Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | May 13, 2011

Spotlight on Saint Mary’s College

Fast Facts
Name: Saint Mary’s College of California
Nickname/Abbreviation: Saint Mary’s, SMC
Founded: 1863
Student Population: 2,500 undergraduate (>5,000 total)
Average SAT: 980-1190
Estimated Annual Cost: $49,840

Saint Mary’s College is hidden among gently rolling green hills in Moraga, CA.  This Catholic institution was founded on Lasallian Principles including education, inclusive community, and concern for the poor and social justice.  Although this school is in a unique and private setting, it is only ten miles away from Oakland and twenty miles away from San Francisco, allowing students easy access to the greater Bay Area.

Because the school has fewer than 2,500 undergraduates, students often learn in small seminar classes where group discussions are the main focus.  One of the core components of education at Saint Mary’s is the four seminar courses students are required to take.  The topics include Greek Thought, Roman, Christian & Early Medieval Thought, Renaissance Thought, and Modern Thought.  Emphasis is placed on “Great Books” such as the Bible and Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Everyone is required to take two theology courses, but they don’t have to be in Catholicism; Judaism and Islam are only a few other possibilities.

All students have a faculty adviser, and each class averages only 19-20 students.  Even introductory science classes don’t usually get larger than 35 students.  This is unheard of at most large universities.  Students are required to meet with their advisers before signing up for classes so they can be sure they’re on the right track towards graduation.

Another unique program at this school is January Term, locally known as “Jan Term.”  Students usually take four classes in the fall and four in the spring with a special intensive course in between.  All students must take a Jan Term class, but they may choose from many unconventional topics such as the TV show Lost, Weapons of Mass Destruction, or the Sundance Film Festival.  Some choose to study abroad during this time, often taking a course with a Saint Mary’s professor and fellow students but in a foreign location.

One obvious characteristic I noticed at Saint Mary’s was the strong sense of community and genuine support.  The whole campus takes a break each Wednesday around lunch time for “Community Time.”  This is an opportunity for everyone to attend a barbecue or grad school fair and generally just take a break to check in with each other.  Many are also involved in community service programs although they are not required by the college.

Saint Mary’s accepts the Common Application.  Fill out one form to apply to this school and 413 others.  Click to learn more about it.

Have you visited Saint Mary’s College? What did you like best? Where should I visit next? Feel free to leave a comment!

Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | May 5, 2011

Spotlight on University of Washington

This was the first large state school I’ve toured, so it was definitely a new experience for me.  I was in Washington on vacation and took advantage of my time there to explore a new school.  Try to do the same as you travel during your high school years!

Fast Facts
Name: University of Washington
Nickname/Abbreviation: UW, “UDub”
Founded: 1861
Student Population: 30,000 undergraduate (40,000+ total)
Average SAT: 1100-1330
Estimated Annual Cost: $22,000 in-state; $38,000 out-of-state

In between metropolitan Seattle and stoic Mount Rainier, you’ll find the University of Washington.  Huge brick gothic-style buildings fill the campus and are silhouetted against the city skyline and Lake Washington.  We arrived in 37 degree rain, but the campus was bustling with student activity.

With its large student population, the university boasts many resources for those who take advantage of them.  There are eighteen libraries on campus which are divided by field, and the school also participates in an inter-library loan program with a number of other institutions throughout thePacific Northwest.  Freshman Interest Groups (called “FIG”s) allow freshmen to become acquainted with UW and college life in general while working with a group of about 22 other freshmen throughout their first quarter.  Tutoring, academic advising, and extra study sessions are also available and help make learning more personal.

The most popular majors are biology, economics, and nursing, but with other 150 majors, any student can find a field that interests them.  The university places a strong emphasis on learning through undergraduate research, so many students are involved in these projects early on.  Research opportunities are present in all fields and are not just limited to the sciences.  Their work is nationally recognized and an important way for UW students to make a difference in the academic sphere.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of downtown Seattle as well as the Cascade Mountains nearby. Unlimited passes for the city busses, light rail, ferries, and airport shuttle are included with the price of tuition.  Many students enjoy outdoor activities and classes in the surrounding nature.  There are also over 800 student organizations on campus.  Whether you’re interested in Greek life or the Peanut Butter & Jelly Club, you’ll find something to do!

If you aren’t able to visit campus any time soon, check out a virtual tour of their residence halls.

Have you visited the University of Washington?  What did you think?  Which school should I visit next?

Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | April 28, 2011

Wake Up Before Noon! (And Other Ways to Have a Productive Summer)

Let’s face it – waking up at noon and watching TV all day is a pretty boring way to spend your summer.  Take advantage of two months off of school and do something you normally wouldn’t have time for.  Keep your mind and body active during the break!  Whether you’re still in high school or about to enter college, check out these tips:

1)  Get a job.  It’s probably not going to be glamorous, but part-time jobs teach you many skills beyond the obvious.  Start looking for seasonal employment now, whether it’s in retail or at a summer camp.  This experience will impress future employers and colleges, and it’s always nice to earn a little extra cash.  Try your school’s College & Career Center or a local community center for employment opportunities.

2)  Volunteer.  Many high school students are required to complete community service hours before graduation.  Whether you’re still in school or already done, you will have plenty of time to pursue causes that mean something to you.  Check with your school to see if any group service trips have been organized over the summer, and talk to your friends to see what causes they’re interested in.

3)  Take a class.  Don’t let your brain get rusty!  Some high schools and many community colleges offer classes during this time.  You can take a class to brush up on a subject you’re already familiar with, or try something new like photography or volleyball.  If you’re near San Jose, try De Anza College, West Valley College, or San Jose City College.  The summer schedule of classes is usually posted online.

4)  Travel.  Since you’ll have a lot of free time, summer is a great time to explore.  Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive; go with your family or a group of friends.  Even close to home, there are probably plenty of places you’ve never been.  If you’re in the Bay Area, try the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Alcatraz in San Francisco, or any state or county park.

There are plenty of opportunities to try something new, so start planning now.  Whatever you choose to do this summer, get outside and off the couch!

What are your plans this summer?  Any activities you’d recommend? Other ideas?  I’d love to hear from you!

Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | April 21, 2011

Spotlight on UC Santa Cruz

Fast Facts
Name: University of California, Santa Cruz
Nickname/Abbreviation: UC Santa Cruz, UCSC
Founded: 1965
Student Population:  14,888 undergraduate (16,332 total)
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Average Frosh GPA: 3.76
Average SAT: 1030-1270
Estimated Annual Cost: $30,000 in-state; $53,500 out-of-state

Let me preface this post by saying this: I am a Banana Slug.  I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2009, so it was a real treat to visit the campus again and see a tour through the eyes of a counselor.  In between the ocean and the mountains, you’ll find the campus nestled in 2000 acres of redwood forest.  UCSC is very hilly, and the forest separates several communities and departments.  Students often see the school mascot, the banana slug, while traveling between classes.  This university is both an award-winning public research institution and an eclectic home of many liberal movements.  It is also one of ten universities that belong to the University of California system.

UC Santa Cruz has ten residential colleges designed to give students an increased sense of community within the larger university.  They are not separated by major, but each has a theme that all students will explore their freshman year in an introductory writing class called “Core.”  I lived in Cowell College where the motto is “The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends.”  Each college has its own dorms, advisers, and other amenities.  They share a dining hall with the neighboring college.  Even after graduation, students are still proud to represent their college.

Although the university and town have a reputation for protests and alternative lifestyles, these students are hard-working and innovative.  Because there are so few graduate students, many undergraduates are able to work with professors on internationally recognized research like the Human Genome Project.  UCSC has several nationally ranked undergraduate programs, including linguistics, physics and astronomy.  With over 60 majors, students have a wide variety of fields to choose from and often pursue interdisciplinary studies.  Many departments offer combined majors such as Latin American and Latino Studies/Sociology.

UC Santa Cruz has two upcoming events on College Week Live, a website where students can watch live presentations from admissions representatives from many universities and also ask their own questions.  On April 22, UCSC will have a text chat from 9 PM to 12 AM.  On April 28, there will be a virtual open house from 3 PM to 11 PM.  Visit CollegeWeekLive to learn about other upcoming events, and click “Register” to participate.

Have you visited UC Santa Cruz?  What was your favorite part?  Which school should I visit next?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | April 13, 2011

Spotlight on University of the Pacific

As I learn more about various universities, I am starting to go on a lot of college tours.  I’m hoping to share my visits with you and give some insight as to what it’s like to go there.  If you have any suggestions for general information I should include on future spotlights, please let me know!

Fast Facts
Name: University of the Pacific
Nickname/Abbreviation: UOP or Pacific
Founded: 1851 in Santa Clara.  Moved to San Jose and later Stockton in 1923
Student Population: 3,700 undergraduate (5,100 total)
Average Class Size: 18
Average Frosh GPA: 3.56 (3.84 for pre-health)
Average SAT: 1080-1310 (higher for pre-health)
Estimated Annual Cost: $45,000

Although I have driven by Stockton many times, today was my first time visiting the University of the Pacific.  I was pleasantly surprised!  The campus is comprised of several large, beautiful brick and stone buildings.  The architecture style is often compared to the Ivy Leagues, and there are several quads with large trees.  The campus was founded by the Methodist Church and loosely maintains those ties today; however, religion classes are not required.  The school is located in a residential area of Stockton.

Pacific is divided into nine colleges which represent general fields of studies and cover more than 80 majors.  The most popular majors include biology, pre-pharmacy, pre-dentistry, and business.  There are also graduate programs in dentistry and law that are located on the San Francisco and Sacramento campuses, respectively.  Several accelerated programs allow a student to earn a bachelors and masters in as little as 5 years.

This university makes a bold promise to their student: you will finish your bachelor’s in 4 years!  Those who go beyond that will have their tuition covered by the university during those additional terms provided the student has followed the academic plan previously agreed upon after meeting with a counselor.  Some basic general education classes have around 50 students, but most classes have around 18.

Many students come from the surrounding areas, but those from more than 50 miles away are required to live on campus as freshmen.  Housing is guaranteed for freshmen and sophomores, and there seems to be no lack of activities even on the weekends.  There are over 100 student organizations on campus, which shows amazing extracurricular dedication for a student population that is under 4,000.

Have you visited University of the Pacific?  What did you think?  Where should I visit next?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | April 9, 2011

How to Maximize your College Visit

Congratulations, you’re in!  Now what?  During March, you hopefully received multiple college acceptance letters.  Most colleges require your official decision by May 1, so now is the time to carefully consider your options.  Schools will be holding special events and tours for admitted students, but it can be easy to feel lost.

You probably don’t know what you’re looking for in a college (I certainly didn’t), and that’s ok!  These visits can help you see what’s out there and give you an idea of what to expect.  If you’re a junior or younger, you can use your findings to help you narrow down where you will apply when you’re a senior.

1) Talk to students. After all, you’re thinking about joining them soon.  Ask them what they like about the school as well as what they would change.  Stay with a friend in the dorms if you can, and ask about their relationships and interactions with professors.

2) Talk to professors. If you have an interest in a particular field of study, talk to a professor to see what your classes would be like.  Attend at least one class to get a feel for the learning environment.

3) Eat in the dining hall. As a student, you will surely be eating most of your meals here very soon.  Similarly, check out other areas you will be frequenting like the library, the quad, and the bookstore.

4) Explore the surrounding city. If you plan to go to school in another city, you might not be familiar with the culture there.  In any other situation, you would want to learn about a new place before moving there, right?

5) Read the school newspaper. The campus paper can be a great source of information and tell you about clubs, services, and events you’ve never even heard of.  It can also give you some insight about student opinions and attitudes in regard to current events.

What else have you found helpful in making the most of your campus visits?  Anything that definitely didn’t work?  Where are you visiting this month?  Leave a comment, and tell me what you think!

Posted by: Kristen Hulberg | March 24, 2011

I am a sponge

My name is Kristen Hulberg, and I’m a recent college grad interested in college admissions.  I have been working as a College & Career Center intern for a few months now at two different high schools.  I have had the opportunity to meet many inspiring people at these through schools as well as events hosted by NACAC and WACAC.  I am continuously amazed by the resources I discover through these people.

My mantra: I am a sponge.

Read along as I share the knowledge I accumulate on this journey.



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