A Visit to Furman University

By Sue Luse


Campus fountains

Furman University is located in Greenville, South Carolina, an hour from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown is filled with traditional southern charm and has won awards for being one of America’s hottest emerging destinations and fastest growing cities. The revitalized downtown is home to quaint shops, boutiques, fabulous restaurants and a world-class collection of museums and galleries. Natural beauty is also abundant in Greenville. Many lakes and opportunities for hiking and biking. There are a few sketchy areas in Greenville, but overall a very safe area.


Library atrium

Furman is proud that 96% of their faculty have the highest degree in their field. The professors teach with passion and are what make Furman special.

Furman offers 40 areas of study with selected majors and minors, all grounded in the liberal arts. Their most popular majors are political science & government, business & commerce, health professions and related clinical studies.

Furman’s mission is engaged learning. This commitment makes them 4th in the nation in undergraduate research. They offer research for all majors – education, science, psychology, etc. And there is funding for research including travel.

Many exciting opportunities exist to study away from Furman . They offer faculty-led Study Away programs including opportunities that range from their three-week intensive May Experience courses to semester or yearlong programs, both in the U.S. and abroad. Students begin planning for Study Away early in their Furman years.

Ample internship opportunities exist as well…..(add blurb about 70% majors built after Sue explains) Furman has 250 partners in the Greenville area as well as connections all over the country.

Academic Facts & Figures

  • Student-to-faculty ratio:11:1
  • Average class size:19
  • Areas of study:45
  • Graduate in 4 years:80%
  • Graduate in 5 years:85%
  • Retention rate:89%
  • Placement rate:96%
  • Study away participation:45%
  • Internship or research participation:Over 75%

Student Life

Student Body

Student bongo drum

There are 2,700 students with 72% of them from out-of-state. Being a private and somewhat expensive university, you will find many conservative and preppy students. However, most students find the campus very accepting. And most students are very committed to their academic pursuits.



Furman believes that their students’ residential experience is a critical part of their education. That’s why they provide housing for all students for all four years – 100% of students live on campus. This is not a suitcase college. They have 12 residence halls, ranging from four-person suites to traditional dormitories. Some of the residence halls are coed, but men and women live on different floors with separate bath facilities.


Tents on campus

While weeknights are mostly spent studying, being in close proximity to Greenville allows students plenty of things to do on the weekends. On campus there are 150 clubs including ultimate​ frisbee, WPLS radio, film clubs, student government and Greek organizations


Athletic work out area

Furman has 20 NCAA Division I teams, numerous club sports and dozens of intramural squads, so it’s easy to be involved in sports in one way or another. The recently renovated Herman W. Lay Physical Activities Center has a basketball court, a dance studio, a racquetball court, a swimming pool, and dozens of aerobic and weightlifting machines.

Being in close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains and South Carolina coastline beaches, there’s plenty of adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. They even offer a freshman outdoor program called the Paladin Outdoor Program, where new students get to experience South Carolina’s natural beauty while meeting other new classmates. Outdoor fun includes kayaking, ziplining and rafting.


Rose garden
  • Average GPA of 3.6
  • Average ACT is 29 and they do superscore
  • They utilize the Common App
  • While Furman is test optional, approx 80% of students provide test scores
  • One letter of recommendation is required and they will accept more
  • They want students who demonstrate interest
  • ED & EA deadlines are Nov. 1 with decisions made by Dec. 20
  • By submitting an application, you are automatically considered for merit scholarships and ample merit money is available – 86% of students receive some sort of aid
  • They offer some full-tuition scholarships where a separate application is necessary including 4 additional essays
  • Tuition is $58,250
  • Don’t require FAFSA

What Kind of Student Would Be Happy Here

A student who is serious about academics. Who enjoys being near a vibrant city with all it has to offer yet appreciates the beauty of the surroundings.  Someone who is rather conservative yet accepting.

Sue with pennantTour guideSue with student AnnikasceneryscenerysceneryStudy roomInfo SessionInfo SessionRose gardenCampus fountainsView from bus

A Visit to Warren Wilson College

By Sue Luse


Warren Wilson is located in Asheville, North Carolina, in the western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. Its Downtown Art District is filled with galleries and museums.



Warren Wilson is a private four-year liberal arts work college. They are one of the few work colleges around. In addition to strong academics, they emphasize work and service as mandatory campus experience. They have a 600+ acre forest and living lab,as well as a working farm. Warren Wilson originally started as a farm school to provide basic education for boys from the Appalachian region. In 1942 it became a junior college and in 1967 it became a four-year liberal arts college. In 1981, they added a graduate program, an MFA in Creative Writing.

Student Population


Most of Warren Wilson’s approx 1,000 students come from over 100 miles away, with 80% from out-of-state. Most students are progressive, liberal, activists and intellectually curious about the world. Sustainability is important to the student body and 30% of the food comes from local sources, including their own farm and garden. They have a student-run vegan cafe. They are themost LGBTQ campus in North Carolina and considered a place where students can promote their own platform. Although the campus and surrounding area does not reflect ethnic diversity as much as the College would like, the campus does encourage a diversity of thought and experiences, in addition to promoting ethnic diversity as part of the College’s strategic priorities.

Student Life

Lofted area

Students are expected to complete a requisite course of study, work an on-campus job, and perform community service. Students work approx 15 hours a week and earn money for tuition. The work options include more than 100 work crews, with some popular ones being fine woodworking, farming, animal husbandry, crew, crafts, car mechanics, fiber arts, college press, arts, music, forestry and cleaning and kitchen jobs. Warren Wilson offers men’s and women’s sports as well as club sports. They also prepare students for applying to the Peace Corp. Approx 98% of students live on campus.


You can choose from 34 academic programs, 24 minors and a wide variety of concentrations. They also have an integrative studies option that lets you design your own major. With an average class size of 14, professors not only know your name, but your passion as well. The student to teacher ratio is 10:1. Advisors recommend which work crew students should be on that fits well with the students overall plans. They want students to experience the type of work environment they are interested in. Not only are there transcripts for grades, but for work and service as well. Warren Wilson’s top major is environmental science. Another popular major is creative writing.


Warren Wilson looks for balanced students with personal integrity and the desire to support the mission of the College. All available information is considered – academic records, evidence of academic and social maturity, extra-curricular activities, community service, SAT or ACT scores (but it is a test-optional school), essays, references, recent grade trends and contributions to school and community.

  • Has a high acceptance rate
  • Would rather see a lower GPA and a student that displays intellectual curiosity
  • Want to see a passion for learning
  • Use the Common app and supplements
  • Offer ED and EA
  • Approx $41,000 per year (through the Work Program all students receive compensation towards their tuition)
  • Scholarships up to $18,0000 available up; additional need-based aid awarded based on FAFSA
  • Very supportive of GAP years

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

Students who have a passion for learning and are naturally curious, hardworking, and are interested in the environment and sustainability. Those who want to make an impact on the world and believe that the process of becoming an adult is a holistic, whole-person process.

WalkwayStaff tour guideScenerySceneryGroundsCat

Finding A Private High School That’s The Right Fit

Twin Cities Business photo of students.

Sue Luse shares her expertise with Twin Cities Business on finding a private high school that’s the right fit.

A Visit To The University of North Carolina – Asheville

By Sue Luse


Asheville is a city in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. Its Downtown Art District is filled with galleries and museums, and in the nearby River Arts District, former factory buildings house artists’ studios. UNC – Asheville is only a mile from town and has a gorgeous campus – beautiful view of the mountains.



This is a public liberal arts colleges which requires a liberal arts core. Their psychology and environmental science programs are nationally ranked. They have a very strong music technology program. Also offer unique atmospheric science and meteorolgy programs. BTW Asheville, and North Carolina in general, are known for their crazy weather patterns – they can range from the 70’s one day to snow the next.

Large variety of programs, departments, majors and minors. Undergraduate research is huge here. UNC Asheville founded one of the top conferences in the nation – the National Conference on Undergraduate Research – and to this day more than 60 percent of students complete original research on a topic of their choice. Also UNC Asheville overlaps with Appalachian State, Clemson, Warren Wilson, UNC Willmington (on the coast), Wofford, Furman, High Point and Elon.

Student Life

Student Body


UNC Asheville’s student body leans towards progressive and the city of Asheville is a more liberal city than others in this bible belt area.  The students here seem to yearn for a more liberal and tolerant atmosphere. There is 15% diversity which reflects the western North Carolina area. About 15% of students are from out-of-state. They have a small Greek system – about 5%. All freshman have to live on campus and 42% overall live on campus, while the rest of the students live in apartments close by.


Music and theater are very popular here and students are welcome to be involved in Asheville’s theater as well. There is a very active student government. Outdoor recreation is also huge at UNC Asheville, including canoeing, climbing and hiking. Plenty of recreational activities and student organizations to be involved in.


While they don’t have football, they have 15 NCAA Division I teams. Their newest athletic complex – the Sherrill Center – includes a 3,800 seat Kimmel Arena, home of Bulldog Basketball (they almost beat Syracuse in 2012). The swim team is nationally ranked.


  • Utilize Common App and require letters of recommendation
  • Holistically review applications
  • Sue at UNC Asheville
  • Average GPA 4.1 weighted where 5.0 is the highest (which means students take 2-3 honors classes)
  • For unweighted, the average GPA is 3.3
  • They don’t look at class rank
  • Average ACT is 23-28 (they do not superscore and they require the ACT with Writing)
  • Early Action deadline is Nov. 15
  • Regular Decision deadline is Feb. 15
  • Last year (Class of 2015) they had a wait list
  • Most kids that apply here in these ranges so their acceptance rate is 77% which is high
  • Tuition is $40,000 for out-of-state, which is a bargain

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

A student seeking a broad-based liberal arts education who enjoys being a critical thinker while maintaining and enhancing their creative abilities.

A Visit to Bob Jones University

By Sue Luse



Bob Jones University is located in Greenville, South Carolina, an hour from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown is filled with traditional southern charm and has won awards for being one of America’s hottest emerging destinations and fastest growing cities. The revitalized downtown is home to quaint shops, boutiques, fabulous restaurants and a world-class collection of museums and galleries. Natural beauty is also abundant in Greenville. Many lakes and opportunities for hiking and biking. There are a few sketchy areas in Greenville, but overall a very safe area.



Bob Jones is a private, liberal arts college that embraces biblically-based Christian faith. The bible is considered infallible – the literal Word of God. Students are required to attend chapel every day at 11, Mondays through Thursdays. Many students also attend local churches in town. They have Christian societies similar to Greek systems. While non-denominational, there are many Baptists, and Evangelical conservative Christians there. Approximately 60% of students are from out-of-state, approximately 30% commute, and approximately 34% have been home-schooled.


Bob Jones has a core curriculum including bible courses and liberal arts courses – students are required to take 8 bible courses. They offer a bible major for future pastors. There are 6 schools:

  • School of Religion
  • College of Art & Science
  • School of Business
  • School of Education
  • School of Fine Arts & Communication
  • Seminary & Graduate School of Religion

Popular majors include nursing, pre-med (80% med school acceptance rate), engineering (90% pass rate on National Engineering Exam) music, theater and production. They also offer apparel design using biblical guidelines of modesty.

Student Life


Bob Jones has a dress codes – girls must wear skirts or dresses, and boys wear slacks, a belt and a colored shirt. There are no co-ed dorms.

They do have athletics, but The Bruins have no football. Bob Jones is part of the NCCAA , the National Christian College Athletic Association (soccer is big), but they don’t offer athletic scholarships. Greenville’s Fluor Field is home to the Boston Red Sox-owned minor league team, the Greenville Drive. Intramural sports are offered.

Bob Jones has Christian societies similar to Greek systems. At the beginning of the school year, society booths are set up for the purpose of welcoming and encouraging you to join their societies. This fantastic food-filled, 2-week event is called Rush. At the end of Rush, new students meet to choose and then join a society at an undisclosed location on campus where the rest of the members are waiting to welcome you with food and inductions. Mission teams are popular and they often tour the country and even go international. Students spend a lot of time evangelizing and serving the community.


Staff Student
  • No required ACT or SAT score except for the nursing program the minimum ACT is 20
  • Home-schooled students need to take the ACT for Admissions and everyone takes the ACT for placement in courses
  • Almost everyone who wants to attend Bob Jones is accepted
  • Three letters of recommendation are required including a pastor, a school official and a general reference such as a mentor, boss or coach.
  • They offer scholarships based on character, academics and financial need

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

A student who wants to grow spiritually, academically and be prepared to serve God.  A student who wishes to build their faith, be inspired, accept challenges and follow Christ.

Walkwaypiano auditoriumCafe

A Visit to Clemson

By Sue Luse


Clock tower

Clemson University is located in Clemson, South Carolina, a college town that is small and rural. It lies in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the banks of Lake Hartwell. The nearest airport is in Greenville, South Carolina.


Clemson has the perks of a big school but with small classes. There are 17,000 undergraduates. They lead the way in providing a hands-on education with lots of undergraduate research. Majors include:

  • Nursing
  • Early Childhood
  • Architecture
  • Communications
  • Marketing
  • Engineering (a big program at Clemson)

Student Population

Memorial Statium

Clemson is filled with traditional school spirit and everyone is friendly! Located in the Bible Belt so students tend to be conservative. There are preppy students as well. This is not a suitcase college. The dorms are standard – nothing special. Approx. 25% Greek and approx. 38% of students are from out-of-state.

Student Life


  • Swimming is popular and they are in the process of building an outdoor pool. Due to campus being on shore to Lake Hartwell, rowing teams and fishing are popular. Clemson is an hour from the mountains so there are ample opportunities for hiking.
  • Clemson Outdoor Recreation & Education (CORE) offers a variety of outdoor adventure activities including backpacking, hiking, river running, canoeing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing.
  • Clemson belongs to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Their big-time school spirit helped vote them as #1 in college football atmosphere. Clemson’s Memorial Stadium has 81,000 seats. Tailgating is huge.
  • The Brooks Center for the Performing Arts is a state-of-the-art facility that attracts many nationally and internationally acclaimed dance companies, theater troupes, and music ensembles of all types.


Clemson is not a suitcase college. The dorms are standard but there are lots of options. Offer a variety of living options including Learning-Living Communities. Approx. 25% Greek.


Sue at Clemson
  • Average ACT of 27-31
  • Class Rank top 10%
  • Admittance rate is 50%
  • 92% retention rate
  • Out-of-state admittance is a bit more difficult
  • Not a Common App school
  • No essays or letters of recommendations
  • They do consider a student’s choice of major

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here:

Someone that loves school spirit, enjoys rigorous coursework, feels comfortable in a rural college town and appreciates the outdoors.

sceneryscenerycampus viewSue with pennant

A Visit to The Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina

By Sue Luse



The Citadel is located about a mile from downtown Charleston. Known for its beautiful beaches, world-class cuisine and historic downtown, Charleston, South Carolina is the number one tourist destination in the US according to Conde Naste Traveler’s 2011-2014 rankings. Plenty to do in this city filled with southern charm, a friendly atmosphere and a unique culture. From events and fairs to museums and historical sites, Charleston offers something for everyone.

About The Citadel

The Citadel of the 21st Century remains true to it’s original vision – instilling in Cadets the core values of integrity, honesty, and responsibility in a disciplined academic environment, thereby preparing its graduates to understand their obligations as citizens, and to become principled leaders in whatever their chosen field of endeavor is.

Campus bldg

Citadel graduates have participated in many of the pivotal events in our nation’s history, and have fought in every American war since the Mexican War of 1846. Alumni have achieved prominence in such diverse fields as military and government service, science and engineering, education, literature, business, the medical and legal professions and theology. The Citadel’s legacy of service to the State of South Caroline and our Nation is a tradition of which its founding fathers would be justly proud.

Life at The Citadel

  • Cadets are in uniform all day
  • Freshman are called “knobs” and are considered the 4th Class System (meaning lowest class); in fact, when in the presence of upper class cadets, they are required to “brace” a form of attention where they try to touch their chin to their spine.
  • All cadets are in ROTC.
  • Citadel Bulldog
  • A 4-Year Leadership Model is followed:
    • Freshman – learn about leadership
    • Sophomores are servant leaders
    • Juniors are sergeants and leaders
    • Seniors are commanders
  • In the first year, boot camp comes before school starts – very intensive and they lose about 15% of new cadets the first week
  • In the summer, they offer a non-military program for the seniors
  • 50% of students are from out-of-state
  • Freshman can’t leave until after first semester
  • All cadets march to football games in uniform
  • On Fridays the cadets wear dress uniforms and parade in formation



The Citadel takes pride in educating the “Whole Person” – mind, body, and spirit – and the cadet lifestyle is an important aspect of this educational process. From the freshman year until graduation, numerous opportunities and challenges are afforded cadets both within the cadet companies and through the many cadet organizations on campus.



Life at The Citadel is regimented. Students are involved in sports and clubs, but most of their day is scheduled with military and classes. Freshman live on a 24 hour calendar and every minute is scheduled. Cadets do more by breakfast time than other students do before dinner. Physical training is twice a week before breakfast. Students are off Fridays and Saturdays, but have to earn it.

Here’s an example of a typical day:

  • Up at 5:30
  • Formation
  • Breakfast
  • Class starts at 8
  • Formation before lunch
  • Lunch – they feed 2,300 students very quickly in family-style dining
  • Classes end at 3
  • Then some time for sports, clubs, ROTC, etc.
  • Formation before dinner
  • Study from 8-11 Sunday – Thursday (No exceptions)


Tour guide

The average GPA is 3.5 – 3.9 and the average ACT is 23 – 27. They look for challenging high school courses.

Incoming students must pass a fitness test and continue to take physical fitness tests during their time at The Citadel:

The Citadel Physical Effectiveness Program (CPEP) is administered by the Health, Exercise, and Sport Science Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Commandant. Based upon the idea that effective leaders take pride in their own level of physical fitness, the CPEP focuses on two crucial components: body composition and physical training (PT). Cadets are expected to meet and maintain prescribed height and weight requirements. In addition, the Corps of Cadets is required to take a PT test each semester. To be classified as physically proficient, cadets must perform satisfactorily in both these areas. They must also be physically proficient to be considered for rank in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.
Height/Weight Standards for Entering Cadets:
For Males | For Females
The Citadel Physical Fitness Test (CPFT) is given at various times during each semester. Any cadet failing to meet minimum standards at any application of the test will be assigned to a remedial physical fitness program. Cadets must satisfactorily pass the physical fitness test to be physically proficient, which is a requirement to qualify for class privileges and graduation. NOTE: The sit-ups and push-ups are timed tests. You must complete the minimum required in two minutes – two minutes for the sit-up portion; another two minute period for the push-up portion.

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

The Citadel is not just about academics; fitness and a desire to serve are even more important. Students who excel in leadership roles – ie captain of the football team or student body president. Many Eagle Scouts and Girl Scouts attend The Citadel. A student who has a hear and wants to serve their country. The Citadel does accept women, but right now they are only at 7%.

military tankMemorialRocket

A Visit to the University of South Carolina

By Sue Luse


USC is located in Columbia, South Carolina, which is the capital and largest city in South Carolina. Columbia is very scenic and lies at the confluence of the Saluda River and the Broad River,which merge to form the Congaree River. As with most of South Carolina, Columbia is known for it’s mild winters, early springs, warm autumns and, of course, it’s hot and humid summers.

USC is a beautiful leafy campus with a reflecting pool and fountains. The campus is close to Five Points – an area of college-friendly restaurants, bars and unique shops.  There’s world-famous beaches and the Blue Ridge Mountains less than 3 hours away.


USC’s undergraduate curriculum begins with the Carolina Core, made up of foundational courses, which apply across disciplines. Students select foundational Carolina Core courses that span the liberal arts and sciences.  In addition, students choose an integrated Carolina Core course in their program major. Leadership is emphasized and at the core of the classes that form USC’s educational requirements.

USC has 15 Colleges & Schools, offers more than 350 degree programs and encourages research. The most popular majors are International Business, Engineering, Hotel Management, Psychology, Nursing and Law Enforcement. Freshman will attend a lot of large lecture classes.

Student Life



  • Residence halls are considered to be learning-enhancing communities. Students choose between General Learning Communities in which residents have a variety of majors and academic interests or Associated Learning Communities which have a specific academic focus.


  • More than 400 student organizations on campus
  • The Leadership & Service Center provides plenty of programs to help connect students to the larger community
  • Plenty of musical performances, theater and dance events and art events and exhibits
  • USC offers intramural sports, club sports and lots of outdoor recreation opportunities and has a new state of the art fitness center


USC Football Stadium

USC Football Stadium

  • Carolina football teams consistently attract standing-room only crowds to the Williams-Brice Stadium. The atmosphere on game days has been voted “the best” by SECsports.com. In addition to serving as the home of the Gamecocks, the stadium has been the site of many concerts, state high school football championships, and various other events. The stadium is sometimes called “The Cock Pit” by Gamecock fans and local media, and seats over 80,000.
  • At the open of the 2012 season, the stadium featured a new Daktronics 36′ high by 124′ wide high-definition video scoreboard – the 3rd largest in the Southeastern conference. Also unveiled was a new 52-acre tailgating area, landscaped with over 650 trees and featuring a 100′ wide pathway called the “Garnet Way”.  At games, the team, the band and the cheerleaders now walk this pathway as they enter the stadium.


  • Admission to USC is primarily based on high school courses and grades as well as SAT or ACT Scores
  • Average ACT of 24-29 and average SAT of 11-30-1280
  • 75% of admitted 2014 students earned a weighted core GPA of at least 3.59
  • Students who complete the required 18 high school academic units with at least a 3.5 GPA and earn scores as mentioned above are usually competitive for admission
  • Letters of Recommendation are NOT required
  • USC’s acceptance rate is 64%
  • Non-resident estimated tuition, housing, meals, books & supplies is $41,712
  • Students with excellent high school grades and competitive ACT or SAT scores are considered for merit scholarships

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

USC is full of outgoing and friendly students who love Carolina and have been cheering on the Gamecocks all their lives. Even though South Carolina is a conservative state, USC attracts all kinds of students though many are religious. Northern students fit in just fine even though you would stand out coming from Minnesota. Students who love an active Greek life and school spirit with fun tailgating will find this campus welcoming. With 97 percent of freshman living on campus, USC does not feel like a suitcase college. And for students looking for challenging academics, the South Carolina Honors College is ranked number one in the country compared to other public universities.

FountainCampusCampusCampusBeach Volleyball CourtsSue at USC

A Visit to College of Charleston

By Sue Luse


The College of Charleston is a beautiful, historic college located in one of the south’s most popular and charming cities! A coastal city, Charleston is home to three beautiful beaches including Folly Beach on James Island. The City of Charleston embraces the College of Charleston providing jobs and internships. Many of the faculty live close by.

Sue visited on a beautiful sunny day. While the campus, built in 1770,  is part of the bustling city in which it’s located, it still feels very calm and peaceful.  Charleston is considered one of the friendliest cities in the U.S. There are 8 coffee shops within walking distance from campus. There’s an airport in town which is always a plus. Charleston is one of the top 10 fastest growing cities and is considered an economic powerhouse and tech sector. The creator of Snapchat went to the College of Charleston as a computer science major.

Charleston 2


The College of Charleston is a liberal arts college with a population of approximately 10,448 students, with 40% of them being from out-of-state. There are students from all states except South Dakota. Their most popular majors are business, art, biology, psychology and historic preservation.

There are 6 colleges:

  • School of the Arts where majors include art history, music, studio art, theatre and dance, arts management, historic preservation and community planning.
  • School of Business is a large college and most of the students study abroad and complete internships. Majors include accounting, business administration, economics, finance, hospitality and tourism management, international business and marketing.
  • School of Education, Health & Human Performance where majors include education, physical education, public health, athletic training and exercise science. There is no nursing program.
  • School of Humanities & Social Sciences is the largest college and encompasses nine departments (communication, English, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology and religious studies) as well as a popular program in urban studies. Very successful pre-law program, good communications program including broadcast journalism. Public health is a fast-growing major.
  • School of Languages, Culture & World Affairs offers a comprehensive undergraduate foreign language program. There are majors in three foreign languages (Spanish, French and German) and Classical studies, as well as majors in Latin American and Caribbean studies, Jewish studies and international studies. In addition, students can study six “critical languages” (Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese and Russian), as well as Greek, Latin, Portuguese and Italian.
  • School of Sciences & Mathematics consists of six departments (biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics and physics and astronomy. Marine biology is a stand-out program.  Students have access to advanced resources such as Grice Marine Laboratory, S.C. Space Grant Consortium, Geographical Information Systems Lab and Project Oceanica.While there is no engineering, they have a good computer science program with a brand new building on the waterfront.

Student Life


Outside grounds
  • Three nearby beaches, three professional sports teams close by, lots of concerts and art festivals. Since Charleston is a very popular tourist city, there are lots of fun places to go, stay and eat – parents love it!
  • The students are very diverse – hipsters, jocks, southern belles, Greeks, beach bums, etc.
  • With so much offered in such close proximity, students do not need cars and transit is free. You need 30 credit hours to have a car on campus.
  • 200 clubs including Cheese Club and Quidditch
  • Country singer, Darius Rucker, lives in Charleston and offers free concerts
  • Cougar is the mascot and there are 19 Div I teams (no football)


Beautiful house-building
  • Most students stay on campus
  • Prices vary on dorms – there are some really nice options. Lots of historic houses have been converted to dorms
  • 20% Greek – there are small Greek Houses but it’s not a big part of the campus


  • A/B unweighted GPA average
  • 1070-1230 SAT for in-state students (critical reading and math only). 1140-1280 SAT for out-of-state students (critical reading and math only)
  • Superscore the SAT but not the ACT
  • 23-27 ACT for in-state students. 25-29 ACT range for out-of-state students
  • The Honors College requires 29 ACT and 3.8 GPA
  • Class rank in the top 20 percent
  • Consistent academic achievement in the A/B range
  • Strong high school curriculum (above our required curriculum)
  • Apply by November for early notification
  • Randolph Hall - source Wikipedia.org
  • Merit Scholarships offered
  • You must apply to a certain college
  • Not a Common App school; require a college-specific essay and personal statement
  • 28,000 per year for out-of-state tuition, room & board 12,000, so approx $40,000 a year

What Kind of Student Would Be Happy Here

A student who is looking for an urban environment in a lovely southern historic city. There are many types of students including artsy, athletic, political, preppy, and they tend to be confident and independent. Someone who does not “need” a football team and loves warm beach weather. Students here are smart, well-rounded and willing to work hard.

Albert_Simons_Center_for_the_Arts_CofCLibraryFountainsCharleston 1Tour guide

A Visit to Rice University

By Sue Luse


Rice University, a private university which leads in research, is located in Houston, Texas. A small and very diverse campus of 3,800 students, Rice provides rigorous coursework in various sciences as well as humanities & music. Competitive programs that are consistently top rated include engineering, architecture, pre-med, and pre-law.


Undergraduate research both on and off campus allows students exposure to a variety of unique opportunities, with partners including NASA, Texas Medical Center (conveniently located across the street), as well as 26 Fortune 500 companies.

Student Life

Every incoming student is assigned to one of 11 residential colleges, each having students of all different backgrounds. This system is considered the heart of campus life, providing a small community where students live, dine, and interact, as well as emphasizing self-government, faculty-student interaction, and intellectual & cultural activities outside the classroom.


Rice sports are at the NCAA Division I level with 14 teams, so student athletes are common and sporting events are high in attendance, particularly baseball. The campus is gated and secure with light rail access to anywhere in Houston. Museums are close by and the Houston Zoo is across the street. Living in the middle of the fourth largest city in the nation, students can attend professional sporting & theater events with discount tickets, as well as Houston’s 10,000 restaurants and vibrant downtown night life.


  • Seven schools of study: Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Business
  • The School of Humanities provides a variety of degrees as well as coursework (but not majors) in Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese and Russian
  • The Jones School of Business only offers minors
  • The Shepard School of Music does not provide a Music Education Degree, but offers degrees in Theory, History, Composition, and Performance
  • 6/1 faculty to student ratio with 95% of classes taught by professors, the remaining 5% taught by graduate students
  • Experiential learning through Rice’s 40 institutes, centers, and consortia offer students research opportunities alongside faculty members or independent
  • Center for Civic Leadership offers experience with research & design in Houston and around the world, as well as community service and leadership preparation
  • One third of students study abroad through more than 500 university-approved programs in 60 countries
  • The well-known Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program is a very competitive 8-year medical program, picking up to 10 out of a thousand applicants (Due date December 1st)
  • 90% of graduate students are accepted to med school, with even higher percentages for Law and MBA


  • Utilizes the Common Application and Universal College Application sites
  • Average ACT scores range from 32 to 35
  • Interviews are optional – if you want an alumni interview your application must be submitted a month early
  • Music auditions must be request by December 1st
  • Must indicate which school of study when you apply, and then major is declared second semester of sophomore year
  • Look for intellectual curiosity and vitality as well as engagement to community
  • A teacher recommendation from one who taught your class related to a possible major is beneficial

Costs/Financial Aid

  • Tuition, room & board totals $ 58,283
  • Offer merit scholarships (no separate application needed) that range from $3,000 to full tuition and 17% receive them
  • The Rice Net Price Calculator provides an estimate of need based financial aid package eligibility




A Visit to Hillsdale College

By Sue Luse

History & Values


Hillsdale College is an independent non-sectarian liberal arts college rich in history and tradition, located in rural southern Michigan. Founded in 1844 by a group of men and women of the Free Will Baptists, this small college prides itself on sound learning and maintaining independence. Hillsdale was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, sex, or national origin. They do not accept federal funds or use FAFSA, but rather offer their own financial aid. It has been referred to as “the conservative Harvard” – besides competitive academics, there is a strong conservative and Christian presence on campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome if they embrace an education that pursues truth, critical thinking, and self-governance. Professors encourage students to think, discuss, and get involved in the community. Hillsdale is a lower income town of 8,000 people, so local volunteer work is strongly emphasized. Courses are very structured and writing intensive – popular areas of study include history, English, and biology. If a majority of these values align with your own, Hillsdale College is certainly a premier choice.


  • Discussions and debates are promoted in the classroom in the attempt to expand a student’s way of thinking
  • Every student is required to take a class on the constitution – they are not told how to vote, but to vote
  • In the humanities, there are no textbooks – they provide published sources from a variety of acclaimed authors
  • “Great Books” courses cover classic literature and are available online
  • Intercollegiate Study Institute books are promoted, which foster awareness of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and traditional values
  • Average class size is 15 and the student to faculty ratio is ideal at 10:1

Student Life

  • There are 1,400 students with 47% male and 53% female
  • Besides beautiful landscaping, the elegant campus buildings are made up of both historic and modern architecture emphasizing the feeling that the Hillsdale mission encompasses: “a window to the past and a gateway to the future.”
  • Hillsdale-1
  • Only about one third of the students are from Michigan, the remainder representing 47 other states and 8 foreign countries
  • Around 100 student organizations, the most popular are Hillsdale Christian Fellowship, Orchestras and Choirs, Debate Club, Town Players (theater), Academic Honorary Societies, Coffeehouses, and Intramural Sports
  • Dorms are not co-ed and there is also Greek housing off-campus – about one-third of students are a part of Greek Life
  • Hillsdale is a Division II member and both the students and community support sporting events
  • Homecoming is a huge tradition, as well as climbing the clock tower


  • The Hillsdale College (online & paper) Application has no questions about race or religion
  • The Common App can be also be submitted
  • Two academic letters of recommendation are required
  • Average ACT is 29 and GPA of 3.8
  • Alumni Interviews are highly recommended

Cost & Financial Aid

  • Cost of attendance is significantly less that competing nationally-ranked, private liberal arts school
  • Total cost is $34,352 but almost all students receive some form of aid through scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment
  • The average aid package offered during 2014 was $16,700
Hillsdale-8Hillsdale-5Hillsdale-4Sue at Hillsdale

Five Colleges Program

On May 18, 2015, admissions representatives from five of the Top 20 national liberal arts colleges made a special stop in the Twin Cities as part of the traveling Five Colleges Program. The staff of College Expert was present to collect and pass along pearls of information about Bowdoin College, Carleton College, Davidson College, Haverford College, and Vassar College. These highly regarded small colleges share distinguishing features such as 100% faculty-taught classes, a fully residential experience – meaning students are expected to participate in the campus culture for all four years, a holistic admissions process, and excellent undergraduate preparation for any career path. After a discussion of the common thread connecting the five colleges, the admissions reps had individual opportunities to discuss what makes their colleges shine.

Click on logo for details.

Davidson CollegeHaverford College
Bowdoin CollegeVassar CollegeCarleton College

Exploring Educational Excellence

Exploring Educational Excellence — a symposium hosted by Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Rice University, and University of Chicago – recently stopped at the Radisson Blu in downtown Minneapolis. For the admissions representatives, it was a five-day, five-state tour originating in Chicago and ending in Detroit. These particular universities joined forces to reach a broad student-parent audience with their message about world-class research, need-blind admissions, and a commitment to a diverse student body. In the early minutes of the presentation, Reba McCutcheon of Cornell University’s Undergraduate Admissions Office asked the students to raise their hands if they brought a parent to the event. After all the hands went up, she then asked the students to applaud their parents. The staff of College Expert was present to catch the most important snippets from each university’s ten minute presentation.

Click on logo for details.

Brown UniversityRice University
University of ChicagoColumbia University
Cornell University

Coast to Coast College Tour

Admissions representatives from five of the Top 20 national universities in the U.S. – Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, and Vanderbilt University – recently came to Minneapolis as part of the Coast to Coast College Tour. Although geographically diverse, what these institutions have in common is a holistic admissions process in a highly selective environment.

Each admissions representative spoke at lightning speed for eight to ten minutes to a packed audience of prospective students and their parents. The College Expert staff was present to capture the highlights of their respective schools.

Click on logo for details.

UC BerkeleyPrinceton University
Dartmouth CollegeNorthwestern UniversityVanderbilt University

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Dear Class of 2015,

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your college planning journey. Congratulations and all the best as you go off to college. Please keep in touch and let me know how your freshman year goes. Enjoy the summer!

Sue Luse

Class of 2015

Click to enlarge

Why work with an independent educational consultant (IEC)?

Here are 12 key ways independent educational consultants support college-bound students. http://www.examiner.com/article/12-key-ways-independent-educational-consultants-support-college-bound-students

Reflections on the Class of 2015


The College Expert Team takes pride in staying up to date with news and trends in the college admissions world. We attend IECA and HECA conferences, visit multiple colleges each year, meet with college representatives, and take an active role in the community of Independent Educational Consultants. Through doing so, we are able to recommend the best possible list of colleges for our clients, and we love spending time with our students on their applications and essays.

With the knowledge and experience of our team, each year we recommend a variety of colleges across the country, many that clients do not recognize, and others that clients may not have considered without a comprehensive discussion of the school’s fit for their child. We strive to help families make private colleges affordable, and are thrilled at the merit scholarships, grants, and aid our students received. It’s been another great application season, and we want to celebrate this year’s class and the success of each student.

Here is a brief summary of our year

The class of 2015 embraced the application process with excitement, due diligence, and flexibility. After attending Research Jam Sessions and several summer workshops, when the Common Application went live on August 1st, our students were ready to go. Being proactive, almost 100% of our students applied somewhere Early Decision, Early Action or Priority, and we encouraged students with rolling admission applications to have them in by the beginning of October. All in all, over 50% of applications submitted were Early Action or Early Decision, and many students completed the application process by November 1st.

We are proud of our students’ dedication, hard work, and we are thrilled with their acceptances. Our students are matriculating to a wide variety of colleges across the country including Ivy League, small liberal arts colleges, great research universities, music conservatories, Big 10 schools, a Canadian University, and colleges with in-state tuition.

A lot of our students found themselves accepted into their colleges’ Honors Program, a great honor in itself. Many of our students found themselves with merit scholarships, and some with full rides. We are happy to announce that the nation’s top music, film, theater and architecture programs accepted our students! In addition, we have athletes continuing their sports on the collegiate level, and they will compete in swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball, football, and hockey.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 51st class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. Of 141 students picked across the nation, one of our students received this distinguished honor. And, this year one of our students found himself accepted to two Academies (10% acceptance rate), and we wish him well as he serves our country.

Even though spring came early this year, we noticed a continued upswing in students choosing colleges in warmer climates; though many decided to stay in the Midwest (namely outside of Minnesota). Our students have a higher rate of applying to, and choosing, out of state schools. They exceed the national average in applying early with 89% attending a four-year out of state college and 80% matriculating to private universities. Across the country, 20% of students decide to attend out of state schools, and 34% choose private colleges and universities. Our students will attend colleges in: Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Minnesota (just to name a few).

Our students want to experience the world and build upon their knowledge, and we are overjoyed to help them prepare for this new chapter. 100% of our students will attend a 4-year college in the fall, a number that showcases the importance of finding great match schools. Over 40% of our students were accepted by their Reach colleges, and out of all the applications submitted this year, 75% were accepted, 17% denied, and 8% waitlisted or deferred. We understand that leaving high school can be bittersweet, but our students cannot wait for the start of their freshman years!

Here are our 2015 statistics:

  • 100% will be attending four year colleges this fall
  • 89% will go out of state (National average 21%)
  • 95% attending high or first choice college
  • Students on average submitted 10 applications
  • 16 out of 21 accepted Early Decision
  • 10 out of 15 accepted Restricted Early Action
  • We are very proud of our 72% acceptance rate for students applying to highly selective Early Decision and Restricted Early Action Colleges. This includes many of the most selective colleges with acceptance rates under 8% – such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, Princeton, Penn, MIT, and Cal Tech
  • 99% applied Early Action, Early Decision, Rolling or Priority
  • 50% of all applications were submitted by the early deadline
  • 80% are attending private colleges (National average 34%)
  • Of all the applications submitted: 75% accepted, 17% denied, 8% waitlisted or deferred
  • Students were accepted to over 40% of Reach colleges

Consumer Digest Report on Colleges and University Affordability

Consumer Digest logo

Sue Luse was recently interviewed by the editor-in-chief of Consumer Digest for the May/June 2015 report on colleges & universities and the affordability of attendance. The feature article can be accessed now if you are a subscriber to Consumer Digest. Otherwise, the article will be available to non-subscribers in July.

Changes are coming with the PSAT and SAT

Take a look at these links for information on upcoming changes to the PSAT and the SAT.

LinkedIn post: Update from College Board Forum: The Latest on the new SAT and PSAT

From the CollegeBoard website, two charts with the differences (the first is substantive; the second is procedural):

Side-by-Side Comparison

Overview: Current SAT vs. Redesigned SAT

Test-prep Tips for College Entrance Exams


Test-prep Tips for College Entrance Exams:
The ACT, SAT, and PSAT

Many colleges and universities require scores from either the ACT or SAT as part of their applications, which are due during the first semester of senior year. By planning ahead, students can begin the test-prep process much earlier and give themselves time to perform well.

The ACT and SAT are typically offered at least six times per school year, and educational consultants generally advise students to try and earn their best scores junior year. That way, students can still repeat either test, if necessary, in the fall of senior year.

Here are some tips from independent educational consultant Sue Luse, the “College Expert,” to help you prepare for your college entrance exams and earn your best possible scores:

When should I begin my prep for the ACT or SAT? The summer before your junior year of high school can be the perfect time to devote to test preparation. To become test-ready for the math section of the ACT or SAT, however, you may want to wait until you’ve taken (or at least started) high school courses in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry.

Should I take the ACT, the SAT, or both? Colleges will accept a score from either test, and many students perform equally well on both. However, some students find that they are better suited to the ACT than the SAT or vice versa. Try taking a practice test of both the ACT and the SAT and see if you have a preference. If you perform much better on one over the other, focus your test prep there.

How many times should I test? I recommend that my students plan to take either the ACT or SAT three times. Because the first test can be an intimidating new experience, your score may also be adversely impacted. The second test should be your strongest effort to attain your best possible score. Having a third possible test date in mind is helpful if you would like to try again. The key is to plan ahead: Compare the test date schedule for the ACT and SAT to your upcoming commitments for finals, sports, jobs, vacations, and other planned activities.

Should I take advantage of ACT’s “Test Information Release” service? Yes. I strongly encourage students to take their first ACT in December, April, or June when Test Information Release (TIR) is available at national test centers. Through TIR, you pay an extra fee to receive a list of your answers, a copy of the multiple-choice test questions, and the answer key, along with a copy of the writing prompt, the scoring rubric, and the scores assigned to your essay by two different evaluators. You can order TIR when you register and for three months after you test. TIR is extremely helpful in identifying those areas where you may want to focus additional study and consider private tutoring, as well as those parts of the test you completed successfully.

Will the ACT be offered at MN high schools? Yes. New this year, per a law passed in 2013 by the MN State Legislature, high school juniors will be required to take the ACT plus Writing at their high schools in April, which will be offered free of charge. Check with your high school for details.

What are SAT Subject Tests, and do I have to take them? A small number of highly selective colleges may also require that you submit scores from these single-subject tests. If you are applying to a college that requires SAT Subject Tests, you may want to schedule a test (and do your best) shortly after completing a high school course in a similar subject.

What is the PSAT? The PSAT is the qualifying test for high school juniors to compete for the National Merit Scholarship Program. It is not required by colleges and is only offered in mid-October. Students who expect to do well on the PSAT may benefit from taking this test as freshmen or sophomores (for practice) so they are better prepared to take it again when their scores count junior year. If your goal is to qualify for the National Merit program, you may also want to prep for the PSAT the summer before and during the fall of your junior year.

If I do well on the PSAT and am a National Merit contender, do I also have to take the SAT? Yes. To be named a National Merit Scholar, you must also submit a score from the SAT. Some students elect to take it in October or November, immediately following the PSAT. Special note to current high school sophomores who expect to do well on the PSAT (or did well on a practice test): The SAT will be completely different in 2016. You may want to take the SAT yet this school year, in May or June, before the test is changed, and begin your SAT test prep several months in advance.

A Visit to the University of Michigan

By Sue Luse

Campus Overview

Located in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan is a large, exciting campus with the dynamics of a smaller more personal experience. Nice open spaces. An arboretum on campus.  The Huron River runs through Ann Arbor which makes canoeing and  boating a popular recreation among students. Close to two state parks.

Student Life

U of Michigan campus

There are 28,000 undergrads and approximately 60% of students live on campus. There are 6,000 freshman in the dorms and the East Quad is the best place for freshman to live. Wolverines tend to be both academically serious students and socially outgoing. Michigan is not a “party” school, but is known for its legendary school spirit.  Greek life is approx 19%. There are 1,400 clubs available to participate in. Free tickets for all students to the football games.

Learning Communities

U of Michigan campus

U of Michigan’s 13 Learning Communities are really quite unique. Learning communities combine the personal attention of a small college environment with the rich resources of a large research university. Michigan’s Learning Communities (MLC’s) are composed of self-selected groups of students and faculty, often from diverse backgrounds, that are drawn together by shared interests and goals.  They offer both residential and non-residential learning communities.


Michigan North Quadrangle

U of Michigan has 13 undergraduate schools and colleges and 250 degree programs. Large freshman classes – for example Organic Chemistry has 500 students and Psychology has 300 students. Lecture classes also have a discussion component that has break-out sessions where grad students lead a discussion of 30 students. The core curriculum differs with each college in the university. The Ross Business School is ranked #2 in the country. U of Michigan has a highly ranked engineering program. They also have a highly ranked Conservatory of Music.


Michigan Lane Hall

 2014 Entering Class Test Scores:

ACT 30-33 – Mid 50th % range

  • English: 30-35
  • Math: 29-34
  • Science: 28-34
  • Eng/Writing: 28-32
  • Reading: 30-34
Michigan Union

SAT 2040-2260 – Mid 50% range

  • Critical reading: 650-750
  • Math: 690-770
  • Writing: 670-770%

U of Michigan is looking for serious students. The offer merit-based scholarships. U of Michigan schools, colleges, and departments administer their own scholarships also. Ross School of business has a very limited direct entry for freshman. Ross has it’s own rubric which is different from Admissions and they look at articulation, leadership and math scores. Approx. 20% of pre-business students are accepted as preferred admissions.


U of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is ranked the 2nd best college town in the country and I can see why. You can walk from campus to many restaurants, bars and shops. Ann Arbor is described as a small, friendly town with a big city sophistication renowned for its cultural offerings.Tom and I stayed at the Inn at The Michigan League,  right on campus, a landmark hotel.  We enjoyed dinner at Vinology Wine Bar and Restaurant.  Ann Arbor has so much to offer – art exhibits, performances by jazz legends, lots of bookstores, unique galleries and museums.

Sue at Michigan

A Visit to Hope College

By Sue Luse

About Hope

Known for academic excellence and a vibrant Christian faith. Approximately 3,400 ecumenically diverse students. The faculty is not required to be Conservative Christian. Chapel is not mandatory and no faith statement is required as part of admissions. There are no GLBT groups. Hope is striving to be more diverse and more national.


Hope Campus

Holland, Michigan is a really cute Dutch town – nice tourist area and close to beaches on Lake Michigan. Their website describes it perfectly:

Throughout the history of Holland, MI right up to today, the city’s Dutch heritage is pervasive and cherished. You’ll see it in the spring as millions of tulips bloom throughout the city. You’ll see it in the Dutch architecture, particularly downtown where there’s been a surge of facade restorations and redesigns. You’ll taste it in the Dutch delicacies found in shops and eateries around town. And you’ll experience it at our Dutch attractions and during events like Dutch Winterfest and the Tulip Time Festival.

So whether touring DeZwaan Windmill, learning how to Klompen dance at Nelis’ Dutch Village, tiptoeing through the tulips at Veldheer Tulip Farm, or exploring the history of Holland and its Dutch art collection at the Holland Museum, you’ll see how Holland honors and delights in its Dutch heritage.


Hope flowers
  • Music is very strong at Hope – they do operas and musicals. They also have a summer theater program. For information on their theater, dance and music, see: http://hope.edu/arts/
  • Science is also very strong at Hope – they have one of the top Chemistry programs in the country. Their research programs are huge. Biochemistry is a popular major. A good pre-med program and it’s not just for the “high flyers” – B’s in high school chemistry are fine. Good nursing program.
  • Good English, Creative Writing and Education programs. Also, a small but wonderful History program.

Admissions & Financial Aid

Hope Admissions Counselors
  • Average ACT 24-29
  • Average GPA 3.8
  • Offer $3,000 to $18,000 in merit scholarships – apply early
  • Hope does not require filling out the FAFSA for merit scholarships


Hope has very nice athletic facilities – great work-out rooms, tennis courts, etc. They have ice hockey and football and also lots of fun club sports.

Hope FootballHope VolleyballHope CampusHope CampusHope CampusHope CampusHope CampusHope Chapel

A Visit to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

By Sue Luse


UT Knoxville campus

UT campus

Located in an urban setting in Knoxville with abundant lakes and rivers and only 40 minutes from the Smoky Mountains. Great college town. Founded in 1794 and became a land-grant university in 1869.  The campus is 580 acres – very walkable. A new Student Union is opening in 2016. They have their own police force and a blue light system.

Student Life

UT Knoxville players

Undergraduate enrollment is approximately 22,000 with about 12% from out-of-state.  All freshman live on campus. Although there is Greek housing available, the University of Tennessee is not a typical SEC (Southeastern Conference) college because they have a smaller Greek system. They get transfer students from Ole Miss and Alabama who didn’t get into a frat or sorority and feel left out of the social scene.  There are lots of rural students. Not considered a “suitcase college”.

School spirit is huge – they sell out over 100,000 seats at football games. Tailgating is very popular – everyone does it. Excellent marching band!

Admissions/Financial Aid

UT Knoxville Haslam Music

Haslam Music

  • Average GPA 3.8 weighted
  • Average ACT 27
  • Acceptance rate 67.3%
  • Freshman retention rate 85%
  • Approx. $35,000-$40,000 per year for everything
  • A new institutional scholarship model is being implemented starting Fall of 2015. These increased awards will be based on GPA and test score and do not require an essay:
    • Minimum 3.8 weighted UT core GPA and Score Range Out-of-State
      • 34-36 / 1490-1600 $18,000
      • 30-33 / 1330-1480 $15,000
      • 28-29 / 1250-1320 $10,000


UT Knoxville Ayres


  • The College of Engineering is great (the creator of the Garmin went to UT)
  • Have a high tech business building and their College of Business holds high rankings: http://bus.utk.edu/RankingsNew.asp
  • Communications and Advertising are strong majors
  • They have a 5-year Education Program which includes a Masters
  • Good Vet Program
  • There is a new Music Building – an audition process is required for music majors

A Visit to Kalamazoo

By Sue Luse

Location & Area

Kalamazoo College (fondly referred to as “K”) is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a city of approximately 240,000, located in scenic southwest Michigan. This city is a 10 hour drive from the Twin Cities and there are direct flights to/from Minneapolis and the Kalamazoo Airport. Kalamazoo is just 35 miles from Lake Michigan and approximately 140 miles from both Detroit and Chicago on Interstate 94. Fortunately for the students, the city’s downtown district is within easy walking distance from campus. There are also shopping malls, movie theaters and restaurants a short bike or bus ride away. I found Kalamazoo to be similar to Macalester College including the metro and more urban area/atmosphere.


Kalamazoo promotes their distinctive approach to a liberal arts education through their K-Plan, which encompasses these four components:

    Kalamazoo Spring
  • Depth and Breadth in the Liberal Arts
  • Learning Through Experience
  • International and Intercultural Experience
  • Independent Scholarship

All students take three Shared Passage Seminars which serve as preparation for the K-Plan. The K-Plan emphasizes student ownership in their educational experience. There are very few core requirements for graduation (3 courses in foreign language and 3 seminar classes).  Popular majors include Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Sociology.  Nearby Western Michigan University has a new med school and K students can gain early admission to their program. At Kalamazoo research is abundant.  Though K does not have a traditional theater program, they do have a good theater program, but musicals are rare. Kalamazoo overlaps with Macalester, University of Michigan, Hope, Wooster, Carleton, Grinnell, Beloit, Knox and Smith.  An education at K has been described as creative but not a cakewalk, and collaborative versus cut-throat.

Kalamazoo Fall

All seniors are required to complete a Senior Individualized Project, also known as SIP, which results in a written report, performance, or exhibit.  SIP’s are often in conjunction with an internship or other creative activity and usually completed in the student’s major department, but with approval, it can be completed in other departments. One example is a physics and music major student who designed an amphitheater.

More than 2/3 of students complete an internship or externship. The Career and Professional Development department assists students one-on-one and through workshops, guiding students to find the ideal internship or externship for them. Through externships, students connect with Kalazamoo alumni living all across the world and working in a wide variety of fields. Students work with these alums and live in their homes.

Studying abroad is huge at Kalamazoo and they have been recognized as a leader in  study abroad programs. More than 85% of students participate with the average duration of studying abroad being 6 months and is typically done in junior year.

Admissions & Financial Aid

Kalamazoo Spring

Eric Staab, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, works with students from Minnesota.

  • Class of 2013 mean ACT-27.8 / mean SAT critical reading-631.9 /mean SAT math-629.8
  • Essay more important than ACT
  • More than 90 percent of students receive need-based and/or merit-based financial aid; 13 percent are Pell eligible
  • 60% acceptance rate
  • Average GPA 3.8
  • They do weight the curriculum
  • EA & ED deadline is Nov. 15

Student Body

Kalamazoo Winter
  • The student body at Kalamazoo represents 38 states and 27 countries.
  • The five states with the largest enrollment on campus are: Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, California and Washington.
  • Liberal, progressive and tolerant
  • Diverse and inclusive culture
  • Growing Jewish population

Recreation and Social Life

Kalamazoo has a brand new sports facility. Good football team.  Also known for swimming and tennis (these tend to be nationally ranked teams for DIII). School spirit is growing with many fun events offered throughout the year. The Student Activities Committee (SAC) composed of students provide a variety of activities and offer its members opportunities for campus leadership and involvement.

Kalamazoo street

Kalamazoo street

Sue at Kalamazoo

Sue at Kalamazoo

New College Expert Office Uptown

We are delighted to announce that College Expert has expanded to open a new office in Uptown. The new office is located in the heart of Uptown at 1005 W Franklin #4, Minneapolis, MN, 55405. We will be there the third Sunday of every month from 10-4 and may offer other dates in the future. We realize many of our clients live in the western suburbs and Minneapolis, and hope this will provide a convenient option.

We will be in our new space starting January 11.

Main Room

Main Room

Small Group Room

Small Group Room



A Visit to Whittier College

By Sue Luse


Whittier College is a small, private liberal arts  college in the heart of Southern California. Founded by the Quakers in 1877, this is no longer a Quaker institution, but still holds Quaker values, such as consensus-building, commitment to community, a global perspective, and respect for individuality. With approximately 1,700 students, Whittier is able to maintain a 13 to 1 student faculty ratio and an average class size of 19.  They boast 60% diversity with 40% of students coming from out-of-state.


Whittier campus

Whittier College is located on 80 acres on a hill with a nice view of Los Angeles.  I visited on a lovely day – great weather, beautiful flowers and trees.  Being close to LA, naturally there is some smog so it can be rather hazy. Whittier is a pleasant college town  where the residents are very supportive of the students.  Because of the small-town feel of Whittier and the proximity to big-town opportunities, they were recently listed as one of the Top 100 Places to Live in the U.S. on livability.com. Located on the border of Los Angeles County and Orange County affords students many internship opportunities. Within walking distance is the Uptown area where many unique shops and restaurants are located (Tom and I had a wonderful lunch at the Firehouse Grill). Students also enjoy being close to beaches, mountains and even Disneyland.


Outline of the Liberal Education Program Core

The goals of the Liberal Education Program are met by a set of core requirements that are contained in a framework of four categories. The selection of these four categories is a reflection of what we value most here at Whittier College.

  • Community: The transformative experience begins in learning communities that introduce the idea of building connections across disciplines, as well as the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the world.
  • Communication: Students learn to communicate understanding using different sets of symbols.
  • Cultural Perspectives: Students gain cultural perspective by exploring different cultures.
  • Connections: Students again connect as a community in the context of interdisciplinary courses and pairs.

Whittier’s most popular majors are Business, Psychology, Biology, Political Science and English. They also have a 3-2 engineering program where students normally spend three years at Whittier College and two years attending an engineering school. The five-year program leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree from Whittier College – in either physics, math, or chemistry – and a bachelor of science degree in engineering from a university. Whittier has a good pre-law program as well as a pre-med program with an 85% acceptance rate into medical school.

At Whittier the professors are very accessible with open door office hours.  Many professors also give out home and cell phone numbers to their students to make sure they’re available when students need help – they really do care about their students’ success. There is also a Center for Academic Support, a Writing Center, tutors and computer labs.

Classroom Dynamics & Opportunities

Whittier emphasizes discussion-based classroom learning with very few lectures. It is a collaborative atmosphere.  While Whittier’s facilities rival those at large public institutions, theirs is an intimate setting where students and professors unite in an ongoing pursuit of knowledge. Faculty and students focus on green and sustainable living.

Whittier has a J Term (January term) which allows more opportunities to study abroad (aside from a semester studying abroad) and you can even do this in your freshman year. Some exciting examples of study abroad opportunities are a music class in Cuba or art history in Florence.

Students can create their own course of study through the Whittier Scholars Program where you can create your own major.  This is a very cool program with many benefits. Students have the opportunity to create a “body of work” that can be very advantageous if seeking grad school.

Admissions/Financial Aid

Whittier accepts the Common App and requires a Letter of Recommendation from either a recent or current teacher as well as a school counselor. Other Letters of Recommendation are welcome also. They accept either the SAT or ACT with Writing. Admissions staff look at grades, rigor of coursework and activities outside the classroom. Student admittance rate is 63%. The average GPA is 3.2 unweighted and they use 3.5 weighted as their average benchmark.  The average ACT score is 24 and the average SAT is 550/section, not  including the writing.

The total cost of attendance is $52,000 per year with merit based aid of up to $26,000 per year. More than 85% of students receive some form of aid. It is highly recommended to apply early in order to be considered for the fullest range of financial aid opportunities.

Whittier College also offers Talent Scholarships (in addition to merit scholarships) valued from $1,000 to $12,000 in art, music, and theater. Talent Scholarships are awarded to students by the academic departments based on a separate application and supplemental materials (auditions for theater and music, and a portfolio for art). A student does not have to major or minor in the subject, only maintain involvement with the department while they are a student at Whittier College. Students interested in talent scholarships must apply early in order to qualify. Auditions/portfolio reviews take place in January, so if students wait for February’s Regular Decision deadline, they might miss out unless the department makes an exception for them.

Housing and Dining

  • 2/3 of students live on campus
  • There are 9 dorms
  • Dorms are larger than average and very comfortable
  • Freshman living and learning communities where freshman are housed together and take freshman writing seminars together
  • The Campus Inn Dining Hall (known as CI) is the main cafeteria with an all-you-can-eat style
  • The Spot is cafe style and offered freshly grilled foods, custom-made sandwiches and salads

Social Life & Recreation

Whittier campus scene

Whittier has 10 fraternities and sororities – which they refer to as societies.  Approximately 1 out of 5 students join a society. Students engage in activities centered around traditions, society-sponsored events and school spirit.

Athletics are a big part of campus life at Whittier, which is a is Div. 3 college with Johnny the Poet as their mascot. They have an amazing outdoor pool facility that can be used year-round.

Fun Facts

  • Students are not preppy
  • Different points of view and backgrounds are welcome – the Quaker consensus of communicating and learning from one another is emphasized
  • 40% of students are from out-of-state
  • Have a popular radio station
  • Approximately 100 students transfer in every year from various community colleges as well as other 4-year institutions
  • 25% Hispanic population
  • Social justice is important here
  • Has had Rhodes scholars, including my sister-in-law, Pam Hill
  • President Richard Nixon attended Whittier
  • Students are passionate about learning
  • Many poets

What kind of student would be happy here?

A student who is looking for an adventure, warm sunny weather, in a small, nurturing environment. Also, happy with a more alternative feel, low key social scene and school spirit, with interesting, bright students who love to engage in academic discourse. The generous scholarships and merit aid is also very attractive and Whittier would be a good fit for several of our students.

Sue at Whittier signWhittier rockWhittier 3Whittier pool

How to Fair Well at the College Fair 2014

ncf logo

Take a look at How to Fair Well at the College Fair 2014 before heading out to the college fairs.  

The next college fair in the Twin Cities is Minnesota National College Fair, October 7 – 8, 2014.

Minneapolis Convention Center
Halls D – E
1301 Second Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2781

Fair Hours:
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
4:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

How is College Different from High School?

This is a great article comparing and contrasting the differences between high school and college, courtesy of Southern Methodist University (SMU). Enjoy and share this article with someone who is preparing to go to college.

High school is mandatory and usually free College is voluntary and expensive
Your time is structured by others. You manage your own time.
You need permission to participate in extracurricular activities You must decide whether to participate in co-curricular activities.
You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities. You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities. You will face moral and ethical decisions you have never faced before.
Each day you proceed from one class directly to another, spending 6 hours each day–30 hours a week–in class You often have hours between classes; class times vary throughout the day and evening and you spend only 12 to 16 hours each week in class
Most of your classes are arranged for you. You arrange your own schedule in consultation with your adviser. Schedules tend to look lighter than they really are.
You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to graduate. Graduation requirements are complex, and differ from year to year. You are expected to know those that apply to you.
Guiding Principle: You will usually be told what to do and corrected if your behavior is out of line. Guiding Principle: You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don’t do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.
The school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters and some don’t. The academic year is divided into two separate 15-week semesters, plus a week after each semester for exams
Classes generally have no more than 35 students. Classes may number 100 students or more.
You may study outside class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation. You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.
You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough. You need to review class notes and text material regularly.
You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class. You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.
Guiding Principle: You will usually be told in class what you need to learn from assigned readings. Guiding Principle: It’s up to you to read and understand the assigned material; lectures and assignments proceed from the assumption that you’ve already done so.
Teachers check your completed homework. Professors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
Teachers remind you of your incomplete work. Professors may not remind you of incomplete work.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance. Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class. Professors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students. Professors have been trained as experts in their particular areas of research.
Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent. Professors expect you to get from classmates any notes from classes you missed.
Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook. Professors may not follow the textbook. Instead, to amplify the text, they may give illustrations, provide background information, or discuss research about the topic you are studying. Or they may expect you to relate the classes to the textbook readings.
Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes. Professors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important points in your notes. When professors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it. Good notes are a must.
Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process. Professors expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.
Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates. Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.
Teachers carefully monitor class attendance. Professors may not formally take roll, but they are still likely to know whether or not you attended.
Guiding Principle: High School is a teaching environment in which you acquire facts and skills. Guiding Principle: College is a learning environment in which you take responsibility for thinking through and applying what you have learned.
Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material. Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material. You, not the professor, need to organize the material to prepare for the test. A particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a semester.
Makeup tests are often available. Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them.
Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events. Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.
Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts. Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.
Guiding principle: Mastery is usually seen as the ability to reproduce what you were taught in the form in which it was presented to you, or to solve the kinds of problems you were shown how to solve. Guiding principle: Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what you’ve learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems.
Grades are given for most assigned work. Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when test grades are low. Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.
Extra credit projects are often available to help you raise your grade. Extra credit projects cannot, generally speaking, be used to raise a grade in a college course.
Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade. Watch out for your first tests. These are usually “wake-up calls” to let you know what is expected–but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade. You may be shocked when you get your grades.
You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher. You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the departmental standard–typically a 2.0 or C.
Guiding principle: Effort counts. Courses are usually structured to reward a “good-faith effort.” Guiding principle: Results count. Though “good-faith effort” is important in regard to the professor’s willingness to help you achieve good results, it will not substitute for results in the grading process.

How to make the transition to college

  • Take control of your own education: think of yourself as a scholar.
  • Get to know your professors; they are your single greatest resource.
  • Be assertive. Create your own support systems, and seek help when you realize you may need it.
  • Take control of your time. Plan ahead to satisfy academic obligations and make room for everything else.
  • Stretch yourself: enroll in at least one course that really challenges you.
  • Make thoughtful decisions: don’t take a course just to satisfy a requirement, and don’t drop any course too quickly.
  • Think beyond the moment: set goals for the semester, the year, your college career.

7 Hot Majors That Didn’t Exist When You Were in College

Sue Luse was interviewed for this Mashable article. Read about 7 Hot Majors That Didn’t Exist When You Were in College.

7 Hot Majors That Didn't Exist When You Were in College

Congratulations to the class of 2014!

Dear Class of 2014,

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your college planning journey. Congratulations and all the best as you go off to college. Please keep in touch and let me know how your freshman year goes. Enjoy the summer!

Sue Luse

Class of 2014

Click to enlarge.

It’s Time for Students to RAVE about Summer


In my educational practice, the upcoming months of June, July, and August are some of the busiest for me and my College Expert team. We take full advantage of school being out to introduce rising seniors to essays, resumes, and applications, and to help underclassmen boost test scores on college entrance exams, pursue academic interests, and add depth to their activities. At times, it can be tempting to push our students to complete as much as they possibly can during the summer, particularly our soon-to-be seniors, knowing all too well that application crunch time lingers just ahead on the fall horizon.

But in my 20-plus years of counseling students, I’ve realized that students also need time to kick back, relax, and get to know themselves. And while it can be fruitful for students to get a jumpstart on their applications and essays or prep for the ACT or SAT, a balanced summer – “all things in moderation” – goes a long way. I see my role as an educational consultant as guiding my students to achieve this ever-important balance.

That’s why I recently challenged all of my students to RAVE about the summer of 2014 and include something in their summers from each of these four components:

R: Relax, Refresh, and Recharge. I am purposeful in reminding students they will be more likely to excel in college if they aren’t burned out. Sometimes, I may also reinforce this point with parents and point out that not everything students do should be for the sake of building a college resume. I am mindful of the fact that too many colleges are telling us that too many students are beginning freshmen year overly frazzled and stressed out. As an advocate for my students, I want to guard against burnout, help them get off the 24/7 treadmill, and have some fun in the process.

A: Academics. While I encourage taking it easy, spending an entire summer playing video games or sleeping in doesn’t strike a desirable balance. I meet with each of my students at the beginning of summer, and I use this time to explore their academic interests or where their “spark” for learning lies. Some of my students may embark on a research project, read a new genre, try coding, or take a stab at writing poetry or music. One of my students wrote her own country music song titled Stick It in Your Boot, which made for a one-of-a-kind essay. Assessing my students’ strengths and weaknesses is another component of our summer meetings. Some students may benefit from working with a tutor in a weak-suit subject or prepping for their standardized tests, too.

V: Volunteer. Rather than simply logging volunteer hours, I want my students to identify at least one thing they are passionate about, and match that passion with an opportunity to volunteer. For example, one of my students loved to fish, so he started a fishing club at his high school. As his interest in fishing grew and the club expanded, he found a way for his club to take underprivileged children fishing, which turned into a wonderful community service project for him, the other students, and the children involved. To help my students think about how and where they might contribute, I also provide a list of community service opportunities within the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, www.handsontwincities.org.

E: Enrichment and Employment. These days, summer offers a plethora of options for camps, internships, travel, sports, performing arts, and jobs. I support these activities, too, in moderation. Many students can discover new interests and develop unique talents through summer enrichment programs. I caution parents and students to be wary of invitations a student may receive for programs on leadership or early college enrichment, however. These programs are often run by for-profit organizations, may be quite expense, and are not considered an “honor” per se by colleges, although many students enjoy participating. I also encourage students to try their hand at some sort of job, such as lawn-mowing, dog-walking, or a temporary retail or food service position. One of my students loved animals, and she created a part-time business baking homemade dog biscuits and selling them at dog shows.

June, July, and August can be busy times for our profession, given students tend to be much more available during their time off from school. To best be of help to my students, I’m going to challenge myself to RAVE about the summer of 2014, too. Please join me!

Reflections on the Class of 2014


Educational consultants can be proud of their results. As a member of IECA, we have opportunities to attend conferences, visit colleges and keep up with all the news and trends in the college admissions world.  We are able to recommend the best possible list of colleges and spend hours of time with student on the application and essay process. Because of our extensive knowledge of colleges and the time we spend with our students, we can celebrate our outcomes and the success of each student. Here is a brief summary of our year with the class of 2014.

This year, our students embraced the application process with excitement, due diligence, and flexibility.  When the Common Application went live on August 1st, they navigated the bumps and quirks, brainstormed to maneuver the early-stage problems, and worked as a team to support one another.  Being proactive, almost 100% of our students applied somewhere Early Decision, Early Action or Priority, and we encouraged all to get their rolling admission applications in by the beginning of October.   All in all, over 50% of the applications submitted were Early Action or Early Decision.

We are proud of our students’ dedication, hard work and thrilled with their acceptances. Our students are matriculating to a wide variety of colleges across the country including Ivy League, music conservatoires, small liberal arts colleges, great research universities, Big 10 schools, and colleges with in-state tuition.  Many found themselves with full rides and merit scholarships.

With the knowledge and experience of our team, each year we recommend a variety of colleges across the country, many that clients had never heard of, and others that clients would not have considered without a comprehensive discussion of the school’s fit for their child.  We also strive to help families make private colleges affordable, and were thrilled at the merit scholarships, grants, and aid our students received.

After a long, fierce winter, we noticed an upswing in students choosing colleges in warmer climates, but also found that many decided to stay in the Midwest (though outside of Minnesota).  Our students have a much higher rate of applying to, and choosing, out of state schools.  They also exceed the national average in applying early with 91% attending a four-year out of state college, and only 9% staying in Minnesota. 80% of our students will be attending a private college.  Across the country, roughly 21% of students decide to attend out of state schools, and 34% choose private colleges and universities.  Our students want to experience the world and build upon their knowledge, and we are overjoyed to help them prepare for this new chapter.  100% of our students, (except for one gap year student), will attend college in the fall, a number that showcases the importance of finding great match schools.  Over 40% were accepted by their Reach colleges.  Out of all the applications submitted this year, 75% were accepted, 17% denied, 8% waitlisted or deferred. We understand that leaving high school can be bittersweet but our students cannot wait for freshman orientations come August!

Here are our 2014 statistics:

  • Students on average submitted 7 applications
  • 99% applied Early Action, Early Decision or Priority
  • 70% were accepted Early Decision
  • 50% of all applications were submitted by the early deadline
  • 91 % are attending out of state colleges, (National average 21%)
  • 80% are attending private colleges, (National average 34%)
  • 99% will be attending college in the fall
  • Of all the applications submitted, 75% accepted, 17% denied, 8% waitlisted or deferred
  • Students were accepted to over 40 % of Reach colleges
  • 75% of the students are attending their first choice college

Amount families actually pay at our colleges remains stable

Here are some stats from Minnesota Private College Council May, 2014 Newsletter. Sue Luse is quoted in this article.

A Visit to Wheaton College

By Sue Luse


Wheaton College is located in the affluent city of Wheaton, Illinois, which is approximately 25 miles west of Chicago and Lake Michigan. Downtown Wheaton is within walking distance and there is also a train stop right on campus. Wheaton is a non-denominational Christian College where students must have a Christian commitment. This institution is considered a top tier academic institution. Wheaton is a vibrant community that pursues what it means to love God, one another and the world. Wheaton students mix academic rigor with healthy fun, as evidenced by our 60+ student clubs and 40+ ministry opportunities.


Wheaton Campus
  • Require two essays
  • Pastor recommendation
  • Grades and testing are important but they also want to know what sets you apart
  • Application asks “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?”
  • Interviews are optional but recommended
  • 65% of applicants are accepted
  • Average GPA is 3.7
  • Average ACT scores between 27 – 32
  • Have non-binding Early Action deadline of Nov. 1

Financial Aid

Wheaton Beamer

Tuition, room and board is $40,720 and they have merit-based aid as well as need-based aid. Wheaton uses the FAFSA as well as their own financial aid form. They recommend using the net price calculator for an estimate.  Sixty percent of students receive some form of financial aid.

Student Body

Wheaton Sams

Of the 2,400 students, 80% are from out-of-state (all over the country) and there is approximately 20% diversity. Females comprise 51% of student body and males comprise 49%. No Greek life. Lots of school spirit – students rally around the mascot Tor Thunder the Wooly Mastodon! Very cohesive community as students are required to live on campus.  Students enjoy good soccer, club hockey, crew, basketball and golf.


Wheaton Edman
  • Challenging academics
  • Diversity of thought is welcome
  • Four bible classes required
  • Big study abroad school
  • Global mindset – has Office of Global and Experimental Learning
  • Good science and pre med programs
  • Strong advising for pre-med
  • Other strong programs are Psychology, Biblical Studies, International Studies, and a 3/2 Nursing Program affiliated with Emory, Vanderbilt and John Hopkins
  • Wheaton is about developing critical thinking through Christian-based liberal arts

Christian Basis

Sue at Wheaton

All students profess the Christian faith and attending Chapel is required. A community covenant must be signed. There is no dress code.  Wheaton’s motto is “For Christ and his Kingdom”.

Who would be happy here?

Wheaton Dining

Students that want to be educated in a Christian environment that takes the life of the mind seriously within a community of believers that want to make the world a better place.

A Visit to Lake Forest College

By Sue Luse

Campus Overview

Lake Forest College is an easy 6 hour drive from the Twin Cities.  Located 30 miles north of Chicago and only minutes from Lake Michigan. This campus is beautiful, surrounded by a forest in a very affluent area.  The atmosphere feels like a cute New England town. An old campus with historic buildings.

Admissions/Financial Aid

Lake Forest Young Hall
  • Admissions Counselor for Minnesota: Meredith DuMais, dumais@lakeforest.edu, 847-735-5012
  • Average ACT is 23-28
  • Average GPA is 3.6
  • 57% acceptance rate
  • Accepts their own application or the Common App with no preference for either
  • Interviews are highly recommended
  • 85% of students receive aid
  • Offer Presidential Scholarships for up to $12,000 per year
  • Offer Forester Scholarships for up to $8,000 per year
  • Can receive up to $20,000 per year


Lake Forest has small classes taught by professors (no teaching assistants).  The student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1, and most classes top out at around 20 students. Their most popular majors are Economics, Communications, Politics, and Biology. Lake Forest overlaps with Lawrence, St. Thomas, St. Olaf, St. John’s, Ohio Wesleyan, Denison, Puget Sound, Redlands, Hobart William Smith and Skidmore. They have pre-professional programs in Health and Law. This college also offers a dual degree in Law, Engineering and Pharmacy. Students can declare up to two majors and one minor and about half of the students double major. There is also a Learning Center that is very good for students with learning disabilities.

Lake Forest Campus

Lake Forest offers an Independent Scholars Program where students can design their own majors.  They also offer a Richter Scholars Program where students experience one-on-one research opportunities with a professor during the summer after their first year.

There is also a campus in the loop of downtown Chicago providing off-campus programs that run every semester which allow students to do internships in Chicago and engage in immersive academic programs. Internships in Chicago include United Airlines, The Art Institute, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Chicago Blackhawks, Shed Aquarium and Rolling Stone Magazine.

Student Body

Lake Forest Cafe
  • 1,600 students
  • 46% from out-of-state
  • 16% international students
  • 35% diversity
  • Quite a variety of students – preppy, alternatives, jocks, etc.


Lake Forest offers over 50 clubs and plenty of intramural sports. The Greek scene is small. They have 17 Div III sports including hockey. There is an impressive hockey facility on campus. The new 17 million dollar Athletic Center is very nice and there’s also a beautiful beach quite near the campus.

Sue at Lake ForestLake Forest gymLake Forest tour guidesLake Forest CampusLake Forest DiningLake Forest Campus

Sue on MPR – April 15 at 11:20 am

Sue will be a guest on MPR’s The Daily Circuit on April 15, 2014 at 11:20 am. The discussion’s topic is “Which colleges, majors are worth the cost?” You can listen live on 91.1 FM or stream it from the The Daily Circuit page (click the headphones icon to the right of the article to listen).

If you missed the live streaming, click here to listen to the program.

A Visit to the University of California San Diego

By Sue Luse


As you might imagine, UCSD is the number one surf school in the country and has gorgeous weather year round. There are approximately 23,000 undergrad students – lots of skateboards and flip flops. This school is more conservative than Berkeley.  Engineering and science are strong here. Very diverse student population with plenty of international students. Asian students comprise 45% of the student body. Research is not as popular as with other institutions and not nearly as available. Recognized by the Washington Monthly as the nation’s top “positive impact” college, in rankings that measure research, social mobility and commitment to service.


UCSD Campus

UCSD has a a unique College System – like Harry Potter :}. There are six colleges to choose from and each provide students with small communities within the university as a whole. The colleges also provide their students with many of the advantages of a small liberal arts college plus the opportunities and resources of a large research university. When applying at UCSD, you are asked to rank the six colleges in order of preference. Every college has students from all the majors offered at UCSD. Each college has something unique to offer presenting a choice of general education programs distinctive to each college. Students take only their college’s core courses and writing program courses with students from their home college. The great majority of  courses are taken with students from all the colleges.



  • Based on 10th and 11th year grades only
  • Cannot drop courses in your senior year
  • Requires ACT with Writing
  • No superscore
  • Seniors can take exams in December
  • SAT II not required
  • They recommend not to take 5 AP classes in one year
  • Holistic review
  • 33% acceptance rate
  • Average GPA is 4.1 weighted
  • Average ACT score is 29

Costs/Financial Aid

Out of state tuition is $52,000 per year. Approximately 65% of students receive financial aid. It is difficult to get residency. California funds the resident students so UCSD needs to admit the majority of students from California.  Only approximately 10% of students are from out of state.

ucsd-studentsUCSD Bikes

A Visit to the University of San Diego

By Sue Luse


The University of San Diego is a private, catholic university founded in 1949. Beautiful campus on 180 acres with new buildings. Easy to navigate and pedestrian-friendly campus. Beaches, mountains, downtown and the Mexican border are all within a short drive. The student body is approximately 50% Catholic and about 46% of students are from out of state.  International students comprise 6% of the student population.

USD Vista


State of the art academics with small class sizes that average 22 students. USD offers 42 majors and it’s easy to double major. They offer an MBA program, a law school and and a PhD in Nursing. Their core curriculum includes three classes in religious studies.  Students have access to great internships in San Diego. Plenty of military internships are available in engineering. USD has an Honors Program – the top 10% of incoming freshman are invited to apply. Great alumni network.


USD Campus
  • 49% acceptance rate
  • Application deadline is Dec. 15; reply to students around end of February
  • Average GPA is 3.94
  • Average ACT score is 28
  • Average SAT is 1890
  • They superscore the SAT, but not the ACT
  • Up to three letters of recommendation
  • 300 to 400 students transfer in for junior year
  • $55,000 a year
  • Merit based for top 35%
  • Need based financial aid offered
  • Christine Killoran, Admissions Counselor for Minnesota, conducts the interviews


USD Tour Guide

Very nice housing. Students have to live on campus the first two years. There are four first-year residential areas and campus apartments are available to sophomores. Five different Campus apartments are available for junior, senior and transfer undergraduate students. Some seniors live in beach rentals -supposedly this
is where the parties are.

Study Abroad

USD Walkway

Very popular at USD! Ranked #1 for undergraduate participation. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to live and study in over 30 countries for a year, semester, summer or intersession while earning USD credit. Their Madrid Program is very well-liked and they even offer a Semester at Sea program.

USD StudentsUSD ChapelUSD Campus

A Visit to the University of Notre Dame

By Sue Luse


Located 100 miles east of Chicago,  just outside South Bend, Indiana, the University of Notre Dame is a 1,250 acre campus comprised of 8,500 undergraduate students. Notre Dame considers itself a Catholic academic community with ample opportunities for prayer, contemplation and celebration. Lovely grounds, a grotto, two serene lakes and a beautiful Gothic Basilica.


Touchdown Jesus

Rather than applying to a specific college, all freshman take the First-Year Studies Program:

  • 1 University Seminar
  • 1 Writing and Rhetoric course
  • 2 semesters of mathematics
  • 2 semesters of a science or foreign language
  • 2 courses in physical education or ROTC
  • 1 additional University Requirement
  • 2 program requirements or electives

After the first year, students select a college and it’s easy to switch colleges. All students are required to take two philosophy and two religion classes. Everyone meets with an advisor who assists in selecting classes. Plenty of tutoring and resources for help.

Notre Dame’s Colleges (Aside from First Year Studies):

  • School of Architecture
  • College of Arts and Letters
  • Mendoza College of Business (ranked #1 by Bloomberg)
  • College of Science (88% acceptance rate to medical school)
  • College of Engineering
  • Graduate School
  • Law School



They accept the Common App. In looking at a students academics, they concentrate on:

  • Trancripts
  • Rigor of coursework (did the student take the most difficult available)
  • Testing (they superscore the SAT)

In reviewing a student’s non-academic achievements, they look for the following:

  • A few activities and leadership qualities
  • They like unique activities
  • Consider a job as extra-curricular
  • Teacher recommendations
  • Guidance Counselor recommendations
  • Essays (Be sure to spell check and proof read!!!)
Lots of bikes

No interviews are involved in the admissions process. They will accept resumes – should be sent to the admissions counselor. November 1 is the deadline for Early Action and there is no benefit to applying early. Notre Dame is very selective. You will either be Admitted, Denied or Deferred.  If Deferred, ask the admissions counselor what would make your application stronger. Notre Dame is need blind and they do offer need-based and merit based financial aid. Typically less than 70 freshman receive merit aid.

Student Life

  • 29 dorms – all are single sex
  • No Greeks – so the dorms are actually like Greek Life
  • Room selection is random
  • No freshman dorms – everyone is mixed up
  • Most students stay in the same dorm all 4 years
  • All dorms have a chapel and Mass every week
  • There is a priest or nun living in each dorm
  • Students are 80% catholic
  • The dorms have sports teams that compete in football with the finals played in the stadium
ND CampusGrottoTouchdown JesusLake viewFootball stadium student entranceCathedralLots of bikesFamily statue

A Visit to Valparaiso University

By Sue Luse


Valparaiso University is a selective, independent Lutheran institution in Valparaiso, Indiana, an hour’s drive from Chicago. Valparaiso has a very cute downtown with a population of 31,000. They are known for engineering, nursing and business and also offer a meteorology program. Valparaiso also houses a law school. Valparaiso has a family atmosphere where students are very friendly in a happy environment. The professors really want to be there – they enjoy interacting with students.


Valpo Campus

Valparaiso is comprised of the following colleges:

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Business
  • Christ College (Honors College)
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Nursing
  • Graduate School

They offer an Exploratory Track for undecided students. Also offer the unique major of Humanitarian Engineering as well as an accelerated nursing program.


Valpo Campus

Valparaiso considers weighted grades, though students with unweighted grades are not at a disadvantage. Honors, AP, and IB courses are taken into serious consideration, as well as the rigor of your schedule. Valparaiso evaluates a student’s GPA and class curriculum based on what their individual high school offers.

Christ College (Honors Program)

Excellent Honors Program. Invitations to apply to Christ College are sent to admitted students. Approximately 75 to 85 freshman students enter Christ College each fall.

Interesting Facts

Valpo Foorball
  • Brand new engineering building
  • 55% of students are not from Illinois or Indiana
  • Conservative environment where faith is important
  • No longer associated with Missouri Synod
  • Own a Doppler Radar (can go storm chasing)

A Visit to Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN

By Sue Luse


Located in Notre Dame, Indiana, just north of South Bend and across the street from the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Saint Mary’s is a women’s college comprised of 1,500 students. A close-knit community dedicated to stretching your abilities and empowering women.


Saint Mary's Campus

Saint Mary’s has more than 30 majors, and the most popular are Nursing, Education, Biology, Business and Communications. They have plans for a Masters program in Speech Pathology. Classes are small (the average size is 15 students), and often discussion-based. The College has a writing proficiency program built into the liberal arts curriculum and requires a senior comprehensive project in the senior year.

Students at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame can cross-register for a limited number of courses on each other’s campuses (there is a bus to take students back and forth). Students enrolled in the Dual Degree engineering program are an exception. In addition to completing a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Mary’s College, students also earn an engineering degree in chemical, computer science, electrical, environmental geosciences, or mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.


Saint Mary's Dorm
  • Common App (no supplement); no fee; resumes should be mailed
  • Saint Mary’s offers both Early Decision and Rolling Application options for First-Year applicants
  • Middle 50% of accepted students’ ACT score fell between 23 and 29
  • Middle 50% of accepted students’ GPAs fell between 3.4 and 4.0
  • Super scores the ACT and SAT
  • Holistic review of applications
  • Tuition/fees/room and board total approximately $45,000/year with merit scholarships up to $20,000 (no separate application necessary)
  • 88% retention rate from first to second year (Class of 2015)
  • 80% of students stay all four years

Student Life

Saint Mary's Campus

Plenty of clubs and organizations to get involved in. Saint Mary’s students form close relationships with fellow students and enjoy many informal gatherings/meetings as well as service opportunities. Can join Notre Dame Marching Band and participate in their ROTC program. Saint Mary’s women can get season football tickets in the student section at neighboring Notre Dame. There are many area restaurants, shopping malls, entertainment venues, and parks nearby. An hour and a half train ride takes you to Chicago.

So What Kind of Girls Would Be Happy Here?

Girls who like small classes and close relationships with peers. Girls who enjoy lots of personal attention and getting to know their professors. Girls who are academically focused and enthusiastic about making a difference.

Fun Facts

Saint Mary's Stained Glass
  • 45 minutes from Lake Michigan
  • 75% students from out of state
  • Approximately 85% Catholic
  • Convent on campus, but most sisters don’t teach
  • Freshman dorm
  • All dorms have a chapel
  • Seniors in one residence hall can have pets under 10 pounds. There is also apartment-style living available for seniors on campus.
  • Very unique dorm rooms – some with fireplaces; sinks; every room is different; high ceilings

Top Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in HS Students

The Examiner reported on the biennial survey results released from Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) on the top strengths and experiences colleges look for in high school students. There are some changes from previous years’ results. “Not surprisingly, a rigorous high school curriculum landed the number one spot—ahead of grades (#2) and standardized test scores.” (#3).

Here is the IECA’s report in PDF.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

By Sue Luse

About Rose-Hulman

Rose-Hulman offers only science, math, and engineering. Students at Rose-Hulman are there to learn. Everyone here has to study hard all the time. It’s okay to be “really smart” at Rose-Hulman.  The mens bathrooms even have chalkboards and math problems to work on.

Campus Overview

Rose-Hulman is located in Terre Haute, Indiana. Very nice, safe parts of town. Most faculty live in town. Rose-Hulman is a cozy place and not looking to grow. One hour from Indianapolis airport and a shuttle is available.


Rose-Hulman Engineers
  • No Common Application
  • Essay is optional, i.e. to explain grades
  • No application fee
  • Requires high school transcripts, senior schedule, and letters of recommendations
  • Superscore ACT and SAT; also superscore both together
  • Average ACT score in Math is 32 (24 is minimum for math) and in reading, it’s 30
  • Interviews not required


Should have Chemistry and AP Physics. You receive credit for AP scores of 4 or 5. There is no language requirement. Students take 9 non-STEM courses. Most students are in the top 25% of their high school graduating class.

Financial Aid

Rose-Hulman Football

No additional application necessary for merit scholarships. The average merit scholarship is $13,000. Scholarships from Rose-Hulman are available even after you have been admitted. The average financial aid package is $26,000 ($20,000 without loans). The average loan debt of graduates is $42,000. Rose-Hulman offers a unique summer program called Operation Catapault. Students that attend this program receive a $2,500 refund in scholarship money which is renewable for four years.

Job Placement

Once a quarter, companies come to recruit students. Job placement is 100%. Average starting salary is $65,000. Software engineering and computer science graduates start at $100,000 or more.

Student Body

  • 2,000 students
  • 70% out-of-state
  • 20% women
  • Current freshman class is 561 with 63 international students

Fun Facts

Rose-Hulman Technology
  • Rose Hulman believes math and music go together
  • Amazing drama program open to all
  • Offer lots of fun competitions
  • Big bonfire every homecoming
  • Can build decks in dorms and paint the walls
  • Students can have their own room
  • Current major fundraising campaign for a new student union and academic buildings
  • Offer overseas programs and joint international projects

Purdue University

By Sue Luse


Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue offers more than 200 majors for undergraduates, over 70 master’s and doctoral programs, and professional degrees in pharmacy and veterinary medicine. In addition, they have 18 intercollegiate sports teams and more than 850 student organizations. West Lafayette is a quaint and charming area with plenty of diversity.


PU Campus
  • You apply to the college and to a particular school
  • If unsure, then apply to Exploratory Studies program
  • Now takes the Common Application
  • $60 application fee
  • Require writing supplement and letter of recommendation
  • Should apply by Nov. 1 for scholarships and honors college
  • Need 4 years of English and Math
  • They like to see AP courses
  • Make a new GPA based on core classes
  • The average GPA is 3.7
  • Like to see good grades in relevant coursework. For example, students applying to College of Engineering should  do well in Physics and Math in high school
  • They do consider high school rank
  • They do not superscore the ACT
  • Essays and Letters of Recommendation are important
  • The Nursing School is highly competitive to get into

College of Engineering

PU Climbing Wall

Climbing Wall

Purdue University’s College of Engineering is one of the premier Engineering institutions in the world. Known for high rankings, top faculty, amazing facilities, top students, famous alumni, reasonable tuition, and so many opportunities right out of school.They offer a First-Year Engineering Program, which is the entry point for all beginning engineering students.

All engineering students at Purdue must complete the first-year engineering requirements before entering the engineering school of their choice. This core curriculum includes courses in math, chemistry, physics, computer programming, and communication skills, as well as introductory engineering coursework.

Undergraduate Demographics

  • 57% male, 43% female
  • 58% Indiana residents
  • 26% other U.S. states
  • 16% other countries
  • 14% minority domestic student population

Fun Facts

PU Farmers Market

PU Farmers Market

  • August, 2012, Princeton Review ranks Purdue at 14th for ‘best campus food’
  • 900 organizations
  • So much to offer socially, it’s hard to figure out what to do – very unique activities
  • Students are good kids – normal – not preppy and all involved in giving back
  • Hillel on campus
  • Brand new recreation and sports center – very nice!
  • Loads of school spirit – tailgating is huge

A Visit to Northwestern University

By Sue Luse


Northwestern University is a private, mid-sized university known for innovative teaching and pioneering research. There are approximately 8,400 undergraduate students and 8,000 graduate students. While prospective students apply to one of 6 colleges, it is easy to transfer among colleges and you have the entire university at your disposal. Located in Evanston, the first suburb north of Chicago,  the 240-acre campus is on beautiful Lake Michigan.

Northwestern Univeristy sign


Northwestern’s calendar operates on the quarter system, in which the academic year is divided into three 10-week terms (for fall, winter and spring) and a summer session of eight weeks. The quarter system allows students to take a greater number of courses and tends to encourage participation in internships and other off-campus experiences. You will take (on average) four courses per quarter or 12 per academic year on the quarter system. Approximately 2/3 of students double major, which is easy to do with the quarter system. Northwestern offers an exceptional range of study through more than 150 majors, minors, certificates, and concentrations.


McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

NU Engineering

NU Engineering

The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science emphasizes cultivating whole-brain™ engineers. Students develop superior analytical, left-brain skills in addition to divergent, right-brain skills. One fun example of a whole-brain project is developing shoes for geriatric penguins. McCormick is recognized for its world renowned research internships and co-ops.  Managed by the Office of Career Development, McCormick’s Co-op Program is a five-year combination of formal academic studies and invaluable on-the-job experience. Co-op students supplement 12 quarters of undergraduate study with 6 quarters of hands-on experience at one of nearly 200 corporate partners. The 5th year can be a paid co-op so the student can graduate with a full year of experience. Approximately 1/3 of students participate in the co-op program.

Prospective students need to complete an online math placement and should know computer science.  It is very helpful to know coding and calculus before enrolling. McCormick prefers that students don’t take all AP classes and tests as it is considered a red flag that you are not a balanced person. Approximately 30% of course work is not STEM. While community college credits may be accepted, College In The Schools courses are not. During freshman year, students take Engineering First courses to experience a full range of engineering and then declare their major after their freshman year. Biggest programs are biomedical engineering and industrial design. Design competitions for seniors come from industry.

Men to women ratio is 2 to 1. Two percent are accepted into the honors program in medical education. A separate application is needed for the honors program – due Dec. 1. NU Medical School does not give preference to NU undergraduate. Twelve percent do not finish engineering degree. They transfer out but about the same number transfer in. Engineering is all about making people’s lives better. You need to work in a team and integrate all STEM areas.

School of Communication

The School of Communication comprises five departments:

Kellogg School of Management

Kellogg School of Management

  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Communication Studies
  • Radio, Television and Film
  • Performance Studies
  • Theater (includes dance)

Communication studies is a great major for pre-law or pre-business. Speech Communication is popular for pre-med students.  No audition is required for prospective theater students. The School of Communications holds over 80 productions a years – there are plenty of chances to get involved.

Medill School Of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications

Medill has a long-standing reputation for journalism excellence. This college is very digital and high-tech. Medill likes story tellers and teaches them how to share their stories. They offer a Social Media Certificate program in marketing and communications which is great for pre-business.

School of Education and Social Policy

The Secondary Teaching program uses an interdisciplinary approach by combining course work from Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (WCAS) in a chosen field — such as English, history or math — with School of Education and Social Policy courses on such topics as child and adolescent development, educational philosophy, and methods of instruction. There is a 10-week practicum.

Bienen School of Music

NU old Music School

Old Music School

The Bienen School offers 15 academic majors in six degree programs. There are great resources for diverse interests in music – choice of electives such as music production, music lessons, marching band, jazz ensembles, and not to mention 16 a capella groups. There are approximately 400 undergraduate students.

There is one application to NU. Early decision audition registration is Oct. 15, regular decision by Dec. 1.  Depending on how you submit auditions and supplements, read the application process carefully. The School encourages résumés. Students who are interested in being a music major can visit and schedule a lesson with an instructor from the school of music. This will provide good feedback whether or not a prospective student has the talent to audition and pursue the very rigorous course of a music major. Music teacher recommendations should accompany application.

Music practice room

Practice room

Merit scholarships are available. Curriculum is 3/4 music and 1/4 liberal arts. There are 5-year programs for dual degrees and double majors. For example, you can major in music and in economics, or you can major in engineering and minor in music. Music theory can count as a math requirement.

The School encourages gigs for hire in Chicago and hiring students to provide music lessons to the community. Practice rooms are available 20 hours a day.

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest of the undergraduate schools. More than half of the undergraduates are enrolled in this college.

Fun Facts

NU Rock

NU Rock

  • Great research funded by NU
  • Career services helps students find interviews
  • Over 500 student groups
  • Big 10 school
  • 19 varsity sports – The Wildcats
  • Free admission to all home events
  • 1/3 Greek
  • Quarter system – Freshman year starts winter quarter
  • Classes are designed for 11 weeks so no more work than say Harvard
  • Some classes like bio go the whole year in order to get through the material.
  • Size of campus – one mile north and south, half mile east and west
  • Building new music and engineering buildings
  • There are two beaches
  • There is a skating rink
  • Restaurant capital of the North Shore
  • Olive mountain
  • Chicago is the third largest city in the US
  • Free transportation shuttle
  • Access to trains


Looking toward Lake Michigan

Looking toward Lake Michigan

The application has three supplements. You need to indicate which college you are applying to and which major. Undeclared is OK for Weinberg and McCormick. Prepare to write about “Why NU?”.

Admissions reviews applicants holistically – quantitative and qualitative. No super scoring on ACT, only the SAT. Subject tests not required, but send them if they are over 700. They look at the rigor and the context of your high school. GPA is not as important because of the different scales. Extra letters of recommendation are OK if they reveal something new about you.

Essay tips: Don’t mention the campus by the lake. Do mention cheesy jokes. There isn’t one college that is easier to get into than another. Students should have a genuine voice.

Financial Aid

Need blind. Need-based only. Use CSA Profile and FAFSA. Will need parents’ tax returns.

A Visit to UW Platteville

By Sue Luse


UW-Plattville has a long rich history dating back to 1866. It’s situated in Platteville, Wisconsin, population 11,200. It’s an hour from Madison and 20 minutes from Dubuque, Iowa. There are malls and a Target nearby. Platteville is home of the world’s largest “M” – iconic symbol of the mining tradition. It is located on the Platte Mound four miles northeast of the city of Platteville. The university and the community join together for events such as Homecoming and other activities down historic Main street. Free shuttles are available every hour for students.

  • Total enrollment is approximately 8600
  • 1640 freshman
  • Classes do not use TAs
  • All professors have to have 10 office hours
  • Largest lecture has 100 students
  • Small class sizes
  • Only 1% are from MN
  • 80% are in-state
  • 77% retention


There are three colleges:

  • College of BILSA – Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture
  • College of EMS – Engineering, Mathematics and Science
  • College of LAE – Liberal Arts and Education

UW-Platteville offers 41 majors.

Engineering, physics and software are considered the most difficult. Freshman engineering students will explore all avenues of engineering. Industrial engineering require less math and science – more hands on. Career path could be project engineers.

Criminal Justice and Forensics Investigation are popular degrees.  UW-Platteville has a CSI crime scene investigation house. It is a research facility where students do “pig digs.” They use pigs that die of natural causes to study and investigate decomposing bodies. They even dress up the pigs. There are also cadaver labs. Students do get jobs such as fingerprint techs for the FBI. Target Corp hired criminal justice majors for loss prevention. There are career opportunities beyond law enforcement for Criminal Justice and Forensics Investigation majors.

Experiential and hands-on learning are emphasized at UW-Platteville.There are many opportunities to do undergrad research. Sixty-five percent do inter nships and paid co-ops – highest of any UW system.

Text books are included with tuition. Students must take a one credit “Intro to College” course. There are lots of academic support to help students succeed.

Campus Life

  • Two brand new dorms
  • Freshman and sophomores must live on campus
  • Most students stay on campus
  • New athletic center
  • Greenhouse – grows fresh produce used in dining hall
  • Two engineering buildings
  • Only serves Starbucks coffee
  • Greeks are a little more low key, not as popular
  • Lots of student clubs, including Tug of War club
  • 60% involved in choir
  • Band, marching band very popular.
  • Division 3 Hockey is a club sport
  • Ski hills at Dubuque
  • Sledding on sofas down hills
  • The engineers had a fun sense of humor
  • Lots of school spirit


  • Students must take a math and English placement test
  • Should take math senior year to do well on placement test to graduate in 4 years
  • Two years of high school language will waive language
  • Needs a math ACT of 22 for engineering placement
  • Top half of class or ACT of 22
  • Holistic review
  • Has other paths for admission
  • Average ACT – 23.5
  • Writing test not required.
  • Rolling admissions
  • Enrichment statement
  • Received 4500 applications
  • Apply early especially for scholarships by Oct 1 – could hear back in two weeks.


Financial Aid

  • Tuition – approximately $15,000
  • 74% get aid

UW-Platteville engineering graduates are sought after by companies because of the school’s hands-on approach to teaching engineering. Professors are available to meet with prospective students.

Overlaps – UW Madison, Lacrosse, Lora’s, Iowa State, UW River Falls, AG, Stout for Engineering. Platteville and Madison are best for engineering

What to expect from an independent college counselor

Sue Luse and one of her students are featured in this article
What to expect from an independent college counselor on Reuters.com.

Sue on HuffPost Live

Missed the discussion on “Should Kids Go to Summer College” on HuffPost Live? Go to this link http://huff.lv/12q65tK to watch it now.

Sue on Huffington Post Live 4 PM/CT Jul 26

Join Sue on Huffington Post Live this afternoon to discuss “Are Summer College Programs Really Worth It?”

Congratulations to the Class of 2013

Dear Class of 2013,

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your college planning journey. Congratulations and all the best as you go off to college. Please keep in touch and let me know how your freshman year goes. Enjoy the summer!

Sue Luse

Class of 2012

Click to enlarge.

Tips for Soon to be College Freshmen and their Parents


Read Sue’s blog on the Independent Educational Consultant’s Blog on Making the Most of the Summer of 2013: Tips for Soon-to-be College Freshmen and their Parents

WCCO Radio 2nd Half of Education Roundtable with Sue Luse

Listen to the second half the Education Roundtable on WCCO’s News and Views with Roshini Rajkumarof when Sue Luse enters the roundtable. This recording (18 minutes) does not contain the entire 1PM show with Roshini Rajkumarof. It starts with the introduction of Sue Luse.

Sue Luse on WCCO Radion Education Roundtable

To listen to the podcast in its entirety (1 hour) on iTunes, go to yesterday’s blog (May 14)

Sue on WCCO Podcast

If you missed Sue Luse on WCCO’s News and Views with Roshini Rajkumar, the host for Education Roundtable, you can listen to the May 12 show on podcast. Select the 1 PM show featuring Sue Luse, Dale Kurschner (Editor-in-Chief, Twin Cities Business Magazine), and Amy Hertel (Mineapolis Foundation). Sue appears in the second half of the show at time: 18:04. The image below is how it appears on the list of podcasts dated 5/12/13.


Sue Luse on WCCO Sunday, May 12, 1-2 pm

Sue Luse will be on Education Round Table this Sunday, May 12, 1-2 pm on WCCO Radio’s News & Views. Listen on 830 WCCO Newsradio with Roshini Rajkumar @RoshiniR @wccoradio #NewsandViews. You are welcome to call and/or text in with questions relating to preparing for college or selecting colleges.

You can listen live online at http://www.wcco.com/roshini. If you missed the show, you can find post-show podcasts at http://www.wcco.com/roshini.

A Visit to Yale University

By Sue Luse


I had an absolutely awesome tour of Yale, even though it was a really cold day! This charming campus is located in in the heart of down town New Haven, Connecticut, which is known as a vibrant community full of opportunities. As Yale’s President Richard Levin has said, “New Haven is large enough to be interesting but small enough to be friendly.”

Campus Housing

Yale Residence Halls

I was very impressed with Yale’s Residential College System.  Each of the twelve residential colleges has its own distinctive architecture, courtyard, dining hall, and library, as well as activity spaces.  It reminded me of Harry Potter and Cambridge and Oxford. It is often said that most freshman quickly become convinced that their residential college is the best residential college.

Yale Students

Freshman are randomly assigned to one of the twelve residential colleges giving them a built-in community from the moment they arrive on campus. Each residential college has approximately 450 students and this is their home for all 4 years at Yale. The residential colleges reminded me of a fortress home away from home. They are comprised of suites with a large common room and bathrooms shared by approximately 8 students. These colleges bring together faculty and students forming a unique bridge between academic and social life.


Yale Architecture

  • 75 majors to choose from
  • Students choose majors at the end of their sophomore year
  • There are no minors, but you can double major
  • Approximately 12 of your 36 courses will be within your major
  • 36 courses needed  to graduate
  • Yalies typically take four or five courses each fall and spring
  • Student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1
  • In the Engineering Department,the faculty to student ratio is 1:1
  • Students take 1/3 of their courses within a distribution requirement (rather than core classes) and 1/3 in their major and 1/3 are electives
  • 2,000 classes are offered every year
  • Over 70 languages offered
  • 800 research labs
  • 95% of science students do research
  • Most students are published

Yale Tour

Yale has what they call a “Shopping Period” – the first 10 days of each semester are a time when students can visit dozens of classes that interest them in order to decide which ones they want to take.  Students build their class schedule as they “shop”. During this shopping period students also meet with academic advisors to sort through all of the academic opportunities. Through this process, students formulate their most fulfilling academic semester!


Yale Architecture

While Yale evaluates each applicant as an individual, academic strength is their first consideration. A rigorous high school courseload is very important. Yale likes to see students  take advantage of any advanced opportunities at their high school.You may submit scores from  the SAT and any two SAT Subject Tests or the ACT Plus Writing Test. Interviews are not required but encouraged. Remember that the goal of any interview is an outside “validity check” to prove that you have accurately presented yourself. Two letters of recommendation are required preferably from teachers who taught you during your junior or senior year. Teachers need to mention specific example(s) of how the students perform in the classroom, so it’s a good idea to give your teacher specific examples to use in this letter. You should allow your character to come out in your essay.  This is your opportunity to show Yale how you think, what drives you and that you are intellectually passionate. Definitely be yourself in your essay.  It’s also a great idea to have a friend or parent read it and see if it actually sounds like you. Your extracurricular activities are important. Yale likes to see that you are driven by something outside of the classroom.

Financial Aid

Yale Campus

  • Need blind
  • Need based
  • No merit or athletic scholarships
  • Scholarships meet 100% of need
  • Cost of attendance is approximately $56,000 a year
  • The average financial aid package is $36,000
  • 55% of undergraduates receive need-based aid directly from Yale
  • Families whose total gross income is less than $65,000 are not expected to make a contribution towards their child’s Yale education
  • No loans offered

Sue at YaleSue at Yale

Opinion: Surviving the College Denial

We’re sorry to inform you…

When a message begins like that, it’s never good, especially if it’s from a college informing you on whether you’ve been accepted or not. Never good quickly transitions into the horror of all horrors if it was your first choice, dream school, as it unfortunately was in my case. All anxiety and cheery false hope drained from me, replaced by shock and a tightness in my chest. It felt funny that something so electronic and unfeeling could ravage the most passionate and human emotions inside of me.

From that moment, a borderline soap opera occurred. I mustered up enough grit to leave the kitchen without tears. I pressed my cellphone to my ear to tell my friend the news as I had (now regretfully) promised.

“Yes?” The smile on the other line was sickingly optimistic. The grit vanished, and stoicism escalated into sobs of despair.

“I didn’t get in.”

I flung myself onto my bed and cried. My mom snuck in to extract the Hamilton College sweatshirt off of my floor to hide in some dark crevice of her closet. My friend consoled me over the phone, and the tears fell as horrifying thoughts circled about my brain. Hamilton College, my first choice college, had denied me. With it, I had lost any hope of my future and had in turn gained the harsh realization that all of my work over the past three years had been for nothing. It was December 15th; ten days to Christmas and the ultimate present had been torn from me.

If this has read off as some melodramatic sob story, then you’re following. That’s what it had felt like- some drama-dripping Sunday afternoon soap opera that starred me as its victim. It had felt like all of my dreams of academia, success, and happiness had been crushed. According to my peers, parents, and private college-counselor, I was supposed to be apart of Hamilton College, class of 2017, or at least deferred. But no- a blatant denial stood before me, sending me spiraling into shock followed by childish sobs of defeat.

I’m not the first student to be denied by their number one college, and sadly I won’t be the last. But I can assure each and every student two things: one- you will feel crushed. You will contemplate putting yourself into solitary confinement in your bedroom as you blast morbid (yet unbearably catchy) Adele songs. You’ll want to devour a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, covering the pain with creamy sweet relief. You’ll want to watch tragic war movies that always end in death, (or a new episode of Glee) as you dab at your puffy eyes with lotion infused Kleenexes. You’ll want to sink into a pit of despair. Your academic successes will feel obsolete. Your ACT score you slaved over will feel like a waste. Every flashcard you’ve ever made, every study session you’ve stressed through, and every late night trying to find the ever-allusive ‘x’ in your math homework will feel purposeless and unfair. Denial is not an emotionally enjoyable experience.

Here, we arrive at point two: nothing you’ve done has been pointless, nothing has been lost.

I had viewed my situation on the same playing field as a zombie-apocalypse. My denial felt like the end of the world, the annihilation of all that was good. But this wasn’t the case. Goodness still existed. Rainbows came after rainstorms, ice cream was in the freezer, and Christmas break was on the horizon. The world wasn’t encompassed by evil. I had just gotten denied by a college – nothing more and nothing less.

Yes, the situation was emotional. I’m the kind of person who cries during sappy TLC commercials, so of course I was distraught at the denial. But what I had thought I had lost- my future, my happiness, my “perfect fit”- was still intact, but I wouldn’t find it in Clinton, New York. A month earlier I had been accepted into Fordham University, a private, Jesuit college nestled in the Bronx. It had been my second choice college. In my mind, it wouldn’t be able to give me the happiness and success that Hamilton, my “perfect fit” would have given me. However, my friend kindly reminded me of my infatuation with New York City, a love affair that had begun in eighth grade.

I was in the city for my uncle’s wedding, with all of my blatantly tourist cousins. We were riding the subway, holding onto the greasy bar as we leaned with the sharp turns of the train, laughing. It wasn’t a pretty sight- there were a good number of native New York City passengers giving us critical looks. The subway was dark, dirty, and smelled of aluminum and city natives. It was hot that day, we were all sweaty from walking. Despite all of this grime, I turned to my mom, all aglow.

“I belong here.”

It was a simple story, perhaps even borderline Hallmark card, but it was true. I didn’t belong atop a hill in the village of Clinton. I belonged in New York City. Somewhere in this college process, twelfth grade me had forgotten what eighth grade me had confidently known.

What Fordham offered that Hamilton couldn’t was close internship opportunities and the city experience. The commute from the Bronx to The New York Times headquarters on Eighth Avenue was just a subway ride away. While Hamilton may be ranked for their creative Writing program, Fordham offered me hands-on experience, only minutes away.  My success and my happiness was secure in Fordham: I would be able to live in the city that I had fallen in love with as well as have so many job opportunities that would allow me to make a living doing what I loved- writing. Experience and opportunity trumped numbers for me. But what about the “perfect fit”?

I’m not going to tell you the old cliché that there is no “perfect fit,” because I disagree. There is, but whether we know that the “perfect fit” is perfect for us is debatable. I clearly didn’t know before my Hamilton denial. When it came to finding the “perfect fit” on my own, the task was impossible. Thankfully, I didn’t need to find the “perfect fit” on my own, because someone had already laid it out for me.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” This verse from Jeremiah 29:11 was my saving grace, and the knowledge that God’s plan is always the perfect plan truly got me through this experience. There is a plan. We are not just clumps of atoms bumbling about the planet. We each have pasts, presents, and futures. Happiness is out there, whether it’s at Princeton, Hamilton, Fordham, Northwestern, Pepperdine, or Community College. Chaos will not ensue with a simple denial. Order will be restored, and that is something us haggard, stressed seniors can cling to.

If Hamilton had denied me, then it clearly wasn’t the “perfect fit”. Hamilton College is a fabulous school full of prestigious scholars, kind people, and academic growth. But it clearly wasn’t for me. The perfect fit had been an imperfect fit. My second choice school became my first, and I am more than excited to be part of the Fordham University class of 2017.

So, to all of my fellow seniors awaiting college acceptances or denials, and to the future seniors, I leave you with this: do NOT fear the denial. Use it as an excuse to put on your fat pants and devour some ice cream, but do not let it swallow you into a personal pit of despair. The denial is not the death of you, but the savior. Clearly the school wasn’t for you. So yes, your “perfect fit” and “perfect plan” didn’t work out, but that is only your perfect plan. The truly perfect plan will be carried out, and that is something that should be profoundly calming and reassuring to us all.


Madelyn , Orono, MN

Coping with College Rejection

Here is an article – Coping with College Rejection: How Parents Can Help that Sue Luse contributed to for Fox Business Network. It appears in the Personal Finance College Planning page.

A Visit to Pratt Institute

By Sue Luse

Campus Overview

Located in Brooklyn, New York, Pratt is the opposite of Pace or New York University. This campus is a very peaceful place with lots of green, open spaces. Pratt is among quaint old brownstones within the historic Clinton Hill residential neighborhood.  Lots of cute little eateries and plenty of families, kids and dogs walking around.  I felt very safe on this campus.  This place looks and feels like an art school and is only 25 minutes from the art center of the world – Manhatten. Pratt students enjoy the campus’s uniquely acclaimed and contemporary sculpture garden.  There is also a subway stop on campus.

Pratt’s Mission Statement

Pratt Grounds

The mission of Pratt Institute is to educate artists and creative professionals to be responsible contributors to society.

Pratt’s Schools & Curriculum

Pratt is home to :

  • School of Architecture
  • School of Art & Design
  • School of Information & Library Science
  • School of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Center for Continuing and Professional Studies

Pratt has always believed that educating generalists rather than specialists (Industrial designers rather than car designers, writers rather than journalists) is essential in supporting our mission: to educate creative individuals to be leaders in their fields. The fact that this philosophy is reflected in the professional world with the boundaries between various art forms disappearing confirms this approach.

Top Three Reasons Students Choose Pratt

Pratt Campus

  1. A distinguished faculty of practicing artists, designers, architects, writers, and librarians, many of whom have received awards for their work and are leaders in their fields. Often it’s faculty connections that land you your internship and eventually your first job whether it’s directly through your instructors or through our Center for Career & Professional Development. Pratt’s professors are working professionals who take time off from their successful careers to teach, mentor, and help students find internships and eventually jobs. Google any professor’s name at Pratt, and you’ll find that he or she is at the forefront of contemporary art, design, architecture, writing, or library science. Ask students why they chose Pratt, and invariably they will say, “the faculty.” The fact that Pratt is one of the largest art schools means that you get to choose from hundreds of faculty and courses. Classes are small so that you can work alongside your professors, receiving feedback on your work, advice about your strengths, and an education focused on your own interests.
  2. The professional nature of the curriculum which starts in the first year as opposed to a traditional liberal arts college where you choose your major in the third year. Because of Pratt’s size, you get to choose from an extraordinary variety of majors and concentrations including majors in creative writing and critical and visual studies.
  3. The Campus: Pratt is the only East Coast art school with an enclosed campus. Twenty-five acres of tree-lined bricked roadways, grassy areas, five residence halls on campus, and outstanding facilities offer students plenty of “green space” in which to work, relax, and spend time with friends.

Additional Information

Pratt Campus

  • Beautiful library with Tiffany interiors
  • Frats and sororities and lots of clubs to join
  • Brand new building for digital art
  • An Admissions Portfolio is required for most programs
  • Pratt uses slideroom.com to upload portfolios:  http://slideroom.com/
  • They do not take the Common App
  • Pratt is highly selective for certain design majors
  • I have a student who applied for their Fashion Design major in the Art & Design School

A Visit to Pace University

By Sue Luse


Pace is a private metropolitan New York multi-campus university.  Students can get all the classes they want at either campus and don’t need to go back and forth. The New York City campus is located in lower Manhattan near Wall Street. This campus is in the heart of one of the city’s most vital and dynamic areas – alive with activity. Great location – only blocks away from Grand Central Station.

Pace NYC Campus

NYC Campus

The Pleasantville campus in mid-Westchester County is set on 200 acres of rolling countryside where Pace flourishes as the only private university in the county, and offers a broad range of undergraduate degree programs in a stimulating collegiate environment. The Briarcliff annex, a short distance from Pleasantville, is the location of residence halls, recreational facilities, and administrative offices. A shuttle bus provides continuous service between the campuses. Pace’s School of Law, and a center for other graduate courses in business, public administration, and computing are located in White Plains, the hub of Westchester County.

All campuses are linked by the powerful, goal-oriented features of a Pace University education—personal attention, flexibility, and responsiveness to the needs and expectations of a diverse and demanding student population.

Pace Pleasantville Campus

Pleasantville Campus


Pace is home to the renowned Lublin School of Business which offers a 5-year MBA and CPA program.  Location, location, location – Pace’s location affords business students with great internship opportunities on Wall Street. In fact, Pace is ranked in the top 5 universities in the country for business internships. They offer an exceptional Finance major for prospective investments bankers.  Go to Lublin School of Business for more information.

1 Pace Plaza Aerial

Pace also has much to offer in the area of performing arts – especially musical theater and acting.  They also offer Commercial Dance, not ballet. Again Pace’s location presents students in the performing arts with ample opportunities.

Aside from the Lublin School of Business and the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Pace is also home to the College of Health Professions, School of Education, and the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.


Pace accepts either the SAT or ACT. The average GPA is 3.3 and the average ACT score is 23. Unlike New York University or Columbia, Pace offers generous merit scholarships.

Student Body

Pleasantville Campus

All different kinds of kids go to Pace – the student body is very open and accepting of everyone. Most Pace students are driven, self-motivated, appreciate diversity and are the independent type. The gender demographics are 60% female/40% male.

The Bottom Line About Pace

Pace University is a great option for kids who want to go to college in New York City and are interested in either business or performing arts. It’s an especially great option for students who can’t get into New York University or Columbia and are in need of merit scholarships.

A Visit to Connecticut College

By Sue Luse and Lindsay Berg, Class of 2003


Perched atop a hill overlooking Long Island Sound and the Thames River, Connecticut College cherishes its small class sizes, honor system and dedicated professors.  Separated from downtown New London on a hilltop originally considered to be “the finest college site in the world,” Conn College (as it is commonly referred to) is its own little slice of New England.  Students wander across the grounds, stroll through the 750-acre arboretum, live and study in Gothic and Georgian style buildings, utilize state of the art academic and athletic facilities, and compete in the NESCAC conference.  It is two hours away from New York and Boston. With its close proximity to Providence, New Haven, and several quaint New England towns, students find themselves with ample opportunity to explore the East Coast.


Connecticut College Admissions

Founded in 1911 after Wesleyan decided to deny entry to women, Conn originally opened as a women’s college and became co-ed several decades later in 1969.  Known as one of the “little ivies,” Conn prides itself on educating “Students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society.”


Connecticut College Campus

Connecticut College students find themselves in small classes where discussion, dialogue and writing play key roles in academics.  Professors engage their students, include them in research, and act as mentors and friends.  Moreover, professors support student independence, and self-designed research and independent studies are commonplace.  This focus on individualized thought has led Conn to produce more Fulbright Scholars than any other Liberal Arts School in the country. Conn is strong in the humanities, sciences, and arts, and to help craft a well-rounded education, students are required to take seven courses from a wide area of disciplines.  First year students also enroll in a freshman seminar year, and Conn’s incredible CELS (Career Enhancing Life Skills) program provides funding for all students to pursue internships during the summer between their junior and senior year.

Connecticut College’s honor system dictates all walks of life on campus, and it fosters Conn’s open and friendly environment.  Based on trust and mutual respect, Conn students created the code in 1922.  At Conn, exams are self-scheduled and are not proctored; this allows students to take their finals when confident and ready, and students and professors trust one another to be ethical and respectful.


CT College Campus

Connecticut College does not have a Greek system, instead students find themselves awash in activities ranging from Capella group concerts, dances, theater, renowned speakers, art trips to New York City, outings to Harkness Beach, boat trips to Block Island, ice cream and pizza in neighboring town Mystic, Camelympics (dorm wars), and Floralia (a day-long spring music festival).

Quick Facts

  • Student-faculty ratio is 9:1
  • Average class size is about 19
  • 50% of students receive financial aid
  • Submission of standardized tests is optional in the admission process
  • More than 40 majors
  • 178 full-time professors; 90 percent hold a doctorate or equivalent
  • Strong interdisciplinary programs, including five interdisciplinary academic centers
  • 1,900 students from 45 states, Washington, D.C., and 71 countries; 40% men, 60% women; 16.4% domestic students of color; 12% students with an international background
  • Highly selective, residential, co-educational
  • Housing is provided all four years on campus
  • Member of NESCAC: the New England Small College Athletic Conference
  • NCAA Division III
  • CT College Tour Guide

  • Being environmentally conscious plays an important role at Conn College; the school composts, has its own garden, purchases green energy and has a comprehensive recycling program to reduce its ecological footprint
  • A national reputation for outstanding service-learning programs and community partnerships
  • Pre-law, pre-business and pre-med programs. In recent years, the acceptance rate for our seniors applying to law school and graduate programs in the health professions is about 80 percent.
  • Brand new $20 million state of the art facility for life sciences and computer science.

A Visit to Wesleyan University

By Sue Luse

Sue’s Impressions

Students are very involved and exhibit an abundance of energy and passion. The student body of 2,800 are diverse, curious and incredibly vibrant!  They are busy and very obviously loving every minute of it. On this campus you can feel free to explore what interests you and enjoy being yourself.

While all undergraduate students are required to live on campus, you will find the housing is unique – well worth checking out: Residence Halls

Wesleyan’s Highlights

Wesleyan Campus

Wesleyan is a small liberal arts college, and while there are many, each one is different.  Like Wesleyan, most have bright students and great faculty; however, Wesleyan stands out for it’s reputation as a research university. They are committed to research but not at the expense of their faculty, so Wesleyan’s science faculty teaches one less class per semester in order to allow time for research. Some examples of areas where students have collaborated with professors: translating a French novel, a documentary about Argentina, dance choreography, and the economic impact of climate change.

Wesleyan promotes the idea that how you come to know things is more important than what you come to know. Thinking creatively is emphasized.


Wesleyan Campus

  • Considered both rigorous and individualistic
  • No core curriculum
  • Students are helped and encouraged to develop programs of study based upon their own interests
  • Students are challenged to pursue their interests at the highest level
  • Easy to double major
  • Recently added minors
  • 3-2 Engineering Program which allows students to obtain bachelors degree from Wesleyan in 3 years and then transfer to Cal Tech, Dartmouth or Columbia for an additional 2 years to earn bachelor’s degree in engineering

Recreation/Social Life

Wesleyan Campus

Four blocks from campus is the downtown area located on the banks of the Connecticut River.  Middletown is not a “typical” college town that mostly caters to students. Lots of coffee shops and dining establishments. Wesleyan is not far from Millers Pond State Park Reserve – great place to go hiking. Wesleyan is also only approximately an hour and a half from New York City.

Rather small Greek life – 3 fraternities and 2 sororities. While many of Wesleyan’s athletes are Div 1 caliber, most students tend to be more excited about academics than sports. Wesleyan’s athletics facilities are considered to be the best in the country and are open to everyone.

A Visit to Quinnipiac University

By Sue Luse


Quinnipiac (in case you’re wondering it’s pronounced KWIN-uh-pe-ack) is located in Hamden, Connecticut, with 6,200 undergraduate students. There are three campuses: Mount Carmel Campus is home to most of the residence halls, academic buildings, University offices and athletic fields; York Hill Campus, only a 1/2 mile from the Mount Carmel Campus, is home to the Rocky Top Student Center, very new residence halls, a parking garage and the TD Bank Sports Center; North Haven Campus, just a short drive from the Mount Carmel Campus, houses the School of Health Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the School of Education.

Hamden is a safe suburb with easy access to New York City by train.  Quinnipiac is located very near Sleeping Giant State Park – beautiful place to hike.

Demographics/Student Body

Quinnipiac Street View

To give you an idea what type of students comprise Quinnipiac, here is information on their Class of 2016:


  • Total Applicants: 19,760 Admitted: 63%
  • High School Class Rank information for the incoming class
    • Top Tenth of HS Class: 22%
    • Top Quarter of HS Class: 55%
    • Top Half of HS Class: 90%
  • Average SAT of entering freshmen:
    • Critical reading: 550
    • Math: 570
    • Writing: 560

Geographic Distribution

Quinnipiac Scnenic Walkway

  • Connecticut: 409
  • Massachusetts: 356
  • New York: 464
  • New Jersey: 320
  • ME, NH, VT, RI: 113
  • MD, OH, PA, DE, DC, VA: 48
  • CA, FL, IL, MN, NE, TN, TX, WA: 45
  • International: 33


  • American Indian: 0.3%
  • Black Non-Hispanic: 4%
  • Asian American/Pacific Islander: 3%
  • Hispanic: 8%
  • Caucasian: 78%
  • Multi-racial: 1%
  • Do Not Declare: 6%


  • Male: 39%
  • Female 61%


Quinnipiac Grounds

Quinnipiac offers 58 undergraduate programs, including degrees in the arts and sciences, business, communications, engineering, health sciences and nursing. They excel in Health Sciences and have a great Pre-Med Program. Quinnipiac is slated to open the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in the Fall of 2013. They are also known for excellence in the areas of technology, business and communications.

Being only 1 1/2 hours from New York City means internship opportunities are abound. Quinnipiac boasts having 45 students interning with ESPN and there are even students who have interned with the David Letterman Show.

Assorted Tidbits

  • Their reputation is growing, especially their business majors
  • They have Div 1 Hockey and are working on getting a Hockey Club
  • 99 % of students live on campus
  • B students are typical
  • Greeks comprise 23% of student population
  • They give merit scholarships
  • The dorms are very fresh, new and modern
  • Known for small classes
  • Students are very involved in campus life and recreational activities

A Visit to Trinity College

Trinity College

By Sue Luse


Located in the state capitol city of Hartford, Connecticut, Trinity College looks like a traditional New England liberal arts school.  However they espouse to act in untraditional  ways with groundbreaking programs and staff as well as an urban-global education commitment. Trinity’s 100 green-acre campus is dotted with historic buildings. Given it’s urban location, the surrounding area is rather “sketchy”, but there is plenty of campus security.


A rigorous institution with a broad choice of majors in the liberal arts and sciences, including engineering. Trinity’s academic experience includes the following key characteristics:

  • A dedicated first-year program
  • Educational breadth through requirements
  • Individual flexibility
  • Special academic programs
  • Professors as teachers

Trinity campus

When evaluating candidates for admission, high emphasis is placed on your high school transcript – both grades and course selection. While standardized test scores are taken into consideration, Trinity admits students with  a wide range of test scores and there is no minimum score required. They require one guidance counselor recommendation as well as two teacher recommendations – and prefer that one of these be from a teacher that can comment on your writing, i.e. an English teacher. Interviews are not required but are strongly encouraged. Interviews can take place via Skype or a local alumni. Approximately 30-40% of candidates are accepted.

Student Life/Recreation/Athletics

Our tour guide

  • Trinity offers many student-run clubs. They hold an 80’s dance in the fall.  Lots of big concerts, free music festivals and shopping trips. There’s also plenty of multicultural clubs and houses and they often serve free food on Friday nights!
  • Plenty of dining options are offered with great food.
  • Zip cars on campus.
  • Trinity is a NESCAC institution (New England Small College Athletic Conference).
  • Trinity has a Div 1 Squash Team; the rest of the athletics teams are Div 3, including a great football team.
Trinity buildingTrinity architecture

Trinity grounds

A Visit to Fairfield University

Fairfield University

By Sue Luse

About Fairfield

Fairfield University is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States.  They promote a holistic approach to education with the intent to educate the whole person – mind, body and spirit. They are committed to offering a comprehensive core curriculum, and distinctive living and learning experiences.  Fairfield believes in lifelong learning and the pursuit of social justice and global citizenship. They are recovering well from Hurricane Sandy and with their own power plant, they did not lose power during the hurricane.

McAuliffe Hall


Located approximately one hour north of New York City, in Fairfield, Connecticut, which is considered a traditional New England town. Fairfield County’s population of 55,000 comprises a rather affluent community, with a reputation for being a very safe area. Fairfield is also considered to be a “beach town” with approximately 300 seniors living at the beach.


Many regional students from Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire.  Recently acquiring more students from the Midwest area.  Lots of Jewish, Muslim and Catholic students. Fairfield is not a “suitcase school” where students tend to disappear on weekends. Roughly 50% of students attended a private high school and roughly 50% attended a public high school. Their student body is approximately 20% diverse.


  • Fairfield is very strong in the Health Sciences field and is known for having a great pre-professional track with excellent advising for Pre-Med. Also known for Direct-Entry Nursing.
  • A competitive applicant has a solid A-/B+ average in a strong college preparatory program which includes some honors and/or advanced placement classes. The middle 50% of admitted students scored between 1690-1910 on the SAT, and between 25 and 28 on the ACT.
  • Fairfield accepts the Common App and their admissions process is test optional.
  • Their business school holds a 70% acceptance rate.

Student Life/Recreation

Very socially active student life and trips to the City are popular! Fairfield is conveniently located near New York City, Providence, Hartford and New Haven.

Fairfield’s location puts numerous internship opportunities at students’ fingertips and most take advantage of this during their junior or senior year.

More than 400 students participate in intercollegiate, varsity athletics at the University. More than 1,500 are active in club sports, intramurals, and other recreation and fitness programs. While Lacrosse is very popular, Fairfield also offers the following varsity sports – baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s crew, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.

Fairfield Campus


Housing is guaranteed for four years to all incoming freshmen. Approximately 80% of all students live on campus in a traditional residence hall, suite-style residence hall, an apartment or townhouse. All freshmen live together in traditional-style halls, and sophomores live mostly in traditional-style halls with some living in suite-style halls depending upon availability. Approximately one-third of the junior class lives in suite-style halls. Seniors live in townhouses, apartments, or off campus (on a limited basis).

College Advising in Edina

Sue Luse is in the news again!

Read about Sue in the March Issue of Edina Magazine about college advising.

Common App New Essay Prompts

Big news! Big changes! Read this article from Inside Higher Ed: Common Application’s New Essay Prompts.

A Visit to the Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology

By Sue Luse

Campus Overview

Georgia Tech’s campus occupies 400 acres in the heart of the city of Atlanta.  It is often said that Atlanta was built around Georgia Tech, and most students feel they experience the best of both worlds – lush green space in the middle of campus and all the advantages of being located in an urban area. I had a great tour and was impressed with the bustling student union, the library full of  enthusiastic students – many working with two computers, the updated labs and lecture halls and the obvious school spirit.

All freshman enjoy The Freshman Experience. There are over 400 student organizations to become involved in as well as 583 intramural teams.  Georgia Tech boasts a 300,659 square-foot recreation center (rated #1 in the country in 2011 by Princeton Review)


Georgia Tech offers coursework leading to degrees in thirty-four undergraduate majors, forty-seven master’s programs, and thirty doctoral programs as well as preparatory programs for law, dental, medical, and veterinary schools. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in the Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.


Georgia Tech is a selective institution; therefore, the freshman application process is competitive in nature. Their holistic review includes consideration of four primary factors:

  • GPA/Rigor of Curriculum
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Extracurricular Involvement
  • Personal Essays

Georgia Tech Admissions Staff don’t look at your major choice, recommendation letters, interviews or transcripts. They are interested in research, resume’s and especially your essay. Georgia Tech’s admission rate is 55%.

2012 Freshman Class Profile

  • Mid-50% GPA: 3.77 – 4.08
  • Mid-50% SAT: 1960 – 2160
  • Mid-50% ACT: 28-32
  • Average # of AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes taken: 7.31

Georgia Tech awards undergraduates more than $105 million in need and merit-based aid. Students also use work, research, and study abroad experiences to help make Tech affordable. Every student in their co-op program, 87 percent of students in their internship program, and 92 percent of students in their work abroad program are in paid positions. SmartMoney magazine named Georgia Tech as the #1 best tuition investment in the United States for the second year in a row. Their job placement is highly notable and the yearly median starting salary for graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Tech is $57,300.

Student Body

While maintaining a diverse student body, about half of Georgia Tech’s population are from Georgia, with approximately 35% Non-Georgia (U.S.) and 14% are international students. Approximately 65% of students are male. Greek life is popular with roughly 1/3 students participating.

A Visit to Agnes Scott

Agnes Scott College

By Sue Luse


Agnes Scott is located in downtown DeCatur, Georgia, which is part of the metropolitan Atlanta area. Decatur offers eclectic shops and restaurants within easy walking distance.  Atlanta is well known for being home to a large number of colleges.


Agnes Scott is an independent national liberal arts college for women and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  If you feel you’re a “rare bird”  a “wallflower” or simply prefer to “march to the beat of your own drum” while experiencing high rigor academics, you will likely find Agnes Scott very attractive. While encouraging women to think deeply and engage the economic and social challenges of their times, Agnes Scott students are taught how to successfully navigate male-dominated industries such as Science. Agnes Scott also prepares women to to handle the complexities of the business world.  While academics are key, emotional and social development are intrinsic to the Agnes Scott experience.  Students enjoy many social events with affiliate Atlanta and Georgia colleges. Two key benefits of attending a women’s college are the development of innate confidence and an increase in the likelihood of attending graduate school.


  • 34 undergraduate majors and 31 minors
  • Dual degree programs in computer science, engineering and nursing
  • Popular majors include Music, Psychology, English, Economics, Biology, Nursing, and 3/2 Education
  • Experiential learning opportunities in the U.S. and abroad
  • Student to faculty ration is 11:1
  • Cross registration with affiliate Atlanta and Georgia colleges such as Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Georgia State (just to name a few)


  • 900 students
  • Student body represents social and economic diversity
  • Approximate 60% of students from Georgia
  • Approximately 11% of students are international
  • More than 40% of Agnes Scott students are students of color

Admissions – Class of 2015

  • Enrollment 227
  • 25% of class graduated in the top 5 percent of high school class
  • 40% were in top 10 percent
  • 71% attended public schools
  • 46% acceptance rate
  • Mean High School GPA: 3.67
  • Middle 50% range of SAT: 1055-1260 (critical reading and mathematics only)
  • Middle 50% range of ACT: 23-29
  • 70% of students qualify for and receive need-based financial aid

Also unique to Agnes Scott is the option for an evaluative interview verses submitting test scores.


Comprehensive fee for ’12-’13 school year is $43,691, which includes tuition, room and board, and student activity fee.

Living on campus is central to your learning experience. First year residence halls are configured into living, learning communities. Students are grouped according to the first year seminar in which they are enrolled fostering an environment in which they live and learn together. It’s easy to make new friends and leads to an atmosphere of creative learning outside the classroom.

A Visit To Emory University

Agnes Scott College

By Sue Luse


Emory University is located on a beautiful, leafy campus in Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Druid Hills Suburb. Students enjoy four distinct seasons with temperate weather most of the school year. Emory’s one of the southernmost schools among the nation’s top-ranked universities.This institution is recognized for its local and global commitment to service and volunteer work.  Emory strives to enhance the quality of life in the Atlanta area through health care, cultural support, and volunteer service.


  • Four undergraduate colleges and seven graduate colleges
  • 70 majors
  • Emory offers two undergraduate liberal arts options:  You can choose to apply to Emory College of Arts and Science, a four-year undergraduate  division on the university’s Atlanta campus, or Oxford College, Emory’s original campus where freshmen and sophomores study, located 38 miles east of Atlanta.
  • Students may opt to spend their junior and senior years pursuing degrees at the Goizueta Business School or the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.
  • Average class size is 20
  • 7/1 professor/student ratio
  • Every department offers research
  • Part of the Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education (ARCHE) which brings together 20 schools for cooperative efforts including cross registration. Members include Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia and Agnes Scott college to name a few.


The Admissions Staff at Emory are dedicated to getting to know who you are as a student and what kind of student you will be at Emory.  Their regional Admission Counselors are very interested in familiarizing themselves with prospective students.

  • Highly competitive
  • Merit based – need to be nominated by high school
  • Your transcript is most important
  • Emory recalculates your GPA
  • Superscores the SAT
  • SAT subject tests not required
  • Average SAT score between 2020 and 2240
  • Look at highest composite and writing score for ACT (no superscoring)
  • Average ACT score between 30 and 33
  • Strong emphasis is on your essay – it is considered your interview

Costs/Financial Aid

Below are the estimated expenses for the 2012–2013 academic year. Some of these costs are set expenses you will pay to Emory; others are estimated for travel, incidentals, and other costs, which may vary, yet Emory includes them when putting together a student’s need-based award.

Tuition $42,400
Fees $580
Room $7,200
Food $4,800
Books $1,100
Travel and Incidentals $2,100
Total $58,180

Emory is committed to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all accepted students.  Because Emory is committed to making their institution affordable, 68 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid. Also, several Merit Scholarships are available.

College Expert in Twin Cities Business 2013 Most Coveted Resources List

Suzanne Luse is among “…100 of Twin Cities Business' most coveted resources in this year’s Black Book. They're the individuals to know about and, if possible, get to know if you're seriously pursuing new and more expansive goals in the months ahead.” Read about Sue in Twin Cities Business' Black Book.

A Visit to University of Wisconsin Superior

By Sue Luse

Campus Overview

Univerity of Wisconsin Superior

The University of Wisconsin Superior is located in Superior, Wisconsin, a city of 27,000 at the western tip of Lake Superior. Many students choose this institution because of its size, small classes, and the the student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1.  UW Superior is considered a “hidden gem” in its ability to offer the attributes of a private education at public school costs.


  • Over 2,800 students
  • 900+ students live on campus
  • Lots of international students (over 30 countries represented at UW-Superior)
  • Plenty of first generation students
  • Close knit and friendly student body
  • 56% female


Student Union

  • Average ACT score 21.5
  • Average GPA 3.3
  • Access Bridge Program for marginal students
  • Top majors include Education (Elementary and Secondary), Biology, (Ecology, Aquatic, Fishery Science, and/or Cell/Molecular Focus), Business (Marketing, Management, International and/or Finance concentration), Communications, Psychology,  and unique majors are Transportation and Logistics Management, Art Therapy, Digital Cinema, Interactive Media, and Forensic Chemistry
  • Self-designed majors
  • Pre-Vet, Pre-Med, and Pre-Pharmacy
  • No Nursing
  • Strong music, vocal and theater programs (as well as orchestra and band programs) – 1 in 3 students at UW-Superior are enrolled in a course offered by the Music Department
  • UW Superior has four Research Centers:
  • UW Superior owns an Environmental Science Research Vessel


  • UW Superior offers NCAADIII Hockey and has the biggest Div. III arena in the West.
  • Men’s Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Hockey, Soccer, Track and Field
  • Women’s Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Hockey, Soccer, Softball, Track and Field, Volleyball
Our tour guide

Our tour guide

A Visit to Vanderbilt University

By Sue Luse


Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is located a mile and a half southwest of downtown Nashville.  The 330 acre campus is home to more than 300 tree and shrub varieties and was designated a national arboretum in 1988.  A beautiful, preppy campus with very friendly students.  While the campus is full of activity it maintains a peaceful atmosphere.

Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education, and human development, as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees.  An internationally recognized research university, Vanderbilt maintains strong partnerships among its ten schools, neighboring institutions and the community.

The city of Nashville has a population of 1.2 million people and is filled with very friendly people and great restaurants. It is definitely a “music city” – all kinds of music. Besides great musicians, Nashville is also known for sports and great little neighborhoods.  Hillsburough Village is a fun and interesting student hangout.

Information Sessions

Vanderbilt conducts its Information Sessions in a very fun and engaging manner. At the Information Session I attended, they used the question “What did you want to be when you were 5?” as an opener.  There were students from all over the country conversing and enjoying themselves. They discussed  how finding “the right fit” in a college can be difficult and that unfortunately you can’t visit every college.  They suggested picking five things that are imperative to you and looking for those attributes.  The admissions counselors also encouraged students to begin exploring colleges early on.

Vanderbilt Profile

  • 6,800 students
  • 4 Undergraduate Colleges
  • 65 majors
  • 350 student organizations
  • Squirrel to student ratio is 3 to 1 :)
  • 47 students from Minnesota
  • Urban environment yet has lots of green space and trees
  • Freshman live in the Commons with their own dining hall
  • Modern, bright dorms with high ceilings
  • Most students live on campus all four years
  • No cars allowed freshman year
  • Division I Sports – great football and basketball teams
  • 96% retention rate


  • Admissions Counselor for Minnesota is Andrew Moe
  • They look for rigorous curriculum and AP courses
  • Only send in SAT Subject Test Scores in the 90 percentile
  • Vanderbilt generally awards college credits for AP scores of 4 or 5
  • Should demonstrate a passion for something
  • Essay should be reflective and not be a narration of your resume
  • 2 teacher letters and one counselor letter (you can add extra letters but they should be of a different context)
  • Admittance Rate is 14%
  • Average ACT score for admitted students is 33 to 35
  • Super scores the SAT, but not the ACT
  • 97% of admitted students are in the top 10% of their class (when official class rank is reported)
  • Early Decision has an acceptance rate of 24%
  • 40% of the incoming class are Early Decision
  • Good financial aid – one of the best in the country
  • Once you send in your application, you will be contacted for an optional alumni core interview

For more information, read about Ryan Luse’s visit (a separate trip from Sue’s visit) to Vanderbilt University in the latest addition to our College Spotlight series.

College Spotlight on Vanderbilt University

Read about Ryan Luse’s visit (a separate trip from Sue’s visit) to Vanderbilt University in the latest addition to our College Spotlight series.

A Visit to the College of St. Scholastica


The College of St. Scholastica has a warm, inviting campus with an old fashioned feel set on 180 forested acres overlooking Lake Superior. Students enjoy hundreds of miles of biking and hiking. Located in Duluth, MN, a great college town known for it’s vibrant music scene, nightlife and cheap restaurants. The Duluth area is inhabited by 25,000 college students (1/5 of the area’s population).  


  • Usually less expensive than the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD)
  • Great place for students who don’t think a private college is affordable
  • It’s okay to be undecided
  • Great Scholarships
  • Very personable Admissions Staff
  • Excellent choice for B students


  • 2,100 undergraduate students
  • Average ACT score is 23
  • Multi-faith
  • Open to gays and diversity
  • Many first generation students
  • 33% Catholic
  • 65% female, but since adding football, St. Scholastica is attracting more males
  • If you feel you’re an underachiever – the professors will step up to help you
  • Large majority of students enjoy outdoor sports such as hiking, biking, kayaking and rock climbing
  • Good accommodations for students with LD or Aspergers
  • All students live on campus for freshman and sophomore year
  • Very tight-knit campus – friendly and nurturing
  • Diverse students who all enjoy each other


  • Known for Healthcare Programs, Business Management, Economics, Finance, Education and Psychology
  • Great Health Information Management program – “they invented it”
  • The Pre-Med program has high placement due to the personal attention students receive and the Human Cadaver Lab
  • Direct entry into Physical Therapy program
  • Physician’s Assistant Program slated to start in 2016
  • Music Program is growing


Full time

(12-18 credits, fall and spring semesters)

$15,104 per semester ($30,208 annually)

Per credit

(if below 12 credits or over 18 credits)


Summer 2012 tuition

$395 per credit

A Visit to University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD)


Sue at UMD

Sue at UMD

The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) is a comprehensive regional university. Undergraduate students can choose from 13 bachelor degrees in over 80 majors. UMD consistently ranks among the top midwestern, regional universities in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” issue. Providing an alternative to both large research universities and small liberal arts colleges, UMD attracts students looking for a personalized learning experience on a medium-sized campus of a major university.

UMD’s campus consists of more than 50 buildings on 244 acres overlooking Lake Superior, all built since 1948. Most UMD buildings are connected by concourses or hallways, providing convenience for all students year round. UMD is also home for the Tweed Museum of Art, the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, Weber Music Hall, and the Marshall Performing Arts Center.


UMD’s fall 2012 enrollment was 11,491 with approximately 40% of the students from the Twin Cities area and an additional 40% from the rest of Minnesota.


UMD’s most popular programs are Accounting, Business, Biology, Communications, Criminology, Graphic Design, Mechanical Engineering, Exercise Science, Psychology, and Education (especially Elementary Education). The Elementary Education program is four and a half years, and includes Special Education.


  • 3 years of Math (including a minimum of algebra, geometry and intermediate/advanced/algebra II). 4 years of Math will be required effective Fall Semester 2015.
  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of Science (including a year each of  life science and physical science). Biology, chemistry and physics are the preferred courses for science, engineering and math applicants
  • 2 years of a Single Second Language
  • 1 year in visual or performing arts
  • 3 years of social studies including one year each of geography and American history
  • Applicants with a cumulative 3.4 high school GPA will likely be admitted
  • Applicants with a cumulative GPA below 3.4 will be reviewed on the basis of curriculum,  ACT scores and trends in GPA as well as extenuating circumstances are considered in a comprehensive review
  • The English and Math ACT sub-scores are considered more heavily than the composite score
  • Acceptance rate was 74% for Fall Semester, 2011
  • Average GPA of enrolled freshmen is 3.4
  • Average ACT score is 23.8


The priority deadline is December 15, however engineering students are highly encouraged to apply earlier.

Early application is also advised for those seeking scholarships.

Applications may be made directly to UMD. As an alternative, students may complete an application to the U of M Twin Cities campus and contact UMD to request that their application be shared with UMD for no additional application fee. UMD will review shared applications beginning in late October.

Most applications are reviewed and admission decisions made within a 3-week turnaround time.

Get Your College Apps in Order Now

Here are some tips on college apps.  Sue Luse was a resource for this Fox Business article.

Prepping for College

Look who is on the lead page of the article “Prepping for College” in the October issue of MPLS St. Paul Magazine?

Sue Luse in MPLS St. Paul Magazine

Read the article.

Photo ID Requirement for SAT/ACT Testing

Read about the impact of photo ID requirements for SAT/ACT registration and testing in today’s Star Tribune article Heightened ACT, SAT security will test students. Sue Luse was interviewed and quoted in this article.

Upcoming College Fair in Minnesota

This Saturday in St. Paul…

Before you go, use the  College Fair Checklist to help you prepare for the fairs. Have fun!

Upcoming College Fairs in MN

Check out these upcoming college fairs in Minnesota.

Before you go, use the  College Fair Checklist to help you prepare for the fairs. Have fun!

College Expert in the News: Photo IDs needed for ACT/SAT testing

I was interviewed and quoted in this front page article of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Take a look. Photo IDs needed for ACT/SAT

Proud Faces of 2012


Class of 2012

Click to enlarge.

New Security Measures for SAT and ACT Testing

Just posted today – Sue Luse’s article in the IECA blog about new security measures for SAT and ACT testing. Check out the article.

A Visit to Jacksonville University

Jacksonville Campus

Jacksonville Campus


Jacksonville University is located in a beautiful riverfront setting in suburban Jacksonville, across the St. Johns River from downtown and just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. The 190-acre campus includes a half-mile of riverfront, oak-lined paths, and a mix of historic and new campus buildings.  3500 students


Most JU students are from Florida and the southeastern and northeastern United States. They represent 45 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and 50 foreign countries. The male-female student ratio is about 1 to 1.


The College of Arts & Sciences offers traditional liberal arts and science majors, plus programs in nursing, education, and pre-professional education. The College of Fine Arts has outstanding programs in art, dance, music and theater. The Davis College of Business occupies a new, technologically advanced facility.

Student Characteristics

Beginning Fall 2012, traditional freshmen can participate in Jacksonville University’s Four-Year Graduation Guarantee.

What is Our Four-Year Graduation Guarantee?

A guarantee for incoming first-year students that ensures their ability to graduate in four years provided they adhere to the stipulations of the agreement. If they are unable to graduate on time and have met the requirements of the agreement, the University will assume their tuition costs (minus any state and federal aid for which they qualify) until they graduate.

A Visit to Florida State University

FSU Fountain

FSU Fountain

Florida State University


  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Beautiful, sprawling campus, lots of huge tees, downtown Tallahassee
  • Tallahassee is the capital, students can walk right into the downtown area
  • Lots of convenient internships
  • 31,000 undergraduate, only 9% from out of state
  • Sports oriented, Florida State Seminoles an ACC powerhouse
  • Lots of fun traditions
  • Great athletic facilities
  • Frats and Sorriorites dominate the social scene
  • Has been known as a party school


  • Research University
  • Top majors – criminal justice, finance and business, political science, hospitality, golf course management


  • 60 percent accepted
  • 24-28 ACT
  • 3.7 average GPA

A Visit to Flagler College

Flagler Campus

Flagler Campus

Flagler College
74 King Street St.
Augustine, Florida 32084

  • Wonderful location in a tourist town, four miles from the beach
  • Students can walk to all the charming shops and restaurants
  • 2500 students
  • Good teacher education program, specially deaf education
  • Great sports management
  • Only freshman live on campus, the other students live around the campus or on near the beach
  • No coed dorms
  • Cars are allowed
  • No Greeks
  • Liberal arts college
  • 90% study abroad


24 ACT, 3.4 GPA, 40 percent accepted.


VERY affordable. No merit scholarships because of the low cost.

Cost of Attendance

Tuition $15,340
Room $4,070
Meal Plan (Full) $4,280
Total Costs $23,690
Flagler College Students

Flagler College Students

Students playing volley ball

Students playing volley ball

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool

A Visit to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Florida A&M

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, commonly known as Florida A&M or FAMU, is the nation’s largest historically black university by enrollment,[3] is located in Tallahassee, the Florida state capital, and is one of eleven member institutions of the State University System of Florida. FAMU is also one of Florida’s land grant universities.


Founded on October 3, 1887, Florida A&M University (FAMU) is part of the State University System of Florida and is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Distinguished by lush foliage and massive oaks, FAMU’s main campus comprises 156 buildings spread over 422 acres atop the highest of Tallahassee’s seven hills.

The university also has several satellite campuses including a site in Orlando where the College of Law is located and sites in Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa for its pharmacy program.


Florida A&M University enrolls nearly 12,000 students from the United States and more than 70 countries such as India, Egypt, Trinidad, Netherlands, China, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Brazil.

Academic Programs

Florida A&M University offers 62 bachelor’s degrees and 39 master’s degrees. The university has 13 schools and colleges and one institute.  The university also offers a juris doctor at its College of Law in Orlando.  FAMU has 11 doctoral programs which includes 10 Ph.D. programs: chemical engineering; civil engineering; electrical engineering; mechanical engineering; industrial engineering; biomedical engineering; physics; pharmaceutical sciences; educational leadership; and environmental sciences.

Popular Majors

Marching band

Main article: Marching 100

The FAMU Marching “100” under the direction of Dr. William P. Foster, was invited by the French government to participate in the Bastille Day Parade as the official representation from the United States. This event was held in celebration of the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

The Marching “100” was named the “Best Marching Band in the Nation” by Sports Illustrated (August 1992). The band received national recognition in January 1993 when it performed in the 42nd Presidential Inauguration Parade by invitation of Bill Clinton. The band has also performed in the Super Bowl and in the 44th Presidential Inauguration Parade.

In 2011, a band member was beaten to death in a hazing incident. Since the 2011 death, a series of reports of abuse and hazing within the band have been documented. In May of 2012, 2 faculty members resigned in connection with a hazing investigation and 13 people were charged with felony or misdemeanor hazing crimes.

Top undergraduate programs are architecture; journalism; computer information sciences and psychology.  FAMU’s top graduate programs include pharmaceutical sciences along with public health; physical therapy; engineering; physics; master’s of applied social sciences (especially history and public administration); business and sociology.

Admission Fees

Fees Per Credit Hour

Undergraduate residents: $124.01
Undergraduate nonresidents: $522.03
Graduate resident: $268.23
Graduate non-resident: $884.75
Law resident: $288.75
Law nonresident: $943.43

Other Fees

Rattler Card ID: $5
Athletic Fee: $11.30
Technology Fee: $4.43
Health Fee: $55
Transportation Fee: $59


Room rent (average): $2,025.47 per semester

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Grants, scholarships, loans and employment opportunities are available to help families meet the cost of investing in a FAMU education.  For information, visit www.FAMU.edu/UniversityScholarships.























Native Indian


Non-Resident Alien


Not Reported


Florida A&M University Mission Statement

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is an 1890 land-grant institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, resolution of complex issues and the empowerment of citizens and communities.  The University provides a student-centered environment consistent with its core values.  The faculty is committed to educating students at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional levels, preparing graduates to apply their knowledge, critical thinking skills and creativity in their service to society.  FAMU’s distinction as a doctoral/research institution will continue to provide mechanisms to address emerging issues through local and global partnerships.  Expanding upon the University’s land-grant status, it will enhance the lives of constituents through innovative research, engaging cooperative extension, and public service.  While the University continues its historic mission of educating African Americans, FAMU embraces persons of all races, ethnic origins and nationalities as life-long members of the university community.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University holds the following values essential to the achievement of the university’s mission:

  • Scholarship
  • Excellence
  • Openness
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Diversity
  • Service
  • Fairness
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Collegiality
  • Freedom
  • Ethics
  • Shared Governance

My Advice to B.F.A. Seeking Students

As a member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association), I occasionally write a blog for them. My latest blog is entitled “Tips for Advising B.F.A. Seeking Students,” posted on April 4, 2012. I invite you to check it out.

Changes in Test Registration

ACT Inc. and the College Board, which administers the SAT, are adding a photo to exam admission tickets, after prosecutors in Long Island filed charges against 20 students accused of paying or receiving money for someone to take the test under someone else’s name. You’ll have to submit a photo when you register, then present a matching photo ID on test day. Read more about it.

College Admission Trends

Here is an article in the Huffington Post by Patrick O’Connor, Director of college counseling, Roeper School, about college admissions trends.

Letter to Star Tribune

The Star Tribune published my letter to the Readers Write section regarding higher education today, March 26, 2012. You can read it on page A10 or online at www.startribune.com/opinion/letters/144041856.html.

College Spotlight on Northeastern University

A former student of mine, now a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston, wrote a wonderful piece entitled “Why I’m glad I chose Northeastern” for his former high school newspaper. I’ve posted it in my College Spotlight series http://www.collegeexpert.net/college-spotlight-northeastern-university/ on my website with his permission.

For those of you interested in colleges that offer co-op/internship opportunities, you will find this article enlightening.

Liberal Arts Colleges Defend Their Value

The Star Tribune has a great article today about how colleges like St. Olaf are defending the value of a liberal arts education. Read the article at http://www.startribune.com/local/143419966.html

A cause I care deeply about

Hello everyone!

I’m Juliet. I’m a teenage girl living with Celiac Disease since March, 2007. I’m your regular American girl, going to a regular high school in a regular town, except I have Celiac Disease.  This is why this blog is so important. I’m not a doctor, a specialist, or even a high school graduate. I’m just me. There are millions of people with Celiac who are just normal people who have to live their lives with this condition, and it’s difficult. On pizza days at school and when a friend brings doughnuts to class, I have to say “No thanks!”,  and that’s why I’m here. To help out those people who are tired of eating and living below what they want or deserve.

I love to write (especially blog!) I could play tennis for hours. My favorite school subject is history. I love music and camping, and I drink entirely too much coffee. Out of  all the things I enjoy doing and things that I love, I especially love people. And that’s why I blog.

I hope this blog doesn’t help just teens, but people of all ages. Maybe you are here because you have celiac, or maybe a family member does. Maybe you just want to eat a little differently.  I hope you enjoy my blog www.confessionsofaceliac.com, and come visit often!



A Visit to Hamilton

Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

After our visit to St. Lawrence, Tom and I drove down to the beautiful Finger Lakes area in central New York. We made our way to Mirbeau Inn & Spa named “Best for Romance, Cuisine & Yoga!” This inn became our home for three days as we explored the surrounding areas and colleges.

Here are my notes and observations about Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York.


  • Centrally located historic town
  • New England type village with a village green, cute little shops, etc.
  • Close to the Adirondacks, Utica, and Syracuse
  • Many other cute little towns near by
  • Malls are about 15 minutes away
  • Syracuse Airport about 40 minutes away


  • Residential campus, students live on campus all four years
  • Truly a community, no need to leave campus
  • 1800 students
  • Creative, engaged fun students
  • Became co-ed in the early 70s when Hamilton merged with all-female Kirkland College
  • You will find all different types of students who all seem to get along
Hamilton College Dining Hall

Hamilton College Dining Hall


  • Housing is a lottery
  • No separate freshman housing, may be some floors that are all freshman
  • Lots of unique housing options
  • Housing is great because freshman are not put in a freshman dorm. They are not put in the worse dorm as is the case at other
    colleges. They are mixed in with other students so nice housing for all students.


  • Liberal arts, all the majors are strong
  • No distribution requirements or core curriculum
  • Benefits are students are happy and engaged because they want to be in the classes they choose
  • Advising system really good and personal
  • Dynamic and organic experience, advisors ensure students get a broad education
  • Course of study will be individually tailored and structured to ensure an experience to prepare students to reach their goal
  • Faculty are committed to the open curriculum
  • There may be a quantative requirement if students are not at the level they need to be, for example Stats.
  • Hamilton is a writing intensive college. This means you don’t have to write tons of big papers, but smaller papers and several drafts to become a better, focused writer.
  • Professors are here to teach, vast majority live within 3 miles of campus
  • Professors know if you are not there
  • Senior projects and some full year thesis available
  • Pre-professional advisors for business, law, medicine, etc.
  • Liberal arts train you for nothing but prepare you for everything
  • 5 main off-campus Hamilton programs – New York, Washington DC, China, Spain, and France – 100s of others available.
  • Opportunity to be involved in the arts are vast
  • Opening an art museum and teaching museum
  • Strong theater, a capella groups, jazz band, orchestra, etc.


  • The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) – most prestigious Division III conference, same conference as Williams, Middlebury, Amherst, Wesleyan, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, Trinity.
  • These colleges are overlaps
  • Students can contact coaches themselves. Coaches prefer that over a box e mail bought from a company
  • National championship womens lacrosse team
  • Ham, the pig, is the mascot – dresses like a revolutionary war soldier
  • Lots of school spirit!


  • Lots of competitive club and intra-mural teams
  • Hamilton will fund any club students want to start
  • Pub for students over 21 on campus
  • Greeks live in the dorms

Career information

  • Career-Related-Experience (CRE) – every student has at least one before end of sophomore year
  • Hamilton is in the top 1 percent for alumni giving of money, time, networking, connections.
  • Great alumni network! For example a girl got an internship at MTV in NYC ( unpaid internship).
  • The career center funded her summer internship expenses such as rent, food and fun. Very impressive program.
  • Summer research opportunities with professors
  • Internships open the door to that first job
  • Great Names Series – impressive speaker series.
Hamilton College Walkway

Hamilton College Walkway


  • Interviews recommeded. Students need to set this up on the Hamilton website. Alum interview available in the Twin Cities

Financial aid

  • 50 percent of students on financial aid, still need blind
  • Meets 100 percent of need
  • No merit scholarships
  • Hamilton, like all colleges, recommends families use the net price caculalator to determine if you will qualify for financial aid on the school’s website.

What separates Hamilton from the others? The friendly, warm, welcoming atmosphere, centrally located, not shared with a major
city. – Sue Luse

A Visit to Syracuse University

Syracuse University is located in the city of Syracuse where you find the arts, shopping, and restaurants.  Lake Onondaga is about 2 miles to the north.  About 40 miles farther to the north is Lake Ontario. 168,000 people live in Syracuse and 700,000 in the metro area.  Syracuse is a private university with 10,000 undergraduates.  It’s close to Hancock International Airport.  Syracuse is working to re-invent the South Side.  Syracuse University business and journalism students are involved in the effort.

Our tour guide from Michigan

Our tour guide from Michigan

Notes and Observations…

  • All different kinds of students, 32 percent diversity
  • 25 percent Jewish
  • One of the biggest Hillel’s in the country
  • Active GLBT group
  • Study abroad
  • 8 different Syracuse locations around the world


  • Big campus, big quad
  • Huge Carrier dome. Used for both football and basketball
  • Up on a hill
  • Mix of old and new architecture
  • Bustling, lots of students
  • Dorms – split doubles most common
  • No freshman dorms
  • Connective corridor, new project connecting the campus with the city with walking paths, bike paths, lights, trees, linking the arts and theater, shopping and restaurants
  • Dinosaur Barbecue – most famous restaurant
Syracuse Music Building

Syracuse Music Building


  • Interviews are optional and evaluative
  • Students should indicate three colleges they want to attend at Syracuse. If not admitted into first choice such as Newhouse, will be considered for the other two.
  • 3.6 GPA
  • ACT 25 – 26
  • Super scores SAT
  • Admissions does vary from college to college
  • Merit scholarships available


  • “Scholarship in Action”
  • Theater,  BFA, strong program.
  • First Year Players, a student-run theater program does a musical every year, for the non theater students.
  • Direct entry architecture, 5-year BA of Architecture. Ranked in the top 5 in the nation. Need an art profile to be admitted.
  • Newhouse School of Communication – new building with focus on multi-media.  Number one communication program in the country. Eight different majors, biggest are radio, TV, and film.
  • Dual majors with Newhouse and Whitman Business School
  • Information School, has high tech majors such as global enterprise technology and web-based security and finance.
  • For students who like technology, Whitman school of Business has a competitive direct entry program.
  • School of Education, big focus on urban education and multi-culturism
  • College of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Also has a School of Music, housed in a gothic Hogwarts-like building
  • Also has a music business program
  • Most competitive programs are Newhouse, Whitman, Information School, Architecture, Theater
  • Has a good Design program
  • Engineering very good – 8 different majors
  • New science building – state-of-the-art labs for study and research
  • Big hospital right by campus for research and volunteering.
  • College of Sports Management
  • Liberal Arts College has a consortium with Cornell and other nearby colleges

If students are looking for a medium-sized university with many different colleges and majors available in an urban setting, Syracuse
would be a good option – especially if students are looking for big time athletics and legendary school spirit! – Sue Luse

A Visit to St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence University

Windy day at St. Lawrence Univ.

Tom and I drove through the beautiful Adirondack Mountains to the charming town of Lake Placid, home to the Winter Olympics. We loved Lake Placid even though lightening knocked out power to Lake Placid and our hotel.  Oh well, better then a flat tire!

St Lawrence University, Canton, NY

Notes and Impressions…


  • Lovely, historic campus located in the small city of Canton.
  • Well maintained and updated facilities and grounds. Lots of quads, trees in a park-like surrounding.
  • Spacious library with lots of interesting study places such as a tree house.
  • New and bustling student center and a great book store with a boutique.
  • I was surprised to see a Caribou Coffee, the first one I have seen in New York.  Then I found out the co-founder of Caribou Coffee, Kim Puckett, attended St. Lawrence.
  • The campus has lots of cute houses surrounding the college that are theme houses for the students.
  • Housing is guaranteed all four years with many nice options.
  • Loved dining hall


An outdoor class at St. Lawrence

An outdoor class

  • Academics attracts faculty who love to teach, help students develop their academics passions
  • Environmental studies is an impressive major.
  • Johnson Hall of Science meets LEED (Leadership in  Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification – meeting a stringent set of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient standards.
  • Takes advantage of location by mountains. Environmental Science majors can go into public policy or field work.
  • Over half of the students study abroad.
  • Classic liberal arts and sciences
  • Good geology, really good and unique rocks!
  • Also good anthropology
  • 3/2 engineering with Columbia and Clarkson
  • Pre med is strong
  • Pre law is strong
  • 4 plus 1 MBA at many colleges
  • International economics – new major
  • Flexible core curriculum
  • Semester system


  • 40 percent accepted
  • Syracuse or Ottawa airport, closest airport.
  • Security will drive students to airports, also have shuttles
  • 60 percent from out-of-state,
  • Will start reviewing Early Decision applicants Nov. 1
  • For Early Decision 2 applicants,  the deadline is Jan 1 but will give students more time if they change their minds and decide to go Early Decision 2
  • Test optional – want to see honors and AP classes
  • They look for a student is well-rounded, curious, and likes to try new things
  • Merit scholarships
  • Overlaps – Hamilton, Colgate, Middelbury, U of Vermont
Workout area at St. Lawrence

Student workout area - amazing place!


  • Small Greek scene
  • Off the beaten track creates a strong community, a bee hive
  • Students love the outdoors
  • Big outing club Close to Canada gives an international flair
  • White Face Ski Area an hour and a half
  • Other small ski areas closer by
  • Weather – sunny and snowy, but not the lake snow affects which is more cloudy and drizzle

Overall, beautiful campus, impressive facility, all kinds of students would be happy here. Great location by the mountains, somewhat
isolated, but happy students. – Sue Luse

A Visit to Bard College

Bard College is located on the Hudson River in the tiny village of Annandale-on-Hudson in New York.  This is a beautiful area, with lots of outdoor opportunities, and still close to New York City.

  • Campus has varied architecture with an upper and lower campus.  The buildings are spread out with lots of green spaces in between.
  • Impressive science building.
  • The humanities buildings featured seminar classes, all discussion-based with engaged students sitting around a conference table.
  • Students were friendly, seemed free to be themselves, artsy.
  • Good music department.  Students do not need to audition for music or theater.
  • No portfolio required.
  • Students are interested in multiple things and tend to be unique.
  • Social sciences are number 1.
  • Students are opinionated, civic minded, like to do public service, and are politically active.
  • When apply for early action, they make immediate decision.  Unique!
  • Test scores are optional.
  • 30 percent accepted.  Bard admissions is looking for students who are intellectual and independent and can handle the academics  and take advantage of the opportunities at Bard.
  • Vassar,  Brown, Reed, NYU, Oberlin, and Carleton are overlaps.
  • Students who have good relationships with teachers is what they are looking for
  • They will take a look at students with high test scores and low GPAs if they see potential.

Blog update: October 3, 2013

Read about Bard’s unique admissions process reported in the New York Times September 28, 2013 article entitled Didn’t Ace SAT? Just Design Microbe Transplant Research

A Visit to Skidmore College

Sue at Skidmore College, NY

Sue at Skidmore

Skidmore College is located in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the summer during the racing season  the population triples. Students move in after labor day, when all the tourists have left and have this cute town all to themselves. The movie Sea Biscuit was filmed here.  There’s a big racetrack in town. Skidmore is a mile and a half from downtown.  It’s surrounded by mansions and the North Woods, and close to the Adirondack Mountains.  Beautiful campus, lots of trees and quads.

Here are some fun facts, stats, and my observations:

  • Great college town
  • Battle of Saratoga was fought here
  • Saratoga Springs is a mineral bath town
  • Ski school , close to the Adirondack Mountain ski area
  • 850 acres of woods with plenty of hiking trails
  • Big outdoorsy scene
  • 3 hours from NYC
  • 3 hours from Montreal
  • Internships and airport at Albany, 20 minutes away
  • 70 percent out-of-state
  • 7 percent international
  • Co-ed since 1972
  • 25 percent diversity
  • 2500 undergrad


  • Professional track
  • Business major available
  • MBA program
  • Direct entry nursing
  • Education major with masters available
  • Pre-med
  • Pre-law
  • Socialwork
  • Exercise science

Arts Track

  • No need to audition for music, theater, or dance
  • All types of music, tons of opportunities
  • Visual arts, wonderful art building with print making
  • Juniors and seniors get their own studio space

Liberal Arts Track

  • English
  • Psychology
  • International affairs
  • Biology
  • Many other majors


  • Small class sizes
  • No teaching assistants
  • 60 percent double major
  • Semesters system
  • Four year core curriculum, lots of options
  • Study abroad popular
  • 48 countries
  • Skidmore helps students find internships
  • Big horse school, equestrian teams and equine studies
  • Crew popular
  • 94 percent retention rate
  • Men’s varsity ice hockey – ECEA East leaugue of Divisition III
  • Women’s field hockey
  • Supportive healthy place
  • Both “preppy” and alternative students
  • Not “cliquey”
  • All types of religions.  About 25 percent Jewish.
  • Not a bubble school, kids are politically aware and active.


  • 40 percent acceptance rate
  • ACT 27-30 average
  • They super score
  • Merit and talented scholarships available.

Campus Tour

Amanda - Skidmore tour gude

Amanda - best guide ever!

  • Beautiful new music building
  • Dance is a popular major. Students can do both modern dance and ballet.
  • Great dorms. Suite style with single rooms for sophomores and doubles for the freshman with a shared bath for four students.
  • All dorms are connected to the academic buildings and student center with covered walkways.  See picture of tour guide Amanda under covered walkway. Best guide ever!
  • Beautiful, compact and well planned campus. Only 40 years old.  Original campus was in downtown Saratoga Springs.
  • Juniors and seniors live in really nice apartments on campus.
  • Skidmore mascot is the Thoroughbred, of course.
  • One of the nicest dining halls I have ever seen. Open from 7 am to 11 pm.
  • They have a separate dining room for students who have food allergies, which was good to see, as well as all the healthy menu options.  There is also a unique make-your-own station where students can make their own stir frys, omelets and grilled sandwiches.
  • Academic buildings, high tech, modern, all small classes
  • No Greeks.  Lots of traditions and social options

Skidmore is a good fit for our Midwest students. – Sue Luse

A Visit to Vassar College

Vassar is located in Poughkeepsie,NY, about an hour and a half from NYC, on the Hudson river. The college campus is a combination of old and new architecture with a stunning library and performing arts center. We stayed in the historic town of Rhinebeck, about 20 minutes away.

Some notes about Vassar College:

  • Students at Vassar were diverse and from all over
  • No core curriculum
  • Can triple major
  • English, psychology, biology, economics, political science are the most popular majors
  • Lang requirement
  • AP level will waive if you get 4 or 5
  • 40 percent study abroad
  • 1000 courses to choose from – can register for 7 then drop down to 4 so can shop around for best fit
  • 2500 students
  • Good advising for both majors and minors
  • Field work is what they call internships – must do a normal and submit a paper. Vassar sets up field work in the area and provides transportation.
  • Students can also intern in NYC who want to get experience working in museums, PR firms, businesses, medical institutions, law firms and  on Wall Street
  • There is a Metro Link to New York City
  • 22 percent acceptance rate, most rigorous possible high school curriculum required
  • Students reviewed from the context of their high school
  • Students should take all 5 core classes, English, Math, Science, world language and social studies all four years, and take as many AP courses as possible.
  • 3.8 GPA
  • ACT with writing 30-33
  • Will super score all test scores – send all scores
  • Early Decision has a 10-15 percent higher acceptance
  • Extra-curriculars important, looking for leadership
  • 20 percent in Division III sports, the rest in club and intramural sports
  • Students are assigned to one of 9 “houses”, they live in the same house for three years
  • There are house fellows who are faculty families who live in the house
  • Went co-ed in 1969
  • Plan to expand sciences
  • Fun fact, the barefoot monks are one of the hundreds of student groups at Vassar, they are a juggling club.
  • Who does well at Vassar? Ones who have learned how to balance rigorous academics and their activities.
  • Their library closes at 12 because they want students to go home and sleep!
  • Poughkeepsie has 120,000 people in the area
  • Students do not go into the city all that much, because Vassar has such a multitude of things to do on campus.

For more information, check out Vassar’s website: www.vassar.edu

– Sue Luse


Visiting Colleges in New York

Every September when all our students go back to school, my husband Tom and I hit the road to visit colleges. This year we picked New York! Since my daughter Chelsea lives in Manhattan, we planned a weekend in the City with Chelsea and our dear friends Chris and Lauren. And what a weekend we had! World class restaurants, an eating tour of the Village, two days at the US Open, and the hysterical over-the-top Broadway show, The Book of Mormon. All this during the 9/11 Anniversary with increased security everywhere and the solemn ceremonies taking place at Ground Zero.  Sunday night, we stayed in America’s oldest inn – the Beekman Arms.

It’s Tuesday morning and we had planned to visit Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union but got a flat tire. Have to buy a new tire!  We will only have time to visit Skidmore. But we get to spend the day on the lovely and fun town of Saratoga Springs. I plan to come back to this area again, so will get to visit these colleges another time. Watch for postings of colleges I visit on this New York trip. – Sue Luse

College Spotlight – St. Olaf College and Evergreeen State College

Check out the latest College Spotlight on St. Olaf College and The Evergreen State College contributed by Ryan Luse.

2011 College Fairs – NACAC Minnesota National College Fair

NACAC Minnesota National College Fair
(National Association for College Admission Counseling)

Tuesday, October4, 2011
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
4:30pm to 8:00 pm
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Minneapolis Convention Center
Exhibit Halls D & E
1301 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN  55403-2781
(612) 335-6000

Free and open to the public, NACAC’s College Fairs allow students to interact with admission representatives from a wide range of postsecondary institutions to discuss course offerings, admission and financial aid requirements, college life in general, and other information pertinent to the college selection process.

For more information, check out this link:

Frequently Asked Questions

2011 College Fairs – Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL)

Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL)

Saturday, August 27, 2011
10:00 am
St. Paul River Centre
Grand Ballroom A-E
175 West Kellogg Boulevard, Saint Paul, MN  55102-1299

Since 1998, the Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) schools have been traveling together to meet families and counselors interested in learning more about this distinctive group of colleges and universities.  The CTCL program features admission officials from the schools profiled in the third edition of Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope.  The program begins with a panel discussion designed to encourage students to make the college search process a well-informed journey that leads to the best possible outcome: finding the right college fit for them.  A college fair follows.  CTCL events are free of charge, and pre-registration is not required.  We invite students, parents, and college counselors to join us for this enlightening discussion and the opportunity to meet with representatives from each of the participating colleges.

For more information and directions to the event, please check out this link:  www.CTCL.org and click on CTCL Events.

Faces of Pride

Here are some of our 2011 graduates…

Class of 2011 page 1

Class of 2011 page 2

Class of 2011 page 3

Class of 2011 page 4

Class of 2011 page 5

Class of 2011 page 6

Class of 2011 page 7

Ryan’s Journey to Become an Independent Educational Consultant

This morning, IECA posted a blog written by my son, Ryan Luse. I am proud to post it on my website as well. Ryan is in the process of transitioning his career into the field of educational consultants. He comes from a writing and communications background, a graduate of Emerson College, and currently works for Thomson Reuters. Recently, Ryan decided to pursue his passion for education and is taking courses through UCLA online. As his mom, I know Ryan is a fit for this role. He is highly creative, great with people, tech savvy, and shares my passion and insights on the college admission process. He has been working with me behind the scenes for years, researching programs and helping create college lists. And as my son, he has been to many colleges over the years, and has grown up hearing me talk about my love of colleges and helping students find the best fit. Here is in his own words why he is pursuing the inspiring and rewarding field of an education consultant…

My Journey to Become an Independent Educational Consultant: A Song in Progress

Over 200 Colleges Visited!

Part of the job of an educational consultant is to keep up with what is happening on college campuses. This means we need to visit as many campuses as possible and establish relations with admissions counselors around the country. In fact, to keep our CEP certification, we need to visit and assess 75 campuses every 5 years.

I recently attended our National Conference in Philadelphia. As many independent educational consultants do, I planned visits to several colleges in the area before and after the conference. I scheduled appointments with our Minnesota contacts and visited Wagner and Sarah Lawrence in New York, and Villanova, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysberg, Dickinson, and Muhlenberg in Pennsylvania.

I am happy to announce that I have now hit the 200 mark! I have officially visited over 200 college all over the country.

I look forward to exploring new areas of the country and visiting more colleges in the years to come. Having personally toured a college campus is important because it will allow me to better recommend colleges that suit our students.

Colleges Report 2011 Admission Figures

Looking for 2011 admissions figures?  Read The New York Times article in The Choice blog, March 30, 2011, by Jacques Steinberg.

“By now, many of you who are applicants (or parents of applicants) for the Class of 2015 have received your admissions decisions.

When The Times launched The Choice blog two years ago this week, one of the goals I set for it was to insure that applicants could put their fat and thin envelopes in some broader context. In beginning to draft the chart of 2011 admissions statistics you see above, my colleague Eric Platt and I wanted those of you who got denied, say, by Columbia to know you were in good company: only 7 percent were accepted this year…”

Read the full article: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/admit-stats-2011/

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges

Compare the 100 top values in public colleges and universities, or create your own custom lists of individual colleges or schools from a particular state.

Check out this interesting site http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/colleges/.

Sue’s Announcement – College Spotlight

Dear Students, Parents and to everyone interested in the College Journey,

I decided to take my website more into the realm of 2011 and feature my first blog, and it was not too long ago when I didn’t know what a blog was! Through my years as a College Counselor, I have found so many opportunities to share experience and insight and now finally have a place to put it. I intend this blog to feature a variety of informative and fun college topics such as spotlights on specific schools, changes and trends in admissions and high schools, outstanding essays, best of lists and more.

I also hope to feature different writers and voices whether it be a freelance article or past or present students that would like to share their experience. I want to open the cyber doors to anyone that has a topic that pertains to the shared and exhilarating experience of college. Here is the link to my new blog, with the first article featuring just one of many special schools. College Spotlight

Please feel free to get involved and share with others. Stay tuned for much more to come and thanks for reading.

Sue Luse

Download the article about Emerson College.

College Admissions: Inside Tips for Aspiring Pre-Meds

by Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv College Admissions Expert

The road to medical school and becoming a doctor isn’t what it used to be. Getting into med school has always been tough, but for those who made the cut in past generations, there was an assurance of high earnings and a rewarding career.

Today, ask a doctor if they would recommend the profession to a young person, and many will have a tenuous answer. While there is no question that most doctors love helping others, they are plagued by piles of administrative paperwork, low reimbursements, high malpractice risks and skyrocketing insurance costs for their practice. Nevertheless, high performing students are drawn to the idea of becoming a doctor, often starry-eyed and unaware of the challenges that lay ahead. Here are a few things that students who are considering a medical career need to know as they approach college:

Read the full article

Early admission applicants lock in on college plans

By Jenna Johnson The Washington Post, 12/14/2010

The first semester of senior year is barely over, but a growing number of high schoolers already know where they will attend college. (So instead of spending their winter break polishing college essays, they can get to know other members of the Class of 2015 on Facebook.)

Early application programs allow students to commit to a school — or know that a school has committed to them — before the general admission season begins. These programs go by a lot of different names, most often early decision or early action, and have a wide range of rules. And they are booming in popularity.

Critics say some early admission programs are unfair because they allow wealthy students to compete in smaller applicant pools, while other students wait to see all of their options and compare financial aid packages.

For that reason, in 2006 the University of Virginia, Harvard and Princeton announced that they would end their early action or early decision programs. But last month, U-Va. announced that it would begin to offer non-binding early action next year. Unlike the university’s previous program, this one will not force a student to commit to attending. Harvard is reevaluating its decision.

Most early application deadlines have passed, and acceptance letters are beginning to arrive. (Well, in most cases. If you still haven’t heard from your school, please don’t freak out. I am sure the letter is in the mail.)

Some of the stats …

Stanford University
Stanford admitted 754 applicants through its restrictive early-action program and deferred about 500 more. The university received 5,929 applications, up from 6.5 percent last year, which drops the admission rate for early admits to 12.7 percent. Nearly all of the accepted students were interviewed by an alumnus as part of a new pilot program that recently expanded to include the Washington area. (Stanford Daily article)

Dartmouth College
Dartmouth admitted 444 students through early decision. The college received 1,759 applications, a 12 percent increase from last year, but accepted fewer students. The early admit rate is now about 25 percent, down from 29 percent last year. So far the Class of 2015 has a mean SAT score of 2144, down six points from last year. (The Dartmouth article)

Barnard College
Barnard saw a 40 percent jump in early decision applications, following a push to interact more with potential students and invest more in Barnard Bound, a program that pays to fly in low-income students. (Columbia Spectator article)

George Washington University
GWU has two rounds of early decision, and its first round this fall attracted 18.5 percent more applications than last year. (GW Hatchet article)

What’s happening at other colleges and universities? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail.

And I’m guessing you have lots of questions about early admission programs. On Thursday at 1 p.m., U-Va. Dean of Admissions Greg W. Roberts will be online to provide some answers. Submit questions now for Campus Overload Live.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

MIT, Duke Early Applications Rise as Jobs Spur Move

By Janet Lorin, Bloomberg

Applications for early admission to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University and Dartmouth College rose to the highest on record as students said name-brand colleges give graduates an edge in job searches.

Early applicants to MIT surged 13 percent to an unprecedented 6,405, said Stuart Schmill, admissions dean. Duke University’s total increased 13 percent to 2,260, also the most ever, said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions. Those institutions, as well as Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, are among at least 10 nationwide where officials tell of rises in early applications.

Students for the class that will graduate in 2015 are picking a university they think will help them land higher- paying jobs than their parents now have, a concern magnified by the economy, said Darby McHugh, the college coordinator at New York City’s Bronx High School of Science.

“With the economy, college is not just a lazy, four-year undergraduate experience,” McHugh said in a telephone interview. “They’re preparing for a career.”

Richard Tuhrim, a chess-playing Bronx Science senior who applied early to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said having Brown on his resume may help him after college to land a job involving government economic policy.

“Job security has to be something that everyone thinks about,” Tuhrim said in an interview.

Unemployment Rate

While Columbia and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told students of their decisions last week, most colleges will inform applicants for early admission by mid-December. Dartmouth admitted 25 percent of its early applicants, according to a statement today. Students applying early to Duke will find out today and MIT plans to inform applicants on Dec. 16.

U.S. unemployment was 9.8 percent in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based in Washington, reported on Dec. 3. The rate may not return to the “stable” 5.5 percent level of October 2004, more than three years before the latest recession began, until late in 2014, said Marisa Di Natale, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The recession ended in June 2009, after 18 months, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 “I knew it was a reach to begin with,” Kouch, 17, said in a telephone interview. “Knowing I didn’t have the perfect GPA or the highest SAT scores, any chance I could have would be through early decision.”

High school seniors may be correct in thinking that applying early for college can help them get in, according to Guttentag at Duke.

“Students who are ready to make a commitment can take advantage of the preference generally given to binding early- decision applicants,” Guttentag said in an e-mail.

Duke Data

Duke offered admission last year to 30 percent of early applicants compared with 15 percent for students who applied later in the cycle, according to data provided by Guttentag. Duke notifies regular admissions applicants in April.

Katharine Cummings, a senior at Fieldston Upper School in New York, applied to Duke before its Nov. 1 deadline for early applications. She visited the campus in Durham, North Carolina, in April and admired its ballet program and a center to study the lemur, a type of mammal.

“If I get in, then the rest of the school year will be so much less stressful,” said Cummings, 17, who spends 20 hours a week training with the Manhattan Youth Ballet, a classical ballet academy.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville said four years ago that they would drop early-admission programs, citing concerns the process wasn’t fair to students from lower-income families. At the time, early offers of admission were nonbinding at Harvard, and binding at Princeton and the University of Virginia.

Virginia’s Policy

Now in its fourth year without any kind of early admissions, Virginia is changing its policy for next year to allow students to apply for nonbinding early admission. That’s because the college was losing applicants to competitors with early programs, and because some high-school students prefer to apply early, Greg Roberts, dean of admission, said in a telephone interview.

While Harvard hasn’t reinstated early admissions, William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, said in a statement last month that officials will “continue to evaluate the elimination of early admission on a regular basis.”

At Princeton, “moving to a single-admission process has made the application process more equitable, which was the intended goal,” Janet Rapelye, dean of admission, said in a statement last month. “Princeton’s commitment to ending early decision has not changed.”

An estimated 2.2 million U.S. students entered college in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent statistics.

New Emphasis

Aware that the economy is on students’ and parents’ minds, marketing materials from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, are emphasizing opportunities that can augment a resume, said Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admission. One example is the chance to earn a certificate from the Kellogg School of Management while still an undergraduate.

“In this economy, students and their families are thinking more and more about the value of the degree they’ll be getting,” Watson said in an interview. “We are trying promote internships and job opportunities and outside-the-classroom experience that grad schools and employers want to see that you’ve had.”

Northwestern’s Rise

Early applications to Northwestern increased 26 percent from a year earlier to 2,127, according to the university.

Applications for nonbinding early admission to MIT in Cambridge surged as high-school seniors deem the education the university offers as preparation for what companies seek in this economy, especially in technical fields, Schmill said in a telephone interview.

Six of the eight members of the Ivy League of elite colleges in the northeastern U.S. offer a form of early notification. Four had increases in the number of students applying early, their officials said.

The University of Pennsylvania had the largest percentage increase of the Ivy group, 19 percent. The institution received 4,571 early applications, Eric J. Furda, dean of admissions, said in an e-mail.

Yale University’s total rose by 7 early applications, or less than 1 percentage point, to 5,268, according to figures provided by Jeffrey Brenzel, dean of undergraduate admissions.

Yale’s Program

Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, is the only Ivy League college with a nonbinding program. At Yale, applicants find out in December if they have an offer, and, in the event they get one, don’t have to decide until May whether to accept it.

Early applications at Dartmouth, in Hanover, New Hampshire, increased 12 percent to 1,759, Latarsha R. Gatlin, of the college, said today in an e-mail. The total at Columbia in New York rose 7.8 percent to 3,217, Robert Hornsby, a university spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Not all colleges say early applications have risen. At Cornell, the number declined 3.8 percent to 3,456, Claudia Wheatley, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Early applications at Brown fell 2.5 percent to 2,777, said James Miller, dean of admission. Brown received about 30,000 total applications last year, and Miller doesn’t see the decline in early applications as an indicator, he said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a hiccup,” Miller said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Lorin in New York jlorin@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net.


Can’t Pick a College Major? Create One

Read this Wall Street Journal article (by Sue Shellenbarger, published November 17, 2010) on how many 4-year colleges and universities are allowing students to design their own programs of study.

Early decision applications rise 17 percent

by Darina Shtrakhman, The Daily Pennsylvanian – theDP.com

Penn received 17 percent more early decision applications this year, according to Dean of Admissions Eric Furda.

This brings the total to approximately 4,500 — up from 3,851 last fall.

Furda attributed this increase to Penn’s no-loan aid policy and commitment to research and civic leadership.

“This is a generation that sees the need to make a difference in society and these applicants recognize how the resources of Penn and the city of Philadelphia can help them make an impact,” Furda said in a statement.

The University typically fills half of the incoming freshman class with early decision applicants by accepting around 1,200 students, all of whom are committed to attending Penn because the early decision program is binding.

If Penn were to accept 1,200 of the applicants from the current pool, the early decision acceptance rate would be 26.6 percent — an all-time low.

For the Penn class of 2014, the University saw a 6-percent increase in early decision applications. Of those, 31.2 percent were accepted under early decision. An additional 1,186 were deferred, and 119 of them were admitted under regular decision.

Early decision applicants to Penn will be notified of their admissions decisions in mid-December.

Read online article

The Shrinking Community of College Males: Worse Than We Thought

by Mark Sklarow, Executive Director, IECA

As I left the office yesterday afternoon I couldn’t help but notice the enormous wall of boxes waiting pick up by the postal service. Thousands upon thousands of SAT and ACT brochures are being sent to members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, thanks to agreements between IECA and the College Board and the ACT. Hundreds of brochures, Educational Consultant College Maps, and more are ready for shipment as well. All these materials will arrive at member offices for distribution to clients.

In unprecedented numbers, those clients will be female, as the percentage of males on college campuses is set to slip below 40%

Read the entire blog.

College Application Essays – Univ. of St. Thomas

The article entitled “Every Student Tells a Story” in the online St. Thomas Magazine www.stthomas.edu/magazine/2010/Fall/essays.html have fine examples of application essays that are inspiring and personal. Enjoy!

Fall College Fairs

As summer winds down the Fall College Fair Season gets going!
So mark your calendars.

Here is a link to the National College Fair, Colleges that Change Lives, Performing and Visual Arts College Fair and National Portfolio Day.
Also, information on making the best use of your time at the College Fairs.

How To Fair Well at the College Fair 2010 updated.doc

WCCO Radio Clip

Listen to Sue Luse’s advice about getting a head start on college applications this summer.

Help with Student Resumes

Do you need help with your resume? Here is a message from Kathy King who provides resume writing service.

Students and Parents,

One way to enhance your college and scholarship applications is to attach a student resume that describes all of the activities in which you have been involved throughout high school – athletics, clubs, music, dance, theater, political organizations, community service, faith-related participation, or employment.

I will provide you with templates you may use to create a student resume. In addition, one of my associates is available for an hourly fee to professionally plan, create, and format a student resume for you. More information about her service is attached.

The summer between junior and senior year can be a great time to begin working on your student resume. Once it is created, you can always update it during your senior year as you add new activities, receive recognition, or assume leadership positions.

For more information, click on the document Professional Help Creating a Student Resume.

Colleges’ Rejects Who Made It Big

Take a look at this Wall Street Journal article posted on msn.com about college rejections that had surprising outcomes.

This article was emailed to me by a parent. Here is what she wrote:

I thought you might be interested in this msn.com article. While it’s not particularly scholarly, I loved Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s comment on page 2:

To “allow other people’s assessment of you to determine your own self-assessment is a very big mistake,” says Bollinger, a First Amendment author and scholar. “The question really is, who at the end of the day is going to make the determination about what your talents are and what your interests are? That has to be you.”

We tell Jay the same thing all the time.

Top Ten Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students

Read about the top 10 strengths and experiences colleges look for in high school students . This list is based on a survey of IECA member consultants.

Take a moment to read the IECA June 16, 2010 press release. It provides some enlightening information about the survey.

Letter to the Editor

The Star Tribune published Sue Luse’s letter to the editor regarding senior year. Take a look at the Editorial Page on Friday, April 23, 2010: Letter to the Editor

A Guide for the College Hunt

This article appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Read article.