Chasing the Clean Sweep: Brown University

Brown University is the Ivy for those who are open-minded and flexible. It’s known for its liberal academic curriculum and even more liberal student body. Brown embraces a far more open curriculum compared to other Ivy fellows, allowing each student the opportunity to “choose their own adventure.” With no distribution requirements aside from student-specific major requirements and two writing courses, students are free to pursue all of the liberal arts, or conversely, free to take courses in just two or three departments. Adding even more flexibility to its academics, Brown also offers the option for students to take courses “credit/non.” This provision means that students can elect to take a course on a pass/no pass scale instead of the traditional letter grade scale, making the class exempt from GPA calculation while still receiving credit. Because of the ability to deprioritize GPA, students at Brown are able to prioritize taking the classes they are interested in instead of being confined to courses in which they would earn high marks.

Beyond its academic freedom, Brown is known best for its on-campus student activism, often home to student leaders who manage social change and home to student protesters. For those who want the chance to create their own curriculum and those who are interested in hands-on activism, Brown offers a unique campus environment, fueled by student liberty, that is distinct from its peers.

What is an Independent Educational Consultant?

There are two things an independent educational consultant is not: a guarantee or an applicant. That’s to say, an independent educational consultant is not someone who does seniors’ applications for them and then guarantees they will get into their dream college. However, an independent educational consultant is someone who can assist applicants throughout the college application process and give them professional insight on college planning. Translated, an educational consultant is someone who can find “good fit” schools and help assist in the mission of getting into said schools. This includes help with admission essays, admission supplements, and filling out the technical details of the application, along with the benefit of a personalized list of colleges that make the college search far less daunting. An educational consultant can also provide a clear view of financial aid, need vs merit-based and what the true cost of a college is for the individual student. The college search and application process is like climbing Mount Everest. An educational consultant can act as your guide to the top of the mountain, not climbing the mountain for you, but there to provide assistance and guidance every step of the way.

Blueprint Workshop

Blueprint for College Planning Workshop 

Lane Music in Franklin Square, 9648 Kingston Pike

Tuesday, April 15th from 7-8:30 pm

A message from Laurie Brandow:

Does your son or daughter have a dream college? Or are they even thinking about college? What’s the plan? Where do you start?

Let’s start with our workshop!

Along with my colleague Jesse Hedrick from Testing Solutions, we are holding the second annual “Blueprint for College Planning and Admission” workshop. We’ll give you the resources that you are looking for…

From Your-Personal-Statement-is-NOT-an-English-Essay, to Crafting the College List,  our topics and information will get you ready for it all. Learn about Demonstrated Interest and resources for Unraveling the Mysteries of Merit and Financial Aid.  Find out whether the ACT or the SAT might be a better fit for your student.

This year each of my 20 students received multiple acceptances from what we call ’right-fit’ colleges. My mantra: Organization and timeliness minimizes stress and maximizes smart decision making. In other words: Procrastinate Later!

Come by Lane Music at 9648 Kingston Pike in Franklin Square Tuesday April 15th from 7-8:30 pm to get the inside scoop.

SPACE IS LIMITED! So RSVP now by emailing either Jesse at or Laurie at

The cost is $25 per family. We will be giving away door prizes of a Regal Cinema gift basket courtesy of Collegiate Blueprint Consulting as well as a tutoring package courtesy of Testing Solutions.

Public vs. Private Colleges

Loren Pope, the author of Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You addresses the topic of differences between public and private colleges.

When building your application list, you don’t need to choose between public and private colleges. Including a mix of public and private colleges usually makes sense. When you are ready to narrow down the field, the considerations below can help.

Which College Is Cheaper? Many people assume a public college is cheaper than a private college because tuition and fees are reduced for state residents. But the posted “sticker price” of a private college is rarely the real price. If a private college strongly appeals to you, consider waiting for its financial aid offer before making a final decision. More often than not, private colleges offer scholarships and grants that significantly cut your actual cost, even bringing it close to the cost of a public college.
Public college cost gets trickier for out-of-state students. Public colleges are largely supported by state taxes. This means that out-of-state students, whose families have not paid these taxes, usually owe higher tuition than in-state students. Paying out-of-state tuition often puts the cost on a par with the cost of private colleges.

The Public Admission Advantage. Public colleges give admission priority to state residents. Because there are fewer spaces for non-residents, requirements for out-of-state students can be more strict and admission more competitive. At highly selective state universities, however, your state residency won’t give you as much of an edge because you are competing with many other highly qualified state residents.

Who You Rub Elbows With. One of the most important factors in choosing a college is how you feel about the students attending the school. Many private colleges attract students from a broad geographic spectrum. Others have a strong commitment to certain types of students, such as the historically black colleges or women’s colleges. Virtually all public colleges have egalitarian missions that support student diversity, if not geographic diversity. Students will tend to be from your own state and perhaps nearby states.

How Long to Graduate? Savings from lower tuition may evaporate if you need more time to graduate than you planned. This unfortunate scenario can happen if it is difficult to get into the classes required for your major, a common situation at many public colleges. On average, private colleges show higher four-year graduation rates.

Considering Out-of-State
Public Colleges? At most public colleges, “non-resident” students (students from other states) must pay higher tuition rates. But if you are interested in attending an out-of-state public college, there is hope.

Reciprocity agreements guarantee reduced tuition to students from neighboring states. Not all public colleges participate in these agreements, however, and restrictions often apply. To find out more, consult your high school guidance counselor and the college’s admissions office.

Out-of-state tuition waivers allow non-residents to pay reduced tuition if they meet certain criteria, such as a high GPA; interest in a particular field of study; or parents who are alumni, faculty, or staff. Eligibility rules for tuition waivers vary, so check with the college directly.

The rules for state residency status usually require a year of family residency or graduation from an in-state high school. But the rules may be less strict for some public college systems. Check those rules carefully if you have any concern about your eligibility.

Where You Want to Live. For some students, the location of the college is very important. Students wanting to attend college closer to home may find many public colleges within a few hours of their home town. Students wanting new environments and experiences may find that private colleges and even out-of-state public colleges fit their requirements.

Big Pond or Little Pond? Many students believe that private colleges, which tend to be smaller than public colleges, incur less red tape and offer more personal attention than public colleges. Students looking for a wide range of majors and lots of school spirit may assume a large public university is the best option. But in actuality, it is entirely possible to find small public colleges and large private universities that have these qualities. If college size is important to you, look carefully at each individual college and separate your assumptions from reality.

Prestige and Reputation. It is tempting to assume that an education at a selective private college is worth it because your degree will be more valuable. But in reality many highly successful people graduated from public colleges. And while many private colleges are highly prestigious, so are many public universities. If you are set on getting a name-brand private college degree, and plan to go on to a graduate or professional school, you can actually get the best of both worlds. Consider getting a lower cost undergraduate degree at a public college and attending a private college for your advanced degree.

Which Is Better? Once you have considered how well a college meets your needs, whether it is private or public might make a difference. The academic resources and diversity of a large public college system can be tempting. Or the personality and location of a private campus might be right for you. What is most important is choosing the college that meets your highest priorities at an affordable cost.