in the flames of a bonfire while being heckled by rival engineering students. Cornell has a strong history, where students make lasting memories by participating in the various traditions such as homecoming, Slope Day, and many more.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Academics, Athletics, and Activities at Rice University

Rice University is ranked #30 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. This is a small research university located right in the heart of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the United States. Student will find themselves immersed in a campus devoted to diversity and elite educational opportunities. Rice University is passionate about teaching and developing leadership ideals in each of their students.

Their high values, comprehensive and well recognized residential college system, and devotion to giving each student the tools to rise to their own greatness is what makes them an elite University. They take pride in turning their already outstanding students into exceptional leaders in any field they choose. This is a University for students who want to impact the world in a grand way.

There are six areas of study offered at Rice: architecture, humanities, music, natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences. Each school offers a strict curriculum, created to make each student more than capable to become leaders in their desired fields. With more than fifty majors to choose from across the six schools coupled with complimentary minors, unique interdisciplinary, and professional programs to choose from, they provide the ultimate opportunities in higher education. Rice not only offers an excellent curriculum, but also superb research and collaboration opportunities to further each student’s skills.

Extensive curriculum options are just the beginning of student success at Rice; the advising program that was put in place to correctly guide each student in the right direction also plays a key role. In the first two years students will focus on their general education, using the second portion of sophomore year as the time to decide a major. Trained faculty and student guides help students declaring a major; students’ major guides stick with them throughout the remaining years making sure they are on track with their major. They also assist students in locking down research opportunities, internships, and other professional programs to reach their education goals.

Campus life at Rice University is unique; before starting day one on campus each student is randomly assigned to one of the eleven residential colleges. These are subdivisions within the University, with equal parts diversity in each one. The process is designed to give students the chance to enhance peer interaction among students, faculty, and staff. This system promotes the development of strong relationships and strengthens intellectual achievements. Within these residential colleges are student run governments, each with their own responsibilities within the college. To enjoy free time on campus and connect with fellow students, everyone is encouraged to join one of the more than 200 different clubs on campus. Along with excellent social clubs there is a wide variety of events featured on campus from theater arts to politics. Students can enjoy a multitude of lectures offered on a wide range of subjects throughout the year. The amenities are abundant on the Rice campus, the cinema, art gallery, and media center are just a few of the exceptional places to spend and few hours after classes.

Athletics and physical education are top notch at Rice University, with over 70% of students participating in one way or another. Along with sixteen Division I teams, there are intercollegiate club sports, college sports, and intramural sports offered at Rice. Every student gets free tickets to all home varsity sporting events, making it easy to show your school spirit and cheer on the infamous Owls. The Barbara and David Gibbs Recreational and Wellness Center is an exceptional part of Rice University. A forty-one million dollar facility that has an assortment of indoor and outdoor courts from basketball to racquetball as well as a dance studio, pools, weight-lifting areas, and more. Not only does this University boast state-of-the-art equipment, an array of athletic teams to participate in, but it also offers a multitude of outdoor activities, where you can sign up to go camping or kayaking among many others. Rice University might be known for their awesome academics, but it’s clear that they take just as much pride in their students’ health as well.

To attend Rice University is to belong to a school that takes pride in their traditions. Be ready to wear the blue and gray, and stand behind “Sammy” the Owl while singing the Rice Fight Song. Each semester offers a new tradition to take part in; during the fall students will be enthralled with the tradition of Welcome Back Week, as well as a wide range of events from homecoming to the activities fair. Nothing compares to the spring tradition of Willy Week, where you’ll enjoy festivities such as Beer Debates and International Beer Night. Rice University is about as well-rounded as they come paying equal attention to academics, athletics, community, and of course fun!

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Build Authentic and Lasting Friendships at Carleton College

Carleton College is ranked #28 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings; it’s a smaller liberal arts college located in Northfield, Minnesota. Founded in 1866, this is a private college on 880 acres of land with three ecosystems – prairies, a forest, and wetlands. A tranquil campus that is only thirty minutes from the bustling twin cities.  Carleton offers 37 majors with 15 different concentrations in humanities, the arts, natural sciences, and social sciences. This is an ideal college for students who are looking for a close-knit campus community with a focus on excellence. From sustainability to community service projects, Carleton is the perfect place for those who want to have an expanded college experience. As the third oldest college in the state of Minnesota they believe that “human knowledge is the real frontier.”

At Carleton the curriculum is designed to focus on problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, flexibility, and communication giving you a well-rounded foundation. Their academic program is revered by many and noted as one of the best in the world, and on almost every notable list of elite colleges. Carleton has distinguished faculty that are among leading scholars, artists, researchers, and scientists in their respective fields; but it’s their commitment to education that makes them invaluable. Often times, they’ll open their homes or share a lunch hour to better their students’ educations. Carleton uses a three term academic period to allow students to focus on classes and engage in a variety of diverse interests throughout each year. Great study abroad options, community service, research projects, and seminars are just a few of the ways this college excels at providing excellent post-secondary educational experiences.

Roughly ninety percent of the students live on campus, with three housing options: residence halls, campus townhouses, and shared interest houses. There are three dining facilities, kitchenettes in each residence hall, and vending machines throughout the campus. The campus is dedicated to sustainability, as evidenced through the use of a wind turbine for energy, locally grown food, and the installation of an energy-saving roof. There are more than 230 student organizations, with new ones like Random Acts of Kindness or The Gender Neutral Cheerboys that are created each year. If you need a break and space to clear your mind take a walk through “The Arb,” which is the arboretum campus, or head thirty minutes to the Twin Cities where you can lose yourself in the culture and energy of city life.  There are also plenty of things to do in nearby Northfield, such as plays, lectures, concerts, films, and sporting events.

Carleton is known for its academic prowess, but it is also home to eighteen NCAA Division III varsity athletic teams in the Minnesota Athletic Intercollegiate Conference. The college offers organized club sports and the Intramural Sports League that allows both students and faculty a chance to participate. If you are not interested in team sports and just want to get out and enjoy nature while working up a sweat, there are many areas on campus to walk, run, bike, and cross country ski. For those who prefer the indoors there are yoga classes, bosu, meditation, massage, racquetball, a fitness center, and a climbing wall. No matter what physical activity interests you, Carleton has what you need.

If you appreciate Midwestern values with a global perspective, then Carleton College in Minnesota may be the ideal school for you. They value tradition and are dedicated to providing an enriching college experience for every student. Have you ever dreamed of painting a water tower? This is one of Carleton’s more unusual traditions; one year they painted the tower with a Clinton theme and he ended up being elected President that year. They have an annual “Late Night Trivia” game show every winter term that is hosted by their college radio station where students compete by guessing songs and answering crazy questions. If you dream of a college that is dedicated to your success, and a place where you build authentic and lasting friendships, then Carleton College is the college for you.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Make Your Impact on the World at Johns Hopkins University

Benefactor Johns Hopkins willed $7 million to start up the University that now bears his name. It was founded in 1876 on the premise that research and discovery were of equal importance to teaching and learning. Johns Hopkins University’s other ideal is not to limit education to its students, but rather to lift the collective education of society at the same time. With these principles in mind, Johns Hopkins has become a preeminent model for other research universities across the globe, and is #26 on the Veritas Prep Elite Colleges Rankings.

Johns Hopkins reputation for excellence and leadership is built primarily on its health and sciences focus, which includes JHU School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and JHU School of Nursing graduate programs associated with the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital. The University is also widely recognized as a leader in international studies, and its proximity to Washington, D.C. offers students coveted internships and jobs in the nation’s capital. The graduate program in the School of Advanced International Studies has three campuses – Washington, D.C., Bologna, Italy, and Nanjing, The People’s Republic of China.

The first graduating class of fifteen at JHU School of Medicine was in 1897. One of its first major research contributions came in the 1920s when researchers at the University developed the process of chlorination to purify drinking water, which is universally used by municipalities and industries today. Johns Hopkins boasts twenty-two Nobel laureates affiliated with the University. Countless government officials and public servants including President Woodrow Wilson, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others have passed through the University.

Over sixty notable academicians, mathematicians, and scientists have made their marks on the world like NASA’s Michael Griffin, physicist Frank Oppenheimer, and John Dewey, education reformer. The list goes on and on for business, literature, art, and media. Johns Hopkins vision has played out in the world through the work of its faculty and graduates in ways he probably couldn’t have imagined. If you are looking for a place to grow and make your impact on the world, Johns Hopkins University could be the school for you.

Johns Hopkins University is an urban school whose primary Homewood campus lies on a former 140-acre private estate in northern Baltimore, Maryland. It is home to 5,800 undergrads, the Krieger School of Arts & Science and the Whiting School of Engineering grad programs. The Federalist architecture, marked by red brick buildings, is organized into quads with plenty of open green spaces. Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, with freshmen living in the older Alumni Memorial Residences (ARMS) on the freshmen quad, or student-athletes living in Wolman located just off campus on the other side of St. Paul Street, which runs parallel to campus. The student housing is the hub of social living and offers regularly scheduled social events.

Many sophomores live in McCoy, a dorm similar to Wolman in age and architecture. Charles Commons is the newest of the dorms, putting its suite-style living with various amenities and the Nolan dining hall, in high demand. Bradford and Homewood offer apartment-style student housing with studios, one, two, three, and four bedroom units. They are less social by design and offer more privacy for upperclassmen. Fraternities also offer housing for their members, and regularly host parties. Greek life for both male and female students is evident on campus, but doesn’t dominate the social scene by any means.

The consensus among students is that Johns Hopkins is not the best college choice for a thriving social scene. Many students complain about the lack of social opportunities on campus and the strain of seriousness that permeates the atmosphere. There are opportunities to socialize through over 100 student clubs and organizations, and resourceful students are able to find plenty of options in the city of Baltimore for fun activities. Some residents of Bradford and Homewood throw house parties, if you happen to make the right relationships. This university has a seriously competitive academic atmosphere that doesn’t leave a lot of room for typical college socializing, so if partying is essential to your college experience, this might not be the school for you.

The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays are an NCAA Division III program in the Centennial Conference. Their water polo team is consistently one of the top D3 teams in the nation, often competing against D1 schools. The men’s and women’s basketball and soccer programs, along with men’s baseball, are also competitive. The pride of JHU sports, however, are the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, which play Division I and have amassed 44 national titles – nine of them Division I. Their primary rival is Duke lacrosse, and home games on Homewood Field draw large crowds of cheering students who sit in The Nest (student section), wearing black or blue.

Traditions at JHU include the men’s lacrosse season home-opener, which generates a lot of enthusiasm, homecoming weekend, fall festival, the lighting of the quads for the holidays, and the popular and heavily attended spring fair. A newer tradition is High Table, where freshmen share a formal dinner with deans and faculty. If you’re looking to make your mark in medicine, research, science, or on the political world stage, JHU is an excellent choice to develop your platform.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: The Academic Rigor and Social Traditions of Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College, located in Claremont, California, is one of the top science and engineering liberal arts colleges in the country and comes in at #25 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It is one of the five colleges of the Claremont College Consortium, known as the 5Cs, along with Claremont McKenna, Scripps College, Pomona College, and Pitzer College.

The coeducational Harvey Mudd College was founded in 1955 at a time when the nation was turning its attention to the space race and encouraging students to focus their educations on math and science. The university presents a unique approach of focusing on the humanistic aspects of becoming elite scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Their Clinic Program, which originated in 1963, allows teams of undergraduate students to address difficult social problems posed by the non-profit sector, business and industry, and even the government, through scientific and technological research. The result has been one of the highest rates in the country of graduates who go on to earn PhDs in their fields.

Harvey Mudd academics takes a three-pronged approach to education. They set a foundation in math and science with their Common Core STEM program. In order for students to understand the interconnectedness of STEM disciplines, all students must take classes in each – biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, math, and physics. In keeping with their philosophy that the purpose of science and technology is to serve humanity, students also complete rigorous coursework in humanities, social sciences, and the arts.

At Harvey Mudd, they believe that “technology divorced from humanity is worse than no technology at all.” It is from this perspective, which marries STEM with liberal arts, that students are fundamentally prepared to then move on to the third prong – a chosen major where they develop competence and achieve excellence in a single area of expertise. Majors at Harvey Mudd include biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, and dual majors chemistry and biology, math and computer science, and mathematical and computational biology. Since there is no graduate school, the rigorous curricula are delivered in a highly personal environment where fewer than 800 students are enrolled.

The stereotypical personality of a “Mudder” is extraordinarily talented in math, science, and technology, politically liberal and socially conscious, with an insane work ethic, and an uncanny ability to throw a great party. While men outnumber women, it is not by much. The student body is 46% female. The Mudd student population is open-minded, diverse racially and ethnically, and actively supportive of gender equality.

Greek life on campus is non-existent, but over-the-top parties – some complete with artificial waterfalls, are common and draw students from across the consortium of colleges. Add in the nice weather year-round, late night college sponsored pizza, carne asada nights in the dining hall, and numerous clubs, intramural sports, and campus activities, and you have a recipe for a great college experience. Just be sure you are mentally prepared to also work harder than you have ever worked in your life.

In the 5-college Claremont College Consortium, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College form a single NCAA Division III athletic program. They belong to the South California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The athletic program is represented by 21 intercollegiate teams, both men and women. Student-athletes demonstrate the same dedication to excellence in sports as they do in academics. Fourteen of their twenty-one teams have finished seasons in top ten positions in the country since their inception in 1958. However, due to the rigor of the college’s academics, the only way to excel at a sport too is to be highly disciplined, self-motivated, and organized. The school also has a strong commitment to intramurals, with inner tube water polo being one of the most popular.

Maybe one of the coolest and oldest of Harvey Mudd traditions is The Foster’s Run. Unicycles became a thing on campus in the 1970s. Before long, a unicycle club called Gonzo Unicycle Madness was formed, which still thrives today. The Foster’s Run is a 9.6 mile unicycle ride to what was once Foster’s Donuts and is now the Donut Man donut shop. The reward for making the trip is delicious strawberry donuts. Once riders return to campus, they participate in “the shakedown,” which is essentially getting the kinks out after a nearly twenty-mile unicycle ride.

The student group, Increasing Harvey Mudd’s Traditional Practices, was organized to revive and preserve this and other on-campus traditions, which also include Wednesday Nighters, Friday Nooners, 5-Class Competition, and occasionally pranking Cal-Tech. If you’re ready to add two parts rigor and one part amusement, this could be your school.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: What it Takes to Attend the United States Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy is ranked #24 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. Located in beautiful Annapolis, Maryland, this is an extraordinarily structured college that expects excellence from all their students, who are referred to as midshipmen. The United States Naval Academy offers full scholarships to all their midshipmen including room and board and all other necessities. After attending this world renowned academy each midshipman will serve five years either as an Ensign in the Navy or Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. To be a part of this elite college you need to possess strength both in mind and body, dedication, and the desire to represent yourself and your country at the highest level.

The campus at the Naval Academy is referred to as “The Yard,” where the majestic Severn River flows into Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis is a historical city where the early twentieth century structures intermingle with modern buildings. Combining tradition with advanced technology gives the academy all the tools needed for the success of its midshipmen. The Academy takes pride in the student body – past, present, and future. This is made clear by a stroll down walkways that pass buildings named after the outstanding midshipmen that used to attend this Academy. Head over to any of the three monuments devoted to the brave men and women whose heroism is part of the Academy’s extensive heritage.

There are three basic elements to the academic structure at the United States Naval Academy:

  • A core requirement in humanities, engineering, social sciences, or natural sciences to develop critical thinking
  • Core academic courses to teach leadership and professionalism for officer training
  • The student’s academic major

On top of this three part structure there are many other resources and programs that advance midshipmen to the next level in academics. The core focus of the academic program is STEM, keeping the future of the Navy as technologically advanced as possible. While every other college in America allows the student to choose their respective field, at the Academy the needs of naval service come first, therefore a student may not get to choose his or her major. At graduation all midshipmen by law are given a Bachelor of Science degree due to the amount of technical content learned through the core curriculum.

Student life at the Naval Academy is wildly different than that of other traditional colleges. The curriculum, daily life expectations, and philosophy are far more intense than most. The rigor starts the summer before freshman year where students spend eight weeks in training for the intensity of the program and what the next four years will look like. This is more than a college; this is a complete lifestyle change from civilian to midshipmen. Students will have a regimented schedule that will test them physically, mentally, and emotionally; they will be pushed to their limits and beyond. This Academy is not for the faint of heart, students will have a tight structure that promises to constantly challenge them. All midshipmen are required to participate in extracurricular activities as well as athletics on some level, ensuring all midshipmen are well-rounded.

As with everything in the Academy, the athletics are demanding, and those who play one of the 33 varsity sports are pushed to the limits. Excellence is an expectation; more than thirty percent of midshipmen play on Division I varsity teams and sacrifice what little free time is allotted to participate in their respective sports. At the Academy there is not an off season; student-athletes train year round to garner optimum skill and excellence in their sports. The Naval Academy competes in over ten league affiliations and conferences; student-athletes are known to graduate at a higher level than those who do not play sports. There are club leagues and intramural sports for all other brigade members to participate in, and every midshipmen has access to the over fifteen state-of-the-art athletic facilities.

The United States Naval Academy has many deep and meaningful traditions as well as a few fun ones to boost morale and show pride in the Academy. A main tradition is the singing of “Blue and Gold” after every alumni gathering, sports event, and pep rally. This tradition is one of the many showcasing the pride and respect of the Academy. “Beat Army” which started as a chant said after the “Blue and Gold” song manifested into “plebes” showing off, trying to impress their upper-classmen. They drink a concoction of food and condiments and upon completion yell “Beat Army,” followed by the cheers of their fellow classmates. If you hear someone brag about having a “Beat Army,” you’ll know why, so show them some respect and give them a pat on the back.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Find Your Social and Academic Balance at Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, a private research university and medical center in suburban Nashville, Tennessee, ranks #23 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. The university, built in 1875, sits on a beautiful and tranquil campus that has been designated a national arboretum; the Peabody College is a registered National Historic Landmark; and the Dyer Observatory is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here, students tailor their educational plans to their aspirations in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, and education and human development. In addition to global study opportunities and a chance to do independent projects, students also have unprecedented access to assisting researchers who are going about the business of solving some of the most difficult and complex challenges facing society.

Vanderbilt draws from among the best and brightest students in the world; admission to the university has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Students can earn bachelors, masters, and doctorates from the university’s ten colleges; College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, Divinity School, School of Engineering, Graduate School, Law school, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Owen Graduate School of Management, and Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Vanderbilt University has a long tradition of excellence. Its alumni and researchers include six Nobel Laureates, including former Vice President Al Gore. The school’s research library is among the most important in the nation. Vanderbilt’s Medical Center specializes in nursing, medicine, psychiatric, rehabilitation, and more. They have the only Level I trauma center in Tennessee, plus comprehensive burn, pediatric, cancer, and organ transplant centers. Students who are looking to work hard and be part of exciting, meaningful, cutting-edge research not only in medicine, but law, social issues, and more, would do well at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, or Vandy as it’s affectionately referred to by students, has a great idea in place for helping incoming freshman acclimate to college life. All freshmen, from each of the four undergraduate programs, live in one of ten houses on the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, where they share a diverse living learning community. Residential choices open up for students their sophomore year. There is a strong Greek presence at Vanderbilt, lots of student organizations in which to participate, a plethora of sporting events, extraordinary live music events, and a local college bar scene. In fact, some students may have trouble finding a balance between social and academic pursuits.

Many students stay close to the university in what is commonly referred to as the “Vandy bubble,” which includes the Hillsboro Village neighborhood adjacent to the university, rather than going into Nashville. Those who do venture into Nashville are richly rewarded; Music City, U.S.A has been rated the friendliest city in America for three consecutive years. Nashville is home to the Tennessee Titans NFL team and the Country Music Hall of Fame, to name two of the more famous of the city’s many attractions. Students won’t be at a loss for things to do both on and off campus.

The Vanderbilt University Commodores have a total of 15 varsity sports teams; six men’s teams and nine women’s teams. The NCAA Division I school is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The football team has had several players go on to play in the NFL, most famously Jay Cutler, and the team has risen to a Top 25 school for the first time in years. Their long-standing football rival is Ole Miss. The Vanderbilt men’s basketball has long been a powerhouse, and the women’s basketball team has a long history of success as well. The University of Kentucky is the primary rival in basketball. The men’s and women’s tennis teams are also among Vanderbilt’s most successful teams.

One of the most unusual, and perhaps most welcoming traditions ever is Move-In Day, where upperclassmen storm the cars of incoming freshmen and help them move all their things into their rooms. Freshman Walk is another bonding tradition where freshman rush the football field before the start of the season opening football game; even the school’s chancellor gets in on the action. Students display the VU hand sign at athletic events, and win or lose, sing the “Alma Mater” at the end of each game. The annual music event Commodore Quake is another popular tradition at Vanderbilt. Traditions at Vanderbilt are more about unity, community, and having fun than stuffier traditions at some other elite universities. Vandy is for the student who is looking for the challenging demands of a highly respected research university, but who also embraces the camaraderie of a close-knit academic and social community.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Is Northwestern University the Perfect School for You?

Northwestern University is ranked #22 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings, boasting a wide range of degrees for both undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Evanston, Illinois, it is a research university that is slightly larger than most. Northwestern looks for a diverse group of students that have unique and comprehensive backgrounds.

Students who attend this university are the total package, demonstrating strong academics, a wide range of extra-curricular activities, community involvement, and personality. Northwestern has a strong history that is rich with tradition, where students and faculty emanate school pride. Students come from all walks of life from all fifty states and more than sixty countries. If you’re looking for a college experience that is based on diversity and excellence then Northwestern is the college for you.

Academically, few universities can compete with Northwestern. There are more than one hundred and fifty majors, minors, concentrations, and certificates offered in six different undergraduate schools. Students will be taught by some the world’s most brilliant scientists, scholars, and artists. Over ninety percent of the classes have a class size of fewer than twenty students. Using the quarter system, students will engage in winter, spring, and fall ten-week courses with the option of an eight week summer course. This system is designed to give students a more in-depth academic experience and have them on the fast track to success.

Internships and other off-campus experiences are plentiful with an array of on and off campus resources to utilize. The study abroad opportunities offer more than one hundred and twenty locations with various time periods from semesters to year-long stays. The internationally and nationally acclaimed staff take pride in their research; they offer numerous opportunities for students to join various research projects as well as mentor them through their own projects. Trained faculty are always there to help students create their dream academic plans. In addition, their extensive library and computing network provide the tools to thrive in any area.

The campus life at Northwestern University is booming, with a wide range of housing options to suit anyone’s preferences. They offer small residence houses for as few as 27 people to large 600 person residence halls. Six cafeterias and other eateries that serve food seven days a week offering vegan, vegetarian, and kosher meals provide a wide variety of food choices for students. There are more than 450 campus organizations and new ones popping up every year; nearly all are funded by the University. There are performance groups and even a happiness club. Aside from the array of campus organizations there are also a plethora of student services, employment programs, guest speakers, student performances, cultural events and volunteer services.

Northwestern University is home to some of the best Division I athletes in the nation and has held many titles in an array of sports over the years. From football to fencing, they are dominant contenders in their conference. Not only does Northwestern house some of the nation’s most elite athletes, but it takes pride in friendly club competitions both inside and outside of the University. You can join any of the intramural and extramural teams whether you are student, staff, or faculty. Northwestern believes in using sports as another way to promote personal and developmental growth.

To attend Northwestern University is to be a part of a large community that has a familial feel and many traditions. Spend 24 hours guarding the legendary purple and white quartzite located in the middle of campus, known as “the rock,” and be one of the privileged few who get to decorate it with loud colors and even louder slogans. Enjoy the week long Mayfest celebration at the end of the year that ends with a lakefront party with games, bands, and vendors. Let off some steam on the Sunday before each finals week along with your fellow classmates where you can hear each other’s screams throughout the campus. Northwestern University is for passionate people who want to build strong relationships on a global level while reaching new heights in their education.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Academics & Athletics at Washington University in St. Louis

Founded in 1853, Washington University is a visually stunning private research university that sits primarily on the 169-acre Danforth campus and the 164-acre Medical campus in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. It is ranked #21 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. With a student population of nearly 14.000 students, a little over half are undergraduates. The University is dedicated to providing opportunities for students to discover, explore, and pursue their passions. This medium-sized university draws students and faculty from more than 120 countries worldwide and every ethnic group from the U.S.

Washington University offers nearly 1900 courses in 90 degree programs, including both undergraduate and graduate work, and is committed to creating new knowledge for a sustainable future. Flexible interdisciplinary degree programs allow students to graduate with a major/minor, double major from one school, double major from two schools, or a combination undergraduate/graduate program. Students are encouraged to choose from these more demanding academic paths, and well over half the students graduating from the University choose one of these combinations. Most students also participate in nearly limitless research opportunities, study abroad programs, and internships. The schools within the University include arts and science, social work, engineering and applied science, design and visual arts, law, business, and medicine. Pre-professional programs are among the top in the country. The most popular majors are social science, business, pre-med, biomedical science, and engineering.

Nearly 80% of WashU students live on campus owned property, most of which has been upgraded in recent years and has a reputation for being far above average. Over twenty dining facilities are also above average, and there are Subway and Einstein Bros. Bagels franchises on campus. The University offers kosher foods at many of their on-campus dining facilities. There is an active Greek life at WashU with ten fraternities and eight sororities on campus. One of the unique aspects of student life is the fascination with a cappella groups. There are actually eleven competitive a cappella groups on campus representing several different genres of music. Some groups have won national awards. Washington University has a vibrant arts community that includes music, performing arts, an amazing visual arts museum that even displays original works by Pablo Picasso, and an Art Deco symphony hall. There are many ways students can get involved at WashU, from student leadership to service to sports.

The Washington University Bears have 14 NCAA Division III teams competing in men’s and women’s sports in the University Athletic Association, competing against seven other leading independent research universities. Among Washington University athletic teams, they have amassed 19 NCAA Championships, 164 UAA titles, and 137 student-athletes have been named Academic All-Americans. No scholarships are awarded solely on the basis of athletic ability. The WashU athletic complex consists of the WU Fieldhouse, Francis Field, Kelly Field, Bushyhead Track, Tao Tennis Center, and Gateway National Golf Links, among others. Those not interested in competitive sports can participate through WashU’s 25 intramural teams that are open to all students and faculty.

Washington University traditions include Red Alert, which is the school spirit fan group for student athletics. WILD, Walk In Lay Down, is a music festival held twice a year on campus and featuring nationally recognized bands. Other event traditions include Residential College Olympics, Moonlight Breakfast, Vertigo Dance Party, and Art Prom. If you are looking for the advantages of a research university with the intimacy of a liberal arts college, where academic interests trump athletics, and college is serious business, Washington University could be the school for you.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Create Your Dream Education at Middlebury College

Middlebury College is a small liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont.  It is currently ranked #19 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. This is a top tier college for liberal arts and was founded in 1800; it’s known for international studies and leadership in language instruction. Students can choose from among 44 majors with over 850 courses.

Located between the gorgeous Green Mountains on the east and the Adirondacks on the west students will not only be inspired on a daily basis, but also have a natural research lab that surrounds them. The class sizes are kept small, usually around fifteen people, so students get an intimate educational experience. Middlebury is known for on-campus environmental initiatives as well as focusing on environmental issues around the world. Students who attend this college are expected to leave as leaders who are ethical and thoughtful.

Champlain Valley is known as the heart of Vermont and is also home to the student residences for those who attend Middlebury. They offer a variety of living options and strive to make their students feel safe and comfortable, ensuring that friendships are built and nurtured. There are a multitude of student activities and groups that students can participate in or be a part of. If you can’t find the organization you’re looking for among the 150 currently offered, feel free to create one of your own with the support of the Student Activities Team. Due to the expansive and rich outdoors, there are a wide variety of outdoor activities offered on campus from kayaking to winter camping. Campus life at Middlebury is all about enjoying the great outdoors, exploring and appreciating diversity, and building a strong community.

The academic program at Middlebury is designed to give each student a deep understanding of their defined major while also developing them into well-rounded individuals in various disciplines. The college places an emphasis on writing, which helps students to develop critical thinking while pursuing the requirements that give them a diverse education. At Middlebury students have a large amount of freedom to create their individual academic path due to the wide range of academic choices offered to them. There are a vast number of educational programs from study abroad to writing programs; at this college students really can create their dream education plans.

At Middlebury there are 30 NCAA varsity teams; more than 25% of the students play on one of the varsity teams. Middlebury has won countless National Championships in several of the different sports teams, from hockey to soccer. The campus has state-of-the-art facilities, including a golf course. There are off campus locations such as the Bread Loaf Mountain campus that serves as a ski touring center among other things. Middlebury does not just have excellent varsity sports teams, but is also committed to give all their students an opportunity to pursue good health by utilizing excellent gym equipment and engaging in many lifetime sports activities. Students are able to participate in the intramural programs and club sports programs that offer a wide range of recreational athletic activities.

Middlebury College started out as a small New England college built by a group of young men, and originally used to train young men in ministry and other related professions. A modest seven students attended this college the first year it was opened. It has know grown into a world renowned institute for liberal arts. This college is rich in history and tradition. The “Hunt” is a massive scavenger hunt in January and a favorite tradition to many. Students get personal with Senior Crush lists that display the seniors’ crushes from freshman year to senior year before they leave to join the real world. There are many more Middlebury traditions all year long; attending this college will allow you to participate in the fun.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: These UC Berkeley Traditions Will Make You Want to Apply

The University of California, Berkeley, also known as UC Berkeley and Cal, is ranked #20 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. Cal is a public research university founded in 1868, and located on a 1,232 acre campus overlooking San Francisco Bay. It is home to over 25,000 undergraduate students and 10,000 graduate students in 14 colleges, including professional schools and graduate programs.

Cal has long been known for student activism. In 1964 students began the Free Speech Movement in response to the university’s attempts to rid the campus of student political groups when they were active in the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements of the 1960s. UC Berkeley students have a long history of political involvement.

The oldest of the ten universities in the UC system, UC Berkeley boasts 72 Nobel Laureates and 11 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni, faculty, and researchers. The university, where excellence is the standard, offers 350 degree programs, including 106 undergraduate degrees. With a mix of liberal arts, research, and professional programs for students to choose from, the most popular majors by student enrollment are electrical engineering and computer science. The university is well-known for its political science department too. This top-notch research university offers students countless opportunities to be involved in meaningful research across the disciplines with some of the best minds in the country. Take note that Cal is one of two universities in the UC system that is on a semester schedule.

Campus life at UC Berkeley is what the student makes of it, but the opportunities for social engagement are nearly endless. Three-quarters of students live off-campus, and a full 90% are involved in Greek life. Besides campus dorms, the university sponsors 20 off-campus housing options. Students can choose from themed houses – LGBT, vegetarian, all-female and others, or choose by community size, small, medium, or large houses; students can also choose from sponsored apartments. There are 65 Greek campus affiliates – many with housing.

Where you choose to live may be one way to find your niche in this super-sized campus experience. Independent, self-motivated extroverts will find their niche here and thrive; introverts may find campus life at Cal overwhelming and indifferent. Cal is not the place to go if you need hand-holding, but if you’re confident in yourself and what you want, and you thrive on challenges, then Cal should be on your short-list.

The UC Berkeley Golden Bears are an NCAA Division I program in the Pac-12 Conference, and have 29 men’s and women’s sports teams. Athletic competitions are held at California Memorial Stadium, known for its fantastic views, Haas Pavillion, Evans Diamond, and Edwards Stadium. The storied Golden Bears have accrued 16 national titles and over 90 team titles in their athletic history. Their longstanding rivalry with Stanford University is a spillover of the academic rivalry between one of the best public universities and one of the best private universities in the country. In each sport, the rivalry is marked by “The Big (fill in the blank).” For example, in football it’s The Big Game, The Big Spike is in volleyball, and so on. The two schools play for The Stanford Axe in football every year. If you love sports or are Division I student-athlete material, you’ll find plenty of enthusiasm here.

Cal has a rich history of traditions, many of them centered around athletics. The Big C visible from Memorial Stadium was put on Charter Hill and has been inspiring Cal athletes and their fans since 1907; it is maintained by The Rally Committee. The California Victory Cannon on Tightwad Hill above Memorial Stadium is fired at the beginning of every home football game, after every home score, and at the end of each home victory. Oski, Cal’s athletic mascot, has appeared at every home game since 1941.

Big Game Week is the most popular tradition at Cal with all kinds of activities that precede The Big Game with rival Stanford. Card stunts in the Cal rooting section of Memorial Stadium have been spelling out witty and enthusiastic messages during games since 1908. The Stanford Axe that was captured at a baseball game in 1899 was held hostage by UC Berkeley for 31 years, only coming out annually to rally students for The Big Game; now the winning school takes it home each year. There are other traditions that continue at Cal, but many more than have gone by the wayside over the years. You may be a part of new Golden Bears traditions, if UC Berkeley is right for you.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: International Exploration, Tenting, and Pizza at Duke University

Duke University is ranked #15 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. This research university is located on a 9,000 acre campus in Durham, North Carolina. It’s had three name changes and two campus location changes since its 1838 Quaker roots.

More than three-quarters of Duke students are involved in some type of service learning either locally or internationally in keeping with the university’s “knowledge in service to society” mission.

Duke University is divided into four colleges.

  • Trinity College of Arts and Sciences graduates nearly 80% of all undergraduate students. The college’s philosophy of immersing students in hands-on research prepares them to make significant contributions to their fields of study.
  •  Nicholas School of the Environment gives students the opportunity to prepare for careers in ocean sciences, earth sciences, and natural history through perspectives in not only science, but public policy.
  • Sanford School of Public Policy prepares students to be ethical leaders in the realm of public policy-making.
  • Pratt School of Engineering is one of the fastest growing engineering schools in the nation, offering undergrads degrees in electrical and computer, biomedical, civil and environmental, and mechanical engineering.

The new Bass Connections initiative organizes learning and research around problem-solving  rather than discipline. Multi-discipline teams work on specific problems that need to be solved. For example, one team has taken on the problem of environmental epidemiology in Latin America. They’re doing research in a small Peruvian village in the Amazon, and have brought together the disciplines of global health and environmental engineering. This is an example of the kind of hands-on research that turns students at Duke into global problem-solvers.

Duke is one of the few schools that require students to live on campus for three full years of their undergraduate studies. Incoming freshmen are assigned to one of fourteen residences based on their academic studies and interests. Students who opt to participate in the FOCUS program are housed together as well. Sophomores, juniors and seniors have more flexibility in their campus housing choices, but all are affiliated with one of the 80 houses on either the West or Central campuses. Each house determines its own personality. Co-ed selective living arrangements offer upperclassmen the choice to live in social groups that are outside the Greek system. Most are organized around a particular interest. Nine sororities and fifteen fraternities in the Greek system are housed on the Central campus.

Duke athletics are epic, especially the men’s basketball team (even though they lost to Mercer during March Madness this year), and Duke fans are matchless in their enthusiasm and support for the team. Since tickets to athletic events are free for Duke students, a practice known as “tenting” has become the norm. It’s basically a line to purchase tickets for games where students pitch tents in a row, making sure they have the correct amount of people in their tent to stay in line. Occasionally, the “tent village” will hold a concert or Coach Krzyzewski will buy pizza for the enthusiastic fans in the village.

Besides the tradition of tenting before big games, there are a few other interesting campus traditions. One is the unofficial graduation requirement of driving backwards around the campus traffic circle. Another requires students to climb Baldwin Auditorium. The Chapel Tower climb has been a long-standing tradition at Duke; the daring is increased by rumors of the chapel being haunted. A less dramatic and more noble tradition was recently begun where students now participate in academic homecoming ceremonies to honor their choice of majors. Students who crave a social environment and want to be part of something bigger than themselves may want to put Duke University on their top five list.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: The Path of Enrichment at Williams College

Williams College is on a quaint campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts and is ranked #16 on the Veritas Prep Elite College list. This liberal arts college has just under 2,200 students enrolled, primarily. With a focus on humanities and smaller class sizes, this is an ideal school for students looking for a more intimate and personalized education. The mission of Williams College is to not only help their students succeed, but to help them thrive; many services and programs throughout the campus achieve just that.

The faculty and staff at Williams College want their students to be well-rounded and exceptional additions to the world after completing their studies. This is done through their comprehensive academic curriculum and extensive educational assistance programs. Every student has a major but instead of minors they offer concentrations. These are compilations of specific topics pulled from an assortment of disciplines and departments.

There are no required courses at Williams; however, each student must take three humanities, social sciences, and science and math classes, two intensive writing courses, and one class on reasoning both mathematically and abstractly. The same goes with languages; they are not required courses, but students must enroll in at least one diversity study course. Grad-style research opportunities, overseas learning options, and specialty programs are offered at Williams to create highly developed students.

The campus life at Williams College is unique and designed to bring students, staff, and faculty together as a tight-knit community. Campus housing is split into four neighborhoods, Currier, Dodd, Spencer, and Wood; within each neighborhood are five to six different residences. There are three dining halls, two snack bars, a grab and go lunch program, and vending and catering operations on campus.

Among the luxuries that the campus provides are programs to enlighten students in self-discovery. The programs were developed to give students an understanding of and appreciation for their individuality. The Career Center is another place for students to hone in on their goals for the future with an exceptionally designed three step process. Campus life at Williams is all about enrichment, making sure each student is confident and comfortable in all aspects of life.

Williams College is an NCAA Division III school and part of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. There are 32 men’s and women’s varsity teams as well as junior varsity, club, and intramural teams. This campus also has physical education classes and fitness classes that have access to their state of the art facilities. Williams College is devoted to the health and fitness of their students; they require all students to earn four physical education credits as well as pass a swim test. More than 60 percent of the campus population participates in one of the athletic options, including faculty.

Ephraim Williams founded this college in 1793. Originally a men’s college, more than half of the student population is now female. Diversity and forward thinking are the foundations of this school filled with unique traditions. Students, faculty, family, and friends can all participate in eight hour trivia nights after every semester. The event is hosted by the college radio station, and all are put to the test with a crazy mixture of trivia while simultaneously performing tasks and identifying songs. This tradition has been around since 1966 entertaining the masses after grueling semesters. An even cooler event is Mountain Day, the annual canceling of classes on a random Friday in October by the President of the college, where students enjoy donuts, hot cider, and the sounds of a cappella groups. This college caters to students who want a well rounded college experience.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Why Students Are so Happy at Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College, a young private liberal arts school founded in 1946, is part of the Claremont University Consortium that also includes Pomona College, Scripps College, Pitzer College, Harvey Mudd College, and two graduate schools. It is ranked #18 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. Claremont College takes a pragmatic pre-professional approach to academics, preparing students for global leadership roles.

The most popular majors by student enrollment at Claremont College are economics, government, and psychology; although the college offers thirty-three majors, it specializes in economics and government. The international relations program stresses diplomacy and government action. The study abroad program is unique in that students are frequently immersed in a culture by participating in an international NGO.

Several professors at Claremont McKenna are recognized as experts in their fields. One professor was on the Bush Economic Advisory Committee, one is a frequently quoted expert on primary election politics, and another was a government advisor during both the Nixon and Reagan administrations. The academic tone of the college is decidedly conservative. Students with a more liberal mindset may be more comfortable at Pomona than Claremont McKenna. This is a hands-on career prep college.

According to rankings for educational institutions’ student return on investments, Claremont ranks #13 overall in getting a great return on tuition investment, #4 among West Coast schools, and #2 among liberal arts colleges. A degree from Claremont McKenna College is highly valued among large corporations and government agencies. CMC students can enjoy paid internships during their college studies, and those in the Washington Scholars program receive assignments on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, or international NGOs, among others. The Athenaeum, a social and intellectual center for the exchange of ideas, hosts world renowned speakers who interact with the students four nights a week.

Beyond the academics, Claremont McKenna College has a reputation among the consortium as a party school. Some students say this is an unfair characterization that springs from the college’s more lax campus drinking rules than the other four schools. There is the opportunity on campus to play on the weekends as hard as you study during the week, however, there are plenty of weekend activities for non-drinkers and occasional drinkers. It isn’t so prevalent that non-drinking students feel it’s unavoidable. In fact, Stark Hall in the Towers is a substance free dorm.

Claremont McKenna is part of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps NCAA Division III athletic program. The athletic program boasts a long history of winning. Of the twenty-one men’s and women’s sports teams, fourteen have finished in the top ten in the country since beginning in 1958. Student-athletes are held to high academic standards in and out of their seasons. Coaches may write letters of support to help sway admissions in your favor, but otherwise have little influence over the selection process. Claremont is one of the top athletics programs in the SCIAC Division. The school also has a strong commitment to intramurals.

Claremont McKenna, perhaps because it is so young, is short on traditions. One of the school’s traditions is for incoming freshmen to go on wilderness orientation adventures with upperclassmen and faculty prior to the beginning of school. Destinations include beach camping on Catalina Island, rock-climbing in Yosemite, or canoeing on the Colorado River. Other traditions are ponding, where students are thrown into a campus fountain on their birthdays, and champagne theses day, where students exchange their last paper for a personal bottle of champagne and hang out drinking and talking in the fountains the rest of the day.

There is a constant flow of social and academic opportunities on campus. Claremont students are confident and assertive; they’re politically and fiscally conservative and welcome a lively debate on nearly any issue. With the great weather of Southern California, intimate small campus atmosphere, and proximity to Los Angeles, it’s no wonder Claremont students are consistently among the happiest and most satisfied in the nation.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Traditions of Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College, located in the coastal town of Brusnwick, Maine, is a small liberal arts college ranked #14 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings.The exclusive school boasts famous alumni such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne. More recently, current assistant professor of computer science, Daniela Oliveira was awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by the White House for her research in computer security. This is an extraordinary honor for a small liberal arts college competing against large research universities.

Bowdoin was an all men’s college until 1971, and today offers the co-ed student body over 30 majors and eight interdisciplinary majors. The college’s philosophy is pushing students and faculty to take academic risks. Students are encouraged to make their educations a meaningful experience for themselves by integrating knowledge from disparate subjects and analyzing their connections. The focus is always forward-thinking and encouraging the individual to prepare to positively contribute to the world.

When you hear about the “living rooms” on campus, know they are referring to the eight houses that make up a portion of student campus residences. Incoming freshmen are all assigned to a house according to their floor in dormitories, a.k.a. the “bricks.” Houses offer freshmen outreach throughout the school year with small events like study breaks and dinners. They also sponsor film-screenings and other campus-wide activities. There is a selection process students must participate in to live in the houses that requires a commitment to the goals of the house. Off campus, students can go to Thomas Point Beach for an afternoon of frisbee or volleyball when the weather permits. As the weather turns cooler, a drive up the coast to check out the famed Maine lighthouses is a nice break from studies. During winter, bowling and ice skating are popular student activities.

Bowdoin is an NCAA Division III athletic program that plays in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Within the conference, the real rivalry for Bowdoin is in football with Colby College and Bates College. The three colleges have played each other since the 1870s, which puts them among the ten oldest Division III college football rivalries in the nation. In 1965, they formed the CBB Championship. Playing each other one time during season, the team that beats the other two wins the championship. Although there have been a handful of three-way ties and one two-way tie, the Bowdoin Polar Bears are the winningest team in the CBB.

The Polar Bears, named after alumnus Robert Peary who was the first man to reach the North Pole, have another long-standing and arguably more intense rivalry with Colby College in hockey. This makes sense, since Maine is hockey country. The rivalry, which began in 1922, is so intense that it is listed among their college traditions, has been featured in a New York Times blog, and dictates what Bowdoin food services serve on game days to keep it from being thrown on the ice – no fish, for example.

On the women’s side of Polar Bear athletics, the women’s field hockey team are repeat national champions. By 2013, the team had claimed their fourth NCAA Division III title in seven years. Not only are they the winningest field hockey team in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, but they also boast a string of consecutive wins against non-conference teams that dates back to 2007. Female field hockey athletes looking for a great Division III liberal arts college will want to put Bowdoin at the top of their list.

Bowdoin College traditions are perhaps less spectacular and frequent than at some other colleges, but no less quirky. Ivies weekend began as Ivy Day in 1875 with the tradition of planting ivy accompanied by wacky student awards, music, and dancing. By 1975 all but the music and dancing had disappeared. During homecoming week, the social houses hold a wooden chair building competition where chairs are judged and a single winner is chosen; the losing chairs are thrown into a community bonfire. Senior Seven takes place during Senior Week and matches secret crushes anonymously on a website designed as the last chance to hook up with a fellow classmate before graduation. Bowdoin offers a great experience for those who favor a personalized approach in a small-town setting.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: The Innovation and Diversity of Brown University

Brown University is ranked number seventeen on the Veritas Prep College Ranking list. The quaint campus of this research school is located in the middle of the historic town of Providence, Rhode Island. Brown was founded in 1764 making it the seventh oldest school in the U.S; it offers a wide variety of degrees in seventy concentrations. This university is known for having the spirit of openness; they have proven this on more than one occasion, starting with becoming the first school to accept students from all religious backgrounds.

Innovation is in their nature from faculty to students; they showcased this in 1970 with the development of a new curriculum plan now known as the Brown curriculum. Attending Brown University will give you a well-rounded education allowing many students to succeed on a global level. At Brown, students are required to take ownership of their own academic career; this was done by eliminating the set core requirements for all Brown students. They are now able to design a curriculum plan that is specific to their goals and aspirations.

There are more than forty academic departments that offer about two thousand courses each year, making concentration requirements easy fit in the various student designed academic plans. Brown has an extensive library system that greatly improves the success of their students. With a multitude of services and programs designed for student success from public service to career development, Brown is dedicated to giving their students a plethora of resources to help them prosper. At Brown university global learning is a top priority, and this is shown thorough study abroad programs as well as international collaborations.

Brown University is dedicated to giving their students a comfortable and close-knit campus life. All student residence halls are surrounded by plush grassy scenery and well-designed courtyards. There are many different housing options for upperclassmen; they can even choose to house by themselves or with friends in a suite or apartment. First year students are required to room with one other person chosen at random in small fifty to sixty person housing units. Brown also gives their students choices such as housing in single-sex and quiet units as well as houses geared towards specific interests, like technology or art.

The town of Providence is a main part of campus life at Brown; rich with historic homes and buildings, it is a visually stunning place to take in when enjoying a long walk or bike ride. Filled with culture, there are many galleries, top notch restaurants, shops, and entertainment for students to enjoy. On campus there are two main dining halls, many snack carts, and almost a dozen eateries. The social life Brown offers is immense, with a large variety of student organizations, events, activities, performances, exhibitions, and so on. On this campus every day is unique, giving students a chance to experience something new that ignites their passions.

The athletics at Brown University are spectacular; approximately nine hundred students participate in thirty-seven sports teams. Unlike many other universities, women’s athletics are vast at Brown, with them making up twenty of the varsity sports teams. They’re ranked number one in the nation for their collegiate athletic program for women and fourth in the nation as a whole. Aside from varsity sports there are over fifteen intramural teams to participate in as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center that offers courses in everything from martial arts to yoga. Brown is committed to giving their students the equipment to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.

Brown University is a diverse and cultured school located in a historic town that wants to enrich young minds to be great additions to the world. They are committed to giving freedom to each individual student while encouraging them to grow by getting to know each other. This is highlighted by their promotion of interfaith dialogue between students while offering each religion the chance to express themselves openly through resources like the Manning Chapel. This forward thinking university has great traditions combined with a lot of fun while expanding the minds of their students.

When you start your education at Brown University, you enter through the Van Wickle Gates located on the Quiet Green. Welcomed by the Brown community, you will be begin your academic journey; just as you came in, you will exit Brown University through those same gates celebrated by friends, family, and alumni. This is a tradition and rite of passage for every Brown student. Just make sure you only pass through at these two times, or it is said you will be cursed with bad luck. During your time at Brown you will experience many long-standing and joyous traditions because Brown is more than a university, it is a close-knit community.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: The University of Pennsylvania and the Toast Zamboni

The University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, and began as a charity school in 1740. Under the influence of Benjamin Franklin, the school developed its roots in training students to become leaders in public service, business, and government. The private university has fewer than 10,000 undergraduates and ranks #13 on the Veritas Prep Elite 61 list of colleges.

One in nine Ivy League schools, the University of Pennsylvania has a long tradition of academic excellence. The undergraduate program includes three schools: the famed Wharton Business School, the School of Nursing, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Students may take classes from any of the three schools, no matter which is their primary school, under the school’s  “One University” philosophy. Additionally, students can take classes from any of three other schools in the Quaker Consortium – Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and Haverford.

The University of Pennsylvania is consistently among the top research universities in the nation and offers students research opportunities in over 165 specialized research centers. Penn also offers six specialized dual-degree programs to undergraduates including management and technology, nursing and health care management, international studies and business, accelerated bio-dental, integrated energy research, and life sciences and management. There are even dual degree programs that allow students to have degrees from separate colleges within the University.

Penn offers students on-campus housing in an eleven house system. Each house has four faculty members attached to it that serve as the House Dean, Faculty Master, and two College House Fellows. Within the house system are themed residential programs where students are grouped by affinity. For example, students with a shared interest in science and technology are grouped together in residences. Besides traditional dining halls, Penn offers students Starbucks and Subway among other retailers on campus. Over 90 food trucks and carts dot the campus in Penn’s long tradition of food vending.

There are a combined 31 men’s and women’s sports teams at the University of Pennsylvania. This Division I Ivy League school takes great pride in their athletic department. Nearly three-quarters of the students participate in at least one sport. Penn’s football teams have become Ivy League Champions sixteen times, the last being in 2012. The basketball and lacrosse teams are consistently winning teams as well. The Penn Band, 100-member strong and completely voluntary, is one of the most active bands at the college level. The band, once conducted by John Phillip Sousa, enthusiastically performs at football games and other sporting events. They were the first band to ever march in the popular Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Every college has its quirky traditions and Penn is no exception. One oddly school sanctioned tradition is that of throwing toast during football games. At the end of the third quarter of home football games at Franklin Field, students begin a rousing chorus of “Drink a Highball,” which is on a list of school songs students should commit to memory. After the last line, “Here’s a toast to dear old Penn,” students then throw toast onto the track surrounding the football field like thousands of small frisbees. The tradition started in the 1970s and continues to today. Engineering students designed a specialized machine to pick up the toast and other debris after games, which has become fondly named the “Toast Zamboni.”

Other traditions include Spring Fling, Ivy Day, Hey Day, and many others. Hey Day is a favorite for juniors at Penn. On this day, juniors gather on Hill Field all wearing the same tee-shirts, styrofoam hats, and carrying canes, for a picnic of hot dogs and pretzels. Students then march around campus to the College Green where the Penn president declares them seniors. In fact, Penn has so many traditions and social opportunities that it has been dubbed “the social Ivy.” If you’re looking for an Ivy League school where students know how to relax and not take themselves too seriously, then the University of Pennsylvania may be just the school for you.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Work Hard and Play Hard at the California Institute of Technology

If you have an impassioned desire to probe the far reaches of deep space, get chills at the thought of programming DNA for molecular robots, or long to one day win a Nobel Prize, then Caltech may be the school for you. California Institute of Technology, located in Pasadena, California, is a premier private research university whose mission it is to “expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education.”

When you go to the homepage of most colleges, the information you find there is about the logistics of the college. When you go to the California Institute of Technology website, the homepage presents beautiful color photos linked to news stories about all the things the school and those associated with it are accomplishing and discovering. There is a lot going on here! Caltech is also home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which in itself is astounding. This school has a long history of accomplishments; they don’t just give lip service to their mission, they put 100% action behind it. Caltech alumni and faculty have amassed 32 Nobel Prizes among 31 recipients. Even Einstein dropped by campus for a visit in 1931. Their ongoing dedication to excellence in science and technology is unsurpassed.

Student housing at Caltech is one of the more unusual arrangements among elite colleges. The school has a house system where most of their 900+ undergraduate students live in on-campus houses. There are seven houses on campus divided into two groups. On the north end of campus are four 1920s Spanish-style houses named Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, and Ricketts. Students who live in those houses are referred to as Moles, Darbs, Flems, and Scurves. On the south end of the campus are three 1950s modern-style houses named Lloyd, Page, and Ruddock; their inhabitants are called Lloydies, Pageboys, and Rudds. All students are required to be associated with one of the seven houses. Incoming freshmen participate in “Rotation” the first week of school and visit each of the seven houses. They choose their top four; houses hold a kind of NFL draft situation to choose who will be in each house.

If your main goal in going to college is to play college sports, then this may not be the school for you. The Division III school has losing records in nearly every sport year after year. Aside from 1944 when the football team went undefeated during a season cut short by war with a team stacked with Stanford players, they have arguably one of the worst college football teams. One sports website joked Caltech students’ average IQ of 140 approached their weight – a great statistic for one of the best colleges in the nation, not so great for sports. Caltech, however, plays to their strength, which is brilliance. In 1961, they pulled off perhaps the greatest college prank ever at the Pasadena Rose Bowl when they tricked Washington Huskies fans into turning over flip-cards at halftime that spelled out CALTECH in front of 33 million TV viewers.

If you are lacking a sense of humor, Caltech is definitely not the place for you. It’s impossible to put this much brainpower in a single location and expect them not to use it for a little fun from time to time. Although the 1961 Rose Bowl prank was their most famous (so far), they have a long tradition of pranks, so much so that it has become part of their identity. In 1984, they manipulated the scoreboard to read Caltech and MIT as the opponents during the Rose Bowl game. In 1987, they changed the Hollywood sign to read Caltech on Hollywood’s 100th birthday. In 2005, they even flew across the country to longtime rival MIT and pranked incoming freshmen. In fact, you can read all about their long list of pranks in Legends of Caltech, Volumes I, II, and III. If you don’t have the time to read all three volumes, you can just watch the 1985 movie Real Genius, where Pacific Tech is loosely based on the school.

Brilliance, excellence, dedication, hard work, and a sense of humor are all you need to attend Caltech. Join others in changing the world for the better, while still remembering to have a little fun.

You’ll certainly need a high SAT score to get into Caltech too. We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: A Closer Look at the Traditions of Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is ranked number twelve on the Veritas Prep list of the top sixty-one colleges in the United States. Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, it is a research university that offers a large selection of degrees for undergraduates and graduates alike. Roughly 6,100 students attend this beautiful campus, designed around its exquisite natural setting. Founded in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, Dartmouth is the ninth oldest college in the United States.

Dartmouth takes an open-door approach to education. There are no designated office hours, and students are encouraged to spend time with deans and faculty anytime it’s necessary. Personalizing the college experience is a top priority at Dartmouth; most of your professors will know you by name and invite you to dinner in your first week on campus, just so they can get to know you.  The student population is extremely diverse: cultures from all over the world attend with almost 40% of students being of color.

The faculty at Dartmouth expect their students to change the world, so they make sure and give them the tools to make that happen. They have a year round academic calendar that allows you to take personal responsibility for your own education. You decide when to study on campus, study abroad, gain work experience, take an internship, and more. The flexibility of your studies also allows you to create your ideal academic program. Choose from over fifty majors and add a minor or discipline to have a more well-rounded education. One of the greatest benefits at Dartmouth is the ability to study abroad multiple times during your college career; joining research projects with talented professors in several fields is also of great benefit.

Campus life at Dartmouth college is close-knit with the majority of undergraduates living on the grounds. You can live in the residential halls, sorority and fraternity houses, approved co-ed spaces, or affinity and society houses. The food service is award-winning with five dining halls that serve all different types of food. There are also cafes located inside the library where you can take a well deserved break from your studies. With so many cultures on one campus, a multitude of organizations support all things spiritual and religious. Students’ safety is a high priority at Dartmouth, and the campus is equipped with 24-hour security guards. Students can enjoy nature’s wonders with hiking trails for the warmer seasons, and an ice skating pond during the winter months.

Dartmouth college has a large athletic department that has 34 division I teams that compete in eighteen different sports, and is also part of the Ivy League Conference and the ECAC. The college has invested over one hundred million dollars into improving athletic and recreational facilities since 2000. There are also more than 30 clubs and about 25 intramural sports students can participate in. Dartmouth College is dedicated to providing their students with a wide range of athletic outlets, with three-quarters of the student population engaging in at least one sport.

As one of the nine Ivy League colleges in North America, Dartmouth has a strong sense of tradition. One example is during homecoming weekend when freshmen students build a sixty-foot bonfire in the center of the Green. Alumni and faculty join them in giving recognition to the school and kicking off the start of a new term. Students can enjoy the winter carnival filled with fun outdoor activities like the polar bear swim and human dog sled racing, or take part in the Dartmouth Pow Wow, the second largest in the the northeast. Students who attend Dartmouth will also enjoy the Green Key weekend, filled with secret traditions and fun activities. Everything from an organic farm to concerts with elite artists can be experienced on campus. If you need a bit of extra luck on an exam or before a big game, rub Warner Bentley’s nose, the colleges own personal good luck charm. Free access to all athletics, dollar movie passes, and ten cent tea are just a few of the fun perks you’ll enjoy when attending Dartmouth College.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Work Hard and Play Hard at Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College is ranked ninth among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It is a liberal arts and engineering college that is part of a three-college consortium including Harverford College and Bryn Mawr College. The school, which was founded by Quakers, has a long legacy of tolerance, social concern, and civic responsibility.

Swarthmore promotes “ethical intelligence” and encourages students to question everything, especially their own thinking. They strive to create an open atmosphere that fosters dialogue and engagement with disparate ideas among students and faculty. Swarthmore’s goal is to develop what they refer to as leaders for the common good. Students looking to make their mark on the world may find a home at Swarthmore College.

At Swarthmore the mission is “to prepare and motivate students to understand and engage issues of civic and social concern and to set their own paths towards shaping a more just and compassionate world.” Students are inspired to think independently and pursue activism, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility was established in 2001 to provide students with vision and support in their endeavors. A few of the many paths students can pursue to increase social responsibility include education, agriculture, public policy, and LGBTQ. Swarthmore wants its students to make an impact on the world after graduation and they offer many programs and tools to make that happen.

Swarthmore campus is located in a borough of Philadelphia on a 425-acre arboretum maintained by the school. The natural environment encompasses woodlands, grassy hills, and creeks that make the learning environment comfortable and tranquil. Right next to campus is The Village, a Swarthmore neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants, the occasional bed and breakfast, and a food co-op. The town of Swarthmore itself is a quiet little dry town only a twenty-five minute train ride to the robust city life of Philly.

At Swarthmore 95% of the students live on campus in either an eight-person house or one of sixteen 200-person dorms. Most juniors and seniors have single rooms. Because meaningful interaction is a priority, there is only one dining hall on this large campus. This was a conscious decision to facilitate students congregating, mingling, and sharing ideas over meals. While students commune with one another, they enjoy healthy and delicious organic meals. It’s just one more example of how Swarthmore strives to model social awareness and effective change.

Quaker traditions of tolerance are the backbone to Swarthmore College. A strong emphasis is put on community building and consensus decision-making. Equality and progressive change have been important to this school since its founder Lucretia Mott called for equal rights for women at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. While education and social development are the staples of Swarthmore, the school is equally dedicated to balance and a rich life.

Swarthmore holds an annual Crum Creek Regatta where students race homemade boats down the shallow creek, provided they don’t sink first. Each spring, the school holds a weeklong Spring Fling celebration. Worthstock is a one-day outdoor live music event held during Spring Fling week. They are encouraged to work hard and play hard.

Students with a passion for seeking within themselves the change they want in the world would do well to begin their journey by attending Swarthmore College.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of Chicago, Pomona College, and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: You’ll Want to Go to Pomona College after Reading This

Pomona College is ranked tenth in the nation among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It’s one of few liberal arts colleges on the West Coast and part of the Claremont College Consortium. The consortium includes five schools, all on adjacent campuses, and two graduate schools. The 5C community, as the students affectionately call it, shares resources including a university-sized research library. The consortium arrangement also has the advantage of offering students abundant academic, extracurricular, and social opportunities; students can eat, live, and take classes on all five campuses.

Students at Pomona find several advantages to belonging to the 5C community. An obvious perk is small class sizes; class enrollment caps are in place to help manage the school’s commitment to personalized attention. Only a handful of classes are over 50 students, and many have enrollment in single digits. The consortium arrangement allows students and professors to develop personal relationships that are conducive to creating strong community. Professors proactively initiate getting to know students, which helps students network for research and internship options. Those looking to be another anonymous face on campus would not want to consider Pomona.

The Pomona College campus is located in Claremont, California just east of Los Angeles. The suburban setting of a major metropolis is a draw for students looking for the excitement of the big city tempered with the quiet of the suburbs. With the consortium’s unique configuration of five adjacent campuses, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other except for the distinctive architectural differences. Pomona College draws its beautiful Spanish architectural design from the same person who designed Stanford’s campus.

Nearly two-thirds of the diverse student body is from outside California, and about one-third are students of color. This is a direct result of Pomona College’s recruiting program that reaches out to talented students from underrepresented groups. Students describe themselves as laid-back, unpretentious, liberal thinkers. Many actively participate in sharing their ideas and opinions on the student blog, Voices.

Although students won’t find stadiums packed with thousands of fans, this NCAA Division three consortium of schools boasts two separate and complete athletic programs. Pomona and Pitzer form one athletic program, and Claremont, Harvey-Mudd, and Scripps comprise the other. Two of every sporting venue and facility means there is always something going on for sports enthusiasts. The Sagehen’s football rivalry with Occidental goes back over 100 years, making it one of the oldest rivalries on the West Coast.

Campus life is reflective of the laid-back attitude for which California is known. Pomona College consistently ranks high in student satisfaction. (The free snacks four nights per week don’t hurt!) In fact, students have stolen the phrase ‘the happiest place on earth’ from Disneyland, and applied it to their campus. The Coop, the college hangout that is open nights, gives students a chance to congregate. The college also takes advantage of their Southern California location, often inviting big-name bands, singers, comedians and guest lecturers to campus. Weekend nights may include movie night, In-n-Out Burger night, spa night, casino night, or other relaxing outlets for busy students.

The Village is a neighborhood hotspot of shops, music stores, theaters, restaurants and the occasional bed and breakfast near campus. It offers students a reprieve from college life with an array of entertainment as well as the opportunity for part-time jobs. A short drive away, Pasadena provides students with movie theaters, markets, restaurants, and concert venues. Los Angeles gives students a vibrant club scene where IDs are routinely checked, museums, and world-class concerts and sporting events. The mountains are a place for students to get away for some quiet time in nature either hiking or snow skiing, and Orange County offers everything from Disneyland to baseball to stunniing beaches. If students are bored at Pomona College, they just aren’t paying attention.

Like many colleges, Pomona College has its own quirky traditions. Walker Wall is a 200-foot long cement wall that traditionally has been used as a student forum where students can post messages and self-expressions. In 1964, a pair of Pomona College students devised a tongue-in-cheek theory that the number 47 is expressed in nature more than any other number; students continue to search for and compile examples today. One of the favorite traditions among students is the annual Ski-Beach Day. In the morning, students go snow skiing in the mountains at Mountain High Resort an hour from campus. In the afternoon, they lounge on nearby Newport Beach along the Pacific Ocean.

Students who are committed to excellence, independent thinkers, and dedicated to following their passions while making the world a better place may have found their home at Pomona College in sunny California.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of Chicago and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

School Profile: Amherst College Might Be the School for You

When it comes to getting a good education students are not only looking for the perfect school, but also the best school for their budget. That is exactly what sets Amherst College, ranked 8th by Veritas Prep, apart from other elite colleges; they utilize a need-blind admission policy. This simply put means the student’s family’s financial situation bears little importance for admission to their college.

This forward thinking college has been around since 1821, praised by The Chronicle of Higher Education as “the best of the best” when it comes to offering low income students with exceptional talents a chance to prosper at a top notch college. They consistently show understanding and support to those who may not have the same opportunities for higher education.

The average financial package provided this past year to students attending Amherst College was $44,888. This is due to their firm financial aid belief and practice of funding “100% of the demonstrated financial need to all admitted students.” More than half of their student body was given extensive financial aid utilizing organizations like QuestBridge, who cater to low income students that are highly accomplished. They also support a “no-loan policy,” which means if students need financial assistance they are not required to apply for loans. Amherst meets students’ financial needs whether they need a small percentage or the entire tuition.

Amherst goes out of their way to offer their students generous scholarships that allow them to graduate debt free with the “no-loan policy.” Although the school is generous in its financial aid packages it’s equally discerning in its student application process. The average SAT score is 2135, average ACT score 32, and the acceptance rate is 13%. There were more than 8,000 applicants in 2013 with a little over 1,100 gaining admittance. This school is designed for highly talented and motivated individuals who demonstrate elite educational prowess.

Amherst College promotes a diverse student population; more than forty countries are represented within the 1,700 students that attend. Not only are the students and faculty diverse, but so are the fields of study. They offer thirty seven different bachelor programs. They also offer a unique college dynamic with the consortium of five colleges that include, Amherst, Smith, Mount, Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges. This approach gives students a wide range of classes and enriches their social and extracurricular lives. Amherst offers over 100 different student organizations from activism and community service to student newspapers and a radio station; students can find a place to showcase their talents.

At Amherst College newcomers will be among some of the top students in the country being taught by exceptional professors. This school has some of the most prominent alumni in the country, President Calvin Coolidge, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Nobel Laureates among others. They back up their tough admission standards with financial aid assistance that exceeds most colleges and universities.

Students live on campus all four years and graduate with a top notch education with little to no debt. This progressive college is also taking bold steps in the “going green” movement. They are doing this by reshaping their designs, and focusing on how they build, maintain, and operate their facilities. Amherst takes care of their students, faculty, and the environment, proving they stand by their motto Terras Irradient – let them give light to the world.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profile for The University of Chicago and see if that school is a good fit for you.

Is The University of Chicago the Right School for You?

The University of Chicago is ranked number seven of sixty-one schools on the Veritas Prep list. It also appears among the top ten schools on the Forbes, US News, and ARWU lists. This Midwestern research university offers a variety of undergraduate degree programs, but a majority of campus students are enrolled in graduate degree programs. Situated in the famed Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, the mid-sized school is diverse with 56% minority students and 51% female students.

At the University of Chicago, there are more than fifty majors from which to choose, ranging from anthropology to cinema and media studies. The world-renowned economics program is one of the three most popular programs at the school. The climate of free and open exchange in discussion and inquiry combines traditional college with premier research. World-renowned faculty members, including 85 Nobel laureates, lead rigorous coursework and research. This University offers discussion based seminars, innovative research experiences, and the opportunity to double major, or obtain two degrees. Students can rely on academic advisors and career advancement counselors to give them appropriate guidance.

Research at the University of Chicago flows freely across disciplines. Their commitment to inquiry drives their innovative approach to research. The result is the creation of new areas of study and new knowledge previously unknown. Some areas impacted by the research at the University are education, where new tools for excellence have been developed: economics, where new theories have been established; and medicine, where a connection between genetics and cancer was made.

Of the 25,000+ students who apply to the University of Chicago, roughly 13% or 3,300 are accepted. It is the only top ten university where no minimum SAT score or GPA is required; rather, they look at students’ entire applications. This means recommendations, essays, SAT scores, GPA, and extracurricular records. Although there is no minimum score, the average SAT math score is 745 and the average SAT critical reading score is 740. The average ACT score is 35. The school recommends a college prep course for all incoming freshman prior to enrollment. Applications are each reviewed several times and presented to an admissions committee.

The University of Chicago does not raise costs for out-of-state tuition. Both in-state and out-of-state tuitions are the same at just over $40,000 per year. This elite university is one of the few schools that provides financial aid based on merit and on need. Tuition is prorated on a sliding scale depending upon family income level. With an annual financial aid and scholarship budget of nearly $85 million, almost 90% of student financial aid packages are in the form of institutional grants, with federal and Pell grants making up most of the rest of it. Approximately one-third of students have student loans of about $5,000 per year.

If all this weren’t enough, the University of Chicago is also a vibrant and integral part of both the Hyde Park and greater Chicago areas. They have been instrumental in developing and implementing an extraordinary urban education model as well as operate four Chicago area charter schools under the plan. Through their urban health initiative they have improved local healthcare with education and research. Students volunteer in the community, and community members explore cultural and academic opportunities at the school.

If you are looking for a research university that is making a difference in students’ lives, the local community, and across the globe, the University of Chicago could be what you are looking for in a school.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Are College Ratings Worth Paying Attention To?

College ratings are one of the ways that many students and their families choose to look at schools they’re thinking of applying to. Many schools and educational institutions rank colleges by a number of different criteria. Organizations that create college ratings include Forbes Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and now Veritas Prep.

Most college ratings systems will look at aspects of campus life, academic reputation and social aspects of the school. These could include availability of career services, community events for LGBT students and the quality of dorms. Extracurricular activities will also count toward the final rating. Some groups also include reviews of the dining commons, giving you an idea of the quality of food there.

One of the best things about college rating systems is that they often provide hard numbers on schools. These numbers allow you to determine the size of the student population compared to faculty. You can also see the population of the town, and what percentage of first-year students return for a second year at the college. This information can serve a useful purpose as you are narrowing down a choice for a school.

How Important are College Ratings?

College ratings are a good way to get a general sense of a school. They can help you see at a glance if a college may be heavily religious or have a party atmosphere. When schools are compared side-by-side, ratings can help you eliminate schools that “just don’t feel right.” These ratings can also help you get a feel for some of the lesser-known aspects of a school. For instance, you can find out the male to female ratio at a school.

However, don’t let ratings be the beginning and end of your research on schools. The methodology of rankings is not consistent and there is no way of knowing the accuracy of a given rating. What you consider to be a sports-minded institution may not seem that way to the people doing the rating. It is best to research a number of rankings as you are just beginning to narrow your search. This way, the quick, easy availability of data can help you quickly eliminate institutions. That can save you time and money applying to schools, which are not a good fit for you.

Rating the Rating Process

College ratings have been around a long time and they’re not going away anytime soon. Make sure you look at several ratings for any schools you are considering, and always consider the source when you do so. Your ideas may not agree. When used appropriately, college ratings are a great tool available to students who are looking to apply to universities.

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way. Visit http://www.applykit.com and create a free account today!