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“G” Is For High Graduation Rate

How many colleges can you name that start with the letter “G?” These three colleges each have a six-year graduation rate that is higher than the national average and higher than the average for UC schools.

GA techGeorgia Tech has seen significant increase in the number of applications it receives from California – in fact CA students are the largest group of out-of-state Georgia Tech applicants.  While it is primarily a STEM-focused institution (about 65% of students start as engineering majors; about 60% graduate with engineering degrees), GT has strong academics in a variety of disciplines, including the liberal arts (there are 35 majors available overall).  Ashley Brookshire, the admissions counselor who lives in California and reads all west coast applications, was a history major.  “I loved my liberal arts experience at Georgia Tech,” she says, and she’ll tell you about how Georgia Tech infuses science and technology perspectives into most courses.

GT is a bit unique in that it has a traditional, 400-acre campus in an urban setting – it’s right in downtown Atlanta.  Students have guaranteed housing for 2 years; they are not required to live on campus, but 99% of freshmen live on campus, in freshmen-only dorms.  There’s enough housing for students to live on campus all four years.  About 25% of students join Greek fraternities and sororities.  There is a decent sized Jewish population at GT, with at least one historically-Jewish fraternity and a Hillel.  GT has over 400 student groups and Division I sports.

General education requirements include English, calculus and U.S. History, but students can start taking major-specific courses before they complete the core, so that they can be sure that they really like their declared major. Switching majors is common and not difficult.

Georgia Tech has 14,000 undergrads, but with an emphasis on experiential learning, at any given time, about 4,500 students are away from campus working a co-op job (which Georgia Tech helps them find).  Unlike many schools where it is difficult for engineering and science majors to study abroad, 42% of students go abroad, sometimes to official GT campuses with GT professors, where major-specific courses are offered, so that students can stay on track for graduation.  On the average, though, engineers graduate in 5 years, with 9 semesters of study and a semester of co-op.

Applicants declare a major but the admissions committee admits to the university as a whole, not by major.  While the middle range of SAT scores is 600-700 CR and 660-760 M, 600-700 Wr, out-of-state students should have a 2100 to be competitive.  GT is a public institution, so out-of-state tuition is higher than in-state, though total cost of attendance (including room and board, tuition, books, personal expenses) is lower than you might expect.

Gustavus logoGustavus (rhymes with Davis) Adolphus is a nationally-ranked liberal arts college in St. Peter, MN, about an hour away from the Twin Cities.  About 85% of the 2,500 students live on campus all four years; upperclassmen have suite style dorms and apartments; freshman live in all-freshman dorms.  The 300-acre campus has a 120-acre arboretum.  St. Paul is a small town of about 11,000 people, and students can walk into town from campus.

Founded as a Lutheran college named after a Swedish king, Gustavus has a strong service orientation; a high percentage of “Gusties” participate in Teach for America or the Peace Corps.  The college does maintain a connection with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (similar to Cal Lutheran), which is on the more liberal side of the religious spectrum.  Students are not required to attend any religious services, and can choose from a variety of religion or philosophy courses to fulfill their one theology class requirement.

Over 30% of Gustavus students enter as pre-health majors; the natural sciences are very strong, with labs capped at 15 students.  The Mayo Clinic is only about an hour away, and Gustavus has a strong relationship that translates into impressive internship opportunities for students.

The most popular majors are biology, chemistry, Econ/management, psychology, communication studies, history and health and exercise sciences (a common major for those interested in physical or occupational therapy graduate programs).  Gustavus is also known for its fine arts and music programs; students may participate in and receive scholarships for music even if they are not music majors.

Gustavus is on the 4-1-4 schedule – first semester is four months, then the January term is four weeks, then second semester is four months.  Students are required to participate in two of the four Jan-terms during their undergraduate years; they can do this either on campus or study abroad.

Gustavus is test-optional; they are looking for students who have demonstrated dedication to and interest in academics even if they have not had top grades throughout high school.  Merit awards could literally cut the cost of tuition in half; the average unweighted GPA for merit awards is 3.63; average ACT is 27; SAT is 1820.

grinnell college logoGrinnell College is more than a small liberal arts college (1600 undergraduates) located in Central Iowa.  With only one required course outside of a student’s major, each student works with his/her faculty advisor to construct each semester’s course load.  Students are asked how they see themselves down the road and they build their curriculum around specific goals.  The possibilities are endless with over 500 course offerings and 38 majors and interdisciplinary concentrations.  Grinnell is ranked 7th nationally in the percentage of Ph.D.s per graduate.  Grinnell boasts the 5th largest endowment – $1.8 billion – of any college in the country, which is quite remarkable for an institution of its size.  As a result of this endowment, Grinnell prides itself on a robust financial aid program.  The admissions process is need-blind and Grinnell meets 100% of admitted students’ demonstrated need.  Merit aid is also offered with awards ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.  For students looking for an individualized educational approach where they can make close connections with classmates and professors, Grinnell is worth checking out.


How do we know this stuff?

The information above isn’t just repurposed data from college websites!  Magellan’s counselors are members of professional counseling organizations, which give us the opportunity to meet with admission counselors from colleges around the country throughout the year.  While we haven’t visited these three colleges, we have met with admission officers from each of them.  Our focus whenever we visit colleges, or meet with admissions staff, is to figure out what kind of student succeeds on their campus, academically and otherwise.  Our goal is to help each student find colleges that fit them academically, socially and emotionally, and that fit parents’ financial needs as well.  If you click the tag “college knowledge” to the left, you will find short articles about other colleges whose representatives we have also met.  You can find our reviews of colleges we’ve visited here (in CA) and here (outside of CA).

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