campus encounters

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Search Results for: “NC State

NC State

NC State (Visited 3/12)

For such a large campus, I was impressed with how attractive it was. Most of the buildings are brick with only a couple notable exceptions, one of which is unfortunately on an otherwise brick-building-lined-quad filled with trees, flowers, and open grassy spaces. The campus, including the quad, has wi-fi, so this becomes a popular study area in the warmer weather. The “Brickyard” is another open space where students tend to congregate.

State’s library is more notable than most I’ve seen; not only is it extensive (8 floors of stacks and study spaces – and students can access the catalogues and request materials from the Duke and UNC Chapel Hill libraries, as well) but the first floor is a funky, open, well-lit, inviting space for students filled with lots of computers, meeting areas, overstuffed chairs, and even PlayStations. Even though I visited during spring break, this space was well utilized.

My tour stayed only on the main campus so I did not get to see the Centennial Campus (the school is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, just as a side note). The Centennial Campus has most of the Engineering and associated programs and is about an 8-10 minute shuttle ride away. Most Freshmen, even in that department, will take their core classes on the main campus to acclimate before they have to start going back and forth between campuses. The university is also in the process of putting dorms on Centennial Campus to make it easier for students and to alleviate some of the housing crunch. Now, many of the dorms are on the far side of the train tracks (under which runs the “Free Expression Tunnel” full of fun graffiti and signs that advertise all sorts of activities and points of view). The university does not guarantee housing, but reserves space for at least 70% of freshmen to live on campus. There are extensive opportunities for off-campus housing. On campus, there are several themed Villages: Global, Honors, First Year, Scholars, Women in Science and Engineering, and others.

The university is currently in the process of reducing the size of their freshman class by several hundred students to about 4,300 students. Although in part to do with housing, it has more to do with budgets and class sizes. They want to be able to continue providing high-quality education and class availability. Applications have steadily gone up over the past two decades, and this year is the first time that applications have exceeded 20,000. Their acceptance rate in 2011 was 53%. Currently, 9-10% of their students are out-of-state. Like other NC public universities, they have to cap OOS at 18%; they would like their numbers to be closer to that.

Because application numbers are going up so much, they highly recommend that students apply before the deadline. Files are read in the order that they are received so if anything is missing, students will be notified much earlier if they have submitted materials before the deadline – even if it’s just a week. Also, the completed application will be read earlier. If students send SAT or ACT scores during junior year, they will keep them on file and students will be placed on the “perspective” list so they will be invited to open houses, etc. If a student does not report scores until Senior year, the admissions people do NOT recommend rushing the SAT scores – it’s a waste of money and will not really get them to the admissions office any more quickly. Essays and recommendations are not required, but the admissions people will read them if they are sent. Students must apply by 11/1 to be considered for Merit Scholarships.

The most prestigious scholarship they offer is the Park Scholar, named after an alum. This comprehensive scholarship covers tuition, fees, books, room and board, and stipends for living expenses and technology. Students also become eligible for additional grants for study abroad, service projects, or other enrichment opportunities. About 45 scholarships are granted each year. Last year, they received 1500 applications so the acceptance rate is about 3%. Endorsement for the Park Scholar program can come from the school (by 10/1) or from the student (by 10/25). The application is due on 11/1. Students must also complete the NC State application by 11/1 to be a PS candidate. Scholars are selected based on Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character.

The University has several schools; along with the more traditional and expected sorts of majors, there are several unusual ones: 1) College of Natural Resources: Forest Management, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management: Tourism and Commercial Recreation, Natural Resources, Professional Golf Management, Sport Management. 2) College of Management: Internal Auditing, Labor Economics, Supply Chain Management. 3) College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences: Marine Sciences, Meteorology, Financial Mathematics. 4) Engineering: Agricultural, Biomedical, Aerospace, Nuclear, Paper Science, Texile. 5) College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Creative Writing; Public Relations and Organizational Communications; Africana Studies; Science, Technology, & Society. 6) College of Textiles: Fashion and Textile Design. 7) First Year College: Undecided? Use this college to explore, get advice, and figure it out!

San Francisco State University

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY (visited on 7/19/12)

SFSU tiger and acad bldgSFSU scienceSFSU lives up to its reputation as being in the coldest area of town. As we toured in the afternoon, we could watch the fog roll over campus; you definitely can’t forget that you’re in San Francisco! This is the most compact, size-wise, of the CSUs, and with 25,000 undergrads, it also has the highest density. It is called the “City’s University” because it mimics the diversity found in San Francisco: 68% of the student body are students of color. It has also been called a “College with a conscience.” They got a 2010 award from President Obama because the students provided over 300,000 hours of service during the year. There is no community service requirement; students do it because they want to.

SFSU businessSFSU commerceThe university offers Bachelor degrees in 115 areas. They have an outstanding Marine Biology and cinema programs. The movie “Dolphin’s Tale” was based on the work of a SFSU professor who provided the new tail for the injured dolphin. In cinema, alumni have been nominated for 13 consecutive years for Oscars in a variety of categories. They also have an apparel design program which might be one of their most unique programs. The most competitive would be nursing which has 80 spots open per year. Students cannot apply directly to nursing. Instead, they apply undeclared with an intent to major in nursing, then have to take the prereqs on campus and apply into the program. They have several impacted majors on campus, a term applied to schools in California which have more applicants than spots available to accommodate them. Some of the impacted programs are environmental studies (a major that is becoming more and more popular on several campuses), psychology, journalism, and social work.

SFSU quadSFSU 2The campus is attractive, nicely landscaped, and welcoming. I really liked the college and would highly recommend that my students take a serious look at it. The only drawback is that housing is a problem on campus. They only have 2400 beds and have no immediate plans to add, mostly because of space issues. Students have to apply for housing by mid-December; this application has a $55 fee attached to it. Most people who meet this application deadline can get housing provided.

(c) 2012

Johnson & Wales, Providence

Johnson and Wales, Providence (visited 4/29/19)

J&W sculptureThis is an amazing college for students wanting a solid education with hands-on components, students who want “to try new things, to succeed and even fail. We support them and help them transition.” Students start with their major on day one – but can work with their advisor to change. They can figure it out early if it isn’t the right fit. “This is the place to come if you want to learn and get a job. Students get hired.”

J&W chocolate lab

Chocolates lab class

J&W’s Providence campus is the flagship (with other campuses in Charlotte, Denver, and Miami). When students apply, they pick a campus but are accepted to all four. The school was founded by 2 women in 1914 before women were even allowed to vote – yet they started a major university as a business school to build opportunities for women and provide them with relevant skill sets in the work force. They still have strong business programs, including Equine Business Management (with Riding or Non-Riding options), Advertising & Marketing Communications, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, and Restaurant/Food/Beverage Management.

J&W 2The Providence campus now offers 70 programs (majors vary a bit between campuses). Students are allowed to move between campuses, assuming their major is offered at the other location. The university offers Associates (Baking & Pastry or Culinary Arts) through Doctoral (Education) degrees. Students in the AS programs can roll into a related Bachelor’s program in the same or similar majors, including Food Service Management, Culinary Nutrition, Tourism & Hospitality Management, Dietetics & Applied Nutrition, or Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship.

J&W student centerThe university also continues to grow and try new things, as well. In the fall of 2019, 2 new majors are being implemented: Integrated Product Design and Comp Sci. In the fall of 2020, 4 more will begin: Sustainable Food System, Biomedical Science, Economics, and Create Your Own. They also offer accelerated Master’s Programs in areas like Addiction Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Organizational Psychology, Data Analytics, Information Security/Assurance, MBA, Global Leadership & Sustainable Economic Development, and Sport Leadership.

J&W Harborside

The Harborside campus

Classes are capped at 40 (some are capped at a lower point because of the physical work space), but class size averages only 21. Faculty members are experts in their field, many of whom have worked in the industry before coming to campus. They can help with networking, internships, and jobs. J&W has cultivated relationships with multiple companies and has over 1000 internship sites. Students can start interning as early as sophomore year (but junior year is more common).

J&W 3Providence’s campus is split into two parts about 3 miles apart (less than 10 minutes depending on traffic), and students can live on either one regardless of where their classes are held. There is a separate equine center located about 25 minutes away (actually across state lines in Massachusetts!) with regular shuttles running up there.

J&W Downcity res quad

The residential quad on the Downcity Campus

Student parking is located on the Harborside campus because of space issues, and shuttles run regularly between the two sites. We had breakfast in large meeting room in a building that has a dining hall and a res hall. Some of the students have rooms that overlook the water! This campus also has the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Their culinary program is absolutely phenomenal! All aspects of the trade are taught. For example, students take a mixology lab: they use colored water instead of actual alcohol (“it would get prohibitively expensive to keep dumping alcohol down the drain,” said our tour guide). For their final exam, they dim the lights and blare music to mimic the industry. They have to prepare 12 drinks in 12 minutes. There’s also restaurant on site that serves lunch and dinner to just over 60 people. Students in a sophomore-level class work the restaurant and rotate through all aspects of it to learn everything from table set-up to service to food prep. The dessert comes from the Baking & Pastry labs. Students rotate through all sorts of labs; materials and uniforms (collar colors indicate different programs and progression: the lighter the color, the further along a student is) are included in tuition. Students learn how to use everything and not waste things. They use cuttings as garnish, they’ll dry and grind up leftover vegetables for powers to flavor dishes, etc.

The Downcity campus takes up 6 city blocks; the same amenities are on that campus including a pretty residential quad. They even have a pet-friendly floor! There is a bit of commuter parking at this campus, but it tends to be pricey. Providence has great arts, music, and restaurant scenes. This is a great college town with several universities nearby (including Brown, RISD, and Providence College), so places cater to students. For example, there’s a nearby event center that sells tickets at 50% off 2 hours before showtime.

© 2019

Virginia State University

Virginia State University (Visited 1/27/19)

VSU 10I arrived on Sunday to walk around and talk to some people; I was pleasantly surprised to see how active students were on a weekend. Students were playing football, walking across the street to the church, hanging out in the gazebo, walking between buildings. It had a lively vibe that not all campuses have on a weekend, particularly on a relatively chilly day in January.

VSU 9This HSCU is located in Petersburg, a small city about 20 minutes south of Richmond. Campus is very pretty – and is completely gated which surprised me. They’re in a slightly more residential area less than a mile from the downtown area of the city; there is public transportation available, and the train station is about a mile away. Students said that there’s been an increase of things to do on and around campus recently. They still say that a lot of it is “make your own fun,” but if you put some effort in, it’s fine. There are just over 4,000 undergraduates, about 2/3 of whom come from Virginia. Most freshmen (and just under 2/3 of the total study body) live on campus which explains part of why there was still a vibrant feel on campus on a weekend.

VSU 8As a land-grant school, it’s not surprising that majors within the College of Agriculture are strong here (Hospitality Management and Dietetics fall within this school in addition to Agriculture and other more traditional majors you’d expect). They also run a 400+ acre Agricultural Research Station about 2 miles from campus.

VSU 4However, students had a lot to say about other departments, especially Business. The College of Engineering and Technology offer 2 engineering majors (Computer and Manufacturing) as well as 3 in Engineering Technology degrees (Electronics, Information Logistics, and Mechanical).

I’m a bit concerned about retention and graduation rates; fewer than 45% of students graduate within 6 years. However, for students looking for a good bargain (tuition is less than $6,000 for in-state and less than $16,000 for out-of-state) at a medium-sized university where faculty will likely know who they are, this might be a good option.

© 2019

Norfolk State University

Norfolk State University (visited 1/31/19)

NSU 2I was impressed with the spaciousness, greenery, and attractive brick buildings on NSU’s campus (and I found out later that the campus used to be a golf course! That helps explain the terrain and why it’s so open and green). This is located in a great group of college-towns with schools like Old Dominion, William & Mary, Christopher Newport, Hampton, Virginia Wesleyan, and others all less than an hour away.

NSU 9This is one of many HBCUs in Virginia and is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. It was started as a chapter of Virginia Union (another HBCU near Richmond) (It seems like a lot of Virginia schools were off-shoots of other schools).  Not surprisingly, they pull about ¾ of their students from Virginia, and the student body is heavily female (about 2/3).

NSU 7Students like NSU’s size – it gives enough for some options and variety, but not so large that you fall through the cracks. Students said the professors are accessible and want to teach. However, they say that although a lot of the academic buildings have been worked on and the main quad gives a great first impression, the dorms and some other student life areas need a lot of work. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support transitioning into college life.

NSU 5I visited campus in the late afternoon, around 4pm. There were almost no students around campus which was a disappointment. I was unable to get much of a sense of the campus culture from the students I encountered. While a majority of freshmen live on campus, well under 40% of the overall population lives there. The number of commuters give it a “touch and go” feel (and the parking lots were nowhere near full at 4:00 which tells you how quickly people leave classes after campus). Parking seems to be adequate; there’s that going for the school. “Social life isn’t all that active. We have good sports [they’re DI] but we go off campus a lot,” said one student. The city provides a decent amount to do, “but it’s the typical stuff in town – but the beaches are great, or we’ll go to Hampton to hang out.”

This all may feed into retention. While their freshman-to-sophomore retention rate was decent (hovering around 75%), they can definitely do better – and their graduation rate (in the mid-30%) worries me a great deal. I would not feel comfortable sending students here based on that alone. Students mentioned that financial aid was a bit of a hassle (but I’m not sure if it’s any more so than at other schools); this may be one of the barriers to completion.

© 2019

 

Utah State University

Utah State University (visited 9/26/18)

USU A quad

The quad and the Aggie A … if you kiss an Aggie on top of the A, then you, too, are an Aggie! It’s a major tradition here.

Here are some cool facts about USU:

  • You can take a Drone Photography class!
  • USU is a NASA Space Grant University: “We send more things into space than any other institution in the US.”
  • They’ve had several Carnegie professors, more than most places!
  • They have the 2nd Oldest Undergrad Research Program in the nation after MIT.
  • They have a spider silk lab on campus. They put the silk into goats and can then extract that from the milk and have as much silk as they want! They’ve made Kevlar vests, ligaments in medical stuff, and more.
  • USU drone 1

    Students in the Drone Photography class

    They are the 7th lowest costing public university in the country: the out-of-state cost of attendance is under $28,000 total (and even lower at the regional campuses).

  • The HOWL is the largest Halloween Party in the country.
  • They have one of the largest LDS Institutes in the country.
  • Their quad is used for military training, and sometimes helicopters land there for ROTC. (Students can get commissioned through Air Force ROTC within the Aerospace Studies or Army ROTC with Military Science)

USU Old MainUSU has 3 residential campuses; the main campus in Logan (a small city north of SLC) has 18,000 undergrads; another 8,000 students study on other 2 regional campuses. There’s also a large online presence, offering 400 online classes for 88 Masters and 41 doctoral programs. All 50 states and 78 countries are represented with 30% of students from outside of Utah; 84% of students “live away from home” (which includes students living in town, not only in university housing).

USU bikes mntnsI was incredibly impressed with the campus. It was attractive and easy to navigate with lots of open space and a mountain vista around campus. This is a great place for outdoorsy types; certainly the winter sports are notable, but people clearly want to be all year with options for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and more. Students were around campus in groups, walking together or utilizing the space on the quad for studying, classes, and hanging out. Students can use Logan town busses for free; shuttles to SLC take about 90 minutes, run 3 times a day, and cost $40.

USU frat house 1

There are a few Greek Houses

The students we spoke to love the school: “there are so many opportunities to do whatever we want in or out of the classroom.” One of them mentioned the weekly campus Farmer’s market. Greek life is almost non-existent (but it’s there if you want it). Sports are a huge deal here, and the football team is doing really well nationally. “Going to games is a big deal – students even camp out for the game against Air Force. They open the gates at 3:00 am. You need to be there to get into the first rows,” said one of the tour guides.

USU engineering quadThis is Utah’s Land Grant institution so it’s not surprising that their Agriculture and Applied Sciences are particularly strong. They offer really cool majors such as Agricultural Communication and Journalism; Aviation Technology (Pilot or Maintenance Management); Landscape Architecture; Residential Landscape Design and Development; Land, Plant, and Climate Systems; Animal, Dairy, and Vet Sciences; and Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. There are further options through the College of Natural Resources such as Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Ecology and Management of Rangelands, Forests, or Wildlife.

USU Book automation

Part of the automatic retrieval system in the library for research books: “It’s like Monster’s Inc,” said the tour guide.

The Engineering Department is well regarded. There’s a Water Lab in the Civil Engineering department. Aeronautics is a concentration within Mechanical Engineering (and they offer graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering. As long as they meet the GPA, they’re in that program.)

Nursing, however, is competitive, taking 26-30 students at a time. The program just started so they are working on accreditation; they need to have a graduating class before full accreditation can happen; this is “retroactive” for current students so they aren’t hurt by this. Admission to the program works on a points system, students usually apply in sophomore year after completing pre-reqs.

Students can earn a BFA in Art or Theater; they do offer Interior Design as well (BID) and Music Therapy.

USU stu cntr intThe admissions office does a lot of national outreach to increase their out-of-state population (already just over 25%), including nationwide open houses where they’ll tell applicants on the spot if they’re eligible for scholarships as long as they apply while they’re there. Scholarships are generous, but many are contingent on students gaining residency after the first year. They recognize that much of this depends on not being claimed on the parents’ taxes. They said that often when families do the math, they could come out ahead with the student declaring Utah Residency. If a student chooses not get Utah residency, the scholarship will only pay the in-state tuition amount after the first year, and the family is responsible for the difference. If students accept the WUE scholarship, they must complete their degree within 4 years; if they go beyond that, they revert to the full out-of-state tuition starting the 9th semester.

© 2018

 

Weber State University

Weber State University (visited 9/26/18)

Weber quadWeber (pronounced “wee-ber” … “We’re not the grill!” said the Director of Admissions) is a dual-mission university offering 2- and 4-year degrees. “We pride ourselves in taking kids from where they are to where they want to be. We know how to challenge you, and we care enough to do it. You cannot avoid professors. They’re going to know who you are.” There are no TAs; all classes are taught by professors, half of whom are adjuncts because they work in their field and bring pragmatic experiences to the classroom.

Weber 3There is something here for all students from the high-flyers who know exactly what they want to those who may never have though that college was for them. Because there’s no community college north of Salt Lake City, Weber has an open-enrollment mission for the 2-year programs imbedded in who they are. Students who complete the AA degree in good standing and who want to continue on may do so. Many students are first-gen because of the community college aspect; they’re on the cusp of being named a Hispanic-serving institution because of the large community in Ogden.

Weber moutainsThey have six campuses in two counties; the main campus is in Odgen. “We’re where metro meets the mountains,” said an admissions rep. Many industries (“from the IRS to ski resorts”) are headquartered here. Downtown – about 1.5 miles north of campus – is “one of the most fun, eclectic areas you’ll see.” They sit directly on the side of Mount Ogden which students hike during homecoming. A ski resort sits on the other side. “Not that I recommend this, but if you wanted to hike it up and ski down the other side, I guess you could skip the lift fee…”

Weber tablesA lot of students come to Utah because of the accessibility to outdoor sports, particularly skiing. Students who live in Res Hall 3 (Yes, that’s really the name; there’s also Res Hall 1. The 2nd one got named. Go figure) get a free ski pass. “The point is to group those students together. A lot of skiers and outdoors people live there,” said the tour guide. Other places give discounts to students.

Weber W rockStudents are involved here, on and off campus. Apparently, Paddleboard Yoga is a big deal. Outdoor trips are plentiful and cheap: weekend trips cost around $35; a 5-day rafting trip cost $50. They offer 15 DI sports: Football is big and women’s soccer “is a lot of fun to watch.” Parking isn’t much of an issue: there’s plenty of space at the basketball stadium. Shuttles run every 5 minutes, and local buses also stop on campus.

Weber 2About 1100 students live on campus, many from outside Utah. Cost of housing depends on if they live in Wildcat Village (traditional style) or University Village (apartment) and if they’re in singles or doubles. Out-of-state students get a $1000 scholarship if they live on campus. Every student gets a Wildcard pass, getting them free travel on Light Rail from the SLC airport to downtown Ogden (about 45 minutes). From there, they get an express shuttle (also free) to campus. They can also take free Express Buses into Provo and SLC. Because SLC is a Delta Hub, it’s easy to get into.

Weber performing artsClasses are small; our tour guide’s largest class had 50 students (Intro to Anthropology); the smallest had 7. “That was Intro to Outdoor Pursuits. We talked about risk management and leading groups.” The 7 academic colleges offer amazing options:

Weber quad 2Applications are straight-forward and on the website (they aren’t on Common App); they do not need an essay. Test scores can come from the testing agency or the transcript. They have a 12/1 priority deadlines for scholarships. They start awarding scholarships on 12/2 and will award until they run out of money. In-state tuition is under $6,000; out-of-state is under $16,000; WUE is under $9000. They have solid scholarships (the top one brings the out-of-state cost to in-state). All tuition scholarships are guaranteed for 4 years if they maintain a 2.5GPA with 12 credit hours per semester. They award these based on an index score (ACT/SAT + unweighted GPA). Becoming a Utah resident for tuition purposes is relatively easy as long as no one claims the student on another state’s taxes, they spend 1 full year in the state, and get driver’s license/register to vote; this does not apply if they are on WUE.

© 2018

 

UNC – Charlotte

UNC-Charlotte (visited 3/19/18)

UNCC 10A fun fact from the info session: there are 16 state institutions in NC, each with a specific designation. UNC-C is the Urban Research school. Opening in 1965, this is the fasting growing campus: 22 new buildings have gone up in the last 7 years. It’s an attractive, easy-to-navigate campus (complete with a botanical garden!) with top-notch technology. This is also a fairly diverse campus with 40% of students self-reporting as underrepresented. Most students do come from North Carolina. Surprisingly, they have a slightly higher male population than female which may stem from their strong engineering program.

UNCC creekFor students who want a large-ish school (24,000 undergraduates) with a fairly strong athletic culture but also good academics, this is a good choice. There is going to be plenty for students to choose from on campus, in and out of the classroom. “Game days get crazy,” said one students. Another agreed: “Game days are really fun!” with tailgating, marching bands, drum lines, and dance groups. Marching band is open to anyone who plays an instrument. Clubs and sports at all levels are plentiful. There is a Greek presence, but fewer than 10% of the students tend to join.

UNCC 4Campus is located 9 miles north of the center of Charlotte, the largest metro in the Carolinas. A light-rail station opened on campus the day before I visited; students can ride for free with their ID. The CATS buses and the Airport Sprinter are also free for students. Cars are allowed on campus for all students; parking decks are “in close proximity to the residents halls so you aren’t parking on one side of campus and sleeping on the other.”

UNCC dormsStudents are not required to live on campus, but they strongly recommend that freshmen do: “There is a strong correlation between living on campus and having a higher GPA.” They don’t technically guarantee housing, but they’ve never been in a position where someone wanted to live here but couldn’t be accommodated. About 80% of freshmen live on campus; 2/3 of students live “on campus or within walking distance,” according to the rep. There are many apartments across the street – it’s technically off campus and there are shuttles, but they can walk. Housing applications are not complete without the deposit (currently $200); some students have lost their spots because they didn’t deposit.

UNCC 3There are 7 academic colleges with 139 majors:

  • The most competitive (those with higher admissions criteria) include: Business, Engineering, Computing and Informatics, and Nursing.
  • University College is for students who come in Undeclared. If a student indicates a competitive major on the application but isn’t qualified, admissions will change that to Undeclared and will assess the application that way.
  • UNCC 8Seminars, taught by alumni or community members working in the field, are offered in all areas to talk about tracks within the schools. Students have to attend this before declaring a major. Students who come in with a declared major must take the Intro class in that field.
  • Some majors worth noting include:

UNCC medicinal garden“You will experience large classes here, but they’re the early ones.” The average class has 35 students; the tour guide’s largest class had 300 (Intro to Psych) and smallest was 10 (Civil Procedure). “It falls on you to build the relationships. Showing up to class regularly and going to office hours go a long way.” They offer Supplemental Instruction which is like a mix of discussion groups and Group Tutoring. They may reteach some class material but will also have time to practice skills, etc.

UNCC 12UNC-C requires that an application file be complete by the stated deadline, including all supplemental materials such as transcripts and test scores. Students must plan ahead if they want to apply; hitting the submit button the application at 11:58pm on the day it’s due will not meet their deadline. If anything is missing for Early Action, they automatically default it to Regular Decision and the student will not get a decision until March. However, many of the “higher volume scholarships” require that students meet the 11/1 deadline (or whatever the Early deadline is for the year if that changes!)

UNCC libraryAs per NC policy, students must have 4 units of English and Math (Algebra 1 & 2, Geo, and an advanced level math that requires Alg2 as a pre-req. Stats would count; business math would not), 3 science (bio, physical, lab), 2 of history, and 2 of the same foreign language. Most admitted freshmen take more than this. “Your senior year should be a full course-load: it should look pretty much the same as the rest of your years.”

UNCC shuttleThere are a couple special scholarship opportunities:

  • Levine Scholars: 20 students get selected annually for this 4-year program including study abroad, summer experiences, and community service. Studentsust be nominated by a HS counselor by October.
  • University Honors Program is the umbrella program with 28 department or school-specific honors programs. Certain scholarships are available to students within the UHP:

© 2018

Evergreen State College

Evergreen State College (visited 6/20/17)

ESC quad 2“This will probably be the most unusual school you’ll visit this week,” said the rep, and she wasn’t wrong. This is an interdisciplinary liberal arts and sciences school which does not offer traditional majors. Rather, students earn an emphasis if they’ve earned 45+ credits in one area; otherwise they get an emphasis in Liberal Arts. Students with at least 72 credits (out of the 180 required) in math/science will earn the BS; others get a BA. Additionally, students do not earn grades but get narratives reports which then are placed on the transcript; one grad’s transcript was 27 pages long! This does not hinder entrance to grad schools: about 90% get into 1st or 2nd choice schools, and if grades or a GPA are absolutely mandatory, they have a system in place to make sure that happens. “That’s extraordinarily rare, though,” said the rep.

ESC student“If you need someone to tell you what classes to take, this isn’t the place for you,” said one of the tour guides. Students who don’t like to interact don’t last here … or they quickly develop the skills to manage! Students like working with each other and the faculty. “There’s not a hierarchical relationship here. We call faculty by their first names.” Also, true to hands-on and interdisciplinary work, they don’t use a lot of books for class and can generally get what they need through the library.

ESC sculpture 2Program” is their word for the classes students take. Generally, they sign up for 1 program per quarter which is worth about 16 credits and links 3-5 disciplines. Freshman can have up to 30 to choose from, and there are 150 or so offered every year. Some are specific to freshman; others have prerequisites and/or are offered to upperclassmen. “I took a class in my first year that was open to everyone,” said one of the tour guides. “There are definite pros and cons. I liked meeting people from several years, but it was definitely tough. I don’t know if I’d recommend it to everyone.” Titles are catchy and indicate the theme. For example:

  • ESC organic farmers market

    Organic Farmers Market

    Into the Woods links forestry, biology, sociology, and philosophy. Students looked at sustainable agriculture, economics, and the human elements of the logging industry: who are the people involved (and who isn’t as involved)? Who depends on this for the economy? Who are the environmentalists and politicians making policy about how to manage the forests and sustaining the towns? What’s the right thing to do?

  • ESC ampetheater

    Rec Center

    Environmental Analysis took an extended field trip to Yellowstone. “We can go off campus for 3 weeks and they aren’t missing other classes.” This class focused on geology, analytical chemistry, and environmental microbiology along with some public policy “because you can’t get away from that.” Students have the flexibility to work within interdisciplinary curriculum with a lot of theory-to-practice, seminars, projects, and collaborative work instead of competitive.

ESC media studio 2

A media center

Students tend to remember more if it’s contextualized and they see how it links together and see how the classic liberal arts play out in the real world and how they link to careers.

ESC 4

Some of the academic buildings

Faculty get assigned to Programs at a ratio of no more than 25:1 (freshman are 18:1). Programs create an automatic cohort; students and faculty get to know each other really well because they’re seeing each other every day in labs, field trips, and classes. “We probably get to know the students more than they’d like!” said one of the professors. Teachers, like the students, must want to work interdisicplinarily. They practice what they preach. If students have to work together, so do the faculty. They’re here because they want to teach. “I get to team teach with people outside of my discipline which means I get to learn alongside the students.” Faculty go through a 2-year planning process for each class. This means the classes are also announced 2 years in advance so students see what’s coming down the pike.

ESC geoduck

The Geoduck (pronounced “gooeyduck”) is the school mascot which regularly makes the Top 10 Strangest Mascots

Students who have an interest not offered in a program can create an Independent Learning Contract as long as a faculty member is willing to sponsor it. This, too, must be interdisciplinary. One of the students did Creative Writing/poetry project centered around the color blue by looking at color theory, the ocean, the Virgin Mary, etc. “I got the experience of being a working writer with the safety net of still being in school.”

ESC 3I typically ask students at CTCL schools how it changed their life. One student said: “ I came in wanting to be a Physicians Assistant, and now I’m writing poetry. It exposed me to things I didn’t even know I was interested in. I took a program called “What is she saying?” in my sophomore year – it was so cool reading things by all women. The support I got after my first project by faculty and peers was amazing! I never thought of myself as a writer, but having people believe in you and what you create is life-changing.”

ESC Longhouse 2

The exterior of the Longhouse

This is a public school with only about 3800 undergraduates, just over half of whom come from out-of-state! Only 50% of the entering fall class are freshman – they get a lot of transfers who are looking for a different experience.

ESC art studio

One of the art studios

There are amazing scientific resources available to the students including mass spectrometers, infrared spectrometer, polarograph, and a scanning electron microscope. Their arts (including digital media) have studios for Media Engineering, a Center for Creative and Applied Media, Audio Mixing, and Video Editing among others. The art spaces are naturally lit with filters on the windows for true color. Only 1 program per term will use any given studio so students can leave their work and have unlimited access to the space. Once students are certified in particular areas like metalworking, they can use the facilities and can buy materials at cost. They have to prove proficiency on a particular resource (cameras, etc) and then can check them out at any point. They have a Natural History Museum and a Longhouse which is used for artist and community space. They’re adding a glassblowing program, and will soon offer an MFA in Indigenous Arts.

ESC path

A trailhead

Campus is 1000 acres, only 200 of which are developed. There are 5 trailheads right on campus. 1 leads to the organic farm used for classes. There are fire-pits, shrines, ropes, and more in the woods. One of the trails leads to 1.5 miles of beach. The outdoor stuff is amazing and students can rent out gear. There’s not much in town that is walkable, but there are buses to get them around to places they need for shopping or entertainment.

Housing is never required but highly recommended. 80% of first year students and about 25% of sophomores through seniors live on campus. There’s no Greek life but lots of clubs (including a sheep club! I’m not sure what they do …). They have one of the last freeform radio stations (KAOS) in the country where students can become certified DJs. Eggplant Café is an organic student-run coop.

© 2017

UNC School of the Arts

UNC School of the Arts (visited 3/17/17)

UNCSA statues 2This is a really impressive school! I walked away ready to gush over it to students looking to go into the arts. Although there was not an information session, per se, they did show us the school’s “Awe and Wonder” video before taking us out on tour; it’s worth a watch.

This is UNC institution, but the admissions rep told me that they are not bound by the 18% out-of-state rule, and in fact, they pull almost half of their student body from outside North Carolina. Although run very much as a conservatory, students do need to complete liberal arts coursework, usually 1-2 classes per semester. “Our liberal arts classes are usually in the morning. By noon, we’ve moved onto our major classes and are there well into the evening,” said the tour guide. He has design classes for set-building that run until 11pm twice a week.

UNCSA display 3

Some of the student-made costumes

There are 5 main areas of study:

 

  • Dance: modern ballet or contemporary dance
  • Music: Composition or Performance
  • Design and Production: This has the most options within the division, including Scene Design, Stage Properties, Stage Management, Wig & Makeup Design, Sound Design, Scenic Technology, Lighting, and Costume Design & Technology
    • UNCSA lighting specs

      lighting specs for a current production

      They go through all the rotations as freshmen to understand what all the different areas do and are more able to work together since none of this exists in a vacuum.

    • In the 2nd year, they choose a concentration
    • They have a prosthetics studio!
    • This is the only school with a Wig and Makeup Design specialty
    • Costume Design and Costume Tech are 2 different things:
      • Design creates the 2D conceptual drawings and do the initial creative work.
      • Tech takes the Designers’ drawings and create the pattern, take actors’ measurements, and then create the actual physical costume. They need to understand how fabrics work. “They’re kind of like engineers.”
      • They do have a Dance Costume class to give students a sense of what this entails, but most students do not specialize in this.
      • They usually bring in 6-9 students a year (out of about a dozen accepted).
    • UNCSA display 2

      Wigs, Prosthetics, and props for past productions

      Drama: acting or directing

      • The 3 main theaters on campus serve as production spaces as well as classrooms.
      • The Thrust Theater has a turntable on it
      • The Black Bock is huge and everything is movable. There’s a tension grid for the techs which can be walked on. This will be updated soon. “It was state-of-the-art 8 years ago, but technology changes.”
    • Filmmaking: Screenwriting, Animation, Cinematography, Directing, Producing, Production Design & Special Effects, and Picture Editing & Sound Design
      • There are soundstages on campus, but students are also allowed to film within 20-25 miles of campus. “Those trucks over there will get loaded up on the weekends and off they go.”

UNCSA soundstage

One of the sound stages

Facilities are outstanding; we walked through sound stages, prop rooms, design workshops, theaters, costume making workshops with literally walls of fabric, and “Narnia,” a warehouse of costumes stacked 2-racks high. In prop rooms, our tour guide said, “We have lots of connections: different places will lend us equipment or even donate their old stuff.”

Although there are only about 1000 students on campus, they manage to put on 1000+ events annually. “We don’t have sports because we don’t have time,” said the tour guide.

UNCSA set design

Set and prop design

UNCSA is the only conservatory-focused school on Money Magazine’s list of more than 700 schools, and is the #1 school in NC. Program standards are high. Students are creative as well as having a business focus; they think about budgets and schedules. They make things happen. “That’s imperative in this world,” said the sophomore Design and Production major who was leading the tour. This pays off with 96% of graduates having a job in their field within 6 months of graduation.

UNCSA posters

Some of the student productions on campus

According to the Awe and Wonder video, “Top professionals in their fields come here to teach by doing. Students are ready to go into the workforce.” During our tour, we got to talk to 2 students concentrating in Wig and Makeup Design who were working in one of the labs. They couldn’t say enough about the program or the faculty. I asked how many of the professors were still working in the field. “All of them. I’m pretty sure it’s a school requirement that they’re active. A lot of them come in a few days a week to teach because they’re still working.”

UNCSA display 4

A miniature set-design done before the full-size was created

“I really love the faculty. They’re willing to work with us and let us try things out. The attitude is ‘Let’s figure it out and make it happen!’” said the tour guide.

Masters Classes are held regularly. Producers, directors, and lots of other people come in to run these. “There’s even one on how to live in New York!” The students said that these are great ways to start making connections with people in the industry. They’ve lead to internships and shadowing opportunities. Students are always out working and getting experience whether its with a local festival or in LA, NYC, or another major area.

UNCSA dorms 2

Dorms

There are a variety of dorm options from traditional to apartments, but “many students move off” after the 2-year residency requirement. There are plenty of rental places in town. Cars are allowed and parking is decent. Shuttles run periodically to the mall and to downtown. Food “is a 7. It’s nourishment, but there are some options around.”

UNCSA 4Admissions requires a portfolio, and interview, and/or a audition. Often students will sit with faculty in their intended area to talk through their preparation and what they hope to do/their trajectory. This helps them make sure they’re in the right program and lets people counsel out students who might do better at a different type of institution (like a comprehensive school). “This is not a fit for everyone!”

“If you’re a loner, think you can do it all on your own, or are arrogant, you won’t make it here. That being said, you don’t have to fit into a mold. There are lots of quirky people here and that’s cool! We all get along.”

© 2017

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