A High School Senior's Tips On Maximizing Your College Visits

Visiting campuses is one of the best ways to decide whether a college or university is right for you.  Tours, however, can be time-consuming, costly, and inconvenient, so it is crucial to make the most of these visits. Here are my favorite tips and thoughts on how to maximize your tours, information sessions, and open houses. 

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Seven Tips for Writing College Admissions Essays

by Stuart Nachbar, Daytripper University Contributor *

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College admissions essays are nothing like the usual writing assignments that a high school senior has been asked to do for teachers to earn grades. For those who do not like to write, they’re something to be feared. However, when a student has a combination of suspect grades and/or test scores with a dislike for classroom education, a half-hearted effort also means a missed opportunity.

College admissions offices require essays for good reasons. They help them to know more about their prospective students as well as assess their writing ability.  And the essays are also a way for prospective students to thoroughly and thoughtfully consider their interests in a school, and sometimes to demonstrate their creativity. 


Prospective college students are advised to follow these seven tips as they work on their essays. 

  1. Answer the question. College admissions officers consider an applicant’s ability to read as seriously they consider their ability to write. Also consider: if you were asked this question in a face-to-face meeting, how would the person seated across from you feel if you ignored the question, and talked about something else? 

  2. Never, ever, lie on an essay, and better yet, don’t even think about it. This does everyone—the prospective student, their parents, the admissions office, and the college itself—a huge disservice. The people on the college side may recover from the embarrassment, but the student and parents may not. 

  3. Write each essay in your voice. Never, ever have someone other than the student write the essay, and have the student write in a way that they “sound” as if they were to speak to an admissions officer in person. Experienced admissions officers know when an applicant has not written their essay, and they teach the less experienced ones to know the telltale signs of an “unrepresentative” submission. Not to mention that you might be invited to meet that admissions officer on campus, possibly for an interview. You want to make the admissions officer feel comfortable knowing that they met a person who wrote a strong essay.

  4. When essays ask you to elaborate on something that you might have covered briefly in another essay, be consistent. Sometimes college essays will build upon each other. For instance, if you briefly mention a possible major when you write about your interests in a school, then prepare to elaborate in the same voice for an essay that asks you to explain about your interests in a major. If you talk about another major, your application is more likely to be denied at a school that has selective admissions. 

  5. Check grammar, punctuation and spelling before pressing ‘Submit’. Do the essay in Word or Pages first, then run it through the spelling and grammar check before it is uploaded online. Not all admissions officers were English majors, and most are not expert writers. But most can catch the more obvious grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes, especially if they read your essay on a computer screen.

  6. Do not use the essay to show how smart you are. These essays are not a space to demonstrate mastery of complex academic material that admissions officers may not understand. But they are a great space to share enthusiasm for the material, even “teach” it in a way that will leave them more curious about you as a prospective student, and where you might fit in, or help to diversify, the incoming class.  No college wants to have a class where so many students have so few academic or pre-professional interests. 

  7. Happiness is always better than sadness. Leave admissions officers smiling after they read your essays. They have many to read, and they are human, just like you. They would prefer to read something that stands out, and leaves them smiling, than something negative that leaves them concerned that their school might not be right for you. This is especially true for colleges that are “need aware” and selective at the same time you need scholarship aid. In those situations admissions officers consider your standing in the applicant pool against your needs, and the college’s costs to provide them for you. 


College admissions essays may be a bane or pain to many students, but concise, thoughtful and well written ones can help get into colleges that might otherwise say no. They are your main space to make a strong impression on those who have the say to get you to yes.  


For assistance in college admissions essays and other steps in the college admissions process, contact Stuart at stuart@educatedquest.com or call 609-406-0062.

* As founder of Educated Quest, Stuart Nachbar provides personalized college, transfer and graduate/professional school admissions advisory services to help students and parents make the best-informed decisions their future education. Having worked around higher education for over three decades as an admissions advisor, author, urban economic development professional and senior-level software marketing executive, he knows the “inside baseball” about how colleges do business. Stuart holds a BA and MBA from Rutgers University, a Master of Urban Planning for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Certificate in College Admissions Counseling (with Distinction) from UCLA. He and his wife, Carol, live in Central New Jersey.

Study Abroad: Stockholm

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On a recent visit to Stockholm, we didn’t hit the ATM once, a first when traveling, as Stockholm is proud to be a mostly cashless city. It’s also an elegant and scenic city; built around parks, islands, and endless waterways, with some of Scandinavia’s most respected museums and most lauded restaurants. Throw in hip design stores, waterside bars, and cafes, and a garden café from Martha Stewart’s dreams and you have an ideal city for a midsummer adventure.  



Tripper Tips

Logistics: Djurgarden is home to the Vasa, Abba Museum, Rosendals Tragard, Skansen and Oaxen Slip—easily combined. Sodermalm, Gamla Stan, and the Fotografiska Museum also make for a nice combination.

Exciting news--Fotografiska is opening this fall in NYC and London if it has anything like its sibling we are sure it will be a great addition to both cities.



White Nights: Midsummer the sun sets around 11, so that means your sightseeing day does not end at 5 or 6, it's almost like getting two days in one. From a traveler’s perspective, this allows you to wander the old city, walk along the water, and enjoy a drink outside after the museums and shops close. We made dinner on the later side and didn’t stop till 8:30 each day, only pausing for a quick pre-dinner shower. (While summer is ideal, my daughter visited in late November, and it was still one of her favorite spots while studying abroad.)

Water, Water, Everywhere: There’s a reason Stockholm is often called the Venice of the North. The city is a web of bridges, canals, and rivers all spread across 14 islands. It’s picturesque in spades, and easily walkable.

Photo-bomb: The Fotografiska is reason enough to visit Stockholm, located in a former 1906 red brick customs house; it sits scenically on the harbor.  The top floor is home to an award-winning restaurant, and a casual café-- a wow and then some, with large windows spanning the entire dining room. The panoramic views serve up some of the best vantage points of the city. That alone would make it a destination without seeing the exhibits, but don't miss the exhibits-this is a destination for world-class contemporary photography. An added plus the museum stays open till 11 pm each day, so save this as a late day stop. You could plan on dinner or drinks either before or after you browse the current exhibit.

Historic: Get lost in the cobblestoned streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town filled with narrow lanes and medieval buildings. Attractions include the Royal Palace, Nobel Museum, and Storkyrkan Church. It’s a touristy area, but worth a meander during your stay.

Best Bites:  Matbaren is a one-Michelin-starred restaurant that is refreshingly casual with food you want to eat in a fun, buzzy room in the Grand Hotel overlooking the water. It was one of the best meals we’ve had in the last few months, and we eat out a lot! The menu rotates often showcasing the best local, seasonal fare, with menu sections divided playfully with titles: “from our country,” “from other countries,” “from the plant world” and “from the pastry.” Matbaren is a must during your stay in Stockholm. Other top tables include Oaxen Krog and Slip, Adam and Albin, Rolfs Kok, Wedholms Fisk, and Sturehof. Ponte Fiore is a sweet spot for lunch along the water.

Secret Garden: Rosendals Tradgard is a magical place—a farm that harvests vegetables, flowers, and herbs, located on the far tip of Djurgården island, itself a green oasis in the city.  (You can walk here, though it’s a bit of a long one from the city center or take a quick taxi or uber or if your daring rent bikes.) Rosendals Garden has been at the forefront of the farm to fork concept for over 30 years. Eat lunch in the greenhouse café, sample some delicious bread from their wood-fired bakery, enjoy the beautiful gardens, stock up on artisanal products in their lovely store or buy heirloom seeds in the plant shop to bring home.  Popular with both locals and visitors, you’ll fall in love with Stockholm's very special Eden.

Artful: Experience one of Europe’s premier collections of art from the 20th century until today at Moderna Museet, on the island of Skeppsholmen. (Easily walkable from the city center or a quick five minute uber.) Go hungry because the museum's restaurant serves excellent food in addition to one of Stockholm’s best views with large panoramic windows overlooking the water, Djurgården, and Strandvägen. (Great food and impressive views seem to be a theme of our trip to Stockholm's museums.)

Shipwrecked: Back in 1628, the Vasa warship sank in Stockholm harbor--it was her maiden voyage.  After 333 years under the sea, she was salvaged in 1961 and painstakingly reconstructed. The Vasa Museum is considered a must-see sight, which translates to big crowds and tour groups—definitely a distraction; so go when it opens if you can. If your short on time, view the quick film and then walk around the giant ship—it’s not something you get to experience every day. You'll be in awe, as we were, that it was recovered, restored and now impressively displayed.

Culture Vulture: It’s lowbrow fun at ABBA: The Museum, a journey through time from the band's beginnings to the present day.  Mama Mia brought ABBA back into the limelight, but those of us of a certain age grew up singing all their hits as they rolled them out in the 70’s. Interactive, entertaining, and informative—this is a engaging museum for fans.

Half-Day Excursion: Visiting Artipelag is about the journey—and the destination. Sure you can drive (or uber) the 20 minutes or so to the island of Varmdo in the archipelago, but it is so much better to arrive by boat. Cruising through the archipelago is an experience worth doing on its own, and the combination with the museum is a winning combination of art and nature.  There are over 25, 000 islands in the archipelago and the hour and a half ride to Artipelag is just a small taste, a lovely morning out on the water. Once at the museum explore the latest exhibition and then leave time to wander the boardwalks and hiking paths scattered throughout the property. Have a late breakfast or lunch at either the casual café or restaurant –both with pretty views and indoor and outdoor seating. Highly recommended.

Shopping: For unique stores head to Sodermalm, Stockholm’s diverse younger neighborhood, just south of the city center. Sodermalm is the hip, bohemian heart of Stockholm—think the Marias, Williamsburg, Shoreditch. There are tons of cafes, vintage shops, music stores, and independent boutiques. The area is spread out, and stores are more in clusters, so be prepared to explore and use your GPS. Sofo (the area south of Folkungagatan) is the trendiest section, home to two of our favorite shops of the trip-- concept store Grandpa, a mix of clothes, accessories and design objects, and ATP for beautiful and stylish leather shoes. Continue to Nytorget (New Square) just down the street, a square in the heart of Sofo surrounded by charming old wooden houses. It’s a glimpse back in time to the olden days of Stockholm.  

Summer Drinks: It’s not hard to find a spot for cocktails outside on the water this time of year. Favorite places include Mister French and the outside bar at the Lydmar Hotel.

One More Day:  We would have liked to tour the palace and gardens at Drottningholm Palace, just outside the city, stopped by the Spritmuseum and visited Skansen, Stockholm’s open-air museum that sounds like it's Sweden’s version of Colonial Williamsburg.

 

If You Like College Towns, But Don’t Like Large Colleges: Part 1

by Stuart Nachbar, Daytripper University Contributor *

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Whenever you hear the words “college town,” what comes to mind? Fun and interesting stores and restaurants, some that are household names? Sports bars and bookstores? Clothing stores that sell new and vintage fashions? Music stores and dance clubs? College towns are vibrant because they offer so many things for students, and parents, to do.

The idea of a college town is often associated with a large university. It might even be the flagship state school. Or it might be an institution in a larger city with many colleges. But while college-bound high school seniors and their families may like the idea of going to school in a college town, not everybody wants to enroll at a large school. In that case, there are two possible options: choose a smaller school that shares a college town with a larger one, or go to a smaller school that has a college town all to itself.

In this first of two posts, I’ll cover college towns where a small college with relatively achievable admissions, where more than half of the students who apply are accepted, shares the town with another, often larger institution. Daytripper University has already covered multiple schools in two such towns: Amherst, Massachusetts (home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and U-Mass-Amherst) and Ithaca, New York (home to Cornell University and Ithaca College). This post will introduce you to six more small schools, located in four other college towns.


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BURLINGTON, VT

Burlington is not only home to the University of Vermont, but also to Champlain College. This 2,200 student school offers an “upside down” academic program that lets freshmen take as many as six courses in their major, and pursue internships as early as the summer after their first year. St. Michael’s College, a 2,000-student school in nearby Colchester, places more emphasis on the liberal arts. It is one of the only three Catholic colleges in New England—Boston College and Holy Cross are the other two—that has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. Affectionately called ‘St. Mike’s’ this school is a great bet for bright students who adore everything outdoors including hiking, sailing, skiing, snowboarding, as well as access to Burlington, one of the most popular college towns, as Daytripper’s correspondents' report.

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MADISON, NJ

 

Home to Drew University, a 1,600-student liberal arts college, within walking distance of downtown, and Fairleigh Dickinson University, a 3,400-student school built on the grounds of a former estate, only a free shuttle ride away, Madison, New Jersey has a smaller, and more family oriented downtown than Burlington, but also something extra: easy access into New York City via New Jersey Transit trains. Drew takes advantage of its location to offer six New York Semester programs, exclusively for undergraduates. Fairleigh Dickinson’s campus is home to the International School of Hospitality and Tourism, one of the leading hospitality management schools in the country, and a partner with global hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide to offer classroom-based projects and internship opportunities.  

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TOWSON, MD

Located less than 20 miles from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Towson, Maryland, is home not only to Towson University, one of the state’s “growth institutions,” with more than 23,000 students, but also Goucher College, a 1,600 student liberal arts school, and one of The Colleges That Change Lives. The first college to require all students to have an educational experience abroad, Goucher’s bucolic campus is across from Towson Town Center, a luxury shopping mall with over 180 stores and many dining options, anchored by a four-story Nordstrom department store. Goucher is also a stop on the Baltimore Collegetown Network, a free bus service that connects the college to other area schools as well as the Inner Harbor.

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KALAMAZOO, MI

Kalamazoo, Michigan is host not only to Western Michigan University, a state school with 23,000 students, and four campuses in town, but it has also been home to Kalamazoo College, aka ‘K. College,’ another one of The Colleges That Change Lives, since 1833. This 1,500-student liberal arts college is noted for the ‘K. Plan’, that combines a liberal arts education, with a real-world learning experience, study aboard and a Senior Individualized Project, a graduate-level thesis, performance or creative work. While Kalamazoo, aka “K-town,” is over two hours from Chicago or Detroit, its downtown offers many of the same amenities students will find in a college town such as Bloomington, home to Indiana University or West Lafayette, home to Purdue, although the sports programs will be lower profile than they are in these Big Ten communities.

If you are looking for a college town, but don’t like large universities, these towns and schools have much to offer students: a great place to live, signature academic programs,  as well as real-world learning opportunities. Even when students ultimately may travel away from campus for an internship or study abroad, they will still consider their college town their true educational home.

 

* As founder of Educated Quest, Stuart Nachbar provides personalized college, transfer and graduate/professional school admissions advisory services to help students and parents make the best-informed decisions their future education. Having worked around higher education for over three decades as an admissions advisor, author, urban economic development professional and senior-level software marketing executive, he knows the “inside baseball” about how colleges do business. Stuart holds a BA and MBA from Rutgers University, a Master of Urban Planning for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Certificate in College Admissions Counseling (with Distinction) from UCLA. He and his wife, Carol, live in Central New Jersey.

 

Cornell: Top Ten Things to Do

Do you have the afternoon free after touring Cornell? Are your parents or friends visiting for the weekend and you want to show off the area? Here is a Top Ten List form rising Cornell sophomore Dani Zeller. (Class of 2021) 


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Study Abroad-Falling in love with Madrid

The people of Madrid live well: the city is filled with incredible shopping, all kinds of cuisine, and some of the best museums I’ve ever visited. I navigated the city using a mix of articles I read online and recommendations from friends, but some of my favorite places ended up being those that I stumbled upon while wandering.

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