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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

University of North Carolina – Greensboro

UNC Greensboro (Visited 3/15/17)

UNCG original bldg

The original college building

Little known trivia about UNCG: it’s the only college in NC that has a Bojangles! UNCG also has a free tour app that’s worth checking out.

UNCG 5Although originally known as the Education school of the UNC system (it started as a teacher’s college), UNCG also has strong sciences and other programs. Academics are so impressive that the school has been listed as one of the country’s best institutions for undergrad education annually since 1999. It’s also the most diverse of the 17 UNC schools.

UNCG quadI was surprised to learn that Greensboro was one of the founding members of the UNC system in 1932 along with UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State. This is a research university serving about 16,000 undergrads. Faculty are still engaged in their fields, and they bring the undergrads along for the ride. Despite the size, the rep giving the info session, herself a UNCG grad, only had 1 lecture-style class with 125 people during her time here. The tour guide said that her biggest, also an intro science class, had 150 people but only had 17 in her English class the first year. She’s had classes with 7 students in her major. Her favorite class was an Anthropology class called Cults and Conspiracies. “The Anthro department gets really creative!”

UNCG minerva

Statue of Minerva sits in the middle of campus

A few things surprised the tour guides about UNCG: first, that everything stayed open late (“I’m from a small town; I’m not used to being able to get food after 10!”); second: “it initially feels huge but it’s really not! I see people I know all the time” (and you can walk campus corner-to-corner in 15 minutes); and third: “how helpful the professors are. They seem scary but aren’t.”

Some programs unique to UNCG (within the UNC system) include:

UNCG clock and quad

Don’t walk under the clock or you won’t graduate on time! (Every campus has one of these rules). 

Other notable/unusual programs are:

UNCG bell towerQualified students can participate in the UNCG in 3 program, an accelerated pathway to the degree available in about 30 majors. To be eligible, students must come in with at least 12 credits (AP, Dual Enrollment, etc). Benefits include priority registration and dedicated advising.

UNCG honors dorm

The honors dorm

Students from all fields of study are welcome to apply to the Honors College. Students who meet the HC criteria when they apply to the university will receive an invitation to apply to the HC. Because this is an internationally-focused program, students do need to study abroad for at least a semester. All students can take advantage of study abroad programs, including summer (but that alone does not fulfill the HC requirement). Many study abroad programs offer a 1-to-1 student exchange which helps increase diversity on campus.

UNCG plaza 4

One of the many plazas with seating areas. This sits between the dining hall and dorms.

Located in a residential area not far from downtown, the UNCG area caters to students. “You have all the things you’d expect like coffee shops,” said the tour guide. The Yum Yum shop got particular mention (“It serves hot dogs, hot dogs, ice cream, cheer wine, and hot dogs. If you want any of those, you can’t go wrong”). There are 3 free shuttle and bus routes available for students: the UNCG shuttle, the HEAT bus which runs between several Greensboro area universities, and the Greensboro City bus which has stops on campus. Students are able to take classes at other Greensboro area schools including Guilford, A&T, Elon, and Greensboro College. Everything is easily accessible, and the school provides transportation even the airport which is 10 miles away.

UNCG rec pool 2

The rec pool where Dive-In Moves are held.

There’s no lack of things to do on campus. Students love the “Dive-in Movies” held at the recreational pool. The art museum has exhibits from students, faculty, and even famous artists (they had a Warhol exhibit last month). All UNCG sporting events (there are 17 DI teams) are free for students. All teams compete on campus except for basketball that plays at the Coliseum just over a mile away.

UNCG dorm 2

One of the 2 largest dorms on campus (the other is next door and looks similar). This houses freshmen.

There are 26 residential halls, including special-interest housing. “Rooms in the ones with double names are a little bigger!” said the tour guide. Students are never required to live on campus, but about 80% of freshmen will live on campus in traditional hall-style. Apartments and Suite-style are available once they reach sophomore standing, and “at least 60% of students stick around.” There are some off campus apartments with shuttles available to campus. Shuttles also run around campus every 10 minutes.

UNCG art museumUNCG does not take the Common App; students need to apply through SpartanLink. Application review begins September 15th, and Priority Consideration is 12/1 which includes Priority Scholarship Consideration (certain scholarship winners are selected from this pool). They will superscore both the SAT and the ACT. Essays and recs are optional but encouraged. Due to NC regulations, applicants need 1 math beyond Algebra 2.

© 2017

 

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

 

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University (visited 3/14/17)

NCCU 1Although not flashy, NCCU’s campus of mostly brick buildings is well kept up, attractive, and easy to navigate. Many of the dorms are tall, utilitarian, and older/less attractive than other buildings providing traditional hall-style rooms. Students do have to live on campus for the first year, and the university is adding suites and apartment options to the traditional halls (particularly for those students who stay on campus after the first year).

NCCU 2Founded in 1910, NCCU is now part of the UNC system. This HBCU (currently 78% African-American) is nationally recognized as a community engaged institution. Students need 60 community service hours to graduate; the rationale is that this gives students connections with the community, networking opportunities, and a chance to build skills.

NCCU Greek Bowl

Some of the Greek plots/decorations along the side of the Greek Bowl

Located in Durham (ranked as the 4th best place to live in the US), students have no shortage of opportunities. In addition to 3 other major universities (and their basketball teams) in the Research Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), Durham is known as the City of Medicine and the Technology Hub of the east coast. There are plenty of job and internship opportunities around. The campus is only about a mile from downtown and a few miles from Duke.

NCCU sciencesDuring the info session, the rep told us that NCCU offers 78 degrees (majors) with 146 Degree Concentrations, but this includes graduate degrees. Undergraduates can get degrees in about half of those. The biggest majors include: Nursing, Business Admin, Criminal Justice, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Hospitality and Tourism. A 3+2 Dual Degree program is offered: students major in Physics at NCCU and then complete an Electrical Engineering degree at NC State, Duke, or Georgia Tech. Another noteworthy program is the Early Medical School Selection Program in conjunction with Boston University. Students qualify during sophomore year and then transition to BU in senior year to complete their degree (they remain jointly matriculated at NCCU) and can begin taking a couple med school classes).

NCCU footballThe 6000 undergraduates seem pretty active on campus. There are 310 athletes playing on the school’s 14 DI teams. Their big rival is NC A&T in Greensboro, and the Ag-Eagle Classic is a huge game/tradition. Greek Life is also big with all of the Devine Nine represented. Students need 30 credits and a 2.75 GPA to rush. All the Greek Organizations have a plot circling the “Greek Bowl,” aka the Library Bowl (the library sits on one side of the area) or the Unity Bowl, so named because during the 10:40 all-school break on Tuesdays and Thursday, students tend to congregate in there in good weather. There are DJs or other fun things planned during this time.

NCCU fountain

The fountain next to the library in the “Library/Greek/Unity Bowl”

Admission decisions are done on a rolling basis. North Carolina high school seniors can apply for free during the mid-November Free App week (www.CFNC.org). Dates change every year so check the website! For out-of-state students, they’re looking for a 2.75 GPA or higher, and applicants must submit the writing portion of the SAT or ACT. Students will be automatically considered for most scholarships and can apply for 75 more at: www.nccu.edu/scholarships/. The Students interested in the Honors College need to apply to the program; the rep said that the students selected for the program generally have a 1530 SAT (with writing) or 23 ACT + 3.3 GPA to come in as a freshman.

I’m not impressed with the graduation rate here (slightly under 50% graduating in 6 years), but for students who do get involved, are willing to seek out opportunities, and who are looking for a medium school in a small city, this might be a good choice of school.

© 2017

St. Joseph’s University (PA)

Saint Joseph’s University (visiting 7/20/16)

St. Joe's 1This is absolutely an amazing school! Beautiful campus, enthusiastic students, and strong academics. Who could ask for more?

Founded by the Jesuits in 1851, St. Joe’s mission is “to educate men and women with and for others.” This is 1 of 28 Jesuit schools in the US, and they seem to live the “Care for the Whole Person: mind, body, spirit” ethos: this was the first school on the tour to have a Safe Space sign in the Admissions Office (or anywhere that I saw).

St. Joe's statue

Statue from the Institute for Jewish-Catholic relations

Another phrase you’ll see and hear all over campus, on t-shirts, etc is “That’s the magis,” which is all about more/digging deeper. “Things people do here are for the greater glory of God,” said an admissions rep. Although almost ¾ of the students identify as Catholic (although not necessary practicing), people are free to do what they want. Mass is not required. Jesuits are about finding out who they are spiritually. “Religious life is here if you want it. I’m not Catholic, and I’ve never felt out of place or pushed to go to mass or anything,” said our tour guide. There are even Muslim and Jewish spaces on campus for worship.

St. Joe's dorm

One of the dorms

Greek life is also another “there if you want it” thing on campus. There are 3 on-campus frats and 5 on-campus sororities, but no Greek housing. “We’re Jesuit. That’s not our deal.” About 20% of the population goes Greek. Students can live in suite-style dorms (6 double rooms around a common area) as freshman. “I was shy coming in, and I’m so glad I chose this option. I had 11 people to interact with instead of 1, and it brought me out of my shell,” said the tour guide.

St. Joe's 3There are just under 5000 undergrads on campus from 44 states and 36 countries. They draw heavily from the mid-Atlantic from Massachusetts down to North Carolina. This year’s freshman class is the most racially diverse so far with 19% self-identifying as students of color. “I feel like it’s diverse, but I’m a straight white male. I’m probably not the one to talk about it. That being said, I’ve never seen animosity. I feel like people are inclusive and get along,” said the tour guide. He went on to talk about a friend from Virginia who is openly gay; she feels much more comfortable and accepted on campus than she ever did at home.

St. Joe's hawk

One of the hawk (mascot) statues around campus

Philadelphia is the second largest college town in the country after Boston. Although the university is technically within the Philly city limits, when you cross the street, you’re in the suburbs of Montgomery County. A train station is about 5 minutes away; from there, the 30th St Station is one stop away where people can get anywhere, including the airport and downtown.

St. Joe's bballThis is a DI school (Atlantic 10 Conference) with 20 teams (no, football isn’t one of them!). Basketball is a huge deal; Villanova is the big rival. Students can get season tickets for $85 or $13 a game. They have a large student section set aside, and the excitement generated by students have led them to earn the ranking of #2 student section in the country. They’ve also been ranked #1 for their mascot. Two students are selected as Hawks after an extensive application process (including an essay, recs, and a physical test because they literally have to flap the entire game!). This comes with a full tuition scholarship!

St. Joe's library int 2The Jesuits are big proponents of liberal arts education and focusing on the whole person as an academic. The General Education Program requires 16-18 core classes. Average classes are 22-23 with most classes capped at 35. Since the Jesuits are big on having students question things and participate, most classes are seminar style. There are also many Experiential Learning options; most students participate in at least one of these:

  • Study Abroad
  • Co-op: specific for Business with the exception of Food Service. They take 2 semesters off for 2 paid positions. They take summer courses to make up for the coursework not taken in those 2 semesters. Food Marketing majors graduate in 5 years and complete 3 co-ops.
  • Service Learning. “500 spots filled up in 3 hours for the trip this year!” said the tour guide. “I missed out on it because I had no idea it would fill up so quickly.”
  • Internships
  • Washington Center Program

St. Joe's quadIn addition to Experiential Learning, there are several distinctive academic experiences:

  • Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support: community members can come for mentorship, students in the Autism Behavioral Studies major can work or volunteer here, and students on the spectrum can get support, as well (for a $6000 additional cost).
  • Honors program: Students with a 3.75 GPA and 1300 (old SAT) might be invited to join. They take 8 core classes at the honors level, go on field trips, have priority registration, etc.
  • Thomas Jefferson University Partnership. SJU doesn’t have PT, OT, etc; students interested in this complete 3 years at SJU then a variable number at TJU depending on the program.
  • Summer Scholars: students in all majors, not just science, can complete paid research on campus. They can do this as many summers as they want.

St. Joe's archesMajors fall into one of two schools:

Our tour guide had a hard time narrowing down some of his favorite classes. “Can I have more than one??” He talked about the following:

  • Creative writing taught by Tom Coin who has written books on golf (and was a clue on Jeopardy!) “He was more of a mentor than a teacher and encouraged me to trust my humor. I’m now signed up for a grad level screenwriting class with him this fall.”
  • His Freshman Seminar: Genesis, Sex, Lies, and Mayhem. It was a practical class and gave him a better understanding of the Bible. “If I’m at a Catholic school, that’s helpful! The Bible comes up from time to time.”
  • In the Theology/Philosophy realm, he enjoyed Religious Differences (Islam), God and Evil, and Philosophy of Death.
St. Joe's 6

The quad with the bell tower, gargoyles, and the heads of past university presidents

Here, admissions reps also serve as Financial Aid officers. Families have 1 person to connect with. Admissions is test-optional but students do have to make the decision on the application. If students say that they do NOT want their scores to be considered, SJU will not look at them even if they’re sent in. If students indicate on the application that they DO want them considered, scores are then required.

Here’s a fun fact to end with: there are no bells in the bell tower because hawks were living in there. Around the bell-tower quad, the past-presidents’ heads are depicted in stone along with some gargoyles.

© 2016

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