campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Florida”

University of Tampa

University of Tampa (visited 2/8/16)

Tampa sign

Tampa plaza

The view from a minaret of the hotel showing the Tampa skyline

This is more of an urban-feeling campus than I expected it to be. The iconic building is the hotel (complete with minarets) that the university bought in 1933 and which became the first university building; now it’s used for classrooms, offices, admissions, and more. The rest of campus is filled with modern, well-maintained, tall buildings and is incorporated into the city, but with enough green space to feel like a campus. It’s the only university in downtown Tampa and they capitalize on that. Students have easy access to a multitude of things and can walk to internships and jobs: students take advantage of the Florida aquarium, professional sports, art museum, police departments, and 2 of the top 25 newspapers in the country among other things.

 

 

Tampa hotel 4

The hotel that became the original university building

Applications have doubled in the past 4 years; last year, they had almost 1700 students on the waitlist; about 7-10% of these come for the spring semester. This year, they brought in 1800 new freshmen with all states being represented: “We even had 5 kids from Idaho.” Although the gender balance is skewed slightly (about 45% male), generally this is an incredibly diverse student body with 17% of students coming from abroad (17-18% each from the Middle East and Asia, and 11% each from Europe and Central/South America).

Tampa porchThe average student travels 894 miles from home to attend UT. “The #1 reason students leave is homesickness,” said one of the reps. “We deal with this in open houses, info sessions, etc. UT students tend to be more independent. They’re metropolitan and cosmopolitan.”

Tampa dorms 3The First Year Experience, a 1-credit, full year class, has helped a great deal with retention; students are generally grouped by major. They’re starting a themed model this year, and will also to try to group international students together. The Honors Program offers special courses, and honors floor in the dorms, a research fellowship, an Oxford Semester, and more. Applicants are automatically considered for admission with a 3.5 unweighted GPA and 1150 SAT or 25 ACT.

UT is reasonably priced for a private school at $37,866 (2015-16 school year). “Usually this increases 2-2.5% increase a year,” said the rep. Only 8% of students do pay sticker-price.

Tampa entrepreneurship 1

Some of the work spaces in the Entrepreneurship building

An amazing new Entrepreneurship building opened in the fall of 2015; it’s filled with meeting rooms, work stations, white boards, etc. all meant for creative thought and innovation. Their annual Pitch Contest is open to everyone regardless of major: last year it was won by an English major. We spoke to 2 students in the elevator and asked how they liked the school and program: “We give it a 10. We’re seniors and have an office on the top floor. They really support us here.” They’re doing some amazing entrepreneurial work already as undergraduates.

Tampa chapel

The non-denominational chapel

The most popular majors are Finance, Bio, and Marketing, but they offer an extensive range. “It’s easier to talk about what we don’t have!” said a rep; that includes engineering or architecture, but “We do science incredibly well here. I used to be at Illinois Tech and have toured a lot. No one holds anything over us,” said one professor. Some areas to brag about are:

 

  • Tampa athletic fields

    Athletic fields, the chapel, and an academic building

    Marine Science (students can specialize in Chemistry or Biology with this). The kid who fits here won’t fit at Eckerd and vice versa.

  • Nursing: they have an amazing pass rate: “I could have said that we had a 100% pass rate over the last 6 years, but 1 kid didn’t pass 4 years ago,” said a rep.
  • UT is the only College with their own booth at the Film Fest as part of the Film and Media Arts “The professor says that we blow Madison’s program away.”
  • They have their own bronze-casting facility.
  • Mathematical Programming.
  • Dance and Musical Theater. Disney recruits here a couple times a year.

The average class size is 21; only 44 classes have more than 40 students with the largest at 60 students. Our tour guides’ classes ranged from 6 (Evolution) and 16 (Honors Oral Communication) to 60 (Chemistry). One of them said that this dropped to 35 as time went on.

Just over half the students live on campus. There’s a 2-year residency requirement, and dorms are big and comfortable. Many juniors and seniors have traditionally moved off, but the school now has a 20-year contract with the Barrymore Hotel to house upperclassmen (this includes maid service!). Freshmen are not allowed to have cars unless they have a medical need for one.

Tampa greek rocks

Greek Rocks

Almost half the students (about 40%) join one of the 22 Greek organizations. There are several rules surrounding rush (such as members can’t talk to recruits for the first week). Once they join, members have to maintain their GPA (tutoring is available) and attend study hours as well as complete a minimum amount of community service. “They’ll even monitor Facebook and instagram,” said one student.

Tampa crew 2

Some of the crew boats heading in after practice

“Greek life is active but it doesn’t drive the social scene on campus,” said a student. There are plenty of clubs and the usual school-sponsored activities (speakers, movies, etc). Their DII athletic teams participate in the Sunshine State Conference; they do have a DIII Ice Hockey team. They do have a varsity women’s crew and club level for both men and women as well as club equestrian, body building, flag football, and more. Participation in sports at some level is high, as is the fan base for the varsity sports.

© 2016

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Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College (visited 2/5/16)

FSC waterski ramp 2

Ski jump for the waterskiing team

Want to join a varsity waterskiing team?

Maybe you’d like to major in Citrus?

Are you a Frank Lloyd Wright fan?

Would you like a work-study job walking Riley the Therapy Dog?

Then check out Florida Southern!

FSC dining hall

Students studying in the dining hall

FSC takes a well-balanced, holistic approach to education. The college President said, “Students have to actively engage in the learning process and apply what they’ve learned. If you’re looking for an anonymous experience, go to UF. If you want to be involved with professors and see how learning is applied in a real-world way, this experience becomes transformative.”

FSC arch and towerFlorida Southern has 3 distinctive guarantees:

  • Graduation in 4 years. Students must follow certain straight-forward guidelines; if they do so and still can’t graduate on time, FSU will help cover the cost of the remaining time.
  • Internships: Everyone is guaranteed an internship in their field of study if they want it, although these are not required. However, real-world readiness is stressed here and the National Society of Experiential Education Ranked FSC #1 in engaged learning. Almost all students (98%) do internships, practicum, field work, research, or study abroad.
  • Study abroad. Many students do traditional study abroad, but FSC offers Junior Journey at no or reduced cost to all students. They’re eligible after completing 4 semesters of study. They can apply this to a longer study abroad experience if they want.

FSC bikesStudents have fun here, but academics are important: “I’m surprised how much more academically focused I am,” said one of the students we spoke to. The most popular majors are accounting, business, broadcast and print/online journalism, economics and finance, education (offered in multiple areas), marine biology, music, nursing, and psychology.

FSC PAC

Performing Arts Center

 

For students interested in fine and performing arts, this is a great place. Interested students must audition (remote auditions are available). They just added a new Dance Performance and Choreography major. Their thriving music program includes music education, performance, management, and musical theater. Theater students can major in performance, theater arts, and technical theater/design. Fine arts students have options of graphic design, studio art, art education, and art history. There’s a large art gallery on campus used extensively by students. There are 30+ performance and gallery shows every year, including a full opera accompanied by the orchestra.

FSC business atrium

The lobby of the new Business building

The new Business building opened in August 2015, and in the fall semester of 2015, students had the option of majoring in Political Economy which is only offered at a few universities in the nation.

FSC citrus trees

Some of the citrus trees that Citrus majors help manage.

Biology, Marine biology, and Biotechnology are all strong. Lakeland and the university are within an hour’s drive of both coasts, and there are 29 lakes nearby. FSC students often work with other students from schools like USF and UCF. Dr. Langford, a biology professor, spoke to us. His “how to” for getting students involved in research is: “Recruit students sophomore year, give them original projects, train them, get out of the way, and brag about their results!” Students have access to a ton of topics either self-developed or with professors: they’re actively working on shark ecology, antibiotic discovery, genetics and evolution, paleobotany, wetland ecology, marine microbiology, herpetology, parasitology, and invertebrate phylogenetics among other things, and they present regularly at regional, national, and international meetings and have publications in peer reviewed in scientific journals.

FSC dorm 1

One of the dorms

There’s a strong sense of campus pride and inclusivity here. With 11 dorms, 3 apartment complexes (with a 4th on the way), and Greek housing (about 1/3 of students rush, but not all live in housing), this is a highly residential campus; first-year students are required to be on campus unless living with parents (94% are on campus). Dorm rooms are big and many have water views. Greek rush happens during the 3rd week in the fall. Students can join both a social and a professional Greek organization.

FSC has 19 varsity DII sports, and they’ve won 28 National Championships. There are 25 intramural options including Inner Tube Water Polo, Rock Paper Scissors, and Kayak Racing.

FSC bikesStudents can walk to downtown Lakeland in about 15 minutes (“or about 3 minutes on a bike”). Students like the town: “It’s little and cute and there’s plenty to do,” including First Fridays, coffee shops, a great farmer’s market, and a flea market. If they get tired of Lakeland, beaches and Orlando are both an hour away. This is the oldest private school in Florida, founded in 1885, and is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

FSC FLW chapel

The Chapel

Students perform 32,000 hours of community service a year. Although the university is affiliated with the United Methodist church, there are no religious requirements; those who are interested can help run chapel services.

The college is responsive to students and what they need and want: for example, they kept the library open later when students asked for it. They’ve changed up the food options; there are now more food trucks on campus. They have offered more vegan and other options, as well.

FSC fountain and tower

The fountain where WaterDome Splash occurs

Some of the students’ favorite classes are:

  • Philosophy: “The professor is Lebanese and has a different perspective on a lot of things; he took it to a whole new level.” Bikes apparently are useful but not used so much.
  • Marketing Principles: “The professor is really straight-forward; we do cool projects!”
  • Speech class: The professor is passionate.”
  • Intro to Microbio Research: “We do concrete projects. The professor is interesting and has expanded the content past the textbook.”

Things that they’d like to change are:

  • More centralized parking: “All students can bring a car but parking can be a struggle. It’s there but can take awhile.”
  • “Sometimes school spirit for athletics gets forgotten. It’s very academic here. People would rather go to the library than to a game.
  • “I’d change the accounting program.”

Traditions students particularly like are:

  • WaterDome Splash: going into the fountain is forbidden except for seniors at graduation who are allowed in.
  • Blast Off: on the day before classes, clubs in the gym host a club fair.
  • Pizza with the President: “She’s super involved; she even got kicked out of a basketball game because she was yelling so much!”
  • Winter Wonderland: “they bring in snow to the green”
  • One student said, “It’s not a traditions, but I’m going to miss my professors when I leave.”

Admissions is rolling between September 1 and March 1 with an ED deadline of 12/1. They admit approximately 45% of total applicants; admitted students average a 3.6 GPA, 26 ACT, 1134 SAT. They will superscore both tests.

© 2016

Stetson University

Stetson University (visited 2/10/16)

Stetson 3D equipment

3D printing equipment in the library

This is the first university I’ve visited that has power tools, sewing machines, soldering irons, 3D printers, and more in the library for students to access. They have a whole innovation lab in the library at the students’ disposal.

Stetson printed objects

Students’ printed objects

I enjoyed Stetson and can see why students are drawn to it. People are friendly, the campus is attractive, and its ranked Top 5 Universities in the South by USNWR. It’s a small school with a big school feel. Even the town of DeLand (just north of Orlando) was named in the “Top 3 Best Main Streets in America” by Parade Magazine (www.destinationdeland.com).

Stetson dorm lounge

A dorm lounge

Stetson is growing, currently with just over 3,000 undergrads. About 40% of students come from outside Florida, including 185 students from 55 countries. They make it easy to get to and from campus with airport shuttles. They’ve added dorms to keep up with the demand: there’s a 3-year residency requirement, but most seniors stay on campus with 86% of students on campus. Almost 1/3 of students go Greek; housing is available but limited.

Stetson library

The library

This is an animal-friendly campus; we saw several dogs around campus, and a student had a dog with her in the library as she was studying. There is a friendly, family feeling here. Students talked about lots of traditions such as the candle ceremony at the beginning of the year where freshmen carry a candle through the original gates.

Stetson organ

The organ in the music school

All students need to accumulate 24 cultural credits to graduate. These can include anything from watching a debate and discussing it, attending any of events at the music school, or going to a lecture by a visiting academic. “It’s easy to do. Most people go to these things anyway, and most of my friends are done with their 24 events well before the end of sophomore year.” This is a highly engaged campus in many ways including with high voter turnout. The political divide is almost equal: 32% democratic, 28% republican, 18% independent. Whatever political side you lean towards, it’s ok here.

Stetson bikes

Bikes are a favorite way to get around campus

There are 18 DI teams (as a side note: Stetson alumni won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year). Football is in its 4th year. They have a Mad Hatters section for students at games which is often full (yes – they’re the Hatters … it is Stetson University, after all!)

They’ve hired several new faculty members to keep up with the increasing academic opportunities, and classes are kept small. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 6; her largest was 33 (Intro to Bio). On the student panel, we asked what their favorite classes were and why:

  • Pirates: “Pirates are just cool!”
  • Poverty and Micro-credit: “it was a service-learning class; we worked in a prison helping with entrepreneurship.”
  • Predictive Analytics: “We did real-life stuff like working with an airline.”
  • Calculus 3: “The professor combined computer programs and the process and theories behind it. It was hard but learned a lot.”
  • Spanish: “The professor offered us accelerated learning when he saw that a few of us were ready to move ahead more quickly.”

Stetson 7They have 3 undergraduate schools as well as a law school (Florida’s first):

  • The School of Business Admin is accredited in both business and in accounting.
  • Arts and Sciences: They have many traditional offerings plus:
  • Stetson quadTheir School of Music is impressive.
    • They take 80 students per year and graduate 55-60. Many change majors but stay at the university. They’re encouraged to dabble early if they’re interested because it’s so heavily proscribed – it’s easier to move out than in.
    • Everyone majoring or minoring need to audition and must be admitted to both the university and the music department. Because it’s a school of music and not a conservatory, they can be accepted at several levels (for a minor but not a major, etc). They can also audition for entry during their freshman year.
    • About half of the students go into music education; they’re in very high demand. 50% graduate in performance or composition.
    • There’s no marching band (no football team!) but the students can get experience working with a local high school that has a 400-member marching band.

Many students Study Abroad, and those who do a language immersion can complete a minor in 1 semester or a major in 2.

Stetson bell towerStudents in the Honors Program can design their own majors by combining any passion and interest; their degree is whatever they label it as. One student combined Art, Art History, and Chemistry to make an Art Restoration major. Students live in honors housing, receive a $2000 stipend for travel or research, and are exempt from many of the gen ed requirements. Students admitted to the honors program average 31.5 ACT or 1410 SAT. They like a 30 ACT and at least a 600 on each of the SAT sections.

The Bonner Program brings in 18 students each year as a cohort; this is reserved for people with a true passion for community service and engagement. The application deadline is Feb 25 with the finalists invited to campus later in the spring.

Stetson cafeAll students complete a research project. Their major will determine the type of research they do, but there’s always an oral presentation component. A Senior Research class gives them some time and structure to do this as needed, but there are multiple opportunities outside the class to do the research.

Admissions is test-optional. If students choose to submit their scores, Stetson will superscore the SAT but not the ACT. They will recalculate GPA (.5 to Honors, 1 point to AP and IB). Students who visit get their application fee waived, and 0ut-of-State students get a 1-time $1,000 travel scholarship. International applicants can have the TOEFL waived if they completed 3 years in an English-speaking school; otherwise, they need a 79 on the test.

Stetson 8Students are automatically considered for Merit Scholarships up to $33,000. Music scholarships are done separately and require an audition; the deadline is 2/25. Non-majors are welcome to apply. Scholarships for DI athletics and ROTC are also available. These are stackable with merit scholarships. The J. Ollie Edmunds Scholarship awards 1 full-ride scholarship each year: students with a 3.5 GPA are eligible to apply. They usually get about 350 applications for this. Four finalists are selected from this pool to come to campus to interview. The winner gets everything paid (including fees) plus 2 study abroad stipends. Additional scholarships for those qualified for the JOE scholarship include one for Humanities, Environmental Sustainability, Writing, and Business Systems and Analytics.

Stetson 2We asked students on the panel to complete this phrase: “I want to thank Stetson for …”

  • Making me who I am.
  • The people. I had a question for a professor who couldn’t answer it right away but had an answer in my email by the next day.
  • Lots of connections with professors and the alumni.
  • Being welcoming. Sometimes change is hard. They did a good job at making the transition easier. People reach out. Everyone has a hard transition but no one admits it. Everyone has that moment when it clicks and you know you’re supposed to be here. The support is here.
  • Expecting us to step up into leadership positions.
  • I had a wakeup call with academics. You might have been the best student in High School, but they expect a lot here. I had a 20 page paper due but never wrote one longer than 5 before. I wasn’t getting the grade I wanted, but the professor met with me in the coffee shop and worked with me. The writing center is there. You can do it.

© 2016

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University (visited 2/12/16)

J'ville waterfrontSitting directly on the St. John’s River (which is one of two rivers that runs north – the other being the Nile), JU’s Marine Science Research Institute is top-notch. The city of Jacksonville is industrial, and the university does a lot to help lower the impact of the city on the local environment. It’s a “sweet water river” which flows out of the swamps. The water’s brown color has nothing to do with pollution; instead, it’s from tannins in the swamps.

J'ville Marine Sci Inst

Marine Science building

J'ville Marine lab

Tanks on the first floor of the Marine Science building.

The Marine Science building is new with amazing resources. The ground floor has tanks, flumes to simulate currents, and more. The 2nd floor has classrooms, labs, and meeting rooms. Several students were there studying; when I spoke to them, they were excited about the major and the school in general. “It’s an 8.5 on a 1-10 scale,” and “Tell your students to come here! The faculty ratio is great,” they said. They love that they can do cross-disciplinary work such as assessments of Coral Reefs: aviation majors fly the drone, engineering students run the tools, marine science majors examine the coral reef health. “There’s also an abnormally high number of people who start their own business,” said the Director of the program.

 

J'ville swing“Trans-disciplinary learning is nothing new here,” said one of the deans. This is the only school in Florida to require a class in economics: “Macro-economics requires a holistic view of the global economics.” The school invests in personal enrichment and community engagement. “The community today is the globe.” This leads to innovative research that students are excited about. “We are at the top 4% nationally for the number of submissions and acceptances for national undergraduate research conferences. We beat all the Ivy-league schools.” They had the highest number of accepted proposals (126) beating out even the top Ivy (Cornell had 115).

Business, Health Sciences, and Fine & Performing Arts are strong

  • Their Kinesiology program is highly hands-on and cross-disciplinary; one well-liked project is the bio-chemical assessment of athletes which lets students in that department work with biology, chemical engineering, and other students.
  • J'ville nursing lab

    Nursing department

    The Nursing department is selective; faculty interviews potential students as part of the admissions process. They have direct entry, but students can also apply during freshman year.

  • Their Emergency Nurse Practitioner program is 1 of only 7 in the country.
  • The Education department has a pre-school on campus for 2-5 year olds; students intern there all the time.
  • Business majors can specialize in International or Sport Business or Accounting.
  • The Fine Art Complex is amazing, including a glass-blowing major and minor. A
    J'ville glass 2

    The glass-blowing studio

    freshman gave us a glass-blowing demonstration and almost finished making a bowl in the 20 minutes we were there. “The oven typically runs at about 2200 degrees; it’s running cool today at 2000.”

  • In additional to the traditional types of art, students can also do sculpture, animation, illustration, and graphic design.
  • They have a Dance major in addition to Theater Arts.
J'ville flight sim 3

The Advanced CRJ simulator

The size and quality of their Aviation Management and Operations major surprised me. Of the 160 students in the program, 22% are women. When asked who attends here versus Embry-Riddle, the Director of the program said, “ERAU is more the engineering, building of aircraft, etc. You can learn to fly at either place, but if you want to learn the business end of things, this is where you want to be.” The flying aspect costs an extra $65,000 over the student’s time at school.

 

J'ville aviation bldg

Inside the Aviation building

NROTC has 54 students who take classes on campus; they’re ready to be commissioned right out of college. They participate in many local events including at the nearby base. They complete 4-6 week training cruises (or an equivalent: a Nursing student spent a summer at Walter Reed) all 3 summers.

J'ville outdoor work area

The outdoor working area with tables and electrical outlets

The new President, an alum, has invested a great deal of money into the university. He had been in the business world for a long time, and he’s invested in making the school better. “Our campus has never looked more beautiful. There are a number of improvements: a new residence hall for freshmen, a new outdoor leisure space (which is used extensively as a study place, and even has electrical outlets), and a new workout center. We’ve also created new scholarships to appropriately reward students.”

J'ville apts 2

Some of the apartment buildings for upperclassmen

There’s a 3-year residency requirement, but many students stay because of the new apartment buildings; the surrounding area also doesn’t get rave reviews, but all students can have cars on campus. The current president sent people up to look at UVA’s dorms and replicated them, adding study spaces, fireplaces, etc. They want to make the most of their location and their buildings. The River House had been the President’s house, but eventually was slated to be taken down for parking. When the current President came in, he nixed that: “we don’t need a parking lot with this view.” It overlooks the water, the campus pool and sand volleyball court, and more. Now it’s used for meetings, the Ratskeller, and more. Lots of students have cars on campus.

J'ville golf practice

The golf practice area

Greek life is very small, but sports are a big deal and they’re very proud of their teams. They currently have 501 student athletes, and 18/20 teams have a 3.0+ GPA. Retention rate among athletes is 94% with a good graduation rate. They’re DI “mid-major” (no PAC, Big 10, etc), including Beach Volleyball, Shooting, and Crew (“The women’s team is great! The men’s team… meh”). Campus has a practice green for golf, intramural fields, even an outdoor workout station. They just hired a Director of Ticketing, Sales, and Game Day Experience; attendance and school spirit is way up. The Athletic Director is also a full-time business professor who talked to us for a few minutes. “We win with honor and win in the classroom.”

J'ville art studio

One of the art studios

Students who have left have done so for a variety of reasons: some had bad experiences with a coach, didn’t want to go to class, wanted to hide in a bigger class, bombed their first year and lost a scholarship, etc. That being said, JU is “pretty good at second chances.” One student spoke of a friend who failed a class and was put on probation but dug her way out of the hole and is doing great now. “Send us your B+ students. We can change their lives.”

© 2016

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology (visited 2/10/14)

FIT signFlorida Tech did a great job in showcasing the things that make them who they are, mainly their sciences and their engineering (the 2 schools that enroll 70% of their students). They combine the best of liberal arts with a technical research school: “We do science-based science here!”

FIT 5This is one of the best-kept secrets in physics and space sciences including Astrobiology, Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Planetary Science. “It’s pretty weird hanging out in Buzz Aldren’s house talking about life on Mars,” said a professor.

FIT historyFounded in 1958 by the same people who founded NASA, Florida Tech has kept a close working relationship with them: “If we need help, we have all their resources at our disposal and vice versa. If you have students who want to work for NASA, this is the school.” You can literally walk outside and watch launches. “Drive 45 minutes and you can FEEL the launch,” said a professor.

FIT telescope 2

One of the school’s telescopes

Students and faculty have access to all sorts of amazing telescopes such as the 10.4-meter telescope in the Canary Islands, the Hubble, and they’re helping with James Webb telescope that will launch in 2018. They’re even looking to launch their own space telescope. They work with a ground-based, 1-m telescope network around the world in places like Tucson, Chile, and the Canary Islands. They can log on and use them through the internet “which saves a lot on time and money.” To really study the universe, people need dry, high, and dark conditions; “Florida is wet, low, and near Disney World.”

The telescope on campus is used for ground-based tracking, training purposes, and LEO (Low Earth Orbit). It can laser 10Gigabits per second and can correct for atmosphere “twinkle.” They get a 2-minute warning for satellites that will be crossing its path so they can get it shut off, and they work with the FAA to make sure nothing they do interferes with aircraft.

FIT rooftop classroom

The Rooftop Classroom with attachments for telescopes

All the astro-sciences work closely with the meteorology and aviation meteorology departments. The strip between Melbourne and Tampa is the mostly heavily lightening-hit area in the country. “We’re a rocket school. We build rockets. We launch a rocket into a storm cloud to trigger the lightning and ‘sprites’ so we can take pictures.” They also study space weather.

Another cool thing is that they can use the International Space Station as a lab. They propose research and have it done all the time such as work on Amyloid fiber growth in weightlessness compared to the ground. They have an experimental camera that will soon be attached to the outside of the ISS and remain there for 6 months. Research here can range from the smallest fundamental particles to the large-scale galaxy.

FIT student projects

Student projects in the Engineering Department

There are 14 engineering majors including Ocean Engo. Students who are undecided can start in General Engineering and take an Intro to Engineering class where they can learn a bit about all areas, including research, job opportunities, and other things. The first year for all Engineering programs are almost identical: math, physics, a couple electives, an intro to Engineering class, etc. Kids who do well here tend to have taken Calculus in high school, “even if it’s a C, they’ve at least been exposed to it.” Being behind in math will hold up the whole process. However, they work hard to keep students on track and provide as many opportunities as possibly, including study abroad options.

FIT engo bldg

The Maker-Space building

They have a huge new “maker-space” where engineering students can work in groups on whatever project they have going. Some classes are held there, but mostly it’s open and available for students to build whatever models or projects they need. One of the interesting things they’ve done recently is making a solar-powered auto-drive luggage delivery system for the Melbourne airport.

The gender imbalance is still seen throughout most of the engineering department with only Biomed being even at 50/50; Chemical is close at about 60/40. Mechanical has the most skewed ratio with the percentage of females in the teens.

FIT marine specimins

Specimens in the Marine Bio lab

Biological Sciences are strong as evidenced in the 75-80% medical school admission rate. (students have the option of majoring in PreMedical Chemistry or Medical Biology but do not need to in order to apply to med school). Marine science, Aquaculture, and Conservation Biology are all heavy hitters and are hands-on, experiential education. “We’re interested in being great teachers and researchers.” They have sea tanks, mollusks, dark rooms, sea horses. “Think of them when you look at the ooky stuff.” They keep samples in all sorts of jars, including a Party Mix jar (the roly-poly they had on display next to a baby King Crab). They’re doing work on the Lion Fish, an invasive, dangerous species that spread during a hurricane. They want to know how they manage to adapt and thrive from NJ to the Caribbean.

FIT acad quad 1

Part of the Science Quad with a marsh in the middle

People tend to forget about the Computer Sciences here, including data mining, software engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Info Systems, mining as well as Cyber-security and Homeland Security. They’ve been named a Center for Excellence, one of only 8 in the country.

About 40% of students go onto grad school; many stay at there to do it. The Fast Track Master’s Programs allows students to get a BS and Master’s in 5 years rather than 6. Students need a 3.4 GPA at 90 credits (mid Junior Year). If accepted, they can start their graduate work by taking 6 credits in their senior year that will count for both undergrad and graduate degrees.

FIT mascot and pool

A mascot statue by the campus pool

Things students particularly like about Florida Tech are:

  • There are a ton of social activities, so there are lots of leadership opportunities. It’s a great campus for ambitious students.
  • You can get right into the major.
  • There are lots of international students.

Thing they would like to change are improve would be a football stadium, more land to grow the university, and more outdoor seating to study.

FIT dorms

Some of the dorms

Campus is not that large, but they do have trolleys that will take kids around campus. There are plenty of housing options including new dorms with suites and two off-campus buildings “which are nice, but people in traditional halls made better friendships,” said one student. Greek housing is located at “Panther Bay;” 13% of the population goes Greek. The dining hall is “great! It’s on a 6-week rotation so you won’t see the same foods for at least 6 weeks. They’ve worked with international students on getting recipes so there’s a lot of international food, too,” said one of our tour guides. The campus is largely residential, surprisingly, the population is almost evenly split with about 1/3 of the students coming from Florida, out-of-state, and international countries with 120 countries represented. Racial and religious diversity is evident as we walked around, including seeing women in hijab and a Burqa.

FIT 747 students are enrolled in the campus Army ROTC program; Florida Tech ranks 2nd highest in the country for 2nd Lieutenants upon graduation. ROTC pays for tuition and fees; RIT kicks in the R&B. Students can get a degree in Interdisciplinary Science: Military Science or Communications: Military Science if they’d like.

© 2016

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach campus (visited 2/11/16)

ERAU 3

One of the academic buildings; the telescope sits right in the middle

This campus is sleek and modern with new buildings going up. The new student center (fall 2017) will have a rooftop area to watch launches and new dorms are being built with the first students moving in the fall of 2016. Even the welcome center is impressive: it feels like an Omni theater. It’s also a walkable campus; “I can get from the furthest dorms to the academic center in about 15 minutes without rushing,” said our tour guide.

ERAU airplane sculpture 4Students here have a common passion. They don’t just wake up one day and decide to do aeronautics. The tour guide said, “I can always tell who will do well here. I watch them when airplanes take off and land. If they stop to watch, they’ll fit in. Those who don’t should probably go somewhere else.” The admissions rep said, “These are kids who sit at airports and drool or stare at the sky night after night. They want to come here because they have a passion. We want to work with them.”

ERAU airport

The airport is adjacent to campus

Students can earn 1 or all 4 flight ratings while they’re here: Private, commercial, instrumental, and multi-engine. Students need a 1st or 2nd class medical clearance before they even get to school; the reps suggest getting the 1st class if they’re thinking about commercial airlines so they already know they qualify. Flight costs are on a pay-as-you-go basis above and beyond tuition, room, and board costs. For the first and second year, it averages $23,000/yr. For the third year it drops to about $15,000. Students can become Flight Instructors in the 4th year. In terms of scholarship money, if tuition isn’t covered, scholarships won’t go towards flight costs, but if students come in with enough money above and beyond tuition costs, it can help cover flight costs.

ERAU flight check

The Pre-Flight check area

Academics are strong and employers snatch up Embry-Riddle graduates, often with higher starting salaries than those coming from other schools. A faculty member said, “My students are my reputation. When I send them out, they represent me.” Students are challenged here and can apply to the Honors Program, but can also take advantage of individual tutoring labs for a variety of subjects if needed.

ERAU flight complexThere are a range of majors within 4 colleges at ERAU:

  • Aviation:
    • Aeronautics and Aeronautical Science: ERAU is #1 in aerospace (beating out the Air Force), and have even provided the Air Force with more pilots than the AFA.
    • Air Traffic Management
    • Aviation Maintenance and Aerospace & Occupational Safety
    • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science
    • Meteorology
    • Operational Meteorology: Walmart and Home Depot have meteorologists working for them. Where do you draw the “We’re not sending snow blowers or hurricane panels” line? They understand business and weather.
  • ERAU acad bldg 3Business: This only offers 2 majors in Aviation Business and Business Administration
  • Engineering offers what they consider to be Technical Degrees. The average SAT 1390, ACT 32 (compared to 1100 SAT or 27 ACT for non-tech degrees). They would like calc and physics. However, the bare minimum is pre-calc and trig.
  • Arts & Sciences. The base of the telescope is set up in this A&S building; the building is designed to not touch the supports in case of a natural disaster or other problem with the architecture so it won’t damage the telescope.
    • Space Physics, Engineering Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics
    • Homeland Security and Global Conflict Studies
      • “The learn how to hack into computers …”
      • They offer multiple travel trips every year to places such as Israel, Bosnia, Ireland, and Germany.
    • Computational Mathematics
    • Human Factor Psychology
ERAU propulsion lab

Propulsion lab

In addition, they offer lots of minors including Terrorism Studies, Avionics Line Maintenance, Aviation Law, Flight Test and Simulation, Forensic Accounting, Occupational Safety.

ERAU oxygen lab

Normobaric “Hypoxia” lab

Students start their major curriculum immediately. Labs are amazing with resources most schools only dream about. They have labs for everything including Visualization and Interactive 3D, Cybersecurity Engineering, Experimental Rocket Propulsion, and Destructive and Non-Destructive labs. The Destruction labs have microphones that listen for stress and can stop experiments before breakage occurs. The Spatial Disorientation Lab gets pilots to trust instruments when their senses are telling them something different from the instruments. The High Altitude Normobaric Lab is called the “Hypoxia Lab”: they change the oxygen levels and have students try to perform different tasks like picking up pencils, organizing things by color, and trading things with neighbors. “Everyone becomes like a two-year old.” This is the only university with this type of lab.

ERAU simulator 2

Flight Simulator

Aviation students spend about 20 hours in a CRJ-200 Simulator for their senior capstone. There are also 8 Cesna Simulators and 2 multi-jet simulators. Most students log about 250 hours by graduation; many have more. Our tour guide had logged 350 and is going to continue on as a flight instructor to get up to his 1000 hours required by the commercial airlines. Students who come in already with their private pilot license get 6 credit hours on their transcripts.

Many students take part in ROTC, and ERAU is ranked as one of the top programs in the country. All 3 branches are available here (and Navy has a Marine option), and we saw a lot of students walking around in uniform.

ERAU 5The gender ratio at ER has gotten much better in recent year. “When I started in 2005, it was 17 guys to every female,” said an admission rep who graduated several years ago. “Now it’s about 4.5 to 1.” All females get a $5000 “Women of Excellence” scholarship. They also have all-female Baja and other competition teams. The student at our lunch table said that these are fun and challenging. When they build things, they have to accommodate all the members: “I’m 5’10” – if they pick me to strap in and then get myself out in 5 seconds, it’s a very different thing than for our team member who is 5’1”. We have to plan for that.”

ERAU 7This is a highly residential campus. First-year students must live on campus, mostly in traditional style dorms. Upperclassmen have access to suite- and apartment-style dorms. They are redoing dorms in phases; one of the new sections will be done in the spring and they’ll start moving people over so they can start the next phase. Campus activities are plentiful (the free Thursday night movies got a couple mentions). Athletics are transitioning to NCAA DII. The dining hall is good; students get a certain number of swipes per week that do not roll over, “but we can cash out our unused swipes for food at the market.”

Daytona Beach is located in tropical, coastal Central Florida providing for excellent flight conditions. They’re close to Orlando, Jacksonville, and Cape Canaveral. Not only does that provide lots of opportunities for co-ops (very big here) and other internships, it gives students lots to do.

ERAU doesn’t take the Common App – but they are test optional. Students can still get scholarships without the score, but in order to get the maximum amount, they should turn them in. They ask for at least 2 letters of recommendation but will take more. “Think of it as an interview” said the rep. “It gives us a way to get to know the student.” International Students do not need a TOEFL if they’ve spent 2 years at an English-speaking school and their grades are good. Otherwise, they need at least a 79 on the exam. Also, if they want merit-scholarships, they do need to submit the SAT or ACT. Serious cross-apps usually also apply to places like MIT, Georgia Tech, Florida Tech, and the Service Academies.

© 2016

Eckerd College

Eckerd College (visited 2/8/16)

Eckerd beach“Eckerd brings out the good in us,” said the student sitting at our table at lunch. “It taught me that I’m pretty tough. I can roll out of bed at 2:00 am and go save people off a sinking boat.”

Eckerd skateboard parking

Skateboard “Parking” can be found around campus

Eckerd sits on about a mile and a half of waterfront property; not a bad place to spend 4 years! However, the administrators are quick to point out a line from Colleges That Change Lives: “On a sunny lush plot of land on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Eckerd College might seem like the perfect spot for an easy college career, four years marked by sun, surf and sand. But if you’re looking for a vacation, you should enroll elsewhere” (http://www.eckerd.edu/about/colleges-that-change-lives). Students describe classes as “intense and rigorous.”

Eckerd hammock 2

Hammocks are all over campus

People are excited about being here and are genuinely nice. “Very few places make the homesickness worth it. This is one of them,” said our tour guide. Less than ¼ of the students come from Florida (and about 5% are international); in fact, the average distance a student travels to attend Eckerd is about 1000  miles. The best way to describe students here are “beachy,” and students will even take extensive use of the yellow bikes on campus to get from place to place … they just grab one that’s free and scoot off to wherever they need to go! If they prefer to use a skateboard, there are even places provided to “park” them inside the buildings. The overarching feel is liberal, according to several students. They’re definitely relaxed and outdoorsy, taking full advantage of their surroundings, but not at the expense of their studies.

Eckerd water center

Waterfront equipment

The Waterfront substitutes for a campus rec center, and students come here for both fun and academics. Students, faculty, and even relatives can rent tents, coolers, fishing rods, and other equipment. In addition to a multitude of organized waterfront events (Fall FunFest, Hoedown, SplashBash, and the Talent Show to name a few), they have daily 2-hour windsailing and waterskiing trips and frequent overnight trips throughout the year such as a 4-day snorkeling trip to the Keys. Classes (wind-surfing, sailing, etc) are discounted for students, and anyone can sign up assuming they’ve passed the swim test. Clubs will also go scuba diving.

Eckerd water front

Boats at the waterfront

Faculty will bring classes to the waterfront; students will go out in kayaks or boats as part of their academics. Students may paddle to islands and read or write there for an English class. Environmental or Marine Science classes use the water and coast as a lab.

EC-SAR (Eckerd College Search and Rescue) is the only college water rescue in the country. It’s entirely student run (with some staff oversight!); they train and certify students to go out. They’re on-call 24 hours a day and go on about 500 calls a year (2nd to the Coast Guard). There’s also a land-based rescue: dispatch for 911 calls to help stabilize people on campus.

Eckerd chapel 1

The campus chapel

This is a Presbyterian-affiliated school, but you’d never know it; although there’s a chapel on campus, it’s non-denominational and there are no other statues or paraphernalia to indicate a religious affiliation.There are no attendance requirements or classes dealing with religion. They have an active Hillel and a club called “Scubie Jew” in which anyone (they don’t have to be Jewish) can get Scuba Certified. “I think they may be changing the name because people thought you did have be Jewish, but it’s kind of catchy so I hope they don’t,” said a tour guide. Students can get free transportation off campus to any service they want in the area. The school also holds alternative services on the beach sometimes.

Eckerd acad quad

Part of the Academic Quad

Admissions looks to bring about 500 first year and about 50 transfer students in a year. “It’s a challenge not to grow,” said one of the admissions representatives. Admissions decisions are done holistically, but scholarships are awarded based on grades and test scores (they’ll superscore ACT and SAT). The application fee is waived if the application is submitted by November 15 – with a guaranteed answer by 12/15. International students need a 550 CR SAT, a 79 TOEFL, or a 3000 word essay.

Eckerd library int

The study room on the main floor of the library

First-year students arrive 3 weeks before upperclassmen to complete orientation and the first class. This is called Autumn Term: “It should be called Sweaty term. There’s nothing Autumn about it,” said a rep. Transfer students CAN do an Autumn term but are not required to. Class runs from 9-12, and then students participate in orientation activities in the afternoons. Of the 25 classes offered, students can choose 6 classes that they’re interested in. Completing this class is a requirement for graduation, but it does not count towards the major. Orientation helps them learn about balance and other things.

Instead of “General Education” requirements, students complete Perspectives. The largest classes for our 2 tour guides were 40 (Chem 1) and 23 (Introduction to Anthropology); smallest were 2 (Latin) and 6 (Religion). Eckerd awards AP credit for 4 or 5 on the exams. Students can come in with up to 9 classes worth of AP, IB, or Dual Enrollment.

Eckerd Sci Cntr 1

The entry to the new science building

The most popular majors are the Natural Sciences (about 1/3 of students), followed by the Social Sciences (just under 1/4 of the students), Business (about 20%), then Arts & Communications and Humanities (both just over 10%). Marine Science, Geosciences, Human Development, International Business are particularly strong. They offer a 3-2 Engineering & Applied Science program with Columbia and Wash U; “Not as many people take advantage of this as we’d like. Usually they’re here for a reason and will stay for all 4 years to take advantage of the opportunities here.” There’s also a 3-3 Pre-law program.

Eckerd music cntr

The Music building

They’re getting a new Arts center in the Spring of 2017. “You might see a building coming down today. It’s intentional … if they hit the right one,” said the Dean. The main Academic Quad is fairly small; all the buildings have classroom doors that open to the outside. There are no long halls in the buildings. They have recently built a new science center. However, much of the campus is in need of a face-lift; people are mostly willing to overlook it because of the natural beauty of campus, and students see that improvements are being done over time.

Eckerd marine sci bldg

The Marine Science building

Experiential and Service Learning components are built into the fabric of life here. Research is everywhere, and a Mellon Foundation grant allows up to 25 freshmen to start researching immediately. All freshmen have to attend career services and complete 40 hours of reflective learning by junior year. The 2 aspects of this include both course content (1 example: Becoming Visible: Sex and Gender in American Society in which students look into how people can work with diverse populations) and an individual project or alternative spring break trip. They run trips to places like Cuba (looking at faith and lifting the embargo), Panama and Quito (working in orphanages), and Kentucky (poverty in the Appalachians). They’re ranked the #12 college in the US for short-term study abroad and study away: they travel internationally, but also at Ghost Ranch, NM; the Sundance Film Festival, UT; the United Nations, NY; and Woods Hole, MA. They’ve recently partnered with the University of Havana, Cuba so students can study Marine Biology there.

Eckerd dorm 4

One of the bigger dorms on campus sits right on the water

The dorms (all of which are mixed-classes: there are no freshman-only dorms) are named after Greek letters “partially to thumb our noses at Greek Life.” 86% of students live on campus, even though they only are required to live there for the first year. They have themed living, including Gender Neutral dorms. They opened their first one last year, and it’s so popular that they now have a 2nd one.

Eckerd dorms

Another set of dorms

There’s also Pet Friendly living; the Department of Pet Life provides oversight, health and wellness checks, flea and tick medication, and vet visits twice a year. Ten buildings allow pets; dogs have to be at least a year old and owned by the student for at least 10 months; Cats have to be 6 months old and owned for 3 months. “This is to make sure that the students know the pets well and how they react to things.” Usually parking is fine, but it’s been more of a challenge this year with the construction. Kids who fly in will usually take SuperShuttle or have friends who pick them up.

 

When students get sick of campus and/or the water, there’s plenty to do off campus, and the school runs free shuttles off campus to various locations and runs buses downtown to First Friday every month.

© 2016

Flagler College

Flagler College (visited 2/12/16)

Flagler studentsOne thing that makes Flager stand out is that they’re rooted heavily in the liberal arts: there’s no engineering, no math major (yet; they have a minor), and no science departments – with the notable exception of their new Coastal Environmental Science program, now one of their biggest departments.

Coastal Environmental Science is the hardest major to get into. The difference between this and general Envi Sci is that “this is specific to the Coast. We don’t do volcanoes or tundras or mountains. Go to App State if you want the mountains. The coast is where most of the stress is; it’s where most of the population of the world lives; it’s where most of the job opportunities are. The job prospects are never going away.”

Flagler walkwayCurrently there are only 2 labs “and they’re pretty standard on purpose. The program is designed around our location. A lot of the teaching is done outside.” Students spend time in and around the water, including a nearby lighthouse where students can stay overnight. They don’t teach organic chemistry but they do aquatic and other specialized chemistry (one professor specializes in bio-geo-chemistry): “We do have students who go off to med school from here; they just need to plan ahead and do a couple summer courses somewhere else.”

Flagler 6A few other strong or unusual majors are:

“It’s not enough to have a college degree; you need to be able to show what you’ve done and talk about what you want to do with it.” All majors and minors require a capstone experience of some sort whether is research, an internship, or something else. Overall, 71% of students completed an experiential learning opportunity. Currently, some students are working on “Fish Communities and effects of plastic on the environment.” This hasn’t been done before and is going to end up in a publication for the students.

Flagler 4When asked, “Who Is a Flagler Kid?” we were told this: they look for “an academic kid who wants to be involved, wants smaller class sizes, and who appreciates where we’re located” (historic city, historic building). They do a great job with the B/middle-of-the-road kid who comes in liking 2 or 3 things and are willing to take some time to try them out. They should be somewhat self-motivated to look for internships, etc. There’s help and resources, but no one is going to force them to use them. Students should be invested in themselves.

Flagler Edison towerFlagler has no Greek Life but there are honor societies. There are about 55 student clubs including a Surf club, Deaf Awareness, creative writing, religious groups (Christian, Jewish, general religion), and political groups. Students agree that there’s a good split of politics on campus, but “people get along. There’s lots of discussion. “

Flagler male dorm

One of the male dorms

 

The average GPA hovers around a 3.5 with 1050 SAT or 23 ACT. International students need a TOEFL of 75. The exceptions to this are students applying to the Education and Coastal Envi Sci departments. Just over half of the 2,500 undergraduates come from Florida. The 40% out-of-state domestic students come from all over with the NY, NJ, MD, VA, and GA being the next most represented states. Just over 5% of the population is international from 43 foreign countries. They are actively trying to increase racial diversity on campus. They offer an additional scholarship to students “if they’re diverse in any way.”

Flagler 4

The Flagler Hotel – now a main building on campus with the dining hall and women’s dorm

The cost also makes Flagler stand out: at their current rate of $26,500 per YEAR (tuition, R&B), they run about 50% of the national cost of a liberal arts school. Most students receive financial aid, but “you aren’t going to see huge scholarships because our costs are already so much cheaper than other places.” The top merit scholarship is about $3,000.

Flagler female dorm

Hallway in the women’s dorm

There is a first-year residency requirement. Females are housed in the historic hotel originally owned by Henry Flagler. Each room is different and houses anywhere from 2-5 girls. As a trade-off, each room has its own bathroom (no shared baths in the building) and the dining hall is downstairs. Most freshmen males are housed across the street in a large building with all doors opening to the outside; most of these are suites so they share 1 bathroom between 2 rooms. Several athletes are housed closer to the athletic fields. Coed visitation is not allowed at any time; we were surprised by this since this has never been a religiously affiliated school. It’s also a dry campus, and they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs.

Flagler dining hall

The dining hall with Tiffany windows

The main campus is contained within a 2-block area with a few exceptions. The new communications building is about a block away among city buildings, and the athletic fields are a mile or so off campus. On campus, the old Flagler Hotel dominates the scene; outside is beautiful outdoor area for student to congregate, socialize, and work. There are plenty of shaded seating areas and trees with plugs everywhere so students can stay connected. The art building next door is only open to art students who have to swipe their cards to get in. The dining hall has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass. The library is very light and airy. The Edison Smoke Stack provided electricity to the hotel and campus 3 years before the White House got electricity.

Flagler comm bldg

The Communications Department tucked among houses on a side street off campus

We asked the students on the panel about their favorite classes and why they liked them:

  • Sign Language. All the teachers are deaf so it was intense was first. I took my first class here and knew nothing. We had an interpreter at first but then were on our own.
  • Political Leaders of the 20th Century: it was my professor, 1 other student, and myself. We would read what we were interested in and discussed for 45 minutes.
  • My internship with the Sheriff’s office. It’s not a classroom environment.
  • Criminal Behavior: the professor was amazing. We got to do a lot of profiling.

What do you love?

  • The First Year experience has been really important. Orientation was good; we had something every day and every night. Showing up at class a week later, I knew people.
  • The professors. You get to have the same ones several times, and they help us with internships. I can go to office hours for whatever. I had coffee the other day with one of them and just chatted.
  • I came here undecided. Taking smaller discussion-based classes were helpful. I was a good student in high school but not great. Being put into these classes helped me find what I really was interested in.
  • I thought I knew why I loved it until I took a class called Oral Histories. Now I’m interviewing alumni from the 60s and 70s about how it’s changed. I didn’t know how many alumni worked here. I love that!
Flagler plaza 3

The hotel courtyard

What would you like changed or improved?

  • Have some sort of building for a community center. I’d like to involve the town and the university. We should be working together and have events together.
  • We’re in a historical district, so it’s hard to get more parking. It’s an issue.
  • Add a science building with more labs, including a sterile lab.
  • Build a residence hall with a full kitchen. I like to cook!
  • Add a math department! Maybe it’ll also draw more males.
  • Have school shuttles to stores and other places (including airports) that are just for students.

© 2016

Rollins College

Rollins College (visited 2/9/16)

Rollins waterfrontWinter Park is a charming small-town, conveniently located on the outskirts of Orlando. It’s an attractive location because it’s a mix of small town with an accessible urban area; they can be at the beach in 45 minutes or downtown Orlando in 25. Rollins students interact with town every day, partly by choice and partly because of the community service-based learning and civic engagement that’s women into the fabric of the education. Students are connected to – and they contribute to – the community.

Rollins Chapel ceiling hand painted

Interior of the Chapel

This is a residential liberal arts campus with a clear mission. The campus is well kept-up and attractive with a couple buildings on the National Register (the non- denominational Chapel which has a hand-painted ceiling and the Theater are listed).

The President talked extensively about fit when he addressed us. They want students who are going to take advantage of the school and fit into the fabric of the college. “I felt compelled to come here because of synergy of mission and location. It’s education tuned into the 21st Century; it’s diverse and provides a skill set to be global citizens and responsible leadership.”

Rollins walkway stones 2

Walkways are lined with stones carved with people who’ve done great things “to inspire us!”

“Rollins is not a spectator sport.” There’s all the learning that happens in Dialogue (their General Eds), in relationships between faculty and students, between peers, etc. They live in this community that has been well-suited for exactly this purpose.

The curriculum has 3 main components:

  1. “Dialogues” or General Education:
    1. It’s developmental in that students move together as a cohort, completing an FCC in the first semester and then into Neighborhoods in the spring of freshman year. This is to help them make connections because of the thematically based classes. Some examples are: Physics and Superheroes; Identities: Mirrors and Windows; Writing About the Magic Kingdom; Men, Masculinity, and Movies (“We watched Fight Club and Magic Mike. What’s not to like?”
    2. Skill-building. This program ensures that they have identifiable, marketable skills
    3. 100-level classes stress written communication and information literacy. They can test out of language, writing, and math, but must do health and wellness at Rollins. The Scuba class final exam was in the Caymans
  1. Major Requirements
  2. Electives: students must complete 16 credits outside of their major and Gen Ed

Rollins courtyard 1Classes are capped at 25. Many of the tour guide’s classes (in the business program) are at the cap, but she’s also had classes of 5 (Art History).

The Accelerated Management Program allows students to graduate in 3 years. Every year 35-40 students start. The yield is not as high as they’d like; many students start then start getting interested in a lot of things and don’t want to finish in 3 years, even though they can. Some simply change their mind. For students who are motivated and know what they want, it’s a great option.

Rollins hammockThe 3+2 Engineering program offers joint degrees with Wash U, Auburn, and Columbia. Only a few do this; more do it as a 4-2. They also have a program in Forestry with Duke, but this is done less frequently than the Engineering program.

Study Abroad is part of the culture here. They offer lots of summer programs to accommodate double majors, athletes, and others who can’t or don’t want to be away for a full year or semester. “We try to be mindful that not all students can take an entire semester off and still graduate on time, so faculty will offer field-study in May, summer, and winter that will carry academic credit.” They’ll work with people to find the program they want, and students can also do Study-Away in the US. Additionally, they offer a Pre-matriculation program: students arrive 2 weeks before orientation and go to Costa Rica with a professor. They accept about 15 students; they send out info to all accepted students and can apply after they deposited.

Rollins greek housing

Some of the Greek housing on campus

There’s a perception that students at Rollins are super rich, but a larger percentage attend with scholarships and financial aid. The average aid package is $35,000 and average indebtedness at graduation is $29,500. The Alfond Scholars Program is the most competitive program, providing up to 10 full scholarships (tuition, R&B, and fees). This is funded by the Alfond Inn near campus; the family donated the funds to build it with the stipulation that all proceeds go into the scholarships. “The competition is like American Idol for Brainiacs who also have a passion for global learning and giving back.”

Rollins 2Classes are small. There’s no going to class unprepared. If you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s no hiding it. The professor calls you out – but there’s also a lot of support. “There was this one time that I just wasn’t getting stuff. Class ended at 6pm, and I literally sat on the ground with my feet out in front of my staring at the board, not getting it. The professor sat on the ground next to me and stayed until 9 to make sure I got it.”

Rollins Presidents ScooterStudents say that there’s a lot of openness in regards to political views, but it’s “very left-leaning” according to the student panel. “We’re trained to dialogue and not debate in res life. I feel that there needs to be more dialogue because that’s the way to learn.” Students generally are very happy on campus, but given the opportunity, they’d spend money on scholarships, parking, and lab space. Freshmen can’t have cars except for medical reasons, if they work, and a few other reasons. The President even takes a scooter to work!

The students love Fox Day, and the tour guide took us past the spot on campus where the fox statue gets rolled out in the middle of the night; when it’s placed out, it’s a day off of classes. “There’s even a camera you can see online so you don’t even have to get out of bed! You can just go back to sleep.”

© 2016

Lynn University

Lynn University (visited 2/6/16)

Lynn 1I had heard limited things about Lynn before visiting: the impression I had was that it served students with learning issues and students who maybe hadn’t quite come into their own academically yet. I was wrong.

Lynn is changing drastically, most obviously in that that enrollment has gone up 52% in the last few years, growing intentionally and strategically: “we’re growing but going to stay small.” Undergraduate population is about 2000; the most recent incoming class has about 700 students. Almost ¼ of the students are international, ranking them the 5th highest in the US for international enrollment.

Lynn hammockOne of the most remarkable things is Lynn’s partnership with Apple: all students get an iPad, acting as an iPad Pro trial market. Apple selected Lynn as a 2016 Distinguished School for Innovation, Leadership, and Education Excellence. A dean said, “They can say that about less than two handfuls of schools.” They are always looking for ways to improve the students’ educational experience; the tie with technology is a major way to do this. Faculty create their own textbooks which are then loaded onto the iPads. Students use iTunes U instead of Blackbaud. Because of these and other innovations, Lynn has been named in College (Un)Bound, among the 25 “Most Innovated Schools,” top 5 “Most International Schools,” and in the top 100 “Best Online Bachelor’s” among the best national universities by HS guidance counselors.

Lynn quadAnother difference at Lynn is that their math proficiency class is focused on life skills, not College Algebra or another of the traditional math classes. “We don’t have a single kid ever saying ‘When are we going to use this?’” They teach them things like how to balance a checking accounts, how to read a lease, how loans work (interest, how to apply, etc), how credit and credit cards and FICA scores work, etc. “It’s amazing what they don’t know …” said one of the professors.

Lynn patioLynn calls their Core Curriculum “Dialogues.” One of the students said, “They help prepare us for others classes, especially in terms of presentations.” A professor said,“There are certain things that students just need to be able to do in college. These can’t be optional.” For students who are struggling, Lynn employs 42 content-specialist tutors with at least a Masters.

Lynn comm room 2

One of the Communications Studios

“Five adjectives to describe our school are agile, student-centric, forward-looking, dedicated, well-placed.” Students are remarkably well-prepared here and are given multiple opportunities to get real-life experience. The Counselor visit day was put together by a 2nd semester sophomore in the Event Management program (they also have Hospitality Management). He organized everything from the schedule to the food service. In the Aviation Management program, students go into airport management, etc. Students can earn certificates to be an Airline Transport Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Instrument Pilot Rating, Private Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor, Recurrent Flight Training, and Professional Commercial Pilot (all piloting lessons incur an extra charge and are done at the Boca airport). The Communications Department has new, state-of-the-art facilities providing a lot of practice for the students before they even start an internship.

Lynn labrynthLynn has a 3+3 articulation agreement with the St. Thomas University School of Law, as well as a general 3-year accelerated degree program called “3.0” which almost 1/3 of the student body is enrolled in (Education and Music majors can’t take advantage of this program). Students can take extra classes, including over the summer, all paid for by the colleges. Usually students will take 2 classes in J-term, not 1.

J-term classes got rave reviews. Students have to complete a class for the first 3 years; the last is optional. The first year has a community service focus; the 2nd year is a language and cultural focus; the 3rd deals with career paths. Classes during this term can be held on campus or in places like Las Vegas, the Dominican Republic, and even at the X Games.

Lynn pond and medication cntr 3

The Sanctuary sits on the far bank of the pond with a heron looking on

We asked the student panelists what their favorite classes were:

  • Aviation Class: “The professors are great!”
  • Personal Finance: “This class was heaven sent. It taught us real life stuff!”
  • Intro to Criminal Justice. “It was awesome! It was taught by an ex-lawyer from Los Angeles so we learned real-world stuff.”
  • Ethical Decision Making: “The professor was from Japan and so cool! We had great discussions.”
  • Media Literacy: “It’s really essential because we deal with it all the time now.”
Lynn dorm 2

One of the dorms

 

Currently there are not enough dorms to house all the students, so juniors and seniors basically have to move off campus. However, a new apartment-style dorm should be open shortly. The existing student center is “not very engaging. People don’t want to hang out there.” However, they just got the largest gift in university history to build a new student center and that will be up and running soon, as well. There will be a pub in the new student center, as well as more dining options. The main dining hall now keeps one station open all day. The sanctuary building is always available. Students come in to meditate, study, or do group memorials or meetings.

Lynn dorm

a dorm quad

Clubs and organizations give students experience with a variety of things in additional to building a robust on-campus social life. The Knights of the Round Table have live news broadcasts to get news out to campus. They have their own news app for phones edited by students. Greek life is only a tiny portion of the social scene here with 3 frats and 2 sororities; “not many kids are involved in this,” said our tour guide. Shuttles run to the beach, the mall, and stores. Parking can be a hassle, as can laundry. Soccer is a big deal; Barry is the big rival.

Founders Day is a big tradition. “It’s a food truck invasion, and the food is free! There’s a big carnival. It’s a lot of fun.” Another tradition is National Days when countries of all international students are represented in festivals, food, and even in a mini-World Cup.

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