Monday, February 22, 2010

Should you interview for college?

While making my morning rounds on the internet, I came across an article on Twitter posted by My College Guide: To be or not to be: The college interview.

If you're debating on whether or not to schedule a college interview, this article does a great job at convincing you to do so.  It says:

"The college interview process, though often optional,  is a great way for you to get your questions answered, put a face to a name, and explain any bumps in your high school record face to face.  We’ve mentioned before that students who vocalize their desire to attend a particular college increase their college admittance odds – what better way than during a college interview?"

Is that true, I wondered?  Would it really increase your chances of being accepted if you came in for an interview?  To find out, I talked with a few of the admissions counselors to see what they recommend.  I asked:  If I apply to Simmons, would it help me if I went in for an interview?

Their answer?  DEFINITELY!

Every single counselor suggested applicants should stop by for an interview because the more they know about you, the better.  They explained their interviews are very informal, and more of a "get-to-know-you" information session, rather than the official job type of interview.

Ashley, a counselor who has been interviewing students for about three years, says coming for an interview really strengthens your application and gives her a sense of your passion and enthusiasm for college - something, she says, she can't tell from a piece of paper.

Cheri, another counselor, says an interview is the best way for an applicant to shine and stand out from the others.  And, if you haven't already, now is the perfect time to schedule a one-on-one.

By the way, the article mentions that some college's might not always have the time to interview every applicant.  But counselors are ALWAYS available to meet with you... because they want to!  And if you can't make it to Boston, ask if they'll be in your area because sometimes they'll even come to you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's never too late

It's February now, and that means the college is back into full swing.  Spring semester is well underway (although, it's hardly Spring out there... Brrrrrr!) and since all your applications are finally in, the admissions counselors are extremely busy accepting the Class of 2014.

Hopefully you sent all your materials in.  The deadline was last Monday!

But, for those of us who are procrastinators, I have great news.

This time of year is busy for everyone, not just for the Simmons community. So... the deadline is extended to March 1, 2010!

Why is this so great?  Because there's still time to apply to college.


Almost all colleges have stopped accepting applications.  Therefore, mark Simmons's date on your calendar, bolded and underlined:

March 1, 2010.

I mean, you already know how awesome college is, and I swear warm weather does come to Boston (eventually), so why not?  At this point, you have nothing to lose by applying.

Admissions counselors will help you through the process every step of the way.  There's still time to meet professors, check out the social life, and arrange an overnight visit to see for yourself what college is all about (just bring a coat if you visit... a heavy one.  And mittens, and a hat.  Also, bring a scarf... and wear warm boots.  Oh, and bring an umbrella... just in case.  Hey, it's New England!)

Also, don't forget to apply for financial aid while you're at it. This is very important.  Do it even if you think you don't qualify.  Always, ALWAYS apply for money.

Ok, you know the deadline, so here's what you need to do to apply:

1. Fill out an application: Print version or Online version

2.  Get a recommendation from your guidance counselor and one teacher (details are on the application).  Also, request your high school transcript - Just give the form included in the application to your guidance counselor and they will send the transcript for you.

3.  Write an essay.

4.  Submit all materials in a sealed envelope (by March 1, remember).

So, what are you waiting for?  It's never too late.  Hopefully see you in the Fall!

(Btw, Boston is absolutely GORGEOUS that time of year)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Location, location, location

Did you know Simmons scores a whopping A+ on "Local Atmosphere?" It's true!  Simmons is located right in the heart of Boston, which as the ranking states, opens up a sea of opportunity for students.

Check out what students on College Prowler have to say:
"It’s Boston, the atmosphere rocks. Everyone goes everywhere, and everyone is friendly to one another. Since it’s one of the largest college towns, there are other college students everywhere [ed. note: especially guys! ;)]. No matter where you are, you see them, and it’s comforting to know that in such a big city, there are others in your position."
"Boston is by far the best college city ever. Within ten minutes, I can walk to seven other colleges. Simmons is two blocks from Fenway Park and tons of restaurants."
"Luckily, Simmons is located in the best city on earth—Boston... The other important population for Simmons students is the many young professionals who are often overseeing us in our internships and networking with us after college."
"Boston is the greatest college city ever! The Colleges of the Fenway line our road, with nearby Northeastern and BU. There are so many art museums, stores, cinemas, Fenway Park—everything imaginable!"

All of these things are what make Simmons so appealing to so many students.

It's not a school in the middle of the woods.  Instead, it's a school in the middle of a vibrant city.  Oh, did I mention the added benefit of a charming residence campus (gated!) AND a gorgeous park across the street... you know, just in case you need some peace & quiet every now and then.

You have to see it to believe it!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Give us a holler

Click here to watch an interesting video about whether or not the amount of contact you have with an admissions office affects their decision to admit you.

As mentioned in the video, every school looks at this differently. So, I spoke directly with the counselors here to find out what they think.

Their response was unanimous: We want to hear from you!  Often!

The counselors love one-on-one time with every single student who applies.  It's not always about grades, or test scores, but more importantly it's about you, as an individual.  The more counselors know about you, the whole you, the better - it's the best way to determine if you're a good fit.

Communication is key.

It's strongly suggested by each counselor that you have as many contacts with the college as is necessary.  Email, phone call, visit (definitely visit!), IM, Facebook, etc.  Its a personalized process, and counselors will even contact YOU (usually by email, but definitely indicate your preference) about every two weeks just to make sure you're on track with everything you need.
Of course, as with everything, moderation also is key.  One guy mentioned in the video that a student obsessively contacted the school and it got a little crazy.  Don't make your counselor have to join the witness protection program!

If you submitted your application, but haven't talked to admissions yet, give them a ring!  See what's up with your app, or tell them something interesting you forgot to mention in your essay. The counselors will remember who you are from the first time you say "Hello," through the time you graduate.  That's what's so great about applying to a small college.  It's like "Cheers"... where everybody knows your name!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nursing... What? Like it's hard?

I noticed many students are asking questions about the nursing program.  Some are only thinking about it, while others are fully committed to taking the plunge. Almost everyone is scared to death of organic chemistry.

But what's really on your mind is: how hard is it?

I'm not going to lie.  It's hard!  But, totally worth it, especially if you really want to be a first-rate nurse.  With all the support you'll receive from students, faculty, and staff, about 95% of you will ace your nurse licensing exams with ease.

If you're unsure about entering the program, it's important to first consider the mandatory courses.  It's all science, all the time!  During your first year you'll need to pass chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physiology.  Eek!  Then there's the CPR certification and the math competency exam.  However, since everyone is going through the same thing at the same time, study groups in The Fens are aplenty.

Once you get the prerequisites out of the way, you can move on to the fun stuff: clinical labs!

The great thing is, the student to faculty ratio in clinical courses is 6:1.  That means there's only about five other classmates in lab with you - which is perfect, if you want individual attention from your professors.  I highly suggest taking advantage of their time, too.  They're all practicing nurses who can give you the real deal on techniques being used in today's hospitals.

Also, the Learning Resource Lab (where you'll probably be spending most of your time), is not your average lab.  It's designed to be like a real-life hospital.  Upon graduating, you can walk into any hospital, anywhere, and already be familiar with all the equipment and supplies.

Oh, and then there's Boston!  There's no better city in the world to be a nursing major, than in Boston.  Here, you can intern at numerous hospitals and health centers all located within WALKING distance from school.  The world-renowned Longwood Medical Area (includes Children's Hospital of Boston, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) is right around the block.  Literally.  You can roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and be to your internship within 5 minutes.

Not to mention the more than 100 other clinical affiliations located throughout the city.

You can't beat it, really.

So about the hard part?  Actually, nursing is really exciting, and like I said, totally worth the all-nighters before a chem exam.  One of the most popular groups on campus is the Nursing Liaison.  By joining The Liaison, you can meet other nursing students and take part in coordinating social events, parties, alumni nights, and fundraisers for local charities.  It's also a great group to join if you're looking to fill out a study group.

Nursing is the most popular major and is comprised of some of the brightest students.  If you're nervous about placement exams, the science courses, the sim lab, or the clinical, don't be!  From professors, to tutors, to classmates, everyone is here to help you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Modes of Inquiry

What of what?

Maybe you've heard your admissions counselor mention it a couple times, but didn't think too much of it.  Or, maybe you're already highlighting interesting classes in the course catalogue.  Either way, you can't graduate without completing the Modes of Inquiry.

More and more colleges are all about claiming they specialize in preparing students for a career, not just a job.  But it's no secret that in this economy employers are looking for well-rounded grads with a range of specialities. This means there's high demand for employees who can not only do the job, but also can write, analyze, and maintain a global perspective.

That's why you need to take it a step further with the one-two punch of career preparation and a strong liberal arts foundation.

"Liberal arts" is simply a fancy term that means you get to study a whole bunch of general subjects while majoring in just one (or sometimes two!). Basically, attending a liberal arts college makes you a smarty-pants.  And really good at trivia!  

So, what's the Modes of Inquiry?

Simmons goes above and beyond preparing you for your chosen career by requiring you to complete at least ONE course in the following six subjects:

- Language, literature, and culture
- Quantitative analysis and reasoning
- Scientific inquiry
- Social and historical perspectives
- Psychology and ethical development

It's fun to take classes outside your own major - you get to meet new people, have a chance to take classes with different professors (some who are nationally recognized for their fieldwork), and you will be qualified for a job you really want... one that is looking for a candidate who can also manage a budget, and also write monthly status reports, and also say hello and thank you in another language.

Since the Modes of Inquiry credits are built right into your major, you'll immediately have a leg up in the "real world" as soon as you graduate.  It's also favorable if you're still deciding on a major!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Playing the waiting game

As I mentioned in my last post, big envelopes (or those icky small ones) from college's are starting to arrive - especially if you've applied early decision.  This is the time of year when mail carriers across the country are being stalked daily while students rush home after school to be the first to grab the mail.  Most of you are waiting on that one fat envelope from your top choice, but of course, are only receiving responses from your 2nd, 3rd, or even 5th choice schools.

Oh, the agony!

But don't let that discourage you.  There's a lot to be said for being accepted to any college - even your so-called safety.

So, since no one likes to wait around, here are a couple things you can do before your letter finally comes:

1.  Get to know your other choices!  You already know all about your first choice - right down to the water pressure in the dorm showers.  But have you taken the time to really learn about the schools that are lower on your list?  Check out their websites, talk to the admissions counselors, schedule an overnight visit, or for a more candid, insiders look, check if the colleges have profiles on social networking sites - it's the best way to talk with current students, professors, alumni, and staff who can answer your questions on pretty much anything!  Who knows, you might discover something you love about the school that you missed the first time around.

2.  Choose a major.  Many colleges let you apply without declaring a major.  If you've been undecided, start thinking about what you're most interested in studying.  By comparing which of your offers has the best program, the decision on where to attend becomes easier.  Shameless plug:  Nursing, communications, and psychology are all top majors at Simmons!  It's OK, though, if you still want to wait on it a bit.  Liberal arts colleges give you the option to check out a few courses first and will allow you to wait until your sophomore year before officially choosing a major.  Inter-disciplinary study does have it's advantages!

3.  Apply for financial aid.  This is, perhaps, the most important.  Once you've been accepted to your schools, it's time to start thinking about how you're going to pay for it.  For the majority of you, I'm sure your parents have already started hounding you about the paperwork.  Sometimes a decision rests on which school will give you the most aid, so the sooner you apply, the sooner you'll know which class of 2014 you'll belong to.  Even if you don't think you'll qualify aid, still, absolutely, 100% apply because you never know.  Also, start looking into grants and scholarships from local organizations in your community (fire stations, rotary clubs, libraries, etc.).  They may only offer small amounts, but any money helps and textbook expenses can add up.  At Simmons, you already have a counselor who can walk you through the process - even if you haven't yet applied.

Hopefully now you have some ideas to keep yourself busy.  It should distract you long enough to stop you from peering through the curtains, at least.  My guess is maybe you already received your envelope after all!