Important to Know This Week...
Tidbits Theme: Alternative College
When it comes to getting an education, not all colleges are created equal, especially if you’re a non-traditional student or someone looking for a college experience that’s outside of the norm. While there are hundreds of brick-and-mortar and online colleges to choose from, finding one that meets your particular needs can be a challenge. You can tackle that challenge more easily by focusing on colleges that provide a unique educational experience or that cater specifically to non-traditional students. Here, we’ve put together a list of the best colleges for nontraditional students. These schools offer alternative course structures, work-study programs, flexible hours, independent study, and a wide range of other unique and adaptable aspects that can be a big help for the non-traditional student trying to fit college into an already busy life or career. - Best Colleges Online.com 6/4/12
Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC. See below for an extensive profile of this interesting college that offers a degree in Adventure Studies.
Evergreen State College: If you’re looking for a school that offers loads of academic freedom, then Evergreen State might just be the place for you. The experimental and non-traditional school focuses on interdisciplinary courses, doesn’t issue letter grades, and offers loads of support for first-year students.
College of the Atlantic: At this Maine college, students don’t get a choice of major, there is only one option: human ecology. The school’s faculty members are experts in the field (though there are no official departments at the school, all lessons are considered interdisciplinary) and students take an assortment of history, writing, and math classes to help them complete a large-scale project on a topic of their choosing before they graduate
Goucher College: Students at Goucher must complete at least one study abroad experience and/or an off-campus internship, helping blend class education with real-world experience.
Naropa University: Want college to be more Zen-like and less stressful? You may want to check out this Boulder, Colo., school. Founded by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher (and Oxford scholar), the school is inspired by Buddhist teaching but is strictly nonsectarian. Students can take psychology courses that incorporate meditation, head to the famous Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, or choose from a wide range of other unique majors.
Wesleyan University: There are few schools that offer as many different and often widely varied courses as Wesleyan. Even better, there are no required courses, students are encouraged to do independent study, and stress is put on “essential capabilities,” not gen eds.
St. John’s College: Students can take courses at St. John’s through two campuses, one in Maryland and one in New Mexico, but the experience at each is likely very similar. Why? Students at the school must follow a very strict core curriculum that examines the great books of Western culture, requires that students learn Greek and French, and structures all courses around discussion, not homework.
Deep Springs College: Just for male students, this two-year school employs only three full-time professors, which is all they need for their class of only 26 students. There is no tuition and students live full-time on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm in California, taking academic courses while learning about subjects like stargazing, knitting, and bread making.
Cornell College: At Iowa’s Cornell College, the academic year is divided up into eight terms that are each three and a half weeks. Students only take one course at a time, so full attention can be afforded to each course.
Bennington College: Bennington College’s curriculum is based around an idea which they call “The Plan Process,” which helps students to build a plan for their education, designing their own curriculum and objectives throughout their education.
New College of Florida: This Sarasota, Fla., college does away with a set curriculum, instead asking students to create their own proposed course of study for each semester. Students sign a contract binding them to these courses, and are evaluated at the end of each period to see if they’ve met objectives and fulfilled their contractual obligations.
United World Colleges has 14 schools and colleges in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Central/ South America that teach the IB diploma to students between the ages of 16 and 19. Academics are part of a mix of community engagement, international affairs, physical activities, and more.
Grade by Grade Reminders
Seniors & "The Letters": Many seniors are dealing with acceptance/ rejection letters right now. Read the recent article How to Survive the College Admission Madness by Frank Bruni. A great quote: "...there's no single juncture, no one crossroads, on which everything hinges. So why do so many Americans....treat the period in late March and early April, when elite colleges deliver disappointing news to anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of their applicants, as if it's precisely that?" Parents, there is great advice in the article that all of us should heed. Bruni points out that we focus too much on the packaging, and that "Education happens across a spectrum of settings and in infinite ways, and college has no monopoly on the ingredients for professional achievement or a life well lived."
Seniors & Financial Aid Award Letters: Spend the next few weeks carefully comparing award letters from schools. There is no standardized format, and wording may vary. Here's some advice: 5 Ways to Get Smart About Financial Aid Award Letters.
The date has been set for the Seattle Spring PNACAC College Fair: April 25. It is at Seattle University, and is a somewhat scaled-down version of the Fall College Fair in October (16 & 17 this fall). At this point, registration is for college reps only. Mark your calendars and check the website closer to April 25 to find out which schools will be attending and whether you'll be able to register as an attendee.
All parents--not just those with seniors, not just those who anticipate college in their kids' future--should read How to Survive the College Admission Madness by Frank Bruni. As you go through this planning process, be sure that you and your student have a healthy perspective. Realize that the college admissions game is a setup in which the main winners are the college rankings, which depend on rejecting more kids every year. Many schools recruit and market heavily so that they will appear more competitive and climb higher in the rankings. Of course, that tactic has real consequences for families the families who receive those rejections and help their kids deal with bruised egos and thwarted hopes. Be gentle, wise, and affirming with your kids all the way from discussion about ideas to creating a realistic application list to decision time in senior year. There are many paths to their very bright futures.