• Beth & Tim Manners

Pennlive: "A Pennsylvanian city has been named as one of the top college places in the U.S. However, it’s not the home of Penn State University, State College. According to a new study conducted and published by WalletHub, when ranked by size, Pittsburgh is the fifth best large city to attend college in. The other top five largest cities are Tampa, Fl. (fourth); Seattle, Wash. (third); Raleigh, N.C. (second); and Austin, Texas (first). State College comes in ranked 89th overall. According to the study, it has the 20th best 'social environment,' but ranks 359th out of 415 cities for “academic and economic opportunities.”

"The top five college towns and cities in the nation regardless of size would be Ithaca, N.Y (fifth); Irvine, Calif. (fourth); Provo, Utah (third); Austin, Texas (second); and Ann Arbor, Mich. (first). And the college towns and cities you should avoid? Those would be Kendall, Fl. (number 411); Montgomery, Ala. (number 412); Hialeh, Fl. (number 413); Bridgeport, Conn. (number 414); and Miami Gardens, Fl. (number 415)."

"In order to come to these conclusions, WalletHub assessed the following three key categories to see where each town or city fell on the list: 'Wallet Friendliness;' 'Social Environment;' and 'Academic & Economic Opportunities.' From there, WalletHub weighted each category’s relevant metrics (such as housing costs) to find out which area would be the most attractive to burgeoning minds."

  • Beth & Tim Manners

Ed Source: "Since SAT/ACT scores are optional or totally off the table during the pandemic, many colleges say that the personal and academic information presented in applicants’ essays will loom somewhat larger than in the past. That, in turn, is making some students double down on their essay compositions, often trying to distinguish their pandemic experiences from others stuck in online education and lockdown. In some cases, anxiety is heightened because they are not able to talk face-to-face with counselors and can’t visit drop-in writing centers."

"Without standardized test scores, colleges will look more at the essays for evidence of 'intellectual curiosity, initiative, drive and determination,' said Jayne Fonash, who is immediate past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) ... It is the place 'to tell the story beyond the data, beyond grades and transcripts' and should be written in a student’s natural tone and language, 'not like the third act of a drama'."

“I think students put a lot of pressure on themselves for the essay to be perfect when, in fact, it simply should be a heartfelt, clearly and succinctly written story about an important aspect of their life,” Fonash added. The compositions “don’t have to be about an event that changed the future of the world. Their life may not have a lot of drama but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of life lessons.”

  • Beth & Tim Manners

Bahm Now: "Located in downtown Birmingham, the Auburn University Urban Studio is a teaching & outreach program of Auburn’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction. The program gives third- and fifth-year students the opportunity to engage in real world community projects throughout the city of Birmingham ... Since the program’s inception, the Urban Studio has worked on dozens of project-specific studies in Birmingham, including master plans for Lakeview, revitalization plans for College Hills and Graymont, housing studies in Avondale & Midtown and much more."

"Admission to the program is competitive—only 15 students are admitted each year ... Fifth-year students in the Urban Studio typically have the opportunity to work on an individual project, as part of a larger collective study. At the inception of the study, the cohort examines the project and comes up with a set of uses that are needed in the district—housing, health, schools, etc. Within that project, students craft a large-scale plan that the Urban Studio can share with developers and shareholders in the community."

"The current third-year students are examining the feasibility of transforming the Cobb Lane area into a new arts district for Birmingham. The one-block cobblestone street could be a vibrant home for new art studios and galleries, accompanied by coffee + tea shops. Meanwhile, the fifth-year students are studying the neighborhood around McLendon Park, in order to better utilize Legion Field and the other amenities in the community."