Cooper Union and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering are both listed as “Best Buys” in the 2010 Fiske Guide to Colleges.
No kidding. Free tuition at two of the most prestigious colleges in the country – one in the heart of Manhattan and the other in the suburbs of Boston – the best college town in the country. It’s a tough acceptance to turn down.
Cooper Union (www.cooper.edu), formally known as Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, was founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, an entrepreneur who believed that education should be “as free as water and air.” A free tuition scholarship is offered to every accepted student. CU specializes in art, architecture and engineering.
Enrollment ranges between 900 and 1,000 students for all three programs. Applications are increasing annually and competition to be accepted is fierce, with an Ivy League-like acceptance rate of just 11 percent.
The curriculum is regimented with required, sequenced courses in the humanities and social sciences. Students report that the academics can be intense and the burnout rate can be high. The temptations of Manhattan surround the college.
With annual tuition listed at $31,500, each accepted student’s free tuition over four years is valued at $126,000.
Frank W. Olin College of Engineering (www.olin.edu) is in Needham, Mass., on the outskirts of Boston. It opened in 2002 with a very specific engineering mission. With its offer of free tuition, it frequently lures the best and brightest away from MIT, Caltech and other high-profile engineering colleges.
(Olin recently announced that it would reduce its scholarship to half-tuition instead of full tuition for all students, beginning in the 2010-11 academic year.)
The college is named for Frank Olin, a philanthropist who made his money selling ammunition. The concept for Olin was hatched by leadership within the F.W. Olin Foundation at a cost of $470 million.
Some 180 applicants from the roughly 800 applications a year are invited to a Candidates’ Weekend where they are asked to participate in design-build exercises, group discussions and interviews with current students, faculty and alumni. Evaluations are reviewed and roughly 100 students are invited to attend in hopes of yielding a class of 75 students.
Olin’s 70-acre campus is home to over 300 students with top SAT scores (math range is 740-800, with 800 a perfect score); 94 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. They’re smart, really smart.
Next week: Get paid to go to college at the National Service Academies.
Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: email@example.com