The College Workout

College Spotlight: The Colleges of the Lehigh Valley

Amy Jasper Tuesday, May 10, 2016

In early April I participated in the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) Counselor Tour. LVAIC is a consortium of six unique colleges and universities within the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. They collaborate on various opportunities for students and faculty including class cross registration. This area of Pennsylvania was once best known for the Bethlehem Steel mill, but since it's closing, the area has reinvented itself and has much to offer. A restaurant scene, unique shops, natural beauty, and a thriving medical and health network combine to make this a great area to attend college. LVAIC is comprised of Cedar Crest CollegeDeSales UniversityLafayette CollegeLehigh UniversityMoravian College, and Muhlenberg College. What I enjoyed most about this tour, aside from the beautiful and picturesque campuses, was that these schools were just minutes apart yet they differentiate themselves with their campus environment, academic opportunities, and success stories. Each has it's own feel and each could provide the right fit for the right student. Here are just a few of my takeaways from each, but I encourage clicking on the school links to explore them further.

Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA):  Well known for it’s top-notch theatre and dance program that produces six main stage productions a year. Last year 15 seniors performed senior showcases and agents signed 11 that night. The program also boasts a very strong alumni network in NYC and Los Angeles, many of whom are successful actors and writers. Majors in the sciences are a close second in popularity with numerous research opportunities and a 94% success rate with first time applicants to med school. This is a thriving community of students who are socially aware, very active, and quite supportive of their peers. New program: After becoming the first liberal arts college to have a Public Health minor, they now have a major also.

Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA): Best known historically as an engineering school however it has much to offer beyond that. Arts & Sciences is the largest school and the Business school is quite strong.  Entrepreneurial spirit is nurtured with programs in place to carry students from ideas to inception resulting in over 50 start-ups a year. Has 11 ABET accredited engineering programs. All engineers take a common freshman year then declare a major. Engineers can study abroad and be a part of the total college experience (participate in band, theatre, etc). Lehigh has a strong DI athletic culture. Unique offerings:Integrated Product Design (IPD) major that culminates in producing a product; Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) is a four-year honors program that allows students to earn a bachelor degree with concentrations in both colleges like bioengineering and international relations.

Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA): Prides itself, and rightfully so, as a school that “transforms kids.” The president is very active and present on campus hosting office hours and forging relationships with students. He even has a pet greyhound (the school’s mascot) that is well known around campus. This school is a hidden gem. It is a nurturing community with a faculty and administration who know and support each student. All students are given a MacBook and iPad and they are very generous with need-based aid (90% of students receive aid and 98% gift aid). Popular majors: Health Sciences, Public Health, Computer Science, and a robust music program (is a Steinway school).  

Lafayette College (Easton, PA): A traditional liberal arts college, but with engineering, that seeks to help students find their passion and engage it in meaningful ways. Five engineering majors are offered and all share the same freshman year courses. As the smallest comprehensive Division I college in the country, Lafayette offers the full college experience with sports, a Greek system, and numerous activities. Students are engaged intellectually, involved, and see the world. Unique programs: Gateway Program in Career Services walks students through career exploration, x-ternships, and coaching to lead to significant plans after graduation; a robust internship stipend program designed to help students who have unpaid or low paying internships.

Cedar Crest College (Allentown, PA): A women’s college emphasizing leadership across all disciplines and civic engagement. They help young women harness their potential to do great things. A well-structured first year experience includes classes, a common read, weekly meetings with one’s mentor/advisor, and a monthly lecture series. Graduation in four years is guaranteed. Popular majors: Forensic Science, Nursing, and the Health Sciences.

DeSales University (Center Valley, PA): A Catholic university administered by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. A rather young institution, it is celebrating is 50th anniversary. An emphasis is put on building the whole person and graduating students who are ethical and will be a positive force in the world. Strong Criminal Justice major that includes training at the Allentown Police Academy. Graduates are immediately hirable as police officers. Popular programs: expansive business program with 11 majors with new ones in Forensic Accounting and Supply Chain Management; Nursing; and TV/Film.

Juniors: Spring Semester To Do List

Amy Jasper Monday, February 02, 2015

  • Register for at least one SAT and/or ACT spring test date(s) and prepare. Consider taking SAT subject tests in May or June. Find complete testing information at:  and
  • Don't get spring fever. Continue to put your best effort into your classes. Need help? Ask for it.
  • Stay organized.
  • Schedule challenging courses for senior year. Do not slack off.
  • Meet with your school counselor to create a list of colleges that you want to seriously consider. Make sure the list has a balance of reach, target, and likely schools. 
  • Continue to visit and research colleges of interest.
  • Continue conversation with family about your college plans.
  • How will you pay for college? Learn about financial aid at
  • In the spring, ask a teacher who knows you well to write your teacher recommendation for college applications in the fall.

DEFERRED: When the Answer Isn't Admit or Deny

Amy Jasper Monday, February 02, 2015

This year found many more students applying Early Action to several schools. As a result, several colleges deferred more students than usual. Being deferred is an admissions decision that, from a student's perspective, isn't really a decision at all. Deferred means "we like you but need a few more months before we decide if we will offer you the opportunity to join our student body." The good news is there is a possibility that the student may be admitted. The bad news is that a student has to wait. If a student has been deferred, there are a few things that can be done to demonstrate continued interest in the college and a desire to attend.

 Write a letter/email: Express your continued interest and intent to enroll upon admission. Reiterate why the college is the best fit for you. Update them on any achievements or other pertinent information that has occurred since you applied. This should not be too long. Be respectful of the fact that admissions representatives are still very deep in reading applications. Also remember that they will receive your mid-year report (first semester grades) from your school counselor after semester grades are finalized.

 Send any additional materials that could be helpful: an additional letter(s) of recommendation, extra materials that might strengthen your application (research, etc). The key is to give the admissions committee any possible information that can help them make a positive decision. 

 Be certain you understand the college's deferral policy. If in your deferral letter you are specifically told not to write or send additional materials for consideration, then you shouldn't.

It's September Seniors: Keep Calm and Do This Now

Amy Jasper Thursday, September 18, 2014

  • Register for ACT, SAT, and/or SAT II.
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss the schools to which you are applying and what you need to do to have your transcripts and recommendations sent. Follow your counselor's directions and adhere to their deadlines.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teacher(s).
  • Create a chart of your college deadlines and requirements. Remember that short of a natural disaster, colleges are not flexible with deadlines. You must be on time.
  • Complete essays in a timely fashion. Have someone proofread your essays and applications.
  • Meet admissions representatives who visit your school.
  • Have official test scores sent to the colleges to which you're applying.

Five Tips for a Successful Admissions Interview

Amy Jasper Thursday, September 18, 2014

  1. Research the school. You should know all of the basics: size, location, majors of interest to you, ways you want to become involved on campus, etc.
  2. Practice eye contact in the mirror. Admissions interviews are designed for the interviewer to get to know you, not to scare you. It's a conversation. Be thoughtful and comfortable when answering questions. 
  3. Silence your cell phone and spit out your gum.
  4. Greet your interviewer with a confident handshake and smile. 
  5. Have your own questions. For example, you may ask an admissions officer: "What were political, social, or academic issues that concerned students last year?  How did the administration react?" If it's an alumni interviewer: "How did your experiences at University X shape your career and life experiences after graduation?"

Rejection Hurts - Helping Your Senior Deal With It

Amy Jasper Friday, February 28, 2014

Rejection is never a good feeling. Many teens get their first big taste of it when college admissions decisions begin rolling in. As adults we know that there is indeed life after rejection, so it is very important to help impart that perspective to your son or daughter and not spiral into despair with them. What to do when the news isn't good:

  • Let your teen be sad and disappointed. It hurts to put your all into a college, only for them to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
  • Don’t let the sadness linger. Dwelling on the negative is never helpful. Move-on to Plan B.
  • Focus on and celebrate acceptances. 
  • Revisit schools; compare programs, financial aid, scholarships, and other key factors. Make an informed decision and embrace it.
  • If more options are needed, there are schools that still accept applications in March and April.
  • Deposit at the school of choice by May 1st and be excited about it.
  • Celebrate again! Be proud! Your kid is going to college!

A Taste of VA Private Colleges

Amy Jasper Monday, February 24, 2014

Southwest Virginia is a beautiful corner of the state that boasts several private colleges. They represent a diverse collection of small colleges, each having a great deal to offer.  I was fortunate to experience them first hand as I toured several in that area. Here's a snapshot of my visits...

 An excellent mass communications program at Emory & Henry gives students a rich media experience not found at many larger programs. Washington and Lee is the only top tier liberal arts college to have a nationally accredited commerce school, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. They also have a speaking (as in saying hello to everyone you pass) tradition on campus. The Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins University prepares young women to deeply explore their own leadership potential. Hollins also has a national powerhouse riding program. Roanoke College has a unique and dynamic core curriculum and close faculty student relationships that all students speak of proudly. Ferrum College is a close-knit family like community with several opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and is one of only two schools in Virginia with a horticulture major (the other is VA Tech). The Jefferson College of Health Sciences offers a BS in Emergency Services with two possible degree tracks: the Paramedic/Firefighter Track and the Paramedic/Critical Care Track. Of course these schools have more many attributes then I have mentioned. Click on their websites for more information. 

 As this small sampling proves, there are colleges to meet the various interests, priorities and goals of college bound students. This year I will continue to visit colleges across the nation. Look for College Spotlights in future newsletters and here in The College Workout. 

SCAD - The University for Creative Ideas

Amy Jasper Monday, September 02, 2013

What happens when you mix modern aspiring creative professionals with one of the South’s most historic and beautiful cities? That would be Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD offers a full university experience (numerous student organizations and championship intercollegiate and intramural sports program including a world class equestrian facility) in a charming and renowned historic district abundant with parks. Savannah is also nicely situated near the beaches of Georgia and South Carolina.

When I approached the admissions office (above picture) the beauty of the building itself was stunning and a clear introduction to the schools commitment to historic preservation  - nearly 70 SCAD facilities, encompassing more than 2 million square feet, are woven into the fabric of Savannah's National Historic Landmark districts, one of our nation’s largest.  When I entered, I was surrounded by interesting artwork, eye-catching fashions, unique furniture, and movie quality animations. Not your typical college admissions office décor and SCAD is far from your typical college. Offering more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university, SCAD successfully prepares talented students for creative careers through programs and signature events such as shopSCAD, Working Class Studio, the Sidewalk Arts Festival, SCAD Style, the annual SCAD Fashion Show, the Savannah Film Festival, and the award winning SCAD Museum of Art.

Founded in 1978, the school set out “to prepare talented students for professional careers, emphasizing learning through individual attention in a positively oriented university environment. The goal of the university is to nurture and cultivate the unique qualities of each student through an interesting curriculum, in an inspiring environment, under the leadership of involved professors.” (SCAD Mission Statement). Thirty-five years later, SCAD is the largest, most comprehensive nonprofit arts university in the nation, awarding degrees (BA, BFA, MA, MFA) in more than 40 areas of study. Examples of majors and minors include animation, accessory design, equestrian studies,  fashion marketing, photography, and urban design. Campuses are located in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste. SCAD prides itself not only in giving students an excellent arts education, but also effective career preparation. Yes, one can create and also pay the bills.

Curious if the art school experience is a fit for you or your student? SCAD Summer Seminars are weeklong workshops for high school students giving them the opportunity to gain a valuable educational experience while developing their creative vision. For the more focused art student, they offer a five-week summer program for rising seniors to enroll in two college-level classes and have the opportunity to build or enhance their visual arts portfolios.

SCAD helps students master the fundamentals of their field through a core curriculum of foundation studies and general education courses that teach skills necessary for success at SCAD and beyond. Undergraduate portfolios, auditions, writing and riding submissions are not required for admission but are accepted from applicants who wish to be considered for achievement scholarships.

Social Media - It's a Small World After All

Amy Jasper Monday, September 02, 2013

Social media has made ‘it’s a small world’ far more then a figure of speech or a ride at Disney World. Many colleges have ways for prospective students to be connected to their potential schools by FB, Twitter, blogs, and various other mediums. Whether you are a senior preparing to apply to colleges or a 9th, 10th, or 11th grader, you need to be keenly aware of your online presence. A great rule to follow is: only post pictures, videos, or comments online that you would not be embarrassed to show your grandmother or have plastered on a bill board on I-95. Apply this to all sites that you participate – FB, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. Also create an email address that is basic and professional. Applying to one’s dream school with the email address or is not a good look. It is a fact that some colleges and employers do indeed Google applicants or checkout their FB page. How many? We’ll never truly know… but better safe than sorry.

Goucher College - Creating Global Citizens

Amy Jasper Monday, January 14, 2013

Location. Location. Location. Goucher College definitely has a location that is appealing to a variety of people. It sits on 300 beautiful sprawling acres yet is only 8 miles from downtown Baltimore. It is walking distance from Trader Joes, Barnes and Noble, and a mall that Macy’s, Apple, and many other stores call home. 

Though not Quaker, Goucher values the Quaker ideals of equity, and justice; and students and professors are all on a first name basis.  Goucher has an innovative multidisciplinary approach to the liberal arts tradition. In 2006 it became the first college in the nation to make study abroad a requirement for all undergraduate degrees. Classroom learning is discussion based with International Studies, Psychology, and Education among its most popular majors. The college also has non-traditional majors such as Peace Studies as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Symbolic of the very essence of Goucher is the landmark Athenaeum. It crosses boundaries, creates harmony, and is LEED Gold certified. This striking building takes mixed used space to a new level. It houses the library, computer commons, amphitheater, art gallery, a cardio-fitness loft (what better way to break-up a late night of studying then hopping on the treadmill), a gourmet café, and the Community Service and Multicultural Affairs Center. It is in the center of the very residential walking campus and serves as its hub. Goucher’s 1,500 students are involved, happy global citizens.
FOr a change of pace they can take courses at Johns Hopkins, UMBC, Loyola, or Towson. All of which are within 15 minutes and a free shuttle ride away. Students speak of how good the food is and how vast the options are. There is a kosher dining hall, a coffee house, and all night dining options as well a more traditional cafeteria.

Goucher has 18 Division III intercollegiate sports and a highly successful Division I indoor and outdoor equestrian program that finished 7th in the country last year.

Goucher admissions process is test-optional. Of admitted students who submitted their scores, the average SAT range was 1030-1270 and the average ACT range was 23-28. The average GPA was a 3.1. It is one of the schools featured in Loren Pope's "Colleges That Change Lives" (CTCL). Find out more about Goucher at and


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    Amy Jasper
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    Phone: 804-368-1015


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