Monday, January 4, 2016

College applications

I am sharing our College application experience because prior to going through this, I couldn't find a lot of independent advice from people who had been through the process. There are a few books on the subject, but not very much.
We had planned for our kids to go to University of Delaware since it is a good school and we get in-state tuition. My son started talking about his intended major in his junior year, and we soon realized that it was not offered at any school in Delaware which made us realize we had to rethink our strategy.

Here is our application strategy plan:
1. Identify the schools that have the industrial design major
2. Visit a few schools to get a feel for his preferences, since we needed something to narrow the search since there were 36 schools in the US with the Industrial Design major
3. Determine some other criteria to help narrow the search

College Marketing Materials Received
4. Apply to all the colleges that met those criteria ignoring cost
5. Compare offerings and if the favorite school didn't end up in a reasonable range, call them and negotiate.

We visited :
University of Delaware
Missouri school of science and technology
Philadelphia University
University of NC - Raleigh campus
Emery Riddle University
Wentworth Institute of Technology
University of Bridgeport
Western Washington State

This is a mix of public and private schools with a variation in yearly tuition between $12,000 and $40,000/year.

It is interesting that some colleges offer the Industrial Design as an art major with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and others offer a Bachelor of Science. One school on our list has industrial design as a 5 year program.

Four of the schools we visited we eliminated from our list. Two of them were Engineering schools and did not have the industrial design major, and for the others, one we missed the application deadline (Oct 15) and for the other, I did not like the campus and surrounding area.

We added additional schools that fit our criteria:
Virginia tech
Appalachian state
Syracuse university
Mass college of art and design

We prefer the small/mid size schools that don't require getting around on a bus. All the schools had labs for woodwork, metal shop and 3D printing labs. Some had fantastic student areas in the lab area where students had their own workspace. Most of the dorms were similar.
That makes 14 schools meeting our criteria. We applied to all of them.

Some used common app, some didn't. Some required essays and had additioal questions, some required reference letters from teachers, some required letters from non-teachers, some needed portfolios.
Western required a general acceptance into the school before applying to the major. Each school took 2+ hours to apply. The portfolios took longer because they all were submitted separately, most in a web based tool called slideroom.

Many schools use applyweb which is a service to collect information on forms, send requests for letters of recommendations and pay application fees. With applyweb every school can customize the information they want, so while the info is collected in similar ways, each school requests different information. There were several times I thought we were finished an application, but then when we logged in to check the status, there would be additional firms to fill out that I'm sure we're not there before.

Now we need to sit back and wait for results.

Please let me know if you've had experience with the process.