It’s that time of year/life: the time to decide Where I’m Going To Go To College And Decide What I’m Going To Do With Life. After a long and tedious process (think Google maps and Excel spreadsheets and long talks with my parents), I finally have a semi-manageable list of Potential Colleges. So now to visit them… But I have
Ted, the College-Hunting (and Travel Buddy) Turtle
to help me with my search! Say hello, Ted.
He’ll be coming with me on all my visits (and other summer adventures and jaunts). So, to it! First stop:
University of Pittsburgh – Johnstown (UPJ). My mom went there, and she took me mostly just so I could start getting a feel for the different types of campuses. UPJ’s campus is a smaller one, what I’d call parklike, and situated in a smallish town (not the immediate Johnstown area). A few stats*:
Cost**: (in-state) $19,000 (out-of-state) $28,000
Rank: Bacc. College #28 (public)
Selectivity: less selective (1700 applied, 1500 accepted; rolling admission)
avg. SAT: 900-1100
UG body: 2,887
As UPJ was my first stop, I wasn’t really into the swing of things yet and therefor didn’t take too many pictures (sorry!). But I’ll explain a bit. The campus is nice and green (and would be very pretty in the fall, I think), with lots of trees and paths going from building to building. The dorms, situated in an especially parklike area (think stone steps and winding paths leading up to brick buildings obscured by green trees, squirrels running around, etc.), looked nice, though we didn’t actually go into one because we weren’t on an official tour. We did, however, go into the Union and the cafeteria, and both were nice: modern, clean, with good-looking food… Speaking of nice, the library. We went in and wandered around (wandering around libraries is an excellent way to spend time and/or get to know a college) for a bit; I read a couple articles in some literary magazines. But anyway. My overall impression: a good campus, lots of room (for running!), but the vibe just didn’t click with me. It seemed almost utilitarian or something.
The log cabin where (when my mom attended) all the big parties were held.
Ted and me with the Pitt panther (or mountain lion, because it’s UPJ, not Pitt. I’m not sure.)
Next up was Mount Aloysius College, a small, private, Catholic college run by the Sisters of Mercy (who, of the couple I met, are very nice). I wasn’t seriously considering it, but my aunt wanted to show me where she went, so we stopped by (in Cresson, PA). Stats:
Cost: $24,500 (private)
Rank: Bacc. College, 3rd tier
Selectivity: least (1150 aplied, 860 accepted)
avg. SAT: 795 – 1010
UG body: 1100
First thing to say for the Mount (as it’s known): it is a GORGEOUS campus – pretty small, but the buildings more than make up for any size problems. Built… a while ago, the buildings are completely traditional: on the outside, there are rows of brick arches around the walkway, the chapel is just breathtaking. The classrooms vary in size, though they never get larger than about 60 seats (there’s a crappy picture below). Not all the buildings are old brick; there are newer ones as well. These are good too, kept clean and shiny for us prospective students 🙂
The main building. (The chapel is attached, on the left.)
Looking up at one of the chapel towers.
Gorgeous “sacred stairs.” This kind of woodwork was all over the buildings.
Fireplaces in the halls and classrooms.
Sorry for the crappy quality. A classroom.
Just a little gardeny nook.
After the Mount, we stopped by St. Francis University in Loretto, PA.
Cost: $34,000 (private)
Selectivity: selective (moderate) (1533 applied, 1156 accepted)
avg. SAT: 930 – 1160
UG body: 1,500
St. Francis’s campus was small and grassy too, but it had a totally different feel. It lacked the charm and old-school (ha ha!) quaintness of Mount Aloysius. Newer buildings, while nice inside and out, and perfectly maintained green grounds, just had a more modern vibe. The buildings were mostly built (we thought) in the 60s or 70s, so they were less impressive than the Mount’s. A nice campus, just a different feel. Again, we weren’t on an official tour, so all we saw was the chapel (nice, traditional), a classroom (average), and the admissions building (average). I don’t have much to say on this one…
Before Pitt, we walked around Carnegie Mellon University‘s campus – not that I’m going to apply or would ever get in; again, just to feel the campus. It’s a smaller campus – it is right in downtown Pittsburgh, basically (Oakland), but it’s nicely secluded to provide a college campus-y atmosphere. Also, they have a bench with a wheel on one end so it can rotate.
Cost: $50,000 (private)
Rank: National Univ. #22
Selectivity: most selective (13,500 applied, 5,100 accepted; due Nov. 1)
avg. SAT: 1290 – 1500
avg. ACT***: 29 – 33
UG body: 6,000
CMU, known for its ridiculously strong math, science, and engineering programs, is a Top-Notch School. If you get in, tell me and I’ll make you cookies. The only buildings we went in were the admissisons office (for a map) and the Civil Engineering building (to see if we could find my uncle‘s office). Both very nice, new buildings. The campus: an equal division between grass (though not too many trees) and cement. Pleasant to walk through, but I got almost the same vibe as I did from UPJ: very… engineer-y. Utilitarian, almost.
We only had about half an hour there, so we didn’t get much done… Ah! But now for the main event –
University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)! We were there officially, so we got a talk (pretty obvious stuff, though an *IMPORTANT NOTE*: for the ACT, they recalculate your composite from each test’s best score, so it’s a good thing to submit multiple ACT scores!) First, stats:
Cost: (in-state) $22,000 (out-of-state) $32,000
Rank: National Univ. #56
Selectivity: more selective (20,700 applied, 11,500 accepted; rolling admission)
avg. SAT: 1160 – 1360
avg. ACT***: 25-30
UG body: 16,000
Located in Oakland (in Pittsburgh), Pitt is definitely an Urban Campus. Pretty much as Urban as you can get. I liked Pitt a lot – got a sweatshirt, even. Being an urban campus, the buildings are interspersed right with the rest of the city, giving it a very alive, bustling feel. A few things we noted in the info session:
– the Pitt honors program requirements: 32 on the ACT, 3.25 GPA. (They recalculate your ACT score!)
– Pitt merit scholarship reqs: 33 on the ACT.
– Pitt’s a big research and MEDICAL university. (UPMC) So if you’re looking for a great medical program, try Pitt. (Highly competitive at the graduate level, though.)
If you like cities and urban life, Pitt would definitely work for you. You’d never run out of things to do, I think. They have a carousel in one of the parks. Good food. Plenty of people. I got a good vibe there (though the weather – 75 and sunny – may have helped with that). The buildings, of which there are many, vary in age and quality. Some of the engineering rooms (Benedam Hall) were a little shabbier than, say, the gold-encrusted rooms in the Cathedral, but that’s to be expected.
So. With that in mind… they gave us a free application after the session. The tour took us through the Cathedral of Learning…
…which is where a lot of the Arts/Language/Humanities classes are held. (Where I’d be spending a lot of time…) A very cool building, very Harry Potter Great Hall-y on the inside.
We also saw a couple classrooms – pretty average – and the freshman “tower” dorms (carpeted and with A/C).
(not my picture).
Pitt Panthers in the Union.
Me and Ted with the Pitt Panther.
Fun reasons to go to Pitt:
Also, they have popsicles in the admissions office. They were good, with real fruit juice.
Another reason to go to Pitt: PRIMANTI (pronounced per-man-tee) BROS.
This was lunch (my hand is for size reference). They put the meat (hot and sizzling and juicy) on, slap on a glob of slaw, cram on a fistful of fries, and squish it between two thin pieces of Italian bread. HEAVENLY. (We ate ours in about ten minutes, which is not the ideal way to savor said delicacy.)
And I’ll end with that. Good food is always a good way to end. Until the next visit…
*NOTE on my statistics: I’ll be using the College Hunter’s Bible, aka the 2010 US News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges issue. Very, very helpful. 25/75 range.
**For COST: I’ll take US News’s tuition + room & board and round it for easy comparison.
***For avg. ACT scores, I’ll be referencing either US News or Cappex.com’s reports, which have proved to be reliable.