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    Spin Off: Researching Colleges

    Hi everyone!

    This is a spin-off of the "What Colleges Want Thread".

    I am curious---- How did you come up with your list of colleges to research? Where do you even start?

    I am a bit overwhelmed when I look ahead to college. I am concerned both about paying for college and finding a college that will be a good fit for each of our children. It seems like most small, conservative, Christian colleges focus almost entirely on the humanities. Where do the classically educated STEM-leaning kids go? Does anyone know of any small Christian universities known for their math and science departments? Are there any colleges that I should start to research?


    Cathy aka The Attached Mama
    2019-2020
    DS 12, 7th Grade
    DD 11, 6th Grade
    DS 5, K

    #2
    For Catholic families, University of Dallas and Franciscan University have STEM majors. Christendom College now has a Mathematics major and Physics Minor availableas well.

    As for how how to narrow down a list: for us, we want our children to go to a faithful Catholic school so we showed them the schools that fit that profile and they determined their preferences from there.

    For one of our sons, I think UD is his only option as far as Catholic schools go since he’s considering mechanical engineering.

    Definitely dont loook at price tags though. The amount of scholarships and need-based aid available can be quite substantial (even more than what they list on websites) and many small colleges are now offering full-tuition scholarships as well.
    Last edited by jen1134; 02-05-2019, 11:48 AM.
    Jennifer
    Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

    2019-2020 Plans:

    DS16
    MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
    MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

    DS15
    As above, plus:
    MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
    MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

    DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

    DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

    DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

    DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

    DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

    Comment


      #3
      Cathy,

      You might start asking around at any co-ops or homeschool group activities you attend. Locals can be helpful to get ideas as to where their kids attend.

      I also might suggest this: don't eliminate State U (or any other secular college) just because it isn't Christian. My oldest "survived" MIT, arguably one of the most liberal, left leaning universities in the US, continuing to attend Mass weekly, while practicing his faith *without mom and dad breathing down his neck*. College choices have many, many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Only one of my older three children ended up attending Christian university, but yes, it's been a fantastic fit for her.


      Jen, now a plug for The Catholic University of America. It has All the Majors, including engineering. UD is a great school, but it is not the *only* Catholic school with engineering and math degrees. My daughter was accepted to both and it was a narrow choice. What eventually sold my daughter was the "vibe" at CUA over UD. Also, because Right to Life is her passion, and the march originates from CUA. So there you go. College choice is based on a myriad of factors, and as homeschoolers, we know that every child is SO different, hence each time it comes around, each college choice matrix will end up looking very different for each child.


      Jen
      DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

      DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

      DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

      DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

      All homeschooled.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Jen (formerly) in Japan View Post
        Cathy,

        You might start asking around at any co-ops or homeschool group activities you attend. Locals can be helpful to get ideas as to where their kids attend.

        I also might suggest this: don't eliminate State U (or any other secular college) just because it isn't Christian. My oldest "survived" MIT, arguably one of the most liberal, left leaning universities in the US, continuing to attend Mass weekly, while practicing his faith *without mom and dad breathing down his neck*. College choices have many, many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Only one of my older three children ended up attending Christian university, but yes, it's been a fantastic fit for her.


        Jen, now a plug for The Catholic University of America. It has All the Majors, including engineering. UD is a great school, but it is not the *only* Catholic school with engineering and math degrees. My daughter was accepted to both and it was a narrow choice. What eventually sold my daughter was the "vibe" at CUA over UD. Also, because Right to Life is her passion, and the march originates from CUA. So there you go. College choice is based on a myriad of factors, and as homeschoolers, we know that every child is SO different, hence each time it comes around, each college choice matrix will end up looking very different for each child.


        Jen
        Yes! Kids can definitely survive state schools. A friend has two daughters at Purdue and they’re very active with the Newman Center, etc. One has just found it really discouraging to be surrounded/taught so many crazy things — but she’s an education major. So the major you’re going into definitely plays a role in what your experience will be.

        I haven’t looked at CUA so I didn’t want to recommend it without knowing much. I heard they’ve improved substantially from a faith standpoint the past decade or two...I should probably give them a look. Thanks for the reminder! (Wait...two decades?! Am I that old already?!)
        Jennifer
        Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

        2019-2020 Plans:

        DS16
        MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
        MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

        DS15
        As above, plus:
        MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
        MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

        DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

        DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

        DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

        DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

        DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jen1134 View Post
          For Catholic families, University of Dallas and Franciscan University have STEM majors. Christendom College now has a Mathematics major and Physics Minor availableas well.

          As for how how to narrow down a list: for us, we want our children to go to a faithful Catholic school so we showed them the schools that fit that profile and they determined their preferences from there.

          For one of our sons, I think UD is his only option as far as Catholic schools go since he’s considering mechanical engineering.

          Definitely dont loook at price tags though. The amount of scholarships and need-based aid available can be quite substantial (even more than what they list on websites) and many small colleges are now offering full-tuition scholarships as well.
          Jen,
          I did discover that Benedictine College in Kansas is developing an engineering department - they have one discipline ABET accredited and are working on the others. In the meantime they have University of North Dakota as an online partner. Interestingly, you can get an engineering degree mostly online with University of North Dakota and only have to go on campus for a couple of summer sessions. The problem I see with University of Dallas is that it isn’t a true engineering department as it ia 3-2 program with University of Texas at Arlington and I believe it is only electrical. You get a physics degree from UD and engineering from UTA. These programs are very common at liberal arts colleges and I looked at them myself, but I didn’t want a 5 year minimum degree. You might also check out Catholic University in DC as they have a bachelor’ to PhD granting engineering program.

          oops...just saw that the other Jen (the one formerly in japan) mentioned Catholic University. I guess I should have read all the posts first.
          Last edited by Mom2mthj; 02-05-2019, 02:42 PM.
          Dorinda

          DD 15 - 10th with MPOA(Biology, Novel, Material Logic/Rhetoric ), Lukeion (Greek3, Latin 3)
          DS 13 - 8A with MPOA(Third Form and composition)
          DS 10 - 5M
          DS 5 - K with AAR3

          Comment


            #6
            Cathy,
            I am going to give you some advice that I have been getting this year as we have been navigating through these very confusing waters.

            First of all, yes, there are tons of choices. It feels overwhelming. We started out with a very short list of Catholic schools, much like the Jen's have mentioned above, principally because of the atmosphere we wanted for our children, but also because I personally struggle with having too many choices. It's overwhelming to me and I worried about how I could guide another person through that if all it did was make my own head spin. It seemed like a great way to narrow the field right off the bat by using a faith-based list.

            But thankfully, this is a process and not a quick decision. We have been asking advice. Tons of advice. From folks we know and trust who have walked this walk before us. Two of the most helpful people I have talked to are directly involved in higher ed. One is the headmaster of a classical Catholic high school back in VA, and is a close family friend. The other is the president of small Catholic college who has been involved in secondary education for 25 years. (He actually baptized my husband and most of our children.) But along with these, I have been asking everyone I can think of who has anything to do with any of the schools we have considered. Heck, I even had my dental hygienist explain to me how her son decided on Mizzou for Mechanical Engineering - turns out its because they have a race car team. !!! My son's eye got as big as silver dollars. Guess which school just skyrocketed to the top of HIS list??? The help comes from some unexpected places. Just start asking, and it will come.

            The other thing I will speak to for a minute is the "culture" idea. We started out thinking that we wanted the school to provide a certain culture before we would even add it to our "list." But what others have really guided us about is the fact that NO MATTER WHERE your child goes, he or she will have to be the one in the driver's seat of his or her faith in order to hold onto it through college. You cannot rely on the school do that for him or her. And there are many aspects of culture to consider. We have been pleasantly surprised by the culture of a Christian school that is located right here in our immediate area because of the earnest search for truth that has been cultivated through the faculty and curriculum. I have been surprised by other recommendations that have come from friends for specific pursuits - schools that again, may not have great theology departments, but are the best place to go for physics and happen to have a great faith-based student center. If you really know what you are going for, sometimes you want to look at departments instead of the entire school. My husband and I both went to the U of I, which it's incredible to say is even more liberal than it was when we were there, but we lived and met at the Newman Center (he is a convert of the Newman Center) and it was great. We cannot say enough good things about it.

            Residency is another issue. If you find a school your child really wants to attend because of a specific department, but you live out of state, find out the residency requirement. It might not be that hard to spend one year as an out-of-stater if you are able to claim residency for the remaining years. This is what I learned about Mizzou...makes a HUGE difference in going there. A corollary to the residency issue is the surrounding areas of the school. Even the school that seems like the best one may not be the best one for a particular person if it does not offer them the basic necessities. We had this happen when we began looking at the surrounding areas of some of the schools where E was looking. They were all in these very small, rural towns where not only groceries but also medical care are severely limited to just the basics. For a person who has an existing medical condition, one which is greatly improved by diet, this raises challenges for existing for four years on terrible dining hall food. No, you don't choose a school by the dining hall, but you can't let your child starve for four years either, kwim? Or risk not having the medical care she needs in an emergency. You have to keep in mind that it is not just about the school; it is also where your child will be living for four years.

            So, if I could list what we have thought through, it would look like this:
            1. What education do we want for our child? For us, this turned into a balance of both providing for the well-rounded formation that comes from strong liberal learning with also being able to specialize in a field that really interests our child. Something that she can actually turn into a career if she wants to/needs to. For our next child, it will probably be even more specific given his interests and aptitudes (music/engineering).

            2. What schools offer what our children want? Are they private or public? Who will give the most scholarships we can actually qualify for? For us, this means academic scholarships. We will not qualify for any need-based aid, even though we do need it. This eliminates certain public schools right off the bat even though they may be the best ranked school for what a child wants.

            3. Where are these schools located? For us, we started out thinking the distance would not bother us because she would be in familiar territory or she would be at a great school with family friends nearby. But then we also thought about the fact she would be moving to a completely new place for the third year in a row. Maybe that's not a good thing. This is what can get really individual for each child, and for each stage of their lives. It also makes additional differences...if your child goes away, there is travel to consider, and room and board; but if a child stays home to save that cost, then there might be additional needs, like a car to be able to get back and forth to campus and/or work.

            4. How much will these schools cost? This again comes down to scholarships, grants, aid, work study, whether a student can work and still do well in school, residency, and how much the child is wiling to take on in loans. Keep in mind that you have to file FAFSA every year. Any changes to your financial situation will affect the numbers the school offers you each year. Another thing is what I mentioned above---schools give better $$$ to freshmen than to transfers. So do your best to consider all four years before you decide if you can really swing it or not. And some children may be able to take more on in student loans than others. Our daughter is very reluctant to have any student debt because she hopes to be a wife and mother. She does not want to carry that debt into her family as a burden. But our counsel to our son would be different because he is much more likely to enter the workforce and be able to handle a larger amount of debt. Some debt can be worth it, in some circumstances, if the earning potential can offset it.

            5. Of these schools, which one has the right "personality"? This gets back to the culture thing I mentioned above. Talk to people who have gone there, or who have sent their kids there. Try to do this to shorten your list, and then make sure to go and visit. Sure, you can't be jet-setting around the country. But as Jen mentioned above, a lot can come down to the "vibe" a child feels while he or she is there. I know one young woman who chose Benedictine for music because of the pianos they have (all Steinways) while another young woman chose CUA over Benedictine because she wanted to do music in a major city rather than the middle of the farm belt. If it were my son, he would take the Kawai's at CUA over the Steinways at Benedictine and not give two hoots about the fact it is in a city. So, there you go.

            The basic thing that each of these areas of thought boiled down to was...it depends on the person.

            For us, this has meant a lot of time and soul-searching. Yet it is already bearing fruit in 1) a young person making a rational decision about her own future; and 2) younger siblings who are starting to think through these things a lot sooner. I just wish I had known how much TIME it was all going to take! Good luck to you as you begin!

            AMDG,
            Sarah

            ETA: Oh, gosh, and how could I forget....prayer. Tons and tons and tons of prayer. Late night prayers. Lots of 'em.
            Last edited by KF2000; 02-05-2019, 06:26 PM.
            2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
            DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
            DS, 16
            DD, 14
            DD, 12
            DD, 10
            DD, 7.5
            DD, 5.5
            +DS+
            DS, 18 months

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jen1134 View Post

              Yes! Kids can definitely survive state schools. A friend has two daughters at Purdue and they’re very active with the Newman Center, etc. One has just found it really discouraging to be surrounded/taught so many crazy things — but she’s an education major. So the major you’re going into definitely plays a role in what your experience will be.

              I haven’t looked at CUA so I didn’t want to recommend it without knowing much. I heard they’ve improved substantially from a faith standpoint the past decade or two...I should probably give them a look. Thanks for the reminder! (Wait...two decades?! Am I that old already?!)
              You know we are minutes from Purdue! I thatboetson does not know us, but if your friends kids need something we are here! Ask them if the know Maryanne Gillen! She just started her freshmen year! I imagine she is active at St. Toms! If all else fails, we could use Faith babysitters! .

              Lastly - Sarah, I think we were briefly at U of I together. I wish I would have sought out the Newman Center! My rebellious 20 year old self did not want much to do with “church” people *shaking head*.
              Christine

              (2019/2020)
              DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
              DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
              DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

              Previous Years
              DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
              DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
              DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)

              Comment


                #8
                Ha! You wanna hear one even better than that? My dh ended up there because after surviving (I mean this literally) the Chicago public school system, his Muslim friend Abe said, "Hey, let's live at the cheapest dorm in the middle of campus..oh, by the way, it's Catholic." That's how HE ended up there!

                And then he met ME... Ha!
                AMDG,
                Sarah
                2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                DS, 16
                DD, 14
                DD, 12
                DD, 10
                DD, 7.5
                DD, 5.5
                +DS+
                DS, 18 months

                Comment


                  #9
                  The U of I chapel/church is where I entered the Church on Christ the King vigil mass, November 1988. I was the last person(s) to enter the Church before RCIA became a mandatory process throughout the Catholic church the next week (Advent 1988). Sweet little Sister Eileen convinced me that I should just do it, then figure out all the details later. I'd attach a picture, but you'd fall over laughing at what I thought was appropriate church attire for that big moment.



                  Jen


                  Last edited by Jen (formerly) in Japan; 02-06-2019, 07:07 AM.
                  DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                  DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                  DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                  DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                  All homeschooled.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    WAIT. I was actually going to contribute something about college, not just reminisce about my college days.


                    I feel like most humans crave a framework to begin decision making. MP does this for us in our curriculum planning, and you can see it when you use their "map" in the middle of the magalog. That helps us all to have a place to start decision making, even if we later make course corrections for specific circumstances. Frameworks are a very helpful place to start when making complex decisions.

                    So, I will share our family's "framework" for college decision making.

                    1. Student should take BOTH the SAT and ACT. The test different metrics, and one test may benefit the student over the other.

                    2. The student should take them both TWICE. What's a little extra college testing, right? Also, SUPER SCORING, where many colleges will take "the best of" scores from multiple tests, which usually helps most students.

                    3. Minimum number of college applications: THREE. The three should be: "Reach/Dream school", "Safe school", Catholic school (of course, sub in Christian here if that applies). It is fine if some of the categories overlap, but that framework allows the student to cover all bases via investigation of the market. Of course, more than three colleges could be applied for, but often that is enough of a choice. It's not like the above list gets established on a whim anyway!


                    The OP is wise to consider all this early. There is time to figure it out, although 80% of it gets figured out on the spot with the Oldest Child, ha, ha.


                    Jen


                    Edited because I obviously forgot to proof read.
                    Last edited by Jen (formerly) in Japan; 02-06-2019, 09:17 AM.
                    DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                    DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                    DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                    DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                    All homeschooled.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks for all the responses! One thing to add to Sarah’s comment about residency is to look at the distribution of where students are from - especially for a small to middle size school. I really loved Baylor, but what I didn’t really realize is how high the percentage of students within easy driving distance was. The place really cleared out on anything resembling a special weekend especially among freshman and many came to campus with a circle of friends already set from high school. I am much more introvert than extrovert and it took awhile to find a spot. Another spinoff is that school that are very highly regional are not going to get a high number of employers coming to campus from areas outside that region. If your child doesn’t want to stay there they will either need to work harder by themselves or attend grad school closer to where they do want to land.
                      Dorinda

                      DD 15 - 10th with MPOA(Biology, Novel, Material Logic/Rhetoric ), Lukeion (Greek3, Latin 3)
                      DS 13 - 8A with MPOA(Third Form and composition)
                      DS 10 - 5M
                      DS 5 - K with AAR3

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Bumping this up just to cheer...E spent a visit day at the school here in town yesterday, and received her acceptance! Whoop whoop! New t-shirt to add to her collection...but it's looking like this one is "IT."

                        Here's what her decision boiled down to, in order of importance to her:
                        1) Great Christian Liberal Arts school
                        2) Cost - including the money she will save by living at home
                        3) Mixture of all the things she wanted to study - including walking through the art building and feeling the sense of "ahh...I belong HERE"
                        4) Every single person she met while visiting was awesome...even people she stopped to ask directions while walking around
                        5) Visiting a dorm room and realizing she did NOT want to live in one!
                        6) Great (and cheap) ice cream

                        Ok, so those last two are in jest, and this is probably not that helpful to the ongoing conversation, but I was excited to share because SHE is excited at how things have come together - and that makes a momma happy. Hooray!

                        But there is one thing that might actually be helpful to others....and that is, that when we started this process in her junior year, we felt about 90% certain we knew what the "plan" was going to be. We did early application to a handful of schools so that she could follow through on that plan. But the whole time, we also did things to "keep options open," so that we were not stuck later. We sent FAFSA to other schools than just "the list." She applied places she wasn't that sure of just to have options. She did a few things begrudgingly, thinking that she knew what she wanted, only to realize later that what she thought was her least favorite option was actually her best option. And coming to this place, after all the questions we had at the beginning feels amazing!

                        This whole classical homeschooling thing really does work (insert emoji in dead faint of relief here)!!!

                        <3 MP, Thank You!

                        AMDG,
                        Sarah
                        2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                        DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                        DS, 16
                        DD, 14
                        DD, 12
                        DD, 10
                        DD, 7.5
                        DD, 5.5
                        +DS+
                        DS, 18 months

                        Comment


                          #13
                          If you want to find a college that you know will value a classical transcript, try checking out the list of schools that accept the CLT exam in place of the SAT/ACT.
                          https://www.cltexam.com/colleges

                          Kristin

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                            But there is one thing that might actually be helpful to others....and that is, that when we started this process in her junior year, we felt about 90% certain we knew what the "plan" was going to be. We did early application to a handful of schools so that she could follow through on that plan. But the whole time, we also did things to "keep options open," so that we were not stuck later. We sent FAFSA to other schools than just "the list." She applied places she wasn't that sure of just to have options. She did a few things begrudgingly, thinking that she knew what she wanted, only to realize later that what she thought was her least favorite option was actually her best option. And coming to this place, after all the questions we had at the beginning feels amazing!


                            Sarah, you have just discovered the wisdom that separates a homeschooling family with kids in/through college from those who haven't: the final decision is rarely what the family "thought" it was going to be going into the process. None of my kids ended up at the school they "thought" they wanted going into Junior year, Senior year, or even the last semester of Senior year. Yep, this was even true of my oldest who thought he wanted Cal Tech in the early stages of the process, but came to see that MIT was a better fit for him.

                            And this wisdom is GOLD. You can gently try to steer another family along the path, but ultimately, the final decision is a massive jumble of all your daughter's criteria plus a hundred other intangibles that didn't seem to matter.... until they did.


                            Congrats to E! I am certain she has made an excellent choice!



                            Jen

                            DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                            DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                            DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                            DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                            All homeschooled.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thanks, Jen!
                              And thanks for being one of those folks to whom I was able to ask a TON of questions!

                              AMDG,
                              Sarah
                              2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                              DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                              DS, 16
                              DD, 14
                              DD, 12
                              DD, 10
                              DD, 7.5
                              DD, 5.5
                              +DS+
                              DS, 18 months

                              Comment

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