What’s the best order of operations for rising seniors to complete strong and differentiated college applications over the summer before their senior year in high school? In the first of a series of beachfront advice posts to celebrate summer, we have the answers that will ensure that you don’t waste time or need to back track while giving you the the longest time possible to finalize your college list. If you haven’t yet put together an extracurricular resume for your college applications, start one now using our online course, which will give you the perfect format to start organizing your extracurricular and eventual professional resume.
According to NACAC’s (National Association for College Admission Counseling) College Openings Update (formerly the Space Availability Survey) over 500 colleges and universities still have amazing opportunities for qualified freshman and/or transfer students for fall 2017. And many of these schools also have financial aid and housing to offer.
Now in its 30th year, the Update is a wonderful search tool for counselors, parents and teachers as they work with students who have not yet completed the college application and admission process. The listing applies equally for students who may have gotten a late start on their applications as well as for those who weren’t totally satisfied with admissions results received by the May 1 response deadline observed by many colleges.
Typically, colleges continue to join the Update after the public release date until the page closes on June 30. The Update isn’t really a survey, but more of a voluntary “bulletin board style” listing for NACAC member institutions or about 1,300 U.S. four-year colleges (leaving out about 1000 U.S. four-year colleges). This year, about 64 percent of colleges on the Fall 2017 Update are private and 36 percent are public. NACAC member two-year institutions were also invited to participate, and a small number appear on the list.
Note that if an institution—of any description—does not appear on the list, it does not necessarily mean there are no openings there. Not every college chooses to participate.
Nevertheless, the NACAC list contains some amazing opportunities in every corner of the country.
For example, Arizona State University, Belmont University (TN), the College of Charleston (SC), Drew University (NJ), Hofstra University (NY), High Point University (NC), Oregon State University (OR), Pennsylvania State University, Ohio Wesleyan University, St. Joseph’s University (PA), Union College (NY), the University of Arizona, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (NC), the University of Oregon, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, and West Virginia University are posting space available for the fall.
And Appalachian State University (NC), Baylor University (TX), Elon University (NC), Marquette University (WI), Providence College (RI), Skidmore College (NY), Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ), the University of Delaware, the University of Denver (CO), the University of Florida, and the University of San Diego (CA) have spaces for transfers.
In Maryland, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Goucher College, Hood College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Stevenson University, Loyola Maryland University, St. John’s College, UMBC, the University of Maryland and Washington College indicate they will consider qualified freshman and transfer students.
To the south in Virginia, Emory and Henry College, Hollins University, Longwood University, Lynchburg College, Mary Baldwin University, Radford University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Shenandoah University, the University of Mary Washington, Virginia Wesleyan College, and Sweet Briar College also show space and resources left for students still looking for fall 2017 placement.
Note that this list is highly fluid. “Admission is an ongoing process for many institutions,” NACAC CEO Joyce E. Smith has noted in the past.
Over the next several weeks, colleges will finish reviewing their incoming classes for vacancies and if they want to publicize openings, they will add their names to the Update. Already, the list has risen from about 350 colleges when survey data was first published to 520 colleges and universities, as of this publication. So keep checking back!
In addition to the NACAC survey, colleges still accepting applications may be found by searching the College Board, Common Application and Universal College Application (UCA) websites (specific instructions are found here). As of May 9, 2017 the Common App shows 327 members still open to new applicants, including Eckerd College (FL), the Florida Institute of Technology, Lynn University (FL), Marymount University (VA), North Carolina State University (NC), the University of New Haven (CT), Widener University (PA) and Xavier University (OH). The UCA lists 30 colleges and universities still accepting first-year students for fall 2016, including Bryant University (RI), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY), the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), the University of Tampa (FL) and the University of Wyoming.
The bottom line is that you need to move quickly. Colleges will only entertain applications as long as they have space available.
For the most up-to-date information on specific colleges, contact the admissions offices of the schools directly. You may be surprised how glad they are to hear from you!
Students with learning differences (LD) including Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their parents, while taking into account grades, scores, goals, and preferences like other students and parents navigating the college admissions process, should also take time to investigate special college programs and to provide supplementary application materials to colleges if students are to have the most positive four year experience. To that end, and with the help of Peterson’s Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities or AD/HD, let’s elucidate the research/application process for students and parents and answer two key questions:
What do you need to prepare and organize?
What should you be looking for when reviewing your college options?
The More Documentation The Better
Unlike when applying to or dealing with high schools, students with LD/ADD must provide more documentation than just an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or 504 Plan (a program of instructional services to assist students with special needs who are in a regular education setting) when applying for special support programs at colleges and universities. For the best chance at getting the resources you need for four years, get ready to provide most (if not all) of the following documentation (in addition to any college-specific requirements) in order to give yourself the best shot at receiving the most comprehensive accommodations available at colleges on your list:
- A Diagnostic Statement Identifying Condition(s)
Classification codes should be from the most up to date editions of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) or the International Classifications of Disease (ICD). Original diagnosis dates along with most current evaluation dates should be included
- Current Functional Impact of the Condition
Detailed results from formal and informal tests should be sent in the form of both raw results and narrative explanations
- Treatments, Medications, and Assistive Devices/Services Currently Prescribed or In Use
In addition make sure to include detailed information on any side effects resulting from such methods
- The Expected Progression or Stability of The Impacts Described Over Time
- Recommended Accommodations And Services
- Credentials of The Evaluator
A brief description of the evaluator’s experience is also helpful
The Best Psychoeducational Batteries Include 5 Key Components
- Adult Referenced Testing
- A Measure of Aptitude
- A Standardized Measure Of Academic Achievement
- Measures of Cognitive Processes Impacted
- Clinical Observations
What About Your Evaluation of Colleges?
Enough about you! How do you find the colleges that will be most receptive and accommodating to your needs? It’s up to you to figure out what types of support you are going to need for four years in college, but keep in mind you will be in a new environment, so you may want to err on the side of more support. Four-year colleges can be nicely broken down into two categories depending on how they deal with LD/ADD students.
The first type of college has what can be referred to as “Aggressive/Structured” Programs. These colleges go beyond what is mandated by law to support their LD or ADD population and as a result often include extra fees and separate admissions processes for students with LD/ADD. In some cases, these schools have an entire department or program devoted specifically for LD/ADD students. This translates into support at almost every stage of your undergraduate educational experience.
The second type of college has what can be referred to as “Passive/Self-Directed” Programs. These colleges will require LD/ADD students go through the same process for admissions as everybody else, rarely charge extra fees, but as a result also rarely monitor the student’s progress or performance. Depending on the college, different offices or multiple offices may be tasked with supporting the LD/ADD student, but the student will be responsible for acting as the conductor.
What does all this mean in practice? Well, different things at different colleges, even within colleges that advertise similar services. The best place to begin your search it to look at three very different size colleges (briefly described below) that provide top of the line “Aggressive/Structured” Programs. As you search, remember to compare and contrast services at the three colleges. Once you want to expand your search to more colleges, refer back to the pros and cons of these three colleges when formulating questions to ask of college officials.
The general idea is: Even if you can’t buy the Rolls Royce, you want to see how many of the add-ons of a Rolls Royce are available in other cars, so look at the Rolls Royce first so you will be comparing all future cars to it. You may find you don’t need or want “Aggressive/Structured” Programs, and will look at only at “Passive/Self-Directed” Programs. Or you may find you would be successful at either type of college, and therefore include both types on your list. Visit college websites, and as your search becomes more serious, visit the colleges.
**Note: Just because a college is not summarized below does not mean it is not a great destination for LD or ADD students. In fact, some of the smallest, most obscure colleges specialize in offering programs for LD or ADD students (Mount Ida, McDaniel, Mitchell, and Beacon), while some of the most well-known colleges also offer “Aggressive/Structured” Programs (George Mason University, American University, and Hofstra University). Good Luck with your search!
University of Arizona
The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center
520-621-8493 or 520-621-1427, ask for assistant director of admissions or head of LD program
University of Arizona in beautiful and hot Tucson, Arizona is the largest school on this list with around 34,000 students. The school has a generally numbers-based admissions process. Most importantly, Arizona’s fee-for-service Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center provides students with Learning Differences a way to focus their course of study and not get lost amidst all the hustle and bustle of such an exciting and busy campus as Arizona’s. 500 undergrads are served by SALT, which has roughly 22 full-time staff members including tutors, graduate assistants, tutors, and specialists. A mandatory one-day orientation is required before classes start. Tutoring (one-on-one and group) is provided in most subjects. According to its Website, “SALT students receive individualized educational planning and monitoring, assistance from trained tutors with course work, and an array of workshops geared toward the individual academic needs of these students.” Students must apply directly to the program and fees range anywhere from $1,600 – $4,000.
University of Denver
The Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP)
303-871-2372, ask for head of LD program or director of University disability services
Out west like University of Arizona, but further to the north, is the University of Denver. Why the University of Denver? Denver, with roughly 6,000 students offers one of the most comprehensive programs in the country for students with learning differences. The fee-for-service Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP) has roughly 11 full-time staff members and serves roughly 200 undergrads each year while also providing “a variety of services designed to support each student’s academic experience, including individual academic counselors, tutoring, and organizational and study strategies specialists.” The LEP philosophy emphasizes student responsibility, self-awareness, and self-advocacy. At its core LEP strives to empower students to develop the skills needed to attain academic and personal success while at DU and beyond. Tutoring is available in all subjects, either one-on-one or in groups.
Boca Raton, Florida
The Institute for Achievement and Learning
561-237-7900 or 561-237-7881, ask for head of LD program or executive director of the IAL
Lynn University in sunny and warm Boca Raton, Florida offers arguably the best program for bright, sociably independent students with learning differences. Lynn’s Institute for Achievement and Learning comprehensive support program serves several hundred of the school’s 2,000 undergraduate students and has a staff of 11 full-time employees and 35 part-time employees. Staff includes tutors (tutoring is available in all subjects), LD specialists, and diagnostic/learning specialists. A two-day orientation is mandatory before freshman year. It provides tutoring by professional tutors in all subjects. The more support needed by a student, the greater the cost; however, this is one university where the higher price tag is worth it.
For more information, please contact the colleges directly.
For a full directory of special programs for LD/ADD students, a good first stop is Peterson’s Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or AD/HD.
And the University of Southern California captured the No. 1 spot on the undergraduate list of schools (up from #2 in 2016). Southern Methodist University (SMU) took the top place on the graduate schools list (also up from #2 last year).
“USC Games represents an exciting collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science,” explains the USC Games website. “Incorporating elements of design, artistry, production and engineering, USC Games offers an utterly unique educational experience for students, and serves as the launching pad for them to play significant roles in the game design field.”
According to CNN Money and PayScale, video game design is in the top third of “best jobs” in America, with potential for substantial growth, great pay and satisfying work. What’s particularly appealing about the profession is that the industry is relatively new, so it’s still an innovative field open to pioneers and creative minds.
Formerly assigned to a far corner of the computer science department, game design has emerged as a respectable, multidisciplinary course of study. And schools hoping to cash in on the growing market for designers are building glitzy new facilities tricked out with cutting-edge technology and equipment.
The Princeton Review selected schools based on a survey of 150 institutions in the U.S., Canada and abroad offering video game design programs or courses. The 40-question survey asked schools to report on a range of topics from academic offerings and lab facilities to starting salaries and career achievements.
“Game design is an exciting field and programs are springing up in colleges all over the world, said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor in Chief. “The top schools on our lists have outstanding faculties and great facilities which will give students the skills and experience they need to pursue a career in this dynamic and burgeoning field.”
Although relatively new, George Mason University has a well-respected game design program in the Washington metropolitan area and has received recognition, along with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as among the 50 best game design schools and colleges by gamedesigning.org. Using slightly different criteria from that used by Princeton Review, GameDesigning ranks the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, and DigiPen Institute of Technology as the top three programs in the field.
And for the record, the Princeton Review’s top 25 undergraduate schools to study game design for 2017 are:
- University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
- Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
- DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
- Becker College (Worcester, MA)
- Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)
- New York University (Brooklyn, NY)
- The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
- Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
- Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- Bradley University (Peoria, IL)
- Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
- Champlain College (Burlington, VT)
- University of Wisconsin-Stout (Menomonie, WI)
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)
- The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)
- DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
- Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland)
- Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)
- University of California-Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
- Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH)
- Cogswell College (San Jose, CA)
- Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
- Miami University (Oxford, OH)
Keep in mind that like any other “ranking,” this list represents one organization’s opinions and should provide little more than “food for thought” or a starting place for a more thorough investigation of a whole range of video game design programs.
NOTE: George Mason University will be holding Game Design Open Houses on April 8 and April 22, 2017. This could be a great way to learn about game design in general and the George Mason program in specific. Interested students can reserve a space by emailing Mary Bean (email@example.com) or calling 703.993.5734.
But if you’re disappointed with the decisions you’ve received so far or if you want to continue exploring possibilities, take heart. There are literally hundreds of colleges across the country ready, willing and more than happy to consider additional applications for fall 2017.
In fact, a substantial number of wonderful schools located on stunningly beautiful campuses will consider applications from prospective undergrads well into August. And some of these schools still have scholarships to offer!
In Maryland, D.C., and Virginia alone, colleges still accepting applications include St. John’s College of Annapolis, Bridgewater College, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Stevenson University, Virginia Union University, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Hood College, Bowie State University, Gallaudet University, McDaniel College, Trinity Washington University, Emory and Henry College, Hollins University, Shenandoah University, Marymount University, Mary Baldwin College, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Longwood University, and the University of the District of Columbia.
But don’t delay. Even those colleges with “rolling” admissions eventually fill their seats. And if you need financial support, be aware that scholarships are often allocated on a first come, first serve basis or until the money runs out.
Still, if you’re looking or thinking about submitting additional applications, here are a few insider tips to jumpstart your research long before NACAC’s “space available” list comes out shortly after May 1:
- Common Application member institutions still open to new applicants may be found by going to the Common App website. Click on the College Search tab. Indicate that you’re looking for Fall 2017 and complete the deadline box according to your interest. If you happen to be looking for colleges with deadlines on or after March 30, 2017, you will be rewarded with a list of over 370 institutions.
- The Universal College Application makes the search even easier. Simply go to go to this link and click on Fall 2017. Scan the Regular Decision column and find 31 colleges and universities still accepting new applications, including some that are not UCA members, which are listed as a public service.
- Using the College Board’s Big Future search engine, start by using the Type of School filter and select “4-year,” “private” and “public” (this eliminates for-profit institutions). Scan through the other filters and select your preferences for size, location, majors, etc. Click on “Close and see results.” Once results appear, go to the dropdown box labeled “Sort by:” (upper right) and click on “Application Deadline.”
Caution: The list starts with “01-Jan,” goes through the calendar year. At this point, you’d want to start reviewing the colleges with late-March deadlines, starting on about page 17. Schools with “no deadline” are listed at the end. It’s a little confusing, and the information is only as good as what colleges tell the College Board.
Once you have a “starter” list of schools that may still be accepting applications, verify deadlines by visiting individual websites.
But if websites are unclear or you find conflicting information as to the current status of the process, contact admissions offices directly and simply ask.
You might be surprised to find many are more than happy to hear from you!
An Ivy League college is pretty much always going to be a reach on a student’s college list. Yet, there is one scenario when an Ivy League college can actually be considered a target (somewhere between a reach and a safety).
It is exceedingly rare for an Ivy League college or university to be considered a safety on a student’s college list, but it does happen on rare occasions. Don’t hold your breath that you’ll find yourself in one of these two scenarios, but if you do, consider yourself lucky.
Scenario 1 when an Ivy League college COULD be a safety:
Scenario 2 when an Ivy League college COULD be a safety:
If you only have one more spot to fill on your college list and it comes down to University of Maryland College Park or Penn State University Park here are the factors you should consider before making the final cut.
No matter how much you think you know about a college, there’s always more to learn. And the best way to add to your knowledge of campus culture, the kinds of students who attend and how they relate to one another, who serves on faculty, how programs and majors are structured, the quality and availability of student services, and the general “feel” of a college is by taking the time to visit.
Colleges know they are more likely to attract students who schedule information sessions and take tours. And they put a great deal of time and thought into considering how they present themselves to the outside world. It’s up to the visitor to look deeper—go off the beaten path and do a little independent investigative work by talking to students and observing campus life.
While colleges may consider the visit as “demonstrating interest,” you need to think of it as doing your due diligence—an opportunity to truly understand why a college deserves to be on your list. In so doing, you’ll be rewarded with a solid foundation for articulating in an essay or during an interview why it is you want to attend a particular college or university.
But it’s hard to get a clear picture beyond basic bricks and mortar if you schedule time on campus during student holidays. For that reason, you might want to take into consideration “spring break” weeks when putting together plans for a college road trip during the coming months. And luckily, there are two really good resources for you to use:
Springbreak.com: Mostly targeted to college students anxious to book flights and hotels, this site provides start dates for an impressive number of colleges listed alphabetically—from Adelphi (March 11) to Yale (March 4).
STS Travel: Again, this list is designed to help undergrads plan their vacations, and sorts colleges by dates—from Augustana (February 18) to Elmira (April 15). Note that the links STS provides don’t take you to college websites!
Hopefully your spring break won’t coincide with their spring break. But if it does, remember that a campus visit under less-than-perfect circumstances is better than no visit at all. It’s just that important!
Nancy Griesemer is an independent educational consultant and founder of College Explorations LLC. She has written extensively and authoritatively about the college admissions process and related topics since 2009. Never miss one of Nancy’s articles – subscribe to her mailing list below.
Students applying to highly selective colleges and universities often wonder what their regular decision college lists should look like – especially after learning of an early decision or early action rejection or deferral. On this episode of College Counseling Tonight, we address the concerns of students who want to get into the best colleges regular but who don’t quite know what those colleges are. As you will learn from listening, the answer will depend on the students actions as much as his or her ability.