campus encounters

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Archive for the category “College Visits”

Lafayette College

Lafayette College (visited 4/23/18)

Lafayette chapel 1

The chapel with a statue of Lafayette and the insured Japanese maples.

A few fun facts about Lafayette: the original letters from Lafayette to Washington are in their archives; the 2 Japanese maples by their main building are insured for $1million each; and their Civil Rights Hall, built during the Depression, was the most expensive building on any campus at the time.

Lafayette students lawn

Students on the quad

“Students who thrive here are passionate. They tend to be extroverted, or at least not mind getting to know people,” said a rep. “This is a great networking school with great outcomes. It’s collaborative. There’s a lack of pretense here.” I’m not sure I can entirely agree with that last statement having met several students. There seems to be a great deal of pride in being a Lafayette student (not a bad thing or unusual) but it seems like students know they’ve “made it” to a selective school! However, they’re also taking advantage of all the opportunities here, and they clearly love where they are. They are highly social; students were all over the main quad in groups during their free time; that was refreshing to see!

Lafayette 3Their motto is “Why not?” Students are not sectioned off into colleges; they are simply Lafayette students. “It’s easier to take electives or change our major. It’s not unusual to see things like Computer Science majors in a History of South Africa or a Martin Scorsese class. People are well rounded,” said our tour guide.

Lafayette 6“Lafayette has been great because of the size and there are no TAs.” The intro classes are capped at 80 students; others are capped at 40 “but rarely get that big.” Professors do a lot of research, and students can get funding for this through the Excel scholarship. They don’t compete with graduate students for research. It’s fairly common to be published with the professors.

Lafayette engo lab

An engineering lab

About 25% of students are in the Engineering college; most typical engineering programs are offered as well as Engineering Studies and an interdisciplinary Engineering and International Studies Dual Degree program. Lafayette does not have a business college but offers economics. “We also have a good geology major!” said the tour guide.

I asked a couple students what their favorite class was:

  • “Cybersecurity class is pretty awesome! I’ve never been a super math person; what I like about the class is that it’s beautiful math! We learn why passwords are better than others and how to encrypt things It’s like code-breaking. This is the only class where I’ve filled up a notebook with notes; I usually don’t get past page 10!”
  • AI: “We were given a problem that we had to solve in a group using AI. It was self-driven and learning from each other.”
Lafayette arts complex 1

The Arts Complex

There is a big new $30m art complex at the bottom of the hill from Main Campus. There are steps “but it’s easier to take the shuttle back up!” There’s a new movie theater and classrooms. Students said good things about the Film and Media Studies as well as Theater. “About 1/3 of the students in the arts also major in Engineering,” said a rep.

I asked students if they felt that they could help differentiate between here and Lehigh, one of their big rivals. “Liberal Arts more of a focus here than at Lehigh; Lafayette is smaller, fewer students in Greek life, less engineering.” Lafayette students also come across as preppier (think blazers and salmon-colored pants!).

Lafayette 8

The Civil Rights House

Their Gateway career services program is one of the oldest programs around, and 93% of the class of 2020 enrolled in it. This provides 1-on-1 meetings, externships (3-5 days of shadowing), networking, and other programs with alumni (which helps keep alumni involved in the college).

Lafayette stadium 2Most students live on campus until Senior year when many move off. Food got good reviews, and a lot of local restaurants (and the CVS!) will take flex-dollars. “The food in town is amazing! There are so many restaurants. You can’t go wrong with them,” said a student. Campus life is active. Watching and participating in sports (including rugby and fencing) is popular, and they offer about 200 scholarships in 11 of their 23 DI sports teams. Approximately 30% of eligible students join Greek Life; “that’s a bit higher than some schools, but it’s not exclusionary.” Rush is delayed until sophomore year; they must have a minimum GPA (some chapters are higher) and must be in good standing with the college to rush. Most chapters have a 1-semester residential requirement: “I love it! It’s the greatest experience!” Most have 20-30 (usually juniors) living there at any given time.

 

© 2018

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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

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

Muhlenberg College

Muhlenberg College (visited 4/24/18)

Muhlenberg 4The tour guide at Muhlenberg was one of the best I’ve ever had! If the other students are half as much fun as him, I can see why people really want to be here. “There is a palpable sense of welcome here. People hold doors. I hope you get the sense that the students matter … because they do. They can be their true selves while they are with us,” said one of the reps.

Muhlenberg sculpture 3The rep went on to talk about what makes Muhlenberg distinct; I found this refreshing since most schools don’t – or can’t – articulate this.

  • Students are active and definitely goal-oriented. They want to do things with their lives. They want to capitalize on their experiences without sacrificing interests, so many have double discipline degree: “It’s not unusual to see people majoring in theater and physics, Neuroscience and Jewish Studies, or Bio and Business. This makes sense at Muhlenberg. We help them make it work.”
  • This is one of the most religiously diverse campuses around. “We’re 1/3 Catholic, 1/3 Jewish, 1/3 mix of others.” The Hillel pairs up with Cedar Crest, located about a mile away. Jewish life is incredibly active.
  • They offer Liberal Arts with strong professional development: “We’re just as committed to preparing for Accounting and Finance as for pre-med/law.” They’re a Top-30 accounting school where students earn 150 credit hours in 4 years! They sit for their CPAs at the end.
  • Muhlenberg book sculpture 2They’re nationally recognized for theater and the arts: “There are 350 music lessons on campus in any given week. We don’t have 350 music majors!” said a rep. “We’re in tech-week every week of the semester.” There’s a dance, theater, and/or musical production every other week. Theater, Dance, and Music are all BA degrees, not BFA. This is intentional so they can double major. There is a huge selection of classes so they can direct, do technical work, etc. The university name carries weight!
  • They’re nationally ranked for their food. Kosher dining is integrated into the dining hall so they can still eat with their friends.

As a member of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges, Muhlenberg students can cross-register at the other 5 schools, but because they have such a range of options on campus, they usually do not. However, there are some groups that collaborate, students are able to attend events on other campuses, etc.

Muhlenberg library intFaculty are “fiercely devoted.” They are invested in who the students are and who they’ll become. Students make things happen every day at Muhlenberg and they’re empowered to collaborate with administration to make that happen. For example, they now offer a Public Health Major; prior to 2016, this was a minor with over 100 people in the program. Because of student engagement, they made it a major, and there are 2 partnerships with BU and in Philly that wouldn’t have happened without the students pushing for it.

Muhlenberg chapel int“We want to fill our seats with people who want to be here. We fill almost half the class through ED.” They will do an early read for merit and financial aid if that’s an issue before they enter into that partnership. Interviews are really important here; they value that interaction and getting to know students. They’re armed better in committee to advocate for the students.

“We don’t just have one friend group because we all do so much, so we know a lot of people who we go to support,” said the tour guide. Almost all students live on campus which helps build community. Their DIII and club sports teams are popular (to participate in and to watch) as are all the artistic performances. About 20% of students join Greek life. Traditions are really important on campus. Our tour guide said that his favorite is Candle Lighting. At Freshman orientation, they receive their candle which they light; they keep this all 4 years and will relight it again the night before graduation with their families looking on. “Usually it’s lit by alumni while an a capella group sings the alma mater right. It’s kind of transcendent. Generations before us did this. I’ve lost my laptop, but I know where that candle is.”

Muhlenberg Victor's LamentCampus is mostly attractive; there’s a large sculpture that looks very out of place against the stone buildings: “Its name is Victor’s Lament,” explained the tour guide, saying that it was meant to represent a wounded soldier being carried in Vietnam. After it was donated to the school, it was painted red because of the school colors. The sculptor was furious and withdrew his other donations.

© 2018

Lehigh University

Lehigh University (visited 4/25/18)

Lehigh staircaseFun fact: the inventor of the escalator was from Lehigh, not surprising since “we’re on a mountain. We’re constantly winded,” said our tour guide. Campus has about 27,000 stairs. One counselor asked about accessibility, and the tour guide was forthcoming: “It’s not the most accessible campus. It can be done, but it takes some planning.” The main campus is on the side of a hill; the Mountaintop Campus which is about 2 miles further up. “You might do it for the exercise, but most people ride the bus.”

Lehigh walkway 4I got the feeling that Lehigh wasn’t entirely interested in trying when the group of counselors visited. They certainly have a strong academic reputation, the campus is beautiful, and they have resources. They don’t really need to try, but I’m always a bit concerned when schools appear to rest on their laurels. However, things are clearly going well with a retention rate over 90%, but that speaks to the level of student they are attracting as much as the university itself.

Lehigh Main 2Students are smart and driven, but “there’s no shame in failure here. Clearly we don’t want it, but professors will say things like, ‘Who’s going to remember? Just go for it.’ Everyone goes to office hours, group study, tutoring,” said one student. Another said, “People want the best versions of themselves. We’re collaborative and I know that’s not the same everywhere. I feel lucky that I can go to professors or friends for help.”

Lehigh walkway 2I asked the student panelists to try to differentiate themselves from Lafayette (a big cross-over school). One said, “We’re a bit more outgoing. Here we like to do a lot of different things. At Lafayette, it seems like they like to focus more on one thing. I’m a little loud and don’t always know what to do, but felt I’d be supported here because I’m all over the place and can try lots of things.”

An admissions rep described Lehigh as “large enough to be powerful, small enough to be personal.” The tour guide agreed: “It’s large enough to meet new people but still see people you know.”

Lehigh engineering 2“We’re academically focused, but not academic-exclusive,” said a student. Campus social live is active: “It’s never a matter of IF something is happening – it’s which of the number of things I’m going to choose,” said one of the student panelists. University Production brings in SNL comedians, concerts, bbqs, movies, and Broadway Shows (Kinky Boots, Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder). During the Olympics, they had giant viewing party and put up an ice rink on campus for curling and skating. 95% stay on campus on the weekend. When they want to get off campus, they often go to the North Shore (the “Steel Stacks”) located about a mile away; a book store, bowling, skating, thrift shops, movies, and more are all there.

Lehigh lower centerLehigh admits students to college, not to majors; students can only apply to 1 college. Arts & Science and Engineering jockey year to year for the largest college. However, this isn’t like a large research school – students can move between the colleges: “There’s nothing stopping you from exploring in other schools and there are options.”

They have 3 distinctive, integrative programs that they spent a great deal of time talking about. Students must apply specifically to the first two:

  • Integrated Business and Engineering: students complete the core curriculum of both and select a concentration in either area. It’s accredited in business but not engineering in 4 years. Some stay the extra year to get the accreditation.
  • IDEAS (engineering and A&S): Students choose 2 concentrations and find the intersection between the two. ”Build bridges of specialization rather than islands,” said the rep. “Lets them understand and cross the divide.”
  • Comp Si and Business is dual accredited. Students do NOT need to apply specifically for this program.

Lehigh 9Other programs worth noting:

  • “We have phenomenal psych and international relations majors,” said a rep. Students wanting more specialized programs can choose majors like Cognitive Science or Behavioral Neuroscience.
  • They’re going to start a College of Health “but it’s not clearly defined yet. We’ve held a number of town halls to find out where we can make an impact.”
  • “The sciences are already something we do really well here, and we’re great at finding intersections between disciplines,” including their Health, Medicine, and Society major where they look at community health, data analytics, the state of health care, sociological and environmental determinates of health, etc. Students in this major are usually NOT looking to do allied health/med schools.
  • The Engineering school offers many of the more unusual specialties including Energy, Aerospace, Materials Sciences, Polymers, and Nanotechnology.
  • UN Partnership: Lehigh has NGO status with the UN so students get special clearance and access there. They send a bus every WEEK (more Business majors go than any other student) and just had their 10,000th visitor to the UN. Ambassadors speak on campus (Syrian just came).

Lehigh arts quadThere’s very little merit aid given out but quite a bit of need-based aid. They require the tax returns and a 3-page form on their website which is school-specific, including non-custodial parental information. If they don’t apply for aid on time, they won’t get a package. “We meet need, but we meet 100% of institutional need – so we tell you what the need is,” said a financial aid officer.

Lehigh 5Several people brought up diversity as an area of growth. In terms of racial diversity, the largest percentage is Hispanic. Surprisingly, only 3.5% of the students are African-American, said a rep. “We’re working on that.” Other areas seem to be better: they have trans students on campus, gender-neutral bathrooms are sprouting up across campus, and there are active LGBTQ groups that do outreach and education, including speaking with groups like Greek Life about inclusion.

© 2018

Cedar Crest College

Cedar Crest College (visited 4/24/18)

Cedar Crest gazebo“Women’s colleges are on the verge of a renaissance. Society benefits by the women who go there,” said Cedar Crest’s President. Just over half of women from women’s college complete a graduate degree compared to 38% from Liberal Arts colleges and 28% from flagship public universities. They’re also more likely to graduate in 4 years; more likely to engage in the high-impact experiences like research, internships, study abroad; and more likely to be in positions of leadership after they graduate. Only 2% of all people with college degrees graduate from a Women’s College but comprise 1/3 of Fortune 1000 Board members.

Cedar Crest buttons

Pronoun buttons in the Diversity House

Cedar Crest was founded in 1867 because a Lehigh Valley father who was angry that there wasn’t anywhere nearby to educate his daughters. (At the time, it had a Christian affiliation but is no longer affiliated.) Access is a big part of the mission while holding fast to its women’s college identity.

Cedar Crest diversity stairs

Steps in the foyer of the Diversity House

Almost 40% of students self-identify as a student of color, making CC the “most diverse of LVAIC campuses.” They have a beautiful new Diversity house including a Muslim Prayer room: there’s a foot-washing station and a kitchen so students can break Ramadan fast together. The Jewish students join forces with the Muhlenberg Hillel (about a mile away) for Shabbat, trips to Israel, etc. and they can stay there during High Holidays if they’d like. LVAIC schools come together 2x a year for conferences, usually one about race and one about LGBTQ issues. When students were asked if they’d be comfortable living with someone who identified as non-binary, 28% said yes (and if someone identifies as female, they can apply to CC). In terms of socio-economic diversity, they recognize that not all students can travel home or have a place to go over breaks: dorms stay open and some meals are offered. Every student can work on campus for 20 hours a week.

Cedar Crest 3“We encourage the ‘and’ here,” said a professor. “Students don’t have to choose; if they want to explore different things, we help make that happen.” They are ranked #5 in student engagement in the northeast. “We’re intrusive; I’ll even check to see if they’re swiping into the dining hall.” Several other things help make them distinctive:

  • FYE: includes First-year Friday: speakers (budgets, eating right), comedians, trips.
  • The new Sophomore Expedition: students are encouraged (but not required) to go on the all-expense-paid study trip in sophomore year. A gift from an alumna covers all expenses except the passport. “We’ve seen interesting things: students catch the travel bug, they change majors because of what they’ve seen/done.”
  • Cedar Crest 2Undergrad Research (often alongside PhD candidates).
    • Some research is done in a 2-course sequence: they set it up in the fall and conduct it in the spring. A Bio major in started in her 2nd week of college.
    • Many participate in the LVAIC undergrad psych conference. “In freshman year, I’m trying to pull them out of their shell. By senior year, I’m trying to shove them back in…We know that oral presentations aren’t everyone’s strength, but it needs to develop – but we can also encourage other strengths, too.”
  • Guaranteed Student Employment: they find that this is a valuable retention tool; anyone who wants can work 20 hours a week. They try to tie it to majors to make it more meaningful.
  • Honors is an interdisciplinary program. “It’s not harder; it’s different.” It’s not going over the reading, it’s connecting it to other things. “My favorite is Botany and Art.”

Cedar Crest quadThere are lots of interesting, specialized majors for a school this size. “We’re responsive to Gen Z; they want to get credentialed.” This shows through their hands-on, career-prep options; the sciences (in many of their forms) are particularly strong. The curriculum is adaptable with majors, minors, and certificates (and they get an advisor for each one!).

Cedar Crest 1For admissions, they superscore both SAT and ACT. Usually scholarships are given starting with a 3.4 GPA and 1070 SAT/21 ACT. They have a Departmental Scholarship Day in early November where they can earn an additional $1,500 per year up to 4 years. “The day is less about the scholarships opportunity and more about sitting with faculty and see that the focus is on teaching and learning.” The 10th Annual full-tuition scholarship competition (early February) is by invitation only; all participant gets $500 per year but can compete for 5 full-tuition 4-year scholarships. The top 25 will receive the following additional scholarship.

60-70% of incoming class will live on campus; the rest commute from 60 miles. One student said that she’d like to see more money spent on dorms because people are currently waitlisted for housing. The Food is got high marks, particularly the “Sundaes on Sunday.” Freshmen can have cars on campus; parking is free. There are lots of LVAIC inter-collegiate events (trips, sports, etc) and students get discounted tickets for events on other campuses. There’s an aquatic center on campus but it’s not run by Cedar Crest. However, students can use it for free, and several events like Battleship (using cardboard boats) and scuba classes are held there.

© 2018

Lincoln University (PA)

Lincoln University (visited 5/2/18)

Lincoln quad 2

The Quad

Surprisingly, this is a fully gated campus with security booths at the entrances (although to be honest, the fences are pretty low; they wouldn’t actually keep anyone out – but you can only drive onto campus at the couple check-points).

This is a fairly rural campus; the nearest small town is about 3 miles. Students are NOT impressed with the location simply because there is nothing to do. “Cars are pretty necessary to have a social life off campus.” Lancaster is just under an hour away, and both Philadelphia and Baltimore are just over an hour from campus. “Students need to create their own fun here.”

Lincoln Greek patio

One of the Greek “patios” with benches, grills, and affiliation sign

Students like the camaraderie on campus. Almost all of the 2,000 undergrads live on campus. It’s small enough to know people, see people all the time, and get to classes easily. “Everyone is social. You kind of have to be since there’s nothing else to do around campus.” There is some stuff going on around campus “but it’s a dry campus, so don’t expect they typical large party scene.” There is some Greek life but it does not dominate the social scene. The DII sports are fairly strong, and they do have a football team. Games are actively attended.

Lincoln library 2

The Langston Hughes Library

This is the country’s first degree-granting HBCU; it was renamed for Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War. There is a lot of history to the campus, and many of the buildings are named for famous alumni including Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes. The school went coed in the 1950s, and like other liberal arts schools, is a little more than half female at this point.

Lincoln science cntr

An academic building

They offer majors that are typical at a liberal arts school with the exception of Pan-Africana Studies and Biochemistry-Molecular Biology. Students say that it’s easy to connect with professors and they seem to care. However, their retention and graduation rates are pretty low, and not much seems to be in place to help students persist through their undergrad degree.

© 2018

Salisbury University

Salisbury University (visited 4/26/19)

Salisbury towerI was impressed with Salisbury; this is an amazing medium-sized institution located in a small city with a lot within walking distance. Campus is architecturally attractive with lots of upgrades, statues, and trees. When one of the new administrators came to Salisbury, he said, “The Academic Commons is better than anything I saw at Dartmouth.” One of the students said that SU is “the perfect size” both in terms of student population and the physical campus.

Salisbury LC 2

Academic Commons

Academics are rigorous and well supported. “It’s a fun place, but it’s a serious task. It’s about adult life and figuring it out,” said one of the reps who is also a Salisbury alum. “We serve a wide range of students. We’re moderately selective. Some students are here ready to go … and then there’s the group who need to still figure it out and realize they actually have to study.”

Salisbury quadSkill-building (critical thinking, writing, presenting ideas) is weaved into all programs, and faculty give early assessments to give students a feel of what’s expected and catch them if they flounder. SU has doubled the number of advisors to make sure students have access and guidance. They’re clearly doing something right; they have a strong retention rate and higher-than-average graduation rate.

Salisbury 3

Some of the academic buildings

Professors are highly engaged with students: “the interaction is different here. People actually transfer from College Park (the state flagship) where they’re only incentivized to do research. Here, they’re rewarded for their mentorship skill; that includes research but it goes far beyond that. This is a real gem.”

I asked the student panelists what their favorite classes were:

  • Media and Terrorism: “We talked about different groups using social media to recruit. I took it because I had heard that the prof was good and it was awesome!”
  • Stats through Baseball: “I’m bad at math but this was real life.”
  • Leadership: “We get to connect with the community. Speakers come in and we can talk to other people.”
  • “A class taught partially by Ghandi’s grandson! He taught about half the classes – the first few we discussed world problems like the war in Ireland. We read The Gift of Anger and talked about it with him. At the end of the class, groups took an issue from the book and did something with it. We had to decide what it was, so we could take a lesson that resonated and turn it into something like a painting or an activity to “find your worth” – it definitely made some people made uncomfortable.”
  • Scriptwriting classes: “I never had a chance to do to that before.”
  • “Geography was the most interesting class I’ve ever had. The professor was so passionate about weather. He’d go on rants about how cool tornados were. I started the semester in the back of the class. By the end, I was sitting in front.”
  • Grant Writing: “It was practical and we could focus on what we’re interested in.”
  • History of Africa Post-1865: “It wasn’t from an American viewpoint.”
Salisbury dorms

Some of the on-campus housing

There is a lot of new or renovated housing for students, including some “off-campus” apartments that are across the street. Those are open to any student so there are a few from the Community College and UMES, but “about 90% of them are from Salisbury.” Most freshmen (but only 1/3 of the 8,000 undergrads) live on campus; they’re trying to increase that, but with so much nearby housing, the campus is still vibrant and students are around. The food is amazing and it’s one of the nicest dining halls I’ve ever seen with lots of food stations and well laid-out seating areas in small pockets and rooms around a centralized location rather than a massive hall.

Salisbury dorms 5

Off-campus student apartments across the street from campus (There’s a tunnel running under the main road connecting campus to this area) 

There are 4 academic schools, all endowed (unusual among public universities). They have several stand-out and/or unique programs:

  • Liberal Arts:
  • Science and Technology:
    • Dual Degree in Bio and Envi Sci
    • Physics: Students can focus on Microelectronics, Engineering Physics, or a 3+2 Engineering They aren’t there to wash people out. If the student meets the qualifications, they have guaranteed slots, but rigor is fairly significant. Usually 30-40 will start in a cohort; maybe 10 end up deciding that it’s what they want to do. Many switch to Computational Physics. They’re employed to look at many larger/non-specialized engineering problems.
    • In addition to traditional Math, they can choose Applied, Actuarial Science, Computational Math, or Statistics.
    • Geography/Geoscience includes Human or Physical Geography, GIS, and Atmospheric Science.
  • Salisbury glass

    This glass was made on campus!

    The Business School is the University’s smallest with about 1650 students. It’s dual accredited and has “Gated Admissions” (2.5 minimum GPA). “We do dismiss students if they get Ds.” Internships are required.

    • Entrepreneurship is strong with one of the oldest competitions.
    • Sales/marketing: Companies on the Eastern Shore pay to interview students on campus. “It’s not just a degree. It’s getting a job at the end.”
    • Accounting: “We don’t graduate enough students. There are more accounting firms than we have students ready to graduate.”
    • Finance students have to manage portfolios of $1m minimum. “You’re on a treadmill, and someone else is controlling the speed. You’re going to have to run.”
    • International Business majors need to go abroad for at least 6 months; their internship must have an international component.
  • Health and Human Services:
    • Several Health Sciences are gated: students get accepted to SU, complete preliminary work, and then can get into the program. Respiratory Therapy and Nursing are capped at 24 seats for accreditation purposes. They produce the most Baccalaureate-trained Respiratory Therapists in the country.
    • 3+3 Pharmacy: they hold 5 slots at UMES. Students usually need a 3.7 GPA to earn a spot.
    • They offer Medical Laboratory Science and Applied Health Physiology as majors.
Salisbury Student Center

Dining hall/student center

Students who have a 3.5 wGPA (4.0 scale) are eligible for test-optional admissions. They can be considered for additional merit money if they submit additional grades or scores. There are some competitive area-specific (like STEM) scholarships but students must declare the major on their application. On the website, students are encouraged to check out “Academic Works” and answer 10 questions to match with scholarships they’re eligible for. This CLOSES in mid-January, so do it early! The majority of scholarships are for incoming students; these are stackable to the merit scholarships given by admissions.

© 2018

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (visited 4/27/18)

UMES 2UMES is a land-grant HBCU located in Princess Anne on the lower Eastern Shore, about 15 minutes south of Salisbury. Much of campus is attractive and well-maintained. It’s one of the smaller schools in the UM system with just under 3,000 students. It’s relatively easy to get around, and parking is plentiful; “you definitely need a car here!” said a student. Town is about a mile away; there are a few fast-food restaurants and shops, but students are more likely to go to Salisbury for entertainment. Students are not really impressed with the social life on campus. There’s not a lot going on which may help explain part of the school’s retention and graduation rates.

UMES quadMost freshmen live on campus, but many move off after that. Many live close: driving into campus, I passed several small apartment complexes with signs up advertising space for students. There’s also some student-specific housing in Salisbury just off the SU campus that is open to UMES students (although about 90% of students in that housing do attend SU). Greek Life is an important part of campus life, with each organization given a small area on a quad for benches, signs, and grills. Students seemed to think that the food on campus was mediocre at best. “It gets the job done, but that’s about all I can say about it!”

UMES Scie

Aviation Complex

Surprisingly for a school this size, athletics are DI, mostly typical sports. They do have Women’s bowling and Men’s golf.

The faculty did get rave reviews from students. Classes are relatively small, particularly for a state school. There are a great deal of unusual/specialty majors offered at UMES such as:

UMES Food Sci Tech

Food Science and Tech building

I love that they have more hands-on, career-specific academics that prepare students for the workforce, but I’d be a bit concerned about sending a student here. Enrollment has been going down the last several years, but they are working hard to try to reverse that trend. They also are not graduating students well, although they seem to be on par with many HBCUs. There were not many students around, even though it was a beautiful day. Most students were walking alone or with one other person. The price is right, though – and for students looking for some more specialized majors and who like a quieter life, this might be the perfect place for them.

© 2018

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University (visited 2/21-23/2018)

NSU fountain 3This feels like a massive school even though they only have 4800 undergraduates, primarily because of the immense graduate population (17,000 nationwide including online). This creates a nice balance for undergrads who want a larger-feel school without being lost in the shuffle or sit in larger lecture halls. The undergrad division started in the 1980s (shifting from graduate-only): their freshman class increased to 994 in 2017 with plans to be at 1500 by 2020!

NSU stu cntr 1

The interior of the student center

NSU has good ethnic, geographic (50% from outside of Florida), and religious diversity but it is still heavily female (about 2/3). “It’s a great community. There’s a great deal of respect, even for people who hold different views,” said a rep. One student on the panel said, “It’s a respectful campus in how we respond to each other. There are people from both sides of the political spectrum.” They’ve been seeing more political involvement recently, “maybe because of what’s going on in the country.”

NSU 3They’re located in a quiet suburban community near Fort Lauderdale and Miami with a range of things to do. The university runs shuttles downtown, to the airport at breaks, and even to the Miami Dolphins stadium (15 minutes away) where they can attend home games for FREE which more than makes up for no football team on campus!

NSU HS Pavilion

The Health Pavilion building

Because of their extensive medical graduate programs, NSU offers Dual Admissions: if admitted and eligible, students have a reserved spot in one of 30+ professional Masters or Doctoral programs. They can only apply to 1 program: “the idea is that they know what they want to do.” It is NOT binding; they can relinquish their spot if they change their minds. Students can also apply to the Farquhar Honors College: The 400ish students in the program get plenty of mentoring, priority registration, and access to research opportunities.

NSU chem lab 1

A Chemistry lab

The flagship academic program at NSU Experiential Education and Learning (see the ExEL YouTube video here). “Experiential education is nothing new; we’re just embedding it. ‘I reflect and I learn’ is what sets us apart. We want to ask them the right questions at the beginning of their education, let them understand what they’re learning and what it’ll look like at and after graduation.”

  • Students complete 6 units including FYS and Senior Capstone. The other 4 can be study abroad, internships, designated experiential courses, faculty-mentored research, community engagement, etc.
  • NSU oceanography 2

    Part of their Oceanography Center on a separate campus about 20 minutes from the main campus

    They start career development early through coaching, internships, job search action planning, and over 1000 internship placements a year. They’re increasing visibility of social sciences/humanities research.

  • They created a Success Team. All schools provide academic advisors; what’s unique are the certified Career Advisors, “Advisors on steroids,” who plan out a 4-year journey based on the student’s needs. The 2 advisors meet every couple weeks to talk about the 250-student cohort assigned to them.
  • Students work with the professional schools: Health Advocacy Law cases, create lip gloss at the pharmacy school, dissect pig feet at the Health Sciences, examine teeth at dental school.
NSU HS dentistry

One of the dental labs

Beyond that, there are multiple Razor’s Edge (Premier) Programs, the umbrella “organization” allowing students to earn a specialized 16-credit minor; most are open to students from any major. These require a supplemental application and interview. Students can apply to two programs but can only participate in one (they’re all 4-year residential programs) but can combine the program with Honors and/or Dual Admissions.

  • Leadership and Civil Engagement: They look for people who’ve had leadership positions, who’ve led or started an organization. Students complete 7 leadership credits and 9 more across the curriculum as well as a “legacy” project for the benefit of the community.
  • Shark Teach (Teacher Leadership): participants have had experience in tutoring, camp counseling, teaching in Sunday School, etc. and demonstrate a passion for helping students. Educationally-focused community service in expected.
  • Shark Cage: Students do sales pitches, growing in length as time goes on. A group is traveling to Cuba to see how they do it there with heavy government restrictions and almost no money.
  • Fischer Academy: 3+1 Masters in Education, guaranteeing an education job in select Florida counties. There is some flexibility including hybrid online components and modules in a learning center. Students get a free international travel component in the 2nd year and a paid internship as a tutor or SI leader.
  • Global Program (Global Engagement): students do local, state, national, and international projects (usually in that order).
  • Shark Talent (Arts Leadership): They learn how to be arts administrators and promote events, create marketing plans and materials.
NSU Business

The new Business building

I asked the student panelists what their favorite classes have been and why:

  • Sport Supplements for Athletes: “It’s only 7 students taught by the university researcher for the year. I got a certificate and letters behind my name.”
  • Genetics: “It’s pretty cool; I use my own DNA and figure out where I’m from.”
  • Courts and Corrections: “the prof required us to go to federal criminal court. Even though I was in NY, I could do the class and it was really personalized.”
  • Spanish for Business/Health/Legal professions: “They taught a lot of specific stuff, and I had professors from different countries so it was more like a cultural environment.”
  • Microbiology: “We took skin samples and we’re growing our own bacteria. That came from me!”

NSU hammocks 1Just over 1/3 of the incoming class majors in STEM fields, but Business (with 6 specialties to choose from including Sport and Recreation Management) and Arts &Sciences (especially Criminal Justice) have strong showings. Their strong graduate health sciences programs in health sciences leads to strong undergrad programs including:

  • Public Health (the first undergrad program in the College of Osteopathic Medicine) which looks at health from the community level: health of people and communities; track disease outbreaks; disaster emergency management. Students gain expertise in global health, social and behavioral health sciences, epidemiology, environmental and occupational health, and healthcare. The degree allows for flexibility to enter the work force or can segue into Masters programs or dental or med school. They offer the 1st 7-year (3+4) public health/Med degree dual admission in the nation.
  • Speech-language Pathology: they start clinical experiences in the first year for some programs, often in the on-campus speech clinic.
  • Medical Sonography, Cardiovascular Sonography, Respiratory Therapy, and Exercise and Sport Science are also of note.
NSU dorms 2

Some of the dorms.

Dorms are spacious and have private bathrooms! Students are allowed to move off campus; the housing office will help students find apartments, many of which are right off campus. There is Greek Life which is fairly popular (but “smaller than at some other places”) and no Greek Housing. This is the first university (especially of this size) that does not have an actual dining hall! Students said that this is something they want fixed. There are food courts; in 2018-19, they’re going to try a hybrid for dinners/weekends where they’ll swipe for a buffet. Students would also like to see money spent on dorms and to buy out houses on SE side of campus.

International Students are considered for all scholarships and programs. They do NOT need test scores for admissions if they have been in the US from 10th-12th grade but must send in scores for scholarship consideration OR if they spent all 4 years in the US.

© 2018

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