College Visits: Find Out If Class Size Matters
Feb28

College Visits: Find Out If Class Size Matters

  How large are the classes? Class size matters. “What’s the average class size?” is one of the most common questions a parent or student will ask when visiting a college campus. If you  attend a  small school, then it’s a good guess that the classes will be small. Likewise, a larger school typically means larger classes, but don’t be surprised if your guide’s answer to your question goes something like this: “The larger classes tend to be freshman or sophomore-year general science or survey classes, but the class size gets smaller as you narrow the focus of your major.” Now that you know the standard answer to the question about class size, make arrangements to visit both a lower- and upper-level class while on your campus tour, preferably in one of the majors you’re considering. It’s best to contact the school at least two weeks in advance to schedule classroom visits. Don’t expect to show up on campus and be able to walk into any class. Be sure to visit both large and small schools so you can get an idea of which is best for you. If you find that you prefer small classes, but a larger school offers the program you really want to study, then just keep in mind that if you take a seat in the front row of a class taught in an auditorium, all of your focus will be on the professor, not how many people are sitting behind you. While class size can definitely make a difference, it does not need to be an absolute disqualifier for a university that you want to attend above all others. An occasional large class can be managed if everything else about the school is a good fit for you. Related Reading Dos and Don’ts on a College Visit Top 10 Questions for the Undecided Major Honors Programs: Get an Ivy-League Education at a Public School...

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Two Weeks: The Magic Window for Reservations
Feb02

Two Weeks: The Magic Window for Reservations

To find the #1 school for you, call or schedule 2-weeks in advance. Two weeks prior to the desired date of your college visit is the window required by many schools to process registrations for any of the following events: Special tours Group tours Classroom Visits Overnight Stays Meetings with Professors or Academic Advisors Taking the time to plan your college visit in advance gives you the opportunity to see and do those things that are important factors in helping select the right school. Related Posts: A Little Class Goes a Long Way Honors Programs: Get an Ivy-League Education at a Public School Dos and Don'ts on a College Visit SmartCollege Eval...

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Honors Programs: Get an Ivy-League Education at a Public School
Jan20

Honors Programs: Get an Ivy-League Education at a Public School

Christina McIntyre, associate director of University Honors at Virginia Tech and founder of BecomeAlum, says being in one of the honors programs can include opportunities that are outside the norm for individual students. She says it’s a way to get “an ivy-league education at a public university.” Because honors programs vary widely in structure and mission, McIntyre recommends scheduling face-to-face meetings with honors program staff when you visit schools: “An actual visit can reveal how people involved in the honors program interact with students as individuals.” Preparing for the Visit: What Should I Ask? As you research honors programs via web page or brochure, consider the primary questions below; then form follow-up questions to ask in person: Primary Question #1 What is the focus of the honors experience? Is it strictly a matter of taking harder/more in-depth courses to achieve an honors diploma, or is there more? Example Follow-up Questions Are there opportunities/requirements for independent research, creative projects, collaborative projects, community projects, presentations, travel? Is there a series of required courses, or can I shape my own program? For example, can I take a regular course and work with the professor to make it an honors course for me? Primary Question #2 How would the honors program connect with my major? Example Follow-up Questions How have past students in my major completed the honors diploma? Would my honors courses count toward my major or general education requirements? Would I have an honors adviser and a major adviser? If I enter school as an undeclared major, would I still be able to make progress toward an honors diploma? Primary Question #3 Is there a residential component to the honors program (a “living/learning community” in which honors students live in the same residence hall)? Example Follow-up Questions If there is not a residential component: Are there other opportunities for interaction among honors students? If there is a residential component: Is the purpose mainly to give honors students a quiet place to live, or are opportunities built in for academic and social interaction? Are honors program staff part of the community? Would I have a student mentor? Tell me more. (McIntyre notes: “National research has shown that students who are part of living/learning communities perform better academically and are more engaged in the university.”) Primary Question #4 What benefits does the honors program offer that I might not have thought about? Example Follow-up Question I noticed on your web page that honors students get priority registration. What does this mean? Why do honors students get priority registration? (McIntyre notes: “Comparing the way a variety of schools answer questions like this one can...

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