General Studies/Guaranteed junior admission: useful for what students?

<p>The NY Times education section had an article on the proliferation of "general studies" as a "back door" to being admitted to a number of different universities. </p>

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General studies, too, means many things — it’s a four-year individualized degree (University of Idaho); a way station for undecided majors (Texas A&M, the University of Illinois); a liberal arts college for older students (Columbia University).</p>

<p>More often, however, it is about giving a leg up to high school graduates who have shown some academic success but fallen short of their peers, particularly in test scores. For universities, the programs are a way to hang on to tuition dollars and students they’re willing to take a chance on. For less competitive students, they’re a back door in.</p>

<p>Linda Wells, dean of the College of General Studies at Boston University, points out that admissions officers “are looking for a certain board score on the verbal and writing components, and students are competing like a horse race, like an Oklahoma land rush, for that seat.” Those on the cusp, with a rejection or wait-list response in their mailbox, can find a spot in her program, then transition into the larger university as juniors — a move guaranteed by all the programs.

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<p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/general-studies-moves-to-the-mainstream.html?ref=edlife%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/general-studies-moves-to-the-mainstream.html?ref=edlife&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Some of the other schools mentioned include Adelphi, Northeastern, and NYU. </p>

<p>I can see this is a great strategy for some students....but perhaps not all. If someone slacked somewhat in high school, or doesn't test well, this works well. How about for students who need some handholding as they transition from high school to college? This is certainly going to be more expensive than some other paths, like going to a CC for two years and then transferring. </p>

<p>Thoughts? Anecdotes?</p>

<p>IIRC, you cannot attend Columbia SGS straight out of high school. You have to minimally have a one year break from high school. They will also ask you if you have previously applied to Columbia/Fu/Barnard or SGS.</p>

<p>Columbia SGS</p>

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Applicants may not simultaneously apply to the School of General Studies and to any other undergraduate division of Columbia University – Columbia College (CC), or the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) – nor are candidates eligible to apply to the School of General Studies if in the last three years they applied to any of these divisions and were not accepted.

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<p>In addition the financial aid policy at SGS is not the same 100% demonstrated need financial aid policy that is offered at Columbia University for undergrads.</p>

<p>Though not a "back door program", at my state flagship (University of Minnesota) many students who do not qualify to be admitted as a freshman to College of Science and Engineering or College of Biological Science or Carlson School of Management still qualify for College of Liberal Arts. At University of Minnesota you don't have to be admitted to a particular college to take classes from that college (most of the programs). Once admitted to College of Liberal Arts students can either pursue a BA in whatever major they were planning to pursue at CSE or CBS or take two years worth of their chosen major courses and transfer to their college of choice (subject to minimum major gpa).</p>

<p>I've seen many students going this route back in my day at college. In fact, my sister had no idea "what she wanted to be when she grows up", so she started at CLA, took a course in economics, liked it and decided that she wants to major in something related to business. She later transferred to Carlson School of Management. The trick is not to screw up your gpa (and take all pre-requisite classes). From what I remember, gpa requirements for transfer to one of those colleges are much higher than gpa requirements to graduate from one of those colleges.</p>

<p>Doubt that is unique to Minnesota -- many other large universities have some divisions or majors which are easier to get into. Some students in the less popular majors or divisions try to transfer to the more popular majors or divisions, though this is not guaranteed and depends on getting a high GPA.</p>

<p>University of Miami has this program, but you have to be over a certain age, you can only transfer in a certain number of credits, and you still have to take placement tests for Math. In other words, it is geared toward the working adult with an interrupted education. They havea very good FAQ about the program: Frequently</a> Asked Questions | DCIE | University of Miami</p>

<p>Hi, everyone. I'm a mom but also a General Studies student as well at Columbia University. As the NY Times mentioned, the term "General Studies" means many things. Their article was focused on the efforts of many colleges to bring in traditionally aged students (18 years old) graduating from high school and transition them through a general studies program to ascertain their success at college. The General Studies program at Columbia University is a totally different concept. There are four undergraduate schools at CU and General Studies is one of them. Student at GS have had a break in their education from high school, typically one year or more. I had a 27 year break as I obtained my masters degree in 1985 and decided to return to school as an undergraduate in 2008 for a degree in Art History. As a GS student, I am fully integrated into the college community and in all of my classes I sit right next to students from Barnard, School of Engineering, and Columbia College (students straight out of high school). This is not a program structured to transition high school students into college. It's been a really great experience for me!</p>