Rich Educational Opportunities at College

Rich educational opportunities support student learning and development at college according to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) at Indiana University for Postsecondary Research. NSSE suggests that students ask colleges the following questions to learn about the college’s rich educational opportunities:

  • “How many courses include community-based service-learning projects?
  • What types of honors courses, learning communities, and other distinctive programs are offered?
  • How many students get practical, real-world experience through internships or off-campus field experiences?
  • How many students study in other countries?
  • What co-curricular activities are most common (performing arts, athletics, fraternities and sororities, guest speakers, etc.)?”

Here are examples of rich educational opportunities at colleges and universities:

The College of New Jersey
  • 91 percent complete internships (American University).
  • All students study abroad (Goucher College).
  • More than seventy courses combine academics with service work in the community (George Washington University).
  • As an alternative to a major and a minor, students can do the Nexus program which builds opportunities for internships, off-campus research, and public presentations in addition to coursework. Participating students can select from one of nine pre-professional tracks (Mount Holyoke College).
  • Community service organization arranges for students to volunteer in about 600 placements (Smith College).
  • Students dorm their freshman year with those in their first year seminar class (The College of New Jersey).
  • Students complete an independent study project in the last two years of college (College of Wooster).
  • Students staff and manage nine campus businesses (University of Massachusetts – Amherst).
  • The Outside the Classroom curriculum is an optional co-curricular program that rounds out the college experience with activities in leadership development, sense of self, service to others, and art appreciation (University of Pittsburgh).
  • Students can spend a semester getting hands-on conservation education from the Smithsonian Institution, George Mason University, and wildlife protection agencies (George Mason University).
  • All students do independent research for three years in the January term and all complete a senior project or write a thesis that they defend before a faculty committee (New College of Florida).
New College of Florida

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.

Student New Year’s Resolution to Volunteer

Is your student’s New Year’s resolution to volunteer more in the community? Start with what they love to do most to find a made-to-order community service opportunity.

For example, if your students like to cook or bake, they could make a dish for a soup kitchen like SHIP on a regular basis. If they like children, they can volunteer to be a teen mentor for a child with special needs, at an organization like JFS. If they like horses, they might volunteer at Mane Stream, which provides therapeutic riding. If they like to run, they could run a 5K raise to raise money for a local charity. If they want to enter a medical profession, they could volunteer at the Rescue Squad or the hospital. Do they get along well with their grandparents? Perhaps they could do chores like raking leaves, taking out the garbage and recycling, shoveling snow, putting away groceries for an elderly neighbor.

Still stuck? If you are in New Jersey, try looking at the Jersey Cares website.