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Emory College of Emory University

EMORY COLLEGE of Emory University



On our way to the Emory University campus, we drove through the huge medical complex with its multiple hospitals, labs, and other facilities that line one side of campus. Somehow, it’s not surprising that a school with such a massive medical school and multiple teaching hospitals would have a skeleton (named “Dooley”) as the unofficial mascot!

~Emory walkwayThe initial impression of Emory that we got from all the medical buildings was very different than we might have gotten otherwise if we had approached from a different direction. The med complex and the actual university campus are both impressive in their own ways. The medical buildings, appropriately, look sterile, clinical, and business-like. They’re clearly well-funded and growing (construction was happening in several spots). The university, itself, is housed on a beautiful, well-maintained campus with a lot of green space. Students were out in swarms, clearly enjoying their surroundings. There was a lot of interaction between people and students seemed to really enjoy being there.

~Emory quad~Emory statue and studentEmory University began in Oxford, GA in 1836 and stayed there for 80 years. That campus still operates as Oxford College of Emory University (see separate write-up for that). In 1914, a thousand acres were donated because the benefactor wanted Atlanta itself to have more educational opportunities. Today, Emory University has nine divisions – Emory College and Oxford College are the two solely undergraduate divisions; the Business and Nursing schools have both undergrad and graduate students. Students cannot start in the Business or Nursing schools until they’re juniors and have to apply to get in. They accept about 80% into the business program and about 90% into nursing.

~Emory plaza2The Emory College campus has 5500 undergraduates. About 20% of the annual 15,000 applications come from Georgia; they admit approximately 25% of the total applicant pool. Forty-eight percent of their current freshmen class came in through ED (2000 applied ED). For EDI, they’ll accept, deny, or defer into RD; for EDII, they’ll accept, waitlist, or deny.

~Emory bikesThey look for those who will thrive on campus: students who are “self-propelled, noticed by teachers, and active on campus” as one admissions counselor put it. Emory itself offers more opportunities than students know what to do with in terms of clubs, internships, and more, but that doesn’t stop students from trying to do everything. The student panelists said that typical students often take on too much. One junior said: “People go full-throttle and burn out. I feel like a crusty old man.” Despite being overinvolved, 94% of Emory students graduate in four years. Also, about 2/3 of the students opt to live on campus all four years, despite being able to move off after sophomore year, because it makes it easier to be involved and take advantage of all the extra-curricular activities. The students really appreciate that Emory gets such big-name speakers on campus such as Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and Salman Rushdie. Jimmy Carter also gives a Town Hall Meeting for every freshman class.

~Emory theater entrance

The original theater entrance which now opens into the Student Center

The kids love their classes and the professors. Less than 10% of classes are taught by TAs, so the students have access to professors on a regular basis. The two students I spoke to said that their smallest classes were 6 and 11 students; the largest classes had 56 and 82 students. There are lots of research opportunities on campus. Emory also has a 3-2 degree with Ga Tech, and there are shuttles that run regularly between the campuses to make it easy for the students. Emory is also part of ARCHE (Atlanta Region Consortium of Higher Education) which allows them to cross-register for classes at places like Agnes Scott, Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, Oglethorpe, Kennesaw State, Georgia Tech, etc.

~Emory plazaThe college is continually building and remodeling, but they try not to wreck the feeling of the campus. The dining hall, for example, is new. As they expanded one of their older buildings to add the dining hall, the students didn’t want the exterior of the building to be demolished, so now one interior wall of the dining hall is the former exterior wall. The older building now houses theater space, so the students come through the dining hall to get into the theater, which is pretty cool.

(c) 2012

Oxford College of Emory University

OXFORD COLLEGE/Emory University (visited 3/5/13) 

One of the students I talked to summed up Oxford this way: “Oxford is better than I expected. It’s harder, but it’s also more fun.”

Oxford Emory quad3Oxford Emory library windowThis is the historic home campus of Emory University. Oxford operates as a traditional liberal arts college, with the unique distinction that students can only complete their freshman and sophomore years here. Students then become “continuees” at Emory, not transfer students since they’re already considered full Emory University students from day one. When students apply to Emory/Oxford, they do so using the Common App (they’re CA exclusive), and may apply to one or both campuses with the same application. The same admissions staff reads all applications, and students may be admitted to one or both. If students apply only to Emory College and are waitlisted, those students, under rare conditions, might be offered the chance to be considered for a spot at Oxford.

Oxford Emory signOxford Emory 1The admissions people are looking for go-getters for this campus since the students only have two years at Oxford before they move on. They want kids who will be able to jump right in and take on leadership roles because the sophomores ARE the leaders – the RAs, the presidents of clubs, etc. It’s a fully residential campus since there are so few students (about 900 total) which also helps students get involved. There’s a lot to do on campus, and there’s new construction going on, as well. There are shuttles several times a day to the Emory campus, but not every student wants to take advantage of those. It is about 40 minutes away, so it’s more common for students to go on the weekends for activities than to cross-register for a class (which can be done, but is rare, particularly since there’s not usually a reason to do so for the first couple years). The town of Oxford is small and cute (My Cousin Vinnie was filmed in the Town Square) but most of the fun is found on campus or in Atlanta.

Oxford Emory quadOxford Emory quad2Someone asked the students how they can thrive in both places since they’re such different schools? The faculty and the students gave a lot of good answers to that. First, the students say that they’re at different points in life two years later; when they’re starting college, a small environment might be the best choice. As Juniors, they’re ready for a change and a bigger place. Additionally, this is a good option if students want their introductory classes to be smaller than what they would get at Emory College. The largest class on campus is 32 students (16 in a writing class) so this is a good place for students who learn better in this type of environment. One of the faculty members said that the classes at Oxford are also very different types than what they’d get at Emory, again largely due to the size of the classes. The students are taught different ways of knowing things in different disciplines. It’s not about spouting back ideas. Here, they’re already thinking like a ____ (biologist, historian, whatever) in the first semester. The faculty is involved and invested in teaching; teachers pay attention and engage the students. There’s also an early warning system. Faculty can submit names of students who are struggling to the Academic Services office which will then step in. The teachers know if kids aren’t in class, aren’t participating, etc.

(c) 2013

Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry College (visited 11/4/16)

eh-quad-1This is the only college I know of that has a “retirement home” for horses – and the only I’ve heard of that enable students to earn a semester’s worth of work for through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (or another of similar scope).


The Equestrian Center barn

When E&H bought Virginia Intermont University in 2014, they took over their barn and equestrian program. One student rider we spoke to told us, “I’m glad they bought it because I wouldn’t have achieved this success without it.” About 50 horses live at the Equestrian Center, 16 miles from the main campus (3 shuttles a day run back and forth). All the horses are donated, including “some famous ones” like a horse from the Beijing Olympics. An alum, concerned about what would happen when they got too old for the 60-ish riders in the Equine Studies program, donated $250,000 for a retirement barn for the older horses. That barn, currently with 5 residents (and room for 6 more per year after this) sits adjacent to the main campus.

eh-studentE&H is another CTCL school that did not disappoint. Students we spoke to – ranging from tour guides to random kids in the café to the singers performing for us over dinner – couldn’t say enough about the school. One said, “People are so nice, it’s almost creepy!” Another one had this to say about academics: “Classes are challenging but not so much that you get down on yourself.”

It’s no wonder kids rave about their classes: E&H has more Virginia Professors of the Year than UVA and VTech combined!

eh-quad-and-chapelAt any CTCL school, I ask students how the institution has changed their lives. Here’s what I got:

  • “I can be myself here.”
  • “The music program is amazing and I’ve learned so much. It’s pushed me well beyond my comfort zone.”
  • “Individual attention I get here is outstanding. I really didn’t expect that from college.”
  • “People are really accepting. We’re not labeled here. We can spend hours in rehearsals or in a practice room. People don’t see that as weird. They just say that we’re hard working.”
  • “We go to a lot of auditions. We met people from schools where the students there didn’t even know each other. Here we do, and we support and help each other all the time.”

The Patrick Henry statue

E&H is named for Patrick Henry (yes, of “Give me liberty or give me death!” fame – also the 1st Governor of Virginia) and John Emory (a Bishop of the Methodist Church); statues of the 2 men stand prominently in the middle of campus facing each other (and will often get dressed up


The John Emory statue

by students for special occasions). A third statue of Ephraim Wiley (the longest standing college president) sits on top of one of the main buildings. This statue and the Chapel are the same height to show Wiley’s belief of their equal importance in the students’ education. E&H is associated with the Methodist church, and students must take 1 religion course. However, that’s where the religious requirements end.

There are a few academic programs worth highlighting:

  • eh-tech-workshop

    The theater tech workshop

    The music and theater programs are great, with BFAs offered in Acting, Directing, Musical Theater, and Production & Design. They put on 4-6 productions a year. They were putting on Rocky Horror Picture Show right after we visited (including a midnight performance!), so the students performed several numbers for us during dinner. There are several scholarship for music based on audition. The Chorale competes internationally (they went to South Africa last year). Students tend to get involved cross-disciplines (ie, the marching band Drum Major is in chorale).

  • eh-art-displayThe Art program is developing a Museum Studies Track. Students curate shows from the college’s permanent collection. They bring in visiting artists who give talks to the students (the community is invited as well). When we visited, the art on display in the main gallery was fresh from Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian). 30-35 students from all disciplines including EnviSci helped to install it. The insects are all real, mostly from SE Asia and the Pacific Rim. The exhibit is meant to make a positive out of negative; the Skull symbolizes what could happen and the eye is meant to represent the Evil Eye.
  • Lyceum Program: students must attend a certain number of lectures and cultural events. All arts count towards this.
  • Along with standard majors, they offer unique programs like Civil Innovation; Politics, Law, and International Relations; and a 5-year, BA/MA program in Community and Organizational Leadership. Students can build their own major if they choose to do so.

The Hermesian Literary Society room

Something unique are the debate rooms set aside for the 2 main Literary Societies/Debate clubs on campus. The Hermesian Literary Society (Lincoln-Douglass style debating) was founded when the school was founded; it stopped for awhile and was restarted 4 years ago; students interested in joining must take part in an introductory debate in which they can decide the topic. The Calliopean Room is across the hall; they debate in Parliamentary Style. There’s a friendly rivalry between them, and they’ll have intersocietal debates.


One of the new dorm buildings

Most freshmen and 80% of all students live on campus. Two new apartment-style dorms have been built recently, both having about 250 beds. About 35% of the students join one of the 15 Greek organizations. While there’s no Greek Housing, members can choose to live together on a floor (although the college limits the number of students from any particular organization who can live on a single floor). This used to be a dry campus but that’s been rescinded, although a clear alcohol policy remains in effect.


One of the outdoor riding areas

This has been named a Best Small School for Outdoor Activities. The Outdoor Program is well utilized by students. They’re located near the 2 highest peaks in Virginia, and they have a 9-hole golf course on campus. One of the most amazing programs is the Semester A.T.rail which lets students hike the length of the Appalachian Trail for a semester. They plan their program with the Director, but Nature Writing (an English Course) is required of all hikers.

eh-chapelStudents admit that there’s not much going on in the town of Emory, but “There’s a good farmer’s market in town.” On campus, however, there’s plenty to do. Football brings out big crowds. Homecoming is a big deal; lots of alumni come back for it. Tailgating becomes a networking event in addition to just being fun.

© 2016

Spelman College

SPELMAN COLLEGE (visited 3/4/13)

Spelman sculpture 2Spelman looks like a typical small liberal arts school with lots of brick and open spaces with 25 buildings on 42 acres. I was surprised that this is a gated campus. Access to campus is restricted after about 11 pm, and students have to show ID to get onto campus at that point. Men must also be off campus by midnight.

Spelman oval


Ninety-two percent of Spelman’s 2100 students are of African descent but come from all over the world. The top five U.S. states represented are GA, NY, CA, MD, and IL. The tour guide said that 30 students is a “huge class.” Spelman boasts a 92% freshman-to-sophomore year retention rate and an 82% graduation rate – the highest of the HBCUs.

Spelman acad bldgThey are part of the largest HBCU consortium in the US. Morehouse is right across the street, Clark Atlanta is also “next door,” and they’re connected to the Interdenominational Theological Center and Morehouse School of Medicine. Although there are more than 100 clubs on campus, they can and do join clubs on the other campuses. Additionally, Spelman is part of the ARCHE program (Atlanta Regional Consortium of Higher Education) which includes all these schools, plus Oglethorpe, Emory, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, and more. Finally, they also have a “domestic exchange” with NYU, Grinnell, and Duke among others. Although first year students cannot have cars on campus, that doesn’t stop them from getting around to other campuses or into Atlanta itself. Public transportation is very easy to use.

Spelman chapel

Spelman oval 2US News has ranked Spelman #1 for sending women of color to med school, #1 of the schools of their size for graduates joining Teach for America, and top 20 for Best Buys. They have 27 majors, 10 pre-professional programs, and 6 minors (Anthropology, management and organization, Dance, Japanese, Child Development, and Film & Visual Culture). The Pre-professional programs add 10 or 11 classes to the student’s program of study to prep for graduate programs. They also offer a 3-2 engineering dual-degree program with GaTech.

Spelman 2Spelman 1Spelman is big on tradition and history. The students on the panel talked over and over about the feelings of sisterhood (this word was used A LOT) on campus. Students aren’t allowed to leave campus during orientation which raised a few eyebrows when the students first told us, but none of the women seemed to think that was a real restriction. They talked about how much of a community it created and how many friends they made during that time. Community is also built because all first and second year students live on campus; 1500 out of 2100 total live on campus. There is a lot of good-hearted competitions between dorms, and all the students say that their dorm is, of course, the best! Only about 10% of students join Greek Life; the students on the panel said that there wasn’t much need because they got the same community and sisterhood feeling just on campus and from the dorms. If they decide to join, they can rush after earning 30 credits. The panelists said that other favorite things about the college were the little things like getting a ‘good morning’ from others on campus, even if they didn’t know the person; a feeling that they’re all in this together; and that faculty have open door policies. With a 12:1 student to teacher ratio, they feel like they have good access to the professors. There is very little they said they wanted to change; one thing mentioned was that they’d like to change the communication through the departments.

Spelman dormThe administration is deliberate about goals they have for the institution, and even use the acronym of GOALS to list what they’re working on and they type of experience they want every Spelman woman to have: Global Involvement, Opportunities (Internships, etc), Alumni/student connections, Leadership Development, Service Learning. They are phasing out their DIII athletics in favor of intramurals and a wellness program. They were spending a lot of money on very few athletes, and this allows them to spread the money more evenly to be used by more students.

(c) 2013

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