Why students should choose a small college, and more!
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When considering schools to which you may want to apply, it's very tempting to limit your choices to well-known "flagship" universities, which are almost invariably large, comprehensive research institutions. While such schools may be a good fit for many students, they may not be the best fit for everyone. Of the many good reasons for choosing to attend a small college or university, this article focuses on three: small schools as a source of academic and personal growth, the sense of community at a small school, and small schools as a route to higher-level study.
Academic and Personal Growth
Small schools are well known for having small class sizes and professors who are focused on teaching (as opposed to research). In such cases, a small school can offer outstanding opportunities for academic and personal growth. You will have an opportunity to work closely and develop strong collaborative relationships with both classmates and faculty, and build a valuable network that you’ll be able to leverage in future years as you navigate through professional life or on to higher-level academic study. The intimacy of the classroom and accessibility to professors not only creates an ideal environment for learning, but will truly give you the opportunity to shine as a student. Your professors will be in a position to recognize your strengths and talents and guide you in your growth.
A Sense of Community
Small schools excel at building a sense of community that’s likely to encompass students, faculty, administration, and the local population as well. At a small school, you will quickly come to realize that you are on a first-name basis with classmates, faculty and administrators alike, and that the community offers the supportive environment that’s so critical to success when studying abroad. This sense of community can also promote a broader understanding of other countries and cultures, as international students may be less likely to gravitate to their own country-specific cliques.
Excellent Route to Higher-level Study
For those students interested in higher-level study, a small school can offer an excellent route to graduate-level study at a top research institution. This is true for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you’re likely to have the opportunity for frequent and meaningful one-on-one contact with professors. This can yield huge dividends in terms of academic advising and opportunities to work on faculty-led projects. Secondly, you will likely have a chance to hone your research and report writing skills, as small class sizes free up professors to assign more written work, which is time-consuming to grade. Finally, you may have the opportunity to do bigger projects, such as junior papers and senior theses, most likely under the supervision of an expert in the field. All of these provide excellent preparation for graduate-level study, and will not go unnoticed by top schools.
Small Schools in Focus
The GAC Pathway University network includes a number of excellent small schools. The following are three worth considering:
College of Wooster
The College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, USA, offers an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, culminating in a rigorous senior project, in which each student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to conceive, organize, and complete a significant research project on a topic of the student's own choosing. Through this distinctive program, every Wooster student develops abilities valued by employers and graduate schools alike: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. As a result of this academic tradition, The College of Wooster has an outstanding record as a springboard to graduate-level study. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students, 16% of whom are international students.
Millikin University, in Decatur, Illinois, USA, is a private, comprehensive university with a diverse student population of approximately 2,100 undergraduate and graduate students in four colleges/schools: Arts & Sciences, Fine Arts, Professional Studies, and Business. A Millikin education offers more than 50 majors and features Performance Learning, a unique approach to learning which offers students the chance to perform their learning inside and outside the classroom, and build the confidence to succeed before and after graduation. Located on a 75-acre residential campus, Millikin’s century-long tradition of teaching students to be courageous has a history of proven results—99% of Millikin students gain employment or entry into graduate/professional school within six months of graduating. This is yet another reason why Millikin is ranked No. 10 Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, as well as No. 28 Best Value School, and No. 5 Most Innovative School.
Saint Leo University
Founded in 1889, Saint Leo University is a top-rated, private university located in St. Leo, Florida. This university offers students an ideal college experience—from our leading-edge academics with over 50 programs (including unique accelerated 3 + 1 degrees) to our commitment to the Benedictine core values. Less than an hour from downtown Tampa, the peaceful campus is surrounded by rolling green hills, dazzling orange groves, and clear-water lakes. As the safest campus in Florida, the university prides itself on providing students with the peace of mind to focus on their academic experience. Saint Leo has 2,200 undergraduate students on their University Campus, with a student to faculty ratio of 14:1. There are over 60 clubs and organizations, as well as NCAA Division II Athletics. Saint Leo is home to more than 550 international students from over 100 countries. Saint Leo University has developed a test-optional policy that does not require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of the admissions process, and graduate students are not required to submit the GRE or GMAT. Saint Leo offers academic scholarships for undergraduate students up to $13,000 annually, to help make a private United States education affordable and accessible to students from across the globe.
So when researching colleges and universities, be sure to consider small schools as well. You’ll be glad you did!
6 Tips for Writing a Great University Admissions Essay
Many universities require an essay from students when they apply to university. One recent report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), showed that US universities rated the application essay as highly important in making admissions decisions for international students.
If writing is not your strength, or you are applying at a US university, and English is your second language, this might be a cause for worry. Please don’t panic! Application essays present a great opportunity for you to communicate your unique strengths to university admissions officials.
Some universities will give you specific prompts to answer. Others will ask you to tell your story and how it led you to university. No matter what the university asks you to write in your submission, remember that admissions officials are not simply looking for your ability to use big, frilly words. In your essay, remember to be yourself and speak in your voice.
Remember these six tips when writing your admissions essay.
- Start early. Make a list of the number of essays you need to write and their deadlines. Give yourself plenty of time to think through the topics and brainstorm writing points.
- Create an outline. Break down the prompt (the question asked) of each essay. Ask yourself: Why would an admissions official ask this question? What are they hoping to hear from you? Next, pair personal stories or experiences that illustrate your answers. Use these anecdotes in bullet-point format to help organize your thoughts around your thesis. Make sure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end. This is your outline.
- Read some examples. Some universities publish essay examples on their websites. These examples may indicate what that university considers a strong application. If the university you’re applying to doesn’t provide sample essays, try searching online to understand the expectation better. (Remember, NEVER plagiarize somebody else’s work.)
- Address what is NOT on your transcript. Think of your essay as an in-person interview. As you write your essay, imagine you’re sitting in the room with an admissions official. They have already read your transcript and resumé. The question is, "what else should I know about you?" That is what you should keep in mind as you’re writing your essay. How could you expand on the information presented in the other parts of the application or highlight strengths you haven’t pointed out in other parts of the application?
- The deeper you go, the better. For your anecdotes, focus on specific details. You might not have enough space to tell your entire life story, but if you focus on a couple of examples, it can make your essay come to life.
- Have a few people review it. Once you have completed a draft, ask someone you trust (a parent, counselor, or teacher) to review your work. Ask them to check for grammatical errors and provide feedback. Remember to limit the number of people who review your essay to one or two—too many opinions can muddle your voice.
ACT Test Prep That Fits Your Timetable!
Whether you take pride in being the "World’s Most Prepared Student" or start your mornings with "wait, that test is TODAY?," you could probably use at least a little help in preparing for a high-stakes test like the ACT® test.
ACT offers free and paid test prep tools designed to help students get ready for test day. Whether you need to focus on a certain subject area (or many areas) of the test, or if tests make you nervous and test-taking strategies might help, or you have been procrastinating, and the test is just days away, there is a test prep option for you.
Below, we offer suggestions for test prep that fits your schedule. Please keep in mind that each of these tools can be used anytime. However, if you need some long-term or short-term test prep, the tools below offer a good fit for your particular needs.
“I have months to prepare.”
If you’re the type of student who craves a lot of prep work, there are many options to give you a “deep dive” into what you need to know.
- ACT® Online Prep (paid)—This web- and app-based resource includes a personalized prep path that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, with tools to track your progress and full-length practice tests to improve your comfort level on test day.
- The Official ACT® Prep Guide (paid)—Are you more comfortable with book learning? This guide provides full-length practice tests, with detailed explanations and practical tips on how to boost your score in each area.
- The Official ACT® Prep Pack (paid) — This tool combines ACT Online Prep and The Official ACT Prep Guide to get the fullest possible prep experience.
“I have days to prepare.”
Is test day just around the corner? We have tools to help students whose time is limited.
- ACT® Rapid Review™ (paid)—This tool provides live and on-demand instruction on preparing for the ACT. Choose the subject areas and delivery options that meet your budget and schedule.
- ACT® Academy™ (free)—This is a free online learning tool with videos, games, and other resources designed to help improve your ACT score and support your classroom learning.
- Preparing for the ACT (free)—This free study guide gives you a taste of the ACT, familiarizing you with the test instructions and format, before offering a complete practice test. Note: This booklet is also available in Spanish.
“My ACT test is tomorrow!”
No worries! There is still time to prepare and boost your comfort levels.
ACT Practice Tests (free)—Your ACT® Club membership offers practice tests that give you the same experience as taking the actual ACT test.
You can also review these test strategies and review ways to keep your anxiety down. Don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast before the test, with plenty of time to arrive at the test center!
Would you like to know more? Click here to access a free webinar about your ACT test prep options.
Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, USA, is a nationally ranked research institution and private Christian university that provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students. Ranked #79 among national universities in the United States, Baylor blends interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Learn more about Baylor University.
Panca Sakti University in Tegal, Central Java, Indonesia, is a small (enrollment: 5,000–6,000) private, co-educational higher education institution, founded in 1980. Officially accredited and/or recognized by the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, the school offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees in several areas of study.
Sampoerna University (SU) in South Jakarta, Indonesia, is Indonesia’s premier international university. It’s the only university in Indonesia offering all of its academic programs in English. SU maintains innovative academic collaboration programs with the University of Arizona and Broward College, and is also the first university in Indonesia to accept ACT Test scores. GAC graduates who enroll at SU will receive a waiver of the application fee, a generous discount on the enrollment fee, and a chance to receive scholarships (terms and conditions applied).
Universitas Surabaya (UBAYA) in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, is a large (enrollment: 12,500 undergraduates) private, co-educational comprehensive university, offering a wide variety of programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. UBAYA was awarded Institutional 'A' accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Higher Education (BAN-PT) in 2015 and also noted as one of 50 Promising Indonesian Universities.
Widya Mataram University in Yogyakarta SR, Indonesia, is a small (enrollment: 2,000–3,000) private, co-educational higher education institution, founded in 1982. Officially accredited and/or recognized by the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, the school offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees in several areas of study.
Wijaya Kusuma University in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, is a medium-sized (enrollment: 8,000–9,000) private, co-educational higher education institution, founded in 1980. Officially accredited and/or recognized by the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, the school offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees in several areas of study.
Shanxi GAC Center at Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan, China
On October 22, 2019, ACT and GAC officials, current GAC students, and parents of current and former GAC students presented the GAC program to parents of prospective GAC students at the Shanxi GAC Center at Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan, China. The event was a huge success!
2019 ACT GAC China Summit and Professional Development Conference, Guiyang China
The ACT GAC China Summit and Professional Development Conference, held in Guiyang, China, October 24-26, 2019, attracted 280+ attendees, including faculty and leadership from 49 GAC Approved Teaching Centers and representatives from key stakeholders to the GAC. Hundreds of expert educators from China and abroad gathered to share, exchange and discuss experiences and achievements in relevant areas like international education and overseas university application. View photos from the event below.
Photos from the 2019 ACT GAC China Summit
Day 1 Keynotes
Simmy Ziv-el, Vice President, International Markets & Global Business Development, ACT
Topic: ACT and ACT International
Dai Jiagan, Deputy President, the Chinese Society of Education
Topic: International Education in China
Eng Han Tan, Regional Director (China), ACT
Topic: ACT in China
Zhao Minting, U.S. Consulate General Chengdu, Education USA Advisor
Topic: International Students in USA and Visa Policies
Ian Pulsipher, Vice Consul, Consulate General of the United States of America
Topic: International Students in USA and Visa Policies
Xu Qingming, General Manager, SISU Education Group
Topic: Trends of Internationalized Schools in China
Fancy Wang, Principal, Qingao ACT GAC Center
Topic: How to Promote ACT GAC Program Under the New Situation of International Education
Zholl Tablante, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions & Regional Director of the China region, Dartmouth College
Topic: University Application - Procedures and Evaluation (Case Analysis)
Lai Sumin, Marketing Manager, ETS TOEFL China
Topic: A Comprehensive Analysis of TOEFL Test Updates
Day 2 Keynotes
Changhua Rich PhD, ACT Principal Scientist
Topic: ACT Holistic Framework
Xu Ying, University of Iowa Admissions Officer
Topic: University enrollment in the US as seen in the analysis of GAC at the University of Iowa
Gavin Newton-Tanzer, Founder and President of SYI Education
Topic: How to help students discover their interests, and about unique stories about applications
SAVE THE DATE! 2020 Southeast Asia ACT GAC and EPP Summit and Professional Development Conference for 15-16 February
Educators and GAC stakeholders in Southeast Asia will get a chance to network and learn from other educators at the inaugural Southeast Asia Summit and Professional Development Conference!
Date: 15-16 February 2020
Location: Sheraton Surabaya Hotel and Towers, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
The event will include:
- Discussion among GAC alumni, industry experts, and academics to get insights into job trends
and skills required to prepare the next-generation workforce for long-term employability
- Sharing of best practices and innovative strategies to upskill educators
- Showcasing of GAC Pathway Universities’ course options for GAC graduates
Watch this space and the Indonesia GAC website for updates and more information.