Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Charismatic California Private Colleges

Stanford University
Hey everyone! California is such a great place to live that many students in high school really want to stay in California for college as well.  Luckily there are over 130 private universities and over 30 public ones in California to choose from, so there’s something for everyone.   Even if you know you want to be in California, its  important to research the schools to find out which have the size, campus culture, entrance requirements and course offerings that fit what is right for you. 
USC Tour
Stanford football game
This fall I visited two of the highly ranked private schools in California, Stanford University in Palo Alto and University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.  Both schools are highly regarded for their academics, research, and strong sports teams.   Stanford is ranked #5 in the US, and admits only 6% of applicants.  It is very popular with California students for its beautiful weather and location close to San Francisco, along with its outstanding academic programs.  Stanford is very close to what is called “Silicon Valley” , a hub for new technology development.  USC is also very popular and has a strong network of alumni in California.  Along with its traditional academic departments, USC is located in Los Angeles, and therefore has a great Film and Cinematic school with a lot of great opportunities for internships in Hollywood.   As you can guess, both of these schools require high grades and test scores, along with strong essays and teacher recommendations for admittance.  
USC football game
The most popular sport in college is American football, and both Stanford and USC have large football stadiums that fill up with many excited fans for each football game.  They have marching bands and cheer leaders that put on a show during halftime.  It was fun to wear the school “colors” and help cheer on the teams to victory!
Are you a fan of private universities? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Purposeful Public Schools

Hey everyone! In my blog I have been talking about some of the private schools around the US, but each state also has a system of public colleges and universities. The main difference between public and private schools is that the public ones are funded, in part, by tax dollars and subsidies from the state government.  This means that the tuition and fees charged to students that attend these schools is much less than the private schools. Most public universities also tend to be larger and have more students than the private ones.

In California we have two very good systems, known as the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) systems.  UC has 10 campuses in California and all are very popular and well respected.  Each school varies in size and location and “feel” of the campus.  UC Berkeley is ranked as the #1 public university in the United States and UC Los Angeles is ranked #2.  These universities require very good grades and test scores for admittance just like the best private schools, and normally accept the top 12% of students that apply.  They are well respected for academics and research as well as their strong sports teams. There are 23 universities in the CSU system, and these are also very good schools and admit the top 30-50% of students that apply.  Two of the most popular ones in my area are San Diego State and Cal Poly San Louis Obispo.  The CSU schools are known for their practical training and don’t do as much research as the UCs.
Applications for the UC and CSU schools are accepted from October 1-November 30th, so many seniors at my school are busy completing these applications right now.   I have visited the UCLA and UC Berkeley campuses this year and liked both of them.
There are many great choices of colleges and universities in the US.  When selecting which ones to apply to its important to identify your goals and interests, and consider costs, class size, culture and environment of each school before choosing between a public university and private school.
What type of public school would you prefer to go to? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Influential Ivies

Hey everyone! During this crazy college application time, students are applying to colleges all over the country that suit their interests. The group of colleges that get the most applicants are the Ivy Leagues. Only 6-8 percent of applicants get accepted, so it is very important to have a high GPA and test scores for these schools. The name Ivy League is given to the group of eight universities located on the East Coast (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale) that have common interests in academics and athletics. The"ivy" term came from the ivy plants that cover the buildings of these universities. These eight universities are the most challenging to get into in the entire country because of their prestigious appeal in academics as well as research. These eight schools face each other in the Ivy League for sports like American football and basketball. Plus, these universities also have considerable international influence and involvement, making their appeal even higher for all students.

I recently went on a trip to see some of these highly sought out Ivy Leagues and see what made them so popular. The first university I visited was Harvard in Massachusetts. This school, along with Princeton, are ranked number one in the United States. It had a nice campus, surrounded by the pretty college town of Cambridge, and only a bus ride away from the city of downtown Boston. It was fun to tour the campus and city with my family. The next school I visited was Dartmouth in New Hampshire. This school had a more rural feel, with a wide open campus and small shopping area (one street to be exact). The buildings and scenery were beautiful and there were miles of forests surrounding the campus from all sides, perfect for the young adventurer or wilderness explorer.

I also visited Yale in Connecticut. Yale had a metropolitan feel, being surrounded by the city of New Haven. It did not have a college town like Harvard, but instead a entire city outside the campus walls. It was nice to be able to experience the college life and city life in one trip.

These three universities represent the three major environments of the Ivy Leagues: rural, urban, and inbetween. Although they are all unique, they all share some of the same things like rich architecture, four distinct seasons, and of course, prestigious academic and athletic appeal. With so many options, everyone can find an environment perfect for them.

Which Ivy League would you apply to? Are you applying to more than one? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Essays that Excel

Hey everyone! One important, and also time consuming, part of the college application process are the application essays.  Along with school transcripts, test scores, and recommendations, most private and many public universities require students to write one or more essays to add to their application.  The essay question might be to write about yourself, to write why you would like to attend a certain college or university, or to give an answer to a specific question, like “who do you most admire and why” or “what’s important?”  Right now I am in the middle of working on essays for several different schools I am applying to.  It’s always a challenge to fit these in along with school work and fall sports, but it has to be done!

It’s important to do your own writing when completing the essays, and to be yourself, as colleges can quickly see if an essay doesn’t sound like the words of a high school student.  But it’s always good to talk over essay topics first with your parents and other adults, and definitely have them proofread it to make sure it’s the best it can be.  It’s also good to do plenty of research on each college you are applying to, so when they ask “why do you want to go here?” you can answer with specific reasons that help them see what a good fit you will be for their school.
Here is a link to some more advice on what to expect from college essays from the College Board:

What are you gonna write your essay about? Let me know in the comments!