campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Oregon”

Reed College

REED COLLEGE (visited 7/19/13)

A piece of playground equipment near the student union

A piece of playground equipment near the student union

Reed students are often described as “quirky intellectuals.” Having visited campus, I see why. The students are “serious about academics but who don’t take themselves too seriously,” says Melinda Brown, Associate Dean of Admissions (a Reed alumna from Colorado). People care about their work, are zany, and are not bound by social constraints. They’re interested in building a playful space on campus (such as by turning couches into see-saws), and they form clubs like CAVE (Carnivorous Alternatives to Vegetarian Eating). However, I was turned off the students’ pretentiousness, as were several other counselors. They’re definitely smart and quirky, both of which are great; however, everything seemed to be about showing off just how smart and quirky they were. Intellectualism is highly valued, and they don’t want to let people forget it. One of the tour guides, when we asked what he would like to change about Reed said, “Sometimes the student body is a little jaded and act too experienced in order to fit in; usually this is the freshmen but they get over it.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like a lot of them have gotten over it.

A Graffiti Board about the Honor Code.

A Graffiti Board about the Honor Code.

Within the CTCL schools, Reed is the most selective and is considered one of the most academically elite. It’s a good school for smart but bored students who are emotionally invested in their work. Professors don’t let students coast just because they got in. “We’re a teaching institution that takes students where they are and ratchets them up to where they can’t get on their own.” They’re proud of their “very low grade inflation resulting in an average GPA around a 3.0.” Students get assignments back with extensive written feedback about how to improve, and grades are rarely (if ever) written on the papers themselves. They can find out grades online, but a student said, “If you put in the work, you don’t have to keep checking your grades.” Students are required to attend 30-minute one-on-one feedback sessions about their writing during their First Year Seminar. One panelist told us that he once said to the professor, “I feel like I’ve been hit over the head with a pipe” and the professor said, “Good, then you’re doing it right.”

The students feel that this system minimizes the “How did you do?” question; students rather say “How did you answer that question?” Enrique, a Junior history major, came here because he was impressed that people at Reed were interested in knowing what others THINK. “It’s what you think about and talk about that defines the student body. They aren’t so worried about how they look or how they dress. People will challenge how you think here. People will talk about the big issues and listen to opinions.” Students are happy here; 90-91% return for sophomore year. Enrique told us that Reed does not have the druggy culture of rumor.

Reed sculptureNot surprisingly, students love the academics here. Two of the tour guides’ favorite classes were Maritime in US History and Colonial Latin American Intellectual History. All students complete a final senior thesis (two if they double major; if they only want to complete one thesis, they create one interdisciplinary major). Every department gives students a qualifying exam taken in the Junior year to make sure they have the background knowledge. Some areas will let students qualify with conditions (such as taking an additional class in a weak area). Other areas (like History) have a year-long course to teach them what they need for the thesis, plus an exam. In the biology department, more than half of the students completed research before their senior year.

This is an undergraduate campus (although they do have a tiny graduate program of about 10 people) so there are no graduate students teaching or engaged in research. The current freshmen class is split almost evenly between men and women. About a third self-identify as students of color and 14% are first-gen students. The 1400 students are almost equally split into science, humanities and arts, and social science majors. Approximately a quarter of students go into business and industry, and almost another quarter go into education. Twenty-five percent also go on to get PhDs, putting Reed as 4th in the nation for graduates getting their doctorates.

Although Reed does not give merit aid, need-based aid is strong. “When I came here, I felt like I had gone to heaven because the Financial Aid Program here is robust,” said Leslie Limper, Director of Financial Aid. Reed requires the CSS Profile, and non-custodial parents must fill it out, but there’s a waiver when the non-custodial parent is not in contact. They do expect students to work; $1500 of work-study is put onto their financial aid package. There’s also a loan expectation with $2500 for the first year, increasing by $1000 each year ($16,000 total). They are need-aware in admissions, “We need to be responsible so we can be here in 150 years. We also don’t want to gap students; we want to meet the need of those people we admit.”

The pedestrian bridge connecting the two sizes of campus.

The pedestrian bridge connecting the two sizes of campus.

The campus is split by a lake. The older side of campus houses all the academic buildings and several dorms. The stone and brick buildings shown in Reed’s recruiting pictures are on this side, but there are new buildings, as well. The Theater Building opened in August 2013 and is the second largest building on campus after the library. The atrium is open to humans and dogs (dogs are everywhere on campus!). There are practice rooms that anyone can use (the Gay Man’s Chorus of Portland practices on campus) and there’s an Open Mic every Friday at 4 in the courtyard. Old Dorm Block is the biggest residence hall on campus and is one of the older buildings. “Mid Century Dorm,” a small dorm near the front of campus, has a Mad Scientist Floor and J-Dorm (Japanese Living community).

The residential side of campus.

The residential side of campus.

A long bridge stretches over a lake which takes students to the Residential Side of campus which feels very different. Instead of large brick and stone buildings, many were smaller, wooden, and/or had an institutional dorm feel about them. Many of the freshmen are housed here. Roommates are randomly matched; the only personality question asked is “what type of music do you listen to?” There are several themed living areas such as Fantasy or Art Appreciation. The Language Houses have native speakers here on a Fulbright. Starting in sophomore year, students can live in apartments and can have dogs.

Old Dorm.

Old Dorm.

Ren Fest is the biggest event on campus. Campus is closed to the public during this 3 day festival, held between the end of classes and reading week. It starts with a huge bonfire where seniors burn their notes/drafts of their thesis and run screaming in the library (the only time they can make noise in there). Over the weekend, there are a variety of activities such as Full-Contact Chess games (they wrestle the person in the mud), a formal dance, concerts, and more. Other big campus-wide events include a week-long Arts Week and Fire on the Quad (“everyone leaves covered in wing sauce”). There plenty of weekly activities (one of the most unusual is the massages in the library) but there is no Greek Life or Varsity sports. Students are active at the club and intramural levels in sports like rugby, women’s crew, and ultimate Frisbee. Students need to take 6 quarter-long classes of some activity which can be fulfilled with classes like back-country navigation, winter camping, Latin dancing, contemplative meditation, or juggling.

© 2013

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Linfield College

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

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

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

Linfield library

Linfield library

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

Linfield Wine Experience

Linfield Wine Experience

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

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

Observatory

Observatory

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

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

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

lounge in an upperclassman suite

lounge in an upperclassman suite

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

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

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

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

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

© 2013

Willamette University

Willamette University (visited 7/18/13)

Willamette fountainIn case you’re wondering how to pronounce the name of the school, the phrase to remember is “Willamette, dammit!” I had high expectations for Willamette; several years ago, three of our students matriculated and loved it. There’s a lot to be said for the school, but it just didn’t stand out for me as much as I thought it might, but I think that’s because my expectations were extremely high. It is a strong liberal arts school, and clearly the kids love it.

Willamette courthouse

The Capital Building as seen from the campus.

Three students talked to us at lunch which was a good way for us to get a variety of perspectives in a short period of time. Kelly, a rising senior from the Bay area, was majoring in American racial studies and is thinking about becoming a professor. Christina is an anthropology major who works as a tutor at a Native American High School. She wants to go to grad school. Liz is a Politics and Gender Studies major. She came here because the Politics program is stronger than in other places. She’s involved in Greek Life and Pan-Hellenic, started the women’s rugby team, and interned with the governor. The state capitol is literally across the street (the university sold the government the land) and the Capitol is used as a classroom. Out of 1850 undergraduates, 350 had an internship/took a class/did something with the state government last year. Other signature programs are the Center for Asian Studies and the Center for Democracy and Public Policy.

Willamette 1The students raved about the personalized educational interactions between teachers and students. The students’ class sizes range from 6 (politics), 7 (seminar), and 8 (French) to 30 (Intro to Psych and Econ/Stats) and 28 (astronomy). Their favorite classes have included a Native American class, Feminist Politics, and Social and Environmental Justice. Writing is a major component of all the classes. In the Freshmen Seminar, students have to use the writing center. All seniors do original research (although not all of it ends up as a thesis; they can do scientific research and posters presentations as well). Approximately 12 students a year can get a Liberal Arts Research Collaboration grant to help with their projects. All students start their senior project with the equivalent of a grant proposal that they complete in their junior year. “The first draft is brutal – it’s the hardest paper they write.” During the senior year, they work on their research all year and have to do oral presentations at the end of the year (and yes, parents are invited!).

Willamette Sci Cntr

Willamette Science Center

During our tour through the science building, Professor Williamson, a chemistry professor, came out of his lab to talk to us. There are eight professors in the chem department, and all teach an intro section. They graduate 21-25 students a year from the Chem department. The science faculty as a whole tend stick around; there’s very little turnover because of the community and because they can do real teaching and research with the students. The physics department offers a 3-2 physics/engineering program with Columbia. The school owns a 300 acre farm and forest used as a lab and classroom for interdisciplinary science studies. They hold a yearly bake-off at which everything has to come from the farm itself.

Willamette millstream 2

The millstream

We asked Michael DeSita, the Dean of Academics (who had been there for a total of three weeks when we spoke to him), “What’s different about this place?” He said he asked the same thing when he was deciding to come here. As an example, he said that on Preview Day, a group of seniors run around naked. People actually go out and applaud. Students say that one of the traditions that make Willamette unique is that students get “Millstreamed” (thrown into the stream) on their birthday. Academically, the university has a partnership with Tokyo International University which built Kaneko Commons on campus. 150 Japanese students come in every year from TIU for a study abroad experience (and 60% of WU students study abroad across the world). Sushi Tuesday in their dining commons is highly popular!

Willamette Japanese garden

The Japanese garden.

Music programs are strong on campus; one-third of students participate in some sort of music group so this is a great place for those who want a strong music program within a Liberal Arts Framework.There are several a capella groups, and the Portland Chamber orchestra includes both professors and students. There’s a professional sound-recording studio on campus.

Willamette millstreamWillamette is loosely Methodist but without any religious requirement (or paraphernalia around campus). All groups of students feel comfortable and welcome on campus, according to the tour guides. There’s a lot to do on campus, and since most students live on campus for the first two years, students really form a community. Although housing is guaranteed, seniors generally get apartments off campus but they’re still close to campus and active in events. Retention hovers around 90% which speaks well for their programs. There’s a lot to do on campus including DIII sports (in the Pacific Northwest Conference) and club athletics with good student/fan turnout for the games.

© 2013

Oregon Institute of Technology

OREGON INSTITUTE OF TECH (visited 7/17/13)

OT fountain“We’re not semi-remote. We’re remote,” said one of the admissions reps. To bring the outside world here, they bring in speakers, offer a lot of intercollegiate athletics (they’re part of NAIA – and the current Miss Oregon is a volleyball player at OIT), have over 80 on-campus clubs and student groups (Monsters Bash and the campus-wide glow-in-the-dark capture-the-flag games are a couple of the favorite campus events), and they utilize the town (the theater is well-used) and the natural beauty around campus (they’re only an hour from Crater Lake National Park). The outdoors program is vibrant; trips are offered every weekend, and students enjoy getting outside. The 300 days of sunshine a year with hot summers and cold winters lets students enjoy a variety of activities. However, the location also allows students to concentrate on studies – and for the days when they see snow, the school has provided geothermally heated sidewalks to help students get to class safely and quickly.OT flowers

OT bldg and hillsideThe students here are “focused, they get a lot done, and they have fun.”OIT, the only Polytechnic University in the Pacific Northwest, gives students the training they need to go right to work after graduation. They get the theory for the application proposed, but then they apply it. One of the professors said that students “survive the lecture and learn in the lab.” “Embrace failure: do it, learn from it, get better. Expect to fail and expect to learn.”

OT Medical Imaging

Medical Imaging building

One of the areas that they showed off to us when we toured campus was the Medical Imaging program. The can focus on a variety of specialties including vascular, ultrasound, nuclear-medical tech, ecocardiology, and radiology. Each of these areas will limit their numbers of admitted students because they don’t want to saturate the market and because they’re dedicated to getting the kids through the process, so realistically, students need a 3.3 to be competitive for entrance. OIT has an articulation agreement with many community colleges and 4-year schools in OR, CA, and WA which allows students can complete the Intro to Medical Imaging program (basically freshman year) at any of these places before entering OIT to do the last 3 years. The senior year is spent off campus at a full year externship. It can be anywhere in the US; students are placed by lottery. They can submit their names in to be placed at their preferred location and names are essentially drawn out of a hat. All students take the National Boards at the end resulting in about a 95% pass rate. Radiology has a 100% pass rate over 5 years. Students can sit for 2 National Registry exams.

OT traffic

In the Traffic Lab

Concrete canoe

Concrete canoe

The second area they showed to us was their Civil Engineering program. This department is comprehensive with lab space dedicated to geotech, traffic, pavement, mechanics, hydraulics, traffic, and more. I had never thought of traffic as falling under the umbrella of Civil Engineering, but of course that makes a lot of sense. The traffic lab that they took us into allows students to study traffic patterns, roads, traffic lights, light rail, and pedestrians. They can see models of the flow of traffic under all sorts of variables. All Engineering students complete a Freshmen Project Experience which gives them hands on work so they know where they’re headed. Engineering at OIT focuses on the practical rather than the theoretical. If a student wants the theoretical, they should look to a place like MIT rather than OIT. Applying the known is seen through the smaller lectures and intensive labs where the lecture professors are also the lab teachers. Students compete every year in both a Steel Bridge and a Concrete Canoe building/racing competition. The Civil Engineering program is in the process of starting a 5 year Masters program because, realistically, the students need the extra training to be nationally certified. Currently, the department is 15-20% female. The school as a whole is closer to 50-50 because of some other departments like dental hygiene which is more heavily female.

OT student center

Student Center

The high-tech industries come back again and again to hire OIT graduates because the students are ready to work from day one. The university has Industry Advisory Groups for almost every major which constantly assess what employers and grad schools want. Because of this, students often get job offers before they’ve even graduated, and they’re ranked 58th in the nation for starting salaries. The rigor also gets them into some of the best grad programs.

As long as applicants have the minimum GPA and the required high school coursework, they’re admissible to the university, but each department may set their own requirements since they might be more competitive than others. Applicants do have to submit test scores, but they’re used for placement and scholarships, not for admissions. Students coming from WUE states will get WUE tuition automatically except for students in dental hygiene or medical imaging technology.

© 2013

University of Oregon

UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, Eugene, OR (Visited 7/18/13)

Quad

Quad

“Big nerds and sports fanatics can both fit in here,” said the admissions counselor, a 2010 alum. The University of Oregon is a flagship Public Research University; taking undergrad research so seriously is no small feat for a school their size. “Intellectually, it’s a game-changer.” Students do research in labs, on study abroad trips, and just about any other possible place (including an on-campus Cultural Museum in which Anthropology and Archaeology students do research). “Research allows students to find that spark, and that’s what we’re most interested in doing here. We want them to create knowledge, not just hear about it from others.”

UO 2 academic

Main Library

Main Library

I was half expecting UO to feel like other large, sprawling state universities, but it didn’t because of all its outdoor spaces and gardens. The campus is a federal arboretum with an arborist in charge of all the plants. School spirit/pride is high; for example, a lot of the dorm windows had O stickers in them. Athletics, of course, are a huge part of life here. Hayward Field, home of their Track and Field team, is famous because the Olympic trials are held here (which students can and do attend); they showed this off to us before any other facility. (As a side note, Animal House was filmed here). U of O is expanding their rec center, including adding a 16-lane pool, which a scheduled opening in the fall of 2015. Out of their 20,800 undergrads, just under 10,000 a day use their rec center (as compared to Ohio State: 6,000 of their 55,000 students use their rec center). An alum donated money towards the Jacqua Student Athlete Success Building for DI athletes. When we were shown this on the tour, a several eyebrows went up; the general feeling was, “Why are the athletes being treated so much better? What about academic success for non-athletes?” When we expressed this, the answer came in two parts: first, they don’t have control over what the alumni want to donate money for, and second, they do provide a lot of services to everyone; they’re just located in other spots on campus. “We’re well libraried,” said our tour guide (and interesting, the faces on the main library are major thinkers in the Canon).

UO pedestrian areaThe university prides itself on providing relevant and interesting academics within attractive buildings meant to inspire students and showcase the academic work being done in them. Allen Hall, for example, looks like one of the top PR firms in the country. The Willamette Science Center has a huge atrium that has integrated several aspects into the architecture that reflect science: quarks are shown in tiles on the floor, stars are reflected in lights across the ceiling, DNA strands wind around the staircase, the lampposts are designed after botanical structures, and there are cell structures around the walls. An additional science building will open this winter that will take on an interdisciplinary focus because “real world problems don’t get delivered as ‘chemistry’ or ‘biology.’” The physics has an Applied Physics program designed to help grads go directly into a job or move into a grad program.

Oregon is “Big enough to be good, small enough to be great,” says Roger Thompson, VP for Enrollment. It feels smaller than it is because of orientation and how students can interact with resources and faculty. Small classes help them define their interests and paths. “Secretly we believe that most students are undeclared at that age.” It’s ok to be undeclared, tentative, or to change their minds later, and the university offers 269 academic programs split between 7 schools:

Art Museum

Art Museum

  • The Arts and Sciences school has the state’s highest ranked programs in bio, chem, physics, math, poli sci, econ, psych, English, and history. The Center for Nanotechnology, the Oregon Institute for Marine Bio (only one in the pacific NW), and the Pine Ridge Observatory are worth noting. They’ve installed large electron microscopes which are bolted to the floor; companies that want to use them must come to campus; this actually gives undergraduates a chance to work with professionals. They do not have an engineering major; the tour guide said that their sciences tend to be more theoretical, but they do have a 3-2 engineering program with OSU.
  • Students interested in Business come into the pre-business program; to move to a full business major, they need a 3.0 in their classes at Oregon.
    • The school is fully accredited for both accounting and business. Fewer than 5% in the world are dually accredited.
    • They have the first and best sports business program (ranked by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, WSJ)
    • They run a Center for Sustainable Business Practices, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Entrepreneurship, Sports Marketing Center.
    • Within the Journalism and Communication school, students come in as Pre-journalism majors and complete a Gateway to Media course cluster integrating multimedia storytelling and critical thinking. Once they meet the minimum GPA of 2.9, students are eligible for entry as full journalism majors. Two areas of note within this school are their Media in Ghana program and the Full-service student-run advertising firm
    • The College of Education is ranked in the top three public colleges of education in the US (the Special Education program is ranked 3rd in the nation). This is also the top funded education school for research per faculty member.
    • The Architecture and Allied Arts is 6th among public universities, in the Top 15 undergrad programs overall, and 1st in sustainable design practices and principles. They offer a BArch degree, a 5 year program requiring a portfolio for admission. The portfolio can be anything – ceramics, art, even creative writing. They are looking for higher grades and scores, but also analytical and aesthetic ability. The Art department offers media areas including ceramics, digital arts, jewelry and metalsmithing, and photo.
    • Like Architecture, the Music and Dance program requires additional admissions criteria. Oregon offers one of three comprehensive music programs on the west coast. There are thirty ensembles and over 200 music and dance events every year, and the university hosts the internationally recognized Oregon Bach Festival. They boast a 100% job placement for music education
    • The Honors College enrolls 220 new students every year (out of about 1500-1800 apps). The average GPA of students admitted into the program is 3.85, but there is no required minimum. They look for students with the spark, the initiative, the willingness to ask questions. If the students can prove through writing and teacher recs that they have these qualities, they’ll consider other GPAs. The 4-year curriculum is compatible with every major, and every CHC student researches, writes, and defends an honors thesis. Over 80% of CHC alums attend grad school within 3 years of graduation.

OSU quad 130 years ago, Oregon pioneered the concept of the Freshmen Interest Groups. Although students are not required to sign up for a FIG, they are strongly encouraged to do so; the university has found that those students who participate end up performing much better than those who do not. They put students into small, thematically grouped cohorts of 25. The classes, made up of 25 students grouped according to a common interest, satisfy a gen ed requirement. The classes fill up quickly, and they’re trying to increase opportunities.

About 35% of the university’s students come from outside of Oregon (and every state is represented); 10% of the students come from 70+ foreign countries. Almost 20% self-identify as students of color. Twelve percent of students join Greek life, so it’s available but not a major social force on campus. Much of the social activities are based out of the Union, a funky, unusual building that looks a bit like a labyrinth. It’s a multi-level building made of wood and concrete with old beams across the ceiling; it smells like old wood in a good way. The building has all the typical things people expect at a union: food, student groups, etc. They have an extensive outdoors club, and anyone can be trained to lead trips for this group. Residential life is comprised mostly of freshman: 90% of first-year students live on campus but that drops to about 7% of sophomores, 5% of juniors, 2% of seniors. There’s a ton of cheap housing in the area; our tour guide hasn’t lived more than 2 blocks away since she moved off campus. The university is trying to increase their numbers of non-freshmen on campus. They offer a variety of housing such as Living-Learning Communities, several of which have classrooms in the dorms. The Global Scholars Residence is an incredible new building that houses about 400 Honors and College Scholars students. The rooms are suites, there’s a beautiful dining facility on the first floor, and there are lots of meeting and lounge spaces in addition to having Faculty in residence.

© 2013

Southern Oregon University

SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY (visited 7/16-17/13)

~SOU facts

Facts about SOU

Southern Oregon is a cute, medium sized school located within miles of the California border. There’s a lot of great things to be said about this interesting school. Unfortunately, the first impression our group got was from the worst dorms on campus (which were old and rundown) where we were staying for the night. Later, we were told that these dorms were being torn down to make room for new ones (so I’m not sure why we there, but it was what it was). Not a fabulous first impression but easily overcome by the other things about the school.

SOU starbucks

The Starbucks on the edge of campus with a mountain view!

~SOU Ashland facts

Facts about Ashland

Ashland, located halfway between San Francisco and Portland, hosts the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Although fairly small, this is a touristy town with lots of things to do (including a lake that’s ten minutes away). Downtown is about a mile away from campus. There are several restaurants right off campus (Mexican, Chinese, Subway, etc) on the way towards downtown, which has several blocks of restaurants, cafes, stores, and other things to do. Downtown was hopping, even on a Tuesday night. Ashland is accessible via the Bedford airport (15-minutes away), and a ski resort is 15 miles (about 30 minutes) away. Ashland’s climate is good: there’s lots of sun, and snow usually melts off the same day, but there’s a 5000 foot climb in elevation starting almost immediately off campus. Outdoorsy kids would love it here. The campus Outdoors Program is active and popular. Surfing, kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking, skiing, and other trips are offered all the time. EPIC (Event Planning Involvement Committee) gets students involved on campus; in addition to the usual advertising outlets you see on any campus, they publicize events by printing a calendars on bookmarks for students to take with them. On the weekends, students take advantage of the off-campus trips, play in pickup games, go to the parks, or take advantage of downtown. Several students bring cars to campus which makes it easy to do things around the area; parking costs $180 a year.

SOU Library

SOU Library

~SOU library 2Students who want strong hands-on learning experiences would find SOU to be a good fit; theoretical, self-teachers should go to a school like OSU or Texas A&M. As you can imagine because of the Shakespeare Festival, the Theater program is particularly strong, as are the other arts programs. They put on at least six plays a year, mostly casting theater students because this acts as their senior thesis. Others can do tech/behind the scenes stuff or will take on smaller roles. This is just one illustration of what sets SOU apart from some other universities: there is plenty of access to hands-on opportunities. SOAR (Southern Oregon Arts and Research) is a program designed to showcase what students and faculty have done over the year, and is open to everyone. Students can opt to do this as part of their capstone. The Chemistry department has recently added $10 million in equipment. Sophomore chemistry majors are already running equipment worth three-quarters of a million dollars. The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics lab is on campus; this is the only one dedicated to crimes against animals. SOU also is the school in Oregon with an open cadaver lab. The Communication department has a Journalism focus, providing students with plenty of opportunities for real-life experience. There’s a myth that the Criminal Justice building looks like a prison to get students used to working in that environment. Business and Education are also strong, popular majors that provide a lot of real-world experience. The Nursing program gives priority to Oregon students. Only 5% get accepted into this program as a sophomore; many more get in as incoming juniors.

SUO 1One of the admissions reps was an SOU alum. Part of the reason she chose to come here was that they let her study abroad in her first year. Our tour guide transferred from UC Davis which was too big for her and not a good fit. She finds the academics here perfect. Faculty members teach every class on campus and know the students’ names; there are no TAs. Classes average 25 students; our guide has been in classes ranging in size from 13 to 120 students; the large classes are Intro to Bio or Chem which break out into smaller labs once a week. Even though freshmen do get some bigger classes, they also have small ones like their Freshman lit class which has a specific theme, and the professor is their advisor. SOU provides a lot of support for students through a variety of programs. Trio provides support for low-income, first gen, and LD students. They have 5 Resource centers (including multicultural, GLBTQ, and commuter) that anyone can use; students don’t have to be a member of a particular group. The rooms are comfortable, safe spaces for people who want to strike up a conversation, hang out, or eat. Most have couches and fridges; students can even fall asleep and people will wake them up.

~SOU sculptureI had a few minutes as I was waiting for the rest of the counselors to check into their rooms, so I picked the brains of the student workers responsible for helping us check in. Two of them were criminal Justice/criminology majors and one was in the business department. Two were from Oregon and one was from northern California. They said that this is very much a regional university, but they love it. They couldn’t tell me what people complain about at the dinner table which is a good sign. When asked what they’d like to change, they said that they wished there were more sports and better gym facilities. The work-out facilities are small and located under the football stadium, but there’s rock climbing, racquetball, and a pool. The school is building a new athletic center for general use; the old one will be used only for athletes who participate in one of the eleven varsity sports at the NAI DII level. Club and intramural sports are available, and athletes are highly involved on campus. There are about 80 clubs and organizations encompassing a range of academic, social, ethnic, and athletic interests including one of the more unusual ones I’ve seen: SOUPS (SOU paranormal society). One of the most popular events is the annual luau thrown by the Hawaii Club. There is no Greek life on campus.

SUO art museum

The Art Museum courtyard with a view of the mountains in the distance

The campus is small and walkable with several nice buildings; the older ones are slowly being renovated or replaced. The library is a gorgeous new three-story building with an intricate tiled floor in the lobby; across from this is a stucco building across from the library was THE school at the beginning. The campus has the largest Art Museum on the I-5 between Portland and San Francisco, and directly across from this is a dorm reserved for students who are 21 and older. They are building the North Campus Village, a new $15 million dorm complex which includes a new dining commons. Currently, SOU is considered a suitcase school, “but we hope that with the new dorms, more students will stay,” said one admissions representative. One of their initiatives revolves around creating “Houses,” which is a project/cohort based approach to education for the entire time on campus.

SOU sci bldg

Science Building

Last year’s entering freshmen class averaged a 3.24 high school GPA. Upon admission, students from WUE states automatically get awarded the WUE tuition. Nursing students only get WUE for two years; once they’re in the nursing program, they lose it, but can get other specific Nursing scholarships. It’s common for students to have jobs on campus. If they want one and don’t have one, they aren’t trying very hard. Students who are admitted into the Honors Program have their full tuition, room, board, fees, and books covered. They have an advisor dedicated to the program, and students are also given a Major Advisor and a community mentor who works in their field.

© 2013

Oregon State University

Oregon State University (visited 7/16/13)

OSU nobel

Pauling’s Nobel prize for Chemistry

Oregon State sold us when they took us into their Special Archives and Research Facility on the top floor of the library to show us their Linus Pauling collection … and let us hold both his Chemistry and his Peace Nobel prizes. Pauling, who at 15 had earned enough high school credits to start at OSU (but was missing two required classes to technically graduate from high school), started taking classes. When he had to drop out in order to support his widowed mother and his siblings, the university offered to let him continue if he would teach introductory chemistry classes for them. Their generosity turned out well for OSU because they were given all of Pauling’s stuff(including both the Nobels) for their archives – which holds much more than this. They’re also known for their collections on the History of the Pacific, History of Science, and more. They’ll hire students as interns; the current curator is an alumnus who started as an intern and is now in his seventh year as a full-time employee.

Living Sculptures

Living Sculptures

OSU Waldo

Waldo Hall

The outskirts of OSU are not attractive (it looks like a stereotypical big state university), but the main part of campus is attractive and had a blend of old, renovated buildings and brand new facilities. There were five construction projects going on, including a new Business facility. Waldo Hall is one of the nicest of the old buildings; although it’s touted as having a “Harry Potter feel,” I don’t think it really does (although it’s beautiful – and supposedly haunted!). We passed by an amazing Living Sculpture called “Pomp and Circumstance” meant to convey a professor and several students. Completed several years ago out of birch, willow, and other branches, the willow branches have since started to regrow, making it a true living sculpture.

The engineering complex

The engineering complex

OSU engo bldn

The inside of one of the Engineering buildings

OSU’s Engineering department is perhaps the “flagship program” of the university. There are approximately 5000 engineering students (about 20% of the student body) with women and minorities making up about 20-25% of the program. Students start immediately Department, taking the basics for two years before specializing in one of 14 different areas. Their Nuclear Engineering program is one of 20 in the country, and Oregon State Troopers are stationed on campus because of the nuclear reactor. The Environmental Engineering program is a collaboration between agriculture and engineering. The Automotive Engineering program is amazing. Students form teams to create cars and race them in international competitions. Every student on the team has a chance to drive during the testing phase; the group decides who is the most skilled/fastest for the actual competition. They’ve won against hundreds of other universities, including Cornell and MIT. Outside of the classroom, there are 40 engineering-themed clubs and organizations that involve of hands-on collaboration and competition. Overall, 97% of the students who take the FE exam pass it; it isn’t required of all students because some don’t need it (the Biomedical students going on to med school wouldn’t take it, for example), but it is encouraged.

OSU 2OSU is a land, air, sea, and sun grant school (Cornell is the only other school in the country with all four designations), and they are considered the state’s research university. Several of their programs (such as forestry and marine sciences) demonstrate their commitment to and strength in these areas. They also have strong apparel and interior design programs complete with extensive textile labs; their business and education programs also earn high marks from faculty, students, and outside ranking agencies.

OSU baseballIt’s no surprise that sports are big here. The baseball team has made it to the College World Series, and football is a huge part of the culture here. Of the two students I spoke to, both said that their favorite school tradition is the way that students get tickets for games: they can camp out for 2 days before regular games and up to a week before the Civil War (aka the game between OSU and U of O).

OSU 1During lunch with some faculty members, I asked what the draw might be for students coming from the East Coast. They agreed that students come here for the lifestyle. Corvallis has 35,000 students and has lots to do (they noted that’s it’s a big foodie haven). Outdoorsy people love it because of the proximity to so much from the coast to the mountains.

OSU dorm

One of the dorms

OSU, along with several other schools on the West Coast, uses the “Insight Resume” as part of the application. There are six short-answer questions required ranging in topics from Community Service to Dealing With Adversity. They use this to look at students’ involvement, realistic self-assessments, commitment to activities over time, and more. Students must submit standardized test scores; these are used in the admissions process if the student is on the bubble for admissions, and they’re used for distribution of scholarship and invitation into the Honors Program. To be considered for scholarships, applications need to be submitted by February 1, although admissions itself is on a rolling basis. They do not award WUE.

OSU quad

The quad as seen from the top of the library

It was nice that the tour guides had to think about things they’d want to change about the school. One eventually mentioned that some of the roads could use repaving. However there’s not much driving allowed through the middle of campus (mostly delivery trucks come through). They like that parking is relatively easy: all parking is along the outskirts of campus and lots are big. Permits cost $200 a year. The school is expanding in many ways: they’ve hired 18 new faculty members, built a new business school, a new residence hall, and even a longhouse. There are currently 14 dorms (plus the new one opening soon), and students can apply for housing after they’ve been admitted. Roommates are selected through an “eharmony type of matching process” and can find their own. Campus is safe, with bike theft and minors in possession pretty much the extent of crime found on campus.

(c) 2013

Western Oregon University

WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY (visited 7/15-16/13)

WOU 5I guess I didn’t expect much from this school; it seemed to be a small “outpost” state school – and once again, I learned not to pre-judge a school without learning more about it. It’s a lovely campus that’s easy to navigate. The small Main Street (and by that I mean that it’s about 2 blocks long) is about a 5 minute walk away. Despite its size, one of the tour guides said that, “Monmouth is pretty chill.”

WOU Library

WOU Library

WOU ROTCThe students say that “students come first here.” Academic advising is a core function, and several people have won awards for advising. There are no teaching assistants, so students are taught by experts in the field. Their ASL is a big program, maybe the “flagship” program, if there is such a thing. Students can major or minor in it; there’s a theme floor where the RA signs, and there are several deaf faculty members. They’re looking into a Master’s in interpreting, and a major national call center has called them to ask to be a “relay station” for when they need interpreters. Other programs worth noting are the nursing partnership with OHSU (Oregon Health Science University) in Portland, although it’s extremely competitive and they have to apply to OHSU. The science building is nicknamed the “Life and Death building” and has a cadaver lab. This is also only one of two in the state that is affiliated with Microsoft so there are some internship options open to them. The ROTC Army program is strong and fairly active on campus.

WOU 2Admission to WOU is rolling. For admissions purposes, SAT/ACT scores need to be sent, but if students meet the GPA requirements for admission, scores are a technicality. However, for NCAA, Honors, scholarships, and other considerations, they will need the scores. Students in WUE states get it automatically if admitted. All students have the Tuition Choice of locking into a higher tuition rate that stays consistent for 4 years, or starting at a lower tuition rate and having it increase every year; the admissions rep described it as, “save now or save later.” There are plenty of scholarships offered. The Presidential Scholarship (worth up to $3,500 a year) is given to first year students who have a completed app on file by 2/28. The Diversity Commitment Scholarship (worth $3,500 a year) requires a separate application and is awarded to students form diverse backgrounds who have demonstrated sustained and significant effort and commitment to activities supporting diversity. Their General Scholarship (worth $1,000 but is not renewable) requires a separate online application, and selection is based on academic merit, essays, activities, and quality of application.

WOU food court

WOU food court

Eighty percent of students come from Oregon, but WOU has been named as the most ethnically diverse university in the state (with about 20% of the students self-identifying as minority students) as well as being named a First-Gen Serving Institution and being federally recognized for their Hispanic integration. They have a program for First Gen, Low-Income, and LD students, but they students have to apply to be involved since space is limited. It provides a great deal of support for the students, including a building dedicated to this program with lots of study spaces, tutors, and programing. The university has approximately 400 International Students from 13 countries, China and Saudi Arabia leading the way with highest numbers. One of our tour guides was from Nepal and came here for the Criminal Justice Program. There is an international studies office which all sorts of support services, including helping them with rides to and from the airport.

WOU 3Although the university is two years older than the state of Oregon (making it the oldest state university in the West), there are lots of renovations and new buildings around campus. The new library was built in 2000 and includes a 24 hour lounge and a silent study floor. They also have text-book rentals, and will start renting computers, graphing calculators, and more this year.

WOU 1There are Bear Tracks on sidewalks around campus to show “safety zones.” The tour guides both felt safe on campus and walking around at night. This might come from the location in a very small town. The biggest problem is bike theft when people don’t lock their bikes. They’ve never known anyone who has needed public safety officers. However, the university offers WolfRide; they’ll pick people up around town at night or provide safe rides home if they’ve been out drinking. One of the guides would like to increase the amount of time this is available since hours are limited, but they appreciate that it’s there. The university is a dry campus, and students will be cited if found in possession. They take this very seriously. However, there’s a wine bar and a bar only a couple blocks off campus, so students are able to drink if they want.

Lounge in the newest LEEDS certified dorm

Lounge in the platinum LEEDS-certified dorm

Dorms (and the campus as a whole) are proactive about holding events, and vents are scheduled all the time. Freshmen live on campus and housing applications open in October. Ackerman is the newest dorm (LEED platinum certified) containing 10 learning-living communities. They have two gender-neutral bathrooms on each floor that are entirely private in addition to other single-sex bathrooms. Greek life is just getting started on campus due to a student led initiative. Currently there is only one federally recognized fraternity. The sororities are solely club-based and revolve around community service groups. Football is big here, as is the marching band, showing that students can get involved in a variety of ways. They also offer Rugby for both women and men.

© 2013

Pacific University

Pacific University (visited 7/15/13)

Pacific theater

Theater building

I was more impressed with Pacific than I thought I’d be. The campus is beautiful, and they’re clearly a student-centered institution. Two professors (David DeMoss, Dir of Arts and Humanites, and Sarah Phillips, Sociology professor) talked to us; both were engaging and personable. “I wanted to be somewhere where I could teach. I value the messiness of learning and the time spent sitting and talking with students,” said Dr. DeMoss. He went on to say that the Pacific kids were some of the kindest and most honest students he’s met; Dr. Phillips agreed.

Pacific library

Interior of the library

The school’s specialty is letting students pursue what they’re interested in and teach them what they need to know to be successful. For example, all pre-health students take an Intro to Health Professions class to help them figure out early if that’s really what they want (and a Career Component is 1 of 4 requirements that all students have to complete to graduate). Students who succeed are those who are willing to: 1) work. It’s not a cakewalk. If they’re not ready for hard work, this isn’t the place for them. 2) consider an alternative and are not “married to their prejudices.” They may leave with the same ideas, but they’ve had to think about them and choose them rather than just inheriting them. 3) get into extra-curricular activities right away. It’s ok to be quiet and shy but they have to be curious.

Pacific Univ CntrThey have a few programs worth noting: They offer a 3-3 law program with Case Western Reserve in Ohio; Exercise Science is big; the English department offers a track in Creative Writing as well as an Editing and Publishing minor; Philosophy has an Ethics, Society, and Law track; they offer an indigenous studies as well as a peace and social justice minor; they have an accredited Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and are working on getting a Music Therapy program within the next couple years; finally, they have an Applied Theater major which I’ve never heard of before.

PacificIn their first semester, every student takes a First Year Seminar which usually has humanities-based content with a serious academic college-level bent. This is a 4-credit class with 16-20 students (plus an upper-level student mentor) who all live on the same floor, meant to help get students involved in social life. Our tour guide’s favorite class was “Global Sociology of HIV/AIDS.” Classes average about 19 students with the largest classroom space on campus holding 85.

Pacific apts

Some of the newest apartments on campus

This is a largely residential campus of about 1600 undergraduates (they also have a sizable graduate population; they have the oldest – and one of only three – Optometry Graduate program on the west coast). Our tour guide didn’t like that the town isn’t so lively (although campus is), but said that there are good gown/town relations, and several places in town give discounts to the students. She goes to Portland maybe every 4-6 weeks; they can grab a on the corner by campus; the ride to the MAX line takes 15 minutes. From there, they can get downtown in less than 45 minutes (airport is about an hour); the trip costs $2.40 total. Pacific also has 4 zip cars which cost $60 a day to rent.

Pacific indoor turf

Indoor turf in Pacific’s gym

Pacific takes the Common App and it’s free to apply if they contact their admissions rep who waive the fee for them. Students need a 3.0 in prep classes and a 1000 CR&M SAT score or 21 ACT. Those who fall under these benchmarks go to a faculty Review Committee. There are several scholarships in areas like music and theater; students don’t have to major in these areas, but they do need to participate in ensembles, plays, etc. Pacific also holds a competition in February called Pace Setters in which students compete for more scholarship money. They get $2000 for competing, and can get up to $5000. If they matriculate, they get some of their travel money reimbursed. They also have a lot of support – financial and on-campus – for First Gen and low-income students.

Pacific street

One of the streets leading off campus with cafes and shops

Located halfway between Portland and the coast, Pacific was founded in 1849 along the Oregon Trail for children orphaned on the trail. There are several old, historic buildings, including a Carnegie Library. The Cuppola of one of the original buildings still has the bell in it; this is where students “sign, shake, and ring” during orientation and right before graduation, marking the start and end of their time at Pacific: they sign the book, shake the President’s hand, and ring the bell. Although there are older, historic buildings, they’ve also done a lot of building and updating: they have a new eco-friendly upper-division dorm, and they’re working on renovating one first-year dorm, and knocking down and rebuilding another one.

Pacific 2Pacific has a high percentage of Hawaiian (and more generally Pacific Islander) students. One of the major events that students mentioned looking forward to every year was the Luau that’s thrown every year. Sports are also relatively popular, and they have a lot of options, including Rugby as a club sport. Technically, Rugby is a men’s sport but since they don’t yet have a women’s team (they’re working on that), about four or five women will practice with them (but can’t yet compete). Students can take advantage of a lot of outdoor activities, much of which is organized through “Outback,” their outdoors activities group.

Pacific mascot

A picture of the original mascot

We learned some fun facts about their mascot, Boxer. In the 1920s, a group of students studied in China and brought back a Chinese statue for the university as a “thank you” for sending them. As a joke, people started stealing it and moving it around to random places on campus. This because a tradition to see who could steal and move it. Eventually, students named it Boxer after the Boxing Day Rebellion, and it stuck. Today, all that’s left is its tail and one leg; an alumnae had the leg in his attic and donated it back to the university.

(Another interesting bit of trivia is that Tommy Thayer, the lead guitarist for Kiss, is on their Board.)

© 2013

Lewis and Clark University

Lewis and Clark (visited 7/14-15/13)

LC Franc house

Frank House

LC pathThis hilly, wooded campus is STUNNING. The central building, housing admissions and administrative offices, is the Frank house (from which you can see both Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens) which had been the Frank family home; after the wife died suddenly, they donated it and left town.

Lewis and Clark brags that this is one of the few liberal arts universities in the country located so close to a major city. Shuttles run every hour to downtown, six miles away, and both students and faculty can commute to school via shuttle. This also gives students opportunities for recreation, internships, cross-registration at other institutions (but there’s no formal consortium). However, they’re still in the woods in beautiful surroundings; the only down-side to the location is that very little is located directly off campus (restaurants and shops) within walking distance. The College Outdoors program is worth noting; they do all the typical things (kayaking, hiking, etc) and some not-so typical events such as Mushroom Hunting and yoga retreats. Students who receive federal financial aid can apply for scholarships for these trips.

LC arena

 

Mt. Hood from campus

Mt. Hood

Teachers strike a good balance between teaching and research; they’d rather be teachers than researchers, even though they do their own research (and about 10% of the students stay on campus over the summer, many of whom are there to do research with professors). The professors we spoke to at dinner said that it was important for them that their students walked away from classes knowing how to apply knowledge. They clearly want to get to know the students. For example, the Math department builds a close community starting with a Mt. Hood hike every year. Three of them even showed up to the Counselor dinner, more than any other department (although two music teachers were there as a close second). Interestingly, the math and the biochem, bio, and chemistry departments have mostly female faculty.

LC sculptures

Sculptures outside an academic building

LC former stableAcademics are designed to give students a broad perspective on their chosen field, and also let them explore the areas they’re interested in. Psychology is the biggest major and introduces students to all aspects of the field: child, abnormal, developmental, cognitive, neuroscience, and more. The music department is strong and lets them focus on several areas (and includes African Drumming). The Foreign Languages department is unusual because students can declare a FL major and study more than one language and gain proficiency in two or more areas rather than majoring in a single language. International Affairs has become a fairly large department, and they’ve added concentrations (minors) in any of several Ethnic Studies (which are open to any student, not just IA majors). The university has recently added an entrepreneur program which runs for a week in January. Students come to campus for seminars, meetings, and a competition (both current students and recent graduates take part); five semi-finalists are chosen and are given a small fund towards putting the plan into action and taking it to a national competition.

LC 1 LC bridgeWe asked a couple students what their favorite classes were. One said it was “State of the Family,” a Gender Studies themed 2nd semester freshman seminar class: “The professor was 5’ tall and the scariest person ever – but I learned a lot!” Another said it was her 1st semester freshman seminar class, “Creating the Self.” The professor brought them out to one of the gardens, and the student (along with others) performed Antigone on her first day of class. The texts for the 1st semester freshmen seminars are the same but the theme is different. The 2nd semester focuses on whatever the teacher wants, such as Emerging Empire, Dance and Vampires, and Mostly Mozart. The tour guide’s class sizes have ranged from 10-45, so they get time for discussion, hands-on work, and personal attention.

New suite style dorms

New suite style dorms

LC dining hallThey don’t have any Freshman only dorms, but they do have upperclassmen only dorms. Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus; 60% of juniors and seniors stay. They have a great deal of support for First Gen and low-income through multi-cultural affairs and student affairs offices. Students get actively involved in activities. Forty percent of students participate in sports (DIII). Football has lots of fans, as does volleyball. Crew is increasing in popularity. There is no Greek Life (a donor who gave a lot of money stipulated that she wanted ice cream served at every meal, a piano put into every common room, and no Greek life). This is an open, inclusive community with a high minority population and people coming from all walks of life. They have a feminist student union, queer resource center, united sexualities, etc. Students are ok with whatever people are into.

Sixty percent of their students do a true study abroad (not a week-long learning extension of another class). “Where are you going?” is commonly heard; it’s a question of when and where they’ll study abroad, not if they’ll go. The school is serious about providing students with an international perspective on the world.

LC PO BoxesThis is a test-optional school; the “portfolio path” which replaces standardized test scores includes 2 graded pieces of work: 1 analytical and 1 quantitative, and then 2 recs speaking to those two areas. 10-12% of applications go that route, and the students accepted do fine at the university. This is a good option for someone who works hard and has good grades but does test well. Merit scholarships are awarded at the time of admission based on grades in the core classes including weight on AP and honors classes (and there’s no limit to the number of AP credits they can transfer in). They also give scholarships for leadership, music, and debate, but the faculty decide on these based on auditions or portfolios/DVDs.

© 2013

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