The Edge Our college admission blog

Whitman College

by Katie Z, Ph.D October 24, 2015


I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather over these last few days and it got me thinking this question: If I were still a college student, and I had a sore throat, a stuffy nose, the chills, and felt achy all over and overcome with fatigue, which school out there would exceed all of my expectations in terms of helping me to feel my best again? I did a bit of research, because once a question is in my head it demands a little time, clicking of the mouse, and online investigation. Readers, I’d like to bring to your attention a school located in the awesomely-named town of Walla Walla, WA, a school that’s new to the 3026 Series spotlight, Whitman College!

No one enjoys being sick in bed, but if fate does throw a few knock-you-off-your-feet germs your way then know that this is a great school at which to find yourself…



As the college states on their health center website, “Our goal is to provide a therapeutic environment that, by caring for the whole person, contributes to the college’s overall academic mission. We combine high-quality health care with the warmth of a home away from home.” How great does that sound? And their services are indeed admirable!  The Welty Student Health Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days per week.  Professional nurses are always on-hand, and doctors are in every day during the week. Many services are free for students, including overnight stays, and many other services are offered at a nominal fee – and a plethora of services are offered! These range from immunizations (including for travelto HIV testing, from appointments with nutritionists to massage therapy, and from physicals to transportation to off-campus medical appointments. It’s an impressive list! Furthermore, beyond physical well-being, the college is also tuned in to the mental health of its students. There is the Whitman Counseling Center, of course, but the school is also taking part in the very-cool initiative called 100 Happy Daysencouraging its students to “join over 5 million people worldwide who are taking a few moments each day to take in the good as part of 100happydays challenge.”  This makes me happy!  

Know that there is a lot more to know about this fine institution of higher learning, and that this post has only had the word count available to consider the college through one specific lens, that of student health and well-being.  However, the fact that I’m putting a brief stop to the clickety-clacking on my computer keyboard certainly doesn’t mean that you need do the same.  Click here to learn more Whitman College and, if you like what you see, their “Admission & Aid” page awaits!  Will you one day find yourself in Walla Walla, WA?

Hendrix College

by Katie Z, Ph.D October 20, 2015


You’ve heard of a certain Hendrix, I’m sure, the one who was an iconic guitarist, song writer, and singer.  The Hendrix of today’s post, however, though flush with musical talent of its own, is not an individual but rather Hendrix College, a school-to-know-about located in Conway, Arkansas.  Readers, welcome back to the 3026 Series!

Now, do you remember a post from the other day entitled, “Never Rule Out A School Based On Its Sticker Price!“?  Well, Hendrix College is a perfect example of why you should heed those wise words, written by Admitster’s financial aid guru, Blaine Blontz.  Some cool things about Hendrix College are that 100% of its students receive some form of financial aid and that, on average, the school meets 88.7% of its students’ financial need.  Keep in mind that a student’s need is determined by a college using the formula:

Total Cost – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Student Need

At Hendrix College, the total annual cost (tuition + fees + room + board) comes to $52,114.  However, you shouldn’t let that sticker price scare you away!  Referring back to the above formula, let’s assume that your expected family contribution is $10,000.

$52,114 – $10,000 = $42,114 worth of student need.

Now take into account the aforementioned information that Hendrix College, on average, meets an impressive 88.7% of student need:  88.7% of $42,114 = $37,355

This means that Hendrix College’s estimated cost to this family is actually $14,759 (their $52,114 sticker price – $37,355 of need met = $14,759) – what a difference!

Some other cool things about this college?

  • Useful peer-tutoring resources made available through The Learning Commons.
  • The undertaking of a number of green initiatives, including the Hendrix Bike Revolution (a very cool rent-a-bike program on campus), geothermal heating in the residence halls, and the establishment of the Hendrix Beekeeping Society!
  • Some fun traditions, including Shirttails, the annual dance competition between those in the different residence halls.


  • A notable Odyssey Program that includes “at least three hands-on learning experiences chosen from six different categories” – think study abroad opportunities, internships, volunteering and community outreach initiatives, and participation in leadership development programs!
  • An adorable dog named Duke who comes into the library once a week to “sit down and let you pet him”, providing a sort of therapy for students who need to “de-stress” and “take their minds off of homework for a while.”
  • A mascot named Ivan the Warrior!
  • dining hall that has a number of accolades to its name, and which prides itself on personalized birthday celebrations, sustainable dining, and theme days – nice!

To learn more about the college, click here – I think you’ll like what you read!  And if you’re interested in applying, keep in mind that Hendrix’s early action deadline is quickly approaching – November 15th.  Mark your calendar!

Demystifying The Higher Education Maze

by Katie Z, Ph.D October 19, 2015


Another Monday is upon us and I thought I’d start this week off by bringing to your attention a recently-developed, online course recommendation system called Degree Compass, the hope for which is, in the words of its creator, the demystification of the higher education maze.

As is pointed out in this article from The Washington Post, “Degree Compass uses grades, test scores and enrollment data to rank courses, suggest majors and help students progress through their programs.”  And what, you may ask, is the big deal about this?  Well, if you’ve been a devoted reader of this blog, you know that though getting into college is a tremendous milestone, it’s not enough – graduating from college is of prime importance!  For this reason, you should always take schools’ graduation rates into account when deciding where to apply.  Some schools do a far better job than others of supporting students, academically and otherwise, throughout their undergraduate studies!

Degree Compass is potentially a very important component of this support system, meant to help students to graduate, and not only on time but with a personally-relevant degree in-hand. Developed in 2011 by Dr. Tristan Denley, the system (inspired by the model used at companies such as Netflix, Pandora, and Amazon) provides students with personalized course and major recommendations and, as is pointed out in this EDUCAUSE Review , also “provides a variety of reports that help the institution optimize course schedules and offer targeted support to at-risk students.”  Know also that the recommendations are not based on course popularity, but rather on enrollment data, on the courses the student needs to complete in order to graduate, and on those courses in which the student is likely to academically thrive.  In a nutshell, Degree Compass allows for in-person academic advising based on hard data (e.g. a student’s grades to-date, along with data on past students’ grades, and information from the transcripts of thousands of the student’s current peers), and so far it’s proved to be effective.

Degree Compass was first implemented at Austin Peay State University and is now being used by a number of schools in Tennessee.  In terms of effectiveness, the aforementioned article from The Washington Post informs us that “since schools adopted Degree Compass in 2011 and 2012, retention and graduation rates have increased, with significant improvement among African American students. Graduation rates improved 7.7% at the University of Memphis and 8.2% at Austin Peay, compared with a 4.4 percent increase statewide.”  To learn more about the Degree Compass system and its outcomes to-date, click here and here.

It was Denley who said that Degree Compass “neither restricts nor prescribes (student) choices, but instead empowers choice by creating an information source with a larger than human viewpoint and supported by data from previous choice patterns.”  Empowering student choice and helping to demystify the higher education maze are both admirable goals, and I believe that, should Degree Compass’ implementation become more widespread, it could really help to boost graduation rates across the country.  Stay tuned!

Quest University Canada

by Katie Z, Ph.D October 14, 2015


It’s been too long since we’ve stuck our hand into the 3026 Series cookie jar! Today I want to let you know about a great school located north of the border. Readers, have you heard of Quest University Canada, located in beautiful Squamish, British Columbia? Eh?



I first came across this gem of a school when one of my former students decided to study abroad there – and what an experience he had! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Quest University Canada is a relative newcomer in the world of higher education and, though it was founded in 2002, only opened its doors to students in 2007. The founding class was composed of only 73 students, and today the school has a student population of 700 undergraduates.

Of particular note is that Quest University Canada is the country’s first independent, secular, not-for-profit university! Quest students graduate with a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences degree after four years of engagement with a rather unique course schedule. As is written on Quest’s website, “In seminar classes (with 20 students or fewer), students examine one area of human inquiry after another on a Block Plan—taking one course at a time for three-and-a-half weeks.” To see the 2015-2016 Term Calendar, click hereAlso, as an undergraduate, you will first be engaged in a two-year Foundation Program, which introduces you to different fields, followed by a two-year Concentration Program, which “requires students to design their own majors with faculty input and guidance.”

In terms of specific courses, the full course catalogue can be accessed here, but know that there are some extremely interesting classes on offer! Oh, to be a student again! Where would I begin? Biodiversity of British Columbia, The Piano in Society, Love and Lust in Western Literature, A Guide to the Era of Genomic Medicine, Space Biology, The Mathematics of Security and Secrecy, Volcanology, Psychology of Food, or Science Film Making anyone? Furthermore, every student is required to take one to four “experiential blocks” during their four years at Quest, applying their acquired knowledge outside of the classroom – very cool! To learn more about it, click here.

In terms of admissions, you can apply to begin either in January 2016 (rolling admissions is in place until November 1st so you have just over two weeks left to apply!) OR you can apply to start your studies in September of 2016. With regard to financing your Quest undergraduate studies, keep in mind the following:

  • Regardless of nationality, all students are eligible for the school’s scholarships and bursaries AND fees are the same for everyone.
  • American students studying at Quest can still qualify for federal student aid.
  • Currently, $100 American is the equivalent of $129.17 Canadian, so paying for a Quest education with American money in your bank account is a good thing!

To conclude, a quest for Quest is a most excellent quest! Though the university has had students roaming its hallowed halls for less than a decade, it has accomplished much in a short time, offers a unique and (I think) awesome program, and promises great things to come.

If You Had An IEP or 504 in High School…

by Admitster September 22, 2015


We are very fortunate today to have as our guest blogger Debra I. Schafer, a Special Education Adviser in private practice who works nationwide with parents of children from elementary school through college.  She coaches high school students on the college preparation process and provides assistance to college students in need of accommodations.  She is also the Founder of Education Navigation, LLC, which provides special education services as a company benefit to working parents who have children with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and mental health issues.  You can reach her at:Debra      @EdNavigation      

By now, you’re likely settled into your dorm, know your roommate, and are figuring out your classes and professors.  All bases covered, right?  Well, if you had an IEP or 504 in high school, maybe not.

There are three things you and your parents (yes, they still play an important role even if you’ve heard otherwise) need to know to help ensure that you have every opportunity for college success.

Disability Services…Have You Been There Yet?

If you haven’t had a conversation with the Disability Services office, now’s the time to do so.  Accessing accommodations requires you to let them know that you had an IEP or 504 and that you may require similar accommodations now as well.

You — and ask your parents to assist — will need to provide them with a copy of your IEP or 504 and a recent Evaluation Report that addresses your disability, needs, and the college accommodations that may be required.

Though the laws are different when it comes to college, there are requirements that they accommodate a “documented disability”, and each college addresses this differently.  After they review your documentation, they will provide you with details regarding which accommodations they have approved.  Colleges typically provide you with a form letter that can be e-mailed or hand-delivered to your professors and yes, you want to secure these accommodations.  Being proactive and having them available to you is important, but remember, it’s up to you to decide in which classes you believe these accommodations will be needed.

You want to present this letter at the beginning of the semester, once you have a sense of the course requirements and each professor’s expectations and teaching style.  Some colleges require this to be done within the first week of classes, so you want to make sure you know ahead of time what’s required.  Also important to know is this: accommodations are *not* retroactive, so if you find yourself struggling around midterms, any accommodations you would need would only apply moving forward, not backwards.

Permission Forms…Have You Signed Them?

Ask about permission forms that allow your parents to speak with the college or university and visa versa.  One should be available in the Disability Services office and you want to sign this as soon as possible.  Similar forms should also be available in the Bursar’s Office, so sign them in any other offices where your parents may need to connect with them.  If you’re having difficulty locating these forms, ask your parents to contact the college or university to inquire about them.  It’s important to be proactive and to provide your parents with contacts should they be needed.

You’re In Charge Now, Yet You’re Not Alone

College means self-advocacy – securing accommodations directly with your professors; speaking with Student Services if an issue arises; and talking to your R.A. if there are issues on your dorm floor.  The start of college is a major milestone, and for students with a disability, this transition can create additional challenges.  If you have ADHD, securing an on-campus tutor to help with organizational skills would be a good idea.  If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, connecting with Counseling Services would provide on-campus supports to help you before and during stressful periods.  Putting supports in place shows you have an understanding of yourself and your needs.

And remember…whether via e-mails, texts, Skype, phone calls, or a combination of all, remain in regular contact with your parents or other adults who are your personal support system.  Not only have they given you roots and wings, they’re also your most important safety net and biggest supporters.

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