campus encounters

"Get the first-hand scoop about colleges and universities"

Search Results for: “Albion College

Albion College (Take 2)

Albion College (visited 3/25/19)

(Click HERE to see notes on my first campus visit on 1/30/15)

Albion sealAlbion College is doing some amazing things to keep up with the times in terms of job skills, majors to prep students in relevant fields, etc. However, the town – at least right now – leaves a bit to be desired. When the steel industry basically shut down during the recession and they weren’t making materials for plants in Detroit, the town took a big hit. However, Albion is different than many other small towns with Liberal Arts colleges. Many colleges have alumni that give back to the college itself. The alumni at Albion give back to the town. They’ve invested millions to open a hotel (we stayed there for the counselor fly-in; it’s wonderful), a theater, and a brewery (where we ate/drank the 2nd night: also wonderful!). The alumni want the town to thrive because they know that’s how the college and its students thrive. Additionally, Amtrak stops in town (and runs through campus) allowing students easy access to Detroit (less than an hour) or Chicago (less than 2 hours).

Albion train through campus

Amtrak running through campus. “You stop hearing it after awhile!” said one student.

What stood out for me are their Programs of Distinction: 5 specialized institutes, an honors program, and research to allow students to build on interests and skills.

  • Students in the Honors Program take 4 dedicated classes in different disciplines which count towards graduation requirements. They need a 3.5 GPA and write a thesis to graduate with Honors. All majors and all athletic teams “except men’s basketball” are represented in the program. They intentionally build a community through events like paintball tournaments, going into Chicago, ice cream socials, etc.
  • Institutes were created to help students look at how topics fit together. “Majors go vertically; we need something to help them think horizontally.” Institutes have their own criteria for entrance, and students must maintain a higher GPA to stay in.
  • Business and Management gives students opportunities to expand and build business knowledge through speakers, networking, and more. They offer a summer program (two 2-hour classes, 4 days a week) to prepare them for internships.
  • Albion 1Medicine works with all pre-health students for clinical shadowing and internships to make sure they’re pursuing the right path. They partner with several schools: 4 students got interviews with Central Michigan Medical for an assured entrance program; they also offer 4+1 Nursing with Oakland; DPT at UM-Flint; and DO, Dental, and Pharmacy with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Over 90% of the kids who “work the process” get into med school.
  • Sustainability and the Environment fits with multiple majors because it’s interdisciplinary, but also has 3 of its own majors and 2 concentrations. They have a farm and nature center on campus. They take students on trips around the continental US right after graduation.
  • Leadership In Public Policy and Service takes 140 students from a range of majors to learn what policy is like and help make a difference in their fields. Students complete 4 elements: 6 courses (2 are exclusive to this institute), community service (required each semester), a lecture series (they must attend a certain number), and an internship.
  • Teacher Development offers Professional Development money for students who usually use it in senior year for student teaching.

Albion observatoryResearch: They provide a $600 stipend to students who get accepted to present a paper or poster at a national conference. Over the summer, 36 students are selected to do 6- to 10-week research projects campus. They get free housing, $380 a week, and a $500 fund for what they need (chemicals, mileage, etc).

Another great opportunity for students is the Philadelphia Center where they complete 32 hours of internship (they have to interview for the experience) and 8 hour of classes per week. “They do the adulting thing with a safety net!” They’d like to send 40-50 students each semester, but only 11 went last semester. They have students talk to landlords to deal with budget, location, etc. “It’s an opportunity to look for housing in a big city with someone there to help.”

Albion hanging scultures

Hanging sculptures/artwork

A couple students had this to say about studying at Albion:

  • “I love that it isn’t perfect. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s on the upswing. I can be part of the growth and improvement. It’ll be a great experience if I can look back and say, ‘I was a part of that.’”
  • “This wasn’t my first choice, but it came down to finances. Now I dread the thought of graduating because it’s been that great.”
Albion institute

One of the Institute buildings located downtown (about a 10 minute walk from campus)

We asked the panel about their favorite classes:

  • International Entrepreneurial Exchange: students in this is a 2-semester class were split into small groups and partnered with a graduate program outside of Paris to build a company. They built a travel app and went to Paris for a week; the French students then came here to help present at the symposium.
  • Social Movements: “It’s good to see someone else’s perceptions and being able to understand our own culture.”
  • Human Rights: “we went to the Jackson penitentiary, talked about the injustices of the CJ system in the US, how it does/doesn’t align with how the world perceives human rights and how we perceive people in prison. It was very powerful.”
  • HipHop and Social Change: “This was a big class with almost 30 people. Everyone had an opinion in that class.”
  • International Organizations: “We met in a conference room because there were only 10 of us. They knew if we didn’t show up. We did an online simulation game. Some of us were partnered up and assigned a country. We made treaties and traded, decided on type of government. We were arguing an hour before deadline to make a trade about nuclear proliferation. We were in all different majors, and we all knew what we were talking about.”
  • Public Relations: “It’s what I’m gearing towards and it gave me hands-on experiences. We worked with Albion businesses.”
  • Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate: “Honestly, I had no interest in it, but the prof had all of us sign up for a 30 minute meeting, so he tried to make it meaningful. He said that he knew we were just here for the requirement, and it turned into one of my favorites.”
  • Arts Advocacy (honors level): “We ended up creating a student film festival! We were able to start something for the community and raise some money for the elementary school arts program. I know I’ve left my mark on the college with this.”
Albion equestrian 9

Part of the equestrian center

With over 50% of their student participating in athletics, “we rely on this to drive admissions, like many DIII schools.” Football is highly popular, but they also have an impressive Equestrian Center and equestrian team (both Hunt Team and Western). “Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is less competitive than other sports,” said the Center Director. “Students have to do laps around the indoor rink for every minute they’re late to practice – and this is the largest indoor arena owned by a University in the US.” They own 46 horses, and even have 2 indoor “treadmills” for them when the weather is too cold or bad for them to get exercise outside.

Albion chapelRight now they have a 70% retention rate which is going up. They’ve implemented Peer Mentors (juniors or seniors) to the First Year Seminars to help freshmen meet benchmarks during the first semester on campus. “It’s building threads in their social and academic safety net.” They’ve also started the Briton Path, a learning community for students who need some additional guidance or organization. The class meets once a week, and there is peer tutoring, individual, weekly guided practice sessions (more hands-on), and exam review.

© 2019

Albion College

Albion College (visited 1/30/15) (click HERE to see notes from my 2nd visit on 3/25/19)

~Albion acad bldg 4~Albion bellI didn’t get a formal tour of Albion, but talked to an admissions rep for about 45 minutes before walking around campus on my own during the chilly dusk of a Friday evening. The campus was quiet, not surprising given the weather and time. Classes were done for the day and students weren’t heading to dinner or out to events yet. However, I talked to the students working at the student center and in the library and ended up getting a lot of interesting information from them.

~Albion rotundaSolid students who want a small campus, small classes, interesting classmates, and a chance to get involved will do well here.

~Albion sci cntrKids here are “everyday kids. They’re very normal.” There are the jocks to the theatre geeks to the nerds. “I like the mix of kids. I have friends from Nepal, Italy, Metro Detroit, the UP. This is the first time in years that we haven’t had at least 1 gay student pledge the frat,” said the junior econ major working in the library. “I took this shift because I love the quiet. I can get my work done and enjoy the rest of my weekend.”

~Albion courtyardThe Union Board (student group that organizes events) is active. “There’s never NOT something going on whether it’s Frisbee golf, movies, speakers, whatever. There’s a 4-hour Laser Tag game later tonight that I’m going to go to after the library closes.” About 60% of students participate in sports, and a cappella is also very popular. One of the favorite traditions is the Anchor Splash, a Synchronized Swimming competition put on by the Delta Gamma Sorority. The money goes to charity. It’s “hysterical to watch these burley football guys in tutus! They get really competitive.”

~Albion patioThere’s nothing going on in town (the population is less than 10,000 people). “There’s a good taco joint and a good bar. The movie theatre is free for students. Otherwise . . . not so much.” Jackson, a larger town, is 15 minutes away and the college runs shuttles to Ann Arbor and to the airports. There’s a train station in town that will take them to Chicago. Freshmen can have cars on campus, but a lot of people don’t bother leaving campus because so much is offered. They even have a convenience store.

Albion is small (1400 students) so it’s easy to get to know everyone, “but you aren’t always tripping over the same people.” Students who leave tend to go to bigger schools or “are the one who never leave their room or aren’t getting playing time on the team.” The biggest division seems to be between the athletes and non-athletes, “but even that isn’t a big deal.”

~Albion main dorm

Largest dorm on campus

All first year students live in Wesley Hall, a traditional-style dorm that holds 550 students. There are other options for older students including frat houses and two apartment-style complexes. Students are not stuck in traditional dorms for 4 years. Wifi on campus “can be spotty.” The food gets mixed reviews ranging from “great” to me getting a blank stare before being told that the new food vendor, while it has helped some, “doesn’t really make things that college students tend to want.” The other student said it was “ok but not spectacular.” Frat houses have their own food arrangements such as a cook so that helps. Greek life is huge with about 2/3 of the students affiliating with a group. “It’s not like the big schools, though. We all hang out together.” He’s in both the Panhellenic and Intra-frat councils.

~Albion chapel 3

Chapel

Albion still has a very loose religious affiliation but it’s not really all that noticeable. Students do have to take one theology or philosophy class as part of their distribution requirements, but there are plenty of options and no one is pushing an agenda or belief system. Catholicism has the largest number of self-reporting students, and Hillel is one of the more active groups on campus.

In academics, Albion offers 6 Centers of Distinction:

  • Teaching is automatic entry once students declare the major. Others require a short essay.
  • Honors classes are not just harder; they’re more discussion based. Teachers actually bid on the classes. Students take 1 honors class per term and have to write a Thesis. It gets published and is assigned an ID number so they are officially published and can put it on a resume. This COD is becoming more competitive to get into.
  • Health Care: this is a 4-year guided program for students interested in any aspect of health care, including vet. This is also becoming more competitive. Pre-med is a large major; 92% go onto med school.
  • Leadership in Public Policy and Service
  • Business and Management
  • Sustainability and the Environment
~Albion sci atrium

Science atrium

One student said that the relationships with the professors were the best thing about the college. The largest classes (like Bio or Chem 101) can have upwards of 50-70 students. One student said that he tended to have 35-40 in his first year accounting classes but most have around 20. Sciences tend to be very strong, especially Neuroscience, Environmental Sciences, Geological Sciences, Pre-Engineering, and Sustainability Studies. Professors come to teach here from the larger universities; they say that the science equipment rivals anything the big schools have. Other noteworthy majors include Law, Justice, and Society; Economics and Management; and Ethnic Studies.

~Albion library seating

seating in the library

Job placements trump a lot of other places. 94% of graduates are in full-time work or post-grad upon graduation – and that’s tracking over 16 years! The alumni network is strong both internships as well as post-graduation job placement. Students are encouraged to do research in a variety of areas, not just the sciences. “One of my friends is working on a project about how hip-hop is reviving Detroit.” During the students’ time on campus, Albion also provides an excellent academic support system and have been highly ranked for their support of students on the spectrum.

Applying to the university is free; they’re a Common App exclusive school. They will superscore both the SAT and ACT. They offer a $5,000 scholarship for students who don’t live in MI, OH, or IL; this is stackable with other merit scholarships that a student qualifies for. All scholarships are automatic consideration except the Distinguished Scholars program. Students who qualify for this competition get invited to campus and will receive $1,000 just for attending. DS awards range from $15,000-$23,500. For most students at Albion, the final cost of attendance averages only a few thousand more than UM or MSU.

They have a Nature Center on campus and a River running through the south end. There are wetlands where students can do research. A student farm grows mostly vegetables; it doesn’t produce a lot, but the dining hall will use what they do grow. Students also conduct soil testing and other research there. Students interested can also live in the Environmental House, a 2-minute walk from campus. There is also a large equestrian center owned by Albion. 

(c) 2015

Post Navigation