Gratitude for U.S. College Education

With Thanksgiving approaching, here are three things I am grateful for regarding college education in the United States:

  1. There are colleges available in the United States for any high school graduate who would like to attend.
  2. There are so many different colleges that allow all kinds of students to find a college that meets their academic, social and financial needs.
  3. Students can be undecided about their major or change their mind about their major while in college.
These three things make the American college system unique.
What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

The COVID-19 College Experience: What Can You Expect? (Part 2 of 2)

In my last blog post, I began to address how I expect COVID-19 will impact the college experience in the 2020-2021 school year. In this post, I discuss other ways the college experience is likely to be impacted.
Campus Dining–Normally, college dining halls are indoor places where students congregate and socialize while eating. Because of social distancing concerns, I think students will not generally be eating in the dining halls. They may be eating primarily in their dorm rooms or in outdoor locations, when it is warm and dry enough.
In a “normal” semester, many dining halls provide an all-you-can-eat experience with self-service for many foods. I expect that all-you-can-eat and self-service will be eliminated for 2020-2021.
Some colleges are trying new ways to get meals to students. For example: 
  • Rider University allows students to order meals from smartphone apps and delivers the meals to food lockers, where students can pick them up without interacting with others.
  • George Mason University and the University of Houston are piloting robotic delivery fleets that deliver meals to students.

Rider University
Dorms – I think that this year three or four people in a dorm room will disappear. I expect there will still be doubles.
Reducing the density in dorm rooms and putting aside rooms for quarantine, means that there will be less housing available on many campuses.
The cleaning frequency of shared spaces, like hall bathrooms will increase.
Extracurricular Activities – The number of people gathering at any activity will be reduced. For example, the maximum number of people at parties will be reduced based on the venue space.
Many activities may be canceled or altered significantly because of the need for social distancing. For example, some contact sports will be canceled or played without students in the stands.
International Scene– I expect there will be fewer international students on campus, because many international students can’t get visas, especially freshmen. Many study abroad activities will be canceled or postponed due to the inability of US students to get visas to go abroad and/or because of the COVID-19 situation in other countries.
Financial Aid – More families may be looking for need-based financial aid because of loss of jobs, cuts in pay, death of a student’s parent, reduction in asset value and medical bills.
More families may take Federal student loans because the interest rates for 2020-2021 are much lower than in previous years. The Federal student loan interest rate for 2020-2021 is 2.75%, and the Federal Parent PLUS loan interest rate is 5.3%.
College Finances – Many colleges will be struggling financially. As of June 22nd, more than 750 colleges had openings and many expect a bigger than usual summer melt. State funding of public universities is likely to go down in many states because of reduced tax revenues and increased expenses related to COVID-19. The college revenue shortfall may lead to program cuts, pay cuts and layoffs, and even college closure. For example, the University of Alaska will cut 39 academic departments. Elmira College (NY) is eliminating several academic programs and is reducing its staff by 20%.
The Big Picture – The 2020-2021 school year is one in which colleges will need to plan carefully, communicate clearly to students and their families, enforce safety precautions, and be creative and nimble to respond to the changing conditions. There are serious risks for all involved.

The COVID-19 College Experience: What Can You Expect? (Part 1 of 2)



The fall semester will be unique because of COVID-19. While every college will be a little different, here is what I expect you may find.

COVID-Safety – Colleges will try and make sure that students arrive on campus COVID-free by doing some or all of the following:

  • Testing for the virus,
  • Taking temperatures,
  • Asking about COVID-19 symptoms and travel.
To prevent the spread of the virus on campus, colleges will enforce social distancing, the wearing of masks, reduce physical interactions, and have additional cleaning. Social distancing will often require fewer student in a classroom or in a dorm room. To reduce physical interactions, colleges may use doors that open automatically or assign a single person to open doors in a particular building. Colleges will have plans for quarantining students that come down with the virus and will have contact tracing in order to know who the infected person has come in contact with. Colleges will also make special arrangements for high-risk students and employees; this may mean online classes for those students or faculty. The biggest unknown regarding COVID-safety is whether students will follow the college’s guidelines.
Academics – Colleges have taken different approaches regarding delivery of course material in the fall semester. Plans include on-line synchronous, on-line asynchronous, in-person and hybrid course delivery. Many schools, not teaching on-line, will need to spread out classes across more hours of the day, more days of the week, and/or more months of the year to teach in person, while social distancing.
According to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey of 960 colleges published on June 14, the college plans for course delivery are as follows:
  • Planning for in-person – 65%
  • Proposing a Hybrid Model – 11%
  • Considering a Range of Scenarios – 9%
  • Planning for Online – 8%
  • Waiting to Decide – 6%
Here are plans announced by four colleges that reflect a variety of different approaches:
  • Beloit College plans to break the semester into 2 modules, in which students take 2 courses in each module. “The aspiration is to have a residential learning experience next year, but if COVID rages, this flexibility allows us to have it only affect half a semester, possibly.”
  • Stanford University plans to spread instruction over four quarters, including the summer. Half of undergrads will be allowed on campus in fall. Students who are permitted on campus will switch with their peers each subsequent quarter. The four quarter year would allow Stanford undergrads to complete two quarters in residence, and at least one quarter remotely.
  • The University of Notre Dame will resume in-person classes on August 10. Classes will begin two weeks earlier than usual so students can complete a full semester by Thanksgiving. They hope that by skipping a traditional fall break they will reduce the likelihood that students will bring the virus back to campus.
  • The 23-campus California State University system is planning for on-line classes, with limited exceptions for essential lab courses and clinical classes for nursing students.

College planning and COVID-19


Here’s a summary of some college planning activities that have changed because of Coronavirus and how you might respond:

  • SAT and ACT – A number of SAT and ACT test dates have been cancelled. So far, the College Board has added a September 26 test date. Some additional colleges have announced they will be test optional.
  • AP – The scope of both the AP classes and exams have been reduced. There is a new at-home testing option.
  • College visits – Most colleges switched to virtual visits and information sessions. Attend virtual visits and information sessions, communicate with admissions personnel to get your questions answered, look at college videos online, read student feedback on sites like unigo.com and niche.com, read online versions of the college newspaper, talk with current students or recent graduates, and follow the college’s social media to get a better feel for the colleges you are considering. Be looking for changes in college visit policies. Come colleges are planning to switch to in-person campus visits starting in June (many of these will be of one family at a time and limited to outside spaces at their college.
  • Deposit date – Some colleges extended their deposit dates from May 1st, often to June 1st for 2020. The extra time may help students learn more about the college, determine if they can still afford the college, and appeal the financial aid where there has been a significant change in family income and/or assets due to Coronavirus.
  • Summer activities – Summer plans (e.g., jobs, summer classes, volunteer activities, travel) for many high school students have or will be cancelled. Plan meaningful alternate activities. There are a lot of things you can do from home. For instance, you can take a free or low cost online class on Coursera, Udacity or edX, learn a foreign language on Duolingo.com, practice a foreign language in Language Bird’s Chirp Room™ Chat or volunteer from home.
  • Extracurricular activities – Many extracurricular activities have been cancelled this spring and/or will be cancelled in the fall. See if you can move your activity online (e.g., via Zoom) or pursue your passion in an alternate way. You may want to explain extracurricular activity changes that were out-of-your-control in your college applications.
  • Online classes – Many classes have moved online. It is likely that in some areas of the country, high school and/or college classes will be online or hybrid (i.e., partially online and partially in-person) in the Fall.
  • Grading – Many schools are switching from letter or numerical grades to Pass/Fail or Credit/No-credit grades. When you have a choice, consider how this will impact you (e.g., college or grad school admissions or merit aid).
  • Finances – Families may have fewer resources available for college funding because of the loss of job or an illness/death in family. Appeal your financial aid package, if your family’s financial situation changes significantly.


I am working with high school sophomores and juniors on college selection and applications remotely through Skype. Contact me at rana@slosbergcollegesolutions.com to schedule an appointment.

Babson College

Overview – Babson College is a private business college with a focus on entrepreneurship in Wellesley, MA, only 10 minutes from Boston. The college has 2300 undergraduates with an average class size of between 20 and 25 students and no TAs teaching. Classes are capped at 40 students.
Academics – The following makes Babson different:
  • Everyone is involved in entrepreneurship
  • There is a focus on thinking globally (30% of students are international) and innovatively
  •  Students need to be willing to be creative, take risks and be able to fail
  • There is an emphasis hands-on learning.

There are required business and liberal arts classes including rhetoric, quantitative classes and a business foundation in finance, accounting and marketing.
Everyone takes a yearlong foundations of entrepreneurship where they start a company to solve a problem, they pitch an idea to get funding for their idea and launch the business. At the end of the year, students liquidate the business and donate the profits to a local charity.
Students can have 0, 1 or 2 concentrations (like majors at other colleges).
All freshman get a laptop with needed software loaded.
There are no classes on Fridays.
Babson has partnerships with Olin College (which is their next door neighbor) and Wellesley College. Students can take 1 class per year at these 2 other colleges. The three schools also have a shared makerspace.

Study abroad – Over 50% of students have a global abroad experience that is over a break or a semester in length. There is also a yearlong partnership with the London School of Economics.

Post-Graduation – Students can work with the center for career development from day 1. Over 500 employers come to campus to recruit. Most students have at least one internship, although an internship is not required. 99% of graduates are placed in a job or a graduate program.










Housing – 85% of students live on campus all four years. Students can choose to live in a Living and Learning Community or Greek Housing if they like.

Extracurricular activities – There are 22 NCAA Division III athletic teams, as well as intramural and club sports. Babson has Greek life and lots of clubs for students to join (or students can start a new club).

Applying – Students can apply Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision. Admissions are holistic with an average SAT score of 1360 or ACT score of 31. All applicant must have pre-Calculus in high school, although Calculus or AP Statistics are encouraged.

Endicott College

General – Endicott College is a private college with about 3400 undergraduate students; 75% of them graduate within 6 years.
Uniqueness – Endicott’s internships make it unique. Students do 3 internships: one 3-week internship typically in January of the freshman year, one 3-week internship typically in January of the sophomore year and one semester long internship typically in the first semester of the senior year. There are variations for nursing, education and athletic training majors. Nursing students do clinicals; education students do pre-practicum and practicum; athletic training students work with the athletic teams. Forty-three per cent of students find their job through their internships. All students do a senior thesis. The school provides a liberal arts core, an academic major, and internships and experiential learning.
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Location – Endicott College is in Beverly, Massachusetts, about 20 minutes by car from Salem and Gloucester and about 45 minutes by car from Boston. The beautiful campus is on the water with three of its own beaches.

History – In 1988, Endicott went from an all-women’s 2-year college to a 4-year institution and in 1990, Endicott went coed. The school has provided internships since 1939.
Housing – There are singles, doubles, triples and quads. Housing is guaranteed all four years. Freshmen have their own housing. Some housing is air conditioned. I stayed overnight in an air-conditioned, sophomore building. My room was a triple with its own bathroom. There was a half kitchen (2 burners, no oven, refrigerator), an elliptical machine, and a pool table in the building.

Study abroad – 36% of students study abroad; Endicott has 28 partner universities worldwide. Financial aid travels with the student.
Extracurricular Activities – Endicott has more than 50 clubs and organization, a TV and radio station, and Division III athletics. 84% of students participate in intramurals.
Home State – 50% of Endicott students are from Massachusetts. 15% are from outside New England. 2% are international and 2% are visiting students.
Majors – Business is the most popular major. Engineering is a relatively new major.
It is hardest to transfer into nursing and interior architecture. Education is a little bit hard to transfer into.
Undecided students would pick liberal studies as their major on their application or would pick their most-likely major, taking 2 or 3 classes in that major and 2 or 3 classes in liberal arts.

Admissions and Financial Aid – Admissions is more difficult for nursing than for the rest of the school. Endicott recomputes high school GPA. Endicott is test-optional except for majors requiring testing (e.g., nursing, education).
The average high school GPA is 3.5 and the average SAT is 1157. The mid-50% GPA is 3.13 – 3.85 and the mid-50% SAT is 1080 – 1230. The acceptance rate is 69%. For nursing, the average high school GPA is 3.88 and the average SAT is 1227. The mid 50% SAT is 1170 – 1270. The acceptance rate is 35%.
The school has Early Decision application deadline of 11/1, with a decision by 12/15. It has an Early Action deadline of 11/1, with a decision of 1/15. The Nursing Priority deadline is 12/15, with a decision by 2/15. The Regular Decision deadline is 2/15, with rolling admissions. There was a 40% increase in applications last year.
Students applying for need-based aid must fill a FAFSA. The CSS Profile is not needed. There are no supplemental financial aid forms.

College Trends and Hot Topics – Part 2

The panel of admissions personnel at the Higher Education Consultants Association Conference discussed “What intangible factors make a student stand out?”

Chris Hooker-Haring, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Muhlenberg College, valued energy, sustained commitment, intellectual curiosity, and authenticity.

Lou Hirsch, Director of Admissions at the University of Delaware, indicated that he didn’t expect applicants to be Olympic Gold Medalists.  He wanted to know who the student is and how did he get that way.  He wants to learn how the student’s activities shaped them.  When the letters of recommendation and student’s essays mesh, he found it compelling.

Mark Spencer, Director of Admissions  at Brandeis University, said that admissions officers sometimes have a bias.  If the admissions officer feels connected to the student because of their story, that student had an advantage.

Brian Estrada, Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College, talked about valuing students who are open to learning from others, as well as students who others can learn from.  Dartmouth College considers moral development and peer recommendations.

Courtney McAnuff, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Rutgers University, said the Rutgers admissions office does not see race, gender or high school when evaluating applications.  Rutgers University is concerned about how students work with diverse situations and want to have a well-rounded class. 

What intangible factors do you think make a student stand out?

College Trends and Hot Topics – Part 1

I attended the Higher Education Consultants Association Conference this week.  Here’s what’s happening in college admissions, according to key admissions personnel who participated in a panel entitled “College Trends and Hot Topics: Admissions 2012.”

Courtney McAnuff, Vice President of Enrollment Management for Rutgers University indicated that he was looking at a proposal to merge UMDNJ with Rutgers, which now seems likely. He was also looking into the merger of Rowan and Rutgers Camden. The size of the Rutgers freshmen class will be reduced for the next three years, because retention is up.

Brian Estrada, Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College said, with the April nomination of their college president to lead the World Bank, Dartmouth is looking for a new college president. This year Dartmouth had 23,000 applicants and accepted 2200 of them. 1104 students will be attending, and Dartmouth may accept 5 more students from the wait list.

Mark Spencer, Director of Admissions at Brandeis University said parents are becoming more concerned about college costs. This year a lower percent of students stayed on the wait list and a lower percent of students are accepting a spot off of the wait list.

Lou Hirsch, Director of Admissions at the University of Delaware indicated that his school had the same situation with the wait list as Brandeis. Parents seemed more concerned with college cost and “have gotten over if their child doesn’t get into their first choice school.”

Chris Hooker-Haring, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Muhlenberg College told the independent counselors that Muhlenberg had over 5000 applicants this year. They admitted about 50% of their incoming class through Early Decision. It took longer to get to their target class size this spring and there were more conversations with parents about money and value.

In a future blog post, I will cover the panel’s input on college essays, gender imbalance at college, how high school students should spend the summer, college interviews, college use of social media, and spring admits.

Financial Health of Colleges

I recently attended the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC) program on “Admissions Trends”. One trend is that a growing number of small liberal arts colleges are having financial difficulties. A panelist suggested that potential students and their parents be on the look for signs of poor financial health including:

  1. Significant deferred maintenance
  2. Faculty and staff layoffs
  3. Closed programs
  4. Dropping of varsity or extra-curricular activities
  5. Closed residence halls
  6. Downgraded bond ratings.