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College of Charleston

~CofC sign 2COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (visited 4/5/14)

~CofC mascot


COC was founded in 1770, making it the 13th oldest university in the country. Much of the campus reflects this feel with central campus dominated by historic buildings and moss covered trees. Although started as a private college, it’s now public school with about 10,050 undergraduates; however, they draw a significant number of their students (about 38%) from outside of SC. Housing is guaranteed for freshmen, but most students move off campus after that. There are several historic houses that upperclassmen live in, and “commuting” is usually within walking distance. Parking is available but expensive, so many students don’t bring cars. Downtown is within easy walking distance, including a lot of restaurants and stores.

~CofC walkway 3~CofC fountainUnique or strong programs include: Arts Management (looking at the business side such as running galleries, music, etc), Historic Preservation and Community Planning (lots of experiences in the city, and they have a Joint degree in Preservation with Clemson); Astrophysics; Computing in the Arts; Computer Science (very popular – they’re putting up a new building, and students work for Google and Boeing, both of which have big offices in town); specializations within Business Admin (the most popular major in terms of enrollment) including Commercial Real Estate, Global Logistics and Transportation; Hospitality and Tourism Management (the flagship program); and Leadership, Change, and Social Responsibility; International Business (students must minor in a language and must study abroad); and Education (they have the highest Praxis II scores in the state). Foreign languages they offer (to at least the Intermediate level) include: Ancient Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Russian in addition to the more popular offerings.~CofC acad bldg 3~CofC chapel and bikes

~CofC archStudents admitted to the Honors College almost always come in as freshmen so they can start and continue through with their cohort. There are also specific classes they need to take through the Honors College. If they think they want to apply once they’re on campus, they should talk to advisors to make sure that they don’t enroll in classes that they’ll have to repeat. Classes are smaller, averaging about 14 students per class. Honors students will complete an independent study in one semester and a bachelor’s paper which normally takes two semesters to complete. There is new Honors-specific housing available consisting of two floors of coed suites.

They’re a DI school playing in the Colonial Conference, and basketball is the big spectator sport. Unusual sports include sailing (both men and women) and sand volleyball (women).

© 2014

Castleton State College

CASTLETON STATE (visited 4/16/14)

~Castleton dining hall

Dining Hall

Castleton is the oldest college in Vermont and the 18th oldest in the U.S. (founded shortly after College of Charleston in SC). However, facilities are modern and comfortable: they’ve put over $70 million in renovations and new buildings over the last 10 years or so. One of the new buildings is a pavilion where they now hold graduation, and in the winter, they flood it to make a skating rink.

One of the new dorms

One of the new dorms

They serve a variety of students – they have the A kid in the Honors College and the C kids who have amazing transformations. Thirty percent of their students come from out-of-state, and 50% are first-generation college students.

~Castleton 2They bring in a lot of events, but they are quick to acknowledge that “Castleton isn’t exactly the most bustling of towns,” so they give students the opportunity to get off campus with buses to Yankees and Red Sox games, concerts, city trips, and more. Skiers can get a season pass to all 3 major ski resorts in the area (including Killington) for $300 a year. A Rail Trail goes right by campus which is great for runners or cross-country skiers. Our tour guide was surprised ~Castleton quadat how big sports were here, which range from intramural to varsity. Some of the more unusual sports offered are Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding (Club), Mountain Biking, Homerun Derby, Wallyball, Water Polo, and Dodge Ball (they were recently listed in the Guinness World Record book for the longest Dodge Ball tournament that lasted 41 hours).

~Castleton study area

Student Center

Two other students were surprised at the community and level of support. First Year students meet once a week with advisors who make sure they’re being challenged and supported. Their retention is starting to go up (currently at 70%). Forty percent of each dorm is reserved for freshmen who are mixed through the dorms. Our tour guide, a senior, lived next door to freshmen. The dorms are single-sex by suite, and rooms are spacious.

~Castleton sports complex

Sports Complex

Academics of note include Athletic Training, Computer Information Systems, Global Studies, Geology, Social Work, and Sports Administration. The school does a good job linking academics and clubs, sending students to conferences, helping set up internships, and in other ways giving students real-world experiences related to their majors.

© 2014

University of Charleston, WV

University of Charleston, WV (visited 4/12/12)

What first struck me about UC was how little it looked like the typical college. The buildings were all a light, yellowish brick and stone (clearly all designed to go together rather than adopting various styles as they grew), and the campus was long and compact, wedged in the block between the river and the main street and taking up about two or three blocks lengthwise. Buildings sat in two long rows with plenty of parking in the middle, effectively separating the Res life side of campus (the side away from the river) from the academics/admin side. Not only is the campus accessible from town, but everything is quickly available on campus. The Academic buildings are mostly connected with enclosed walkways/bridges so in bad weather, you don’t have to go outside. For example, the library takes up four levels of one of the buildings and it’s accessible on many levels. The river view is amazing and they love to show it off. In one of the academic buildings, they have a multi-level art gallery with panoramic views across the water. The artwork changes periodically, but all of it is by female artists from WV. They have maximized their use of space to let in a lot of light and open the buildings to the river views. One of the academic buildings, the Clay Tower, is eight floors; some colleges might put the fancy offices in the rooms with windows overlooking the river, but here, those are taken up with classroom, labs, and work-spaces for students. The Capital Building (and its gold dome) sits right across the river.

One of the most unique aspects of UC is that there is no core curriculum like at many other colleges. Instead, they integrate English (particularly writing and communication) into any major that students choose. All classes are writing and presentation intensive; they care more about having students apply what they have learned through practice rather than just spit back information on a test. They also have 6 Liberal Learning Outcomes, important traits for success in the workplace, such as critical thinking, citizenship, and infusing science and technology. These LLOs show up over and over in the classes that students take throughout their time on campus.

For a variety of reasons such as not having a core curriculum, accepting goal/career-oriented students, and the class structures, 35-40% of students graduate in fewer than the traditional four years (fabulous from an economic standpoint). Most students declare a major within the first year or so, but it is not required – however, in order to graduate early, students do need to know what they want to do fairly early on. However, they also have a Discover Program for first year students who are undeclared/undecided.

Driven, engaged, goal-oriented students tend to thrive here. Internships are available as early as 2nd semester freshman year. My tour guide, a freshman Chemistry major from Northern Virginia, was asked by one of his Chem professors if he wanted to help do research on finding traces of cocaine on paper money. Although he was a bit disappointed that they didn’t find any, he got a lot of practical research experience, and he said that they found other really interesting things in the process. The professor is going to be expanding the research, and this student is first in line to help continue the project over the rest of his time at college. He is also involved in a variety of campus clubs, including some that compete in regional and national levels. When I asked him what he’d like to change about the university, he said that he wishes more people got involved in some of the extra-curriculars. Several people were really involved, but some students got more wrapped up in the academics.


A view of the WV capitol building from campus

Health Sciences and Pre-Professional programs are strong here. There are 7 hospitals within 10 miles of campus, so internship and hands-on experiences are common and accessible. They also have a 6-year Doctor of Pharmacy program; students do 2 years of prereqs and then spend 4 years on the doctoral program. They also have a fast-track business degree in which students can get their BA in 3 years and then spend 1.5 years getting an MBA. Public Policy, politics, and pre-law are also very popular. The Capital Building is directly across the river from campus, so again, internship opportunities are there and highly sought-after. Finally, both the Interior Design and the Athletic Training programs are hands-on; students majoring in Athletic Training get assigned to different sports teams, so they work for full seasons with the same people; they also rotate through teams for different seasons to get a sense of what different athletes might need. Incidentally, UC is DII which surprised me because there are only 1,600 students at the college. They even have a large football stadium across the river, something almost unheard of for a college this size.

There are 4 residence halls: 1 for only freshman, 1 mixed, and 2 for upper level students. They also have a new graduate residence hall for the MBA, PharmDoc, and other grad students on campus. All the dorms are suites or private bathrooms. My tour guide and his roommate, for example, had a private bathroom directly across the hall from their room. They had a key for it so they knew that no one else would be using it. On the Res Life side of campus, they have a brand new fitness center (with views of the river, of course!) and a gym right behind it. That building is next on the list to be renovated with the expectation that it will eventually be joined to the new fitness center. All students can have a car on campus; parking costs $100 a semester.

(c) 2012

Bay Path University

Bay Path University (visited 5/28/19)

BPC main sign 2Bay Path is a small, pretty women’s college with some amazing academic programs. I learned from the tour guide that most of the sculptures (mostly by local artists) diplayed around campus were purchased by the President’s husband to donate to the college.

BPC sculpture 2Bay Path operates its traditional residential campus in Longmeadow, just outside of Springfield. Under this umbrella is the American Women’s College, an online, bachelors-granting college for adult women (although they offer a few hybrid classes that will meet occasionally on Saturday, as well). Many of the graduate programs (such as Education, Psych, and health sciences) are held on the Health Science Center campus in East Longmeadow, about 4 miles from main campus, allowing this campus to retain much of an undergraduate, traditional feel.

BPC sculpture 4The admissions building is a converted house with welcoming spaces used by current and perspective students. The President holds dinners in one of the larger rooms as well as at her house (located by the athletic center), and all students get invited during their time on campus. “She’s visible. We definitely can voice opinions,” said my tour guide.

BPC 5“Students who want to be a number will not do well here. They won’t make it,” said the rep. Bay Path works well with their students, and they have a lot of success with first-gen students. They recognize and work with several barriers, including cultural and financial. “Sometimes they’re not allowed to separate quite so well.” They offer Finish Line scholarships to help students persist through to graduation. “ If they’re willing to come take a chance, they’ll do great here.” Starting in the 20-21 school year, they’re offering a Pell Grant Free Tuition Promise in which “first-year, first-time, full-time students” with at least a 2.5 GPA and who are Pell-Eligible will get free tuition for their first year at Bay Path!

BPC 3All freshmen are housed in the same dorm; upperclassmen have a chose of 2 other buildings. The tour guide took me into Theinert, the Freshmen dorm. “Rooms are a little smaller here than the others,” she said, but I thought they were decent sizes for doubles. Campus food is an 8. “I’d like more variety especially on weekends. Lots of people go home so there’s less choice then.” She stays on campus because she plays lacrosse. “There’s definitely more going on around campus in the fall.” Residents pay a parking fee but commuters do not. Freshman can have cars on a space-available basis and there are community bikes available.

BPC Commons

The Commons

The university has been working to increase the number of weekend activities as well as participation. They’ve instituted Destination Saturdays, offering local and seasonal trips like apple picking, sledding, goat yoga, ice skating, and Celtics or Bruins games. There are free shuttles to local stores and attractions and students get discounted movie tickets. The closest theaters are in West Springfield or Enfield (20 minutes away).

A few traditions that the tour guide particularly liked include:

  • Campus Awakenings, an event held before dawn on the first day of school. “It’s kind of a way for seniors and faculty to welcome freshmen.”
  • Wacky Wildcats (like Field Day)
  • Curtain Call at the end of the year (kind of the opposite of Awakening)

BPC labNot surprisingly for a school this size, (a little under 1900 students), 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students. My tour guide’s smallest class (a Women in STEM Honors class) had 6 students in it.

My tour guide and the rep shared a lot of great academic information with me:

  • In 2020-21, they’ll accept 30 first-year, first-time undergrads into Pathway which is a way for them to earn a spot in their MS in Physician Assistant Studies. In senior year, students who met the acceptance guidelines will vie for 1 of 10 spots in the cohort.
  • Cybersecurity is a newer program with tracks in Digital Forensics and Information Assurance. Bay Path has been selected as 1 of 5 partner school with GOOGLE!
  • All students get iPads.
  • They offer 5 tracks within Forensics including Forensic Psych and Forensic Science. A Forensic Anthropologist from the Medical Examiner’s office and a Special Prosecutor for the FBI teaches here. This was one of the first programs in the area in the area, so they have great outcomes for students. They have a genome sequencing machine on campus, the same as used in the Massachusetts Crime Lab. They also have a ballistics lab.
  • BPC forensicsThey offer a 5-year OT program
  • The Business Program offers 12 specializations, although some like Strategic HR Management, Digital Marketing Management, and Food Industry Management are only offered online.
  • Interior Design: Commercial and Residential majors designed one of the academic buildings.
  • BPC learning commons int

    Part of the Learning Commons

    The Learning Commons has a law floor and an early childhood education floor. This doubles as a community library.

  • An American History class offered every year examines a time or place during the fall semester, then they tour the place in January (this year, they went to Savannah and Charleston). The trips aren’t that expensive, but can also apply for travel scholarship to offset costs. “Students can take it every year and have a different experience.” They save seats for first-year students.
  • “Things are pretty hands-on here,” said the tour guide. In her First Year Seminar, took Monster Madness, “We put Dracula on trial.”
  • WELL (Women as Empowered Leaders and Learners) is built into the core classes; students take several classes around different growth, learning, and leadership themes. The First-Year Read is incorporated into these classes, and there’s a Residential programming component as well.

BPC loungeBay Path participates in the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield Consortium with Elms, American International College, Springfield, Westfield State, WNEU, and the Community College. They don’t have shuttles, but most campuses are relatively close and are on bus lines. Students can take up to 2 classes per semester (usually not the first semester), must be in good academic standing, and register for a class that is not offered at their home campus.

Admission is test-optional. However, if they submit test scores, they do not need an essay or recommendation letters (they can submit if they’d like but they’re not required). Without test score, applicants need both the letters and the essay. They will need to submit test scores for any honors program. Qualified students will be invited to apply to general honors, Women in Stem Honors (WISH) or Women in Business Honors. Regular Honors provides a $1500 scholarship; the others award $2500.

In the past years, they’ve held a Signature Scholarship Competition (the rep isn’t sure it’s happening next year). Interested students write an essay of up to 750 words on the yearly theme (last year’s was Curiosity). 40 students got invited to campus in February to compete for a Full Tuition scholarship, but everyone who came got additional money.

© 2019

Southeastern University

Southeastern University (visited 2/5/16)

SEU archTo imagine what this campus looks like, think Spanish moss (a la Savannah or Charleston) meets Southwest Architecture. The school is relatively new; although it was established in 1935 in Alabama, it relocated to its currently location in 1952 (accreditation was granted in the 80s). Buildings are new, remodeled, or well maintained so everything looks modern and attractive. Music gets piped around the main quad; when we were there, there were a lot of movie music being played. They were running a film fest, and one of the Pixar guys was on campus leading a seminar on storytelling.

SEU statueThis is a conservative Christian school, and students definitely live the mission. “I feel like the people here walk the walk. They want to be here,” said our tour guide. Applicants need to be highly invested in living their faith here. “It’s not someplace to come to explore if you believe; you come here because you DO believe and want to be surrounded by like-minded people and taught in a way that enforces that. All classes are taught from a Christian world-view, and that involves Creationism.” Another student on the panel said, “A lot of people think that god and science are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they don’t have to be.”

St Leo treeApplicants confirm their beliefs on the application. Although associated with Assembly of God (Pentecostal), they have students from a wide range of Christian faiths. An admissions rep said, “We do ask about faith on the application. We won’t reject someone outright if they check the No box, but we’ll have a conversation to see why they’re interested in this environment. We have a very small percentage of non-Christians who enroll.” Part of their application is a Christian Character Reference form from someone they’ve known for more than 6 moths.

SEU 2A variety of chapel services are offered multiple times a week. “We know that people worship in different ways. Some are more quiet and reflective. Others are more boisterous.” Southeastern’s Core Values are Academic Excellence, Spiritual Formation, and Social Engagement. More than 50 student-led mission trips happen each year. When the tour guides talked about their trips, it seemed like a lot were conversion-based trips, but after talking more to students, it seems like many really are more help-based as well as having conversations and exchanges of information.

There’s no official dress code here. “Essentially, it’s based on modesty,” said the tour guide. “No cracks in the front or back!”

SUE butterfly statueSoutheastern’s enrollment has been growing steadily over the last several years to its current enrollment of 4,538 total students, 57% of whom are women and 36% are minority. Racial diversity was evident as we walked around campus; geographic diversity showed up in the license plates from all over the country. They currently have 74 international students; the highest number is from Brazil (5). However, there are no shuttles to and from the airport for kids who have to fly in. “A lot will take a SuperShuttle or get a friend to pick them up.” Freshmen can have cars on campus; parking is tough but a garage is in the works.

SEU new LLC bldg

The new LLC construction

There’s space for1600 students to live on campus but they’re adding 450 new beds in the new LLC that’s currently going up and will be open for fall of 2016. The 1st floor will have food, the 2-3rd floors will be offices and classrooms, and dorm rooms will take up the 4-5th floors. There are no coed dorms, and this a dry campus. The myriad of social events has led to the reputation that this is “party school of Christian schools.” There’s plenty to do on campus. Sports are a big deal, both playing and watching. Football is now in its second year, and wrestling is new. When students want to get off campus, they can use town buses for free.

SEU dorms

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front

Overall, it seems like students like it here: “I was worried about whether I could have fun and be a Christian, too, but here you can.” Lakeland is a college town “but on a smaller scale than you might expect.” The beach, water parks, and Disney are all within an hour’s drive. Most students seemed happy, but while on the tour, three girls started saying, “Don’t do it! Don’t come!!” while shaking their heads vigorously behind the tour guide’s back. Another counselor and I went over to talk to them for a couple minutes and asked what they didn’t like about it. They said it wasn’t what it seemed and wasn’t worth the cost. However, when we entered the dorm, we talked to two students in the lounge. “On a 1-10 scale, it’s an 11! I love it here!”

SEU stadium

The football stadium

Of the 50 majors, graphic design, poli sci, and nursing are the newest. The students we talked to said that their largest classes were 115, 40, and 50; the smallest were 4 and 8. All students must complete 18 credits in Religion, so all of them end up with a minor in Bible Studies. They also have to earn 30 Chapel Credits per semester. “It’s pretty easy to do, and people want to go anyway.” The FYE is tied into Chapel; these classes are single-gender. There’s also a student-led workshop team: it’s a selective group involving a lot of singing, and students have to audition; they put out a yearly CD.

SEU sci bldg

The Science building

In the lobby of the science building is a mastodon skeleton named “Suzy.” It was found in Florida and on loan to the university for 6 years.

This school is an amazing bargain at $31,000 per year. The average financial aid package is $18,000 with the top scholarships going up to $15,000. Honors students (the ones getting the most money) need a 3.6 to keep their merit aid. Scholarships are generally given based on the applications; they will superscore both the ACT and the SAT. They accept counselor and teacher recs but don’t require them.

© 2016

Monmouth University

Monmouth University (visited 7/29/13)

~Monmouth wilson hall stairsMonmouth is a private university with about 4400 undergraduates. The main hall on campus is Wilson Hall built in the early 1900s and named for President Wilson who had stayed there during his 1916 campaign for president. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it is surrounded by the Shadow Lawn Estate, modeled after the Gardens of Versailles. Many people will recognized it as Dr. Warbuck’s mansion from Annie. The Guggenheim family “cottage” (mansion) is also on campus and now houses the library and cafe.

~Monmouth fountainMonmouth stresses Experiential Education, required of all students. This can be fulfilled through study abroad, internships, or other similar experiences. Classes are caped at 35 with an average size of 22. The tour guide’s largest classes were 35 in her Gen Ed classes; the smallest had 8. She had transferred from Ramapo (a larger public school) for the hands-on experience and to take advantage of the 5-year BA/MBA program; she’s planning on doing her MBA in Health Care Management. “I like that they make sure we succeed. It’s not survival of the fittest here.”

~Monmouth businessThere are several notable academic areas to point out:

  • There are multiple 5-year Bachelor/Masters programs. Their Social Work (concentrations in International and Community Development or Families and Children) and Software Engineering programs are top ranked.
  • They have a student-run record label!
  • Marine Biology is well-regarded with research opportunities in the Bahamas.
  • The Center for Entrepreneurship. One student started a natural pet treat company and donates 10% of profits to animals for military
  • Their Clinical Lab Science major is unusual. Students can complete concentrations in Cytotechnology or Medical Lab Sciences.
  • Other unusual majors include: Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy, Chemistry: Chemical Physics, Homeland Security, and Fine Arts with concentrations in Creative Writing, Animation, or Graphic Design.
  • They’re starting their nursing program in the fall of 2014 with 25 spots anticipated. Students will need about a 1600 SAT and 3.25 GPA and must write an essay addressing interest.
  • They offer 3 free rides to law school.
  • The art museum has exhibits and studio space.

~Monmouth 4~Monmouth flowersHousing is guaranteed for freshmen, and starting this year, for sophomores as well (a new sophomore residential hall just opened up). A tunnel under the road leads to the residential oval where there’s a 50/50 split between traditional housing and suites, although freshmen tend to be in more standard cinderblock set-ups. Dorms are wired for wifi, but rooms have backup Ethernet hookups. Each room has cable access for students wanting to buy into that system. There is no official Greek housing, but groups can live together on a hall as long as they don’t exceed 15% of space. Most students will opt to live on campus, but there’s plenty of off-campus housing should they choose to move off. Most students living in non-campus housing will need cars or will ride the shuttle into school. Parking costs $300 a year in the assigned lot; it’s first come, first serve.

~Monmouth stud cntrThe Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC) was completely built with donations. They have TV and radio stations inside, student activity offices, and plenty of meeting spaces. There are even special recycling bins; by using them, students win points for iPods and more. Monmouth has a world-class debate team which won a national competition last year. Students are given a calendar of activities when they arrive on campus. “There’s a ton to do on and off campus,” said the tour guide. Big campus traditions include Battle of the Buildings (inter-dorms competition in the fall, Winter Ball (prom-like dance), and Spring Fling. Off-campus trips, include weekend shuttles to the beach, require a $5 reservation to hold a the spot, but they get it back when they get on the bus.

~Monmouth mascot~Monmouth hawkAdmitted students tend to have a B+ average and have about a 1600 SAT or 24 ACT. Crossover colleges are often Scranton, Charleston, Iona, TCNJ, Rowan, and Drew. About 65 students are admitted to the Honors program during the application process. They are housed together and have access to specially designed classes that are often thematic and emphasize creativity. Students need to keep a 3.5 in the major and 3.4 overall to stay in the program. The Honors Program has about a 94% retention rate.

© 2014

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