Posted: Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | Filed under: choosing college, college, College acceptance, college education, education | author: By Teddy Bergman
Posted: Monday, June 11th, 2012 | Filed under: choosing college, College acceptance, College Admissions, college education | author: By Chris Ajemian
As you come to the end of your high school career you begin to face a lot of choices and new responsibilities. If you decide on attending a college, and I sincerely hope you do, there is a wealth of amazing schools across the country that you will be able to choose from. Colleges and universities range in size, location, curriculum, philosophy, and overall atmosphere. One of the big divisions is between state schools and private schools.
State schools are partially funded and tied to the infrastructure of the state they serve and call their home. These schools tend to have large campuses and accordingly serve a large number of students. State schools are all part of a network of colleges that make up a state’s educational system and are generally comprehensive in their course offerings and curricula. Most state schools are universities, meaning they offer graduate programs as well as significant research facilities and programs. Many of these schools are where the nation’s top-flight athletic programs are found, and so teams and sporting events feature strongly in the life of the campus.
On the other end of the spectrum exist private colleges and universities. These set of schools have no ties to the state or local governments they exist in and were founded and run by a group of private individuals. These private schools were often founded with a particular mission in mind, and are also sometimes merely colleges and not universities. Colleges only offer undergraduate degrees and do not generally have any graduate departments. Private schools tend to be smaller in size and student population, while there are some exceptions to this. All of the Ivy League schools are private, though this does mean that all private institutions are more elite than state schools, far from it. The real question to ask yourself when making a choice between a state and private college is “what am I looking for in my college experience?”
State schools often have a unique kind of school spirit that extended from their athletic fields to all aspects of campus life. The size and diversity of a campus of a state school, the volume of course offerings, the variety of student life, and the chance to be near leading research in a field of interest all lure people to state schools. State schools can feel like small cities and provide an excitement and intellectual and social energy that are perfect for many people. Also, state schools, in so far as they are partially subsidized by the state they inhabit can be cheaper – especially if you are a resident of that state. Going to University of Michigan when you live in Michigan, or SUNY Binghampton when you live in New York, is a great option because you are receiving a top-flight education at a fraction of the price.
On the other hand, private colleges can offer an intimacy and immediacy of attention hard to find at large state schools. If many state schools feel like cities, private schools feel like villages. There is a real ownership over your academic and student life at private colleges. So much of the school’s life is generated by the small group of peers and teachers interacting with each other every day. At a state school, especially in your first couple of years, you will find yourself interacting with teaching assistants, and often only getting contact with professors in lecture settings. Private colleges place you in the classroom with a professor more often than not for all four years. This promises a kind of academic focus and access not found at a larger state school. Of course, this comes with a price. Private colleges tend to be more expensive.
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either type of school but its important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both kinds of institutions and experiences. You give up and gain something by making either choice and its important to be fully informed.
Posted: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 | Filed under: affording college, choosing college, college education, college financing, college life | author: By Teddy Bergman
Over the weekend, you may have read Allan Schwarz’s New York Times article, “Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill”, a fascinating article on many levels. As the CEO & Founder of CATES Tutoring in New York City with offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester, and abroad in cities such as London, I personally have worked with hundreds of students – and CATES as a company thousands – from elite private schools in the New York area and all over the world. Our clients run the gamut: regular time, extended time, double time, 2400 caliber on the SAT test, students hoping to simply break 21 on the ACT test.
Some of our students, particularly those through Envision Test Prep, our specialized division for students with learning differences, receive prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, et al and use them to great benefit in their work. However, we have at times come across the question of using performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s) for students who do not clinically require them. It’s obviously a controversial subject – as it should be – but, as I see it, the topic actually helps to crystallize the core issue: misplaced and uninformed expectations.
Over the course of the next few days, we’ll examine specific aspects of this article and lend some insight and guidance to help students and parents understand that a healthier attitude towards the US admissions process – whether you are from the Upper East Side, Scarsdale, or London – not only helps you succeed in the process, but also sets you up for success in your professional life.
The Pressure to Get Good Grades
Dear Students – Welcome to the real world! You should feel pressure to earn strong grades – the world is becoming more competitive – and you need to understand how to ask – and get – the best of yourself. With globalization and the technological revolution, the world your parents knew growing up is not the world you know now and will become even more different by the time you enter the professional world. Virtually every single job in America is at risk of being lost to someone else (yes, perhaps in Asia) and education will be the biggest advantage you have as you enter the 21st Century work force. So, yes, good grades do matter.
Each year, plenty of students handle multiple AP’s, extracurricular activities, and standardized tests successfully and have been for years. You’re not the first to go through the process, and you will not be the last. The college admissions process stands as a rite of passage for all of us, and all of us succeed in our unique way, let alone survive. It’s not easy, but its also exciting and can act as a gut-check on how serious you are about your ambitions. You will experience challenges – too many homework assignments in one night, 10-page papers due tomorrow, sports after school, Model UN conference this weekend – and you will have to find a way to excel at each one.
However, drugs aren’t the answer. PED’s – or any substance for that matter – act as only a short-term solution to a larger, longer-term challenge that most students – and particularly, their families – need to address: the definition of success.
Success in College
How do you define success in the college admissions process? To me, gaining entry to a college or university that best matches your personality and learning style epitomizes success in the college admissions process. And the truth is, we currently live in a sort of golden age for US university education. With the increase in the human population after the Baby Boom, the numbers of students applying to colleges each year has risen. Of course, schools aren’t adding enough beds each year to match the number of students applying. While the competition at the top has become so much more so, one of the larger benefits of this trend is that is it now possible to earn a top-notch education at more schools than ever before. Those top-notch students who get squeezed out of the most selective schools due to a simple numbers game are now helping to make the next tier of schools as good as the Ivy League schools were a decade or so ago. Thus, while the admissions process can be difficult, its never been easier to gain a top-flight university education.
For example, Northeastern University (NU) has seen its reputation rise; it’s considered a terrific school nowadays. Back in the mid-90′s, NU wasn’t seen as strong an academic environment as it’s seen to be now. If you were to look at the average SAT test score ranges for entering NU freshmen during that time period, few NU-bound students broke 1000 on their Verbal and Math sections. Today, NU-bound students score closer to the 1250-1300 range on their Critical Reading and Math sections of the SAT test. The difference between the student aiming for 1000 on the SAT and the student aiming for 1250-1300 can be significant, both in relation to the SAT’s and to the other aspects of their application.
College in the Age of Globalization
How important is it now to attend an Ivy League university to gain a top-flight education? Less than it meant years ago. In this age of globalization and technological innovation, where you attend college is becoming less and less important. Rather, how you make use of your college education (that is, if you even decide to go to college) is much more important, and its much easier to do so when you’re in an environment where you’re stimulated and challenged in a healthy way.
Yes, that could mean Harvard, but it also could also mean Northeastern. It’s up to you to discover and decide.
Posted: Friday, December 16th, 2011 | Filed under: choosing college, College Admissions, college education | author: By Teddy Bergman
What are options for me to pay for College? How can I help myself?
Cost of college
One of the most daunting aspects of a college education facing students and parents in today’s economic climate is the cost. College is expensive any way you slice it, and with unemployment being what it is, it feels like a large waste of money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unemployment rates for people with college degrees are half what they are for students who did not complete high school. A college education is still an essential key to success and opportunity.
Your ability to pay for college starts in high school. If you commit to studying hard and getting grades you will drastically improve you chances of paying for college. Many financial aid offices award scholarships and aid to students in need based on their merit and achievement in high school. A stellar transcript makes you an attractive candidate to any college and they will do what they can to allow you to attend. Getting the grades you need in high school may mean sacrificing a few Friday nights out with friends to stay in and study, but in the long term you will be richly rewarded.
Another option you have to pay for college is student loans. While many people balk at he predicament of taking on debt at a young age, this shouldn’t deter you from taking out a student loan. Your college education is an investment in your future. Congress also just voted on keeping the interest rates on college loans at their present lower rates. This is a huge victory for education and statement about the value of a college education.
The U.S. education system is also specifically attuned to keep our country competitive in specialized fields in the years ahead. Specifically, colleges and universities want to ensure that the U.S. is still training many of its students for careers in Math and Science and so if these are fields that especially interest you, an even stronger chance of finding financial aid could be possible.
However, whatever course of study interests you and ends up directing your college search, one of the most vital things you can do to help yourself is start early. Start looking around for the colleges that offer you the best of what you are looking to study, and then begin to understand the ways you can find help to subsidize that education. Often time, the issue of paying for college can feel so large because it seems so abstract. Make the problem smaller – find the school you want to attend and then figure out how people have paid to go their in the past.
Lastly, one of the great strengths of the system of higher education in the U.S. is the sheer number of quality universities that exist in this country. There are many colleges, with many different financial aid options, that will provide you with a top-flight education. Don’t get locked into any single idea, as there are wonderful options. In addition to the incredible network of local and state schools, there are many small colleges that you may of never heard of, that will be perfect for you and able to give you the financial help you need to attend.
As everyone knows, 2011 is a trying time for the economy. The business sector of the country is experiencing little to no growth, the market is low, and, as a result, unemployment is soaring. It’s a daunting time for anyone, with a college degree or not, to enter the job market.
In many ways, the culture of unemployment has created a backlash against getting a college education. Many recent college graduates, like many others, are struggling to find jobs, and feel as if they wasted four years of time and tuition. While this frustration is understandable, it is also mislead and misplaced.
College is a time when a student is expected to devote themselves fully to their intellectual and personal development. College is four years all about you. After being immersed in this environment and getting a college degree, it can be stark and shocking to struggle out in the “real world”. However, this does not mean getting a college degree was not worth it, far from it.
In the highly competitive job market of 2011, a college degree is essential to securing serious employment – the kind of employment that can grow and expand into a fulfilling and lucrative career. At this point, there are many candidates saturating the market and competing for a limited number of opportunities and a college degree is often the base level of training expected for potential hires.
Now, of course, this is not true for EVERY field. If you want to pursue something more vocational, like being a chef, apprenticing or enrolling in a training program may make more sense than pursuing a college degree. However, if you are serious about a career in any major field of business, science, law, communications, or the arts you’ll need a college degree.