At Babson College in Wellesley, It Was Lobster without Sugarcoating for College Counselors
The Wellesley Townsman
August 6, 2010

By Steven Roy Goodman

Wellesley -- I recently attended a lobster feast at Babson College for counselors from around the world. Normally I try to avoid such banquets, because they can give the impression that my views about specific schools can be bought by good food and wine. As a college admissions adviser, my goal is to be objective so that I give unbiased advice about school choice to my students and families.

But I admit that two lobsters and some corn on the cob were enough to get me to listen to Babson's presentations. I was struck by the clarity of the speeches and the follow-up conversations, from the president on down.

The school was unequivocally trying to put its best foot forward, and its representatives were willing to admit what they didn't do well. This was refreshing, especially to someone who has toured hundreds of colleges over the years.

Babson is a business college, for those aspiring entrepreneurs who would like a residential experience with like-minded students. There was no talk about saving the world through NGOs, no political discussions and no mention of football teams. I heard about business courses, business majors, and the moving of the career center from the third floor to the first floor of a major campus building in order to better reflect the centrality of career planning to both students and recruiters.

The two Babson students who doubled as campus guides were similarly unapologetic. The students didn't try to sugarcoat the wealth of the student body. One explained that he has on more than one occasion parked between two new Mercedes in campus parking lots. The other boasted that the alcohol served on campus attracts patrons from nearby dry towns.

To be sure, there were some questionable statistics cited vis--vis Babson's ranking relative to Bentley University, and a torrential rainstorm that felt like campus was going to wash away. But overall I thought the discussion was clear and straightforward. This was in direct contrast to my experience the day before, when I visited another Boston-area college whose student tour guide emphasized how much he and other students were respected by their professors - and how this fact somehow separated his college from the hundreds of U.S. educational institutions that also offer small classes and individual attention.

I will continue to recommend Babson to my students interested in studying business, along with schools like Wharton, Indiana University and the University of Michigan. I will also continue to provide objective third-party advice, even though my visit reminded me of how much I enjoy lobster.

Washington, D.C.-based Steven Roy Goodman is an educational consultant and co-author of "College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family."

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