campus encounters

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Search Results for: “University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA (visited 4/4/14)

~USC fountainUSC had one of the best organized visit programs I’ve seen; in a way, it has to be with the numbers of people visiting. They had an individualized welcome packet for each person, info sessions in two areas to make it feel less impersonal, and tour guides with a list of people assigned to their tour, partially based on region so they could talk to a student as close to home as possible. My tour guide, a PoliSci and Journalism double major from Burlington, NC, transferred here after freshman year because she wanted a big town feel and liked the idea of being in a capitol city for the political science opportunities. She feels like she has plenty of opportunities for education and recreation; off campus, she likes to go to 5 Points which is like their version of College Town.

~USC flowers 2~USC bikes 2Almost 2/3 of USC’s 20,000 students are from in-state, but they attract students from all states and more than 100 countries. NC, VA, MD, GA, and NJ are the most highly represented states outside of SC. Campus is breathtaking; the central campus has trees, bushes, and flowers everywhere, and students were out enjoying the quad. Although there are major roads surrounding campus, this is very much a pedestrian campus. All students can have cars, and there are garages available which alleviates parking issues and helps maintain the beauty of campus. Campus is highly walkable, and people walking in groups and socializing, but there is a campus shuttle for those who want it. It’s also very safe; the only time our tour guide had heard of anyone using the blue light was when someone who was allergic was stung by a bee and needed an epi-pen.

~USC hammocksQualified students wanting more of an academic challenge can participate in one of two “challenges”: the Capstone Scholars, a two-year program to which applicants are given automatic consideration. The scholars live together in one of the largest residence halls, located in the Humanities area of campus; it looks a little like a “spaceship” which also has a revolving restaurant on the top floor (the only one in SC). They take special classes and take a trip abroad every May (last year it was to Iceland; this year it’s Greece). It is possible to transfer into the Honors Program afterwards. The other option is the Honors College which has been ranked as #1 in the nation. This is a four-year program and is highly competitive, requiring an additional application consisting of six essays and two letters of recommendation. Classes are much smaller; students get priority registration as well as other benefits.

Museum

Museum

Students wanting an “Early Answer” (their version of Early Action) must submit their application AND have all test scores and transcripts in by October 15. They’ll take the highest composite for ACT and superscore the SAT. To be considered for the Capstone or Honors and for scholarships, applications must be in November 15. Scholarships are given to approximately 1/3 of students and are awarded based on GPA and test scores. Since the applicant pool changes every year, they don’t have specific GPA or score cut-offs. Notifications are sent out after 2/1 when the see the complete application pool. Their application includes an “Optional Personal Statement.” The rep said, “Use it!! Here’s an Insider Tip: Tell your story! Brag on yourself a bit. We’re holistic; we want to admit a well-rounded person.”

~USC quad 4Students tend to continue being well-rounded and involved once they get on campus. Last year, students completed 472,152 service hours and raised $1.3million for charity. 1100 students studied abroad last year in 50 countries. All freshmen must live on campus; housing options include 17 Living-Learning Community as well as more traditional dorms. There are 22 dining options in 13 buildings (and they brought us into one of the traditional dining halls about halfway through campus and let us get drinks). About 20% of the students are involved in one of the 40 fraternities and sororities on campus, and housing is available in the Greek Village. They have 400 organizations and an active performing arts community (their theater was used as a Civil War Morgue; theater students do a haunted tour in there every Halloween). Gamecock Pride is huge. Many people participate in sports, and many more go out to support the athletes at games.

They m~USC observatoryake admissions decisions without taking a declared major into consideration, so no major is capped. Students complete a Common Core in first two years so it’s easy to change major or double major. Of the 95 majors, some of the more unusual or noteworthy include:

  • Arts & Sciences: Criminology, Marine Science, Religious Studies
  • Business. International Business #1 in the country for 16 years straight
  • Mass Communication: Journalism is most comprehensive of its kind, including Print, broadcast, and more
  • Engineering and Computing: undergrads can minor in Aerospace Engineering (and stay for a Masters)
  • Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Students complete internships at places like Gucci, the NFL, Marriott, Verizon, and the Olympics.
  • Health Sciences: They offer a 6-year PharmD as well as Nursing which is competitive: students are admitted to lower division of nursing and start clinicals in first two years.

~USC theaterOnly 3% of classes have more than 150 students; 75% have fewer than 40. Our tour guide’s classes have ranged from 19-200. Her favorite class so far has been her Environmental Studies class. She liked the practical nature of the education, such as when they walked around campus at night to study the university’s energy usage and see what might be improved. She also loved her National Parks elective because it was so unusual.

The USC campus also houses the National Advocacy Center which trains 15,000 judges, lawyers, and others in the legal profession every year.

© 2014

Shaw University

Shaw University (visited 3/14/17)

Shaw bridge

Bridge over a city street connecting the academic and residential sides

This is the first college I’ve heard of that requires a criminal background check of their applicants. “That’s not to say that they will automatically deny. It’s a safety thing for the campus,” said the rep, herself an alum of the college.

This small, liberal arts HBCU with about 1800 students is located right near downtown Raleigh. Despite being in the city, it still manages to have a cohesive campus that’s compact and easily walkable. “Classes as small as 7 here. Professors are going to know who you are or if you’re in class.”

Shaw sign

Mural under the pedestrian bridge

Shaw was the first HBCU to admit women; today they enroll almost 60% females. Almost ¾ come from North Carolina.

I was not impressed with the organization, communication, and willingness to help on campus. No one seemed to really know what was going on. Even something as simple as parking and finding the admissions office was off. I stopped and asked a security guard and got pretty good directions, but the security officer inside the building near where I parked was on her cell, barely acknowledged me, and when she did, didn’t bother moving the phone when I asked if I was ok where I was parked. She waved dismissively and said “You’re fine if you’re down at the bottom” and turned her back. I was concerned that my car was going to get towed. The Admissions/Welcome Center was no better: the woman at the desk said I needed to check in upstairs with Admissions. Once upstairs, the Rep in an office near the stairs kept an earbud in while telling me that I had to go downstairs, check in with the Receptionist (the one who just sent me upstairs) and wait there for the tour. When I went back down, she had no idea what I was talking about or how to help. She called upstairs and got told a different story from what I was told. I almost left …

Shaw chapel

The chapel

Affiliated with the Baptist church, the religion major and Divinity Schools are well known. Chapel is active but not required for undergrads. Some of the health sciences are also strong such as kinesiotherapy and athletic training. Social Work and Education are also noteworthy.

Shaw dorms

The two dorm buildings

Dorms are mostly traditional. Only freshmen have to live on campus, and they and the sophomores have priority for housing. If space remains, upperclassmen can stay on campus; otherwise, they have to move off. There are some triples (not forced) as well as some rooms with double beds available for an extra charge. Food is “ok.” Fried Chicken Wednesday and Fish Fridays (“We are in the south,” said the rep) got special mention. For those interested in Greek Life, all Divine Nine are on campus. They have plots in Greek Park. Students have to meet minimum GPA and credit hour requirements, and so they can’t rush until at least sophomore year.

Shaw mascot 2Athletics are DII, and the student ID gets students into all the games, all of which are held on campus except for football that plays at the Durham County Stadium. Buses are available to get students out there. Women’s basketball is the most competitive team with a National Championship, but “All games are packed out. Even the community comes. The women’s games are full because they’re so good.” The Marching Band has become increasingly good over the past few years.

Shaw quad and cityStudents must have a minimum 2.0 GPA for admissions. Although they don’t require a minimum test score, all students must take a standardized test and submit the scores. These are used for scholarships and placement purposes. “There are lots of scholarships available.”

SShaw bell towerhaw has instituted a First Year Experience that encompasses mentoring, seminars (even covering financial literacy), and a required attendance at monthly Cultural and Spiritual Enrichment Seminars (which upperclassmen are “highly encouraged” to continue attending). Students must attend CASES in order to graduate; they’re held once a month. Students are issued blazers, a tie (men) or scarf (women), and must wear grey or black slacks or skirts and a white button up shirt. I’m not sure The FYE has done much … Only about 45% return for sophomore year and only 25% graduate within 6-years. However, it is an excellent deal at about $25,000 (Tuition, Room & Board, and fees) for the year.

© 2017

 

University of Redlands

UNIVERSITY OF REDLANDS, Redlands, CA (visited 6/23/12)

Redlands main quad

The main quad with the chapel at the end, as seen from the main building

I was hugely impressed with this university, both in terms of the personnel and the physical campus. Knowing that I was going to be in the Southern California area for a limited time over the summer, the admissions rep responsible for North Carolina invited me to visit campus on a Saturday – even though they’re closed on Saturdays over the summer. He came in to meet with me and had two tour guides from the local area come in to give me a tour. Both were going into their sophomore year and were training to be tour guides, but I wouldn’t have known that they hadn’t been doing this for quite some time.

Home of the Johnston Center

Home of the Johnston Center

Redlands acad bldgOne of the best programs at Redlands is their Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. Along the lines of Antioch, Hampshire, and Evergreen, students get to design their own major through contracts and negotiations with professors and the advisor (although they can have more than one advisor due to the interdisciplinary aspect of the program). A recent graduate majored in “The Art of Happiness” in which he took psychology, philosophy, religion, and other similar classes in pursuit of how and why people are happy. When asked what he was going to do with it, he replied, “I don’t know yet . . . but I know I’ll get the interview!” The 200 students in the program have autonomy over designing their own curriculum, including enrolling in the mainstream classes and negotiating the syllabus with the professors to tweak it to what they need. It’s a direct, visual way of taking down the traditional experience of a college education. The admissions rep said that the prevailing attitude in the program is that “if you’re bored, it’s your own fault!” Students have to be very motivated, curious, and outside-the-box thinkers to succeed in the program. They have their own housing and academic building, but they are not segregated by any sense. In fact, they tend to be some of the most active students on campus.

Redlands stud centrNone of the students on campus are slackers, though. The admissions rep described the typical student as being “an academic with a life” and professional-minded. The most popular majors are business, education, psychology, pre-law, and pre-med. Sciences are so strong that 99% of students looking to go into medicine or post-graduate work in the sciences get into one of their top 2 choices of schools. However, students are gregarious and open-minded, especially in the sense that they will give anything a try. Students cross “boundaries” all the time; they don’t pigeonhole themselves. For example, there are several pre-med majors participating consistently in theater productions.

Redlands musicThe music program is strong, at a conservatory level without the conservatory. The student: faculty ratio is 7:1 in the music department as compared to 11:1 in the rest of the university. The music program is classically based, and students can earn the BM or BA; any student can minor in music, as well. There are scholarships given out for students who participate in ensemble work even if they are not majoring in music. Additionally, they put on two musicals every semester, even though the university has technically done away with their Musical Theater major.

Redlands sci cntr

The entrance to the science center

The tour guides told me that the smallest class she has taken so far was a California History class (9 people); the largest was 28 (an Intro class). One really loved her Freshman Seminar class called “Play it Again” based around reading and seeing plays. The other didn’t like hers: it was an environmental studies class. In addition to two lectures a week, there was a three-hour lab on Thursday afternoons that turned into a lecture as well. She liked the content, but had trouble sitting through so many lectures and wishes there was a more hands-on component. The good news was that it did “double duty” – counting for both the Freshman Seminar and a Science requirement so she felt that it was worthwhile in that way.

Redlands sundial

The “sundial” clock on the side of the science building

Redlands accepted their largest freshman class this year of 800 students, but will probably fall back down to the usual 750 after this year. They have an impressive 91% retention rate with 80% graduating in 4 years. They chalk this up to the intense support networks and highly aware faculty. Advising is strong from day one. In fact, no one can declare a major until they’ve met with an advisor after arriving on campus. They can indicate an interest on their application and can declare as early as their first meeting with the advisor in the fall if they know what they want to do – but they can also change their minds up to the end of sophomore year without losing much, if any, time.

Redlands ampitheaterThe campus is beautiful. It’s organized well with most residences around a quad on one side of campus, and most academics on the other side. They have a Memorial Garden on campus; although I only got to see it from the side, it clearly is a beautiful, well-maintained place. The tour guides spoke highly of the space, saying that students utilize it well when it’s open (the gates are locked up overnight), and students take pride in its appearance, volunteering to help keep it up. Next to the Garden is a large Greek-style amphitheater which holds graduation, speakers/concerts, freshman orientation events (including piling all the new students into the pit area for games which the tour guides told me was quite the bonding experience!), and other large events like that. Another freshman orientation tradition is to send the students up the mountainside beside campus to the large “R” overlooking campus to clean up around it, repaint it, or doing whatever else it needs to make it look good again for the coming year.

Redlands chapelSeveral construction jobs were going on around campus, the most extensive being the dining hall. We tried to peek through the construction fences; the guides were just as curious as I was about what it was going to look like – but they did know that they were putting up many more outdoor seating facilities which they were particularly excited about. They raved about the food; I normally don’t hear students going on to that extent about their dining options.

The courtyard of the science center

The courtyard of the science center

When I asked them what they would change about the school, they had a hard time answering. One of them said, “I’m a really big foodie, so before the dining hall renovations, I might have said that, but they’re fixing it already.” After a bit of thinking, the only thing that the either of the guides wanted to change was the fact that there were not enough power outlets in the library. They love working there because the university has spent a lot of money into renovations and have made it a comfortable, inviting place to work, but once the batteries die on their laptops, they pretty much have to go back to the dorm or another building with an outlet to recharge, unless they’re lucky enough to score one of the rare outlets in the library.

(c) 2012

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