Ok, I admit it. I love Snapchat. My family communicates more with images, filters, and bitmojis these days than we do with standard texts. Seeing a family members face with unicorn horns or cat ears makes me giggle and honestly, makes me feel connected to my kids who are more often than not hundreds of miles away (except that one that lives across the lake!).
As a college counselor, I love following colleges on Snapchat for many reasons. One, when there are exciting things going on on campus (like IUs Little 500 bike race or Cornell University's Dragon Day) it gives me an opportunity to see how the school showcases campus, traditions, and events. Secondly, on a regular, random day I get a sense of what any given school thinks is important. Is a student showing off the art school or biology lab, is an admission representative giving a tour, is the student government live streaming a meeting? I love seeing what is going on on campus, especially from a student's perspective. Not all schools "do" Snapchat well, but those that do, are really fun.
I'm sharing a list of schools to follow on Snapchat now you because at this time of year I get a lot of questions about the importance of visiting schools. Many students, for many different reasons are unable to visit campus. Whether for financial reasons, vacation timing, or just simply distance. Whatever the reason, visiting campus isn't easy for everyone. Finding ways to interact with the campus with a vehicle like Snapchat can help you get a realtime glimpse into campus life.
And, while I love seeing what is going on on campus via Snapchat, I do not recommend that you interact with campus this way. Many schools "hand over" the snapchat account to admission tour guides, student government reps or the newspaper reporters so you never know who is managing the account for the day. So, if you want to talk to the admissions office, send an email to the admissions representative assigned to your high school.
Here are some of the schools I follow on Snapchat...feel free to leave your favorites in the comments!
Our family travels to New Orleans frequently. It's fair to say that pretty much any trip to New Orleans includes a stop at Tulane. I can honestly say I've never been to visit without being on campus....partly because both my husband and daughter are graduates and I love college campuses but also because when we visit New Orleans it is hard not to find yourself on the beautiful uptown campus! I've been visiting Tulane since 1982 and each time I do, I find another reason to love the school and the city.
This visit was primarily to see my aforementioned daughter, who, like many, found herself as a freshman at Tulane and has never left the city. New Orleans has a way of sticking with you. Literally. The humidity makes everything sticky, but also the music, culture, food, and architecture, remain a part of you no matter how far you stray. After even just a short stay, you soon learn to understand what it means to "miss New Orleans".
The day I was on campus this time was a prospective student day and tours were hard to come by so I took the opportunity to wander campus on my own. Did I mention that I love college campuses!!?? Campus looked beautiful with cammelias, daffodils, jasmine (and the Mardi Gras Tree) all in bloom. It was the cusp of spring break so there was a palpable energy on campus - a mix of students studying for last minute exams and those already in the spring break frame of mind (I did stop by The Boot for some crawfish). I share that because if your student attends Tulane, there is no doubt that she will also go to The Boot. At least once. But, I digress. On campus, I noticed a number of nervous prospective students (mostly architecture students!) touring and a number of professors in name tags...a conference perhaps? Campus is always busy with tours, visitors, conference so it wasn't surprising to see this nice mix of people. There is also a great deal of construction - some new buildings and some banners declaring "Only the Audacious" (and you can read more about that here). After returning home and doing some research, I learned that last December, "The campaign for an even bolder Tulane" was announced. It is the University's $1.3 billion dollar fundraising campaign which you can read about in the link above. In the past few years, Tulane's rankings (if you pay heed to those) has increased. Admissions has become increasingly selective, applications topped more than 35,000 this year and SAT scores have increased 48 points over the last three years. It would be an understatement to declare that the nation has finally recognized Tulane for what it is - a top tier school, in a wonderful city, with a unique student body that both studies hard and plays hard.
Tulane has always been a unique place. Located in one of America's oldest and singularly unique cities, it is decidedly Southern; however its student body is not. Diverse, smart, and fun loving, you can find students who seek an education at Tulane who hail from over 75 countries and 47 states. They are some of the smartest students (both because they have chosen to attend at Tulane but also due to their academic achievements) and perhaps some of the most audacious in the nation.
Located Uptown, across from Audubon Park, the campus is a vertical city campus covering approximately 100 acres. Tulane students are a mix of the fashion conscious and the comfort conscious. Southern buildings are known for extreme air conditioning so you can find students in shorts and t-shirts but also Ugg Boots and sweatshirts. On bikes and skateboards, taking an afternoon run or enjoying a PJ's coffee, students and faculty alike do a great job of using the entire campus for work and play. On a nice day, you can find students studying outside, having a class under a beautiful old oak tree, playing volleyball, biking down Freret, slowly walking to class or like I did sunbathing on the lawn. On a not so nice day, be sure to bring an umbrella and galoshes, because New Orleans is below sea level and it floods. Only a few inches of rain can result in feet of water. Everywhere. Luckily for me, it was a picture perfect day (see photos below). In New Orleans, you quickly learn there is no reason to hurry - the heat and the humidity are reminders that sauntering is the speed to maintain and I enjoyed my stroll through campus stopping to smell the flowers (literally) and to photograph buildings new and old. There were some students recruiting for some community service projects and soliciting donations of used goods. Not unusual for Tulane. The first private research institution to institute a community service requirement, Tulanians devote upwards of 750,000 hours of community service. This requirement attracts a particular type of student - one who is interested in learning both in and outside the classroom, has a strong interest in community service and commits to making the city a better place. Students are smart, interested and interesting.
Tulane's academic requirements are rigorous, but students will find it easy to take classes across majors. It's not uncommon for students to double and sometimes triple major. The school offers 75 different majors and is well known for its outstanding School of Architecture and The A.B. Freeman School of Business. In addition to traditional majors, students also take classes in a core curriculum, have an opportunity to study abroad as well as use New Orleans as their classroom.
Campus life offers many opportunities for involvement from community service groups and local organizations with which students can affiliate to the city itself which is often used as a classroom. Tulane is a D-1 school with 17 sports. The newly completed Yulman Stadium draws students and locals to Tulane football games and while the school is not known for its football culture, there is definitely a place for the sports fan! As you might imagine, music has a place on campus, with a robust arts program both in visual arts and music. The Tulane Marching Band participates not only in sporting events but also marches in Mardi Gras parades! Students live on campus freshman and sophomore years while many upperclassmen live off campus. There is a small but active greek system with some members living in houses and some houses used just for meeting space. Freshman have a choice of living in a learning community, honors housing, gender inclusive housing, traditional freshman dorm style living as well as Josephine Louise which is all female housing. Currently, there is one dining hall Bruff Commons and food options in the LBC (student union) but current construction underway will amend these options with additional dining choices. Regardless, of where you live or eat you can always count on red beans and rice on Mondays!
I love encouraging students to apply to Tulane. While I am not sure every student needs to be audacious, I do recommend those who apply be ready to face the challenges of a school located in a city that never sleeps. There is always something to do in New Orleans, whether it's grab a bite at a great restaurant, listen to music on Frenchman Street or a local venue, attend a festival or get caught in a spontaneous parade! Tulane students get days off for Mardi Gras and in my experience, students at Tulane both study hard and play hard. Being able to manage all the distractions is a must for any potential student.
The campus never disappoints. New Orleans is always a fun experience. I hope you have a chance to experience it! Roll Wave!!
For more information, please visit the Tulane University website!
"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." Havelock Ellis
As parents of middle and high school children, we frequently hear about letting go. As children get older, we know they need more independence and more opportunities to make their own decisions. These opportunities present themselves at different times for different families - summer camp, school dances, first dates. Some parents embrace the opportunities. Some parents fear them. We know in our heads that our children must be faced with opportunities to learn independence, but sometimes our hearts don't listen.
When my oldest daughter was preparing to leave for college, well-meaning friends shared their words of wisdom about the "launching" process. I often heard the analogy of the mother bird nudging her fledglings out of the nest. To be honest, I didn't like the idea of "launching" her. Rockets launch. Rockets are loaded explosives, they are shot into the orbit thousands of miles away. They blast off - fast and loud. They disappear from sight quickly and then silently orbit, often unnoticed. I did not want to think of my daughter like this. Loudly and abrubtly leaving our home and then silently orbiting somewhere "out there". Other friends, shared their analogies of mother birds, teaching their fledgelings to leave the nest. They forgot to tell me about the soiling that happens when the baby bird is too large for the small confines of home, where she needs space to spread her wings and hence "spoils the nest". There were times when I did feel like the mother bird. As the start date of college approached, our nest started to feel very small. Some days, I felt like tossing her out and watching her take that first frantic flight. I knew she could fly, I knew she was ready, but I didn't know how strong her wings were or how long she could fly on those first solo flights. There were other days when I wanted to wrap my arms around her and never let her go. Still today with nearly all of my children completely out of the nest, there are times where I yearn for an opportunity to bring them back and embrace them.
When it came time to push my children out of my nest, I faced a difficulty I had not faced since the first days of preschool, where my children stood at the door crying for me to stay. I remember each drop off day as vividly as I remember their births. The moments are written in my memory forever. The one daughter, sitting on a bench watching us walk away, trepidation and uneasiness on her face. The son, at school a week early for marching band in a near empty dorm, trying to seem competent and ready, and the last who couldn't wait for us to get out. Who walked us to the car, hugged us and then turned around and left us without nary a look back. Each time, I hidmy tears behind sunglasses. My heart felt like it was breaking. I knew in my head "this is what parents do" but my heart wasn't convinced.
This is our job as parents. We bring these little people into the world, fill them up with our love (and life lessons) and then let them go.
Madeline Levine writes in The Price of Privilege:
Letting go is necessary; it is sometimes extremely difficult....by forcing myself
to tolerate anxiety and separation, we both get the opportunity to discover and
develop new skills for dealing effectively with challenge....We both feel more in
control of our respective worlds.
According to Dr. Levine, letting go serves a double purpose: it teaches our children how to self-manage and teaches the parent how to manage anxiety and separation (pg. 74-75 Price of Privilege). To be complete and full parents, We need to let go. We need to see our children resolve a problem, manage a disappointment, or transition to college. In the same way our children benefit from the experience, we feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that we have prepared them for their next adventure. I've never really thought about the idea that letting go is good for me, too. The letting go teaches us both.
I liked reading what Dr. Levine shared about the necessity and importance of the discomfort (and sometimes fear) that comes with letting go. When have you let go and how did you learn from it?
This week, my good friend asked me when it was too early to start looking for the right fit college. We were catching up after a busy spring of work and travel...she on a sabbatical traveling the world and me, helping busy juniors develop college lists and potential summer plans for visits.
She's a dear friend and very supportive of my burgeoning business and career, always curious about how its growing and with whom I am working. I love our conversations. They give me a chance to talk about the college admission world with someone who isn't overly invested. My friend does not have children and like many of us back in the day, read a lot of brochures, typed her few applications on a typewriter and sent them off with little guidance or help from anyone - counselor or parent. Oh for the olden days! It's nice to reminisce about "when things were simpler" and kids lived with less pressure.
So, when exactly, is the "right" time to start looking at college? This is not as simple a question or answer that you might imagine. So much of our thoughts about education are informed by our parents, the environment in which we are raised and how the mentors in our life encourage future education plans. It's no accident that KIPP schools and other charter schools name their classrooms after colleges and universities and talk about college with their youngest students. Studies have shown that parents can influence the way their children think about education just by talking to them about it - academic socialization is important. Families with a strong college going culture begin the conversation early. Vacations can include a stroll through a campus. Dinner conversations can include talk about careers and required education. When students are sophomores and rising juniors a formal, structured search can begin through developing a list of match, likely, and reach school with school or independent counselors. If all goes well, the informing conversations of childhood will help lead a student to a college or university where s/he will be a good fit academically and socially.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article about common financial mistakes parents make when paying/saving for college. The second mistake highlighted, was not opening a 529 account. (For those of you not aware, a 520 plan allows you to invest after tax money with no federal tax payment if the money is used for qualified higher education expenses. You can read more about it in the article!) As we all know, saving makes the most impact when done early. And often. I've often thought our elementary schools should encourage and develop opportunities for families to learn about colleges - not just conversations about how to gain access, but conversations about the impact of college on future earnings and the importance of saving for the experience. So really, conversations about college should begin as soon as you bring that bundle of joy home.
Encouraging a culture of "academic socialization", creating the conversations around educational expectations, and exposing your children to college beyond the exciting and often most publicized athletic programs are critical for developing a college going culture in your child. And, while you are talking about college....start saving for it, too!
Below is the text of the second half of the interview Michelle had with Michael Sass, Assistant Director of Admissions at Gonzaga University . . .
Is there something special about the first year/freshman experience at Gonzaga?
This is a great question because of our strong retention rate (between 92 and 95% the past three years). First and foremost, we view our “orientation” weekend which kicks off the school year as just the beginning. The First-Year Experience Office organizes programs for first year students all academic year to help ease the transition (rather than packing everything into a single long weekend). The actual Orientation Weekend each year is a good representation of the Gonzaga community though. The program is put on by students with the guidance of a staff advisor, but the program is run by over 250 student volunteers who give up the last weekend of their summer to welcome the new students. Beyond the initial weekend, we have First-Year Seminar courses to introduce students to the Gonzaga University educational style and enter into the core curriculum (gonzaga.edu/core). As a residential campus, we also require (and guarantee) on-campus housing for two years. Therefore, more than 50% of our student population lives in community on campus (about 30% of juniors and seniors still live on campus).
What is something every visitor should do when they come to Spokane/Gonzaga?
I encourage all visitors to spend time hanging out in the Hemmingson University Center, or if the weather is nice – take a walk down to the Spokane Falls or walk around Manito Park. As for meals, there are a lot of great options right near campus like Bangkok Thai, and Pete’s Pizza and Calzones, but one personal suggestion is heading downtown to Saranac, Boots (great vegan and gluten-free options), or Blackbird.
What was the theme of the most unique essay you read this year?
One of the most memorable essays I have read in recent years was written by a student of mine from Alaska. The essay was a narrative about the time in between classes. She spoke about the people she interacted with and what that signaled to her about the community she was a part of and how she was looking for the same kind of people in a college community. The essay was not revolutionary or about an obscure topic, instead it was a well-written essay which told me something about who the student was and her view of the world.
What is a common bump that many freshman hit and how would you suggest they avoid or overcome it?
Our first-year students, like many universities, tend to enjoy the freedom of being away from mom and dad. This means they commonly become overly involved in the “fun” student life side of the experience and struggle to balance coursework early in their first semester. Gonzaga offers a number of resources to assist with this transition and to help catch students who are struggling before the damage becomes too significant. Our Center for Cura Personalis (CCP) works with students both in a preventative capacity (promoting balance, mindfulness, and healthy living) and in a responsive capacity (providing case management and counseling for students of concern). Roommate conflicts are relatively rare at Gonzaga, and while all students feel homesick, the community on campus supports students very well (our retention rate has been 92% or higher the past three years and over 90% for more than a decade).
Would you like to share a little of the experience of Gonzaga's journey to the Final Four?
This was a very exciting year, in part due to the basketball team. The atmosphere on campus was electric (the videos down below give a good feel for life on campus during the tournament run - http://unfold.gonzaga.edu/finalfour.html).
What do you like best about living in Spokane and working at Gonzaga?
Spokane as a city provides great access to the outdoors and nature with enough concerts, events, and activity to feel like it’s a bigger city. I honestly love the balance where I can catch a major concert on Thursday night and then go backpacking in the middle of nowhere on the weekend.
If you had an alum who graduated 10 years ago visit, what would they notice as a change at Gonzaga?
The spirit and community of the school is absolutely the same as it was 10 years ago (when I was an undergraduate student), but the physical campus has changed significantly during that time. We have a new student center, multiple new academic facilities, are in the process of building a new performing arts center, and finishing a new athletic facility as well. The University is still a community oriented, student-first place, but the physical space is always evolving (as most colleges are).
Would you like to offer any admissions advice?
The advice I give to all students in the admission process is to truly be yourself. Many students (myself included when I was a high school student) get caught up in finding the most prestigious and selective college they can get into, but what really matters at the end of the year is finding the school which is the right fit (personally, academically, financially, socially, etc) for the student. No matter whether a student was admitted to one school or twenty they will only be attending one after high school so what matters is finding the school where they will truly thrive.
Creator and founder of The Accepted Life and college admissions counselors shares her thoughts, musings, and insights into the college admissions process.