campus encounters

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Search Results for: “temple university

Temple University

Temple University, Philadelphia (visited 1/27/12)

Wow. This is the first really urban campus I had toured; I had heard rumors of its urbanness, but it’s one that has to be seen to be believed. Temple started as a commuter campus, and has slowly built up to be a “residential” campus. I put that in quotes, because, according to their statistics, 11,000 of the 26,000 undergraduates live “on or near campus.” Of those 11,000, I don’t have a number of how many students live in the dorms on campus nor could I get an answer defining what “near campus” meant (in a certain number of blocks? Within a certain commute time?). No one is ever required to live on campus, keeping true to its commuter campus roots, and Juniors and Seniors cannot live on campus – but they do have some off-campus, privately-owned apartments within walking distance which is helpful to students. Temple offers living communities to freshman and sophomores in which students will take 2 Gen Ed classes with the same people.

Apart from the main campus, there are 6 other campuses: Ambler (a suburban campus with shuttle service), the Health Science campus a couple miles away near the hospital, TU City Center (most graduate students; no shuttle service), the Art School (ranked 14th in the nation and has additional admissions requirements), and 2 sites abroad in Tokyo and Rome.

Temple offers 130 majors, and lectures can range from 50-300 students, but there will always be a recitation group each week. Freshman take a 1-credit Seminar class to help with the acclimation process, including transportation in the Philly area.

Safety was a concern among several of the families in the tour group I was in. Temple has its own safety officers (I can’t remember if it’s a full police force or not). There are also 600+ cameras around campus and 60 call boxes.

Admissions is rolling, but they do recommend applying earlier rather than later, particularly for consideration for scholarships and honors program (which will be done automatically as they make admissions decisions). Applicants will have a decision in 4-6 weeks. Their current freshman profile lists the GPA at 3.42 and a 1114/1600 SAT or a 24 ACT. They will average students’ Critical Reading and Writing scores on the SATs! This is the first I’ve heard a college say that.

Parking is a bit of a nightmare, as can be imagined. All students can have cars on campus, but the cost is probably prohibitive for most students – I believe it was over $400 a SEMESTER. The tour guide who shared that information with us recognized the eyes popping out of people’s heads, and then went on to say that it cost so much because it allowed students to park in secured, lit parking garages patrolled constantly by security. She also said that most people did not need a car: the SEPTA system went literally through campus, and the university stop was 1 of 4 stops in the system that allowed for transfers to many lines within the system. She said that it was very easy to get anywhere people wanted, including the Amtrak station and the Philly airport, allowing for easy trips home.

(c) 2012

West Chester University of PA

West Chester University(visited 11/13/18)

The Ram mascot in front of the main library. 

I didn’t expect WCU’s main quad to be so beautiful – there are old stone buildings surrounding most of it (there is one glaring exception withfairly hideous ‘70s architecture). Many of the buildings, including Recitation Hall, date back to (or soon after) the university’s 1871 founding. With an undergrad enrollment of just under 14,500 students (total enrollment of 17,500),WCU is the 4th largest college in the Philly metro area and the largest of the 14 PA state-system schools (which doesn’t include Penn State,Temple, or Pitt).

The Frederick Douglass statue in front of one of the oldest buildings on the quad

Campus (ranked as 37th safest in the nation) is a 10-minute walk from downtown West Chester where there are lots of restaurants, shops, etc. It’s been named one of the best college towns in America and as Best Town where grads stay after college. They’re only 30 miles from Philly: “Ideally, it’s 45 minutes, but realistically an hour,” said the rep. Amtrak and SEPTA aren’t far from campus, and they provide shuttle to the Exton train station. They also now run shuttles to shopping centers even though much is walkable off campus.

All classes are taught by faculty, not TAs. They have a 67.3% 6-year graduation rate (almost 10 points above the national average). They offer 120 undergrad majors across 5 colleges plus Exploratory Studies and a School of Music.

  • All Business majors are pre-business: they have to satisfy pre-reqs because of accreditation. Transferring between majors is fairly easy as long as you’ve met the GPA requirements. A new business building went up in 2017, making it the newest on campus. They have a variety of options including Urban and Environmental Planning.
  • Arts and Humanities includes fine arts.
  • College of Sciences and Math:
    • Multiple accelerated programs are available.
    • Overthe past 35 years, 95% of pre-med students who receive Pre-Medical Committee Support got placed into med schools.
    • Two students each year are granted scholarships through the PA Space Grant program.
  • Health Sciences:
    • Nursing is probably their most popular major within this school. Currently, students do their pre-reqs on the main campus and will shuttle to Exton for classes in the major. This will be moved back onto the Main Campus by Fall 2020.
    • Exercise Sciences include concentrations in pre-chiropractic, Pre-OT, and Pre-PT. They have articulation agreements with places like NY Chiropractic College and Arcadia University for the graduate programs.
  • Honors College is by invitation; students are considered after acceptance to WCU. In the past, a 1350/3.5 GPA would put them in initial consideration.
  • The School of Music allows for multiple concentrations including Music History, Composition, Performance, Theory, and even Elective Studies outside the School.
The planetarium

The university is split between North (main) and South Campuses, located about 1.5 miles apart. “It’s definitely walkable, although most people don’t want to.” South campus has all the athletic fields where the DII teams practice and play (there is a fitness center on North campus), dorms, and currently houses the Health Sciences academics. Shuttles run between campuses every 5 minutes, 20 hours a day (basically corresponding to library hours). They have a Philly campus for a few majors (Social Work, Business Management) mostly for adult students or upperclassmen who need to finish up amajor.

Some of the dorms on North Campus

About 90% of freshmen are on campus, usually housed on North Campus; most students don’t want to live on campus after that. There areseveral large (8+ story) dorms on North Campus which mostly are traditional andsuite style. South Campus has traditional dorms and apartments. The food here is fairly good with several options including dining halls, a food court, PODs (like airport kiosks), and food trucks: “we take those very seriously here… Imay have had that for lunch today!”

A few traditions are worth mentioning that students talked about:

One of the main quad buildings
  • Banana Day! “It’s like a big festival day with games around campus. There are competitions to win a Banana T-shirt.” Last year, they won “Best Campus Tradition” because of this.
  • MLK Day: They pair up with the Frederick Douglass Institute (housed on campus) for events that day. Douglass gave his last public lecture on WCU’s campus in 1895.
  • Black and Latino Greek Council Step Show
  • Rams After Hours which happens every Friday night for food and entertainment.

There are multiple support programs at WCU. They have the well-established DUB-C Autism Program (or D-CAP) for students on the Spectrum. They provide a multitude of skill-development and social interaction supports for students needing these. They also have a Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC)

© 2018

Kutztown University of PA

Kutztown University of PA (visited 4/25/18)

Kutztown 1“If you want to be a rock star, you can here because of the size and personal attention. DII athletes can also shine!” Several NFL players have come out of Kutztown as well as some basketball, baseball, and other players. Sporting events are definitely a visible part of campus life.

Kutztown fountain 3KU is an attractive school set along a major street. Although downtown is right next to campus, shuttles run regularly around town. Allentown and Bethlehem are only about 20 minutes away, and shuttles run there on most Wednesdays and weekends. For students wanting to venture further afield, they have buses that run into Philly and NYC. However, there’s a $150 shuttle/transportation fee included in the bill.

Kutztown libraryThis is one of 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Ed (separate from Penn State which is part of the Commonwealth System along with Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln). For a medium-sized school (about 9,000 undergrads), they have an amazing array of facilities including a planetarium/observatory, a German Heritage Center, and a Marine Center located in Virginia.

Kutztown 4They offer international students a scholarship equal to 40% tuition (and students who have already studied in the US for at least 1 full year do not need to submit TOEFL for consideration for admissions/scholarships), and there are full-tuition scholarships for all eligible students.

Students interested in continuing music can do so here without majoring in it. Students selected for their string quintet get full-ride scholarships!

Business is internationally accredited, and the education program is strong – not surprising since this started as a teacher’s college.

© 2018

Cabrini University

Cabrini University (visited 7/21/16)

Cabrini 1Cabrini is a hidden gem of a school that I hope more people will look at. It has a lot to offer! The student panelists were impressive, articulate, and gave great answers to the “Why Cabrini?” question instead of just “It feels like home!” They talked about the honors program, club offerings, quality of their academic programs, the ability to play sports which wouldn’t have been possible at a larger school, the size, and being able to get involved. Students agreed that this is a transformative experience: One panelist said, “I was a quiet average kid in high school. I didn’t do anything special or get involved. I’ve opened up more and became more independent. I say yes to trying things. It’s presented challenges but also made me stronger academically.”

Cabrini statueWe drove up a wooded lane to get to campus and stopped in front of a huge stone mansion which (as we soon learned) had been owned by the President of Campbell Soup (and the guy who invented condensed soup). The mansion was one of the few buildings on campus when this was started as a women’s college in the late ‘50s. When they went coed in the early ‘70s, they built a dorm for the males “down the way,” according to the tour guide while the mansion remained as a dorm for females. Most of the university buildings have gone up since going coed giving the campus a clean, new feel. It’s grown so quickly that it now has gained University status (as of July 1, 2016).

Cabrini chapel

The chapel

Cabrini is a Catholic college started by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (which, unfortunately, is a dying order according to the admissions rep). Just over 1/3 of students self-identify as Catholic; about 30% don’t report a religious affiliation. Students are required to take one religion class; our tour guide’s class was Search for Meaning. She loved it because talked about all religions and students could make it personal to their own journey.

Cabrini acad bldgEngagement with the Common Good (or ECG) is one core requirement; this is another distinctive curriculum piece that makes Cabrini stand out, and students had a lot of positive things to say about it. Students take 4 interdisciplinary classes over the four years designed to raise awareness of social issues and give students hands-on experiences in community service and/or solving problems. One student took “Our Interdependent World” which looked at things like social justice, refugees, and climate change. These classes take the place of Comp 101. It’s writing-intensive, but based on current events.

Cabrini dorms

One of the new dorms

The people we talked to said that the community is well-integrated and people are accepting of others. Of the 1300 full-time students, just under 40% (almost equally divided) self-report as African-American or Hispanic. They have doubled the number of Hispanic students in the last few years and are working on becoming a Hispanic-Serving institution (requiring at least 25% Hispanic population). They’re working on bringing in more students from South America; the Sisters are pretty active down there.

Cabrini dorm int

The interior of a dorm

The campus is in a residential area of town; not much is within walking distance, but shuttles run 15-20 times a day around town, and all students can have cars. Campus is quiet and safe. “I’ve never heard of anyone using the blue lights. Sometimes a goose will approach you … but that’s about it,” said the tour guide.

This is still mostly a regional institution. A vast majority of students come from mid-Atlantic “ranging from Connecticut to Virginia, an in Pennsylvania, east of the Susquehanna River,” an admissions rep told us. However, most freshmen (90%) live on campus. This drops to about 40% overall after first year. A couple students on the panel were commuters and never felt like they weren’t part of the community. In addition to Living Learning Communities for first and second year students, Cabrini recently created a Commuter LLC; about 25 students get involved every year, and although they don’t live there, they meet regularly.

They’ve created several new dorm options in an effort to increase the number of upperclassmen on campus. Upperclassmen can get suites that are often arranged in “pods” – 4 or 5 bedrooms with 1 bathroom. Dorms house anywhere from 20 to 250 students, and rooms are spacious. There are some triples which are huge. Singles, doubles, and triples were interspersed along the hall we saw. Food on campus “is pretty good! People get very excited about the pickles. I don’t know what that’s about.” Chicken Nugget Tuesday is also popular.

Cabrini tv studio

A tv studio

The academic program most worth noting is Digital Communications and Social Media, although pretty much anything in their Communications department is going to be excellent. The studios and technology are amazing. Comcast uses the studios on the last Friday of the month, often hiring Cabrini students to help. They share a radio frequency with Villanova. The newspaper is published every 2 weeks, but the online newspaper is done more frequently.

Cabrini radio station

A radio station

A couple other majors of note include: Molecular Biology and BioTechnology, Gender and Body Studies, and Health and Wellness Management. They also have multiple dual-degree options including:

  • Hospitality Management and Tourism (BS in any Business major, MHTM from Widener)
  • 3+3 Law Degree with Widener
  • Podiatric Medicine (3+4): BS Biology, DPM from Temple
  • Pharmacy (3+4): BS Biology, PharmD from Thomas Jefferson Univ. School of Pharmacy
  • Social work: 5-year BSW/MSW with Widener
  • Dentistry: (3+4): BS Biology, DMD from Temple
  • Nursing (4+1) with Villanova or Temple

The students’ favorite classes include:

  • Scriptwriting: “We got a great hands-on experience!”
  • Media Influences and Psychological Development: “We looked at music, music, tv, even Barney and how those things influence people.”
  • Engagements and the Common Good. “We participated in role-playing historical scenes. I was a protester at the Convention in 1968.”
  • Multimedia story Creation: “We made 3-5 minute videos that were like documentaries. It taught me all aspect of media but also a LOT of patience! Editing takes so much time.”
  • Photo for Publication: “ We got assignments from the newspaper. I did a lot of the sports games. We took trips off campus around Philly. It was very hands-on and taught lots of cool tricks with the camera.”

They do have an Honors College; students applying to the school will get flagged for this if they have a 3.5 GPA and will get a chance to apply for HC. To stay in, students take 4 honors classes the first year (including their ECG, and Search for Meaning classes) and at least 1 a year after that. The Honors LC has a Master Learner, an upper level student who has already taken those classes, and honors students have special trips (like to the Philly Orchestra) and other events.

© 2016

Chestnut Hill University

Chestnut Hill University (visited 7/19/16)

Chestnut HIll 2“You might have noticed that this campus is very Harry Potter-esque,” said our tour guide as we started on the tour, and it’s true. There are lots of large, impressive, stone buildings. One of the things the college is proud of is their annual Harry Potter Festival (complete with Quidditch tournaments) to which the community is invited.

Chestnut HIll 1This is a Catholic institution affiliated with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. About 50% of the students self-identify as Catholic; surprisingly, there are also lots of Buddhists on campus. Masses are held Monday to Friday morning and Sunday PM in the small chapel within the main building. Mass is never required, but students do need to take World Religions. This was the tour guide’s biggest class with 28. She also took a class called Spiritual Life Journey which was one of her favorites: rather than talking about a particular religion, it talked about spirituality and each person’s personal path.

Chestnut HIll lounge

One of the lounges

There are only about 950 traditional undergrads, 60% of whom live on campus. Housing is guaranteed for full-time students, and the dorms have the most amazing lounges I’ve seen! Apartments are reserved for students with a 3.5 GPA. They have to write an essay as part of the application to live there. Dorms are single-gender by floor except for suites.

Freshmen are required to take an orientation class during their first semester where they meet with a mentor professor and have to participate in a certain number of events such as lectures, attending a club fair, participating in a dorm event, etc. They get their “passports” stamped to show they attended. It’s designed to ensure that they are acculturating to campus and getting involved.

Chestnut HIll 8CHC sits on the city limits (the “Welcome to Philly” sign is right outside campus) and is 20 minutes from downtown. The train station down the street takes students to City Center. The school’s Sugarloaf Campus is a mile from Main campus, and shuttles run every 20 minutes. The old hotel (originally owned by Temple and sold to CH) is now a dorm. The Mansion, now used for events, used to be a Speakeasy.

In addition to offering the standard fare of majors, CHC offers some specialty majors like Social Gerontology, Jazz Studies, Forensic Bio, Forensic Chemistry, and biology with a Sports Med Concentration. Certificate Programs include Intercultural Foundations, International Studies, Montessori Specialization, Religious Studies, and Digital Forensics. CHU also runs Dual Degree programs with 2 local schools, Thomas Jefferson (Radiological Sciences or Bioscience Technologies) and Arcadia University (Physician’s Assistant Program).

Chestnut HIll 6In addition to departmental honors, they run an Interdisciplinary Honors Program which allows students to take a different approach to how they approach their work. Departmental Honors can be obtained by invitation after 2 years (60 credits) with at least a 3.6.

Their athletics are DII, which is amazing for a school this size. Baseball, basketball, softball, and lacrosse draw big fan bases. They just added a Sprint Football Team for men (bowling for women to balance it out – not nearly as exciting! The tour guide said she pushed for field hockey but it didn’t happen). There are only 8 schools (including West Point, Navy, and Penn) in the country with this sport. They played – and WON – against Princeton!

Chestnut HIll statueThis is also one of the only colleges with a direct connection to the UN. The send a group every year to address committees at the UN Headquarters in New York. The two Heads of the UN Club this year are African. They draw a lot of international students, both as degree-seeking undergraduates and exchange students. They have a direct exchange “bed to bed/give one, get one” program. Many of these students come from South America and Europe.

© 2016

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh (visited 11/7/15) Pitt sign 2

~Pitt Cath int

The main floor of the Cathedral

~Pitt Cath of Lrng 2

Cathedral of Learning

I was expecting a bit more of a campus feel from Pitt, but the university is very much incorporated into the city. The “crowning glory” is the Cathedral of Learning, a 42-story tower that looms over much of the area; the story is that when the university moved to its currently location, they wanted everyone in the city to know where it was … hence the tower. It was constructed in 1936-37, and contains classrooms, offices, and Nationality Rooms; all of them reflect the country at the time except for two: the French room (built in Napoleonic style), and the Early American room (as a side note, it’s supposedly haunted). The main room has large vaulted ceilings (very Harry Potteresque); it’s normally filled with tables and gets used as a meeting and studying area; during the holidays, it gets decked out, and banquets and dinners are often held in here. They also bring therapy dogs into this area on Tuesdays.

Pitt main street

The main street from one of the pedestrian bridges connecting academic buildings.

A dorm cluster

A dorm cluster

This is a public university but is not part of Pennsylvania’s university systems (Penn State & affiliates or the Penn. System of Higher Education). Originally opening in a log cabin in 1787, it’s now coed and home to more than 18,000 undergraduates – “but it feels small. I recognize a lot of people,” said our tour guide. It’s a relatively compact campus, taking about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. It’s easy to walk to off-campus areas, and public transportation is free for students. The college also runs shuttles to the airport, student athletic games, and more.

Dorm towers

Dorm towers

This is the first year that more than 50% of students have come from out-of-state. Students are guaranteed housing for 3 years. Rent in town is cheap (a friend of the tour guide pays $300 a month) and housing is easy to find. Eight of the freshmen halls are traditional dorms; the last one has suites. Sophomores are usually in suites and juniors tend to get campus apartments. Only about 9% of the student are Greek-affiliated “but it’s going up.” Rush is delayed and there are no sorority houses, but groups can live together in dorms if they want.

More dorms

More dorms

Part of the Biology complex (which includes neuroscience)

Part of the Biology complex (which includes neuroscience)

“The academic culture here is really collaborative. It’s not cutthroat. People are nice. They’re happy to be here,” said the tour guide. He couldn’t be happier with his education and the opportunities presented to him. He’s an Art History and PoliSci double major and isn’t having problems completing the requirements or getting to know professors who “are really accessible: I had one hold extra office hours at Dunkin’ Donuts down the street.” Almost all the faculty are full-time; the 6% of faculty who are adjuncts are professionals in their field, such as a police officer teaching forensics, etc.

~Pitt students

The Pitt Chapel with CMU - the building with columns - right behind it.

The Pitt Chapel with CMU – the building with columns – right behind it.

All students must have a major and a minor (or a double major). If they aren’t finding classes they’re interested in (hard to imagine with the number offered), they can cross-register at one of nine area schools including Carnegie Mellon (literally across the street) or Carlow, about half a mile away. One of his friends took Bag-piping at CMU. Pitt also teams up with CMU to offer ROTC (Army and AF at Pitt, Navy at Case Western).

One of the special programs that Pitt offers is OCC (“Outside the Classroom Curriculum”) to help students engage in a variety of extra-curricular programming and events. There are 10 goal areas including wellness, career prep, and Pitt Pride; students get a $5000 scholarship every SEMESTER after they complete this!

The World Series Home Plate

The World Series Home Plate

Sports are a big deal here (and Pitt owns the home plate from the 1970 Pirates v. Cubs game, on display in one of the buildings). We visited on a game day; lots of schools buses were shuttling students to and from the stadium, kids were decked out in Pitt gear (including face paint), and there was a general sense of festivity in the air. Students pay $25 for a season football pass to Pitt football games, but most sports do draw out a lot of fans. Temple, Penn State, and Notre Dame are their big rivals. The major league sports in town give students deals if they want to professional sports: There are $7 nights for the Pirates, and the Penguins cost $27 for a “random seat – you could be in the nose bleed section or up against the glass,” said the tour guide.

Conflict Cafe

Conflict Cafe

For students wanting more than sports, Pittsburgh doesn’t disappoint. Town-gown relations are good, and lots of places cater to the large college population in town. For example, our tour guide got $25 tickets to Wicked. Pittsburgh has any kind of entertainment you want – museums, music, movies, food, etc. In the park across the street from campus, Conflict Kitchen has set up shop: it only serves food from countries that the US is in conflict with. They were serving Iraqi food when I visited.

The Pitt Mascot

The Pitt Mascot

Students interested in the schools of Nursing, Engineering, Business, and Arts & Sciences enter those directly. Students interested in the other schools (Social Work, Education, Info Sciences, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences) must complete prerequisites and begin their major in the junior year if they qualify. A few noteworthy majors included Applied Developmental Psychology, Urban StudiesMathematical Biology, History and Philosophy of ScienceEcology and Evolution, and Linguistics. Unusual minors include either Polymer or Petroleum Engineering, Aerobics, and Aquatics.

Campus is a contrast of old and new buildings.

Campus is a contrast of old and new buildings.

Applicants who visit Pitt (take a tour or attend a visit day) can get their application fee waived.

© 2015

Notre Dame University of Maryland

Notre Dame University of Maryland (visited 2/19/15)

Notre Dame swingND is a lovely, small campus in a residential neighborhood of northern Baltimore. It borders Loyola University; the two campuses share a library, and are the first universities in the country to do so. ND’s traditional undergraduate division, the Women’s College, is still single-sex, but the graduate and evening/weekend (“Adult Undergraduate”) programs accept men.

The admissions people are friendly, helpful, and will go WAY out of their way for visitors. I was highly impressed with their dedication and humor. My local rep is a recent alumnae of Notre Dame; she gave me a tour so I got perspectives from both sides of the desk.

Notre Dame main bldg

Main building

Chapel

Chapel

Started in 1895 by the Sisters of Notre Dame, nuns still live on the top floors of the main building. The Chapel, built just a year after the college was started, occupies the 2nd floor of the same building. Almost all the windows are still original; a couple panes have been replaced over the years, but they had the original designs that were copied. The paintings in the chapel were done by students and alumnae. Although it does not fit all 450 undergrads, it is a comfortable size and accommodates all students wishing to attend Mass (offered every day but never required). There are also several small prayer/reflection spaces (including a Muslim prayer space) in the dorms and other locations around campus. Students must take 1 upper-level religion class as part of their distribution requirements but there are a lot of options such as Christian Ethics or Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Admissions Rep giving me the tour had taken this; she went to services at a Mosque and a Temple as part of the class.

Notre Dame movie window 2

Step Up stairs and window

Notre Dame auditoriumSeveral of the buildings (including the main building, an academic building, and the athletic complex) are connected which was especially nice on the very cold day that I visited campus! One of these buildings has the staircase and stained glass window made famous in the movie “Step Up” with Channing Tatum. They also used the auditorium (which got trashed in the movie). This auditorium is used for large group gatherings such as guest lecturers and Honors Convocation. At HC, the freshmen get the cap and gown that they’ll graduate in. “It’s a great bonding experience. We’re all in there pretty tightly and have to help each other get everything on and looking good.” After that, they sign the honors pledge and get more privileges. Before Convocation (held usually about the 2nd week of school), “there are certain things we can’t do like have guests in the dorm. I think it’s supposed to be so we focus on making friends and getting used to life on campus.” After they sign the pledge, they can have guests, have unproctored exams, etc. “That was a new experience for me. Professors would give out the exams and then tell us that they would be in their office if we needed them.” I asked her how seriously people took this. “Really seriously. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone cheating on test. There’s an Honor Council if anyone got reported, but I don’t know of anyone who even went to that.”

Notre Dame dorm

Dorm

The University pulls many students in from the surrounding area. 80% of the students come from Maryland, and only about 45% live on campus. Housing is good, comfortable, and attractive. Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors live in single-sex housing. Seniors can choose to live in single-sex housing or move to another dorm that also houses graduate students and is therefore co-ed. They have both a dining hall and Gator Alley, but neither is open late. Students can walk over to Loyola if they want a late-night option, but they will pay separately for that.

Notre Dame bird feeders

Bird feeders on campus

As a member of the Baltimore Consortium, students can register for classes at other institutions in the area including Goucher, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, Morgan State, and University of Baltimore. A free Circulator bus runs from Towson and Goucher (located north of Notre Dame) down to Penn Station (near MICA and UBalt). It’s easy to get around to other campuses. From Penn Station, students can also take a Baltimore bus to Inner Harbor and other locations around town, so even though they can have cars on campus, it’s not necessary.

Notre Dame dorm lounge

A dorm lounge

The student body is highly diverse. About half of the student body are women of color. They pull in students from about 15 other states and almost as many countries. They have an International Center which offers an 8-10 week intensive English Institute in the summers to students who need help with English before classes start. 

Nursing is highly regarded, as are the Radiological Sciences and the 4+3 Pharmacy programs. Students interested in Engineering complete a 3-2 program, earning an BA from Notre Dame and a BS from Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, or Columbia University. Students can complete a 5-year BA/MA in Business/Management and Teaching/Education. Other notable majors include Marketing Communications, Behavioral Neuroscience, Criminology, and Environmental Sustainability.

(c) 2015

Clark University

CLARK UNIVERSITY, Worcester, MA (visited 3/23 – 3/24/14)

~Clark main bdng“Challenge Convention, Change the World” is a hallmark of who they are, not just a marketing campaign. Kids know the motto – and really live by it, but they may have different ways of defining it. “Sometimes people joke – they put mustard on the fries and say ‘I’m challenging convention!’” said one of the tour guides, “but it’s really more an outlook. People are interested in making a difference.” They recognize that problems can’t be solved in the abstract, so they connect classroom experiences with the outside world, in the community, even on the other side of the world.

~Clark painting

Combining science and art

One of Clark’s distinctive programs is LEEP, Liberal Education and Effective Practice. They connect the traditional Liberal Arts with the new skills that employers want. The new president took office three years ago (after being Provost for many years), he visited a lot of CEOs and other business people to ask what they were looking for in hires. They wanted people who had the skills to cut across fields – communication, writing, teamwork, creativity, flexibility, and resiliency (“Who here has never failed?” he asked).

~Clark study areaClark is deliberately student-centered. They want to know what students are passionate about, and then validate those and make it a driving force. When people talk about Clarkies, that’s what they’re talking about. One of our tour guides, a junior from RI, is a biology and art-history double major who plans on going to med school. Another tour guide is majoring in PoliSci and will ultimately go onto law school, but plans on staying at Clark to take advantage of the 5th year Masters Program to get his MBA before that. Clark grants students a scholarship for a free 5th year to complete a Masters degree, provided they have a 3.4 GPA from their last 3 years (they do NOT count freshman year grades!) This is a draw for high schoolers who are also looking forward towards a Masters.

~CLark statueWith 2200 undergraduates, Clark is one of the larger CTCL schools, but “it’s the smallest research university in an urban setting in the country,” said an admissions rep. “No once comes to Clark for Worcester . . . but it grows on you. There are cultural opportunities, good ethnic restaurants.” The 13 colleges in the greater Worcester area are connected by a shuttle. One student said that there seems to be more kids coming to Clark rather than Clark kids going out.

~Clark bikesThe university has seen a 70% increase in applications in 3 years; correspondingly, the admit rate went from 70% to 52%. At the same time, they have taken great strides to increase student involvement and retention. First Year Intensive (FYI) classes have “funky, slightly offbeat topics” of interest to the professors such as “The Role of Baseball in American History,” “9/11 in Popular Culture,” or “Kitchen Chemistry.” The professor serves as advisor for the 15-17 students in the section until they declare majors. The largest classes are the Intro to Psych and Bio classes with about 100. The smallest classes our tour guides have taken have had 6 (“Temple Builders,” an art history class), and 9 (First Year Intensive on Socrates and Nietzsche).

~Clark intercultural cntr

Intercultural Center

Some of the FYI classes can fulfill the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS); this program requires that at some point, students take at least 1 class in each of 8 thematic areas designed to build competencies. No two classes can be taken in the same field.

  • Foundations:
  • o Verbal expression (good communication skills – English, theater, public speaking, etc).
  • o Formal Analysis (typically math, but could be stats, even philosophy focusing on logic).
  • Perspectives: allows students to see things from other people’s majors.
  • o Aesthetic (Art, music, theater)
  • o Historical (one Envi Sci teaches an Evolution class looking at why Darwin developed his theory when he did, looking at the colliding forces of religion and other things)
  • o Global (African lit, Asian studies, history, etc)
  • o Values (ethics, religion, philosophy)
  • o Foreign language and Culture (2 semesters if they’re starting new, 1 semester if they continue from HS

 

~Clark Bioscience bldg

Bioscience building

The student panelists were open and gave us a good sense of who the students were. A couple interesting questions and their answers are as follows:

1) What surprised you? What challenges did you find?

  • “The gap in my education and being able to keep up in classes.”
  • “Research and using multiple sources for papers.”
  • “The Food. It’s not bad, it just gets boring.”
  • “It’s hard to get my work done because there are so many people are around; I was used to alone time.”

2) When asked to complete this sentence: “I want to thank Clark for giving me ________,” their answers were:

  • “An Ivy League education without knowing it. Geography is #1 in the country.”
  • “The opportunity to grow as a student. My understanding of how to be a successful student has developed.”
  • “For being open. People are accepting.”
  • “The professors. They aren’t just teachers. I even play racquetball with one of mine.

3) Who won’t be successful here?

  • “Students who aren’t driven. People here have passion for something.”
  • “Students are grade-competitive rather than interested in actually learning.”

4) What are your favorite traditions?

  • Gallo – Dance recitals to represent different cultures
  • Spree – bingo in the morning, jello wrestling, mechanical bull, color war

© 2014

Birmingham-Southern College

Birmingham-Southern College (visited 4/2/14)

~BSC quadOne of the counsellors asked our tour guide, a senior majoring in religion, if she agreed with the reputation that Birmingham-Southern students “are smart and out-there.” She said yes: “You can be nerdy, and that’s cool here.” BSC, a CTCL school, does place a lot of emphasis on the whole student and making sure that they aren’t pigeon-holed. For their senior capstone, students have to complete a major project outside of the major. Our tour guide’s project was writing about modern issues in the style of Camus.

The college President is General Krulak, a dynamic leader who is well respected by the students and staff. He spoke to our group; he’s funny, well-spoken, has great ideas, and clearly cares about the college. He impressed us with his energy and ideas for the college as well as his plans on how to carry them out.

~BSC quad 2One complaint students seemed to have about BSC is that it’s not ethnically diverse – “but it is intellectually diverse. Students are open to diversity. There are plenty of passionate discussions.” BSC doesn’t have a great deal of religious diversity, but it is there. One of my colleagues went to BSC and loved it; as a Jewish student, she felt supported and had a community that met her needs. The city of Birmingham also has a great deal of diversity, so students can attend local Synagogues, Hindu Temples, Mosques.

Dorm room

Dorm room

Dorms are (mostly) new and comfortable. Freshmen are housed in traditional dorms; all other students live in suites. They have a relatively new Frat Row with 6 buildings (built mostly with private donations), each housing about 24 students. BSC also served as the Olympic Village for the Soccer players, and they have an Olympic torch in the fitness center. Basketball and baseball get best fan turn-out, and lacrosse is getting more popular. Their lacrosse, Track & Field and football field is called The Battlefield.

Some of their notable academic points are:

  • Frat houses

    Frat houses

    A new Human Rights and Conflict Studies Minor. Current students interested in this program can use previous classes towards meeting the requirements because it’s so new. They complete classes in 4 categories: History, Personal experience (internship), lit, and writing.

  • Their arts program. Students can earn a BA (Art History, Art Education, Film and Media Studies, or Studio Arts), a BFA (Studio Arts, Print, Photo, Sculpture, Painting, Clay), or both. A portfolio is needed for scholarships.
  • Their Critical Languages cross-registration with Samford and UAB. Our tour guide is studying Hindi, and BSC has Arabic-speaking Fulbright Scholars on campus. One of the professors at dinner said, “Here’s something you aren’t going to hear anywhere else: Sanskrit on Demand!”~BSC hammock
  • The Science Center purposefully put large windows for all the labs to make it a “science on display” building.
  • The Birmingham Area Consortium for Higher Education allows students to cross-register at UAB, Samford, Miles, and the University of Montevallo.
  • Their Urban Environmental Studies major is strong and fairly unusual.
  • They maintain an archaeology site at Turkey Creek (an old mill).
  • They offer 3-2 programs in Nursing (in conjunction with Vanderbilt) and in Engineering (at several institutions)
  • Their Honors Interdisciplinary classes include choices such as: “Lit, Medicine, and the Body,” “American Art and Conventions of the Body” (Art History), “Harry Potter Bigger than Jesus” (religious themes in HP), “Crucible Steel” (Human Rights/Creative Writing), Senior Research
  • Hess Fellows Advocacy Internships gives $3000 stipends/scholarships to selected sophomores and juniors. They are partnered with companies and non-profits in NYC, DC, San Fran, Birmingham, and Montgomery in order to work on projects for two months over the summers.

~BSC bikesThe student panel was enlightening. Students were articulate and forthcoming about information:

1) BSC is one of the Colleges that Changes Lives. How has BSC changed your life?

  • Study abroad opened my eyes to the rest of the world. I grew up in a small town, and I have a much more global view now. I appreciate that BSC is so supportive – financially and otherwise – of students who want to go abroad.
  • I’m friends with everyone. It’s not cliquey here. I get real world interactions.
  • I got involved in things I never thought I would or could do. I was really shy in high school, and here I’m pushed out of my comfort zone. In high school, I wouldn’t be up here talking to you or leading a club, but now it’s just what I do.
  • It’s empowering. They give us opportunities and expect us to take them.
  • I’m less apathetic than in HS. I’ve learned so much about people and the world.

2) What should BSC never change?

  • The small classes.
  • January term (BSC works on a 4-1-4 system. J-Term is “the exploration term.” All students must complete 2 of these, although many students do more. Some majors require specific ones, including freshmen education majors who are placed in schools (and later, they can teach in Ghana), or pre-med students who work in the hospital. This is to make sure it’s what they want to do.
  • Greek Life. I wouldn’t have rushed at a bigger school.

3) What needs to change?

  • Diversity
  • The caf. The food is ok, but it gets boring.

© 2014

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