College Counseling & Planning      Orleans, MA. (774) 801-2449      Ashland, OR. (541) 488-0919
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Featured Colleges

Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College

Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College

We recently returned from a week in Cleveland where we attended the annual conference of the Higher Education Consultants Association. While there we had the opportunity to network with independent counselors from around the United States, to attend conferences on current topics in the field of college admissions and to tour local institutions. We found Cleveland to be a likeable city that is enjoying a downtown revitalization. Set on the shore of Lake Erie, it is home to the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra, Playhouse Square with its many theaters, three professional sports teams, beautiful architecture, good restaurants, and of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is just a short list of attractions that Cleveland has to offer!

Visiting campuses is always our number one objective when we travel out of Oregon. On this trip, we were able to tour Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Oberlin College, about 35 minutes outside of the city. Both impressed us for different reasons.

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western, with a total student body of about 10,000 students, is largely known as an engineering and research institution and though that description is accurate, it has much more to offer. The Case School of Engineering is one of four undergraduate schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the Weatherhead School of Management and the Bolton School of Nursing. Case is one of the top institutions for federal research funding. Undergraduate students are able to do research and to participate in internships and they can take advantage of these opportunities as early as freshman year. One of the student representatives we spoke with was a history major and had co-researched with a professor a book that was soon to be published. She found that despite Case’s reputation for the sciences, opportunities are excellent for serious students in the humanities. Another student rep, an engineering major, had participated in the Coop program (one of only 11 in the country) which had her working in her field well before graduation. Engineering students also have the opportunity to get B.A. and M.A. degrees in five years. The School of Management, housed in a remarkable Frank Gehry designed building seemingly inspired by his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, offers students opportunities for coops, internships and research. The program promotes the idea that practical application of classroom learning is important and it supports this philosophy by employing faculty members who are both professors and leaders in business. The School of Nursing, rated fourth in the country, allows students to start their clinical experience in the first month of school and all students receive partial tuition scholarships.

Case Western is surrounded by the 550 acre park-like University Circle, which includes the newly expanded Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The university is in a beautiful, safe and dynamic setting, where the 81 percent of students who live on campus have an array of places to spend their free time. Students can also access these facilities and partner with them for classes. A joint program between the music department and the Cleveland Institute of Music is one example of this great opportunity. The university is Division III and many students participate in sports, but it is probably not the place for a die-hard athlete! You will also find theater, numerous clubs and activities and students who enthusiastically support each other in their choice of endeavors. Case students are serious about school and willing to put the time in that it takes to be successful. They also seem to know how to have a good time!

Oberlin College

Our student guide shared three fun facts about Oberlin College before starting our tour: it was the first college in the country to accept women and minorities; it was a stop on the Underground Railroad; and it is home to the first solar-powered college building in the Unites States. These bits of trivia offer a clue to the atmosphere and values of this small liberal arts college, located 35 miles southwest of Cleveland. Students who choose to attend Oberlin are intellectuals, critical thinkers and activists.

Oberlin is actually two distinct schools on the same campus, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Conservatory of Music. The highly regarded Conservatory, which attracts top musicians from around the country, has a student body of a little over 600 talented students. Students at the Conservatory can choose among eight undergraduate majors, ranging from Jazz Studies to Performance, can experience the teaching of excellent faculty and can take advantage of 150 practice rooms and five concert halls. Students who want a top-notch musical education along with a liberal arts education can complete the dual degree program and finish up in five years with a B.A. and a B.M. Our guide was in her last year of this program and would soon graduate with degrees in both Voice and Creative Writing. About a third of the students in the Conservatory are participating in this dual degree program. CAS Oberlin students who are not at the Conservatory but have an interest in music have the opportunity to take music classes if they wish.

CAS is home to about 2,200 students. Coursework is rigorous and students must expect to work hard. Sciences are particularly strong with interdisciplinary programs like neuroscience and biopsychology. Within the 47 majors, there are a myriad of courses from the more conventional Modern Japan to the offbeat like Chemistry and Crime and Comics, Animation and American Film Classics. A student/faculty ratio of ten to one affords students easy access to professors, who get rave reviews. There is a unique program during the four week January term in which all students must participate three times. During that term, students can take part in volunteer activities, internships or special courses on campus. Another unique offering is ExCo, an experimental program that partners students with local citizens. These classes can be taught by students or people from the community and the topics are a bit outside of the academic mainstream. Think: Knitting and Pop Culture!

The college is located in the center of the small town of Oberlin, population 8,500. Although it seems paradoxical that this highly liberal-minded student body would mesh well with its more traditional community, students and citizens are very supportive of each other, with “Obies” involved in many local volunteer activities. With Cleveland only 35 minutes away, one might think that students would escape frequently to the big city but we were told that with so many on-campus activities, they are happy to stay put and take advantage of all the events the college has to offer. Oberlin may be a small college in a small town but it is far from small-minded. For the most part, students are extremely bright, talented, engaged in rigorous curriculum, possess a global perspective and are eager to make a difference.

Colorado College

Colorado College

If taking only one class at a time for three and a half weeks, reading the "Illiad" on the Plains of Troy, and rooting for Division I Men’s Hockey sounds like an appealing college experience, then Colorado College, a small liberal arts school in Colorado Springs, may be just the place for you!

CC is distinctive for its block system, in which students take only one class at a time for three and a half weeks, with four day breaks in between. By the end of the year, students will have taken eight classes. Because students and professors focus on only one subject for the duration of the class, opportunities for learning are enhanced. Field trips, sometimes for several days, are easily arranged, guest lecturers can commit to teaching for this length of time and most of all, students can thoroughly immerse themselves in one topic without the distraction of other classes. And who wouldn’t rather study for only one final at the end of a term?

One of the most exciting features of the block system is the chance to extend courses into the field. Students don’t just read about alpine vegetation, they go to the mountains to check it out firsthand. Studying coral reef ecology? Colorado College will have you diving in Belize for a month. Studying abroad is not limited to one block. The beauty of the system is that it allows students to go overseas for varying lengths of time and over 50% of CC students will have experienced study abroad by the time they graduate.

Another valuable academic opportunity is the Venture Grants program. Enterprising students can apply for up to $1,000 to fund creative projects that they have developed. The possibilities are limited only by the students’ imaginations and in 2006-2007, 100 students took advantage of this unique opportunity. A sampling of the projects makes it clear that CC students are an adventurous crowd. During the 2006-2007 school year, students could be found anywhere from Antarctica (helping conduct a geophysical survey of the Amundsen Sea), to Paris (studying the artistic representation of women in the mid 19th century) as well as closer to home (producing a documentary on the flammulated owl).

CC isn’t all about far-flung adventure. The school offers more than 80 majors and minors and students are very intellectually engaged. It is a competitive college with median SAT scores ranging from 1900 - 2150. Only 26% of applicants were accepted for the fall of 2008 and 73% of those were in the top 10% of their class. Freshmen are eased into the block system through the First-Year Experience program, in which a set of courses taken in the first two blocks are taught by two professors, one of whom will also serve as a student advisor. Two upper class students are assigned to be mentors as well. Although there are no core classes, there are about a year’s worth of requirements, part of CC’s mission to graduate students with a well-rounded education. Class sizes number from one to a maximum of 25 and, though classes are scheduled to last three hours each morning, the flexible schedule means that a lively discussion does not have to end on time.

Independent-minded students who value intellectual rigor, supportive learning
communities, adventurous academic pursuits, and an active lifestyle will find that CC offers all of this and more. As CC professor John Ricker states, “Every day I teach feels like an event. It’s not that there’s life and there’s study. It’s literally that studying takes on the form of life. The kind of students who come here and flourish are students who are experience-hungry. They want to experience everything – the mountains, the air and most of all, ideas.”

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When thinking elite engineering schools California Institute of Technology automatically comes to mind. But even among the elite, this university located 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles is in a class of its own. This rather small scholarly campus counts 30 Nobel Prize winners past and present among its faculty and alumni. Its 1,200 undergraduates have a passion for innovation, intense intellectual curiosity and yet have a crazy sense of humor with interests as varied as museums and theater to hiking and skiing. And being located in Pasadena do not forget the Rose Parade which passes right by the campus every January 1st.

Caltech has maintained its reputation as one of the world’s major research centers with its outstanding faculty and off-campus facilities such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Palomar Observatory, and the W.M. Keck Observatory. Caltech is organized into six academic divisions: Biology; Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Engineering and Applied Science; Geological and Planetary Sciences; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. Behind these organized departments are more than 35 areas of concentration, many of which cross division lines. Caltech has long been known as an institution where interdisciplinary approaches to research are encouraged and supported. More of its graduates follow careers in research than in engineering. Research is a big part of an education at Caltech and the opportunity to participate in one on one research with a professor in Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) is one of the highlights of a Caltech education. On the other hand, students are required to take at least 12 courses in the humanities and social sciences AND 3 terms of physical education.

So if research is your thing and if you are absolutely sure that you want to be a scientist or engineer then Caltech may be your place. But be ready to work hard. Admission to Caltech is competitive to the first order. A student must have a strong record of academic achievement, a clearly demonstrated and well defined interest in mathematics, science, or engineering. The proof is in the stats: 94% of the 207 members of the class of 2008 were in the top 10% of their high school class. The middle 50% of the class scored 1460 to 1560 on the SAT I.

Residences at Caltech are called Houses which function roughly like fraternities. They are dorms, eating halls, intramural teams, and social outlets all rolled into one for four years. Living this closely helps to foster an “extended family” atmosphere. Friendships made here can last a life time. Is Caltech all work and no play? Oh no. How many campuses have The Annual Pumpkin Drop in which 30 pumpkins are frozen in liquid nitrogen and then dropped off the tallest building on campus to display gravitation?

Caltech isn’t the right school for everyone and even not the right school for everyone who thinks they would like to be an engineer, but if the sciences and math are your true love then this small university located on a lovely campus with fabulous weather might just be the place for you.
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Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University is located near the Los Angeles International Airport and Marina Del Rey and is a moderate sized private university (5,400 undergrads) that offers a great education with an ocean view! LMU has six colleges within the university which almost guarantees something for everyone. Students will find 80 majors in the various colleges which include Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, School of Film and Television, College of Business Administration, the Seaver College of Science and Engineering, College of Communication and Fine Arts and the School of Education. The business and engineering programs are particularly strong as is the film production program. Due to its proximity to Los Angeles, internships in the entertainment industry are plentiful.

A Catholic institution, LMU embraces Jesuit philosophy which seeks to educate the whole person. Students are not only prepared to join the workforce in some capacity, they also learn the importance of service to others. However, it is not necessary to be Catholic to be happy and challenged at LMU - the school welcomes diversity in all areas.

Loyola Marymount is a beautiful campus that successfully mixes Spanish architecture with more modern buildings. It sits on 162 acres overlooking the Pacific. The school has recently added two very cool apartments and a dorm, some with rooms that overlook the ocean. The Burns Recreation Center includes a heated outdoor pool as well as full gym facilities. Varsity teams compete in Division I and intramurals, from ultimate frisbee to soccer, are popular. Students who wish to go off campus can take a shuttle that is available with a half hour's notice.

Listed as a Hidden Gem by Washington Post columnist Jay Matthew, it is easy to see LMU's appeal during a campus visit. Class sizes are small, professors engage with their students and with so many students sporting university sweatshirts and t-shirts it is clear that there is abundant school pride. If you are a student who wants a quality education in a nurturing setting with near perfect weather and easy access to a big city, you may want to give Loyola Marymount University a closer look!
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Loren Pope's Guide

Loren Pope's Guide

Loren Pope's guide to the 40 lesser known colleges that have made a real difference for students is at Website