The Enlightened College Applicant by Andrew Belasco & Dave Bergman

The Enlightened College Applicant by Andrew Belasco & Dave Bergman

Author:Andrew Belasco & Dave Bergman
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Figure 5.6 Selective and Transfer-Friendly Colleges

If a student’s prospects of getting into, say, Notre Dame out of high school are on par with Rudy Ruettiger’s at the beginning of classic sports film Rudy, their best bet may be working toward a transfer to South Bend after freshman year. Notre Dame, along with selective schools like the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina, and Wesleyan University are all known to be consistently transfer-friendly.

2) The Less-Popular Major Maneuver

Colleges have institutional needs to consider during the admissions cycle. This can work to a student’s advantage as the following example demonstrates:

Applicants to Prestige College’s Italian program have dwindled in recent years. Applicant X took four years of Italian culminating with a high score on the AP Italian Language and Culture exam. Unfortunately, Applicant X’s SATs are in the lower quartile for accepted students at Prestige College and their overall GPA, thanks to a slow start freshman year of high school, isn’t quite up to snuff either.

Now, Applicant X wants to study business at Prestige College but knows he will likely be rejected from that program, so he considers selling his background in another interest, Italian, to get accepted. If the plan works, Applicant X could decide to transfer into the business program a semester or two after matriculating, provided he earns good grades.

Of course, the only reason such a plan would have a prayer for success is the demonstrated interest and proficiency in Italian previously shown by Applicant X. If his only stated experience with Italian was enjoying Paul Newman’s Sockarooni pasta sauce, the college would have easily sniffed out the scheme, which, not coincidentally, would have smelled like diced bell peppers and garlic.

It’s also worth noting that this strategy isn’t viable at all colleges, as not all colleges consider choice of major as a significant factor in their admissions process. Generally, larger universities with a relatively high number of majors and distinct undergraduate divisions/schools—UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell, for example—are likely to assign more emphasis to an applicant’s desired program of study.

3) Enroll in the College of General/Liberal/Continuing Studies

If a student is not opposed to living off campus, studying part-time, and/or learning among nontraditional students, this could be their ticket to a prestigious undergraduate degree. Several highly competitive colleges offer alternative undergraduate degree programs that allow students with less-than-elite credentials to benefit from the resources and brand of a topflight institution. These institutions include, among others, Columbia University’s School of General Studies, University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies, and Harvard University’s Extension School.

Before pursuing any of these options, however, it is important to understand elite institutions distinguish between students enrolling in traditional and alternative programs, not only during their undergraduate years, but after college as well. In addition to learning about the level of access alternative students have to university faculty and facilities, it’s also important to determine whether they will have access to the same career-related services and alumni networks, and whether the degree/diploma you receive will be identical to (i.


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