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Admissions Expert on Choosing a College: Do Your Homework

Expert educational consultant Mark Montgomery advises students to understand exactly what will be expected of them before choosing to attend a college.

TRANSCRIPT:

So it’s January and I’m here on the campus of Rollins College, and that’s a great time for anybody to visit Florida. If you’re from the north and you’re looking for something warm, this is the place to look. But I learned a few things today as I was tooling around about the curriculum here, and a couple of interesting factors.

One, as a freshman, everybody takes a one-semester course called the Rollins Conference Course or the RCC, and that’s organized on a theme, has about 12 students, and every student is assigned to one of these classes. They are multi-disciplinary, and not only are they led by a faculty member that becomes the adviser for the student, but there are two peer mentors in that class, too, that integrate immediately with students, and the students are also chosen and live relatively close to each other in the dormitories. So not only are they meeting each other in the dormitory but they’re also meeting each other in the classroom and that’s a great way to sort of integrate students immediately into this community of about 2,000 students.

And then, they also are assigned what they call neighborhoods, and those are also theme-based. So those would be things like sustainability or maybe arts-related or something else, and they take their core courses, the general education requirements, they take those courses with their neighborhood which is a little bit larger than their RCC class. So it’s another way to bring freshmen together and begin to connect students with one another, both socially, I mean there’s plenty on a college campus that kids do socially to get together and meet one another, but they also meet each other on an intellectual level, on an academic level, and that’s what any college including this one would want, they want their kids to be involved and engaged with professors and learning and developing that academic community that every college aspires to be. So this is how Rollins does it, and it seems to be working and this neighborhood thing is brand new. So only I guess the first or second year of that program. So it’s trying very hard to ramp up the academic climate here and connect kids in that way.

So as you’re looking at colleges and you’re trying to figure out their curriculum, make sure you ask those questions. Make sure you understand what it is that students are going to be expected to do. I even learned that here at Rollins you have to take two PE classes. Even in college. So anyway, make sure you understand and you inquire and you do your research to know what’s being asked of you when you get to the college, and what will you need to do in order to graduate. At Rollins, you’ve got the RCC, you’ve got the general education requirements in your neighborhood, and it’s a fun way to organize things, but check out every other school you’re looking at, to see what they offer and what they require.

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