Info Session: 2 Ivies + 3 nearly Ivies

May 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

5 colleges are hosting the “Exploring College Options” college tour this spring:  Duke, Georgetown, Penn, Harvard & Stanford.  My son and I attended the presentations in Dallas.  Afterwards, we concluded that he was still interested in Harvard and Stanford, admittedly in large part because of their reputation and financial aid offers (plus the California sunshine), but the presentations didn’t get him to add any new colleges to his list or provide any more compelling information about Harvard or Stanford that he didn’t already know, perhaps because they really did not address any majors that are of interest to him.

Here are the key points they covered in their 10-15 minutes presentations:

Duke University, Durham, NC:

  • 9000 acre campus – so big they have a shuttle bus between the east & west campuses
  • 85% of students are from outside of the Carolinas
  • Engineering program attracts 17% of students.  Heavily female (30%, compared to the norm of 10%) and 50% study abroad (versus norm of 10%)
  • Math team were national champions
  • DukeEngage program has a large endowment to support student’s ideas for civic engagement projects locally and globally.
  • Remember Kevin Costner’s hot role in Bull Durham, the movie about minor league baseball?  The Durham Bull’s baseball stadium is right next to the campus.

Georgetown University, Georgetown, VA:

  • In contrast to Duke, Georgetown is on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River, 1-1/2 miles from the Washington D.C. mall.
  • Duke’s commitment to openness to all religions – despite being a Catholic university – stems from its founder, who was unable to complete his education in the U.S. because no colleges were open to a Catholic back then.
  • Half of students are in grad school.  Undergrads can get accepted into Georgetown law or med school without LSAT or MCAT, which is a nice way to take some pressure off.
  • International was a big theme of their offerings:  foreign languages (including Arabic and Chinese), Walsch school of Foreign Affairs, international business and international medicine majors
  • As with George Washington University, Georgetown students can benefit from the speakers and internships available in the D.C. area.  Not surprisingly, government is one of the two most popular majors, with English being the other one.

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA:

  • Freshmen live in 1 of 17 dorms, but all freshmen dine together.  Upperclassmen move to a “house”  (think Hogwarts)  for their remaining three years.  They will dine, compete in intramural sports, and graduate with their house mates.
  • Freshman seminars have 12 or fewer students, but some “more popular” classes have 400+ students.
  • 65% study abroad (even higher than Duke’s brag of 50%).
  • Hint: send in applications early.  They start reading applications on December 1st.  If you wait until the January 1st deadline, they are already tired of reading applications.
  • Lucrative financial aid:  If parental income is $60-120K, average parental contribution is 1-10% of income; if income is $120-180K, parental contribution is 10%.  Some financial aid for those with incomes > $180K.

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA:

  • Penn focuses on a combination of liberal arts + practical skills, as per Ben Franklin’s directive, as exemplified by the programs the led with in the presentation:
  • Nursing – 4 hospitals within 4 blocks of campus.  Grads receive a minimum of 6 job offers.
  • Applied Sciences or Engineering
  • Wharton School of Business – renowned school of business for undergrads offers (only) a BS in Economics plus 20 concentrations.  The economics degree in the college of arts and sciences is more theoretically focused than the one in the Wharton School.
  • Arts & Sciences is somewhat interdisciplinary focused.
  • Unlike Harvard, all dorms have students of all ages.
  • Financial aid does not include any loans.
  • 15 minutes to downtown Philadelphia.

Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA:

  • 8000 acres – not quite as big as Duke, but the true campus is concentrated in one area…but bicycles are still a good idea.
  • Unlike some large universities, you do not have to be accepted into a specific college
  • 4 grad schools – medicine, law, education & business
  • Dorms offer faculty in residence.
  • Another lucrative financial aid programs:  expected family contribution is $0 for incomes below $60k, tuition is free for incomes below $100K.

This format was a good for getting a taste but not a complete perspective on each school, because they were each limited to 10-15 minutes.


Entry filed under: CA, Catholic, DC, Duke, economics, engineering, English, foreign languages, Georgetown, grad school, Harvard, Jesuit, MA, medicine, NC, nursing, PA, Paying for College, political science, Stanford, U of Penn.

College Visit: U of Oklahoma Colleges for the learning disabled

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Insights and advice from a parent of two gifted teenagers



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