There are approximately 40 United States institutions of higher education that offer some iteration of a “great books” program. St. John’s College is the mother of them all. It features a four-year, non-elective curriculum in which students read, discuss and write about the seminal works that have shaped the world. Let me spell this out for you. Not a single book in the seminar (crux of the program) list is by a living author. No tests. No grades, unless you ask to see them. No textbooks. Learning astronomy, you won’t find a manual at St John’s but you will read Copernicus. No books about Aristotle, just Aristotle.
When visiting campus last year, I was overwhelmed, in a good way, by this unorthodox program. Knowing a tiny bit about a “great books” program, I expected to meet the standard bookworm, eclectic, outlier kind of student. I could not have been more wrong. I observed a great and diverse group of students This place is gorgeous, dynamic and rich with intellectual curiosity. And in case you’re wondering what types of employment await Johnnie grads, we’re talking doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs and a whole mess of public service and not for profit superstars.
See more pictures of my St. John's College visit on my
Humbach Education Consulting Facebook Page
St. John's College:
ACT Ranges – 25-30
Under 500 students
Overlap Schools: Brown, University of Chicago, Goucher, Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, Swarthmore, University of Virginia, Wellesley
Under 500 students
On my recent visit to the University of Maryland, College Park
, I discovered a beautiful campus, rich with history and diversity. Maryland’s flagship university has become much more selective than many state flagship schools. They recently introduced the Nation’s First Do Good
Campus Transforming Idealism Into Impact.
10,000 graduate students
48% acceptance rate
49.2% students of color
$51,600 out-of-state cost of attendance
Student to faculty ratio – 17:1
95% freshman retention rate
87% six-year graduation rate
Big Ten Conference
1315-acre campus in College Park, nine miles from downtown
2438-acre agricultural extension, 3 large farms (great summer programs)
14 colleges and schools including:
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
College of Arts and Humanities
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Robert H. Smith School of Business (most competitive)
College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences
College of Education
James Clark School of Engineering
The Graduate School
Phillip Merrill College of Journalism
College of Information Studies
School of Public Health
School of Public Policy
Office of Undergraduate Studies
The best time to begin working with an Independent Education Consultant (IEC) in Denver, Colorado is the summer before sophomore year.
Here are the top 5 reasons why:
1. Money. Being an informed consumer has never been more important. Whether your student is considering a small liberal arts school or their state’s Flagship University, cost of attendance has skyrocketed. The financial piece is discussed early and often so we can be sure this investment works for the whole family. Check out these sobering stats from US News Best Colleges rankings from 1995 to 2015:
2. Again. Money. With ample planning and time, it is very possible that your student can attend an out-of-state institution for less than an in-state one. It’s also quite possible that your student can attend a private school for less than a public one.
3. Fit. Happy leads to success. Researching and building a solid and dynamic college list ensures that your students lands both on feet, head up and ready to take on a fabulous college experience. And I teach them how to finish in 4 years, not 5 or 6! No transfers here.
4. Peace of mind. Often as our teenagers move through high school, the pressures and stresses of higher education increase. This can lead to conflict and discord between parents and student. Many families have told me that I restored peace to their home, allowing those last few years to be amazing ones.
5. Expertise. We don’t know what we don’t know. The best and most affordable outcome depends on consulting with an expert.I advise families on choosing the best high school classes, testing strategy, resume building, choosing majors, discovering careers via assessments, financial aid/scholarships and the entire application process.
I bet you think you know about pharmacy and what pharmacists do; I know you’re picturing the woman in a dingy white coat, standing behind the counter at King Soopers. I bet you’re wrong. I know I was. I recently had the good fortune to visit the St Louis College of Pharmacy and I have two words for you. Mind. Blown . No doubt I definitely missed my calling (not really) and should have been a pharmacist. Why? ‘Cause these folks are doing incredible work with patients and other health care professionals, all across the vast health care spectrum. Not only that but they get to mix chemicals and other cool stuff and that’s just plain fun!
So what is ABO, “Ability Based Outcome”? ABO refers to simultaneously training students as both a pre professional and professional and this strongly differentiates students in the marketplace. STLCOP is the 1st college to adopt this approach, and is truly the last institution of this type in the country. Students are involved in both a didactic and practical way; all courses are taught with a spin toward pharmacy and in the spirit of “teaching in the round”. STLCOP integrates the undergraduate/pre professional program, essentially eliminating a full year to degree. Other schools require a Bachelor of Science first in order to progress into the doctorate program.
The St Louis College of Pharmacy is located in the Washington University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading biomedical complexes and just blocks from the famed Forest Park, ranked No. 1 in the “Best City Park” category of USA Today’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. This is fertile ground for the exploration and advancement of all things medicine. Because St Louis is an economic constellation of health care programs, the location is ideal for students to learn, practice and research together.
Established in 1864, St Louis College of Pharmacy is the oldest pharmacy college west of the Mississippi, and is known for “its rich history, unparalleled location, commitment to innovation and engagement in the community.” And this is not your mother’s college of pharmacy. In spite of the laser like focus on education and employment, this school has NAIA Division I Athletics (read: athletic scholarships) and Greek life!
Whether you’re interested in being an entrepreneur, curing HIV or Ebola or want to contribute to the health and welfare of animals, you can do this in pharmacy. STLCOP educates “ entrepreneurs, infectious disease and oncology pharmacists, clinical practitioners, hospital administrators, biomedical researchers, corporate executives, national pharmacy association leaders , and many more experts in leading-edge areas.”
Doctor of Pharmacy
Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Health Humanities
Robust Alumni Network - more than 7000 living alumni practicing in 48 states and 14 countries
All students issued a laptop
International learning in 4th prof year
Starting Median Salary - $122,000
1.6% Unemployment Rate
3% Projected Growth In Demand For Pharmacists by 2024
U.S. News and World Report ranked pharmacist among the “Best Jobs” of 2016.
#18 in “Best Paying Jobs”
#21 in “Best Health care Jobs”
#36 in “100 Best Jobs”
This college is simply thriving. They have recently completed their largest campus expansion project. Fall of 2016 brought the unveiling of a 213,000-square-foot Academic Research Building with state-of-the-art technology for learning and research. And I had the chance to feast my eyes on the grand opening of a 193,000-square-foot Recreation and Student Center and Residence Hall. Wow.
Not only is Cost of Attendance (COA) reasonable at $42,000 per year (honestly I can’t believe I just wrote that) but students are completely immersed in the profession, right out of the gate. STLCOP offers Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs ), which introduce students to the profession . This includes assisting with dispensing prescriptions and creating a medication management plan for patients.
Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs ) immerse students in their role as a pharmacist through eight five-week rotations during their final professional year. Students work along side pharmacists, across the country, in hospitals, clinics and community pharmacies.
On top of all this fabulous-ness you have to love STLCOP’s mascot. Meet
Mortarmer McPestle, a Eutectic. “Eutectic” describes the scientific process of two solids being combined to form a liquid. Can’t say you didn’t learn something here.
Every year, I find myself hanging on to the last precious days of summer break, a feeling deeply rooted both in my childhood and the strong desire to spend time with my kids. They are now 25, 22 and 18 and I still want just a little more time.
This summer “stronghold” began when I was a little girl. I grew up in the most awesome neighborhood that sported a fort/make-out shack, a pond, complete with Garter snakes and horse stables. Can you imagine a more fantastic playground? Memories of riding my horse from sun up until sun down remain vivid, showing up in my dreams, from time to time. The smell of sweet clover, or the ripples of high water in the Highland Canal evoke surreal flashbacks.
As time marches on, this inevitable desire to make summer last forever lingers. And regardless of the age and stage of my children, I simply covet the summertime feeling of an easier schedule, occasional sleeping in and late nights on the deck.
As August comes to a close, I cannot fight back the hint of nostalgia, even sadness. It happens every year and I suspect and hope it will happen every year hereafter.
Here’s to a spectacular Indian summer. I hope you’ll find something useful in this post and maybe even a tip or two to ease that “Back-To-School” feeling.
My wish is for health, happiness and maybe even a little world peace.
Campus safety. This is a topic of growing concern for the families I work with, especially parents of daughters. Having three of my own, I get it. In fact, I find myself consistently researching the current status of college campuses with regard to what they are doing to combat this very real and dangerous issue. To be clear, one in five women are sexually assaulted in college , according to the most recent research.
There are far too many national news stories of campus sex assault. Often the allegations involve a frat brother or an athlete. The 2016 Stanford swimmer case was for me, particularly disturbing as the perpetrator was assaulting an unconscious female. Who does that? Indeed, this level of sick behavior is shocking, unconscionable and leaves me feeling horrified and helpless.
My focus is about taking real and affective action to end campus rape and I need answers and guidance. Introducing Keep Her Safe, a 501c3 not for profit organization whose purpose is to inform and educate parents so they can make demands of college administrations to effect positive change and ultimately end campus sex assault.
I’ve always told my girls to be smart, not scared and Keep Her Safe embodies this concept. Keep Her Safe is about empowering us to go from concerned spectators to proactive parents.
College should be about learning, growing and safe, self-discovery. Check out Keep Her Safe . Get involved. Let’s demand change and be part of the solution to campus rape. Let’s be smart, not scared.
As my daughter leaves for college in Europe, you can bet I’ll have the following legal documents in place: Advance Care Directive for Health Care, Advance Care Directive for Mental Health Care, Durable Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization Form and a FERPA Release. Blame my long, legal background, but if you have adult children, unmarried, 18 or over, you better have a few critical legal documents in place; signed, sealed and delivered. Imagine a nasty scenario: your daughter is a freshman at the college of her dreams; she experiences a health crisis, resulting in lack of consciousness and is taken to the ER. As her parent, you may not even be notified of her ER admittance, further, you would have no right to her medical records, or the right to make medical or financial decisions on her behalf. Scary, huh? Think what you want about the FERPA and HIPAA laws, but one thing is for sure, by their very nature, they protect the individual's privacy, and that includes keeping matters private from their parents. It's all about continuing to support and protect our kids during their college and early adult years. Read this comprehensive and valuable article by Erin M. Nadeau, Esq. Do. It.
‘Tis the time of year when many college bound students are weighing their options and trying to make the smartest (right) decision as to where to matriculate in the fall. Hopefully the choices are wonderful and while it’s great to have choices, sometimes they create another level of stress in this already stressful college application process.
Every year I have students who are clear on their first choice college, yet the financial aid offer is not enough for them to be able to attend. What, if anything can be done to garner more money? Families have the option to appeal for more financial aid; a process is in place and a financial aid officer has authority to make changes to their award.
Here are my five top tips on appealing and maximizing your chances of getting more aid:
1. Do The Math. Analyze and weigh the net costs of each school. How much grant and scholarship aid does the college need to offer to make it worthwhile? If the Cost of Attendance (COA) is $60,000.00 per year and the school offers $10,000.00 per year in grant and/or scholarship money, is that enough to make it work for your family? However, if you were awarded an additional $5,000.00, might that be doable?
2. Be Knowledgeable. Research the school’s financial aid policies and know the stats on what percentage of need the school typically meets and its students’ average grades and test scores on Collegedata.com . Call the appropriate financial aid representative then follow up with a letter, reiterating your circumstances and request. CC your contact within the admissions office. Make your case and fortify it with facts and a compelling story. Show the college that you are striving toward a partnership with a win-win end result.
3. Be Prepared. There are two basic reasons colleges might agree to raise their aid awards: because you have less money for college than it appears from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) due to a change in financial circumstances, or because a competing college has made a more attractive offer. You can try either or both arguments with any college, but make sure you have the documentation* to support your position.
4. Timing is Everything. File your appeal prior to depositing and before May 1, National Commit Day http://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/gear-up-for-national-decision-day and ask for an appointment with a financial aid officer so you can discuss the appeal in person or by phone. A single follow-up meeting reinforces your commitment to the school in a legit fashion, sans the annoyance factor.
5. Know The Lingo and Ask The Right Questions. Ask for a “professional judgment” review (that’s the term in the federal law for such appeals). Besides explaining and documenting the reasons to support the appeal, be bold in communicating to the college that it is the student’s first-choice school.
6. Ask about “second chance” aid.
Is there is anything the student can do in the next few weeks or months to qualify for merit awards? Would good grades in the final high school semester qualify the student for a grant? Or, if more freshman-year aid is out of the question, are there any scholarships the student can shoot for in sophomore year?
As my mother always said, “Ask. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no.” But if you don’t ask, you may be squandering thousands. Ouch.
*College officials frequently approve more aid to students who provide bills or other backup to show their FAFSA overestimates their ability to pay. For example, the family may face unusually high medical costs or a parent may have recently lost a job.
Good gosh, one more thing to throw money at for your kid. Is there no end to the bleeding? Coaches. Tutors. Test prep. Physical therapy. Counseling. College Coach. What???
As the mother of three daughters, I understand the financial pain associated with raising children and yes, it’s true, the older they get, the more expensive their “toys” get. But just as true is the fact that we live in an insanely competitive culture that threatens to drive us all into the ground, not just emotionally, but financially. Where do we draw the line?
This is a tough question and the answers are deeply personal. The struggle is real. After raising three kids, I pretty much only know one thing for sure. Every family needs to do what works for them and be steadfast in their dismissal of all the outside “chatter”.
This rule of thumb applies to nearly everything. As parents, we simply cannot succumb to the perception of perfection and the unattainable ideal as seen in our daily Facebook feed. Parents must be damn sure they’re not living vicariously or otherwise through their children because the results are almost always disastrous.
When deciding whether to hire an IEC, families need to get real with what is important to them . They also need to embrace the whole “we don’t know what we don’t know” philosophy. Higher education is a privilege and an enormous investment. Seek a competent and compassionate expert to guide you through the process and the rest will work itself out. I promise.
Here are my top Do’s and Don’ts on working with an IEC.
1. Interview one or more professionals. The IEC and the student need to fit. They’ll be spending quite a bit of time together and if personalities clash, the process and outcome will suffer.
2. Make sure the IEC is competent and qualified . Having helped their own child through the college process does not make one an expert in college admissions. The college process is very much a “moving target” and an IEC who is an expert in their field gets this. It’s not enough to know the basics.
3. Working with an IEC that is a member of one or more professional organizations is crucial. We are governed by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) Statement of Principles of Good Practice and as a NACAC member are bound by these stringent ethical codes. Other professional organizations include: Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA).
4. A Board Certified Educational Planner (CEP) is the highest standard for an IEC and signifies their level of education and experience.
1. The vast majority of my clients come in to my practice as sophomores and even freshmen . For years, I fought taking in students at this early stage but have found that the parents really appreciate having me “in house” for what is coming. Thus, at this stage, much of the guidance is for the parents with the shift to the student, taking place a bit later.
2. Time is a luxury and that holds true for college planning. The more time we have to discover the student's needs, wants, special talents, and financial requirements – the better. That said it is best to have your IEC in place by the summer prior to junior year.
1. Consider your family’s priorities, especially siblings. Have frank and frequent discussions about college expectations, especially the financial realities.
2. Vet the IEC and interview them, with your student.
3. Be open and honest with what your family needs and wants. What does a successful outcome look like to you?
4. Make a list of questions and be prepared to discuss your concerns, fears and expectations.
5. What is the basic timeline for the entire process? Does the IEC advise on financial aid, FAFSA and scholarship searches?
6. Make sure your IEC has a detailed contract outlining the responsibilities and expectations of each party.
7. Does your IEC have a solid grip on the ROI ?
The cost of a 4-year degree, in the United States is significant. In fact, it is likely the second largest investment a family will make, second only to their mortgage. When thought of in these terms, it becomes incredibly important that the family make informed and educated decisions. This is where the value of the IEC simply cannot be overstated.
Working with an IEC often leads to tremendous savings in the college investment. Not to mention the beautiful restoration of peace to your home and if that’s not valuable, I don’t know what is.