The Edge Our college admission blog

Dartmouth College

by Katie Z, Ph.D January 5, 2016


Dartmouth2Over the holidays, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my family in Hanover, New Hampshire – the home of Dartmouth College. It occurred to me, walking across the picturesque college green (which was, at the time, covered in snow and graced with a beautifully-lighted Christmas tree), that this was the perfect opportunity to snap a few photos and gather information about the town and college for you, the readers of this college admissions blog. Welcome to the next installment of the 3026 Series, through which I introduce you to many of the wonderful schools that are out there!

Dartmouth 1To begin with, let me tell you a bit about Dartmouth’s NH home. The college may be the beating heart of Hanover, instilling in the town the pulse of excitement and energy that comes with having a magnet of education, culture, and arts at its core, but Hanover itself has much to offer. With a population of just over 11,000, it’s a relatively small town, nestled on the banks of the Connecticut River, with views of Vermont in the distance. Though the town is small, it is home to many shops and restaurants (I particularly enjoyed our breakfast at Lou’s), and The Nugget movie theater, which has been open to the public since 1916 – at that time, you could see a show for 10 cents! The town was also home to the author Bill Bryson, who, inspired by the fact that The Appalachian Trail runs down the town’s Main Street, walked a good part of the trail and then wrote the humorous and insightful A Walk In The Woods. For outdoor enthusiasts, there is also the nearby Dartmouth Skiway (20 minutes north of town), kayaking and canoeing on the Connecticut River, and a myriad of other options for year-round, outdoor activity! Keep in mind, however, that if you’re not a fan of snow and below-freezing temperatures, a move to Hanover, NH may not make a lot of sense for you. Remember, when thinking about where to apply, a school’s physical location is one important component of the “good-fit” matrix!

Dartmouth3I do admit, however, that even those who prefer sandals to heavy, winter boots may be tempted by all that is Dartmouth College. Founded in 1769 (before the Revolutionary War!), the college is one of the eight institutions that make up the Ivy League and, unsurprisingly, has a strong reputation for academic excellence. As the College Scorecard indicates, Dartmouth’s graduation rate (after six years) of 95% is far above the national average of 44%, and the college can also boast of impressive statistics in terms of the percentage of students who return after their first year (98% vs a national average of 67%), salary after attending ($67,100 as compared to a national average of $34,343), and tests scores of incoming students. Also of note is that Dartmouth made the Scorecard’s list of 30 Four-Year Schools With High Graduation Rates and Low Costs – nice! And all of this is but the tip of the Dartmouth iceberg. Some other noteworthy tidbits about Dartmouth?

  • The college offers its students a flexible, year-round study plan through which students can put together their own academic schedule. Specifically, there are four, 10-week terms each year (so, a total of 16 possible terms) and, of those, students are required to be on campus for seven terms and can then decide for themselves which of the other five terms to be in college. To learn more about it, click here.
  • Dartmouth is home to The Hop (i.e. The Hopkins Center for the Arts), named by the National Endowment for the Arts as “one of the nation’s exemplary performing arts centers“, and The Hood Museum of Art, a teaching museum with a collection of “more than 65,000 works across a broad spectrum of cultures and historical periods.”
  • There are an abundance of off-campus and study abroad opportunities – carpe diem!
  • Dartmouth has partnered with QuestBridge “a non-profit organization that connects high-achieving, low-income students from across the country with educational opportunities at partner colleges and universities.”
  • Fraternities and sororities are no strangers to Dartmouth – click here to learn about Greek life on campus!
  • Alumni, to name but a few examples, include Robert Frost, Mindy Kaling, Dr. Seuss, (visiting student) Meryl Streep, and Daniel Webster, for whom the college’s Webster Hall, home to the Rauner Special Collections Library, was named.

Do you find yourself wondering about admissions statistics? Click here. Are you curious to see the Class of 2019’s profile? Click here. Do you have specific questions about life at the college? Beyond the college’s A+ overall Niche grade, click here to contact current Dartmouth students who are happy to help. Thinking of applying? Click!

On a final note, keep in mind that college admissions is a two-way street – if you’re serious about Dartmouth, get on their mailing listlike them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. Perhaps a stroll down Hanover’s Main Street / The Appalachian Trail is in your future!

LinkedIn University Rankings – Big Data!

by Katie Z, Ph.D December 28, 2015


This blog has visited the subject of college rankings many times before – see, for instance, here and here. Furthermore, the College Scorecard, while NOT a ranking, does allow you to compare schools on different measures, including average annual cost, graduation rates, and salary after attending. There is no single ranking system or tool that you should definitely be using to assess possible colleges to which you may apply, but it is advisable to be aware of the different options that are out there for comparing schools. Some examples include:

  • U.S. News & World Report – Our rankings “allow you to compare at a glance the relative quality of institutions based on such widely accepted indicators of excellence as freshman retention and graduation rates and the strength of the faculty.”  For more information on their methodology, click here. To see the full ranking, click here.
  • Forbes – “We ignore the abstract (reputation) and wasteful (spending-per-student) to focus on one measurement: outcome. From student satisfaction and graduation rates, to career success and student debt, this ranking counts what matters.” Click here for their ranking.
  • Money Magazine – Our rankings indicate which schools “deliver the most value—that is, a great education, at an affordable price, that helps students launch promising careers.” See here for more information on their methodology, and here for Money’s Best Colleges.
  • The Times Higher Education –  Our list “judges world-class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.” Click here for more information.

Today I want to introduce you to yet another ranking system, and one that I think you’ll appreciate! It’s the LinkedIn University Rankings, which is based on career outcomes – “From university to career, see which universities are launching graduates into desirable jobs.” That is, these rankings are based on the career paths / employment patterns of the 396 million LinkedIn members – it’s really very cool! For instance:

The top school for aspiring accounting professionals?  Villanova University

The top school for aspiring designers?  Carnegie Mellon University

The top school for aspiring finance professionals?  University of Pennsylvania

The top school for aspiring investment bankers?  Georgetown University

The top school for aspiring media professionals?  New York University

linkedinYou can also search for more specific career outcomes. For example, are you interested in working at Pixar? Then perhaps you should consider the Character Animation Program at the California Institute of the Arts. Beyond the lists, there’s also a university finder tool – “Tell us what you want to do, and we’ll show you which universities send the most alumni into that career.”

As this article from The Wall Street Journal points out, “The results from LinkedIn – by virtue of the size of its membership – offer the latest significant development in the way big data are reordering perceptions into how college influences a person’s career.” The article, however, also points out that these rankings must be taken with a grain of salt, as LinkedIn “doesn’t collect information on income, wealth, race or gender, and only considers graduates who obtained their degrees within the past eight years.” Still, the LinkedIn University Rankings definitely have the potential to contribute interesting and relevant information in helping you to address the ever-important “Where should I apply?” question, as the data allows you to further assess a potential college’s value, in terms of life post-graduation. Check it out!

Grinnell College

by Katie Z, Ph.D December 16, 2015


3026 SeriesGrinnell College. Game on!

Lately I’ve been reading a great deal about this Iowan school (‘Collegium Grinnellense’ in Latin – cool!) and have come to believe that it definitely deserves a shout-out here on our college admissions blog. For instance, it was exactly a week ago that I came across an article from The Hechinger Report entitled, “Grinnell Shows What It Takes For An Elite Private College To Be Socioeconomically Diverse.” This is, of course, very timely given all that’s been in the news lately about The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, the test-optional movement, and affirmative action. As Grinnell’s President said, “We don’t think students’ ability to get a first-rate college education and contribute to society should be limited by their family resources.” But how, exactly, is Grinnell tackling the goal of increasing the diversity (socioeconomic and otherwise) of students on campus?



As the article points out, with the strings on collegiate financial purses tightening across the country, Grinnell intends to buck the trend and not accept fewer students from lower-income backgrounds. Instead, the college will maintain its need-blind admissions policy for at least three more years, which translates to mean that it will not factor prospective students’ financial circumstances into admissions decisions. This will be achieved through a few different strategies, including the college’s reduction of merit aid spending, an increasing emphasis on reaching out to its alumni community with fundraising initiatives, and the admission of more international students who are able to pay the full cost of attending the college. Furthermore, Grinnell offers a fly-in program for prospective students who may otherwise not have the chance to visit the campus – click here to learn about the college’s “Diversity Preview Program.” Also of note is that the college works with a number of external organizations (e.g. QuestBridge and The Posse Foundation) to help recruit students from lower-income backgrounds who have the potential to thrive at Grinnell.

Along these lines, the College Scorecard informs us that the percent of students receiving federal need-based aid is 21%, and also lets us know that Grinnell College ranks impressively above the national average on a number of its other indicators. For instance:

Grinnell’s Percent of Students Who Return After Their First Year is 93%  –>  The national average is 67%.

Grinnell’s Graduation Rate is 88%  –>  The national average is 44%.

Grinnell’s Percent of Student’s Paying Down Their Debt is 97%  –>  The national average is 67%.

Clearly, Collegium Grinnellense’s students receive a great deal of support at the school and, given the great importance of graduation rates in one’s considerations of where to apply, these sorts of numbers should have you perking up and saying, “Hello, it’s me.

Some other neat things about Grinnell (beyond its very strong academics)?  Here are a few examples:

  • The college’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program is definitely unique!
  • Burling Library is home to “officially encouraged” bathroom graffiti, jungle gyms, and amoeba tables.
  • Grinnell College is aptly named, as it is located in Grinnell, Iowa – the “Jewel of the Prairie“.
  • The Special Collections & Archives “offers students and scholars access to printed materials from the 15th century to the present” – The first book ever printed (the Gutenberg Bible) was only printed in 1455, so access to printed materials from the 15th century is pretty, well, wow!
  • Social justice innovation is high on the school’s list of priorities. Click here to learn about the Grinnell Prize!
  • There are more than 500 free events open to students on campus each year – click here to learn more about student life.
  • Grinnell’s Service Learning and Civic Engagement Program encourages students to volunteer and work for the betterment of society – awesome!
  • Global Grinnell – it’s a thing.

For other Grinnellian facts, click here. And if you like what you’re reading, this is the college’s admissions page – click away, potential future Grinnellians!

Early Decision II & Early Action II

by Katie Z, Ph.D December 10, 2015


An earlier post touched on the fact that those of you who applied to your top-choice schools using either the Early Decision or Early Action options will soon be hearing back from those schools as to whether or not you’ve been accepted. We at Team Admitster have our respective fingers crossed for you – may you hear good news!
DeadlineMany others, however, are still in the thick of the college admissions process, and it’s for you that I write this post. Specifically, I want to tell you a bit about the lesser-known phenomena of the Early Decision II and Early Action II admissions options.

A number of colleges and universities (see the table, below) offer prospective students a second chance to apply prior to regular admissions deadlines. Early Decision II is no different than Early Decision I, in terms of the student applying to only one college and it being a binding commitment should the school accept him/her. The main difference is that students who applied using ED I learn in December whether they’ve been accepted, and with ED II they hear admissions decisions before the spring, usually in February. For all of the reasons listed in this earlier post on the topic, however, think carefully before applying to a school using the Early Decision II option. Are you ready to commit to enrolling at a particular school if they accept you? Are you in a position where you don’t need to compare different financial aid packages from various schools? In terms of increasing your odds of admission, do you feel that you’ve reached the height of your high school career? If so, then you should definitely consider applying to your top-choice school via Early Decision II.

Likewise, Early Action II is very similar to Early Action I – the main difference is the timing in terms of when you can expect to hear a response from the various schools to which you’ve applied. Using Early Action I or II, a student may apply to more than one school and, unlike Early Decision I or II, it is not binding, should you be accepted. If you have schools on your college list that you think would be excellent choices for you (in terms of academic, physical, financial, and social/cultural fit), and assuming that you’re organized and ready to submit your applications, applying to schools using the Early Action II option could be a great strategy!

You’ll find below a list of colleges and universities with Early Decision II and/or Early Action II deadlines. I hope that this information will be useful to you as you continue to navigate the choppy college admissions waters! Note that schools are listed alphabetically and by state. In the case where a state is missing (e.g. Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky, and New Hampshire), this indicates that no schools in that state utilize Early Decision II or Early Action II in their admissions processes.

Hendrix College February 1st
Claremont McKenna College January 1st
Concordia University Irvine February 15th
Harvey Mudd College January 5th
Holy Names University February 1st
Notre Dame de Namur University February 1st
Occidental College January 1st
Pitzer College January 1st
Pomona College January 1st
Scripps College January 1st
Colorado College January 1st
University of Denver January 15th
Connecticut College January 1st
Fairfield University January 15th
Trinity College January 1st
Wesleyan University January 1st
Rollins College January 5th
University of Miami January 1st
University of Tampa January 15th
Agnes Scott College January 15th
Berry College January 15th
Emory University January 1st
The College of Idaho January 11th
Knox College December 1st
School of the Art Institute of Chicago February 1st
Earlham College January 15th
Cornell College February 1st
Grinnell College January 1st
Bates College January 1st
Bowdoin College January 1st
Colby College January 1st
College of the Atlantic January 15th
Maryland Institute College of Art January 15th
McDaniel College December 1st
St. John’s College January 15th
Assumption College December 15th
Boston University January 4th
Brandeis University January 1st
Emmanuel College December 1st
Hampshire College January 15th
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences December 1st
Mount Holyoke College January 1st
Simmons College December 1st
Smith College January 1st
Springfield College January 15th
Tufts University January 1st
Wheaton College January 1st
Worcester Polytechnic Institute January 1st
Kalamazoo College February 15th
Kettering University February 28th
Carleton College January 15th
College of Saint Benedict December 15th
Macalester College January 1st
St. Olaf College January 8th
Drew University February 1st
New Jersey Institute of Technology December 15th
Seton Hall University December 15th
Stevens Institute of Technology January 15th
The College of New Jersey January 1st
St. John’s College January 15th
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences December 1st
Colgate University January 15th
Hamilton College January 1st
Hobart & William Smith Colleges January 15th
Hofstra University December 15th
Houghton College December 4th
List College January 15th
Marist College February 1st
Nazareth College January 15th
New York University January 1st
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute December 15th
Roberts Wesleyan College January 8th
Sarah Lawrence College January 2nd
Skidmore College January 15th
 St. John’s University February 1st
Syracuse University January 1st
The Sage Colleges February 1st
Union College January 15th
Vassar College January 1st
Davidson College January 2nd
High Point University February 1st
Case Western Reserve University January 15th
College of Wooster January 15th
Denison University January 15th
Kenyon College January 15th
Lourdes University January 19th
Oberlin College January 2nd
Wittenberg University January 15th
Pacific University Oregon January 15th
Reed College December 20th
Allegheny College January 15th
Bryn Mawr College January 1st
Bucknell University January 15th
Dickinson College January 15th
Franklin & Marshall College January 15th
Gettysburg College January 15th
Juniata College January 1st
Lafayette College* January 15th
Lehigh University January 1st
Susquehanna University February 15th December 1st
Swarthmore College January 1st
Ursinus College January 1st
Bryant University January 15th
Roger Williams University December 1st
Rhodes College January 1st
Sewanee: The University of the South January 15th
Vanderbilt University January 1st
Austin College January 15th
Southern Methodist University January 15th
Texas Christian University January 1st
Trinity University January 1st January 1st
University of Dallas December 1st
Bennington College January 15th
Champlain College January 15th
Green Mountain College January 2nd
Middlebury College January 1st
Saint Michael’s College December 1st
Stirling College January 15th
Emory & Henry College January 15th
Hampden-Sydney College January 15th
Sweet Briar College December 5th
University of Richmond January 15th
Washington & Lee University January 1st
University of Puget Sound January 1st
Whitman College January 1st
American University January 15th
George Washington University January 1st
Beloit College January 15th December 1st
Lawrence University December 1st

*At Lafayette College, the Early Decision II deadline is January 15th but there is also a February 1st deadline for converting a Regular Decision application into an Early Decision II application. Read more about it here.

DigiPen Institute of Technology

by Katie Z, Ph.D December 3, 2015


It’s been too long since we last delved into a good 3026 Series post – let us make amends!

Up today is a very cool school, one that offers its undergraduates a number of unique opportunities. Located in Redmond, Washington, and with campuses also in Singapore and Spain, I’m pleased to introduce you to DigiPen Institute of Technology. As the school states on its website, “DigiPen prepares students to enter the industry as skilled software developers, artists, designers, and computer engineers ready to face the challenges of creating professional software and entertainment media.” This is cutting-edge stuff! But how, exactly, does the school work to achieve these goals?

For starters, there are only ten academic departments at DigiPen. Among them you’ll find more traditional departments (Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, Mathematics, Music, and Physics), and you’ll also find some truly unique academic offerings – it is these that constitute the reason I bring this school to your attention today. Specifically, DigiPen is home to departments of Animation & Production, Digital Arts, and Game Software Design & Production!



Did you know that DigiPen is the first college in the world to offer its students a four-year degree in video game development? Click here to learn more about the school’s BS in Computer Science & Game Design, an undergraduate program designed to meet the “growing demand for a type of developer who can bridge the scientific and creative sides of game development.” If you’re passionate about game design, DigiPen could be a wonderful fit for you!

There are also a number of other interesting degree programs. For instance, how would you like to earn a BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, a BFA in Digital Art & Animation, or a BA in Music & Sound Design (to name but a few examples)? Further, in terms of curriculum, students apply directly to one of the eight available undergraduate degree programs and begin their academic programs as soon as they arrive on campus – there is no declaration of one’s major by the end of sophomore year at DigiPen.

You can also get a good feeling for the school by checking out its Twitter page. You’ll see such tweets as:

  • “This solar-run theme park is a great example of using #engineering solutions to create eco-friendly entertainment”
  • “We’re rolling around with excitement over a new #Katamari Damacy game!”
  • “Discover how DigiPen students do good while making great games”, and
  • “DIT animation students share an awesome new animation for #MotionMonday”

You can also glean some useful information on the school from the College Scorecard – just click here!

If reading this post has made your heart beat a little quicker (exciting degree programs at a great school!), take a moment to check out the admissions page. DigiPen employs a rolling admissions model, and provides very clear information on what is expected from those prospective students hoping to begin their studies in the Fall of 2016. There are also undergraduate scholarships available – be aware of the application deadlines for these!

Finally, I would like to point out that DigiPen is the only school I’ve ever seen with a button on its website that you can click on in order to learn more about “Why The Nude Model Is Necessary” – I’ll say no more!

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