campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Georgia”

Agnes Scott College

AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE (visited 3/6/13)

P1010222I was excited about visiting Agnes Scott because my cousin graduated from here. AS did not disappoint. The college sits on a beautiful campus with lots of brick and open green space, about ten minutes away from downtown on the MARTA. It’s so nice, in fact, that 30 movies have been filmed on campus, including The Blind Side.

Agnes Scott is a school for go-getters. They’re looking for women who will get engaged on campus, both in and out of the classroom. Our tour guide told us that a Morehouse student once told her that Agnes Scott women have the reputation for “being smart and playing hard.” From what I saw, this held true.



Academics are amazing here. Students get involved from the very beginning, and what students end up doing – both as undergrads at AS and as graduates after they leave – is incredible. The astrophysics professor recently got a grant from the NSA and put six students, including two first year students, on the project. Agnes Scott ranks in the top 6% of PhD earners since the 1920s. The Economics Department is 2nd in the country for producing PhDs. Last year, TWO students were awarded Goldwaters – Georgia Tech only had 1! Students are getting high-profile internships such as with the CDC and big governmental agencies as well as major corporations. Students can enroll in joint MPA and MBA classes as undergrads, or enroll in a Dual Degree (3-2) program for Computer Science (with Emory), Engineering (with Ga Tech) or Nursing (with Emory). Additionally, the ARCHE (Atlanta Region Consortium of Higher Education) program is open to the students so they can cross-register at Emory, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Spelman, Morehouse, and many others. Shuttles run every 10 minutes.




Students seem really happy here. We talked to several on the student panel and more during lunch, but beyond that, the campus was humming with activity. The students were outside, even though it wasn’t the nicest of days, and they were interacting with each other. I didn’t see too many people using iPods between classes; instead, they were talking to each other. It felt comfortable on campus. I asked the tour guide if she knew people who transferred out of AS; she said there were a couple people during the first year that she knew. People who leave, she said, tend to get here and decide it’s either too small or that a women’s college isn’t for them. However, with all the resources in Atlanta, even those issues don’t seem like a big deal. The students tend to socialize with students from other campuses, particularly Georgia Tech. The tour guide said that people assume that they would go to Emory more because it’s right around the corner, but they go there less so than some other campuses.

AS 1P1010221Princeton Review has ranked AS #8 in the country for Quality of Life. Ninety-two percent of students live on campus, helping to create a great community feel (and they have no Greek Life – students say that they have enough community without it). The school has a ton of traditions such as Pancake Jam (professors make pancakes at midnight during finals week), HubSing (students and alum get together in the Hub to sing school songs), being able to ring the bell in the bell tower as a senior when they get a job or grad school offer, or being thrown into the pond for engagements. The biggest thing, though, is the Sophomore Ring. In the fall of sophomore year, the students are given rings with a black stone and the seal, and they can get it engraved with their year and degree. Apparently they wear it “facing them” while they’re a student, and at graduation, they turn it around to “Face the world.”


Dining Hall

A couple things that students really seem to like about campus are that the gym facilities are improving (they just built a new facility) and that finals are self-scheduled. The students work on the honor system, so they can take the finals in any order they want, wherever they want, and at any time during finals week. The food also ranks highly here. We got to eat lunch in the dining hall on the most popular meal-day of the week: fried chicken and mac&cheese. People from the community also come to eat there, so there were middle school students, business people, and others in the dining hall. Our tour guide said that students rush over after class because the line can get long – and she wasn’t exaggerating! The only thing that the tour guide said that she would like to improve on campus was the strength of the wi-fi in some areas. She lives in an older building on one of the floors above the admissions department, and she said that the signal strength up there isn’t great.

(c) 2013

Oxford College of Emory University

OXFORD COLLEGE/Emory University (visited 3/5/13) 

One of the students I talked to summed up Oxford this way: “Oxford is better than I expected. It’s harder, but it’s also more fun.”

Oxford Emory quad3Oxford Emory library windowThis is the historic home campus of Emory University. Oxford operates as a traditional liberal arts college, with the unique distinction that students can only complete their freshman and sophomore years here. Students then become “continuees” at Emory, not transfer students since they’re already considered full Emory University students from day one. When students apply to Emory/Oxford, they do so using the Common App (they’re CA exclusive), and may apply to one or both campuses with the same application. The same admissions staff reads all applications, and students may be admitted to one or both. If students apply only to Emory College and are waitlisted, those students, under rare conditions, might be offered the chance to be considered for a spot at Oxford.

Oxford Emory signOxford Emory 1The admissions people are looking for go-getters for this campus since the students only have two years at Oxford before they move on. They want kids who will be able to jump right in and take on leadership roles because the sophomores ARE the leaders – the RAs, the presidents of clubs, etc. It’s a fully residential campus since there are so few students (about 900 total) which also helps students get involved. There’s a lot to do on campus, and there’s new construction going on, as well. There are shuttles several times a day to the Emory campus, but not every student wants to take advantage of those. It is about 40 minutes away, so it’s more common for students to go on the weekends for activities than to cross-register for a class (which can be done, but is rare, particularly since there’s not usually a reason to do so for the first couple years). The town of Oxford is small and cute (My Cousin Vinnie was filmed in the Town Square) but most of the fun is found on campus or in Atlanta.

Oxford Emory quadOxford Emory quad2Someone asked the students how they can thrive in both places since they’re such different schools? The faculty and the students gave a lot of good answers to that. First, the students say that they’re at different points in life two years later; when they’re starting college, a small environment might be the best choice. As Juniors, they’re ready for a change and a bigger place. Additionally, this is a good option if students want their introductory classes to be smaller than what they would get at Emory College. The largest class on campus is 32 students (16 in a writing class) so this is a good place for students who learn better in this type of environment. One of the faculty members said that the classes at Oxford are also very different types than what they’d get at Emory, again largely due to the size of the classes. The students are taught different ways of knowing things in different disciplines. It’s not about spouting back ideas. Here, they’re already thinking like a ____ (biologist, historian, whatever) in the first semester. The faculty is involved and invested in teaching; teachers pay attention and engage the students. There’s also an early warning system. Faculty can submit names of students who are struggling to the Academic Services office which will then step in. The teachers know if kids aren’t in class, aren’t participating, etc.

(c) 2013

Emory College of Emory University

EMORY COLLEGE of Emory University



On our way to the Emory University campus, we drove through the huge medical complex with its multiple hospitals, labs, and other facilities that line one side of campus. Somehow, it’s not surprising that a school with such a massive medical school and multiple teaching hospitals would have a skeleton (named “Dooley”) as the unofficial mascot!

~Emory walkwayThe initial impression of Emory that we got from all the medical buildings was very different than we might have gotten otherwise if we had approached from a different direction. The med complex and the actual university campus are both impressive in their own ways. The medical buildings, appropriately, look sterile, clinical, and business-like. They’re clearly well-funded and growing (construction was happening in several spots). The university, itself, is housed on a beautiful, well-maintained campus with a lot of green space. Students were out in swarms, clearly enjoying their surroundings. There was a lot of interaction between people and students seemed to really enjoy being there.

~Emory quad~Emory statue and studentEmory University began in Oxford, GA in 1836 and stayed there for 80 years. That campus still operates as Oxford College of Emory University (see separate write-up for that). In 1914, a thousand acres were donated because the benefactor wanted Atlanta itself to have more educational opportunities. Today, Emory University has nine divisions – Emory College and Oxford College are the two solely undergraduate divisions; the Business and Nursing schools have both undergrad and graduate students. Students cannot start in the Business or Nursing schools until they’re juniors and have to apply to get in. They accept about 80% into the business program and about 90% into nursing.

~Emory plaza2The Emory College campus has 5500 undergraduates. About 20% of the annual 15,000 applications come from Georgia; they admit approximately 25% of the total applicant pool. Forty-eight percent of their current freshmen class came in through ED (2000 applied ED). For EDI, they’ll accept, deny, or defer into RD; for EDII, they’ll accept, waitlist, or deny.

~Emory bikesThey look for those who will thrive on campus: students who are “self-propelled, noticed by teachers, and active on campus” as one admissions counselor put it. Emory itself offers more opportunities than students know what to do with in terms of clubs, internships, and more, but that doesn’t stop students from trying to do everything. The student panelists said that typical students often take on too much. One junior said: “People go full-throttle and burn out. I feel like a crusty old man.” Despite being overinvolved, 94% of Emory students graduate in four years. Also, about 2/3 of the students opt to live on campus all four years, despite being able to move off after sophomore year, because it makes it easier to be involved and take advantage of all the extra-curricular activities. The students really appreciate that Emory gets such big-name speakers on campus such as Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and Salman Rushdie. Jimmy Carter also gives a Town Hall Meeting for every freshman class.

~Emory theater entrance

The original theater entrance which now opens into the Student Center

The kids love their classes and the professors. Less than 10% of classes are taught by TAs, so the students have access to professors on a regular basis. The two students I spoke to said that their smallest classes were 6 and 11 students; the largest classes had 56 and 82 students. There are lots of research opportunities on campus. Emory also has a 3-2 degree with Ga Tech, and there are shuttles that run regularly between the campuses to make it easy for the students. Emory is also part of ARCHE (Atlanta Region Consortium of Higher Education) which allows them to cross-register for classes at places like Agnes Scott, Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, Oglethorpe, Kennesaw State, Georgia Tech, etc.

~Emory plazaThe college is continually building and remodeling, but they try not to wreck the feeling of the campus. The dining hall, for example, is new. As they expanded one of their older buildings to add the dining hall, the students didn’t want the exterior of the building to be demolished, so now one interior wall of the dining hall is the former exterior wall. The older building now houses theater space, so the students come through the dining hall to get into the theater, which is pretty cool.

(c) 2012

Oglethorpe University


Oglethorpe theater


One of the best things I learned about Oglethorpe is its collaboration with Georgia Shakespeare festival. This company is located on campus so students have access to all of the benefits from participating in the production to seeing the end product. Because they have this fabulous resource, Oglethorpe offers a Shakespeare and Renaissance Minor which is interdisciplinary and allows students to work on multiple aspects of the productions. Each year, they give two Georgia Shakespeare scholarships which are awarded for Academics and Acting; recipients also get an internship with the Georgia Shakespeare Festival and a trip to Oxford. In addition to the Shakespeare scholarships, they also give three Civil Engagement Scholarships which pay full tuition and provide a stipend for an internship with a non-profit, and Oglethorpe considers all Early Action applicants for a full tuition scholarship.

Oglethorpe dorms


Approximately 2/3 of the 1,000ish undergrads live on campus. This may go up since they’re building new suite-style dorms for upperclassmen. Additionally, the college is looking to increase the undergrad population to about 1,200 students. On the edge of campus, just beyond where the new dorms are located, are some Greek Houses. Although 25% of the campus is involved in Greek life, not many people live there (each of the seven houses holds fewer than 20 students), but that is an additional housing option. Dorms get generally good reviews, but the general consensus of the students on the panel is that the food is just bad! They were almost unanimous with this answer when asked what they would like to change about campus. It’s repetitive and not cooked particularly well.

Oglethorpe main

Iconic main building

They have several things that they like about the school. First, faculty members are highly regarded. The students like the academic options and feel challenged in their classes. However, the Core got mixed reviews. It’s writing intensive, interdisciplinary, and has a “four-year arc with a holistic theme” which involves interesting things. They generally like that they can take classes from professors they wouldn’t have taken classes from in their majors, but the classes don’t transfer in or out of the college, so that can make it difficult. Second, they love the location. They feel like they have the best of all possible worlds. The campus is beautiful with lots of green space and buildings made of gray stone. It’s located in a residential area of Atlanta, but there’s still a lot to do immediately around campus, and downtown is easily accessible. Although all students are allowed to keep cars on campus for $50 a year, they’re not necessary. The MARTA stop is less than a mile from campus. They can get an unlimited monthly pass for $68 or pay $2.50/ride. They can get a free shuttle from campus to the MARTA station between the hours of 10pm to 6am. Additionally, there’s a bus stop on campus. The opportunities are “mighty because of the partnerships in ‘A Lab’” (Atlanta Laboratory for learning). As part of the ARCHE (Atlanta Regional Consortium of Higher Education), students can cross-register at many other schools, and Oglethorpe has a formal 3-2 engineering program with Mercer and Ga Tech, so the students have extensive educational options.

Oglethorpe tree and chairsThe students on the panel described the student body as “kind and fluid. You’ll see all the stereotypes here.” Students are very accepting of each other. “Be as weird or as normal as you want.” There aren’t any typical students, but those who don’t stay at Oglethorpe are the ones who aren’t involved. Students are active, vocal, and work hard.” There is a lot to do on campus. A third of the students participate on one or more of the 16 athletic teams. A group of students are involved in building 300 square foot homes for Atlanta’s homeless population – the panelists said that this is just one of many ways that they put the “Make a life, Make a living, Make a difference” motto into action. Clubs are abundant and well-funded. 100% of the student activity fee goes directly into Student Activities. There are a lot of traditions that help form community among the students. Two of the favorite traditions are Boar’s Head and Zombie Week. The Boar’s Head Celebration (inspired by the College Seal) happens before winter break. The faculty, dressed in regalia, carry in a stuffed boar’s head. They have a big dinner, bands play, etc. Zombie Week happens before Halloween. There are lots of activities, and there’s a campus-wide game of Assassin.

Oglethorpe signAt the end of our visit, Oglethorpe held a reception for us in the museum on the third floor of main building. The space is beautiful, and they have a curator who runs it. The President of the college came to speak with the group, and he made a point to have conversations with us in smaller groups throughout the night. He’s personable, invested in expanding the social-justice opportunities for the students, and is outspoken on points of social justice. I’m impressed that he’s so willing to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak – he was asked about his stance on gun control and whether he got backlash on being outspoken. He said that if we, as educators, are asking students to go out and change the world, to put words into action, then we can’t NOT be examples of that. We can’t ask them to do what we’re not willing to do ourselves.

(c) 2013

Spelman College

SPELMAN COLLEGE (visited 3/4/13)

Spelman sculpture 2Spelman looks like a typical small liberal arts school with lots of brick and open spaces with 25 buildings on 42 acres. I was surprised that this is a gated campus. Access to campus is restricted after about 11 pm, and students have to show ID to get onto campus at that point. Men must also be off campus by midnight.

Spelman oval


Ninety-two percent of Spelman’s 2100 students are of African descent but come from all over the world. The top five U.S. states represented are GA, NY, CA, MD, and IL. The tour guide said that 30 students is a “huge class.” Spelman boasts a 92% freshman-to-sophomore year retention rate and an 82% graduation rate – the highest of the HBCUs.

Spelman acad bldgThey are part of the largest HBCU consortium in the US. Morehouse is right across the street, Clark Atlanta is also “next door,” and they’re connected to the Interdenominational Theological Center and Morehouse School of Medicine. Although there are more than 100 clubs on campus, they can and do join clubs on the other campuses. Additionally, Spelman is part of the ARCHE program (Atlanta Regional Consortium of Higher Education) which includes all these schools, plus Oglethorpe, Emory, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, and more. Finally, they also have a “domestic exchange” with NYU, Grinnell, and Duke among others. Although first year students cannot have cars on campus, that doesn’t stop them from getting around to other campuses or into Atlanta itself. Public transportation is very easy to use.

Spelman chapel

Spelman oval 2US News has ranked Spelman #1 for sending women of color to med school, #1 of the schools of their size for graduates joining Teach for America, and top 20 for Best Buys. They have 27 majors, 10 pre-professional programs, and 6 minors (Anthropology, management and organization, Dance, Japanese, Child Development, and Film & Visual Culture). The Pre-professional programs add 10 or 11 classes to the student’s program of study to prep for graduate programs. They also offer a 3-2 engineering dual-degree program with GaTech.

Spelman 2Spelman 1Spelman is big on tradition and history. The students on the panel talked over and over about the feelings of sisterhood (this word was used A LOT) on campus. Students aren’t allowed to leave campus during orientation which raised a few eyebrows when the students first told us, but none of the women seemed to think that was a real restriction. They talked about how much of a community it created and how many friends they made during that time. Community is also built because all first and second year students live on campus; 1500 out of 2100 total live on campus. There is a lot of good-hearted competitions between dorms, and all the students say that their dorm is, of course, the best! Only about 10% of students join Greek Life; the students on the panel said that there wasn’t much need because they got the same community and sisterhood feeling just on campus and from the dorms. If they decide to join, they can rush after earning 30 credits. The panelists said that other favorite things about the college were the little things like getting a ‘good morning’ from others on campus, even if they didn’t know the person; a feeling that they’re all in this together; and that faculty have open door policies. With a 12:1 student to teacher ratio, they feel like they have good access to the professors. There is very little they said they wanted to change; one thing mentioned was that they’d like to change the communication through the departments.

Spelman dormThe administration is deliberate about goals they have for the institution, and even use the acronym of GOALS to list what they’re working on and they type of experience they want every Spelman woman to have: Global Involvement, Opportunities (Internships, etc), Alumni/student connections, Leadership Development, Service Learning. They are phasing out their DIII athletics in favor of intramurals and a wellness program. They were spending a lot of money on very few athletes, and this allows them to spread the money more evenly to be used by more students.

(c) 2013

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