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Rutgers University – New Brunswick

RUTGERS UNIVERSITY – New Brunswick (visited 7/19/13)

Rutgers 3I heard stories from former Rutgers students that scheduling classes with enough time in between was a nightmare and that they needed to ride buses to class because of the size of campus. I’ve seen state universities with enough students to populate small cities but never one that had spread out over such a large expanse, so I was curious – and I wondered how they kept attracting students when it was so difficult to get around. Having seen it now, I get it. Students get around easily on the fleet of 60 buses that run every 5 minutes, and the university has made sure not only that scheduling works, but that students have a variety of options to suit all sorts of needs and interests. Being a Rutgers student means having access to many campuses in one.

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Campus Train Station

Campus Train Station

The New Brunswick campus (Rutger’s flagship) is unusual in that they don’t have a single contiguous campus. Instead, they have five campuses with distinct feels. Each has residence halls, libraries, and recreational facilities, but students can take classes, eat, study, or work out on any campus. The Busch Campus has the stadium and lots of recreation facilities in addition to the Engineering department, most of the sciences, computer science, half of psychology, and math. The Douglass Campus was originally the NJ College for Women, and remains a residential college for women. It looks like a traditional college campus with trees and lots of green open space. Special programs for leadership development are housed here. The Cook and Douglass Campuses are contiguous; the Cook campus is the original land-grant portion of campus, and many of the Applied Science fields (biotechnology, food science, meteorology, pre-vet) are still here as well as a farm so students have experience with animals. The business and art departments are also here. The College Avenue Campus is the smallest campus and houses English, history, languages, economics, and other similar departments. The Livingston Campus is seeing quite a bit of new construction with a collection of apartment buildings; the first floor of the buildings house retail establishments such as a movie theater, a 24-hour diner, Starbucks, a Mexican restaurant, and more. The student housing above this are mostly singles. The original site of the school, Queens Campus, is not considered one of the 5 campuses because there are no classes held there anymore. Instead, there are offices, a museum, and the chapel. There are two satellite campuses: the Newark campus is 15 miles from NYC, and the Camden campus is across the river from Philadelphia.

Rutgers was founded in 1766, making it the ninth oldest university in the country (the second public university after William and Mary). Rutgers 1They got the land-grant in the mid-1800s and were officially named the State University in the mid-1900s. Currently, there are about 32,000 undergraduates (and about another 10,000 in the graduate and medical schools) at New Brunswick, representing all US states and 125 countries (with 120 languages spoken). However, they’re looking to lower freshman enrollment at New Brunswick and will increase at the other two campuses to compensate. There are 50 residence halls (including apartments) but more will be added with the $1 billion dollar expansion that the university is undertaking, which will include new dorms (including honors), academic buildings, new nursing facilities, and other programs.

New dorms with retail on the first floor

New dorms with retail on the first floor

One of the coolest things I learned during the information session was that Rutgers was instrumental in developing the first underwater self-propelled tube across the Atlantic from NJ to Spain. The tube was controlled form Rutgers, and the ship that accompanied it (called Scarlett because of Rutger’s colors) was manned by students and staff from the university. There were even freshman on the team, including English majors who accompanied a Professor who was a documentarian; some were so excited they switched to oceanography as a major! Rutgers ranks as 21st in the nation in sponsored research.

Here are some cool facts about Rutgers that the tour guides shared with us on our tour:Rutgers athletics

  • They have the largest indoor practice football “bubble” in the country, and the Giants and the Jets practice there.
  • Their intramural sports include a 5’5” and under basketball league, quidditch, and underwater basketweaving.
  • Their swimming pool has a hydraulic floor to control its depths.
  • Their Math building is shaped like Pi
  • Their Physics building looks like a cupcake with a steep underground lecture hall.
  • There are over a hundred study abroad experiences in 40 countries.
  • Some of the off-campus housing is closer to the bus-stops on campus than several of the dorms.
  • 3 different police patrols cover campus.
  • Nabisco funded their Food Science Building.
  • The River Dorms are Living Learning Communities with classrooms in the basement
  • They have a well-renowned Marine and Coastal Sciences program.
  • One-credit Freshmen Interest Groups led by upperclassmen are offered during the first semester. Some of the more unusual ones are: “Yankee Stadium: Why Did the Stadium Cross The Road?” “Harry Potter and Behavioral Genetics,” and “Graphic Novels.”

Supply Chain Management and Business Analytics Information Tech are the newest majors from over 100 to choose from. Departments are organized into schools: First year students can apply to Nursing, Pharmacy, Arts, Business, Arts & Sciences (the largest division), Engineering, or Environmental and Biological sciences. Nursing is a direct admit program, but it’s not required that they start the first year. Many students start in Arts & Sciences, take the first-year classes, and do a school-to-school transfer. Engineering students take their intro classes in A&S and then begin the Engineering program. First year engineering students have a special residential hall; students who live there have a .5 higher GPA than those who don’t. There’s a “We’re in this together” attitude. The students are told, “Look to the left; look to the right. It’s YOUR responsibility to make sure you’re all here next year.” Materials Engineering: They are working on making bridges out of used milk containers! The Arts school is a conservatory and will earn a BFA except for the music majors who have the choice of getting a BA through A&S. The theater students study abroad at the Globe Theater. Pharmacy is a 0-6 degree; they enter right out of high school and will get a DPharm (required to be a practicing pharmacist) in 6 years. This is highly competitive with 3800 applicants for 220 spots. In Business, juniors and seniors can apply to major in Planning and Public Policy, Management and Labor relations, or Communication and Info if they’d like.

Rutgers has Priority application dates, but not Early Action or Decision. December 1 is a priority deadline and is the last date that applicants will be considered for scholarships. Some of the more competitive schools will also be closed after that. After 12/1, the online application will only show what programs are still open. Students apply to up to 3 schools: students can rank their top three options (and actually could get accepted to all three). Students have to self-report their own grades; they only turn in a transcript after they deposit (the final end-of-year transcript with the graduation date is the best). They only had to rescind 2 acceptances last year because students misrepresented their grades. They will superscore both SAT and ACT. No TOEFL is needed if the international student graduates from an English-speaking school, but it can help if the CR section is low. Currently 14% of the school is from out-of-state; they’d like to get that up to 25% (which is still under the other Big Ten schools).

© 2013

Rowan University

ROWAN UNIVERSITY (visited 7/30/13)

Rowan meetingOne of Rowan’s claims to fame is that it hosted a meeting in 1967 between President Johnson and Soviet Premier Kosygin at the Hollybush Mansion, the university president’s home. They met here because of its location halfway between the UN and DC. Apparently, Lady Bird Johnson took the chairs which are now in the Smithsonian with a tag that says “Donated by Rowan” – the tour guide says that if we go there, we should tell people that they were taken from Rowan, not donated!

I had no idea what to expect from Rowan, one of New Jersey’s public universities, but I walked away with a good impression. Students are happy and enthusiastic about the programs and the opportunities they’ve had. This school of 10,750 undergraduates has recently been designated as a state Research Institution, and they’re proud that they do not do research at the expense of the undergraduate. Instead, they’ve been doing a great deal to expand their offerings and opportunities for their students. More money has been going into resources for students, and more scholarship money is available than ever before. They’ve increased their academic offerings for students, including eight new PhD programs and several new Masters programs are in the pipeline. Their Med School is highly competitive, receiving 3,000 apps for 50 seats, and it’s only the second university (after Michigan State) to offer both an MD and a DO (osteopathic medicine) degree. This has had a “trickle-down effect” into their undergraduate programs, and every undergraduate college on campus has a pre-med program, even the performing arts, including using dance as part of therapy. They’re getting away from the traditional model of pre-med prep.

Rowan academicsThey are proud of their Four Pillars program which includes: Economic Engine (helping students getting job and becoming involved in the community); Affordability (they froze tuition by keeping efficiencies in the system); Accessibility (making education available even though they’re getting more selective); and Growth (they’ve built the Stratford Campus for the medical and graduate programs, and they’ve built a partnership with Rutgers for a biomedical school). They’re looking to DOUBLE their student population over the next 10 years. They’ve already shown tremendous growth in their numbers; they used to only serve students from 4 or 5 counties; now they’re a well-known regional university, and they want to become better known across the country. Their out-of-state applications have been rapidly increasing, almost doubling last year from 400 to 700. In the most current freshman class, students had an average of a 3.6 GPA and 1200 SAT or 26 ACT.

Rowan Sci outside

Outside of the new science building

Inside the Science Building

Inside the Science Building

Some of the students’ favorite classes have been the History of WWII, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Developmental Psychopathology. Their classes range from 10-35, and they appreciate the small classes and the chance that they know the professors; people notice if they aren’t in class, and they’re able to get a lot out of classes. Rowan has a strong business program, including Supply Chain and Logistical Systems, Management Info Systems, Entrepreneurship, and other more usual concentrations. Engineering students can choose to specialize in Chemical (ranked 3rd in nation, top among public universities), Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, or Mechanical (ranked 8th in nation). Within the Humanities and Social Sciences College, their Africana Studies, Law and Justice Studies, and Planning are the most unusual majors. In the Science and math division, students can choose from all the usual majors, plus Bioinformatics and Child Behavioral Services. Education is strong at Rowan, and they have a program that allows students to graduate before student teaching, as long as they’ve fulfilled all the other requirements. Two of the tour guides had just graduated but were staying for one more semester to do their student teaching requirement.

Rowan quadAlthough there’s a lot to do on campus, students love that they’re only 20 minutes from Philly, 45 minutes to the shore, and halfway between NYC and DC. The school is doing a lot to do more outreach into the local community, and the activities on campus give students a real sense of community within campus and into the wider town. Unless students commute from a parent’s house, they have to live on campus for the first 2 years. There are freshman-only dorms which are mostly traditional style, but some have suites where they have to clean their own bathrooms. The university is building a 5-block-long apartment complex with Honors housing, B&N bookstore, Starbucks, retail shops and restaurants, arts and entertainment district. Ten percent of the student population joins Greek life.

© 2013

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology (visited 10/10/16)

stevens-dining-hall

A view of the NYC skyline from Steven’s dining hall.

“The Innovation University,” as Stevens calls itself, is located on a surprisingly attractive campus overlooking New York City. Parts of Hoboken are congested and hard to navigate, but the university is in a more residential area (just be careful of the narrow, one-way streets!).

 

stevens-walkwayThe 3000 undergraduates (still skewed towards male, but better than the 70-30 ratio from a couple years ago) take full advantage of all the on- and off-campus offerings. Housing is guaranteed for all 4 years, but students are only required to live on campus for the first year. The university runs some off-campus apartments for students to lease; these are available only for a full-calendar year, great for students who are doing co-ops or internships. These are all within a 15-minute walk, and shuttles are available. New York City is only a 10-minute ride away on Path. “Off campus, students don’t miss Washington Street Wednesday. We can use our meal cards at participating restaurants. A meal there equals 1 meal swipe.” They also have NYC at their disposal, including discounted tickets for shows.

stevens-field-2

One of the teams practicing

On-campus life is active, and students love the number of options. Some favorite events are:

  • Techfest (fall) and Boken (spring)
  • Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break
  • Castle Point Anime Convention (Spring): this was started by a student who asked to have it on campus; it is now one of the largest and draws 5000 people to campus.
  • Ethnic Student Council’s Unity Carnival and Show
stevens-2

A dorm with a sand volleyball court in front. I’ll come in at 7am and see students playing there,” said a rep.

A little more than 1/3 of students go Greek here, and they’ve joined the Rethink Greek Movement which works towards getting away from hazing. There is 1 co-ed community service fraternity. The 26 DIII sports are evenly divided between men’s and women’s teams. Volleyball is really big here. They have a bowling alley on campus; it’s free for students and they serve free pizza on Tuesdays. “That’s a big draw,” said the tour guide.

 

stevens-lounge

A lounge in one of the academic buildings

Every student gets 3 advisors (academic, peer, and career) to help navigate social, academic, and additional options like internships, co-ops, and study abroad. Students can double major in anything across the 4 colleges except engineering (it’s too course-intensive):

 

  • Arts and Letters: Most of these majors are interdisciplinary and combine some sort of technology component.
  • Business: They offer 8 degrees including:
  • stevens-astro-and-physics

    An engineering and physics academic building

    Computer Science and Cybersecurity (winner of a national award): They’ve seen a huge jump in applications for this school. There are 8 concentrations within Comp Sci.

    • Game design is one of the most popular, and often will double major in VA&T to get the artistic aspects.
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Mobile and Pervasive Computing
    • Students can apply for a scholarship with the NSA in their freshman year. 15 are awarded to fund the rest of undergrad studies as well as graduate (when appropriate), a summer internship, and a job after graduation.
  • Engineering and Science: Stevens started by offering only Mechanical Engineering (still one of the biggest majors). All Engineering students take the Design Spine for the first 3 semesters: they all take the same classes and work in groups on projects. This means that that students are qualified to go into another discipline – as an undergrad, in the workforce, or in grad schools – if a job opens up and is appealing. Some of the unusual engineering majors include:
    • A concentration in Naval Engineering: They have a building dedicated to this with a large water tank. The Navy and other governmental organizations come here to use it; there’s a 2-year waiting list to get access.
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Advanced Chemical Biology: this takes 1 year of study off a BS/MD track in conjunction with Rutgers Medical School.
stevens-arch-2

The Arch, the only remaining part of the original estate where Stevens now stands.

Stevens wants students to have academic/technical knowledge and the ability to apply it. They require Professional Practice for all students: 40% complete Internships, 30% participate in Co-ops, 20% do Research, 10% do something else. Those choosing Co-ops take 5 years to complete their degrees. For the first and last years, they’re full-time students; in between, they alternate between classes and co-ops, graduating with up to 2 years of work experience. Study Abroad is open to all majors with programs already designed to enable smooth transitions and transferring of credits.

stevens-statue-2

A statue on one of the quads

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers an Innovation course, entrepreneurship minor. All students do a Senior design project. Advisors work with students to answer “What do you want to do?” That becomes the basis for the senior project (many continue after graduation). The Innovation Expo and Elevator Pitch Competition is held annually: students prepare a 90 second spiel and present it to a variety of people. The top 3 win money; the overall winner gets a position with a company in Hoboken.

Steven accepted 41% of their applicants last year; 90% were in the top ¼ of their class. The Subject Tests are only required for applicants to the Accelerated Pre-Med programs; those apps are due by 11/15. Admissions is test-optional for Music & Tech applicants; the Visual Arts & Tech students must send a portfolio if they don’t sent scores.

© 2016

 

 

 

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