College Highlights

by Eileen Nolan

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to the West, to the South, to the Midwest visiting and spending time with students and admission representatives on college campuses across the country. With each college road trip I take, I return amazed by the myriad choices available to high school students and the caliber of our higher education system. Below are three large universities I visited and have chosen  to highlight – University of Southern California (West), University of Miami (South), and Indiana University (Midwest). Among them they offer over 450 academic majors and over 300 academic minors. Two are private universities and one is a public university.

Though similar, each campus reflects the culture and the natural beauty of the geographical area where it is located. USC is a quintessential sunny California campus and located right outside Los Angeles. U of M’s campus is lined with palm trees and minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean. While IU, founded in 1820 – and built with classic Gothic architecture, contains the rolling brooks and old trees that embody a warm Midwestern charm.

Admission to college is competitive and it can be a challenging process for seniors and their families. Give “your search” the time it deserves. There are amazing opportunities throughout the country. And there are a number of good fit schools for every student. Visit, explore, and be confused. Ask questions. Give yourself the chance to see, feel and understand the culture of a campus, and all it has to offer you.

Indiana University

Indiana University

Indiana University, located in the quintessential college town of Bloomington and an hour’s drive outside the city of Indianapolis, is a beautiful, sprawling, 1900-acre campus comprised of rolling hills, limestone buildings, an arboretum and University Hall – the 17,472 seat arena which is home to the famous Hoosiers basketball team. The university’s website explains, “IU blends a vibrant university community with a small-town atmosphere to give you a quality of life that’s hard to match.”

A large public research university with an undergraduate enrollment of 32,000 students and 10,000 graduate students, IU offers over 180 undergraduate majors in a wide range of academic disciplines. Athletic Training, Biotechnology, Fashion Design, Interior Design, Health Administration, Recording Arts, Guitar and Journalism are a small sampling of the majors available.

Additionally, Indiana University is home to: the Jacob School of Music, one of the world’s premiere music schools, and additionally to the distinguished Kelley School of Business. This year U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges edition moved the Kelley School of Business into the top 10 nationally ranked undergraduate business programs, and mentions its entrepreneurship program as one of the top in the country.

Indiana UniversitySocial life at IU is active. With Big Ten Conference winning teams – football, basketball, diving, baseball (made it to the College World Series), an active Greek system, over 650 clubs and organizations, plus an assortment of cultural productions – musicals, ballets and operas performed by and at the Jacob School of Music, students stay busy and are involved.  School spirit is a big part of the IU experience.



University of Southern California

University of Southern California is a large, private research university. Founded in 1880, the flagship University Park Campus is 226 acres located just miles outside downtown Los Angeles and ten minutes from the Santa Monica beaches. With 18,000 undergraduates, 22,000 graduate students, 750 club offerings and a big time sports program (Trojan football team has won two national titles), students are involved and take advantage of all this West Coast university offers.

Freshmen begin their tenure at USC by donning graduation robes and participating in the traditional Convocation ceremony whereby they are formally introduced to the university – upperclassmen, professors and President C. L. Max Nikias. 52% of students hail from California…but USC enrolls more international students than any other U.S. university.

University Park, USC’s main campus, has all the advantages of a large urban university but also the feel of a smaller liberal arts college. McCarthy Quad, the center of student activity, is where students gather, throw Frisbees and relax in the California sun. Spring Festival, concerts and special events (in 2010 President Obama gave a speech to students on McCarthy Quad) all take place on this beautiful green space surrounded by a reflective pool and Doheny Memorial Library. Biking is a popular form of transportation at USC and bicycle lanes are interspersed throughout campus. At night, students can choose from the bustling nightlife of Los Angeles, or on-campus social and sporting events.

Academically, USC has much to offer. With 14 schools – including the School of Cinematic Arts (oldest and largest film school in the country), the USC Thornton School of Music (one of the most highly regarded music schools), and the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism (a top journalism program), students can choose from 150 majors and 150 minors. At USC students are encouraged to pursue double majors or combine minors and majors in unrelated fields.

USC offers opportunities for internships, study abroad and connection to the 300,000 Trojan alumni network. According to Associate Director of Admissions Mark Rasic, “USC will give undergraduate all the tools – leadership, experience, global connections – they need to be successful in the 21st century.”

University of Miami


University of Miami, located in suburban Coral Gables, is a private, mid-size university of 10,000 undergraduates and 5,500 graduate students, just minutes away from the beach and about 7 miles outside the dynamic city of Miami.

The university offers over 180 academic majors with strong programs in various disciplines such as Marine Science, Music (including Music Business, Music Engineering and Music Therapy), Business and pre-professional programs – Medicine, Law, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine. It is not out of the ordinary for a student attending the University of Miami to double major.

The student population is diverse, drawing from every state and 110 foreign countries. Fifty percent of students are from out-of-state with a large majority from the Northeast. The male/female ratio is just about even for undergraduates.


Social life is busy and students are active on campus. With a cinema, an art museum, 3 performance centers, 2 pools (indoor and outdoor), a wellness center (yoga and cooking classes) and Division I ACC sporting events competing on campus, students have much to choose from. Additionally, the university sponsors special events, drawing politicians, leaders, and artists from all fields and professions to campus. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just spoke on February 26th.  Past speakers included the Dalai Lama, President Obama, songwriter and musician Billy Joel and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Gaining admission to the University of Miami is becoming more competitive. Applications are up from 29,000 to 31,000 for the present admission cycle. U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Miami, in 2013, as the No. 1 school in Florida and No. 44 out of 281 institutions nationwide. Tuition is steep, but the university states that 50% of students receive some merit aid.

For the student who is well rounded – who likes to study, wants to be involved in community service, and enjoys being active and having fun – University of Miami is a strong choice.

Vanderbilt University

VanderbiltUniversityA beautiful campus with a national arboretum, a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, and located in the heart of Nashville (voted by The Today Show as one of America’s Friendliest Cities), this college has it all.

Go see for yourself.

I loved my visit to Vanderbilt and of course Nashville.



2,000+ colleges in the U.S.

Did you know…

…there are over 2,000 four-year colleges in the United States to choose from?

High school students should visit as many colleges as possible, and experience first-hand the amazing choices available.


Connecticut College


Muhlenberg College


Miami Of Ohio


Butler University


Columbia University


Fordham University


Washington University


College of William & Mary


Colgate University Graduation


High Point University