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Coastal Carolina University

COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY (visited 4/5/14)

~Coastal arch~Coastal 2Coastal is a beautiful campus located 20 minutes from Myrtle Beach. Someone said that he had always perceived it as “an extension of a community college.” I think this might have been more accurate in the past; I don’t think this holds up anymore. There has been extensive growth and it’s become more selective in recent years. Started as a branch campus of USC in 1954 with only 150 students, it’s now the fastest growing comprehensive public university in SC with 9,500 students. It’s been listed as a 100 Best College Buys school, placed on Forbes America’s Top Colleges 3 years in a row, ranked in top 15% of 4-year schools, and was named as a College of Distinction (based on engaged students, performance after they leave, faculty commitment, and more) in both 2012 and 2013.

~Coastal fountainThe school has been conducting Exit Surveys for several years and have found that students love Coastal because of:

  • The 70+ Academic Programs. The most unique are: Marine Science, Musical Theater (BFA), Exercise and Sport Science, Intelligence and National Security (faculty are former CIA and FBI), Professional Golf Management or Resort Management (within the Business Program), and Nationally Accredited Teaching Degrees.
  • The Small Classes. Freshmen level classes average 30-35, and there’s no room on campus that can seat more than 125. Of the students I spoke to, the smallest classes were: 4 (Education) and 7 (Business law); the largest were 93 (Intro to Bio) and 60 (Marine Science). “Even in my biggest class, the professor got to know us. She took roll every morning and had extra office hours so we could talk to her.”
  • The Location. Great weather, great internships (especially for Resort or Golf management and Marine Science), and great access to Myrtle Beach. Students love the stuff to do around town, including the research and networking opportunities and the internships. Coast owns Waites Island (a 1000 acre barrier island with no public access) and Coastal Explorer (a research vessel).
  • On-Campus opportunities. In addition to all sorts of usual things that many campuses have, they have a recording studio accessible to anyone. Big-name acts come, including yearly performances by the Carolina ballet. They host weekly a Farmer’s Market which outgrew the small area in front of the admissions center, and has moved to a larger quad.
  • The Tuition. In-State is $17,810, Out-Of-State is $30,820. The in-state tour guide that I spoke to said, “I’m pretty happy with my tuition.” I think that’s a first! Students are automatically considered for scholarships (In-state ranges from $1,000-$6,000; out-of-state ranges from $6,000-$11,000.)

~Coastal clock towerBefore the tour, I spoke to several of the tour guides who were there to help direct the flow of students:

  • One was a Marine Science major from Ohio. He picked Coastal because of the major and proximity to the ocean. He’s getting a hands-on education and is doing an internship at the aquarium. He’s looking to get a job there and wants to do marine Veterinary work. He also scubas with sharks!
  • Library

    Library

    Another was an Elementary Education major. She loves that this is one of the top 3 programs in her field. She’s a junior and is already completing her 2nd placement. She transferred in from another school because this was closer to home, her sister was here, and she liked the program.

  • The third was a senior Business Major from DC. He learned about Coastal from a guidance counselor and like what he learned about it. He’s had a chance to get highly involved in campus life and even started a Latino fraternity.
  • Another student was a Marketing major from NJ. He came here as a back-up option. “I was on the athletic track, but busted my knee senior year. I came with the idea that I would transfer, but I fell in love with it.” The only thing he didn’t rave about was the dining hall: “It’s ok; it’s pretty typical for a college.”
  • The last student I spoke with was an Education major from SC. “Dorms are an 8. Dining hall is a 6; grab-and-go options are an 8.”

~Coastal 4Food seemed to be the one thing that students didn’t love. When I asked them if there was a meal that everyone loved, two tour guides said, “Fried Chicken Friday!” in unison. Another tour guide later also referenced this. “That’s the only day that there’s a line for food!” Other than food, no one could really think of anything to do to improve. “Anything we want, they’re doing already – 3 new academic buildings, additions to the library, new dorms, etc.” One of the reps said, “The students would say parking. We don’t really have a parking problem. We have a walking problem.”

(c) 2013

East Carolina University

EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY (visited 3/14/14)

ECU pirate and quad

ECU mascot statue and the quad

Coming into Greenville for an hour in any direction, there’s nothing but cow farms and cotton fields, but within town, there’s a lot to do. I was impressed with the small-city feel with stores, hospitals, their Greenway (Riverwalk), etc. ECU was founded in 1907 as a teacher’s college and became a comprehensive university in 1967. It’s now the third largest public school in the state with 21,000 undergrads (28,000 total). Greenville has a year-round population of 80,000 residents; town-gown relations are strong with lots of purple and gold displayed in stores around town.

ECU has the largest nursing program in the state, but they also have several other programs of note including Hospitality, Interior Design, Coastal Studies, Animation, and the brand new Forensic Science program. Sciences are strong with specialized opportunities such as the Cadaver Lab and the telescope in the physics building. They have a total of about 100 majors across 10 Academic colleges. The average class size is 28. Some of the upper level classes in specialized majors have 2 or 3 kids; the largest classes have about 200.

ECU library arch

Library Arch; chimes sound when motion is detected

The average for Fall 2013 admitted freshmen was a 3.2 unweighted GPA, and a 1080 SAT (M/CR) or 23 ACT (with writing). They’ll superscore both SAT and ACT. UNC Schools require: 4 English, 4 Math (1 higher than Algebra 2), 3 Science, 2 Social Studies (including US History), 2 language. The application opens in September; the final deadline is 3/15, but they release decisions on a rolling basis within that time. The rep strongly encourages students applying for popular majors and out-of-state students to apply early so space doesn’t run out (UNCs cap out-of-state population at 18%). If students apply early in the year and are denied, they can request a reevaluation if they meet any deficiencies (ie, they didn’t have the additional math class, etc).

Students interested in scholarships must apply by 12/1. If applicants meet the minimum criteria of a 3.5 unwighted or 4.0 weighted GPA plus 1200 SAT/27 ACT, the name will be sent to Honor Scholars. If they get in, they get a scholarship equal to in-state tuition. There is a limited number of EC Scholars who receive a $45,000 scholarship plus $5,000 stipend to study abroad. Additionally, there are 4 Early Assurance seats to the Medical School, 2 seat for the PT program, 1 to Audiology, OT, and Nursing, and 10 Business Scholars seats.

ECU dorm quad

Quad in a dorm unit

Dorms

Dorms

All incoming freshmen are required to live on campus; there are both hall style and suite style dorms (all with AC). Several Special Program Dorms are available including First-year Experience, Honors, Leadership, and LLCs. Off-campus housing is easy to find; they host housing fairs during the spring. Transportation around town is easy with the largest university transit system in the state (this is included in student fees) with multiple routes all over campus and Greenville. Freshman can bring cars, but “parking is a commodity.”

ECU quad

Main Quad

There’s plenty to do on campus with 400 student organizations, including Greek life, an underwater hockey club, and Pirate Club (booster club). School spirit is high: the air is “electric” during football games, said our tour guide. There are 8 men’s and 9 women’s DI sports. Club sports include rugby, bass fishing, scuba diving, and ski/snowboarding. ROTC is available on campus; their program includes a Virtual Shooting Lab.

© 2014

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