Tag Archives: college tuition

Montclair State University – Public Option Part I

30 Nov

Monkey Mama is willing to risk an onslaught of vituperation from the Tea Party movement when she avers that the United States of America owes a great deal of its success to its early commitment to public education.  Montclair State University (MSU) began life as a “normal school,” in 1908, dedicated to training teachers.

Today MSU is a full fledged university located on 252 acres in Essex County, New Jersey, 14 miles west of New York City.  Those miles may be traversed aboard New Jersey Transit directly into New York Penn Station.  The original architects balked at the ivy-clad traditions of other northeastern colleges and opted in favor of whitewashed, Spanish Mission-style buildings.  Some newer buildings, including University Hall and the Student Recreation Center, mimic the older architecture, and even the imposing Alexander Kasser Theater, host to many concerts and performances by world-class artists, attempts to meld the Mission motifs with its modern design elements.

Although traditional pedagogical training is still prominent within the university, there are undergraduate colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Mathematics, Business, the Arts, and Education and Human Services.  MSU is in the process of remodeling several dormitories and constructing a new residence hall.  The main campus is small and students can easily walk around.  There are many dining options, including a traditional-style diner with 24-hour service during the school year.  Tuition and fees for New Jersey residents in 2011-2012 is $10,646 with room rates ranging from $6,802 for a triple in the irresistibly-named Frank Sinatra Hall, to $10,140 for a single.  Meal plan options range from several hundred dollars to about $4,000.

Monkey Mama and Son had arranged for a personal meeting with a representative of the theater department following our campus tour.  She showed us the main theater, “black box,” and rehearsal spaces, and shared some insights regarding the audition and application process.  MSU’s overall acceptance rate is about 50%, with roughly one-third of its accepted students enrolling.  The average composite SAT score for admitted students is 1500 out of 2400, and the average unweighted G.P.A. was listed as 3.2.

The acting B.F.A. program, on the other hand, only accepts 14 to 16 students each year, and is considered highly desirable.  MSU holds some auditions on campus and also participates in the regional Unified Auditions.  The Unified Auditions give the university an opportunity to view a wider pool of the most talented candidates but as a state-funded college, it is not able to offer generous financial aid packages to out-of-state applicants, thus giving an advantage to private conservatories.


Trip Report: Trinity College

16 Sep

Trinity College is a small liberal arts college located in Hartford, the state capitol of Connecticut.  With 2,300 undergraduates, the average class size is small with a student to faculty ratio of 9:1 and it is one of the few liberal arts colleges that also offer an accredited engineering program.  By all accounts the students here get a lot of personal attention from professors.

The neighborhood surrounding the college is decidedly lower rent.  But instead of shielding itself from Hartford’s urban ills, Trinity has used its location to teach and engage its students with community-learning courses and volunteer opportunities.  For example, we heard about Trinity students tutoring local students and running the on-campus Boys and Girls Club.  And because Hartford is a medium-sized city with a mix of businesses and organizations, there are over 200 academic internships where students can earn course credit while exploring career interests.

The leafy 100-acre campus with its predominantly gothic-style stone buildings conveys a history that reaches back to 1823.  Some of the older buildings are now getting a facelift as part of a campus-wide revitalization project.  We visited the library, which recently underwent a $35-million renovation and expansion.  According to our student tour guide, the interior of the library now has more natural lighting and places to study, which improvements apparently resulted from student input.

Studying abroad is popular and over 50% of the students take advantage of it, many opting for the Trinity-in-Rome program where the college maintains its own campus.  Other Trinity-directed global sites include Barcelona, Vienna, Paris, Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Port of Spain.

Like its peer liberal arts colleges, this education is not cheap.  Tuition, room and board will cost $51,320 for the current academic year.  Financial aid is need-based and the college promises to meet 100% of a student’s calculated need.  International students can also obtain need-based financial aid.  The only merit-based aid is the Presidential scholarship that is given to ten to fifteen top students each year and provides free tuition for four years, a savings of over $160,000.  Sweet if you can get it.

During the last admission cycle, the college received over 4,600 applications and admitted 43%.  Some of its more famous alumni include Edward Albee the playwright and political commentators Tucker Carlson and George Will.  Because of its close connection with the city, Trinity will likely attract students who are drawn to learning and community service.

Trip Report: Barnard and Columbia (Part 2)

26 Aug

Last week I wondered out loud whether the wide disparity in admission rate between Columbia and Barnard Colleges causes any tension between their students.  In other words, does unequal admission rate lead to unequal treatment?

On our Barnard tour, one parent asked the student tour guide this question.  The tour guide, a rising sophomore from New Jersey, acknowledged that initially, she was a little concerned about this.  Barnard and Columbia students participate in the same first year orientation activities and she felt that some Columbia female students regarded her with less respect and prestige.  (She noticed that the male students didn’t seem to care whether she was from Barnard or Columbia).  However, as soon as classes started, any differences disappeared because usually no one can tell whether you are a Barnard or Columbia student.  This issue is also discussed widely online in some of the college forums.

So it appears that Barnard students have to learn how to handle or ignore disparaging remarks or loss of prestige from their Columbia compatriots.  This in itself is an education about life.  One Barnard alumni notes that Barnard successfully turns out women who are confident and who feel that they can accomplish anything.  Those who attend Barnard are usually seeking the experience and value of a women’s college and those who attend Columbia’s liberal arts college are attracted to its strengths like the Core Curriculum.

Differences aside, tuition for either school is expensive.  A year of Barnard tuition, room and board can run you at least $53,496 depending on the type of housing and meal plan selected.  At Columbia, tuition, room and board for 2010-2011 will cost about $53,876.  Housing is guaranteed for all four years at both places.  Both institutions conduct “need-blind” admissions, which means that an applicant’s financial ability to pay is not considered in determining admissions.  In addition, the Columbia admissions officer indicated that they provide financial assistance to foreign students, one of the few universities that do.

Some famous Barnard alumni:

  • Martha Stewart
  • Anna Quindlen
  • Twyla Tharp
  • Joan Rivers
  • Margaret Mead

Some famous Columbia alumni:

  • Barack Obama
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Emanuel Ax
  • George Stephanopoulos
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