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Search Results for: “smith college

Smith College (Take 2)

Smith College (visited 5/30/19) (Click HERE to see pictures and information from my previous on 10/15/12)

Smith 2“We’re educating women of promise for lives of distinction.”

Smith 10Smith is the only women’s college with an open curriculum. There are no required classes other than 1 writing intensive class and those needed to complete the major. One student said, “It’s not about what you don’t have to take. It’s about exploring the richness of what’s out there and embracing interests.” Students take responsibility for their education, and are intentionally advised to use it intentionally to pull together extra-curricular interests, study abroad, and internships. “When we look at the classes students choose, many of them would have completed a core, but they did it on their own. They’re curious and want to learn. Everyone in the class wants to be there,” said one of the reps. One student said, “My classes definitely aren’t dull here!” Another said, “I feel like I have to bring my A game every day because otherwise I’ll be disappointing my classmates.”

Smith 5

Architecture is eclectic!

Over 40% of Smithies major in STEM fields. However, “we’re strong across the curriculum. We’re the first women’s college, and still 1 of only 2 [the other being Sweet Briar] to establish an accredited engineering program.” A student said that she does not feel like a second class citizen in the engineering classes; she’s definitely developed confidence here.

Smith 9Smith is a member of the active 5-College Consortium, the 2nd oldest in the country after the Claremonts. They share 2000 faculty, 5300 courses, resources. Students can take classes and join clubs. Smith can join UMass Marching Band “which maybe makes up for Smith not having a football team.” Figure skaters can continue skating at UMass. There are some special programs available through the Consortium, including Native American and Indigenous Studies; Culture, Health, and Science; Digital Humanities; and Buddhist Studies. On the Smith campus, they offer some unusual majors like Medieval Studies, Astronomy, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, and Statistical and Data Science.

Smith house 2

One of the Houses

Students don’t live in dorms but in mixed-year houses ranging in size from 12-100 students (all of which have a piano). It’s a vital part of being at Smith. “It’s often the first information alumni share,” said a rep. “Houses are places to live, not just sleep. They graduate by houses.” Houses are all self-governing and provide another level of leadership development. “Leadership becomes a habit.” They are piloting Affinity Housing for 2019-20. This is a student-driven initiative; there will be one focusing on African-American culture; the other is more generally for students of color (which make up 1/3 of the student population). “This is a PWI. We’re not unlike other campuses in this regard but we’re committed to taking steps for inclusion.”

Smith student center 2

The new student center. All new construction is built based on the architecture of the time it was built

They are also working hard to shift how we talk about women’s colleges. “They’re still relevant. We talk about them in terms of what they don’t have or what they’re not. Let’s address that.” She went on to talk about a lot of the myths or “problems” that they hear about women’s colleges:

  • It’s not the real world… “Like Harvard is the real world??”
  • There’s no male perspective … “The whole world is the male perspective.”
  • There’s no fun … “They can still do what they want. The beer-drinking frat party is around. You just have to take a bus to it!”
  • Who wants the drama of all girls!/It’s all lesbians … “We don’t engage with the lesbian thing. Get over it.”
Smith botanical 1

Part of the campus botanical gardens

Here’s really want women’s colleges are:

  • Intentional communities where women are at the center.
  • Not equal opportunity but EVERY opportunity.
  • Lead from ahead and push from behind. “We surround them with bold people who can encourage them to be bolder.”
  • Empowerment is not having to compromise any part of who you are. You can choose to go – or NOT go – to UMass. You don’t have to apologize for being smart. You’re expected to hold your own. You don’t have to apologize for having a point of view.

Smith 6Smith provides extensive research opportunities. About 1/3 of faculty-published research has student co-authors. Praxis provides a $3000 stipend to all students for internships. Students have worked everywhere from a California cricket farm, ABC in London, with a doula in a maternity hospital in Mexico, and the Smithsonian in DC.

Smith 12Admissions is test-optional except for international citizens who must submit test scores. If the scores are reported (self-reported on the application or sent officially), they will consider it. However, it’s weighted “very low in the process. It’s one piece of information. If you think they reflect you as a student, send it – but there’s no red flag if scores aren’t there.”

© 2019

 

Smith College

SMITH COLLEGE (visited 10/15/12) (Click HERE for information and pictures from my visit on 5/30/19)

P1000974

A view of the pond, a popular hangout on campus.

The buildings at Smith are about as eclectic as the students. The campus seems very haphazardly put up but somehow it kind of works. Instead of all new buildings needing to fit in with the buildings already up, they need to correspond with the style of the times. It was very cool. The atmosphere was vibrant; people were everywhere, even on a dreary, drizzly day. People seemed genuinely happy and comfortable on campus, and students were interacting with each other.

Smith stdnt cntr

Student Center

During our admissions presentation, the Director of Admissions talked about 5 ways Smith is different:

  1. Open Curriculum (Smith, Amherst, Brown, Grinnell all have this) meaning that there is no core. This comes with a lot of responsibility. Many students don’t know what they want to do, or they change their minds once they get there. It’s about learning how to use the open curriculum that’s open and thoughtful and deliberate. What does it mean to be liberally educated? The Liberal Arts advisors help students negotiate this process so the students pick classes, internships, study away opportunities and other educational components that complement each other. It changes the dynamic in the classroom because students want to be there and are engaged in the process.
  2. One-third of the students major in the sciences. This is the only women’s college with an established engineering major. They see this as important since only 15% of engineers are women: “What’s up with that? It’s 2012.” Women at women’s colleges do research at a higher rate than women at coed college. They’re a member of AEMES (Achieving excellence in math, engineering, and science) and they attract a lot of women of color and first gen students. They were among the best in the country for women going on into careers in the sciences.
  3. Praxis (Practical Education) guarantees an internship for every Smith student. Smithies are going to Columbia Records, the Smithsonian, ABC in London, Museum of Modern Art, Dutch Parliament, hospital in Mexico, Max Plank (sciences) and other big-name places for their internships.
  4. Smith dorm

    Houses

    They have 35 Houses, not dorms. These are places to live, not just a place to sleep; students often stay with a house for multiple years and they even graduate with their house during Commencement ceremonies. Since Smith is a little on the large side for a small college (about 2800 students, the House system helps make it smaller. The expectation for students is involvement, and that attitude starts in the Houses. They’re an “incubator for leadership” – grooming them for bigger opps off campus. Leadership comes in many forms. It’s about a sense of engagement. Along with so many houses, students have free access to all of the 15 dining rooms on campus; because they can swipe in as many times as they want, they can get the main course at one place, a desert at another, a snack at a third.

  5. Smith dormsThey’re working to change the rhetoric of Women’s Colleges. Face it – it’s as much the “Real World” as any other place. All colleges are bubbles in some regard). Many of the students like not have men around 24/7. “Let’s face it: 18-20 year old men . . . not your shining moment! When you want the men, they’re there. When you don’t, they’re not. The bathrooms are clean. What else do you want?” Women’s Colleges are challenging, empowering, encouraging, and fun. Students learn to work as part of a team; develop self-confidence, initiative, and leadership; and learn to think and write critically. They stress the idea of community which is open and accepting. The college enrolls a very diverse community, including one of the highest percentages of low-income and first gen students in the country. They meet full demonstrated need by they aren’t need blind; they need to make sure they have the right funding available. (By the way, most of the counselors applauded the Director of Admissions for saying the following: she’s offended by the “what about the lesbians?” question. People would never allow people to say “what about all the black students?”).

Smith 3One of the counselors asked “What surprised you?” to the students on the panel. Here’s what they said:

  • I was surprised at the classroom environment; you always hear how much people are encouraged to speak up and I found that it really was the case. I was always in classes I chose to be in.
  • How at home I felt and the houses were a community. People were interested in making me feel comfortable.
  • How much help you could get with academics. People want to help each other succeed.
  • How smart people are. It’s overwhelming to be in a class with brilliant women all the time.

Smith 2Another questions asked students to name a favorite class:

  • Public Policy. The professor is engaging and there are hilarious PowerPoint presentations. He gets very excited about the technology. He’s extremely accessible, and students who aren’t even taking his class can wander into office to talk.
  • The Inklings about Lewis, Tolkien, and ?? in which they looked at the texts through religious, social, and other contexts.
  • Chemistry: she hated it in high school, but had to take it as a requirement for engineering. The prof was great, thoughSmith pond, and now she’s a chem tutor.
  • Class in Costa Rica meeting with activists, community leaders, etc because it was so inspiring.

The students were asked about favorite traditions:

  • Ivy Day: everyone wears white and carries roses. The alum comes back and every class plants its own ivy. When you first come to Smith, you get little pots of ivy from previous classes.
  • Illuminations: the whole campus gets covered in paper lanterns and the class year gets written in lights on the pond.
  • Diploma Circle: when you walk up for graduation, you walk up in Houses, alphabetical within house. You don’t get your own diploma, so you stand in a circle and exchange until you get yours.
  • Mountain Day: the President declares a day off in the fall. Students go apple picking, hiking, having bbqs, etc. It’s a day to relax.
  • Tea: Friday or Sunday afternoon, they bring baked goods from the dining hall to the house and people just come down and chill. Alumni House also does it once a semester. STRIDE (students doing research as their work-study job) will tet together for tea once a month. The prof will bake for that.
  • The Smith Network: The alumnae are a cult. They’ll do Kick-Off barbecues to send new first-years on their way and do a lot during the year (and watch out for each other after graduation).
  • Big Sib/Little Sib. All first year students get assigned an upperclassman who will leave them little presents throughout the week – candy, notes, etc. At tea at the end of the week, there’s a reveal.
  • Winter and Spring Weekends. On Spring Weekend, current seniors have underclassmen write prophecies for them, and seniors will leave things to underclassmen.
P1000981

The new science building.

A counselor asked, “How do you sell a women’s college to high school girls who are done with the drama?” Resoundingly, the answer was: Take guys out of the equation and a lot of the drama goes away! However, this isn’t a convent. A couple of the students said that they forget that they’re at a women’s college because of the Consortium, and there are often men in their classes and in clubs or at parties. One student said that she got off campus a lot; Northampton has a lot going on and is one of the best aspects of Smith (this was echoed by students at other colleges, as well, who would purposefully head there on the weekends when they wanted to get off campus and spend time in a vibrant college town). One said that she chose Smith over MHC because MHC is in a much smaller town, does not have the open curriculum, doesn’t have the House system, and the campus didn’t seem as lively.

Smith 4Another question revolved around how engineering works with the open curriculum. There is more of a set path in this major: students can directly go on the path of required classes, but they can explore some other classes and still get out in 4 years. The major is technically Engineering Science; students will often go on to grad school in order to specialize, but can get employed directly after Smith, as well. One of the panelists is minoring in architecture because she wants to end up doing civil engineering.

Students at Smith seemed to take full advantage of the Consortium. One student took an intensive Spanish class during J-term at Hampshire; another was currently taking a class at Amherst. They also see the Consortium as a social resource. They go to parties, speakers, concerts, and even the circus where they learned to juggle. The busses run particularly late on the weekends so they can take advantage of late-night events.

If money were no issue, the students would want: New profs for interdisciplinary programs (just in EnviSci or Urban Studies, for example), a new pool, more dining halls (sometimes it gets crowded) and more dining hours because there aren’t many late dining options.

(c) 2012

Paul Smith’s College

Paul Smith’s College (visited 7/15/15)

Want to go somewhere where you can minor in Maple Syrup (they run a Certified Organic operation) . . . or maybe Craft Beer where you can learn the science behind it and how to market it?

How about a place where you can kayak to a rock outcropping in the lake to do your homework . . . and still get wifi?

Maybe joining a Woodsmen’s Team is more your style? (And yes, women can participate. Check out this YouTube video!)

If so – check this place out!!

~Paul Smiths lakefrontAll told, this is one of the more unique schools I’ve visited (think Sterling College in Vermont but bigger and more focused on forestry rather than a working farm). Paul Smith’s tagline is “The College of the Adirondacks – and it truly is. They’re sitting right in the middle of the state park on the edge of a lake. The college owns most of the land around three public-access lakes for a total of 14,200 acres plus the Visitors Interpretive Center up the road. The UN has named the area a Biosphere Reserve.

Paul Smiths canoe storage

Kayak and canoe racks

Although the college sits in the middle of almost nowhere (the 1,000 students at PS doubles the local population during the school year), students aren’t isolated – although if you love being in nature, you’ll be in heaven here. The school runs multiple shuttles from Friday to Sunday to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and beyond. Also, students can bring up to 3 vehicles to campus – for example, a car, a 4-wheeler, and a kayak; the school provides plenty of space to store all these things.

Additionally, students can bring “up to 2 weapons for hunting,” said the rep. “The first thing they do when they arrive on campus is check in with Security and lock these up in the armory. The last thing they do before leaving campus is stop at Security and check them out. We always know it’s the first day of deer season because at least half the students are missing from classes.”

~Paul Smiths logs

Logs that the Woodsmen’s team practices on

Athletic offerings reflect various student interests. They have 7 DIII varsity sports (soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross-country, rugby, and skiing): “Rubgy is very popular!” There are many, many intramurals, club sports, and recreational activities including Skiing/ Snowboarding, fly-fishing, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, snowshoe softball, inner-tube water polo, duathlons, scuba diving, bowling, and an emergency wilderness response team. They even have a draft horse team! They flood the tennis courts in the winter so students can ice skate. The saline swimming pool is used for recreation and training for water sports – and there’s a fake burling log that the Woodman’s team uses to practice.

~Paul Smiths dorm 3

One of the dorm options

~Paul Smiths honors dorm

Blum house

Dorm options are varied including a yurt where students can live for a semester! Overlook is one of the newest buildings on campus; the suites/apartments here have 4 single rooms, 2 baths, and a common area. Blum House is directly next to the lake; students need to apply to live here and must have a 3.0+ GPA, no disciplinary problems, and agree to substance-free living. Freshmen are housed in one of 2 dorms, and transfers are housed together. “They’re in a different place in life; it makes sense to let them bond.”

~Paul Smiths dining hall 2

Dining Hall

Students really like the food at the dining hall. The director plans all sorts of great activities such as Late Night Open Mic and Night at the Oscars (formal wear encouraged). There’s a pub for the 21+ students. The bookstore sells a lot more than books since they recognize that it’s hard for students to get what they need locally. They carry the culinary and other specialized stuff that students might need, there’s a notary on staff, etc.

Academically, Paul Smith’s is split into two divisions: the School of Natural Resource Management and Ecology and the School of Commercial, Applied, and Liberal Arts. There’s a Dean for both divisions with open door policies. “We’re very casual here.” There’s only 1 lecture hall on campus. Intro to Bio tends to be the biggest class: “I think we had 167 students once,” said the rep.

In the NRM/E school, some cool majors include:

  • Arboriculture and Landscape Management
  • Surveying Technology
  • Forest Technology
    • Forestry students help manage the school’s forest through timber sales, looking ecologically to see about infestations, what’s helping and hurting.
  • Parks, Rec, and Facilities Management
  • Ecological Restoration: they look at what’s impacting ecology and how to change it. Students have access to the Adirondack Water Institute where they do Shoreline restoration and look for invasive species. Students can get scuba certified.

Many students work for the Adirondack Park Agency during their time at college, and there’s 94% placement rate after graduation (not just for APA) but doing everything from research and advocacy to law and communications.

~Paul Smiths culinaryIn the CALA school, students can study:

  • Hotel, Resort, and Tourism Management
  • Food Service and Beverage Management
  • Rec, Adventure Ed, and Leisure Management
  • Baking/Pastry or Culinary Arts
    • There are 6 professional kitchens and 1 baking lab.

There are two on-campus restaurants and a bakery, all staffed by students. The St. Regis is a farm to fork café. Students do rotations in the back and front of house. The second is The Palm at Paul Smith’s which is based on The Palm in New York City which is co-owned by an alum who wanted to give students hands-on experience. Both are open to the public for lunch, dinner, and/or cocktail hour.

Alumni tend to be committed to the school. They come back so often that the school maintains a campground just for them. Although they do have some favorite traditions such as Smitty Fest, “There aren’t traditions here so much as there’s a way of life,” said the rep.

© 2015

Grinnell College

Grinnell College (visited 12/7/19)

Grinnell extra journeys“Students are authentically themselves here. They’re kind of quirky in the best possible way,” said the rep.

“Yes, we’re proud of being in Iowa which we think is underrated, but we’re also proud that people intentionally come here from all over,” one student said. About 94% of students come from outside the state. “If a bunch of people are here in the middle of Iowa, there must be a good reason. Find out what it is!” Students who are comfortable in their own skin and who are “social floaters in the best possible way, who are interested in reaching out to lots of people in an unpretentious way” (according to the rep) will do wonderfully here. Adjectives used to describe Grinnellians include “purposeful, inquisitive, genuine, creative, accepting, and influential.” Students are interested in learning for its own sake; the open curriculum means that they’re taking classes with other students who want to be there rather than to check off a box.

Grinnell art 2Grinnell is well known for their strong academics and curious, intellectual students (they rank 7th in the nation for per-capita PhD production, “the quality of the education is recognized”). They have an Open Curriculum (only 11 colleges in the US have truly Open Curriculums including Brown, Smith, and Amherst). Taking classes where everyone has chosen to be there adds to the engagement. There are no core requirements other than the First Year Tutorial taken in first semester to help students get accustomed to Grinnell and college-level writing. “It’s normally a fun class. I took ‘Enlightenment in Musicals;’ we read Candide and Hamilton and got to see Hamilton on Broadway.” There’s an Entertainment budget which allows for things like the musicals. Some of her friends took classes like ‘Are we Too Clean?’ (about microbiomes) and ‘The Magical World of Calvin and Hobbes.’

Grinnell study carrels

Double-decker study carrels in the library!

They draw “thoughtful, engaged students who know how to make their own fun.” There was an Ugly Sweater party the night before I was on campus; organizations can apply to serve alcohol at events on campus: students with 2 forms of ID can get a wristband to drink. This is a campus where students WILL have a life, even in a town of 5,000 students. I spoke to a senior from St. Louis: she wanted a small town for college. “Would I live here for 10 years? Nope. But 4 years is good. I wanted good friendships and people with the same goal of hard academics.” Another student said, “Cities will always be there. I may never have a chance to live in a small town again.” I asked several people about their favorite thing to do off campus:

  • Grinnell Coffee shop

    The downtown Coffee shop

    “The things I like to do are because of the people I’m with, not necessarily what I’m doing.”

  • “There’s a park about 15 minutes away which is great when it’s more green and warmer!”
  • “The Taproom downtown; it’s got a great chill vibe.”
  • Bowling or working at the coffee shop. There’s also a movie theater.

I arrived about 40 minutes early for the info session and tour, so I walked downtown. It took less than 10 minutes for me to meander to a coffee shop recommended by the student working at the Admissions desk. It was an amazing locally run place, and at 9:30am on a Saturday, there were already 4 students there with textbooks and computers. The tour guide later told me that it’ll get more packed with students as it got later in the day.

Grinnell dorm 1

One of the dorm quads

Students are guaranteed 4 years of housing on campus, but juniors and seniors can apply to move off. Dorm rooms are spacious. There are 3 sets of dorms (about a block apart) as well as several Language and Project houses (like LLCs). Those students can have lower meal plans because they have kitchens. The food is very good; the dining halls have longer dining hall hours and plenty of late night options. I ate lunch with the rep at the dining hall; options were plentiful, and there was almost no wait for food despite being there right in the middle of lunch. (As a side note, a hot topic on campus right now is that students are trying to unionize the dining hall workers).

Grinnell dorm 3

Another dorm quad with sand volleyball

“We have so much space on campus.” There are a lot of student initiatives like the swing sets. “It’s so squeaky! I know it gets used because I can hear it at all hours.” There’s a huge athletic center – larger than you’d expect at a campus this size. Students can rent kayaks and even learn to kayak on their pool.

Grinnell pagodaThey have a $2B endowment for 1,700 students so there’s a sense of inclusive, equitable culture. They’ve ranked in the top 3 most economically diverse liberal arts colleges in the country which they can maintain because they’re able to support students in a multitude of ways. Students will be surrounded by people of a variety of backgrounds. No one is left out. People take advantage of the fabulous academic and financial resources. The tour guide said, “It was on my list of places where I could play AND work really hard. There was a great vibe; there was something about the community here.” All classes finish at 3:50 “but some labs run long depending on what you’re working on.” This allows for intense extra-curricular involvement, as well. Students don’t have to choose.

Academically, there’s more choice than you might expect at a college this size.

  • Grinnell atrium Humanities

    The atrium in the new Humanities building with the facade of the older building still in use.

    They’re just finishing a major renovation of the humanities building (and have a Center for the Humanities); they’ve kept the original façade and built out around it, so the atrium is really amazing! One of the students raved about the building: “The sciences always get the big fancy buildings because of the labs; it’s more rare to see such a great building just for the humanities. We have a central hub.”

  • They offer 3+2 engineering, pairing with Iowa, Wash U, and Columbia
  • Concentrations are interdisciplinary: they offer things like Science, Medicine, and Society; Studies in Africa, Middle East, and South Asia; and Global Development Studies.
  • Grinnell original bldg

    The original academic building

    Languages are a big deal here, including less common languages such as Arabic, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese.

  • They operate the Center for Prairie Studies; they own 35 acres of Prairie nearby.
  • The tour guide established the LGBTQ Oral History Project and did 6 interviews already in Central Iowa. He’s also been doing research by looking at HIV pamphlets in Latin American and the stigma of HIV and how these can influence people’s attitudes.
  • All students can get 30 minutes of music lessons per week; music majors get 1 hour.

Grinnell 4There’s a long tradition of social responsibility: they graduated many architects of FDR’s new deal “including many women – pretty radical for 1919.” Grinnell was founded by abolitionists. Social justice and caring for others is something they look for in their applicants. This is one of the more internationally diverse colleges with 45 countries represented on campus (about 20% are international).

Grinnell lang house

One of the language houses

In applications, they look for evidence that students will be successful and engaged. What will you bring to the community? They recommend trying to take at least 5 of the advanced classes that the school offers. They want to see that you’re curious and up for a challenge. This is a rigorous school so they want to know you can handle it. Interviews are optional. The priority scholarship deadline is 12/1 “but really not a major deal if they apply after that. There’s still money.” They keep their ED acceptances under 40%. Their admissions decisions are Need-blind. Average indebtedness is about $19K, the lowest in Iowa, including the state schools.

Grinnell hammocksStudents are “surprisingly global-minded” (and the school can fund study-abroad for students because of their endowment). More than 70% of students have an off-campus study experience with credits transferring back. Financial aid and merit aid are portable. They have several research locations that are mentored advanced projects (MPA): more than 50% of students complete these. 150+ students conduct research each summer for 4 credits with a minimum stipend of $3,400. Course-embedded travel is popular; there’s a $400 fee for a month of international travel, but if that’s an issue, it can be waived.

© 2019

Moravian College

Moravian College (visited 4/23/18)

Moravian 2I had no idea that Moravian is the nation’s 6th oldest college! Founded in 1742, it beats out several Ivies. The Moravians who settled in the Lehigh Valley started it as a school “for all things women” because they believed that you couldn’t have a society without educating the women. It was also the first to educate Native Americans in their own language. The college’s first President rejected Harvard when they said they wouldn’t educate women and the poor. “We have more 18th century buildings than Williamsburg and ours are real!” said Moravian’s current President. They have one of George Washington’s end tables and desks “because he was trying to get his grand-nieces into the school. It worked.”

Moravian chapel

Interior of the Chapel

Although still associated with the Moravian Church, the college does not have an overtly religious feel to it; there is a beautiful chapel, but other than that, if you walked on campus without knowing anything, you’d never know it was affiliated. There are no religious requirements placed on students. This is a fairly diverse campus: 27% self-identify as students of color; 42% are Pell-eligible. However, it’s still very much a regional university with many students coming from a 100-mile radius (and only ¾ of freshmen live on campus). They work hard to connect with and engage students to help make sure they’re getting support to persist through graduation. Their retention rate is close to 85%.

Moravian 4

One of the newer academic buildings

Moravians are big believers in practical education. Small classes and personal experiences start in freshmen year. There are a few big classes: “A&P and Intro to Chem might have 60-70 students.” They have a robust education program, and are ranked #4 in the state for nursing (with a 97% NCLEX pass rate). It’s one of the few places that put education and nursing students into their fields in their freshman year. They also offer good Rehabilitation Sciences (OT, PT, SP); students in most of these areas will shadow physicians or other specialists for 100+ hours over the course of a semester. They provide almost $40,000 in internship stipends, particularly for non-profit work. Local corporate sponsors or alumni will help pay for this. Non-profit and service work is part of the ethos here; Moravian even offers a Peace Corps Preparation Program.

Moravian sculpture patioAll students get a MacBook Pro which they can keep once they graduate. They give everyone the same platform to even the playing field and help build cooperation. Students don’t just hear about technology in their discipline; they produce things using it. “Just because they’ve been doing something doesn’t mean that they know how to do it really well,” said the President. “They are consumers of technology but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. They’ve been writing since kindergarten, but we still teach writing. Can they communicate with tech? Make spreadsheets? Publish an app?”

Moravian shuttleThis is a bifurcated campus; they had separate men’s and women’s campuses that merged in 1953. There are several buildings still in downtown Bethlehem; it’s walkable (less than a mile), but there are shuttles that run every few minutes throughout the day. Students can live on either campus. “I might have to leave about 10 minutes earlier than I would otherwise,” said the tour guide. He loves living there. Freshmen can’t have cars on campus, and some often say they don’t want to live over on the downtown campus at first – but they see how cool it is. For students wanting to venture further afield outside of Bethlehem, the school runs a lot of weekend trips: Dorney Park, snow tubing, water parks, baseball games, etc.

Moravian dorms and hammock 2The Gen Ed (LINC: Learning In Common) curriculum is designed to be meaningful and many are interdisciplinary such as Math and Origami or Walking in Peace and Justice (cross of sociology and religion). Since Moravian is part of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges, students can cross-register at any of the other 5 schools. Our tour guide had a few friends who took classes at other LVAIC schools, but no transportation is provided. “I haven’t taken any because the classes I need have been here.” I asked the student panelists about their favorite classes:

  • Refugee Crisis: This is a special-topics class (not offered every year). “We focused mostly on Syria. She brought in people from the counseling center because she was worried about the students processing things. There were also speakers from the area who had worked with refugees in Greece.”
  • Anatomy & Physiology 2: “the professor is the smartest person I’ve ever met and was really cool to learn from her. It’s hard and a lot of work but worth it when the teacher is so excited about the subject.”
  • Zoology: “The Prof worked at the Smithsonian and does a lot a research.”
  • Microbiology: “We did research on e coli on kosher and conventional chicken.”
Moravian greyhound

Mo, one of the 2 greyhound mascots who live with the President. Walking them is a work-study position

I asked a couple students to sum up Moravian – who would fit in/arrive and thrive. One said, “This is the place that people say hello and good morning; people hold doors. We have a saying, ‘When you call one hound, the entire pack comes running.’ It’s true here. It sounds stupid, it’s true.” Another one said, “I feel like they’re aware of issues around campus and they do their best to fix things.” This aligns with what the President said when he spoke to us when we first arrived on campus: “My door is open. Students come in with suggestions all the time. I have to say that I appreciate their candor and their thoughtfulness in what they tell me. They aren’t asking for frivolous things; they aren’t whining or asking for Jacuzzis in dorm rooms. They come with ideas and suggestions. We can work with that.”

© 2018

Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry College (visited 11/4/16)

eh-quad-1This is the only college I know of that has a “retirement home” for horses – and the only I’ve heard of that enable students to earn a semester’s worth of work for through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (or another of similar scope).

eh-barn-1

The Equestrian Center barn

When E&H bought Virginia Intermont University in 2014, they took over their barn and equestrian program. One student rider we spoke to told us, “I’m glad they bought it because I wouldn’t have achieved this success without it.” About 50 horses live at the Equestrian Center, 16 miles from the main campus (3 shuttles a day run back and forth). All the horses are donated, including “some famous ones” like a horse from the Beijing Olympics. An alum, concerned about what would happen when they got too old for the 60-ish riders in the Equine Studies program, donated $250,000 for a retirement barn for the older horses. That barn, currently with 5 residents (and room for 6 more per year after this) sits adjacent to the main campus.

eh-studentE&H is another CTCL school that did not disappoint. Students we spoke to – ranging from tour guides to random kids in the café to the singers performing for us over dinner – couldn’t say enough about the school. One said, “People are so nice, it’s almost creepy!” Another one had this to say about academics: “Classes are challenging but not so much that you get down on yourself.”

It’s no wonder kids rave about their classes: E&H has more Virginia Professors of the Year than UVA and VTech combined!

eh-quad-and-chapelAt any CTCL school, I ask students how the institution has changed their lives. Here’s what I got:

  • “I can be myself here.”
  • “The music program is amazing and I’ve learned so much. It’s pushed me well beyond my comfort zone.”
  • “Individual attention I get here is outstanding. I really didn’t expect that from college.”
  • “People are really accepting. We’re not labeled here. We can spend hours in rehearsals or in a practice room. People don’t see that as weird. They just say that we’re hard working.”
  • “We go to a lot of auditions. We met people from schools where the students there didn’t even know each other. Here we do, and we support and help each other all the time.”
eh-statue-henry

The Patrick Henry statue

E&H is named for Patrick Henry (yes, of “Give me liberty or give me death!” fame – also the 1st Governor of Virginia) and John Emory (a Bishop of the Methodist Church); statues of the 2 men stand prominently in the middle of campus facing each other (and will often get dressed up

eh-statue-emory

The John Emory statue

by students for special occasions). A third statue of Ephraim Wiley (the longest standing college president) sits on top of one of the main buildings. This statue and the Chapel are the same height to show Wiley’s belief of their equal importance in the students’ education. E&H is associated with the Methodist church, and students must take 1 religion course. However, that’s where the religious requirements end.

There are a few academic programs worth highlighting:

  • eh-tech-workshop

    The theater tech workshop

    The music and theater programs are great, with BFAs offered in Acting, Directing, Musical Theater, and Production & Design. They put on 4-6 productions a year. They were putting on Rocky Horror Picture Show right after we visited (including a midnight performance!), so the students performed several numbers for us during dinner. There are several scholarship for music based on audition. The Chorale competes internationally (they went to South Africa last year). Students tend to get involved cross-disciplines (ie, the marching band Drum Major is in chorale).

  • eh-art-displayThe Art program is developing a Museum Studies Track. Students curate shows from the college’s permanent collection. They bring in visiting artists who give talks to the students (the community is invited as well). When we visited, the art on display in the main gallery was fresh from Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian). 30-35 students from all disciplines including EnviSci helped to install it. The insects are all real, mostly from SE Asia and the Pacific Rim. The exhibit is meant to make a positive out of negative; the Skull symbolizes what could happen and the eye is meant to represent the Evil Eye.
  • Lyceum Program: students must attend a certain number of lectures and cultural events. All arts count towards this.
  • Along with standard majors, they offer unique programs like Civil Innovation; Politics, Law, and International Relations; and a 5-year, BA/MA program in Community and Organizational Leadership. Students can build their own major if they choose to do so.
eh-debate-room

The Hermesian Literary Society room

Something unique are the debate rooms set aside for the 2 main Literary Societies/Debate clubs on campus. The Hermesian Literary Society (Lincoln-Douglass style debating) was founded when the school was founded; it stopped for awhile and was restarted 4 years ago; students interested in joining must take part in an introductory debate in which they can decide the topic. The Calliopean Room is across the hall; they debate in Parliamentary Style. There’s a friendly rivalry between them, and they’ll have intersocietal debates.

eh-dorm-1

One of the new dorm buildings

Most freshmen and 80% of all students live on campus. Two new apartment-style dorms have been built recently, both having about 250 beds. About 35% of the students join one of the 15 Greek organizations. While there’s no Greek Housing, members can choose to live together on a floor (although the college limits the number of students from any particular organization who can live on a single floor). This used to be a dry campus but that’s been rescinded, although a clear alcohol policy remains in effect.

eh-outdoor-arena

One of the outdoor riding areas

This has been named a Best Small School for Outdoor Activities. The Outdoor Program is well utilized by students. They’re located near the 2 highest peaks in Virginia, and they have a 9-hole golf course on campus. One of the most amazing programs is the Semester A.T.rail which lets students hike the length of the Appalachian Trail for a semester. They plan their program with the Director, but Nature Writing (an English Course) is required of all hikers.

eh-chapelStudents admit that there’s not much going on in the town of Emory, but “There’s a good farmer’s market in town.” On campus, however, there’s plenty to do. Football brings out big crowds. Homecoming is a big deal; lots of alumni come back for it. Tailgating becomes a networking event in addition to just being fun.

© 2016

Roanoke College

Roanoke College (visited 11/2/16)

roanoke-main-signPut simply, Roanoke is a wonderful place for to live and learn. A junior summed it up well: “We’re blessed to be here and all they have done for us!”

Mr. Aaron Fetrow, VP of Student Affairs at Roanoke had this to say about Roanoke: “I’ve been around a lot of places with Mission Statements. They do their thing, and that’s fine. But this place is intentional. It’s collaborative. It’s real. And it’s fun. There has to be a complement to the academics outside the class. Not everything is perfect. There will probably be roommate conflicts. We’ll teach you how to deal with discomfort. It’s how you grow. We’ll teach you how to fix it; we don’t want you living in discomfort, but let’s face it – it’s life. You’ll have colleagues you disagree with and have to learn to deal with. We challenge students about diversity, conflict, whatever and then support them in the struggle to get through it.”

roanoke-entranceI appreciate that Roanoke is invested in ‘Whole Person Development’ – “It’s central to our mission statement. Most students don’t have a focused direction. We want students to be intentional with how different parts of themselves and different interests fit together.” People – students and staff – are encouraged to get involved in a variety of ways. For example, the Dean of Students is “a lawyer in a previous life. I teach when I can. I see students who are doing wonderful things, and it helps students understand that I’m not just here to bust up parties and deal with behavior.” In the coming spring, he and the Head of Security are co-teaching a Comparative Justice class in the UK. “I’m going to be that hippy anti-gun dude. He’ll play devil’s advocate. We’re not faculty, but we’re challenging and supporting students.”

roanoke-business-sch

The business school – this had been a bank across the street from campus; the college bought it when it went up for sale.

The Core – or Intellectual Inquiry Curriculum – is challenging, grounded in skill and knowledge development, and designed to promote student engagement across a breadth of disciplines; one of the faculty compared it to University of Richmond’s program. Students take a writing-intensive class 1st semester and oral communication 2nd semester. The Bio professor we sat with at lunch taught a 2nd semester class and loved it because “we got to discuss morally ambiguous things.” There are 7 required 200-level classes; students choose from a wide selection of topics-based (not survey) classes such as “Do Guns Save Lives?” which teaches the basics of statistics. Students in the Honors program may take classes with an honors designation instead of INQ (and high achieving students can take honors classes without being in the program). Students need to show competency through the 3rd semester of a language by taking the classes or testing out. However, there are a lot of language options for students wanting to branch out; there are so many that they’re housed in their own building!

roanoke-guitarOne student said that it’s “fairly easy” to get into required classes in bigger departments. “Business is one of the largest departments and offer classes all the time; the theater department is one of the smallest and may only offer classes every other year. You have to plan better and make a multi-year plan.”

Some of the students’ favorite classes were:

  • Music Theory Study: “I had hopes of being a pop star. That didn’t work out for me but music has been a part of who I am and I learned a lot.”
  • Religious Life of Young Adults: “It was very practical. I got to interview other students, read about what sociologists said about religion, and contextualize it in a broader context.”
  • How Organisms Evolve: this was an INQ class about evolutionary biology.

roanoke-4Last year, there were 617 research experiences for 349 students (many in the sciences, but not all). This work is supported with travel grants, course credit, works-study research assistantships, fellowships, etc. 42% of last year’s graduates did research, and 98 students presented at regional or national conferences. 35% of most recent grads did an internship at places like Merrill Lynch, NASA, the Smithsonian, NIA, hospitals, and banks. As with research, there are more internships than students to fill them. For mentorships, they often tap into the alumni base. More than 500 have already signed up to mentor sophomores through job shadowing, skyping about career options, etc.

roanoke-dorms-3

One of the dorms

Students spend a lot of time studying away because the university makes it so easy to do. This year, 49 students are studying abroad for a semester or year; 17 are participating in the Washington Semester. MayTerm trips last 2-3 weeks. Last year, 179 students traveled in MayTerm. One student we spoke to went to Israel where they used the geography of the Holy Land to talk about the Bible: “Some things wouldn’t have happened if it were located anywhere else. It changed how I looked at my major [Religious Studies].” Some classes stay on campus such as another student’s class, Understanding Poverty Through Service: “We worked on gardens, built houses, and built a porch for an elderly couple.” Alternative Break Trips gets students off campus in fall, spring, and Christmas break; additionally, there are 30 courses connected to the local community. These are mostly service-learning trips; more than 500 students engaged in this, and 52% of students have done this at least once.

roanoke-stadiumAlmost 75% of students participate in some sort of athletics (25% are on varsity teams). Students involved in athletes and Greek Life tend to outperform others students in terms of grad rates, retention, and GPA. “It’s a hook.” Greek life is relatively small and gives students one more option to get involved. One student said, “I love it and would like to see it grow.” Rush is deferred to spring.

roanoke-main-street

Main street is right off campus; some of the mountains are visible in the distance

The Outdoor Adventure Program has a new center opening, and they’re very proud of this. “Look outside! This is where outdoor stuff should be happening. If you have students interested in repelling, kayaking, wilderness rescue, hiking, whatever – this is the place to do it.” There are lots of outdoor activity trips offered throughout the year. They also have an equestrian program; the barn is about 15 minutes away.

roanoke-dorm-int

The interior of a dorm with study nooks

Students like the activities on campus. “It’s hard to get bored.” One of the favorite things is Bingo: “It’s the best! You can win a lot of stuff.” One of the favorite traditions is the Senior dinner at the President’s House. They engrave names and messages into the bookcases. If students need a change of scenery, there’s plenty to do in the region with the city of Roanoke and several other colleges nearby. From Friday to Sunday, they can get taxi vouchers to get around town, including the airport. However, there’s also plenty within walking distance including Mac & Bob’s, a restaurant across the street that was a project started by seniors at the college who graduated and just continued!

© 2016

Linfield College

LINFIELD COLLEGE (visited 7/18-19/13)

LinfieldI had never heard of Linfield until I signed up for the Counselor tour; then this summer, I worked with someone whose son had graduated from here. He couldn’t say enough great things about the school; he even had a picture on his office wall of his favorite place on campus – a plaza next to one of the coffee shops on campus and told me to try to find it because it was a great place to hang out.

We arrived on campus to an incredible welcome; the admissions staff was well organized and genuinely friendly. The students were articulate and down-to-earth. The program they organized for us highlighted what was distinctive about the college rather than giving us the canned spiel that a lot of schools provide. The tour of campus was split into short sections as they took us to areas that showcased something unique.

Linfield library

Linfield library

Our first stop was the library which houses both the Wine Archives (with 20 collections from all over the state) and General Archives from the school. Five students at a time intern in the archives, giving them professional development opportunities, including working in donor relations, archiving, and exhibiting – normally stuff they would learn in graduate school. One group of students is currently working on collecting oral histories of wine makers in Southern Oregon. One of the interns wants to go to law school and become an Art Lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property; she would ultimately love to work for the Smithsonian.

Linfield Wine Experience

Linfield Wine Experience

The second stop was a presentation about their Oregon Wine Industry Experience; Linfield is located in the middle of Oregon wine country with 60 wineries within a small radius. They take advantage of that (and they also host the International Pinot Noir Celebration which attracts people from all over the world). Five students from majors ranging from marketing to creative writing got a grant through the Kemper foundation to be trained in everything from growing the vines to marketing of wine. One of the students told us that it made her “become passionate about sustainability in addition to art.” Another student said, “We meet people with sociology and history and zoology backgrounds. It’s great to see how the liberal arts is shining in the wine industry.” They complete 4 parts in the program: The Summer Wine Institute, the Fall harvest experience (sorting and picking grapes), the January Term Career Exploration (they meet people making the barrels, designing labels, writing copy, the lawyers representing the wineries, and then spend 2 weeks in France to hear about experiences there) and the Spring Winery Internship.

Linfield 3Linfield is located less than a mile from downtown McMinnville, a city with just over 30,000 people about 30 miles away from Portland. The downtown area has about “10ish blocks of interesting stuff” according to a professor, and town-gown relations are good. The campus is sprawling with the academic buildings split into two sides. All the Arts buildings are on one side, including: Communications Arts (interaction and rhetoric), Mass Media, and Fine Arts like woodworking, ceramics, painting, and drawing. The BA in Studio Arts program is small but mighty with four to six Fine Art graduates a year. They have a good track record for MFA acceptances. There are also many opportunities to participate in music on campus, such as through pep bands, orchestra, and choral groups. The Taiko Drum Group performs in the community. The theater department puts on about 4 performances a year which are open to anyone to participate in.

Observatory

Observatory

A professor said that Linfield students are “earnest” and take academics seriously. The professors I spoke to at dinner (from the math and Japanese departments) said that the students are as invested in learning as the professors are in teaching. The professors develop the sense that they’re all part of the same process. Teachers will share failures and how to move beyond them. They pay personal attention to the students. Professor’s offices, departmental tutoring, and classrooms are clustered in the same area for each department so it’s easy to collaborate. Clearly, Linfield is doing something right: they boast an 88% retention rate from freshman year, 96% students graduate in 8 semesters OR LESS, and an average of 2 Fulbrights have been awarded to Linfield students every year for almost the past 30 years.

Linfield offers iFocus: Interdisciplinary First-year Orientation Camp for Undergraduate Sciences. Students come to campus for about a week before classes start to get a taste of all different disciplines. Students can come in as pre-nursing majors and spend two year at Linfield before transferring over to the Portland campus to finish the nursing degree. All departments have writing-intensive courses and an Inquiry Seminar which emphasizes ongoing scholarship. One of the students just got hired at OHSU to do scientific research, including cancer research.

Students can major or minor in Francophone-African Studies at Linfield; this is the only place I’ve heard of that offers this major. Intercultural Communication is another unusual major, and they also offer quite a few majors, minors, or classes in a variety of languages including German, Spanish, French and Japanese majors and minors, a Chinese minor, and classes in ASL (but no major/minor yet). They host a Japanese Summit in conjunction with Pacific and Willamette during which they have presentations, workshops, and talk about research.

lounge in an upperclassman suite

lounge in an upperclassman suite

Linfield wants students to study abroad so much that they pay for their first round-trip airfare, and 68% of students study abroad at least once. Students majoring in another language must study abroad for at least a semester. For students who don’t want to spend an entire semester or year abroad, there are options to travel during the January Term: beer-brewing in Belgium, Education in Scandinavia, Type 2 Diabetes research in the Bahamas, History of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Creative Writing in England, and Traditional Math Practices in China.

We asked several people how they would differentiate Linfield from Lewis and Clark and from Reed, two other liberal arts schools in the area. One professor said, “Lewis and Clark kids tend to be more socially conscious, politically active, and likely to join an NGO. Reed kids are more likely to be a professor or intellectual/theorist. Linfield kids are more well-rounded and more traditional (but not in a liberal/conservative sense).”

Linfield new suitesStudents rave about campus life. Athletics are a big deal on campus. They’ve had 57 football wins and won the 2012 basketball championship. There’s a three-year residency requirement, and almost half of seniors stay on campus. There are beautiful new suites on campus with 4 single rooms, 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen, and a washer-dryer in the unit. There are 12 units per building and about 8 buildings clustered around a couple courtyards. The tour guide told us that the buildings closest to the central area tend to be louder. There are a wide range of clubs and activities, and all types of students are accepted and find their niche. For example, a third of the students are American (self-identified) students of color (the average in Oregon is 11%). The “Jew Crew” is small but mighty, and the Rabbi comes from Willamette on a regular basis.

Linfield quadThe admissions office will break down an applicant’s core GPA by subject area since that tells them more than a composite, and they superscore both the SAT and ACT. They have a solid scholarship program with 98% of students getting Financial Aid or scholarships (the largest scholarship is 75% tuition), and even students without need can work on campus (as can international students). They have 3 scholarships that are a little different:

  • Leadership Scholarship is available to students who have exhibited strong leadership ability in high school, but they cannot use team captain for leadership because of DIII status; they are unable to give scholarships based on any athletic status.
  • Diversity Grant (worth up to $8,000) takes into account race and/or ethnicity, leadership and activities, and need.
  • Music Grant (worth up to $10,000) is available for students who major or minor in music.
  • Competitive Departmental Scholarships: Students apply by 12/1 and rank up to five subjects that they would like to compete in. If qualified, they get invited to come to campus in February to compete for one of three scholarships awarded by each department worth between $12-20,000.

© 2013

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College(Visited 10/16/12)

Nice building

One of the main old buildings on campus.

~MHC quadThis is a very different type of campus from Smith. Picture a typical, older, “typical New England” campus with a lot of grand old brick buildings, lots of green areas, and big trees. That’s Holyoke. The town is also a cute, small New England town with a little town square, although I sensed that we saw most of it driving in. I asked the tour guide what she liked to do in town, and after telling us how much there was to do on campus, she admitted that she rarely spent time in South Hadley, although “there are a couple places to go eat on the Square.” She said she’ll go to Northampton if she’s looking for a town or to the other campuses for things to do.

~MHC treesThe student panel at breakfast was interesting, but the students were not nearly as articulate or insightful as some on other panels I had attended. Maybe it was too early in the morning! Favorite classes tend to be the ones where they feel supported. One student had to present a self-developed NGO to the President of the college that she said was an amazing experience. Another said that her FYE about Politics and Self was eye-opening. A third talked about a professor not letting her drop a French class, saying “You can do it.” They all agreed that professors are invested in student success. They also appreciated the sense of internationalism on campus. Faculty members speak 55 languages, and the college brings in other students for Junior Year Abroad as well as sending their own students around the world for study experiences.

~MHC ampatheaterFaculty usually only teach two classes a semester to give them time for teaching well, advising students well, and do research well. They have an integrated advising program that starts with a First Year Seminar and a “Connections” break-out session (a 4th meeting a week) that is an extension of orientation to be well positions to make the most of their MHC experience. They fund internships so the students have a meaningful work experience. They’re hoping to be broader and more comprehensive so it’s not just an internship. There’s a Nexis program – set them up for the internship, and then after, they “unpack” what happened.

~MHC 3The Holyoke students we spoke to didn’t seem to take advantage of the academic benefits of the Five College Consortium. No one on the panel had taken classes on other campuses and gave the impression that it wasn’t popular or really sought after although “people do it.” Our tour guide said that she hasn’t taken any classes at other schools, but “there are always students from other colleges in my classes.” Social events seem a little more utilized, particularly because of the co-ed factor. The students we talked to really liked the single-sex education in a lot of ways and definitely felt supported in their growth as people, but they did seek out chances to meet and hang out with guys on other campuses. The students we talked to would like the reputation of women’s colleges to change; it’s not a convent or “a place for lesbians to hang out.”

~MHC 2One-third of students are in the sciences, and the science center is the newest building on campus; an alum gave $10million to build it. There’s the “Million Dollar Tree outside” that students and alums wanted kept, so an additional million was raised in order to keep it. The alumnae are a very strong force. I met up with one of my former students at breakfast, and she is clearly happy and relaxed here. She has found intellectual stimulation and a supportive community. This seems usual for the students we met. Some, however, were a bit over-the-top to the drinking-the-kool-aid level. The tour guide got a bit creepy about Mary Lyon, the school’s founder who is buried in the middle of campus. She went on for a long time about Lyon, traditions on campus (several surrounding Lyon or her grave such as putting garlands around on her birthday), and said “I LOVE Mary Lyon!” several times. The campus has a ton of traditions. For example, each class is given a color and icon. In the library, by tradition, 2 classes are assigned a staircase on each side, and if you use the other you won’t graduate (at all? On time? I can’t remember). The traditions definitely tie students together and give them a sense of belonging at the college. The alums I know from MHC still talk about things like Mountain Day and the class parades.

One of the quads on campus.

In terms of admissions to Holyoke, there’s an enormously self-selecting group of applicants. They use a 1-9 rating scale when assessing files, and about 95% of applicants earn a rating that suggesting that they’d be successful here. Most students will submit SAT scores, even though they’re test-optional. The offer thirty 21st-Century-Scholars awards each year which provides a $25,000 merit award every year.

~MHC shabbat posterDining halls on campus got fairly high reviews. They have a kosher/halal center which can get crowded because a lot of vegetarian students eat there too. Our tour guide told us that she would expand this if she could change anything about the school since it’s sometimes hard to get served there because of all the people.

Something we learned about late in the program, sort of by accident, was that MHC has an Equestrian Program. They had brochures available in the admissions office, so I asked the rep to expand on the program; she said they offer every type of riding (ie, Western, dressage) and have 60 horses and miles of trails available to students.

(c) 2012

Five College Consortium (Massachusetts)

Five College Consortium (Visited 10/15-16; see individual write-ups about each specific college)

Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, and UMass Amherst bound together in 1965 to form a Consortium in Western Massachusetts after about a decade of collaboration between the campuses. Their partnership resulted in the creation of Hampshire College in 1970, and the 5 College Consortium became official.

The consortium is meant to create a social exchange as well as an academic one. In addition to being able to cross-register for classes, students can participate in theatrical or musical groups, play on intramural or club teams, join clubs, and take advantage of any event hosted on any campus (speakers, concerts, movies, etc). We asked a couple tour guides on different campuses how they find out about things, and they both said that things were well advertised with fliers around campus, or friends who were taking classes on other campuses would find out and spread the word. We found out later that there’s a calendar online: http://calendar.fivecolleges.edu/FiveCol/calendrome.cgi

Once a student is enrolled in their home college, they can take classes at other campuses for free, and the credits transfer over; their degree is conferred by their home institution. There are some multi-campus certificate programs (similar to a minor) which necessitate cross-over. One panelist at Amherst is completing an African Studies Certificate, and he’s already taken “Intro to African Studies” at UMass and “African Cities” and MHC.

Busses run frequently between campuses so there’s no need for cars. Three of the colleges are less than a 10 minute drive apart, right around the town of Amherst. Smith and Mount Holyoke are a bit further, but are about a 20 minute drive.

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