I decided to kick off my career of evaluative campus visits right in my own backyard. Hood College was having an open info session and tour on Saturday, May 9, and I was there!
Hood College, Frederick, Maryland
Fun fact: Hood has an all-you-can-eat crab feast, I think each May, in the dining hall. Maryland being crab-crazy in general, this feast is quite the event.
Ease of application: Hood accepts the Common App. If you have a certain GPA, your application does not require standardized test scores. Also, your admission application serves as your merit scholarship application, reducing your virtual paperwork. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, so there shouldn't be months of waiting around to hear whether or not you're in.
Overall impression: Hood was presented as a school that offers an intimate learning environment, with a campus claiming only one large lecture hall, a 12:1 student-teacher ratio, and "about 30 students" being cited as a "large" class for some of the popular 101s (bio and psych). This presentation jives with much of the online feedback about the school, where students also point to invested professors who supply academic rigor. [I had noted from my Virginia alumni magazine that Hood claims a UVa grad as a history professor--must be good, right?!] The visit also emphasized post-graduate success rates: 92% of job-seeking graduates were employed within 6 months in 2013 (companies such as Lockheed Martin, the federal government, and The Washington Post were mentioned) and 45% of graduates pursued graduate school (acceptances to schools like Georgetown Law, Duke Medicine, and University of Pennsylvania were listed). There seem to be a fair number of opportunities for extracurriculars as well, and Hood participates in NCAA Division III sports. On the whole, Hood might attract students who want or need a more focused learning environment while still desiring some level of social life. Students who feed off of crowds, cities, and big-school sports probably wouldn't find a good fit at Hood. Also, although reassured about the activeness of the Hood community, I'm still a bit skeptical. Unfortunately, the tour was slated for the day after the final day of exams, so nearly all students were gone. With so many students coming from Maryland, I continue to wonder how close-knit the college is: do people tend to vacate over the weekend; do students carry high school cliques into Hood; would an out-of-state student who only goes home over long school breaks be lonely or bored? I'd definitely recommend an overnight visit during the school year to assess the community feel of Hood.