campus encounters

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Search Results for: “Michigan State University

Michigan State University

Michigan State University (visited 1/30/15)

MSU bus

One of the buses circulating around campus

~MSU tree and bldgAlthough there’s a lot of traffic around this 2-mile x 2-mile campus, the middle of MSU is lovely and feels cohesive. They boast about their 10,000 feet of sidewalk (portions of which are heated). “Walking from place to place is a good call-home time!” said one guide, but if they don’t feel like walking, there are plenty of buses circulating around campus and through town. A bus pass costs $50 a semester or 80c a ride. Freshmen cannot have cars “which is just as well – parking is located a 15-minute walk away. You aren’t using cars for quick trips anywhere.” Both guides agreed that cars just weren’t necessary. Even getting to the Detroit airport is easy: the university runs shuttles there at breaks.

MSU sculpture 3The tour guides (a junior from Denver and a freshman from Philly) were some of the best I’ve had. They both came from small high schools and were looking for the larger, Big-10, rah-rah sort of school. They clearly loved MSU and used personal anecdotes to illustrate what life was like for them rather than spouting statistics or generalities. I walked away with a good sense of who would thrive here: smart, independent students who are willing to ask questions (not just in class) and get involved in something; it seems like students here have found a really good balance between the academic and the extra-curricular.

A freshman dorm lounge

A freshman dorm lounge

Although campus can seem overwhelming, the guides said that participating in Orientation was key in figuring out how to get around but it’s also on them to make the effort; someone suggested to them that they “walk their schedule” before classes to really learn where they were going. One guide didn’t do that and panicked the first morning – but was able to pick up a map and get directions from the service desk in the res hall. All freshmen are required to live on campus; the dorms are attractive and comfortable. The only complaint is that many rooms don’t have wifi yet (but all common areas have it). They are working on this. Currently, students can request which “Neighborhood” or dorm they want; next year, they’ll be able to pick their exact room.

One of the many dining halls

One of the many dining halls

Each neighborhood has at least one dining hall for a total of 10 around campus. They’re open at different hours (some opens at 7am, some are open until midnight, etc). Students get unlimited swipes so they can grab a coffee or snack between classes. There are also grab-and-go places, coffee shops, etc on campus; many fast-food places directly off campus; and a food truck comes on campus (which only serves food sourced from within 2 miles of campus!). There’s also a bakery in town that provides baked goods to the dining halls.

Even students living off campus often buy a partial meal plan for the convenience and because the food is good. One guide lives in an apartment about a 15-minute walk from campus. “It’s so easy to find a place! There are housing fairs, advertising, stuff like that.” She’s on her own lease even though she shares the apartment with others. “It’s a nice piece of security because I don’t have to count on anyone else if they leave or whatever before the year is up.”

The River

The River

The Art Museum

The Art Museum

It’s hard to get bored on campus with 650 clubs available (which includes Greek life and a Squirrel Watching club). Sports are popular, of course. Students do have to pay for tickets to men’s hockey, basketball, and football games, but all other sports are free. The Red Cedar River, which cuts the campus in half, also provides recreation: students play hockey on it in the winter and can raft down it in the summer. They have an excellent museum designed by a world-class architect. They movie Batman vs. Robin was filmed here; the students are really excited about seeing the final product after seeing the filming!

MSU bikesStudents can take traditional, online, and “hybrid” classes (usually 1 class a week in a lecture hall and the discussions and homework online). One of the guides took a 600-person hybrid business class; her microeconomics class was also huge. However, they also had classes of 17 (writing) and 8 (hospitality/cooking class). Their “Engagement Centers” (there are several around campus) provide tutoring, writing centers, and more for students needing extra help with academics.

MSU began as Michigan’s land-grant institution; not surprisingly, the agricultural programs got mentioned several times, and the Agricultural College is popular and strong. Notable majors include: Fisheries and Wildlife; Construction Management; Landscape Architecture; Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism; and Entomology. The James Madison College offers 4 interesting majors including Comparative Cultures and Politics, Social Relations and Policy, and Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy.

(c) 2015

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University (visited 11/20/19)

EMU YouareWelcome

The massive “You Are Welcome Here” sign; there are other versions of this around campus

Few schools have surprised me as much as EMU did. Although this may feel like it gets lost in UMich’s shadow (they’re only about 20 minutes from Ann Arbor), this vibrant, attractive campus offers students a huge array of academic, athletic, and social opportunities at an amazing price point – and it’s been named as “A Best Campus in the Midwest” for 17 years running by Princeton Review. It’s also one of the most diverse campuses I’ve seen: 1/3 of students self-identify as domestic students of color; many students were wearing hijb; students come from all 50 states and 83 countries; 48% are Pell recipients; and 25% are First-Gen students.

EMU CommonI would absolutely recommend this college to students: it’s accessible (physically, financially, and academically); it has a great vibe; and it has all the academic and social options/ opportunities of a larger school without the crazy cut-throat feeling at some places. “I love the eclectic mix of students here. You learn so much because there are a lot of perspectives,” said one of the tour guides.

EMU student Center

The student center and part of the pond.

One of the most impressive about the college is their cost: starting in 2016, they stopped charging additional tuition for out-of-state students; I’ve seen other colleges provide scholarships to qualified students that can bring the cost down to in-state tuition, but not just a flat price at a state school. The total Cost of Attendance is just under $25,000 for students living on campus! That’s almost unheard of. They base tuition on 26 credit hours per year; it could go up a bit for more credits (that is a little unusual; traditional credit load is 30 per year). On top of that, they provide scholarships (students may qualify for more than one but may only receive one) such as:

  • EMU 54Ward Graduation Scholarship: Students with a 3.0 GPA and a 1030 SAT/20 ACT can apply for this; after successfully completing the first 2 years and paying fixed-rate tuition, EMU will pay the tuition for years 3 and 4. Students must live on campus all 4 years to get this scholarship. They must complete 30 credits a year (aka be on track to graduate on time) and keep a 2.0 GPA while at EMU.
  • The Presidential Scholarship is the only competition-based scholarship with applications due by 11/1. Students need a 3.5+GPA and 25+ACT, must write an additional essay, and interview. Usually about 20 students are selected a year for this.
  • Emerald Scholarships are worth up to $8,000 per year depending on grades and scores.

EMU 3For admissions purposes, the lowest GPA they’ll accept is a 2.0 but “we’re on a sliding scale,” said the rep. “If you have a 2.0, you’ll need a higher test score.” However, they’re still a selective school with under a 50% acceptance rate.

Campus is impressive; while there are still a few buildings with utilitarian 1970s architecture, much of it is updated and attractive. Founded in 1849 as a teachers college (the first in Michigan and the first outside of the original 13 colonies), now it offers over 200 majors. 88% of classes have 35 or fewer students. Interesting things about their programs:

  • EMU elem sci class

    Elementary Science Education classroom

    They have an Elementary Science Education classroom! Students get a feel for what it’s like and they teach real lessons in the community. “It gets them all geeked up. It’s the least antiseptic science class you’ll ever see because we have all the kid stuff,” said the professor we spoke to in the classroom. She’s was incredibly engaging! “We teach them a lot of fun stuff about how we eat – chocolate, spice, etc. Even Chili Day to learn how it affects the body.”

  • “The Rocks in the science building get moved around. We don’t know how,” said one of the tour guides. There are astronomy classes and $5 planetarium shows on Tuesday and Thursday. There’s a specialized Science Writing Center.
  • EMU sci rocks

    The Science Department rocks

    Within the School of Engineering &Tech:

    • Visual and Built Environments department which houses Construction Management, Fashion Marketing Innovation, and Simulation/Animation/Gaming majors, among others.
    • Tech & Professional Services houses Hotel Management (the university owns a hotel), Paralegal, Aviation Flight Management and Management Technology.
  • They have some strong interdisciplinary programs including Data Science & AnalyticsChildren’s Lit and Drama/Theater, EnviSci and Society, and Africology and African-American Studies.
  • They have multiple specialized science programs including Fermentation Science (in Chemistry) and Science Literacy (specialized for different science majors).

EMU project centerThey have a Project Center (like a writing center) in library where students can get help for all types of projects including how to put together presentations. Students can get prizes for studying: they check into study centers, writing center, the library, etc. They’ll actually have areas where people will check to see if they’re on social media – “3 strikes and you’re out for the day! You have to give up your study carrel.”

EMU fountain 1About 5,000 students live on campus; about 2/3 of first-years and almost 25% of all undergrads live on campus. There are a lot of off-campus housing options for students who want to move off; the tour guides said that housing was fairly easy to come by. They do encourage people to stay on campus by providing housing stipends for living in the traditional dorms (not the campus apartments).

EMU quad 1Campus life is active. There are movies shown every Friday, they offer great trips like to Zoo Lights, there’s Greek life, and athletics keep athletes and fans busy. They’re NCAA DI except for football which is NAIA.

We got to eat lunch with our tour guides as part of the tour (it was optional – it was placed on purpose at the end if people had to leave, but we stuck around). This was smart on EMU’s part! The food was good, although it was fairly standard dining hall fare. There were enough options to satisfy different dietary styles. This particular dining hall was a bit on the small side for a university this size; it was busy but never packed during our time there (at peak lunch times). There are plenty of other options, as well.

© 2019

University of Michigan – Flint

University of Michigan – Flint (visited 11/19/19)

UMFlint main signUM-Flint is a University of Michigan institution but has its own admissions policies and its own scholarships. “We’re not a satellite of Ann Arbor,” said the rep. However, students who want a UMich education and degree (the diploma just says University of Michigan!) but in a smaller school (8,000 undergrads rather than 28,000 at Ann Arbor), a more urban environment (they’re right in downtown), or who maybe want to get their grades up to be competitive at Ann Arbor would thrive here. They offer great academics including direct entry nursing, business, BFA degrees in fine and performing arts, engineering, psychology, and an array of health-care degrees.

UMFlint ice rink

The campus ice rink

We added UM-Flint to the itinerary at the last minute since we were staying in town and had a bit of time. I did not expect to spend long on campus; in fact, when I contacted the admissions office, I asked if I could pick up a bit of info right before they closed and said that we could just wander a bit on our own. They went way above and beyond: the rep had gift bags of swag, she talked to us for about 30 minutes (staying past closing to do so), and they had a student waiting for us who toured us around campus for an hour in the evening.

UMFlint walkways

One of the walkways between buildings

While this would still be a harder sell for most out-of-state students, there are definite pluses going for it. As a much smaller campus that Ann Arbor, the average class hovers around 25-30 students, so students might find more success and access here, particularly for those looking for a more personal touch in their intro level classes. The atmosphere here is distinct and much more urban. The campus sits close to downtown; 5 or 6 of the buildings are connected by skywalks (“Hamster Tunnels,” the student said) so students don’t have to cross streets or get cold in the winter. There’s a lot to do on and around campus, including the campus ice skating rink. “There are a lot of options within the county, not just Flint,” said the rep. “When I think of local, I think of the entire county. There are tons of things to do.” Students love the Farmer’s Market which is right next to the Freshman dorm, and there are several things within easy walking distance. “There are interesting, one-of-a-kind places around.” Traffic is almost a non-issue as well; it’s very easy to navigate and get around town.

UMFlint quad

The dorm quad at night

“We’re very much a non-traditional school; we have tons of freshmen and transfers as well as adults coming in for completion degrees who are working FT.” Although many people do come from the area, they’re being deliberate in trying to expand their reach out. They’re going to give Out-of-State students free housing this year to help grow the market! They have dorms for freshmen and for upperclassmen, but only about 15% of students currently live on campus. The dorms are phenomenal — all dorms are suite style with single rooms and a great lounge. Hallways look like a hotel, and they’re new and clean. They have the 2nd most affordable housing in the state, and there are tons of options surrounding campus. Freshman must have a meal plan. Parking is no additional fee. “We expect that everyone has a car.”

UMFlint student cntr

The student center

This is a great option for students who want to earn a UM degree. Students can transfer later to Ann Arbor, but not every class they take at Flint will transfer over. They should work with their advisor to make sure they take appropriate classes if transferring is their goal. “Gen Ed classes are fairly transfer-friendly,” said the rep. Flint’s only offers General and Mechanical Engineering, but they offer a 2+2 with Ann Arbor for the other programs. This is basically a guarantee as long as they maintain grades, etc. The school’s retention and graduation rates are lower than I’d normally like to see – and the rep agrees that these are not where they’d like them, but there are several reasons for this: first, they do lose a lot of students to Ann Arbor, particularly because of the 2+2 engineering program; even though this is a planned articulation agreement, those numbers count against Flint. Second, because they have so many non-traditional students studying part time, they don’t graduate “on time.”

Classes usually run Mon-Thurs so they’re a little longer. Occasionally there’s one on Friday, but often these are graduate or evening classes to accommodate returning, working adults pursing a degree. Flint’s top programs include:

  • Nursing: this is direct admit. It’s relatively new, but eventually they’ll put a limit on it. They must maintain a 3.0 in all their science and nursing classes. All nursing classes must be taken on campus (they can’t take things at a community college over the summer, for instance).
  • School of Management: many students come here for that, particularly Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Organizational Behavior/HR, and Operations/Supply Chain Management.
  • Health Sciences including Public Health, Clinical Health Sciences, Radiation Therapy, OT, PT as well as new graduate programs in nurse-anesthesia and PA.
  • Engineering because of 2+2.
  • Within Arts and Sciences, Psych and Geography/Planning/Environment stand out.

© 2019

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University (visited 1/28/15)

~WMU quad 6

An academic quad

For a public university, this isn’t huge, especially compared to the other public universities in the state. The campus is manageable; “compact” said one tour guide. “It takes no more than 15 minutes to walk across. You can get from class to class in 7 or 8 minutes.” There are buses, but they’re just not needed simply to get around campus. WMU is located (literally) directly across the street from Kalamazoo College, but there isn’t much intermingling between the schools.

~WMU dining hall

One of the dining halls

Before the info session and tour, I went to lunch with Rachel, a senior  – “but I won’t graduate for another year because I switched into nursing.” She came to WMU for the scholarship and the honors program, and because she felt like she was treated like an individual. People were “super willing to help, and I found that even as a student. Older students, professors, whoever are all willing to give advice.”

~WMU courtyardPeople who will do well here are solid students who also have outside interests, who want the larger school experience with the large athletics, but who still want a campus feel and who don’t quite want to get lost in the crowd.

~WMU quad 5Approximately 1/3 of the 19,000 undergraduates live on campus. Many freshmen live in traditional dorms, but there’s also specialty themed housing with activities, tutors, etc geared towards that subject. Some scholarships carry a residency requirement. Upperclassmen put themselves on waiting lists for the on-campus apartments which are in high demand. The 12,000 or so students who don’t live on campus find housing around town through word-of-mouth, on Craig’s List, or even just by showing up at apartment complexes. I spoke to three students who live off campus; they all said it was easy to find a place.

~WMU dorms 2

One of the dorm neighborhoods

There are also some Greek houses. Many members live in them for a year (sometimes 2 if there’s room). Often they move in the year after they pledge, so most of the residents are sophomores, occasionally juniors. Only about 5% of WMU students are affiliated with 1 of the 30 sororities or fraternities. 20 of these are nationally recognized; the rest are local or service groups.

WMU athletic cntr

The athletic center hallways. Classrooms are to the left.

Hockey is the big sport here; Rachel wishes that they would build a bigger stadium since it’s always packed. Most games are standing room only. Their big Hockey rival is Miami of Ohio; for all other sports, it’s Central Michigan. “Football is also a lot more fun now that there’s a new coach.” Intramurals cost usually $9 per season per sport “unless you have a team from all the same hall. Then it’s covered under student activities fee.”

~WMU windowBronco Bash, best described as a street fair with live music, activities, etc., is a favorite yearly activity. The monthly movies in the school theatre are also popular; for $1, they get popcorn and a movie. These are usually packed. “There’s something to be said about watching movies with 500 college students.” The town of Kalamazoo has plenty to do, including various “fests” (Rib Fest, Irish Fest) throughout the year. For people needing to go further afield for fun, Chicago is 2.5 hours west, Grand Rapids is 45 minutes north, and Detroit is 2 hours east.

~WMU acad bldg 2WMU only pulls about 5% of their students from other states and another 7% from other countries. It’s very easy to get Michigan Residency for tuition purposes. Students must live in Michigan for 12 consecutive months; the school year counts towards this. Students will either stay on campus or sublet an off-campus apartment through the summer so they can take classes, work, and/or do research. Once they live in MI for 12 months and switch their licence, they get in-state tuition.

~WMU rotunda

Atrium of a science building

Academics generally well regarded. Although there are larger classes associated with a large public school, they aren’t overwhelming and the students said that there’s always help available. Largest classes for the students I talked to have all hovered around 200 (Psych, Communication Theory, and Biology). Smallest have been 20 in labs and 15 in English.

Notable programs include:

  • ~WMU muralAviation Programs. The College of Aviation (one of the largest in the nation) maintains a separate facility at the airport in Battle Creek, about 20 minutes from the main campus. One of the students raved about how nice it was.  Majors include Flight Science, Maintenance Tech, and Management and Operations. 
  • Engineering: In addition to the more common Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, Computer, and Electrical Engineering, they also offer Aerospace, Construction, Paper, and Industrial/Entrepreneurial Engineering. The College of Engineering also offers Graphic and Printing Science, Engineering Design Technology, and Manufacturing Engineering Technology. Students applying to this school need a 25 on the ACT math section.
  • Business: students complete one year of “pre-business” before they specialize
  • Freshwater Science and Sustainability
  • Textile and Apparel Studies (Product Development, Merchandising, or Fashion Design). Students complete at least 1 semester at Fashion Institute of Tech or at American Intercontinental University in London.
  • Geosciences, including Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Hydrogeology.
  • The Honors College: Students need a 3.6 GPA and a 26 ACT (1190 CR&M on the SAT).
  • Air Force ROTC
~WMU stud activity cntr

Student Activity Center

Admission is rolling, but for the best scholarship consideration, students should apply by the first Friday in December. Medallion Scholarships award the most money; winners tend to average around a 3.7 GPA and 26 ACT. If they qualify, they are invited to campus to compete. Winners get $12,500 a year, but all who attend the competition are guaranteed at least $3,000. Endowed scholarships are awarded usually around the middle of March. Students wanting need-based aid should file the FAFSA by the priority deadline of 3/1.

Admitted students’ GPAs hover around 3.3 – 3.4; ACTs average around a 23; about a third of their students fall in the top 25% of their HS class. They will recalculate grades with AP classes getting an additional 1 quality point. If students are borderline, they’ll look at the essay, the rec letters, etc.

(c) 2015

Rowan University

ROWAN UNIVERSITY (visited 7/30/13)

Rowan meetingOne of Rowan’s claims to fame is that it hosted a meeting in 1967 between President Johnson and Soviet Premier Kosygin at the Hollybush Mansion, the university president’s home. They met here because of its location halfway between the UN and DC. Apparently, Lady Bird Johnson took the chairs which are now in the Smithsonian with a tag that says “Donated by Rowan” – the tour guide says that if we go there, we should tell people that they were taken from Rowan, not donated!

I had no idea what to expect from Rowan, one of New Jersey’s public universities, but I walked away with a good impression. Students are happy and enthusiastic about the programs and the opportunities they’ve had. This school of 10,750 undergraduates has recently been designated as a state Research Institution, and they’re proud that they do not do research at the expense of the undergraduate. Instead, they’ve been doing a great deal to expand their offerings and opportunities for their students. More money has been going into resources for students, and more scholarship money is available than ever before. They’ve increased their academic offerings for students, including eight new PhD programs and several new Masters programs are in the pipeline. Their Med School is highly competitive, receiving 3,000 apps for 50 seats, and it’s only the second university (after Michigan State) to offer both an MD and a DO (osteopathic medicine) degree. This has had a “trickle-down effect” into their undergraduate programs, and every undergraduate college on campus has a pre-med program, even the performing arts, including using dance as part of therapy. They’re getting away from the traditional model of pre-med prep.

Rowan academicsThey are proud of their Four Pillars program which includes: Economic Engine (helping students getting job and becoming involved in the community); Affordability (they froze tuition by keeping efficiencies in the system); Accessibility (making education available even though they’re getting more selective); and Growth (they’ve built the Stratford Campus for the medical and graduate programs, and they’ve built a partnership with Rutgers for a biomedical school). They’re looking to DOUBLE their student population over the next 10 years. They’ve already shown tremendous growth in their numbers; they used to only serve students from 4 or 5 counties; now they’re a well-known regional university, and they want to become better known across the country. Their out-of-state applications have been rapidly increasing, almost doubling last year from 400 to 700. In the most current freshman class, students had an average of a 3.6 GPA and 1200 SAT or 26 ACT.

Rowan Sci outside

Outside of the new science building

Inside the Science Building

Inside the Science Building

Some of the students’ favorite classes have been the History of WWII, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Developmental Psychopathology. Their classes range from 10-35, and they appreciate the small classes and the chance that they know the professors; people notice if they aren’t in class, and they’re able to get a lot out of classes. Rowan has a strong business program, including Supply Chain and Logistical Systems, Management Info Systems, Entrepreneurship, and other more usual concentrations. Engineering students can choose to specialize in Chemical (ranked 3rd in nation, top among public universities), Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, or Mechanical (ranked 8th in nation). Within the Humanities and Social Sciences College, their Africana Studies, Law and Justice Studies, and Planning are the most unusual majors. In the Science and math division, students can choose from all the usual majors, plus Bioinformatics and Child Behavioral Services. Education is strong at Rowan, and they have a program that allows students to graduate before student teaching, as long as they’ve fulfilled all the other requirements. Two of the tour guides had just graduated but were staying for one more semester to do their student teaching requirement.

Rowan quadAlthough there’s a lot to do on campus, students love that they’re only 20 minutes from Philly, 45 minutes to the shore, and halfway between NYC and DC. The school is doing a lot to do more outreach into the local community, and the activities on campus give students a real sense of community within campus and into the wider town. Unless students commute from a parent’s house, they have to live on campus for the first 2 years. There are freshman-only dorms which are mostly traditional style, but some have suites where they have to clean their own bathrooms. The university is building a 5-block-long apartment complex with Honors housing, B&N bookstore, Starbucks, retail shops and restaurants, arts and entertainment district. Ten percent of the student population joins Greek life.

© 2013

Baldwin Wallace University

Baldwin-Wallace College (visited 4/19/12) (now BW University)

“Ok, before we go into the lab, we have a couple rules. First, leave all food and drink outside. Second, do not lick anything in the lab. Everyone good?” Really, you can’t beat a biology professor with a good sense of humor!

BWC 1

The main Conservatory building on campus.

First impressions mean a lot even though we’re told not to judge a book by its cover. BWC made an excellent first impression with its beautiful old stone buildings, immaculate grounds, and tulips and daffodils blooming everywhere. The good news is that the substance of the college did not disappoint! The people at BWC were the only ones on the seven-college counselor-tour who showed off what made them distinct from other schools instead of giving the typical spiel/song-and-dance. A couple other schools gave lip-service to the idea of “we’re not going to tell you that we have great faculty, study abroad options, and research opportunities, because every place you go is going to tell you that” . . . and then they proceeded to tell us about those things. BWC didn’t. Instead, we got to spend time in a lab to interact with students doing independent research, check out innovations in their athletic center and the majors associated with it (such as athletic training, exercise science, sports management and health promotion and management), and then tour their Music Conservatory and learn about programs there. I didn’t even know that they HAD a conservatory; neither did my sister who is a musician, so it’s clearly one of their best-kept secrets! The students go on to do impressive things including performing on Broadway. Seniors graduating with a Musical Theater major participate in a showcase every spring in New York City in front of several directors and producers. This happened about a week before our visit, and within a span of five days, all 13 graduating seniors had signed with agents. (As a comparison, I heard that Michigan had two at that same point in time). An audition is required for entrance into the Conservatory (accredited by the National Association of Music Schools) which offers emphases in performance, pedagogy, jazz, conducting, theory, composing, and sacred music in addition to the unusual major of Music Therapy. (Students also have to be proficient enough on at least one instrument to gain acceptance into the Conservatory if they want to major in Music Therapy).

BWC3Baldwin Wallace actively looks ahead to jobs that experts predict will be available for students in 5-10 years, and then creates majors and learning opportunities for students in order to prepare them. They created 14 new degree programs in the last four years or so. The Physician Assistant program is 1 of 6 in Ohio; they’re a year away from accreditation for a 3-2 program. They excel in Health Sciences and Allied Health majors. They utilize the nearby Cleveland hospitals, some of which are ranked in the top 10 nationally, and they work with industry professionals to develop the new degrees. Their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing utilizes Concept-based learning; only a couple other programs in NM and NC do this. The Health Sciences are producing impressive results; this year, two students (a junior and a senior) interned with the top pediatric neurosurgeon in the country.

Other majors of note include Digital Media and Design (combining artistry/creativity and technology), their Software engineering degree starting this fall (the only one in the state), Health Care Management, Public Health (which started this fall; 29 students are already enrolled), and Recreation Sport Sciences.

BWC4One of their major goals across all majors is to create a practice-based education. Most of the faculty members come to BW from the fields in which they teach allowing them to provide practical, real examples of how the theory and knowledge they teach translates into the real world. Almost every student completes some sort of “experiential education” experience through internships, study abroad, and other types of programs. The school has 52 articulated agreements for study abroad with options for others if students find a different program they’re interested in. Students must complete a minor here in order to broaden their educational field.

Although this is a Methodist-affiliated college, it does not feel at all religious. Although we didn’t get a full tour of the school, I’m not sure they even have a chapel; if they do, it’s not obvious in the main part of campus. However, the current president is only one of two in the history of the institution who is a non-Methodist, non-pastor president; he was also only one of two college Presidents on the tour to take the time to talk to us (Otterbein’s president was the other).

BWC is a Test Optional school; applicants have the option to turn in graded paper instead of test scores. They are also committed to affordability; there have been very small tuition increases in the last several years, the lowest in their peer-group. The entire bill comes to $35,000 a year including all the fees (tech, health, etc.), although the tuition at the conservatory is higher than the rest of campus because of the private lessons. The best thing – and the first time I’ve heard of a school doing this – has to do with the Meal Plan: students only get charged for what they use. If they don’t use it, BWC will give it back!

This incoming freshmen class (fall of 2012) can sign up for a 4-year graduation guarantee. BWC has been intentional about getting students out in four years, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is. They have a mapped-out four-year plan so students can stay on track. It is a completely voluntary program and basically requires that the students do common sense things such as meet with their advisor regularly and declare a major within two years as well as attend seminars and sign a waiver that will release information to the parents (if they drop a course, if they aren’t doing well in class, etc). If they do everything they need to do but can’t graduate within 4 years, the 5th year’s tuition is free.

BWC 2

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front.

Students must live on campus for freshmen and sophomores years unless they are within a certain radius of campus and living with family. About 80% of freshman and sophomores live on campus and about 2/3 of the total undergraduates are on campus – that’s almost 2,000 residents on campus. Freshman can have cars on campus.

I was left with the good impressions of BW that I started with and I would definitely recommend it to my students. It has the typical smallish-college feel but with a lot of options and innovative programs that allows students to take advantage of a lot. The campus is comfortable and students are friendly. A former student of one of the counselors had joined us at lunch so we got yet another student’s perspective; he loves the college and all that he can do there.

(c) 2012

Aquinas College

Aquinas College (visited 11/18/19)

Aquinas path 4

One of the well used paths on campus

Aquinas is a solid school on the outskirts of the 2nd largest city in Michigan; if you want the best of all worlds – a beautiful wooded campus with easy access to a city; strong academics (including some unusual areas of study) and vibrant social life; access to all sorts of sports and arts, a community concerned with sustainability, and a faith community if you’d like to take advantage of that – this could be the school for you!

 

 

Aquinas chapel 2

The chapel at dusk

Campus feels very much like a forest or a park. There are lots of walking paths, a stream running through campus, and trees all over the place. Campus is highly sustainable: they have bins in every building to separate out compost, recycling, and trash. Even dorm rooms often have them; the tour guide said, “They’re encouraged but not required.” Ratings Signs get posted in lobbies to show how they did this month compared to last, as well as how much waste was created, recycled, etc. We talked briefly to the Sustainability Coordinator; she said that they’re working on getting goats on campus to take care of the grass and invasive species. They run Saint Swap – students can donate 2 articles of clothing or other items they don’t want and pick up 1 that they do. Leftovers go to community members who need it. They’re also the first college in the country to have a Sustainable Business degree!

 

Aquinas library

The library is one of the newer buildings; it’s a great space! 

The rep said that she’s often asked, “What’s the worth here?” Like many places, the first thing she said was “Community,” but this seems to include on and off campus. “You’re in a city – but you get to be in a nature bubble within that city. Students have so many resources in Grand Rapids but also because of easy access to Detroit and Chicago. Students can get around town on the city buses for 25 cents a trip. “Downtown is great! There’s ice skating, museums, and restaurants.”

 

Aquinas eSportsThe admissions rep we spoke to graduated in 2012; she’s seen a lot of great new buildings put up since she arrived including the athletic center and a beautiful science center (they invested $32m in that!) “The growth in athletics is also great to see. It brings in a new group of students.” Aquinas started men’s volleyball about 3 years ago; there has been a huge influx of players. “ESports has been fascinating to see in new and exciting ways.” Basketball and soccer get the most fans. “Saint Slam is the introduction of the basketball team.”

Aquinas grottoThere’s also been a change in students. She’s seen more kids willing to reach out and help. “I think students here have always been nice, but there’s more outreach and community service now. It seems like it’s more part of the culture.” This is still very much a region institution, but that’s slowly changing, as well. They’ll help first-time visitors from out-of-state (and the Upper Peninsula) with travel reimbursement IF they’ve been admitted before the visit: they’ll pay for flight and gas, but not meals, hotel, or the rental car. Of the 1400 undergrads, about 250 come from outside Michigan. Approximately 50 of those are Global Students (I like that they’re called this instead of International!). Global Food Fest is a popular new event where students will cook food from their nation/culture for others. All students and staff are welcome to participate, even domestic students who have spent time abroad or want to celebrate a family tradition.

Aquinas AcThere are multiple global offerings and opportunities to get involved:

Classes, of course, are small because of the school size. The tour guide’s classes ranged from 8-20 students. They have more majors and opportunities than many other places this size.

  • Aquinas sci ceiling stars

    The ceiling in the atrium of the science building – the lights are set up as constellations

    This is one of the few schools I’ve ever seen to offer Translation and Interpretation as a major (and our tour guide was double majoring in this and Spanish).

  • Students who’ve declared an education major take their first education class in 2nd semester; during this, they spend at least 40 hours in a school and must have an exit interview with a member of the Edu dept to make sure they want to continue in the major.
  • Nursing is direct entry for students with a 2.5 GPA overall AND in all their math and science classes and a 1080SAT/21ACT. Technically, they’re doing their nursing through University of Detroit-Mercy: “on paper, they’re UD-M students but with all the benefits of being an AQ student. All their classes are on campus, and clinicals are here.” They have a 100% placement rate; 95% pass the NCLEX on the first try. They’re only allowed to graduate 60 a year by the state of Michigan.
  • Aquinas arts 2

    The art and music center

    Fine and performing arts are huge here:

  • Aquinas Moose 1

    The Moose (called that because of the moose head – look on the far side!) … one of the great dining options that serves as a cafe/late night option. This used to be the old carriage house.

    They’ve done a lot with dual business degrees. Students can pair Visual Arts, Chemistry, Communications, music, sports management, Computer Info Systems. Recently, they added a dual Business-Econ

  • They’ve partnered with Western Michigan for engineering: “It’s constantly changing since we’re learning and growing with it.” Students get an AA from Aquinas before completing their Bachelors at WMU in Civil or Industrial/Entrepreneurial Engineering.
  • Accounting is excellent: they’re in the top 5% for CPA pass-rates.
  • Community Leadership is also uncommon.
Aquinas athletic and dorm

Some of the newer upperclassmen dorms and the athletic fields.

This is a fairly residential campus, but students are allowed to move off; this is in a residential neighborhood so it’s relatively easy to find housing in the area. The dining hall is great about food allergies. Everything is well marked, and they’ll send emails if there’s ever an issue so students can make decisions about where they want to eat for a particular meal – so if there’s an inhalation allergies, for example, they may choose to eat at a different place. The dining hall is open longer hours, and students can come in for soup and salad all afternoon. The popular meals are sweet and sour chicken and popcorn chicken bowl. We ate dinner there; lots of students were there, but there wasn’t any real wait to get food.

 

They start offering merit scholarships for applicants at a 2.7GPA and 980 SAT/18ACT. These are good up for 5 years. The AQ commitment says that they’ll meet 100% need for a student if they have a 3.4 GPA or higher. They will try to meet need under that but do not guarantee it.

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