campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Rhode Island”

Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University (visited 5/1/19)

RWU 2This was the only school (out of 10 on the RI Counselor tour) to have us eat in the dining hall. The food was good and the dining hall was easy to navigate with plenty of space, even with lots of students there.

RWU skyline

One of the peninsula bridges as seen from campus

This is an interesting school. The main campus sits on a peninsula, so there are some beautiful views as we walked around. Downtown Bristol is about a mile away from campus; there’s a bus stop at the school’s main entrance, and the college provides 10 free passes to encourage students to use it. Their downtown campus mostly houses the graduate programs, keeping the main campus centered on undergrads, helping them become versatile and ready for the job market or grad school. They offer a range of programs that work together, and they’re actively creating programs that allow students to add to their skill set and provide employers with obvious skills.

RWU Marine SciThey’ve created majors and minors that make them stand out from other universities such as Aquaculture and Aquarium Science, applied or computational math, Historic Preservation, Security Assurance Studies, eBusiness (minor), digital forensics (minor), construction management, and Professional and Public Writing.

RWU 5

One of the newest buildings on campus

There are plenty of experiential learning opportunities, and RWU encourages students to pursue them, including having an annual $75,000 fund to send students to conferences. They want students to figure out unscripted problems. “That’s what life is about. Dealing with those outside the gates is some of the best experience there is.” Over 650 students will have a semester-long experience solving real-life problems, “and it’s building every year. It’s great to have that on a resume … but it also creates great citizens.” Their Community Partnership Center creates opportunities such as organizing a Women in STEM conference for elementary schools. “This is impactful because I could put things I learned into ways the kids could learn and get excited about,” said one student.

RWU int design 3

Some of the architecture lab spaces

More than 95% of students graduate with at least a minor in addition to the major. “It’s almost limitless in terms of what they can overlap. Because of the sequence in Engineering and the studio hours in Architecture, those might be outliers to that, but they can still do it.” They recommend that students interested in one of those major declare it if they want to graduate on time (and during the admission process, they’re looking to see that the students have taken at least Pre-Calc). It’s much harder to transfer in later. With other majors, students can declare in sophomore year without worrying about finishing on time. Architecture offers a 4+2 accelerated MArch program (in addition to a major and a minor in Arch), and these students can study abroad in Barcelona or Florence.

RWU 8

The engineering building on the left with the new construction for more engineering space on the right.

Engineering is the fastest growing major, and the school is taking quick strides to get all those classes on campus. There’s a great deal of building happening which should be happening in the next year or so. Students major in Engineering, receiving a strong liberal arts base and then specializing in one of four options: computer, mechanical, civil, or electrical. Students who are not majoring in engineering can choose to minor in engineering with a focus in environmental, robotics, biomechanics, or structural engineering.

RWU statue

The Roger Williams statue.

The university has incorporated some interdisciplinary work into their Core, including a senior-level capstone; there’s also a class on Williams and his ideals. “The Core is supposed to be more philosophical and reflective but it doesn’t really happen,” said the tour guide. He went on to say that he learned what it should’ve been afterwards – “but the theory definitely wasn’t what happened in reality. I’d like them to tweak this so people have to think outside the box more.”

RWU flowers“We don’t have to adhere to specific metrics during the admission process. A holistic review is the reality. If students are likely to be successful, we say yes,” said one of the admissions reps. RWU has gone test-optional without putting students at any disadvantage; students are fully admissible to any major and can qualify for scholarships. They also recognize that retention is as much a product of affordability as about student involvement. They currently have an 82% freshman-sophomore retention rate and have instituted a scholarship for enrolled students: they earn an extra $1000 for each year they’re on Dean’s List. They have a strong academic program to engage students with learning; “learning isn’t always innate,” said one of the reps. They offer tutoring programs, and they teach professors how to engage students in active learning. Professors give out cell numbers and often come in on Saturdays to reteach or practice with students.

RWU dorms

The view of one dorm building from the porch of another. 

Almost all freshmen and about ¾ of all undergraduates live on campus. Sophomores can live in Baypoint across the bridge where there is a dining hall and a fitness center. Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus. One of the students said that the LGBTQ community is strong, and people are highly accepting of students identifying in this group. There’s an LLC option on campus for students wanting to live in this (in addition to several other LLC options). “Racial diversity needs some help, though. Same with general geographic diversity,” said a student.

RWU 7Our tour guide seemed fairly shocked that RWU had a reputation as being a party school. “There was a football team for awhile, but that was shut down,” she said. “People here are pretty bright. That’s not to say that there’s no social life, because there is. Long weekends can be kind of dead, but regular weekends are active.” There are Honor Societies but no traditional Greek life. Campus is safe and students will walk around at all hours with many buildings open 24/7. “The Blue lights haven’t been activated other than for testing,” said one of the reps.

© 2019

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Salve Regina University

Salve Regina University (visited 4/29/19)

Salve gate

The entry arch to campus leading up to Ochre Court, the original college building

“I’ve never been as happy as when I’m here. It’s a special place.”

You will find very few schools in such a stunning location (I’m going to go on a ledge and say that Salve is like a smaller, East Coast Pepperdine): campus sits among the Newport Mansions on 80 ocean-front acres (not surprisingly, it’s ranked as a Top-10 School for Surfers). The original college building, Ochre Court, is itself a mansion that the owner couldn’t afford to keep up. It was offered to the Episcopalians who declined (oops); it was then sold to the Sisters of Mercy for $1. Campus has an eclectic mix of buildings ranging from historic mansions or other buildings (many of which were donated; the historical society will work with the college to restore them) to more modern places. Several films have been made on campus including True Lies (the tour guide pointed out the building that people rappelled down in the movie).

Salve 7“Salve is not our campus. It’s terrific and we love it and are glad to have it, but Salve is our mission: ‘To work for a world that is harmonious, Just, and Merciful.’ When students are fortunate enough to receive an education, they should use it for the benefit of others,” said one of the admission reps. The founding Sisters were known as the Walking Nuns of Dublin because they weren’t cloistered. They talk about mercy rather than charity, and about a responsibility to lift up/help others around them.

Salve 1“This place is magical, but if we had an airplane hanger with these kids in it, we’d be happy,” said the President. “There’s a transformation here. This senior said she wanted to come here to be anonymous, but she’s a tour guide, and she just got up to give a recital in front of 50 people. Sister Jane showed up to her recital. That’s really rare.” If this student is any indication, it’s not a surprise that Salve was ranked #18 most transformative college in the country. One students we spoke to transferred in. “I was here visiting a friend, and we sat around talking to the guy who sold spell check to Bill Gates. I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, and here’s this multi-millionaire hanging out and talking to two random kids on a Saturday, one of whom didn’t even go to school here. Who wouldn’t want to study here?”

Salve statue 1As a Catholic institution, they embrace that “the Liberal Arts is the foundation of what we do.” Corporations value a value an ethical foundations. They want to know that they’re bringing in people who will represent the organization. Students complete a 23-credit core with a broad liberal arts foundation providing a basis for academic growth and that empowers innovation and discovery. Part of the core includes 2 consecutive semesters of a language and 4 religion/ philosophy classes: 2 of these are religion classes of the student’s choice plus Quest for the Good Life (philosophy) and one upper level philosophy class. Our tour guide was taking “Saints, Superheroes, and Sinners” as her upper level class. Masses are offered on campus but never required (Although the dog in the chapel is a big draw!).

Salve chapel

The chapel

In First Year Experience, students take 2 conjoined classes: a 1-credit seminar on the transition to college and a full seminar class. The admission rep, an alum, took one about refugees. “The point of the FYE is to exercise the mental stuff to make it stronger. We began to see refugees as real people with real issues who might be our neighbors. The choices people made to emigrate from their home was informed less on the idea that they wanted to take something than on the idea that they wanted to give their family something. We’re now informed about how to implement policy.”

Salve BLM rally

Part of the Black Lives Matter rally

During the reception, I had a fairly in-depth conversation with one of the seniors. He feels that the non-visual diversity is fairly solid. There’s good religious diversity for a Catholic school. He started a group called Diversity to bring up ideas of discussion and mutual understanding around issues of religion and politics. “Artists fit in very well here.” Students who are looking for a philosophical community and who are maybe religiously minded (but also open minded about it) will do well here. “We’re on the liberal side of Catholic institutions.” He did say that racial diversity needs some work. Only about 15% of domestic students self-identify as students of color. “They’re working on it, but it’s slow.” However, there was a fairly vocal Black Lives Matter rally on campus when we got there with a lot of white faces in the crowd for support.

Salve 6“It hurts my heart to say that a lot of the jocks aren’t on a steep learning curve,” said one of the seniors I talked to. “Over 50% of our males are athletes (they have 3 nationally ranked DIII teams; the only 2 teams not in this division are Sailing – DI – and equestrian which is its own thing) and they don’t catch on as quickly that they shouldn’t be making snarky comments. I came in as a rugby player. As a freshman, I definitely did the swaggery thing, but I figured it out. A lot of people do not.” I asked the Dean of Admissions about this later. “We’ve developed Green Dot, a program targeted to athletes to help them understand language and bystander training. We have a responsibility to stand up. There’s been a huge decline in problems.” I asked how this decline showed itself around campus; he said that far fewer students were being brought up for issues and there was uptake in activity participation.

Salve loungeStudents must live on campus for 2 years (freshmen live in LLCs), but then are allowed to move off. Some upperclassmen stay, but it’s not guaranteed after the 2nd year. There are places to rent within a few minutes of campus. Although there are a lot of ritzy places in Newport, “It’s also one of the most diverse areas in the state. There’s abject poverty. You see that in the elementary schools and other areas,” said one of the reps. Parking isn’t really an issue, according to the students, but freshman can’t have cars. They all get free RIPTA access and there are campus shuttles. They also have an agreement with Uber. Our tour guide gave the food on campus a 7: “It’s not home-cooked, but there’s always something to eat.”

Salve 11There are 2100 undergrads with classes averaging 19 students. My tour guide said classes ranged from 10 – 30. There are lecture halls that are used for events but not for classes. They’re probably best known for nursing or education:

  • Students have to apply directly to the nursing program; transfers into the program aren’t allowed. NCLEX pass rates are high. The tour guide told us that a lot of the tests during the last year reflect the questions for their Boards to help them review, and the author of one of the review books teaches on campus.
  • Our tour guide would like to see more variety in majors offered on campus. There are a lot of unusual minors and certificates/concentrations (like Cybersecurity and Health Care Administration, Administration of Justice, and Spanish for Health and Service Professions) but it would be great to see these as majors as well.
  • Salve runs the PELL CENTER for international relations and public policy which approaches these from an interdisciplinary viewpoint.

Salve 8Salve is test-optional (Except for nursing and education). Students who are awarded a merit scholarship are invited to apply for Honors. Those in the program take 2 additional classes, usually in sophomore year. “There’s work; there’s more rigor but it’s more about the fit.” Honors students must do an internship and study abroad. There are 200 study abroad programs in 45 countries open to any Salve student.

Salve 9

Some of the newer dorms

The admission committee reads need-blind, but it’s rare that they can meet 100%. “We do what we can as a tuition-driven institution. A lot is driven by the application. The better the fit, the more we can do.” I asked a couple students about this, and they were happy with their scholarships and financial aid. “We’ll support DACA as well as we can. We’re a Sanctuary campus. It’s obvious fairly obvious when they don’t do FAFSA. We have the Mercy Fund since they can’t receive federal aid. We can’t get a student all the way there, but we work with other foundations to connect them to other sources of income. Of course, not all Dreamers have full need. Once they’re here, we think it’s our job to protect them and we use FERPA to do that since we don’t share information with the government.”

© 2019

Bryant University

Bryant University (visited 4/30/19)

Bryant pondBryant pleasantly surprised me. The people are great, there’s a good vibe, and the campus is attractive with lots of green spaces and a pond (complete with fountain) in the middle. Buildings are new and well kept up, and facilities align with the current educational trends they’re making available for students. Almost ¼ of their population is first-gen, and they make a great deal of resources available to accommodate for an array of diversity, including a large interfaith center where Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish services are offered every weekend. They have a full-time priest and rabbi on campus, and they have a kosher kitchen available to students.

Bryant 3“This is not a static university,” said the VP for enrollment. The university is particularly known for its business program for good reason. Most programs are highly ranked, including International Business in the top 25. They have extensive options, including Marketing Analytics, Global Supply Chain Management, and Advertising & PR in addition to more traditional offerings in undergraduate business schools. “One area we’ve moved into is Data Science.”

Bryant 5“We also have strong pre-Health Sciences (they guarantee an interview at the PA school) and a strong college of Arts & Sciences.” Students can take an EMT class to satisfy their science requirement! They have an array of traditional majors/minors as well as more unusual ones such as Chinese, Applied Psych, and Biotechnology.

Bryant gate

The arch – like most schools, tradition says that students can’t walk through before graduation.

Students must have both a major and a minor chosen from different schools. This dynamic helps to round out skill sets “and is a key towards our 99% job placement rate,” said one rep. This is the 3rd highest job placement rate in the country. “College costs too much money to not have something at the end – and that something is a job.” One of the students told us that a lot of students will major in Business (its own school) and a minor in Economics, Actuarial Math, or Applied Stats (in Arts & Sciences). He said that that’s an easy way to “kind of work the system.”

Bryant 7All first-year students participate in the IDEA Program, a 3-day, 1-credit design-based program in which teams solve a real world problem. “It’s exciting. It’s exhausting. They work around the clock. Campus is buzzing.” Students learn how to observe people, how to identify what the issues are, identify a challenge (usually this is given to them), brainstorm multiple ways of looking at the problem, break down ways to solve it, set up an experiment to see if a solution would work, and finally present it to others. The go into malls, the zoo, classrooms, etc. Some of the projects included how to make malls more accessible, box stores more efficient, and a children’s museum more interactive.

Bryant quad 4Over half of Bryant students go abroad at some point for internships, a semester/year, or for a study-trip. They created a Sophomore international Experience, a 2-week study-travel trip, to help get “students’ feet wet” – and many of the students who do this will then elect to go abroad for a semester or year as juniors. Bryant runs a campus in China and offer opportunities in 65 other countries around the world.

Bryant 8All incoming students receive an HP Elitebook laptop, and then they trade that in for a new one as a junior (or they can buy out the old one and keep it).

Bryant indoor farmers market

One of the periodic Farmer’s Markets held in the Student Center

They’re still skewed more heavily male because of the business programs. During the admissions process, they’re looking that applicants have 4 years of math with 1 beyond Algebra 2 (they prefer pre-calc and calc). Students do not need to submit test scores – but if they don’t, they need to do 3 supplemental essay questions. To be eligible for the Honors Program, students should have a 1270 SAT and about a 3.6 GPA. There’s a very little bit of wiggle room, and students must interview if they’re on the bubble. They can sometimes come in on probation for a year: under this, they’ll take 1 class first semester, and if that goes well, they take another in the 2nd semester. At that point, if they meet the criteria, they move fully into the Honors Program without probation.

Bryant fountain 3Campus is active and the students we spoke to are happy with their experiences. Every weekend has at least one big event which ranges from a trip to a major league game or an on-campus event to help people get engaged in the community or beyond. There are 4 special big weekends a year: right after students return to campus from summer, then Fall-, Winter-, and Spring-fests. The majority of seniors live in 5-7 person townhouses, allowing for a bit more independence before leaving campus. Students seem happy enough with clubs and activities (including their a cappella group that was ranked #32 in the nation).

© 2019

Rhode Island School of Design (Take 2)

 

RISD (visited 5/2/19 — click HERE for the pictures and notes from my visit on 3/21/14)

RISD sculptureThis was my second visit to RISD. This visit was with a large group of counselors on tour of all the RI schools; several years ago I visited (with another counselor) when we participated in the regular info session and tour offered to families. It was like visiting an entirely different campus, and not because they had done massive renovations. They just chose to highlight/showcase totally different things. This time, we saw much more of the “downtown” part of campus along the river and we got to go into some of the studios and other spaces that we did not see on the tour – but didn’t go up the hill to see the dorm quad or other pretty areas on campus (check out the blog post from 2014 to see that stuff).  I’m very glad to have gotten both perspectives because I feel like I have a more complete picture of what the campus, the education, and the students are like.

RISD river walk 2

RISD flags along the river with some of the college buildings alongside.

All first-year students admitted to RISD take Experimental and Foundation Studies which includes two semesters each of Drawing (very traditional, 2D work), Spatial Dynamics (3D), Design, and Theory & History of Art & Design. They take a humanities class each semester (usually a literature seminar and another of their choice). During Wintersession, they choose a non-major studio elective. One student chose Digital Embroidery,

RISD studio 1

One of the “still life labs” with a huge array of specimens for students to use during their Studio classes. 

Student declare a major in February of their Foundation year. Students on the panel very much liked the program, and it was split about 50-50 for those who stuck with their original plan and those who decided to change their mind about the major during the year. They all agree that it’s an intensely rigorous first year, but RIDS boasts an impressive 93% retention rate which is not surprising given the level of commitment – academic and artistic – shown by those who are offered admission.

RISD bio studio 2

A bio-life lab for students to draw from nature – and the lamps are made by students!

Last year, RISD admitted 19% of the 4750 applicants; they are bringing in 480 students this year, one of the largest classes. Admitted students averaged 670 per section on the SAT or a 30 on the ACT. During admission, they recalculate GPA looking at core classes from the last 2 full years. They do NOT look at grades in their art classes – but instead evaluate the portfolio. They are more interested in the portfolio itself to look at the talent, effort, and creativity. The student sitting with us at breakfast said that talent alone is not the end-all. “Even if your technical work isn’t quite there yet but you’re putting in the work and the effort, the professors recognize that and see that your technical skills will get there.”

RISD Sculpture areaStudents who would like some feedback before the admission process can use http://www.aicad.slideroom.com where they can upload up to 5 images and get feedback from up to 10 people for free.

I love the Dual Degree program that’s offered jointly with Brown. Students must apply and be admitted to both schools; RISD releases decisions first and then will send the list to Brown where it goes to committee. Last year, they received 730 apps for the program and admitted 19 to yield a cohort of 15. Everyone evaluated for that program must be admitted to both schools. They live on the RISD campus for the 1st year, at Brown for the 2nd year, and then can choose for the 3rd and 4th.

RISD downtown bldgsRegardless of whether or not they’re in the joint program, students can cross-register at Brown. (There’s also a lot of club cross-over with Brown, and they can join some of the sports teams there). They can take classes at Brown as long as it fits into the schedule and gets okayed by the registrar. Despite the fact that RISD grants only BFA degrees (with the exception of the BArch degree), they also teach students the business aspect of art (legalities of copyrights, contracts, etc) and they offer the Liberal Arts through Literary Arts and Studies, History/Philosophy/Social Sciences classes, electives, and concentrations. One of the student panelists said that she came here because there was more flexibility within the majors – “I was pretty much married to the illustration major, but I got to customize it.” Another student said that she was surprised at how interdisciplinary it is and how things can cross over. She wants to go into publishing and has to deal with typeface, so she’s taken a lot of graphic design classes. Students said that they like the flexibility to try classes in other majors like Furniture, Apparel, or Industrial Design, Interior Architecture, or Film/Animation/Video in addition to more of the fine arts type of majors.

RISD library interior

The library which takes up the first two floors of this building also has a cafe, and the top floors are a dorm.

“It’s great to be in a community of people who are so interested in the same things, who are willing to help out. We’re not just doing art in class. A lot of people get overwhelmed by the workload, but you aren’t alone in that. You’re in the same group for the first semester, another for 2nd semester. You build a lot of relationships. You know people all over campus.” Students get card access to all buildings so they can (and do) work at all hours. “Campus safety will often check in if they see lights on,” said our tour guide.

RISD 1In terms of finances, RISD does not offer merit scholarships. They do offer need-based scholarships and grants which they keep in line with the cost of attendance – if the COA goes up, the scholarship goes up by the same percentage. They are also reducing hidden costs (deposits, fees, etc.). “It’s not fair to students to get hit with deposits for keys or to be told ‘surprise, you have to pay a fee up front for supplies.’ Families have to be able to plan, and if they’ve crunch numbers and tightened their belts to make this a reality for the students, they may not have the other additional money at the beginning of the semester.” Students in the Architecture program can carry their financial aid into their 5th year since that is a 5-year program.

© 2019

University of Rhode Island (Take 2)

University of Rhode Island (visited 4/30/19 … Click HERE to see pictures and notes from my previous visit on 3/21/14)

URI 5One of the Producers on the Ellen Show is a URI alum – so many of URI’s Film & Media majors can intern on Ellen.

“The sense of place here is tremendous. Rhode Island itself is stunning. The state of Rhode Island only has about 10,000 high school graduates each year. What that means for us is that we have a flagship university but a diversity of enrollment. About half of our students come from outside RI,” said one of the admissions rep.

URI 3“We like our size [they have about 14,500 undergraduates]. It allows us to keep resources accessible.” They have also hired 346 new faculty in the past 6 years. This enables them to offer incredible majors and programs, many of which are interdisciplinary. In fact, one of their Core requirements is a Grand Challenge Course, an interdisciplinary class that looks at a modern issue or problem that needs to be solve like coastal resilience, mental health, diversity and inclusion, etc.

I spent about 15 minutes talking to a Classical Studies student who is actually double majoring and double minoring. She said that the advising here is wonderful, and they help her get in everything she needs – and she’s on track to graduate in 4 years. The department is small so she gets a lot of individual time, but she loves all her department and loves that URI allows her to explore all her interests instead of having to choose.

URI 6Since I visited URI several years ago, the university has put over $900 million into their infrastructure. One of the most obvious changes is that the Engineering building is being renovated. They offer a wide array of engineering options including Ocean, Industrial & Systems, Biomedical, a Polymer certificate within Chemical, and their International Engineering Program in which students earn 2 degrees within 5 years: a BS in engineering and a BA in a language (French, Spanish, German, Italian, or Chinese )

URI mascot

The mascot in front of the new welcome center. 

The International Degree programs are impressive. The Chinese Language Flagship Program allows students to earn 2 degrees in 5 years – a BA in Chinese and another degree in the major of their choice. They have three more programs similar to the Engineering option: International Business, International Computer Science, and International Studies and Diplomacy.

Not surprisingly, URI capitalizes on their location near the water with many of their academic offerings, including the Ocean Engineering (We had to ask a rep what that was since we had no idea. I really wish they had spent more of their time emphasizing more of their unusual majors while the Counselors were there on campus). Other majors include Aquaculture and Fisheries Science, Physics and Physical Oceanography, Geology and Geological Oceanography, Marine Affairs, and Marine Biology. They also do a great job with natural resource management and similar majors like Animal Science and Technology, Plant Science, and Environmental and Natural Resource Economics.

UIR coloring

Stress relief coloring options!

Hands-on majors are also strong, including Landscape Architecture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Medical Lab Science, Textile Marketing and the Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design. Nursing is hugely competitive with a limited number of spots available. Students have to complete the pre-requisites and then apply for a spot in the program. Seats are not guaranteed, so this might not be the best option for students who are sold on nursing.

URI 1A new 500-bed apartment complex will open next year. This will take away some of the parking spots, so they’ll stop allowing freshmen to have cars on campus. They do offer shuttles around campus. Students can also move off campus in the last two years. Many of them can rent beach houses and commute to school since owners often rent these from Labor Day to Memorial Day. The area is very easy to get around, including the Amtrak station that’s a mile away and a public bus that runs to the Providence Airport.

© 2019

New England Institute of Technology

New England Institute of Technology (visited 4/29/19)

NEIT acad bldg 2

The interior of the main Academic building with a fountain (complete with goldfish) at the bottom.

If a student wants hands-on, experiential, practical education, this school is worth looking at.

NEIT dorm 3

The large, 400=bed dorm from one of the lounges; the building is in a large U shape with lots of game rooms, kitchens, and other meeting spaces.

NEIT is an interesting place that seems to have sprung suddenly on the college scene in the last decade or so. It’s still very much a regionally known place mostly because it had been a commuter school for so long. However, with the recent addition of a 400-bed dorm (with another one planned to be completed within the next couple years), NEIT is expanding its reach beyond the local and is becoming well known in the New England region. They are now trying to get their name out there beyond the immediate area.

NEIT interior design

Some of the interior design student work

Right now, I’d hesitate a bit before sending a student from too far away simply because there’s not much happening on the weekends. “It’s pretty quiet,” said one of the students. However, they’re really happy here. “You can definitely find things to do.” Providence is only about 15 minutes away with a lively college scene. Boston is about an hour and NYC is about 3 hours on the train which runs through the area. I think once the 2nd dorm goes up and the residential population grows with that, this will become a more vibrant campus and they’ll continue to attract more students who will want to stick around on the weekends.

NEIT mascotThe main campus is located in East Greenwich. Campus is new (they moved to this location in the early 2000s) and has up-to-date technology for the students. There are 2 satellite campuses in Warwick and Providence. This one houses the Automotive center; students can get degrees in Auto Technology (Regular or High Performance), Auto body, Collision Repair, and even Marine Technology!

NEIT lab 5

One of the many labs

They offer an extensive array of Associate’s degrees, many of which lead into a Bachelor’s if students want to continue on. Students who want to go directly into a trade (think electrical, plumbing, HVAC) and health sciences (PT or OT assistant, Respiratory Care, Paramedic, Vet Tech, etc) will be well trained and usually get jobs before graduation. Nursing is also offered as an AA degree, but they recommend staying for the BSN to be more marketable/hirable. Some of their more unusual Bachelor’s degrees include Construction Management, Vet Practice Management, Game Development & Simulation Programming, and Cybersecurity and Network Engineering.

NEIT lab 2

Another lab

This is a great choice for students who are looking for engineering technology, not engineering itself. In addition to the more typical engineering fields (civil, mechanical, etc), they also offer Software, Electrical, and Architectural Building Engineering Tech. The students we talked to are very happy in their classes; one student at my lunch table was in the engineering tech program and said that he had a lot of friends at URI’s engineering. “They’re getting much more of the theory. We’re getting the actual knowledge of how to run things. When they get hired, they often don’t know how to run the machines. We do.”

NEIT motion capture 2

The motion capture area in one of the Game Development labs

Classes are held on the quarter system, and many students are able to finish an AA degree in 18 months by taking classes year-round. Bachelor’s can be finished in 3 years. However, their 6-year graduation rate hovers in the mid-50% range which isn’t spectacular but still slightly above the national average. However, job placements out of here tend to be very high for those who do finish.

© 2019

Johnson & Wales, Providence

Johnson and Wales, Providence (visited 4/29/19)

J&W sculptureThis is an amazing college for students wanting a solid education with hands-on components, students who want “to try new things, to succeed and even fail. We support them and help them transition.” Students start with their major on day one – but can work with their advisor to change. They can figure it out early if it isn’t the right fit. “This is the place to come if you want to learn and get a job. Students get hired.”

J&W chocolate lab

Chocolates lab class

J&W’s Providence campus is the flagship (with other campuses in Charlotte, Denver, and Miami). When students apply, they pick a campus but are accepted to all four. The school was founded by 2 women in 1914 before women were even allowed to vote – yet they started a major university as a business school to build opportunities for women and provide them with relevant skill sets in the work force. They still have strong business programs, including Equine Business Management (with Riding or Non-Riding options), Advertising & Marketing Communications, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, and Restaurant/Food/Beverage Management.

J&W 2The Providence campus now offers 70 programs (majors vary a bit between campuses). Students are allowed to move between campuses, assuming their major is offered at the other location. The university offers Associates (Baking & Pastry or Culinary Arts) through Doctoral (Education) degrees. Students in the AS programs can roll into a related Bachelor’s program in the same or similar majors, including Food Service Management, Culinary Nutrition, Tourism & Hospitality Management, Dietetics & Applied Nutrition, or Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship.

J&W student centerThe university also continues to grow and try new things, as well. In the fall of 2019, 2 new majors are being implemented: Integrated Product Design and Comp Sci. In the fall of 2020, 4 more will begin: Sustainable Food System, Biomedical Science, Economics, and Create Your Own. They also offer accelerated Master’s Programs in areas like Addiction Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Organizational Psychology, Data Analytics, Information Security/Assurance, MBA, Global Leadership & Sustainable Economic Development, and Sport Leadership.

J&W Harborside

The Harborside campus

Classes are capped at 40 (some are capped at a lower point because of the physical work space), but class size averages only 21. Faculty members are experts in their field, many of whom have worked in the industry before coming to campus. They can help with networking, internships, and jobs. J&W has cultivated relationships with multiple companies and has over 1000 internship sites. Students can start interning as early as sophomore year (but junior year is more common).

J&W 3Providence’s campus is split into two parts about 3 miles apart (less than 10 minutes depending on traffic), and students can live on either one regardless of where their classes are held. There is a separate equine center located about 25 minutes away (actually across state lines in Massachusetts!) with regular shuttles running up there.

J&W Downcity res quad

The residential quad on the Downcity Campus

Student parking is located on the Harborside campus because of space issues, and shuttles run regularly between the two sites. We had breakfast in large meeting room in a building that has a dining hall and a res hall. Some of the students have rooms that overlook the water! This campus also has the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Their culinary program is absolutely phenomenal! All aspects of the trade are taught. For example, students take a mixology lab: they use colored water instead of actual alcohol (“it would get prohibitively expensive to keep dumping alcohol down the drain,” said our tour guide). For their final exam, they dim the lights and blare music to mimic the industry. They have to prepare 12 drinks in 12 minutes. There’s also restaurant on site that serves lunch and dinner to just over 60 people. Students in a sophomore-level class work the restaurant and rotate through all aspects of it to learn everything from table set-up to service to food prep. The dessert comes from the Baking & Pastry labs. Students rotate through all sorts of labs; materials and uniforms (collar colors indicate different programs and progression: the lighter the color, the further along a student is) are included in tuition. Students learn how to use everything and not waste things. They use cuttings as garnish, they’ll dry and grind up leftover vegetables for powers to flavor dishes, etc.

The Downcity campus takes up 6 city blocks; the same amenities are on that campus including a pretty residential quad. They even have a pet-friendly floor! There is a bit of commuter parking at this campus, but it tends to be pricey. Providence has great arts, music, and restaurant scenes. This is a great college town with several universities nearby (including Brown, RISD, and Providence College), so places cater to students. For example, there’s a nearby event center that sells tickets at 50% off 2 hours before showtime.

© 2019

Providence College

Providence College (visited 9/12/17) (Scroll down for my 2nd visit on 5/1/19)

Providence 5I appreciated that the admission reps and other people presenting information to the visiting counselors made efforts to help differentiate Providence from other solid, similarly-sized liberal arts schools. According to them, their 4 pillars make PC different:

  • Human Flourishing: learn to take of yourself now so you’re able to do it later!
  • Cultural Agility: help to see through your lens AND how to learn from those people around you. “Erase the fear. Help include people who might feel different or alienated.”
  • Contemplation and communication: “We do this in the Dominican tradition. We want people to be intentional about contemplation. Take the time to do it. Share that with others.”
  • Integrated learning: “learning is important, but it’s not all you do. How do you put everything together – the internship, the extra-curriculars – to build yourself and get where you want to be?

Providence outdoor seatingA large part – really, the cornerstone – of their core curriculum is Western Civ. This is a 4 semester, team-taught, interdisciplinary course of study pulling together Theology, Lit, History, Philosophy, “really, the entirety of western civilization.” Students take this every semester of their first 2 years. The first 3 semesters cover ancient, medieval, and modern times; in the 4th semester, students complete a colloquium to “bring knowledge into a contemporary topic.” They can choose classes such as Our Monsters, Ourselves (how do we define monsters?), Ethical Practices in Business, Sustainability and Profits, etc. This is a huge part of PC’s culture and community and is almost a rite of passage: students will sport T-shirts saying things like “Done with Civ.”

Providence quad 2This is a Roman Catholic institution, and 50 priests live on campus. This dictates much of what happens around campus from class work to student services. There are options in some aspects of how religion plays out on campus. For example, teachers could opt into having a crucifix in the classrooms but most did not. “Religion is not heavy-handed here” but it’s clearly around and available. Students must take 2 religion and 2 philosophy classes, one of which must be ethics-based, but Mass or chapel is not required. “It’s is more of a social event,” said one of the tour guides. “We have a post-mass bash.” Catholic policy does dictate other things: “We’re a Catholic school, and our Health Center follows Catholic guidelines. I’m not sure you want me to be more specific … students aren’t always happy about this, but there are referrals for outside things as needed.”

Providence hockey

Practice time for the hockey team!

Although diversity and inclusion are, on paper anyway, part of the Dominican tradition, people we talked agreed that the college was not as diverse as they’d like but it’s gotten a lot better in recent years. “It’s the #1 strategic goal. We’re 18% non-white. We’d like to get to 25%.” The LGBTQ community is “not a closeted presence” and seems to be well supported. “Our students are overwhelmingly involved in service, athletics, etc. That’s a major characteristic.” They’ve put a lot of money into athletic facilities: all of them are new within the last 10 years (most within 5). PC has been ranked as the #1 school for intramural involvement. This is also a big hockey school.

Providence business int

Interior of the Business Dept

Academic programs worth noting include:

  • Arts and Sciences: every person takes classes in this school regardless of major.
  • Providence 8Professional Studies is the smallest school and consists of Applied Programs such as Education (Secondary and Elementary/Special), Health Policy Management (one of the fastest growing majors), and Social Work.
    • The BSW is so strong that students can often start their MSW with advanced standing. “We’re the liberal arts in service to others.” This school gives them flexibility to pursue things like pre-med, MPH, hospital admin, etc.
  • Business: Students become proficient in writing, oral communication, civic engagement, and diversity. They offer 4 majors in a new building (opened in January 2017).
    • First-year advising workshops are offered every other week for the first semester covering career education, study abroad, the curriculum, etc. They bring in alumni and faculty to talk about what they do with the majors.
    • The Finance lab has 12 Bloomberg Terminals. They’re pushing for more people to get certified on these

Providence 1Admissions is test-optional: “It doesn’t drive the process. Almost 40% of applicants didn’t submit them last year,” said an admissions rep. “It will not affect merit awards” (given to about ¼ of the students). They recalculate transcripts based on a 4.0 unweighted scale looking only at academic subjects. Last year was the first time admissions didn’t pull students from the waitlist, and in fact, they’ve been slightly overenrolled. 31% came from the ED pool which they’d like to max out at 35%. “We’re talking about the people we want to bring to our community, be part of our family. They want to be here because they love the place!”

© 2017

Providence College (5/1/19)

“I’m so content. I’m where I’m supposed to be,” said our tour guide who was amazing. It’s hard to find one who is so forthcoming about the benefits as well as any potential drawbacks. She recognizes that this isn’t the place for everyone – but it’s really right for a lot of people!

This is a Dominican university with 45 Friars living on campus. Many of them teach, particularly theology, philosophy, or the required Civ core classes. Mass/chapel attendance isn’t required, but many students will attend one of those offered on campus. “Last Chance Mass is offered at 10pm on Sundays, and it’s usually standing-room only.”

The Business school is the only one that students must apply directly to get into, however students can minor in one of the subjects without applying to the program. The Business School is big on teamwork, building much of their teaching on “The Power of We” and experiential learning. Students all attend a First Year Advising Workshop taught by their advisor. This program brings in alumni, faculty, and others to give students a broad and deep understanding of what business is. They offer a fast-track program for those wanting to go into elite firms/Wall Street. They’re also very much about building students’ cultural agility. Students can study abroad, including short-term faculty-led abroad for 10ish days. Last year, trips went to Japan and Australia. “It wasn’t hard to go to Sydney in January,” said one student. International Business majors must intern abroad.

Education majors can also go abroad to Puerto Rico, Ecuador, and Italy without worrying about losing credits or time towards graduation.

Admissions is test-optional, and 36% of applicants do not submit scores. About 1/3 of the incoming classes are admitted under Early Decision. The admissions office recalculates GPAs to an unweighted one. Last year, only 21% of students got merit scholarships. “Less merit means more need-based aid – which means more access for students. We’re putting our resources into meeting as much demonstrated need as possible.”

© 2019

 

Brown University

Brown University (visited 3/21/14 and 4/30/19 — scroll to the bottom for additional notes from the most recent visit)

~Brown sculpture

Student-made sculpture on campus

Although we arrived late for the info session, we arrived in time to hear the Director of Admissions say that Brown looks for students with “Conspicuous academic success, an unusual level of independence in and out of school, and who are unusually devoted to scholarly life. The key word there is ‘unusual’ – if we could define it, it wouldn’t be unusual anymore.”

~Brown quiet quadBrown has the most flexible curriculum of the Ivies. There are no required classes, so people want to be in the classes they register for. Our tour guide said, “people are very in control of their lives here.” One of her favorite classes was her FYS – Italian Studies; she loved the integration, and she really got to work on her writing. Another guide told me that she choose Brown because “I wanted a place to balance me out. Everyone here has a passion.” One thing they would both change is the advising. “There’s almost too much. Everyone has different opinions and they think they’re right!” In addition to an academic advisor, there are resident advisors and meiklejohns (a peer advisor).

When the university was founded in 1764, it was criticized for being so large – with 7 students! Now, even with 6,500 undergrads, they manage to keep academic classes relatively small. They have one 500-seat lecture hall, but only 4% of classes have more than 100 students; 70% have 20 or fewer students.

Brown quad 4Campus is relatively spacious but walkable. Simmons Quad (complete with a statue of Marcus Aurelius) is the physical center of campus. From there, you can walk anywhere from that point in 7 minutes (less if you hustle!). This is only one of several Greens around campus. The Quiet Green (named for obvious reasons) has plugs on the lampposts so students can use their computers outside The main gates from the road open twice a year – once for the new freshmen to come through (“People applaud; it’s kind of a cool way to be welcomed to campus!”) and again for seniors to leave at graduation. They aren’t supposed to go through the gates except those two times “or they won’t graduate or get married.” This quad also is home to the College Bell which rings when Brown wins a football game or a major world event happens – “both equally rare,” said the tour guide.

~Brown Greek Quad

Greek Quad

Behind the Quiet Quad is the Main Quad; this looks more like a traditional college quad and hosts many of the college events including the much-anticipated yearly Spring Fling. They also have a “Greek Quad” with the Greek dorms. The school charter says that only half of the house can be Greek. The rest of the rooms have to be reserved for Independents. About 10% of the student body is affiliated.

Although housing is guaranteed all four years, 70% of seniors choose to live off campus. “Some off-campus housing is closer to academic buildings than the dorms are,” said one of the students. Juniors can move off, but it’s harder to do this so most wait until senior year – and they aren’t unhappy on campus. Our tour guide said, “I don’t leave campus much. There’s too much going on here.” Although it’s difficult to have cars (parking in Providence is limited), it’s easy to get around town, take day trips, or travel to get home. The bus and the train stations are a 10-15 minute walk from campus. A bus ticket to Boston costs $10 making it an easy and cheap outing.

~Brown Quiddich

Pick-up Quiddich game

Sports and Arts are both big on campus. There are 37 varsity sports (gymnastics recently won championships) as well as lots of intramurals including inner-tube water polo and cornball. Brown students can cross-register for 4 classes at RISD “but that’s pretty loose. I know someone who took 8.” Not surprisingly, they have a bunch of a cappella groups (what bigger school doesn’t anymore?) including ARRRcappella (pirate acappella), Jockappella, and more. There also have 3 improv troupes, and anyone can take part in theater productions. They own the largest Hutching-Votey organ in the world, and they hold four Midnight Organ concerts on “the 4 scariest nights of the year”: Halloween, the nights before fall and spring finals, and the night before the first classes in the fall.

~Brown organ

Hutching-Votey Organ

Not surprisingly, there are multiple libraries around campus. “The Rock” is the main library, shortened from The John D. Rockefeller Junior Library. Apparently, the Foundation was so annoyed that it was being shortened to The Rock that they wrote a letter to the Brown student body to say that they couldn’t call it The Rock; “Brown students in the ‘60s, being Brown students, told them that they were happy to stop using The Rock and would commence calling it The John. The Foundation changed their stance quickly!”

~Brown science library

Science Library

The Science Library, voted the ugliest library several years running, is the tallest point on campus with 14 floors; “the joke is that the books get more basic as you go up” (even the tour guide admitted to this being a bad science/PH scale joke!). However, it has been used as a huge Tetris game! Brown also has 3 “sacred libraries” which don’t allow books to be checked out. One has the largest collection of tin soldiers in the country (world?), flowers from Lincoln’s funeral, and apparently 3 books bound in human skin.

Brown ranks in the top 50 most expensive schools at $58K a year. “The Good News is that we have gobs of money!” said the admissions rep. “If the family makes less than $100,000 a year, there will be no loans; less than $60,000 there are no loans or EFC.”

© 2014

Brown University (visited 4/30/19)

“We’ve driven by who the students are. They’re the best thing about Brown,” said one of the admissions reps.

The admissions committee wants to know how the kids will stand out, who will take advantage of the open curriculum, and who wants to make connections between subjects. The curriculum “makes you really figure things out,” said one of the students. People who are excited about that will thrive here. “We nerd out about what we’re studying. You don’t usually get to take academic risks in high school because there are so many things you have to do,” said another student on the panel.

Admissions is need-blind, and they now have a home for DACA/undocumented students. They also introduced the Brown Promise which removes loans from Financial Aid packages. This has made Brown a much more attractive choice. This year, their admission rate dropped to 6.6% overall with 4.6% in regular round. The Dean of Admission talked about the fraud at some of the other schools. “The work we do is of the highest integrity based on fairness. They may not like the outcome, but it’s fair. It’s as holistic and contextualized as possible. The ones we admit are the ones who have earned it. We work closely with the athletic departments and have done internal audits to be confident that no one was involved.”

They dropped the writing SAT requirement and saw a 14% increase in First Gen applicants. They also saw a 21% increase in ED apps. Although they admitted about the same number as in previous years, they admitted a higher number of those who were deferred to Regular. This year, they offered applicants the option to submit a 2-minute video instead of an interview. More did this in the Regular Decision round; ED applicants went more towards interviews.

© 2019

Rhode Island School of Design

~RISD patio and skylineRhode Island School of Design (visited 3/21/14 — Click HERE for my 2nd visit on 5/2/19)

Providence is a beautiful, hilly, historic city with unique events with plenty of options for recreation; there are lots of street performers, vendors, Gallery Nights, and more including Waterfire (started by a RISD alum), an annual event on the river running near campus. With five colleges, Providence is a college town (and has been named as the #3 Best City for Foodies).

~RISD house

A Hill House

RISD is a highly residential campus. Freshmen and sophomores must live on campus, and 70% of all students live in university housing. Freshmen are housed in a centrally located quad: the four buildings are completely connected, including underground passageways. Most rooms are doubles with occasional triples in the mix. 15 West are the student apartments located above the library and a café. The university also owns Hill Houses, old houses with loft ceilings and great views that have been renovated into dorm rooms and shared spaces. Met is the main dining hall (located in the Freshman Quad) where the Admissions Rep, a RISD alum, said that “they actually use spices. I pay money to eat there.” However, if they get tired of the campus food, there are plenty of other places in Providence to eat.

~RISD freshman quad

Freshmen Quad

The education prepares students for the professional side of being an artist – not just through career services, but through how they teach them to think and create. The academics here require a lot of problem solving and trans-disciplinary approaches. They’ve actually changed the STEM acronym to STEAM by adding “Art and Design” with the idea that ideas are useless unless they can be communicated. A lot of alums are working in STEM disciplines, collaborating with MIT students, etc. They run a full Nature lab of natural-history collections allowing students a hands-on opportunity for a variety of projects. Risk taking and creative thinking are encouraged here. Students create board games, create a solution to real world problems, etc. In Spatial Dynamics last year, students had to create “3D but functional headwear” as part of a competition, and the creations were displayed in a fashion show.

~RISD patiosBrown and RISD offer a Dual Degree; students must be admitted to both schools separately and must write an essay explaining why this program is good for them. This is a 5-year program; the first year, they live at one school and take some classes at the other; the 2nd year live at the other school at take classes at the first. After that, they alternate semesters. Right now, they have a student who is Furniture Design major at RISD and studying Music at Brown. She wants to make her own instruments.

~RISD 2

Museum

Students must declare a major by March of freshman year. The Foundation classes average 20 students; other classes average 17 students. Ceramics and Glass classes are the smallest, reflecting the size of the majors. The school offers BFA in any of the 4 year programs (apparel, ceramics, film/animation/video, furniture design, glass, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture). The BArch degree takes 5 years. Students need to complete 42 credits in the Liberal Arts including History of Art and Visual Culture, Literary Arts and Studies, History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences. If they want, the students can complete a concentration in Liberal Arts. Many take advantage of the cross registration option with Brown. After freshmen year, students can take whatever they want there. Languages and Environmental Sciences (especially among illustration majors) are popular options. Many students also take advantage of the Wintersession to take non-major electives, liberal arts travel courses, and internships. 72% of students do an internship; 54% did 2 or more.

~RISD mural 4Facilities are top-notch. The Museum has many more things in storage than are on display, but the curator will pull anything from storage for students to work with. The library was an old bank and redone by faculty and students and is now named as one of the “50 most amazing libraries”. Campus is compact and walkable. Although the furthest building (architecture) is only a 10 minute walk, there are shuttles around campus (nice when they don’t feel like hiking up the hill!)

Although students will be spending a lot of time on work (“You’ll spend at least as much on homework as on studio work – at least 8 hours a week,” said the tour guide), there’s active campus life beyond academics. The 70 clubs/organizations keep kids busy. They even wrote and produced “RISD The Musical” (you can check it out on YouTube). “We have sports teams, too. They’re not very good . . . except for cycling. We have a lot of hills! But we have a lot of fans. We get a little rowdy!” said the tour guide.

~RISD mural 3RISD is Common App exclusive. Applicants must upload 12-20 images of best and most recent work (done within last couple years). They also ask for 3 images from a sketchbook/journal. Separate from this are two 16×20 hard-copy Required Drawings which should be completed in 1 day, and done on paper to fold up, put in an envelope, and mailed. Drawing 1 is a Bicycle (graphic only); Drawing 2 can be 11 related images (still on 1 page), a 2-sided drawing, or a Drawing instrument. Students can also attend a National Portfolio Day; they recommend bringing a friend or family member to help stand in line since it often takes a while to get seen.

Clearly, RISD is doing something right with their education. Ninety-five percent of freshmen persist to sophomore year, and 87% graduate within 6 years. Students and alum have won 9 MacArthur Awards (kind of the Nobel Prize for artists that comes with a $500,000 award) and 50 Fulbright awards in the past 15 years.

© 2014

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