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Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee School of Engineering (visited 4/14/15)

MSOE walkway

Entry into the quad area. Bikes are big on campus .

I didn’t even know this school existed; I had a couple free hours before another college tour in Milwaukee and spent it walking around the city to get a sense of the place. I saw on a tourist map that I was only a couple blocks from MSOE so I headed over there. The school surprised me in a good way!

MSOE mapThis is a small school of about 2,600 undergrads (not surprisingly, males outnumber females 3-to-1) allowing for a lot of hands-on opportunities for students. One student I spoke to chose MSOE specifically for this reason. “I did not want to be sitting in a large lecture hall. I knew I’d get a better education here than some of the bigger name schools because I can apply what I’m learning and ask questions.” His classes are small: his largest had 28 students; the smallest had 4. He absolutely loves it here. “I’m really well prepared.”

MSOE field and dorm

The outdoor athletic field and dorms in the background.

Incorporated into the city, MSOE is a small, manageable campus within walking distance of many things and accessible to many more through the city’s public transportation. It’s close to downtown but not right in the middle of the busiest part. Freshmen and Sophomores must live on campus unless they come from within 50 miles of campus; about 80% live on campus. Options range from traditional rooms to suites to apartments (those are reserved for juniors, seniors, and international students). The new tower with apartments has brought up the total undergrad residential percentage to about 35%. For the upperclassmen who move off, it’s very easy to find close, affordable housing in the city.

MSOE stud cntr int

The top floor of the student center building.

Food is “ok . . . it’s campus food,” said one student. You aren’t going to go hungry, and if you get bored, you have the whole city at your disposal. The hours aren’t always great. “Dinner is over at 6 or 6:30” but the late-night place is open until 11 Sunday to Thursday. They do offer commuter plans as well.

Despite the school’s name, students can major in more than just Engineering although that is their “flagship.”

  • MSOE nursing

    Nursing Department

    There is a good Nursing program that boasts a 97% placement rate of their graduates.

  • The Business school offers majors in Management, International Business, Management Information Systems, and Technical Communications.
  • The Math department offers both Actuarial Science and Operations Management.
  • Engineering offers degrees in Architectural, Biomedical, BioMolecular, Civil, Computer, Construction, Electrical, Industrial, Mechanical, and Software.
    • Their Mechanical Engineering program has the most students (126) and ranks in the top 10 in the country.
  • MINORS: Students can minor in 7 areas: Business Management, Chemistry, German Studies, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Math, Physics, Psychology, and Technical Communication
MSOE Engo Bldg

Engineering Building

One of the students I talked to is a senior Civil Engineering major. “It’s pretty new. I was one of the first classes, so I feel like I get to help shape it.” He’s an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and has competed in Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe competitions against places like Notre Dame, Purdue, and Indiana. He’s completed a Senior Design project which is an applied project to solve a problem. All students present their work to professionals at the end. He’s a structural specialist, but his senior project wasn’t specifically on that. He would like to see this change in the future; right now, they bound a bit by the project availability, but he did say that it was good to expand out a little bit and gain that experience in other areas of civil engineering. He’s completing a 5-Year freshman-to-MSE program. Students who have a minimum GPA can complete their 5th year for free.

MSOE museum ceilin

The ceiling of the museum building

I’m impressed with the study abroad opportunities. I think an advantage to going to school at a specialized university like this is that they create opportunities for students that align with what they need for graduation. MSOE has agreements with Lille Catholic University in France, Czech Technical University, Florence University of the Arts, Lubeck University of Applied Science in Germany, and Manipal Institute of Technology in India. They also have a travel-study course on Doing Business with China.

Admissions is moderately selective. Although Engineering and Math students need a minimum GPA of 3.0 (nursing requires a 2.75), typical admitted students have about a 3.65. Engineering and Nursing students need at least a 22 composite ACT (Engineers need a 24 math sub-score). Math majors need a 24 composite and 26 math sub-score on the ACT. All students need to have completed pre-calc in high school. They will grant credit for almost all AP classes with a 4 or 5; only a couple areas will grant credit for a 3.

MSOE LibraryI asked a student whether people stuck around campus or went downtown for fun. “Depends on their age . . . I’ll leave it at that.” One of the favorite campus traditions is St. Patrick’s week — apparently he’s the patron saint of engineers. Who knew? This is a big deal in the city as well as on campus. MSOE has parties, students dress up, some professors have their ties cut, classes sometimes get canceled, etc. Quiz Bowl is another event that the students mentioned as an activity they look forward to.

There are things to do on campus. Sports are popular, and they have a large rec facility which includes a hockey rink. Some of their more unusual sports offerings are crew (DIII – “It’s a good team,” said one of the students), fencing, judo, cheerleading, badminton, rugby, and weightlifting (all club). Greek life is fairly small in terms of numbers of students who affiliate, but they do run several social events around campus. There’s an active performing arts contingent on campus, as well.

(c) 2015

Marquette University

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY (visited 4/14/15)

~Marquette quad 1This is the only school I’ve visited that let us into their Cadaver Lab which was much bigger than I imagined; I thought it would look more like an autopsy room with maybe 2 or 3 bodies – instead, there were probably 25 or 30 stations, most with groups of 4-6 students surrounding it working diligently.

~Marquette sim lab

One of the Nursing sim labs

Not surprisingly, Health Sciences are strong here. Students admitted into these programs average a 28.6 ACT and have a strong science background. Calculus isn’t necessarily required since programs tend more towards the statistical side.

~Marquette engo 6

An Engineering lab

When applying to Marquette, students indicate their 1st and 2nd choice COLLEGE. Students are admitted to the college, not a particular major with the exception of Nursing and Athletic Training. Generally, indicating 2 colleges allows Admissions to consider applicants for 2 places. However, since students cannot transfer into Nursing as sophomores, they’ll only be considered for that even if they list a 2nd choice college.

Colleges and special majors include:

  • Arts and Sciences
    • Unusual majors: Computational Mathematics, Social Welfare and Justice, and Physiological Sciences
    • Students an do an art minor with Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design!
  • ~Marquette edu cntr

    The Education Center

    Education

    • Elementary Ed students major in a subject area AND education. They have a full teaching area that looks like an elementary school with rugs, books, etc. Upper level students run reading labs and have clients all semester.
  • Communications
  • Health Sciences
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy: Students can do a 6-year combined degree by majoring in anything but Education or Engineering and then jumping into the graduate degree. They receive about 1400 applications for an enrollment of 62.
    • Physician Assistant: they get about 900 apps and accept 14. Students apply after their first year; if admitted, they can finish in 5 years instead of 7. Exercise Physiology or Athletic Training majors work well with the PT program but students can major in almost anything.
  • Business
    • This is the first university to offer Business Ethics
    • Applied Investment Management Program. Students invest real money and must present the outcomes to the Board of Trustees at the end of the year.
    • 75% pass the exam the first time (national average is 40%). Students must intern during the summer between Jr and Sr years.
  • ~Marquette engo 5

    One of the Material testing labs in the Engineering Building.

    Engineering: This program is 4 years old; facilities are top-notch! We talked to students who were building easily foldable/portable children’s walkers for use on playgrounds and will easily go over wood chips and grass. There was a local need for this, so students were designing, building, and donating several of these.

  • Nursing: Nursing is highly selective: 100/1800 applicants are admitted.
    • Students go on mandatory spirituality retreats, “but not JESUIT retreats!” said the Dean. They want students to grapple with larger issues starting with “Who are you?” to issues of life, death, and dying – from whatever religion (or no religion) a student is coming from.
    • Marquette statueUnlike many nursing programs, study can study abroad on a few programs include maternal health in Peru, partnership with SLU.
    • The Simulation lab like a professional area. Everyone in there is in uniform and treats it like a job.
~Marquette sculpture

One of the sculptures on campus

Milwaukee is a great college city with the country’s 6th largest student population per capita. Marquette is integrated into downtown. Students have a wealth of cultural and job opportunities at their fingertips. The Courthouse and an Art Museum are each a block away, both of which provide internships – as do places like National Mutual and other businesses. There are several theaters, and free concerts happen regularly in Cathedral Square. Milwaukee hosts a 10-day Summer Fest, the largest music festival in the country. The stadium is a few blocks away, as is River Walk, a walking/jogging path. The Old Warehouse District has been revitalized with pubs, stores, and restaurants. Students can ride city public transit for free while school is in session. When (if!) students get bored in Milwaukee, the Amtrak station is 7 blocks from campus, making it easy to get into Chicago (1.5 hours away).

~Marquette union extMarquette is one of 18 Jesuit universities in the US. Jesuit schools share a educational philosophy of using knowledge and service to make the world better. Rooted in the Liberal Arts, they stress critical thinking and teach their students HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Approximately 60% of Marquette students self-identify as Roman Catholic; others represent a range of religious diversity.

~Marquette chapel 2

Chapel of St. Joan of Arc

The Chapel of St. Joan of Arc is on campus. Built in the 1500s, it was dismantled and brought to Long Island from France in the 1920s. In the early 1960s, it was given to Marquette. Masses are still held here. Although we didn’t get to go inside to check this out for ourselves, the tour guide told us that there’s one spot near the altar that’s always a couple degrees colder than the rest of the building. Science students have done experiments to try to figure out why.

~Marquette streetStudents are serious about their education but are also active outside the classroom. People need to want to be involved. Greek life is there, but not huge (about 15% of students affiliate). There’s some Greek housing but it’s small. The theater department puts on 5 big shows a year. “Late Night Marquette” got mentioned a couple times by students where they’ll have a chocolate theme, a casino night, and other things like that.

~Marquette jarsSome University-wide special programs include:

  • ROTC: Marquette is the host institution for all 3 branches for students in Milwaukee.
  • Honors: They’re looking to grow this. They currently get about 400 apps for 100 spots; the application is due by 2/1 and requires several essays. Honors students take small core classes with other Honors students, meant to bring together as a group. After that, they can contract with professors to make any class as an Honors class.
  • Study Abroad: If Marquette doesn’t have a program a student wants, they have the option of going through Loyola in Chicago.
~Marquette dorms

Some of the dorms

Almost all freshmen and about half of all students live on campus; a new residence hall is opening in the fall. There’s a variety of housing types ranging from singles to quads; many triples and quads have their own bathrooms. Students can live in suite styles as a freshmen. One student said that dorms are “good, not great” and large. Honors Housing is in a “Tower” with lake views – some of the best housing around. “Food is good. There are options in different dining halls like Italian, 50s diner, traditional buffet.” Students can eat in any of the dozen or so spots on campus with their meal cards.

© 2015

Ripon College

Ripon College (visited 4/16/15)

~Ripon students on quadFor a college that many people have never heard of, it has some famous alumni including Harrison Ford (who, although he didn’t technically finish his senior thesis, from what I’m told, is still considered an alum!), Spencer Tracy, Al Jarreau, about a dozen NFL and several NBA players, and McKey Sullivan (winner of America’s Next Top Model). Also, the town saw the start of the Republican Party in the 1800s “which was pretty progressive 160 years ago!” said one admissions rep.

~Ripon tablesI wasn’t even sure how to pronounce the name of this school before I got here (like “ripin’” if you’re wondering) and I walked away loving it. This is a small liberal arts college with just under 800 students although they’re working on growing to at least 1000 students and currently have the capacity to go to 1100. The majority of students come from the upper midwest but there are students from all over the country and world. They’re so serious about attracting students from other geographic regions that they’ve instituted a fly-in program where they will reimburse accepted students who submit original receipts up to $300 in travel costs for visiting. They’ll even pick up students from the Milwaukee airport.

~Ripon sculptureBecause it’s small, students can take things in a lot of different directions, dig deep, and look at things from a variety of angles. “Students here are just so excited,” said one professor. “I look at them and think, ‘Was I ever that earnest?’ They’re just really good kids!!” Faculty don’t always stick to the syllabus and can take students’ interests into account. There are several interdisciplinary majors. Students who thrive here like to be involved in a lot. “We’re too small for them to do just one thing.”

~Ripon quad 1Students are confident, want to be challenged and pushed, are willing to take on responsibilities, and can make their own way. One student said that Ripon made her more open/respectful of ideas. “You think you know who you are. You don’t.” Students and professors both brought up the fact that people on campus truly want to discuss not only academics but larger issues as well. “We have really good discussions about diversity,” said one student. The campus even now has gender-neutral bathrooms at the insistence of the students because of discussions people were having on campus.

~Ripon classOne of the Communications professors is a Ripon Alum. He did his PhD at a major research university and people expected him to take a job at another major institution, but he jumped at the chance to come back to Ripon. When asked why, “I told him it’s because I believe in this place. The guy was silent and then said that was the first time he’d ever gotten that answer.”

~Ripon greenhouseCurrently, they’re wrestling with areas of distinction. They understand that they need an answer to the “What makes you different?” question to draw people to them. They’re undergoing a curriculum review and have hired a new Dean. Despite this (or maybe BECAUSE they’re willing to be critical of their programs and be forward-thinking), there are already wonderful things happening in Ripon’s academic world. Programs of note include:

Dr. Zach Messitte, Ripon’s President, still teaches in the Political Science department and often runs a non-credit sophomore seminar on Presidential stuff. He also often leads a trip during the 3-week May term for the Liberal Arts in Focus program. 2015 trips also include an Ornithology class, Peace Studies in Jamaica, Language Immersion in Spain, and a trip to Germany.

~Ripon acad bldg 2Ripon has active, committed alumni who look out for their alma mater and the current students. They even help pay for students to go on career trips! A group of students recently went to DC for 4 days and paid only $400 for the entire trip which included airfare, hotels, meals, ground transportation, etc. The students got to attend career workshops with alumni, tour companies and other organizations, go on interviews, and more.

~Ripon loungeThey’ll take either the Common App or their school-specific application, and they don’t charge an application fee. “We want to take down as many barriers to applications as possible.” Getting a decision takes about 2 weeks after the file is complete. “If something seems off, we’ll ask the student for an interview.” Most scholarships are granted automatically but there are some that students need to apply for such as those for forensics, music/art, ROTC, diversity, etc. These additional, specialty scholarships are stackable with the automatically granted academic scholarships up to $19,000 a year.

~Ripon Lincoln 3Freshmen are usually housed together; after that, housing is generally mixed. Almost ⅓ of the students affiliate with a Greek organization and can live together on a floor in the dorm. Some apartments are available usually for Juniors and Seniors who must fill out an application; GPA is taken into account when assigning the apartments. Themed Housing is available and can be coed.

Ripon does a great job providing things to do on campus. “The town is a bit remote. We can’t do anything about that, but we can make campus fun.” They have an active performing and visual arts groups; students can and do get involved even if they aren’t majoring in those areas. Clubs range from the athletic (including 3 different Equestrian teams and a Women’s Boxing Club) to charity groups and honor societies. Students also find their own fun: “There’s a great sledding hill that’s well used,” said one students. Ripon is supposedly the second most haunted campus in the Midwest, so ghost-hunting is always an option!

(c) 2015

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