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5 Takeaways from the Weekend Information Session: Cornell, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Northwestern & Princeton

This past weekend had a plethora of colleges visiting. While I struggle to fit in 2+ hours of information into 5 takeaways, the post below is meant to give you the juiciest, most important points.

1. Colleges can be surprisingly similar…yet different

While the 6 colleges that visited ranged geographically from Ithaca NY to Raleigh, North Carolina on the East Coast and Northwestern in the Midwest, there were a number of similarities that brought them together

– They were all liberal arts heavy colleges with an emphasis on research: While none of the colleges are pure liberal arts colleges, Columbia’s Core and Princeton’s strong collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences are testament, but these colleges are all providing for a holistic education. However, it was the specific examples of Duke’s presence in the research triangle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_Triangle) and Northwestern’s investment in The Garage (http://thegarage.northwestern.edu/) that solidified the importance they give to research.

– They were strong residential programs that have tight communities: While Columbia and Georgetown are city schools and their campuses quite a bit smaller than Cornell in New York state, residential communities were a big feature in the presentation. The clincher was Princeton, whose emphasis on community was obvious at the mention of their Alumni weekend, where each year 30,000 or the 100,000 plus alums return to their alma mater.

– They are medium-sized schools: Cornell was the largest with 14000 undergraduates across its 6 schools whereas Princeton was the smallest with 5200 undergraduates, but all the colleges fit comfortably in the middle

2. They want you to connect with them…on Facebook

Shout-out to the Duke presentation for hammering in the importance of Social Media through this process. Setting themselves apart from the others, the Duke presentation was exclusively created from the #dukestudents account on Instagram. Not only did it make for a genuine connection to see actual photos by actual students, it also reinforced that the college may be geographically on the other side of the world but they are really making an effort to connect with prospective students! Follow them on Instagram, like them on Facebook. Even check out their Snapchat stories and YouTube videos. Just because you can’t visit, doesn’t mean you can’t get a sense of what they do.

3. Understand how a University interacts with its Colleges

Cornell has 6 Colleges (maybe 7! Check out the next point), Georgetown 4, Columbia 2…Two points that come out of that – First, make sure you do your research to understand where the major you want to do truly lies. Did you know Cornell’s business program is part of the Dyson School which is currently in the School of Agriculture https://dyson.cornell.edu/? Or that Northwestern offers Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences AND in the College of Engineering. Georgetown has a separate school for Foreign Service https://sfs.georgetown.edu/. Second, understand how you need to apply. To a number of colleges, if you want to study Engineering, you must APPLY to the College of Engineering. Princeton is an exception in that it admits you to the University and not to a specific College like Arts and Sciences or Engineering.

4. Figure out what they need

There was a lot of information on this section of requirements, so see the salient points below:

– Some colleges require SAT / ACT Writing while others don’t. Cornell, Georgetown and Northwestern DON’T while Columbia, Duke and Princeton DO require it. Understand what they need or really, be on the safe side and take writing.

Aid and scholarships are treated differently. As Need-Blind colleges Princeton and Georgetown promise to fulfill all need expressed (need, NOT WANT). The others aren’t Need-Blind for International Students. Only Duke, Georgetown and Northwestern offer scholarships, but only Athletic Scholarships for National Level players.

– If APs are not offered as part of the curriculum, they don’t want to see them. They would rather you do something on the extracurricular front than “waste time double-dipping on academics” Direct Quote.

5. Attend more information sessions!

They are coming to see you from across the world, go see them. Sessions like this are great even for admissions counselors like us because we learn what is new every time. For example, Cornell is planning on a SEVENTH college! Taking the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management out of the College of Agriculture, joining forces with the Johnson Graduate School of Business (MBA Program) and School of Hotel Administration to create a brand new College of Business! Stay tuned for more on this https://business.cornell.edu/

Here are the #5Takeaways from the event on the weekend. Stay tuned for more deep dives into each college.