Monday, April 23, 2018

Babson College: Not just for Business. . .

Last week in Boston I visited Babson College, a school well known for its business and entrepreneurship programs.  Guided by a very articulate and knowledgeable Latina freshman, I learned that Babson has far more to offer than a standard undergraduate business curriculum. Here are a few highlights of what I learned from my tour :

1)   Every freshman enrolls in a two semester Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course that gives them hands-on experience in developing and running an actual business. Fall term students meet in small groups to brainstorm ideas and write business plans and spring term, financed by a $3,000 school grant, they execute and run their businesses.

Offering this course as an introductory rather than as a capstone experience, allows students to recognize and develop their particular aptitudes and choose a focus for their subsequent Babson education.

2)   Babson College participates in a consortium with Franklin Olin College of Engineering and Wellesley College, two esteemed neighboring institutions. Students can take one course a semester at either of the other two schools and collaboration among students of all three schools is encouraged.

3)   Study abroad is very popular at Babson; over 50% of Babson students participate.  The most attractive and original of the study abroad options is BRIC:  a semester long study-travel program led by Babson faculty to Russia, India and China to examine the interaction between culture and business practices.
4)   Babson also offers an accelerated degree program, allowing undergraduates the opportunity to graduate in 3 years by following a streamlined path.

While all Babson students graduate with a B.S. in business, 50% of the curriculum requirements are liberal arts, ensuring a well-rounded education.  Faculty interaction with and mentoring of students is a hallmark and as we toured the campus, I noted many groups of students collaborating on projects.  I was impressed by all the activity on campus and in the libraries/business labs. 
If you’re interested in either business or Boston, Babson is definitely a college to check out!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Why Berkeley Engineering??

Why choose Berkeley Engineering over a private liberal arts college or university?

1)  Berkeley maintains a strong reputation as one of the best engineering programs in the U.S.  A Berkeley B.S. really means something on the job market.
2) With its eight undergraduate departments: Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer Sciences, Engineering Science, Industrial & Operations Research, Materials Science , Mechanical, and Nuclear, the program is comprehensive and well-run.  It’s direct entry, so students don’t have to compete for coveted spots once admitted; it has its own engineering advisors so students don’t have to wait weeks for appointments
3) The engineering school boasts excellent facilities, specialized labs and libraries, up to date lecture halls: lecture halls have rotating stages and web cams for live streaming; the engineering library is a collaborative space for project work. Plus, the campus is beautiful, with many lovely, tucked away places for studying or just enjoying the scenery.
4) Berkeley students are active and involved.  At Sproul Plaza you can browse over 1,000 clubs and organizations to join from academic to service to performing arts; the LEAD Center is dedicated to developing student involvement and leadership, and students can choose living and social options from fraternities and sororities (12% of students) to co-ops (17 houses.)
5) A Berkeley undergraduate education costs roughly half that of a private school (roughly $36,000 cost of attendance).  The value is unbeatable!

Why not?
1) Class sizes are huge—500 or more for the first two years and upper division classes are still around 100 students.  TAs or grad students lead all the sectionals so contact with faculty can be rare.
2) As a result of the large classes and overall enrollment, students may have difficulty establishing close relationships with professors and may lack mentors to support them towards graduate school.
3) Housing can be a hassle.  While over 90% of freshmen live in campus residences, housing is not guaranteed, and after freshman year, finding affordable and safe housing can be tricky.
4) The city of Berkeley can seem overwhelming and “gritty” to students raised in the suburbs.  Not everyone loves Berkeley’s quirky, liberal vibe.
5) Berkeley Engineering is highly selective.  Because direct admission rates are so low (about 8% for the whole school and 4-5% percent for EECs and Bio-Engineering applying to an engineering major at Berkeley may mean a rejection over applying to a less impacted major.  It is very difficult, and not recommended to try to transfer in to engineering after matriculating.

*A final note: Students selected as Regent Scholars can access the best of both public and private educations: faculty mentoring, special research opportunities, 4 years of guaranteed housing, and priority registration.  If selected as a Regent, definitely go for it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Going Beyond the Typical Campus Tour

The more campuses I tour, the more I realize I need to go “below the surface” of a typical college visit.  Otherwise, I come away from the experience learning little about what it’s like to actually be a student at that school.  If you are planning to visit colleges during an upcoming school break it’s especially important not to visit too many schools back to back and to find ways to distinguish one campus from another. 

Here are some tips for going beyond the typical campus tour:
---Be sure to ask the tour guide some specific questions about her/his own experience as a student.
---Eat lunch in a campus cafeteria and approach students who are eating there with questions.  Most will be happy to share their experience.
---Beforehand, arrange a tour with an admissions officer.  You can search the school website to find out the name of your local college representative.  If he/she is not available, another staff member may be happy to meet you.
---Research your potential major and email a professor in the department, or the department administrator, about possibly setting up a visit when you are on campus.
---Contact a current student, a family friend, acquaintance, or alumnus from your high school and arrange to meet on campus. 
As you plan your campus visits, be sure to allow some “down time” to relax and re-group between each one or two tours.  Jot down your impressions while they are still fresh in your memory.  Taking photos can also help jog your memory later.

I hope you enjoy your visits—as well as experience a little of genuine campus life for students.