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Who gets into Elite Colleges and Why

Christoph Guttenburg speaks from Duke’s perspective on who get’s in and why. A lengthy, but focused interview that will help any student or parent understand how the process works. Check out the video here

Quebec finally cuts the free lunch for Francophones

For three and half decades, the Frech speaking province has provided students from French speaking countries one of the most lucrative deals in higher education: They can attend a Quebec University for the same price as a Quebecois student does? Students from other Canadian provinces paid considerably more while international students paid 6 times more. The province has finally realised they are selling themselves short and have set to increase fees to Francophones to match the price of Canadians, noting correctly that is still a good deal:

“You never have to forget that French students under this new agreement will still only pay around $6,000, which is two to three times less than what other international students are paying at McGill,” Marcil said.

McGill along will see over a 4 million dollar rise in revenue. 

Imagine four years of eating meals like this…

..and the freshman 15 may be the least of your worries. 

Seriously, long gone are the days of Gruel and rubber chicken passing off for food in College Dining Hall. The Huffington Post has done possibly its biggest public service by providing the list of great college cafeterias


Early admit rate round up–updated

Results are starting to be posted. If you know some, let me know and I will update. 

Brown – ED – 20% – 617 out of 3016

Darmouth admits 483 from 1859–26%–a 10% increase

Columbia released but did not tell how many they took of their 3373 applications (2.3% increase)

Cornell releeased but no numbers

Duke admitted 815 out of 3180–26%

Georegetown: Of the 6,840 candidates who completed their Early Action applications by the November 1 deadline, approximately 13% were offered admission. 

Harvard – SCEA 16.5% – 977 (calculated) out of 5919–26% increase of applications

Johns Hopkins accepted 539 from 1865 applications–most ever–29%. And they mistakenly congratulated even more

MIT accepted 625 of its 6,519 early decision applicants for a 9.6% acceptance rate.

NorthwesternWith 1,011 students receiving early admission, from a pool of 2,793 –49% of the class. 

Princeton 767 students from a pool of 3,850 –20%

Stanford 743 from 7297 --their largest pool –10%

UPENN–admitted 1,316 early-decision applicants from 5,489 applicants 23.97%

Williams 244 of 593–up 7% from last year. 

Yale-admitted 753, or 16 percent, of its early applicants to the class of 2019 from a pool of 4,693. 

Still waiting to hear about:

Amherst ED1 Dec 15
Babson ED Dec 9
Bard EA by Dec 31
Barnard ED Dec 11
Bowdoin ED Dec 11 after 7 pm
Carnegie Mellon ED Dec 15
Claremont McKenna ED Dec 15
Colby ED Dec12 after 5 pm
Colorado College ED Dec15; EA Dec 18
Columbia ED Dec 11
Cornell ED Dec 11
Dartmouth ED Dec 12
Davidson Dec 15
Emory Dec 15
Georgia Tech EA Jan 10
Hamilton Dec 12
Haverford ED Dec 12
Johns Hopkins ED Dec 12
Middlebury ED Dec 6 @ 8am
NYU Dec 15
NC State First Deadline (apply by Oct 15) Dec 15
Pomona Dec 15
Princeton SCEA Dec 15
Purdue EA starts Dec 12 (rolling)
Rensselaer ED1 Dec13, ED2 Jan 17
Smith ED1 Dec 12 after 6pm
Tulane EA by Dec 15
UMaryland Priority by Jan 31
UMich EA Dec 24
UVA EA Jan 31
Vanderbilt Dec 15
Vassar ED I Dec 11 @ ~5pm
Villanova ED Dec 20
Virginia Tech ED Dec 15
Wash U (WUSTL) ED Dec 15

The Even Better list if you want to work at Apple

Business insider crunched the numbers from Linked-In profiles and decided that best university to attend if you want to work at Apple is San Jose State University. This makes perfect sense. It is only 10 miles from the main Apple Campus at Cupertino. The only university closer is Santa Clara, which is just under 9 miles away. But Santa Clara came in number 11 despite early articles indicating they were top 5. But Santa Clara is also considerably smaller than all of the top 10 except Stanford, which is about 20% larger. So what if we took into account not just how many people work at Apple from a particular university, but also the potential talent (in this case the actual size of the undergraduate population), we get a very different list:


Weighted Rank



 Stanford University


 Massachusetts Institute of Technology


 Santa Clara University


 Carnegie Mellon University


 San Jose State University


 University of California, Berkeley


 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo


 University of Southern California


 University of California, Santa Cruz


 The University of Texas at Austin


 San Francisco State University


 University of California, Los Angeles


 University of California, Davis


 University of California, San Diego


 University of California, Santa Barbara


 University of Michigan


 Georgia Institute of Technology


 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


 Arizona State University


 University of Phoenix


So if you want to work at Apple, and you are a good student, but not a super star, consider attending Santa Clara, San Jose State, Cal Poly or San Franscisco State. All enjoy a degree f proximity to Infinity Loop. All would take a good student student. 

Is the common app evil?

Richard Niesen pens an interesting piece on Quora building on the report realsed by Moody’s (the Bond Rating Company). The graph below speaks volumes:

He lays blame squarely at the feet of the common app as this tool has made it far easier to apply to college. He ignores the other dynamics at play like:

Brand consciousness (Much of the increase in applications is actually at the top tier of ranked colleges)

follow the money (Rich universities can afford to provide support that could make a private college cheaper than a public one)

Media frenzy on the admissions front 

Still, there is no mistaking the impact:

Yes, yield rate is down. But not everywhere. Early decision programs help with that. 

So while the common app has made it easier to apply to mre schools, the way socieity has evolved to value particular colleges has created a vortex of common sensibility. 

Linked in now ranking out

Linked-in is jumping into the rankings game (again):

  1. First, we identified the top companies where software developers are choosing to work.
  2. Next, we found people on LinkedIn who work as software developersand saw where they went to school.
  3. Finally, for each school, we found the percentage of these alumni who’ve landed software development jobs at these top companies, then compared the percentages to come up with the list.

So, if you care about outcomes the Linked-In Rankings may be just the thing you need. Given that Linked=In is the Go To Network for professionals, it is an interesting place to datamine

Huge samples and granular details make the new rankings interesting, Schneider said, whether or not they really take off as a consumer guide to college.

“They’re getting smart about how to tap into this big database,” he said of LinkedIn. “This is big data.”

Taking a closer look at one ranking, the accounting, we can guage how it compares to other well known rankings:









Super ranking

Villanova University






University of Notre Dame






Boston College






Lehigh University






Emory University






University of Southern California






Fairfield University






Santa Clara University






University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign






Wake Forest University






Only two colleges appear on all lists: The fighting Irish and the mighty Illini. The Linked in one does raise eyebrows because so many of the schools do NOT appear on other lists.  

Super ranking:

#1. Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Management

#2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Business

#3. The University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

#4. University of Texas at Austin, McCombs Schools of Business

#5. Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

#6. University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School

#7. University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

#8. Wake Forest University School of Business

#9. University of Washington, Foster School of Business

#10. University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

#11. Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

#12. University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

#13. Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

#14. New York University, Stern School of Business

#15. Bentley University
#16. Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business

#17. University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business

#18. Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

#19. Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

#20. University of Florida, Warrington College of Business Administration

#21. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ross School of Business

#22. University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business

#23. Cornell University, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
#24. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler School of Business

#25. Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

#26. University of Missouri, Trulaske College of Business

#27. Boston College, Carroll School of Management

#28. Miami University-Ohio, Farmer School of Business

#29. Northern Illinois University College of Business

#30. University of Tennessee College of Business Administration




Public accounting report ranking

1 1 University of Texas

2 2 University of Illinois

3 3 Brigham Young University

4 9 University of Mississippi

5 5 Notre Dame University

6 4 University of Southern California

7 10 Texas A&M University

8 6 Indiana University

9 8 University of Florida

10 7 The Ohio State University


Bloomberg Businessweek


Brigham Young (Marriott)



Notre Dame (Mendoza)



UC Berkeley (Haas)



Cornell (Dyson)



Illinois – Urbana-Champaign



Tulsa (Collins)



Richmond (Robins)



Southern Methodist (Cox)



Wake Forest



Tulane (Freeman)





#1 University of Texas—?Austin

#2 University of Illinois—?Urbana-?Champaign

#3Brigham Young University—?Provo

#4 University of Notre Dame

#5 University of Pennsylvania

#5 University of Southern California

#7 University of Michigan—?Ann Arbor

#8 Indiana University Blommington

#9 New York University

#10 Ohio State University—?Columbus



New UCAS Tariff scores released—Will AP students find it harder to get in?

How does UCAS evaluate IB and AP vs A-Levels? They hae revamped the tarrif tables. 

The table below suggests that IB HL fares well against their A-Level counterparts (although it is statistically much more difficult to get a 7 on an IB HL subject than a A* on most A-level subjects). IB SL is clearly held with some disdain getting half the marks of the HL Counter parts (A 7 in SL gets 28 points whereas Hl gets 56). Since the bulk of IB Hl and SL courses share the same common core, this undervalues the SL). Aps are seen as equivalent as SL courses, but clearly worth much less than A-levels. A student earning a D in A-level History (scoring on the 13th percentile) for example earns exactly the same as a student earning a 4 on AP World History (93 percentile) or a 6 on SL History (94 percentile).*   In fairness, most students applying to the UK with IB apply with the IB diploma and most universities put the conditions on the HL subjects. AP on the other hand may well end up getting the short end of the straw.

An offer based on Three A-levels at grades A, B, B is 128 new tariff points. The same AP student would need to submit 5 APs just to be able to earn enough points (4 at scores of 5 and one more at 2 or above). Granted they can spread the APs out over two years. But what about a more elite admission standard of A*, A, A (152 New Tariff Points). You would need 6 APs, mostly at 5.

The Table provides a comparison of the tariff points earned by each qualification.






A Levels










































































































In fairness, UK Universities can ignore the Tarrif Tables. But will they?

 *percentilles based on score results for the 2013 examinations. 

Structures that promote caring, Part II: The Residential College

Residential Colleges

Since the earliest days of Universities, students have lived in a system that has become known as the Residential College. Starting in Cambridge and Oxford, many other universities adopted the Residential Colleges as they sprung up. In modern times, the residential college has become synonamous with places like YaleRice, and University of California at Santa Cruz.  Collegiate way lists another 28 colleges in the USA that offer students the opportunity to live and learn in a residential college. Some Universities, like Duke and Vanderbilt offer a freshman residential experience that would be on par.

The Residential College is not just a dormitory, but something much more important and integral to the learning experience:

In its most generic sense, the term may be used to refer to an institution that houses most of its students on-campus as opposed to an institution with a large commuter or off-campus population. Many small, independent, liberal arts colleges conform to this definition of residential college. In a more restricted sense, the term residential college may be used interchangeably with terms such as living-learning center, theme house, and residential learning community. This usage, however, may obscure important differences between the classical model of residential college, conventional residence halls, and other types of contemporary residence education programs.

And more:

A 1998 meta-analysis by Gregory Blimling of studies published from 1966 through June 1997 shows, however, that residential colleges, as compared to conventional halls, increase students’ academic performance and retention and enhance the social climate of the living unit. Blimling’s study does not distinguish clearly between classic residential colleges and living-learning centers.

According to studies conducted in 1991 by George D. Kuh and associates and in 1993 by Jerry A. Stark, faculty participating in residential colleges or living/learning centers report improvement in their teaching skills and enhanced relationships with faculty from other disciplines. Frances Arndt reported in 1993 that faculty also held positive attitudes about opportunities offered by residential colleges for teaching a variety of special and experimental courses.

Also well worth the reading an artcile for StateUniversity.Com And this: 

Previous literature has consistently demonstrated a positive influence of residential living on the success of a student’s university experience (Stevens, 1996; LaNasa, Olson & Alleman, 2007). The impact of residential living on the university experience is believed to be multidimensional (Zhao & Kuh, 2004), it may also depend on how satisfied the student is with their arrangement. The most successful residential colleges are those living-learning colleges prominent in USA (LaNasa et. al, 2007). These colleges facilitate not only heightened living conditions but the environment assists to recruit and support student success and learning. Therefore such findings emphasise the need for residential communities to not only be a place to live, but to also foster academics and student success. There has been shown that on-campus living has a positive, often indirect effect on student growth and social development, this is associated with the on-campus environment increasing student involvement through maximised opportunities for social, cultural and extracurricular involvement (LaNasa et al, 2007).

Other research shows that

Students in residential learning communities had significantly higher levels of involvement, interaction, integration, and gains in learning and intellectual development than did students in traditional residence halls. 

The Collegiate Way, a web sit dedicated to Residential College, provides four questions that you should ask when exploring how a college’s living situation works:

o   “How many faculty live on campus?” The number of faculty living on campus is a good sign of an institution’s commitment to creating a comprehensive educational environment. And the question is not how many staff members or “student life professionals” live on campus, but how many faculty: professors, lecturers, deans, and so on, who not only participate in residential life but who also teach biology, or philosophy, or mathematics, or art, or some other academic discipline. Are there faculty offices in the dormitories? If so, that is also a good sign.

o   “Does the university have ‘theme halls’?” Theme halls are dormitories or dormitory corridors that group together students who have a common interest or background. Although at first glance this might seem like a good idea, theme halls are really not in students’ best educational interest. If all the art students live together, or all the science students, or all the athletes, how will any of them be able to learn and grow intellectually from exposure to the full range of talents and interests that other students have? If the university you are visiting has theme halls you might ask instead, “Why does the university segregate students in this way instead of integrating them so they can benefit from living in a diverse environment?”

o   “How many juniors and seniors live on campus?” How many graduate students? Are they segregated from the other students, or is everyone mixed together? If the campus dormitories are populated almost entirely by freshmen and sophomores, that is a bad sign. It means either that the conditions are so poor that older students don’t want to stay, or that the university is only concerned with rental occupancy and is not trying to create a rich and diverse educational environment.

o   “Do faculty eat in the campus dining halls?” If you visit a dining hall, look around and see if there are university faculty and staff eating there as well as students. Is the dining hall a noisy student ghetto with a widescreen television blaring away, or is it a relaxing, home-like place where people can talk and get to know each other?

o   “How are the dormitories used during the summer?” Many universities rent their dormitory space during the summer to make money, and in itself this is not objectionable. But who are the tenants? If the space is rented to academic societies, professional organizations, local charities, and the like, that is a good sign. If it is rented to summer sports camps, that may be a bad sign. Years of personal observation have taught me that summer sports camps are often badly supervised and commit extensive vandalism. Their presence may mean that campus buildings are so poorly maintained that more responsible groups don’t want to stay in them. Do you want your son or daughter’s campus home to be routinely vandalized over the summer?

Looking at the CollegiateWay’s listings, you can see that he makes a distinction between the Residential Colleges of Universities and the small liberal arts and science colleges that offer a very similar experience, albeit on a more intimate experience.

Each of these institutions—along with many others around the world—has established, is planning, or is expanding an internal system of residential colleges: permanent, cross-sectional, faculty-led societies that provide the advantages of a small college in the environment of a large university.

For what may be the most comprehensive listing of Residential Colleges in the world, visit Collegiate Way:



Structures that Promote Caring, Part 1: Tutorials

Gallup and Purdue’s research clearly indicte that the professor’s relationship is central to not just the student’s experience at college, but also life later on. With only 27% of college graduates indicating that they had at least one prfoessor that cared about them, clearly this suggests colleges can do more…and students should demand more. 

While this might sound fundamentally an issue of personality, but I suspect there is more to it, more that a college can do to create structures of caring. The first thing that sprang to mind is the Oxbridge Tutorial System. Oxford details their tutorial system here:

A very indepth profile of the Oxford tutorial system here. Cambridge calls their approach supervision

  • This more personal tuition, organised by your College, is one of our greatest strengths and a key advantage of studying at Cambridge – most students find their supervisions the most rewarding and beneficial part of their course.
  • Supervisions are teaching sessions for one or two students or small groups.
  • They’re led by supervisors who are specialists in the subject being studied, and could be one of the country’s or world’s leading authorities.
  • As well as helping you develop independent learning skills, supervisions enable you to explore course material in much greater depth than lectures allow, to gain further insights into your subject, to clarify anything you’re not clear about, to discuss your own work and ideas, and receive regular feedback.
  • You go to different supervisors (often, though not always, from your College) for different parts of your course, in order to learn from specialists in particular areas of your subject.
  • Typically, you have one or two hour-long supervisions each week, although the frequency does vary from course to course.
  • What actually happens during supervisions also varies but generally you’re expected to do some preparatory work for each supervision (eg reading, write an essay, work through some problems), which you then discuss in the sessions.
  • You receive regular reports from your supervisors but aren’t formally assessed on this work, so you can take advantage of this opportunity to take risks with your own ideas, investigate new approaches, and discuss the set topic as well as other aspects of the course.


A few other UK universities (EG King’s Colleg and UCL) also utalize tutorials as an integral part of the the learning experience.

Across the pond, some US colleges also utalize the tutial approach. Sarah Lawrence College has long used the same approach to their education, but called it donning. Willaims embraced the tutorial system after years of exchange students coming back with such favoruable experience at Oxford. 


Some public universities have embraced it for their honors colleges: