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Search Results for: “SUNY Albany

SUNY Albany

SUNY-ALBANY (visited 7/23/13)

Albany entry quad

The entry quad.

Although there is a lot of concrete on this campus, somehow, they mostly make it work without it feeling like a monstrosity. The university has one of the most interesting lay-outs I’ve ever seen. Driving onto campus, we were faced with a large green expanse with two large new buildings on either side and a promenade with columns in front of us. One of the buildings in front housed the admissions office.

Albany library

The library lobby; the “windows” open into the stacks, letting in light.

Walking through the promenade from the admissions office, we arrived at a large symmetrical quad. The very center is an open space with a fountain and a Carillion which sounds every hour. Unfortunately, this was being renovated when I visited so I didn’t hear it ring. On the two short sides of this open space are the Performing Arts Center and the Library. The PAC has an art gallery that is open to the public; I spoke to the woman staffing the desk; most of the exhibits are graduate students or outside exhibitors. Senior art majors will exhibit at the end of the year.Studio space is very limited and usually given to graduate students; undergrads will share spaces.

Albany btwn lib and ss

The area between the library and the Social Science building

They offer all sorts of arts, including sculpture, photography, and studio art. The library is beautiful on the inside; the lobby is open and light; the three floors all have balconies overlooking the space, and there are windows and doors open from the stacks to let in light. Ten academic buildings create the outermost level of (4 along each of the long sides of the rectangle, and 2 at the ends). Some of their more unusual majors offered are: Documentary Studies, Social Welfare, Financial Market Regulation, Urban Studies and Planning, Puerto Rican Studies, and Globalization Studies. Qualified students in the Arts and Sciences can apply to complete an accelerated MBA program.

Albany res quad

One of the residential quads.

Across from the Promenade on the other long side of the quad sits the Campus Center. Although there’s no big dining hall here, there are “Outtakes” which has grab-and-go food. The big dining halls are located in the four housing quads which sit at each of the four corners of the academic quad: a 20+ story tower is surrounded by a 4-story rectangular building. Each of these Residential Units has its own gym in addition to a dining hall. We got to see the dorm rooms, and they were actually fairly nice; many were suite style and spacious. Two quads are considered Freshman quads and are dry. There are some Special Interest Housing and Living-Learning Communities located in different quads, including a Wellness House, Sustainability, Biology, East Asian Studies, Jewish Life and Culture, Technology, Fitness, Writing, and and Honors College.

Albany townhouses

One of the new townhouse units.

There are two new Residential Units built on campus outside of the quad areas; these are townhouse style and gorgeous! They look just like an apartment/townhouse complex. There is parking directly in front of the units, barbecues, landscaping, etc. There’s also another living complex located about 3 miles from the main campus.

Albany new science

Nanoscience building

The School of Nanoscale Science and Engineering has a huge new complex directly next to campus. They’re the first school anywhere to offer Nanoscale engineering at the undergraduate level.

© 2013

SUNY Potsdam

SUNY Potsdam (visited 7/27/15)

Potsdam 3This is a solid school located about a mile from Clarkson and about 15 minutes from SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University. “We may only have 4,000 students on campus, but you have about 15,000 college students in a 15-minute radius. There’s stuff going on,” said the tour guide. Potsdam is a bustling town with plenty to do within about a 10-minute walk from campus. Town-Gown relations are good. The first Saturday after freshmen move in, all the stores downtown open late. There are concerts, good deals at restaurants, huge checkers games, and more. All students can have cars on campus for a $112 fee, but the college will also run the Bear Bus to Albany, Syracuse, and NYC for breaks.

~Potsdam quad


The most notable “hook” at Potsdam is its Crane School of Music. Students must be admitted by Potsdam through the regular application process AND be accepted into Crane through auditions. Many students will audition on campus, but they know that not everyone can get there. Most international students and those living across the country will send in a DVD, but they also hold auditions in New York City which is much easier to travel to. They also hold scholarship auditions in October; it’s also a great chance to visit campus and meet with the music faculty.

~Potsdam 1The campus is attractive and walkable. A main road divides the academic and the residential sides. Many of the academic buildings are connected “which is great in the winter when you want to keep warm.” In the middle is a large, well-used quad.

Student lounge

Student lounge

There are only 3 lecture halls on campus. The tour guide’s largest class was Intro to Biology with 150 students; his smallest was a PoliSci elective with 6. He’s found all the professors to be very encouraging and willing to go out of their way to help – and that’s not limited to the school year. He’s been talking to and emailing a professor throughout the summer. There are also plenty of tutors available. He described how a tutor for one class came in on the second day and introduced herself early in the term so they knew who they could come to for help.

~Potsdam art studio 2

Ceramics Studio

Unusual majors include Interdisciplinary Natural Science, Music Business, Archaeological Studies, and Business Economics. Some unusual minors include Biological Anthropology, Wilderness Education, Nutrition, Jazz Studies, and Therapeutic Education.

~Potsdam 2There are several Joint-Degree programs:

~Potsdam restroomThere’s a residency requirement for freshmen and sophomores. The Freshmen Quad has 2 FYE dorms; some freshmen are housed in the 3rd dorm because of space issues. They are typical doubles that are coed by floor. There are suites for upperclassmen that fit up to 8 people as well as Townhouses. Food is available somewhere on campus from 7am to 1am. The dining hall will show movies on the weekends and often have an associated activity to go along with it such as “make your own minion” with Despicable Me or Superhero Sundae with The Avengers. Becky’s Place is an on-campus place to eat that’s a bit more fancy.

Students don’t have to look far to find things to do. Greek life is pretty big here; students can rush starting second semester. There are plenty of active clubs, including a Step Team, Rugby, Law Enforcement and Tactics Club, Stitch-n-Bitch, and Japanese drumming. The Harry Potter Club hosts Quidditch games, and another club runs Cardboard Duct-tape Boat races. The river is about 2 miles away and is a popular kayaking spot. The Outdoor Club and other groups run frequent trips to the mountains for hiking and skiing. There are 3 big skiing centers are within an hour of campus. There are 400 artistic things on campus every year such as dance, music performances, art shows, and theater; students can submit art for consideration for display at the professional art gallery on campus.

© 2015

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (visited 7/29/15)

~ACPHS quadCentrally located amongst hospitals, Albany Law, and Sage College, this unassuming main building on the main street opens onto an attractive campus behind it which is much larger than it appears at first glance.


One of the Pharmacy labs

Obviously, this is a specialized school. They know who they are, and they do it very well.

  • They offer 6 Bachelor of Science programs: Biomed Tech, Chemistry, Clinical Lab Sciences, Health and Human Sciences, Microbiology, and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • They offer a PharmD program.
    • This is accelerated and is one of the few Doctoral level schools that admits international students. Graduates can get licensed in many states, and international students can do a 1-year optional practical training program on their visas.
  • They offer several Joint-Degree Programs:
    • Several BS/MS degrees (Biomed Tech/Cytotech and Molecular Cytology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physician Assistant Studies)
      • The PA program is 6 years: 3.5 at ACPHS and 2.5 and Albany Medical
    • A BS/JD degree with Albany Law
    • Healthcare Management/Clinical Management (BS or PharmD/MBA or MS)
    • a BS/MD degree with Albany Medical
      • This program is not accelerated; students still do 4+4 years, but the MCAT requirement is waived. Students must be US citizens for this program.

“We’re about getting you to the end goal,” said the admissions rep. The school provides the tools to help students do that.

~ACPHS library

Library and gym building

Students who do well here are fairly organized, type-A, focused, less Liberal Arts type of kid. Those who transfer out are split between those who change their majors and those who are not committed to the rigor. They like the community of a liberal arts school in a building crossed with specific goals.

~ACPHS student cntr

Student Center

Applicants tend to be fairly self-selecting, but they’re still a selective in admissions process, looking to bring in about 250 first-time freshmen each year. They are Common App exclusive and will superscore the SAT. They look for recs from a counselor and either a math or science teacher. International students must turn in the TOEFL unless English was the language of instruction for 4 years. For scholarships, the look at math, science, and composite scores.

Sophomore dorm

Sophomore dorm

~ACPHS track and apts

Campus Suites and the ACPHS track

Students must live in campus housing for 2 years, and upperclassmen who want housing can get it; usually seniors are off campus completing credit-bearing internships, so space is rarely an issue. They have room for 900 of the total 1300 undergraduates. Housing is spit by 1st year, 2nd year, and 3rd+ years. The tour guide really liked this system: “There are always people in the dorm taking the same classes, so when we’re stuck on something, there’s always someone to help.” The freshmen dorms were getting work done, so I saw a sophomore dorm. We went into a 7-person suite (1 double, 5 singles) that had a bath and common room. Even the freshmen dorms have bathrooms in the rooms! Campus Suites is a privately-owned apartment complex on the edge of campus. Students from all the area colleges can live here: the tour guide had people on her floor from Sage and Albany Law which she said was really cool. Students can have cars; parking is assigned by lot, but not by specific spots. The guide said she never had problems with parking.

~ACPHS dorm quad

Common room in one of the quads

Students can do some internships abroad. One requirement is a community health stint. They can do 3 weeks in Cambodia, Haiti, and others; usually they can choose from 8-10 international sites each year.

I don’t get the sense that there’s a ton of activities going on around campus. They only have 4 DIII sports and a few club sports. The gym is under the library and is shared by Albany law. There are a couple coed professional fraternities.

Although much of their coursework is geared specifically around their professional work, students have to take a 3-course history sequence and a communications course. Students can participate in the Hudson-Mohawk cross registration program and can take 1 class each semester off campus. It shows up on their ACPHS transcript as if they took it on campus. For example, they can do dance classes at Sage or languages at SUNY.

(c) 2015

Siena College

Siena College (visited 7/30-31/2015)

~Siena quad 2


“I don’t know what’s in the water, but Siena is all alumni can talk about” (and really, where else are you going to get to participate in the Blessing of the Brains before exams and then get bagels and bacon?).

~Siena statue

St. Francis

The type of education at Siena may not be available at other places. Yes, they develop competencies that they can get in a lot of places, but “we give them the way to understand the intersection of the relationships between them and the world, them and others.” The Franciscan ideals are strong and permeate everything they do. “We live in a complex reality; we help students figure out how to live in that world. We ask them to look at the ethics of our actions. For example, some people don’t want to hear the reality of global warming because of the consequences of it. Here, they can’t walk away from that.”

~Siena grotto

The Grotto

The Franciscans have a niche of inclusivity within the Roman Catholic Church. “Siena is proud to be Catholic but we welcome people of all faiths. We help them grow in their relationship with god in however they see it.” The pianist for the weekly masses is Jewish. There’s an interfaith chapel on campus that gets used by Muslim students (who also have Muslim Student Association) more than anyone else; they say they feel comfortable at Siena because people are respectful of their religious values. There’s an Eastern Orthodox and an Evangelical club and a grotto behind the admissions building where anyone can light candles, have services, or just sit.

~Siena 2It’s not even just religious diversity. LGBTQ students are out and accepted. Racial, ethnic, and socio-economic differences are celebrated. Students fall all over the political spectrum. People are willing to engage anyone and everyone in discussions about value, meaning, etc. Everyone is welcome – and people are just nice. A Brother once talked to a student who was thinking about transferring out. When he asked why, she said it wasn’t the place for her: “People are too nice here. I’m used to an edge.”

~Siena dorm 2

One of the freshman dorms

The brand new upperclass dorm that opened in 2014

The brand new upperclass dorm that opened in 2014

There’s no getting around this being a Franciscan institution: there are crucifixes all over the walls, and Friars live on campus. Masses (NOT mandatory!) are held frequently including at 5pm and 10pm in the dorms (to make it more convenient). Students take a religion class but can choose the topic; it doesn’t need to be on Christianity. St. Francis is frequently brought up in FYE and other classes like Ethics in Business. It’s part of the fabric of life here. “People really need to embody it.” The Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy provides ways for students and staff to get off campus and but their beliefs into action with international trips, working in soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity, etc. You name it, they’ve probably done it.

~Siena main bldg

Siena’s main building

I think my favorite part of campus was talking to the Brothers. They joined us for dinner the first night (I sat with one from a town in NH that I also lived in for 5 years!) and several of them gave presentations over the next day and a half. They were personable, funny, and down-to-earth, even Brother Ed, the college President. All the Brothers clearly loved what they were doing and wanted to be interacting with students – and it’s not just the Brothers. Professors tend to be in touch with alumni. “I’m having lunch later with a 2005 grad.”

~Siena mock courtroomAcademic opportunities here are amazing:

  • History buffs can take advantage of a semester-away program at Gettysburg (Civil War) or at William and Mary (Colonial History); both of these include internships at local historical sites.
  • 13 sophomores built a prosthetic hand for a boy in Columbus, OH. The group included 12 physics and 1 English major: “I thought people needed to know what they were doing so I’m their communications specialist.” They flew to Ohio to gave the boy his new hand – and he got to throw out the first ball at the game that night.
  • ~Siena trading room

    One of the trading rooms

    They have a Trading Room, and the Bjorklund Fund which allows upperclassmen trade with $250,000 of real money (“under the supervision of a professor!”) over the course of 2 years. They have to present the results: what worked, what didn’t, what they’ll do to fix it.

    • Professors really work hard to guide students into the proper area of business. “Finance isn’t marketing!”
    • Chad Bingo, class of 2015, developed and marketed the “I Gotta Go!” button as a sophomore.
  • ~Siena SAINT lab

    Part of the SAINT lab

    SAInT Center: Stewart’s Advanced Instrumentation and Technical Center lab has $3 million in technology used in industry such as Thermal Units, Mass Spectrometers, High Intensity Scanners, etc. Students get “extensive hands-on experience on a huge diversity of technology that they use from day 1.” One student did Coffee Research and found no difference in caffeine levels between cold and hot pressed coffee, but light roast has more than dark!

  • ~Siena telescope

    A permanent telescope used by the physics students

    Bonner Service Program: students complete 1800 hours of service during their time at Siena, earning a certificate upon completion. They’re paired with programs dealing with rural poverty, international populations, etc – including post-grad work.

  • Standish Honors Program (yes, related to Miles, back in the day”) is meant to rekindle curiosity.
  • The Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA) allows students of any major to get involved in hands-on research. This summer, there are 117 fully-funded students on campus doing research.

Siena offers 17 articulation agreements :

  • The big one is probably the Albany Medical College Program. Applicants write an additional essay: What service project have you done that reflects the Franciscan values? To qualify, students need a 90 average, 1300 SAT or 30 ACT, and be in the top 10% if ranked. 44 applicants get invited for interviews (done by an admissions rep, a faculty member, and an Albany Med faculty member). They don’t do accelerated “because we think that the 4 years of the undergraduate allows them to develop into really great human beings.”
  • SUNY Upstate Medical University and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine offer both a Dual Acceptance and an Early Assurance program
  • There are also programs for Dentistry, Pharmacy, Applied Nutrition, Physician Assistants, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy
~Siena recycled costumes

Costumes made from recycled items on display in the Theater building

Applicants are somewhat self-selecting, and Demonstrated Interest is important. Students can use the Fast Forward Application, getting an answer 7-10 days from completion (the app, the counselor rec, and the transcript). SAT and ACT are optional with a stipulation: science and math majors need physics and pre-calc (everyone else just needs Algebra 2) OR test scores.

(c) 2015

Clarkson University

Clarkson University (visited 7/27/15)

Fire pit and the main quad

Fire pit and the main quad

The old campus center and the school mascot.

The old campus center and the school mascot.

Clarkson’s campus looks like anything but a school known for its engineering programs. It’s a spacious campus with modern buildings and lots of open space. This surprise doesn’t just extend to the physical plant; it also applies to the people. I was shown around campus by an admissions rep, himself a recent Clarkson graduate and a Business major. “What surprised me about Clarkson is how many people aren’t doing engineering, and how many things not related to this field they’re interested in.”

The on-campus ice rink

The on-campus ice rink

The school is great at “repurposing” buildings and other things on campus. The old campus center now houses the Ice Rink – right in the middle of campus! Their men’s and women’s hockey teams both play at the DI level (all other sports are DIII). The women were the 2014 national champs, beating the University of Minnesota. They have a pub in this building, too, “which is mostly open during games,” said the rep. It’s not a dry campus. “We know they’re college kids. As long as they’re of age and responsible, we don’t have an issue with it.”

One of the dorm options

One of the dorm options

A vast majority of students (86%) live on campus. Only 10-12% of students choose to affiliate with fraternity or sorority; rush happens sophomore year. There is some Greek housing, much of it on the perimeter of campus. I passed several of the houses when I mistakenly turned into campus too soon, so I wove my way through a fairly wooded area where the Greek houses were, finally emerging onto the main part of campus by large new dorms and academic buildings.

Freshmen dorms

Freshmen dorms

Students can have cars on campus all 4 years for no fee. If they don’t have a car, Adirondack Trailways stops on campus, and they can get to Syracuse and Albany (and from there, really anywhere).

The school has several divisions that deserve more recognition but are overshadowed by the engineering:

  • ~Clarkson 4The School of Arts and Sciences offers many of the typical undergraduate majors you might expect. The surprise major is Social Documentation which combines the social sciences or humanities with Communication and Media.
  • The School of Business offers interdisciplinary programs including Engineering and Management.
  • The Institute for a Sustainable Environment offers only 2 majors: Env. Health Science and Env. Science and Policy but offers several minors and 2 graduate programs

If Clarkson doesn’t have what students want in terms of course offerings, they can cross-register at St. Lawrence University, Canton, and SUNY Potsdam, all of which are within 15 minutes of Clarkson.

An Academic Building

An Academic Building

Engineering is, of course, the “crowning glory” of the school and what they are known for. Many first year students aren’t sure which specialty they want to pursue, or they think they know but mistakenly pick the wrong one. For example, students who are interested in Wind Energy should study aeronautical engineering, but those who want to look at sustainable energy should go into chemical. However, students have until the 3rd semester to declare which of the 9 specialties they’d like to pursue. This gives them a chance to explore a bit or change their mind if they started a program and then learned that it wasn’t what they expected.

Concrete canoe

Concrete canoe

As I was touring, one of the engineering professors was in the hall, so I talked to him for a few minutes. He was engaging and interesting. I asked him what he’d like students to know or do to be better prepared to enter engineering at Clarkson: “Writing is really important! I don’t think they think they’ll need this skill for this field, but they do.” Students do need to take a writing class at Clarkson, but this can be fulfilled through technical writing

Student-made snowmobiles

Student-made snowmobiles

I got to talk to a student who stayed on campus to do research over the summer. She told me about all the hydroponics and the great projects she was working on. She showed me the watermelon, hot peppers, and cucumbers being grown and how they were comparing using certain water and fertilizers . . . there was something in there about fish in the water that she was super excited about, but I’m not quite sure what was going on there 🙂 .

Here are some other cool things about the Engineering program:

  • They have wave machines.
  • Their Wind Turbine testing facility is 1 of only 4 that has actual turbine blades.
  • Students work on actual Distillation towers for work with fuels, alcohol, etc
  • Many of their students work with Engineers without boarders.
  • Students have built an Electric snowmobile and a Clean snowmobile with 0 emissions.
  • Teams from Clarkson have been FIRST Robotics winners and have competed in concrete canoe races, SPED, and other competitions.

© 2015

Hartwick College

HARTWICK COLLEGE (visited 7/24/13)

HartwickHartwick mainHartwick is a small liberal arts college with its traditional-looking brick buildings built onto a hillside in Oneonta, NY. A student in the admissions office said that she wishes she had known about the stairs before she came: “They kind of suck, but at least I have good legs now!” Oneonta is a very small city (large town?) with a relatively active downtown main street that caters to the college students (the economy seems to very much depend on them). Our guide said that “The walk to town is 5-10 minutes. The walk back to campus is 15-20 because of the hill.” However, Hartwick and SUNY-Oneonta (about a mile away) share shuttles into town (and can be used to get between campuses). Hartwick has 7 stops on campus and will stop at 4 locations downtown including a movie theater and Walmart. From the downtown bus stop, students can get to Albany and Binghamton, both about an hour away.

Hartwick ValleyNeither student I spoke to was unhappy with the variety of activities to choose from on and around campus or around town: “I have to decide between events sometimes.” There are a ton of things to do on campus, and it’s easy to do things around town. Every semester, 2 trips to NY and 1 trip to Boston are offered for $30. The weekend-long OH (Oneonta-Hartwick) Fest in the Spring is a big deal; the campuses come together to put it on. Main Street gets closed down (the public is welcome to join in the fun) and filled with venders and activities, including concerts. Sports on campus are DIII EXCEPT for Women’s Water Polo and Men’s Soccer which are DI.

Conference rooms

Conference rooms

Hartwick statueClasses are typically small with only a handful of introductory classes like Psych and Biology that are capped at 100 students. My tour guide’s classes ranged from 3 (Spanish) to 25 in her Freshman Seminar. Classes are very hands-on and interdisciplinary, requiring a lot of group work. One of the newer academic buildings has break-out rooms with a table that seats 6 and a tv that can hook up to a computer so that students can work together. My tour guide’s favorite classes have been in the Education department because they’ve been thought provoking and make her question how she sees things. She’s also taken Glass Blowing which was creative and a great break from academics. Hartwick offers a wonderful variety of classes that aren’t often seen at smaller schools such as geochemistry and oceanography in the Bahamas. If Hartwick doesn’t offer something they’re interested in, students can take 1 class per semester at SUNY-Oneonta; the tour guide specifically mentioned that classes like ASL, Italian, and scuba diving were classes on Hartwick students’ radars.

Hartwick Science

The inside of the new science building

Students have to complete 2 January Term (J-Term) activities which can be a class on campus, study abroad, or internships. They have a large Art and Culture Museum in which students can work as curators and interns. Every major requires an Experiential Learning component; art and anthropology students can complete this in the museum on campus. Hartwick offers MetroLink, a 10-day trip in January in which students travel to NY and Boston to shadow alum in a variety of professions. They offer a similar program in DC during Spring Break.

Hartwick new dorms

New dorms

Dorms are kind of old, but not horrible. Lounges are well used, and the kitchens are good. There are townhouses for seniors, who are also allowed to live off campus if they choose to (but 80-85% of students stay on all four years). Greek life is small with 5 total chapters; they have off-campus housing options, each holding about 20 students. Juniors involved in Greek life can live in Greek housing off-campus if they choose to do so. Housing is chosen based on a system of earned points: the higher the GPA and the more activities that students are involved in, the more likely they are to get the housing they want. The Dining Hall is small and offers limited options. The tour guide said that they “learn to get creative.” Freshmen have an unlimited meal plan; after that year, students can choose 19 or 14 meals a week if they way. They get some flex dollars for use in smaller places around campus, and even some places downtown will accept WICKID (Harwick ID). They do have a totally vegetarian station so vegetarians know that meat has never been cooked there, and soy milk is always an option for people with lactose intolerance or for vegans.

Hartwick dining hallAlmost half of the 1,500 undergraduates are from outside of NY. Admissions is test-optional which is great. They won’t use the scores if it’ll hurt the student. Scholarship aid is generous with up to $23,000 in aid that can be stacked with an additional leadership scholarship (worth up to $4,000). Aid at Hartwick makes their costs comparable to the SUNY schools. The scholarships are theirs to keep with a 2.0 GPA. A merit-aid calculator on their website can help students figure out what they might be eligible for.

Hartwick hill 2The only thing the students said they would like to change about the school is that it’s not really very handicapped accessible. “People are always breaking something in sports; it’s kind of painful to watch them try to get around on crutches or worse.” She also mentioned that several dorms don’t have elevators, which means that if elderly relatives with mobility issues come to visit, they may not be able to access the dorm rooms.

© 2013

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