Maryville University (Visited 4/11/13)
I didn’t even know that Maryville University existed before I got invited to the Counselor Fly-In, but over the course of this busy day-and-a-half program, I learned a lot. This university on the outskirts of St. Louis is a good choice for certain students, particularly the solid-B students looking to go into Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Nursing since these are direct entry programs.
The university is located directly off the highway among business complexes. We exited the highway and pulled quickly into campus with no stores to be seen; I asked the admissions rep if there was something on the other side of campus – cafes, bookstores, anything; there’s not. They are tucked squarely among businesses, so they a have limited area in which to grow. The campus itself, luckily, opens up once you’re on it. There are green spaces; flowers and trees were in bloom. However, even with that, the campus feels a bit industrial, for lack of a better word. Although they had some pretty buildings and the quads were nice, there was just something – plain? – about campus. Also, because there’s nothing within walking distance for students, everyone can have cars on campus, and the school offers shuttles to Target, Walmart, and other places, but only for the first few weeks of the school year since people stop using it after about a month. A city bus stops next to campus which runs to the light rail or all the way downtown. Light rail costs about $4 and takes about 15 minutes to downtown. We asked students what it was like without anything in walking distance, and mostly they shrugged: “It’s easy enough to get around because so many people commute (only 650 of the 2,000 traditional undergrads live on campus). You always know people with cars, and the shuttle is easy.” They said that there’s a lot to do off campus and that “lots of things are free.” They also tend to do things at the other schools in town (particularly WashU and SLU).
Some of the majors impressed me because of their uniqueness or because of particular strengths:
- Criminal Justice and Criminology is one major. Students can spend a semester at the police academy and get 13 credits towards their BA! I don’t know of another school that does that.
- Their Sports Business Management program is sponsored by Rawlings, one of the businesses next to campus. Rawlings (which makes football and baseball equipment) offers several internship opportunities, as do the sports teams in St. Louis.
- Health Sciences are generally good. They’re deliberately interdisciplinary and community-focused. “Be ready to be engaged” through simulation labs, clients from the city who come in for on-site clinicals, and even international clinical experiences such as with Healing Hands Foundation in Guatemala. Students complete 275,000 clinical hours annually.
- They have direct-entry Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Nursing. One student panelist chose Maryville for the nursing, which she described as “rigorous. It definitely pushes me.” OT is a direct-to-Masters program (no Bachelors along the way). PT students earn a BS in Health Sciences and then do 3 more years to earn the DPT. OT students have a 94% passing rate on the boards; PT has 100%
- Rehab Services is a bachelors program in which students complete coursework and field experiences, looking at societal needs, health care policy, legal mandates, access to resources, and how societal perspectives impact perspectives on disability.
- Students registered in the Pre-Med track can do a Sophomore Review. They submit a resume and letter, then complete a mock interview. The panel will grill them. After, they write a letter explaining what the student did well and what to work on. 100% of those kids who are doing everything right get into med school.
- One student panelist was taking Gross Anatomy as a sophomore and was heading there right after the panel. “We’re dissecting a human heart today. We’re actually taking it out of the cadaver. It’s a bit terrifying.”
- The Education Department is intense; the students have more extensive and intensive school placements than many other colleges.
- Freshmen visit seven schools (all levels, urban and suburban); Sophomores are in schools two days/week for a year and complete the Street Project as a scheduled, credit-bearing class; Juniors spend two half-days and one full day/week for a year (lots of teaching, case studies); Seniors see school begin in August, then two days/week until student teaching.
- The Street Project: small groups are assigned a street that radiates from downtown out into the suburbs. They have to drive the street at least 3 times, noting communities, economics, cultures, etc. They have to attend a cultural event, research the history, visit a school, look at finances of schools, interview people, etc.
- The Legal Studies major is approved by American Bar Association. Ninety-five percent of grads are employed at graduation, and 95% of those who want to go to law school are accepted.
- The Forensic Science Professor came to talk to us in a tie-dyed lab coat. The program is three years old; he’s working on getting accreditation (but need to have a graduate first). Students have to be prepared to work from the initial crime through trial. They’re ready to teach, be police officers, do lab work, and more. “If I haven’t taught them how to think for themselves, I’ve failed.”
- Two students said that Criminal Investigations/From Murder to Trial was their favorite class. A crime scene is set up (which is so realistic that they’ve had to tell other students that it’s not a real scene) and students do the CSI and take it to trial. Students in this class can get credit for a lab class, Criminal Justice, or Legal Studies.
- Communications: Students can specialize in PR, Marketing, Advertising, Social Media, and more. Some of the courses include: Intro to New and Social Media, Health Communication, Writing for PR, Strategic Communications Campaigns, News Writing and Editing. The department pushes these students to complete at least 2 or 3 internships, some as early as freshmen year.
- Music Therapy students are prepared to work in Gerontology, Physical Rehab, Special Ed, pediatrics, psychiatry, Hospice Care, and more. Students in this major often participate in “Kids Rock Cancer.”
- They have partnered up with WashU and others for a dual-degree Engineering program.
- Their hands-on Interior Design, Interactive Design, Graphic Design, and similar programs are well-funded and very hands-on. The Arts building has impressive studios; they can even take Metals and Jewelry classes.. We got to see an end-of-year display that students were putting together for an evening open-house/job fair that brings employers in to see final projects.
Maryville pulls about 25% of their students from out of state, particularly from Illinois (right across the river) and California (it helps that they have a regional rep who lives out there). One of the students on the panel said that Maryville was more affordable than the California schools. They love the small school and small classes because they can get involved, get to know people, and get help when they need it. Most students who come from out of town can live on campus if they want to, but for those who choose to live off campus, it’s relatively easy to find housing, and the commuter students said that it’s easy to get involved with a Commuter Connection group to help them link into campus. The university would like to make this more of a residential campus. They recently added 240 beds by buying a hotel located directly across the street and converting it to a dorm; this is highly sought after because of the individual bathrooms. They would like to build more dorm space, but physical space is an issue since they can’t physically expand the campus.
One of the complaints on campus is that events aren’t always well attended. “You don’t’ get that 3000 person crowd.” The school has a ways to go to develop a vibrant, active, residential atmosphere, although they look out for students in a variety of ways, including some early intervention programs to make sure that kids don’t fall in the cracks, academically or socially. However, a lot of services seem to be “farmed out.” For example, there’s no Greek life, but it’s a “Greek friendly campus” and they’ll work with organizations from other places city-wide.