Campus Visit Notes: Middlebury College


College: Middlebury College

Location: Middlebury, Vermont

Type of Institution: Private liberal arts college

Size: 2,400 students

Admissions Advice: Like many super selective liberal arts colleges, Middlebury admits a large percentage of its incoming freshman class through Early Decision. For students who love Middlebury, this is the best option as the admission rate is more than double the admission rate for regular decision candidates. And because Middlebury is a school which meets 100% of demonstrated financial need, it is a potential Early Decision option for students requiring need-based aid as well.

Most popular majors: Environmental Science, Economics, Political Science, languages, Neuroscience

Words to describe students I met: Outdoorsy, passionate, collaborative, globally-focused, athletic

Unique academic aspects: Middlebury College prides itself on the Commons System, a living-learning community including students of all grade levels. For freshman year, students will select a writing-intensive freshman seminar which then determines their Commons / residential hall placement for the first two years (with some additional options, like the Academic Interest Housing options). There is a big support team of upperclassmen, faculty, and staff located in each Commons, and tons of social and academic programming throughout the year.

Middlebury is also one of a handful of colleges to offer a January term (J-term), a four-week intensive where students can focus on one specific class either on-campus or out in the world. This breaks up the academic year and provides a great opportunity for hands-on learning, internships, or just the chance to spend some time away from Vermont in the dead of winter.

Unique social/cultural aspects: Middlebury loves gap year students. In fact, there is a cohort of partial gap year students who enter Middlebury each year in February, “the Febs“. Nearly 20% of the entering freshman class takes advantage of this each year, giving students 7-8 months of time off between high school graduation and the start of college. My tour guide was a Feb and spoke enthusiastically about his choice to take time off for travel and work before the start of college. He also shared some insights into how Middlebury welcomes these students to campus mid-year and helps them build connections within the Feb starts and the greater Middlebury community. One of the coolest traditions for this group of students is that they ski down a hill on campus (in cap and gown!) for their winter graduation ceremony.

Colleges that seem similar:  Whitman College, Colgate University, Colorado College, Williams College, Hamilton College

Concerns about this college: Middlebury is truly in the middle of nowhere, and the downtown area encompasses little more than one square block. There are enough services on the outskirts of town for students to do the basics (a few stores, restaurants, drug stores), but there isn’t much else. For many, this isolation and immersion in the outdoors is a reason to choose Middlebury. But for city or suburban kids who want the convenience of big box stores and off-campus activities like concerts and restaurants, Middlebury probably isn’t the best match.

Overall impressions:  Middlebury is an amazing liberal arts college option for students interested in outdoor adventures, collaborative intellectual pursuits, and a social life that centers around campus activities. The college environment strikes a great balance between preppy and hippie/granola, academic and social, theory and real-life application. Students I met were all incredibly friendly and outgoing – you have to be in such a small community, and particularly in a community with such cold, long winters.


2016 Summary: Parry College Counseling

It’s been an exciting year for Parry College Counseling and my awesome group of seniors! This year I worked with a total of 23 long-term seniors as part of my package programs. This group of students mostly attend Seattle Public Schools (Garfield, Ballard, Roosevelt in particular), with a few Bellevue and other suburban students in the mix as well. And I’ve expanded beyond just the Seattle area, working with students remotely from Alaska to eastern Washington.

This year I’ve had the pleasure of working with students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and family situations, including pro-bono students needing full financial support to attend college, first-generation students, underrepresented minority students, seniors from single parent households, and everything in between.

I also worked with 40 additional students on an hourly basis, assisting them with tasks such as essay brainstorming and editing, interview coaching, college list development, and transfer admission preparation.

Below are the acceptances my seniors have received so far through either early action, early decision, or rolling admission. The majority of admission decisions will come back in March. I’m also excited to share that my seniors have received a total of over $2.2 million dollars in scholarships so far!

Harvey Mudd College, Muhlenberg College, Tulane University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Santa Clara University, University of Portland, Boise State University, Beloit College, Trinity University (Texas), Sierra Nevada College, Marquette University, Loyola Marymount University, University of San Francisco, University of Denver, Regis University, Carroll College, Montana State University, Pacific Lutheran University, Willamette University, University of Arizona, Colorado State University, University of Colorado-Boulder, Butler University, Kent State University, Whitworth University, Washington State University, Goucher College, Arizona State University, Alaska Southeast University, Western Washington University, College of Wooster, Linfield College, Oregon State University, College of Idaho, Coe College, Gonzaga University, Misericordia University, Seattle University, University of Redlands, Lewis & Clark College, Fordham University, Chapman University

Thanks for following along on this journey. Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2017!

Eastern Washington / Western Idaho College Tour

Earlier this week I planned my own college tour of a few great (and very different) colleges in eastern Washington and western Idaho. Though I’d been to the area many times over the years and had stepped foot on a few campuses, I never did the full and official campus tours.Often parents and students don’t know where to start with planning their own college tour. So, over the next few months I’ll be sharing some hints on which colleges to include on your tour, driving distances, tips about on-campus visit opportunities and what to experience in the region beyond just the campus. I’ll also be writing more detailed profiles of some of the colleges I’ve visited, not only sharing my visit experience but my impressions of what type of student would do well in that environment.

Day One: I started off by spending a day in Spokane. This is the largest city in the eastern Washington region with over 200,000 residents. Sure, it’s no Seattle, but this city has a lot going on, including a handful of colleges and universities. My first stop was Eastern Washington University, located about 30 minutes past Spokane in Cheney. The school only offered a campus tour led by a current student, so I took advantage of that opportunity in the morning. Then I drove to Spokane, passing through the Washington State University’s Spokane campus en route to Gonzaga University. (Side note: WSU-Spokane is much larger than I thought! It is primarily a graduate health sciences university, but they offer a few Bachelor’s programs in nursing, nutrition and speech/hearing sciences). My visit to Gonzaga was more comprehensive, including a small campus tour led by two students and a meeting with an admissions counselor for Seattle. They also offer class visits and can connect you to professors during your visit if you reach out early enough.

The other four-year college located in downtown Spokane is Whitworth University, a small private Christian university. They didn’t offer tours or other visit opportunities while I was in town, but it is another school worth considering if you are interested in a Christian education.

Day Two:  I visited University of Idaho and Washington State University on this fairly long day. Many people choose to stay in the picturesque Coeur d’Alene and make the scenic 1.5 hour drive down to Moscow, Idaho for their campus visit. However, there a small number of hotel options in Moscow as well, and staying there overnight could provide good insight into what this college town looks like in the evening. My University of Idaho visit consisted of a student-led campus tour, residence hall tour and free lunch in the dining hall. After devouring some standard college kid faire (pizza and a salad), I got back in the car and less than five minutes later I was in Washington. Only 15 minutes down the road is the Washington State University campus and town of Pullman. At WSU, I attended a short information session and went on a campus tour with a very enthusiastic tour guide, one of the best I’ve had so far! My favorite part of the visit was treating myself to some huckleberry ice cream at the creamery / ice cream shoppe on campus. All of the products are made by students using the dairy cows on-campus – definitely a first for me!

After my visit concluded at 4 PM, I began the long drive through the Palouse region to Walla Walla. The drive was supposed to take just over 2 hours, but I ended up pulling over to take pictures along the way and admire the beauty of the rolling green and gold hills. You pass many small farming towns on this drive as well as hundreds of wind turbines. It is one of my favorite drives in Washington state! Be sure to print off directions or have a map handy as my cell phone didn’t work for most of this drive and there wasn’t much signage to tell you where to go. By 7 PM, I arrived to my hotel in Walla Walla and quickly found many excellent dinner options within a few blocks.

Day Three: And finally, on my last day of the tour, I experienced Whitman College and the town of Walla Walla. There aren’t many other four-year colleges to add on to a Whitman visit on the same day due to its isolation, but fortunately the Walla Walla area has a lot to offer for a free morning or afternoon of exploring and relaxing. There are also a few direct flights from Walla Walla to Seattle (or from the Tri-Cities area, about one hour away), so if this is your first or last stop you’re in luck. Whitman offered one of the most comprehensive visits of any school, including a full one-hour information session on the admissions process, campus tour and meeting with an admissions counselor for the Seattle region. Be sure to set aside a full 3 hours for your campus visit experience.

After this visit, I headed back to Seattle, feeling excited about some of the great college options just a few hours away.