campus encounters

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Archive for the category “South Carolina”

University of South Carolina

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA (visited 4/4/14)

~USC fountainUSC had one of the best organized visit programs I’ve seen; in a way, it has to be with the numbers of people visiting. They had an individualized welcome packet for each person, info sessions in two areas to make it feel less impersonal, and tour guides with a list of people assigned to their tour, partially based on region so they could talk to a student as close to home as possible. My tour guide, a PoliSci and Journalism double major from Burlington, NC, transferred here after freshman year because she wanted a big town feel and liked the idea of being in a capitol city for the political science opportunities. She feels like she has plenty of opportunities for education and recreation; off campus, she likes to go to 5 Points which is like their version of College Town.

~USC flowers 2~USC bikes 2Almost 2/3 of USC’s 20,000 students are from in-state, but they attract students from all states and more than 100 countries. NC, VA, MD, GA, and NJ are the most highly represented states outside of SC. Campus is breathtaking; the central campus has trees, bushes, and flowers everywhere, and students were out enjoying the quad. Although there are major roads surrounding campus, this is very much a pedestrian campus. All students can have cars, and there are garages available which alleviates parking issues and helps maintain the beauty of campus. Campus is highly walkable, and people walking in groups and socializing, but there is a campus shuttle for those who want it. It’s also very safe; the only time our tour guide had heard of anyone using the blue light was when someone who was allergic was stung by a bee and needed an epi-pen.

~USC hammocksQualified students wanting more of an academic challenge can participate in one of two “challenges”: the Capstone Scholars, a two-year program to which applicants are given automatic consideration. The scholars live together in one of the largest residence halls, located in the Humanities area of campus; it looks a little like a “spaceship” which also has a revolving restaurant on the top floor (the only one in SC). They take special classes and take a trip abroad every May (last year it was to Iceland; this year it’s Greece). It is possible to transfer into the Honors Program afterwards. The other option is the Honors College which has been ranked as #1 in the nation. This is a four-year program and is highly competitive, requiring an additional application consisting of six essays and two letters of recommendation. Classes are much smaller; students get priority registration as well as other benefits.

Museum

Museum

Students wanting an “Early Answer” (their version of Early Action) must submit their application AND have all test scores and transcripts in by October 15. They’ll take the highest composite for ACT and superscore the SAT. To be considered for the Capstone or Honors and for scholarships, applications must be in November 15. Scholarships are given to approximately 1/3 of students and are awarded based on GPA and test scores. Since the applicant pool changes every year, they don’t have specific GPA or score cut-offs. Notifications are sent out after 2/1 when the see the complete application pool. Their application includes an “Optional Personal Statement.” The rep said, “Use it!! Here’s an Insider Tip: Tell your story! Brag on yourself a bit. We’re holistic; we want to admit a well-rounded person.”

~USC quad 4Students tend to continue being well-rounded and involved once they get on campus. Last year, students completed 472,152 service hours and raised $1.3million for charity. 1100 students studied abroad last year in 50 countries. All freshmen must live on campus; housing options include 17 Living-Learning Community as well as more traditional dorms. There are 22 dining options in 13 buildings (and they brought us into one of the traditional dining halls about halfway through campus and let us get drinks). About 20% of the students are involved in one of the 40 fraternities and sororities on campus, and housing is available in the Greek Village. They have 400 organizations and an active performing arts community (their theater was used as a Civil War Morgue; theater students do a haunted tour in there every Halloween). Gamecock Pride is huge. Many people participate in sports, and many more go out to support the athletes at games.

They m~USC observatoryake admissions decisions without taking a declared major into consideration, so no major is capped. Students complete a Common Core in first two years so it’s easy to change major or double major. Of the 95 majors, some of the more unusual or noteworthy include:

  • Arts & Sciences: Criminology, Marine Science, Religious Studies
  • Business. International Business #1 in the country for 16 years straight
  • Mass Communication: Journalism is most comprehensive of its kind, including Print, broadcast, and more
  • Engineering and Computing: undergrads can minor in Aerospace Engineering (and stay for a Masters)
  • Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Students complete internships at places like Gucci, the NFL, Marriott, Verizon, and the Olympics.
  • Health Sciences: They offer a 6-year PharmD as well as Nursing which is competitive: students are admitted to lower division of nursing and start clinicals in first two years.

~USC theaterOnly 3% of classes have more than 150 students; 75% have fewer than 40. Our tour guide’s classes have ranged from 19-200. Her favorite class so far has been her Environmental Studies class. She liked the practical nature of the education, such as when they walked around campus at night to study the university’s energy usage and see what might be improved. She also loved her National Parks elective because it was so unusual.

The USC campus also houses the National Advocacy Center which trains 15,000 judges, lawyers, and others in the legal profession every year.

© 2014

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Winthrop University

WINTHROP UNIVERSITY (visited 4/4/14)

~Winthrop sign ~Winthrop flowersWinthrop is a Comprehensive Liberal Arts Public University located on a 100-acre campus in Rock Hill, SC, a small city with 65,000 residents, which is considered an “outskirt” of Charlotte (the 2nd largest financial district in the US after NYC). Without traffic, students can be in Charlotte in about 20 minutes. In fact, they’re so close that they have a loose affiliate with UNC-Charlotte; any student doing AF ROTC goes there for the classes. Army ROTC can be done at Winthrop.

They currently have just over 5000 undergrads (plus about 1,100 grad students) and are growing by 3-4% a year. They have a warm and welcoming Admissions Office. The visitor coordinator was outgoing and friendly, greeting and chatting easily with visitors. Coffee and water were available in the large room used for the info session. They made a very good first impression!

Winthrop Business tickerSome unusual majors include Finance (either Corporate or Financial Planning); Health Care Management; Sustainable Business; Digital Commerce; Human Nutrition; Integrated Marketing Communication; Science Communication; BFA offerings in 11 areas including Photography (either Commercial or Fine Arts), Jewelry/Metals, Sculpture, Interior Design, and Illustration, and Bachelor of Music or Music Education. Art students can showcase work both on and off campus, and theater students can write and direct their own work.

~Winthrop swingsThe average class size is 24, but “that seems inflated by freshmen classes which are capped at 29,” said the admissions rep. Intro to Biology and Intro to Chem tend to be the largest classes with up to 40 per class. Their 3 most popular majors are pretty typical: Business, bio, and psych. Fine arts and Early Childhood Education round out their top five. They are known for fine and performing arts, and they are the Flagship School of the SE Region for Education. They maintain a satellite campus consisting of Wetlands, used primarily as a lab for bio classes.

~Winthrop ampitheaterAdmitted students have an average 3.8 GPA, a mid-50% SAT range of 960-1150 or average ACT of 23, and almost 50% in the top 20% of their class. In addition to other merit scholarships, they do offer an IB scholarship and Talent Scholarships which require a portfolio or audition (and are judged by the faculty).

In order to help students thrive and persist towards graduation, freshmen and sophomores must live on campus unless they live within a 50 mile radius. In addition to regular style dorms, they have several themed residence halls such as Math and Science, Honors, Leadership, Helping Hands, Historical Perspectives, Creative Habitat, Around the World, Environmental Issues, Healthy U, and more.

~Winthrop little chapel

Little Chapel

Robert Mills, who designed the Washington Monument, also designed Little Chapel on campus. This tiny building (it looks like it might hold 30-40 people) is tucked into a small garden in the middle of campus near the amphitheater (next to which stands a statue of an Amphibian Quartet, donated by an alum).

~Winthrop harry potter hallStudents definitely don’t lack for fun on campus. There is a multitude of cultural events (speakers, concerts, etc) on campus; students must attend 18 cultural events to graduate. The tour guide got most of hers done the first year. About 50% of students are involved in Greek life. “It’s a big deal,” said the tour guide, “but you don’t have to affiliate to be included in events or have fun on campus.” There is a full movie theater in the student center; movies are shown on Wednesdays and Saturdays and cost $2 per movie or $10 for a semester pass. The school maintains an18-hole Disc Golf Course. Athletic events are in the Rec Center a mile away, and the school provides shuttles. Their DI sports play in the Big South Conference with Baseball ranked #1 in the division and #3 in the state after USC and Clemson. The Women’s Basketball team was in March Madness.

© 2014

College of Charleston

~CofC sign 2COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (visited 4/5/14)

~CofC mascot

Mascot

COC was founded in 1770, making it the 13th oldest university in the country. Much of the campus reflects this feel with central campus dominated by historic buildings and moss covered trees. Although started as a private college, it’s now public school with about 10,050 undergraduates; however, they draw a significant number of their students (about 38%) from outside of SC. Housing is guaranteed for freshmen, but most students move off campus after that. There are several historic houses that upperclassmen live in, and “commuting” is usually within walking distance. Parking is available but expensive, so many students don’t bring cars. Downtown is within easy walking distance, including a lot of restaurants and stores.

~CofC walkway 3~CofC fountainUnique or strong programs include: Arts Management (looking at the business side such as running galleries, music, etc), Historic Preservation and Community Planning (lots of experiences in the city, and they have a Joint degree in Preservation with Clemson); Astrophysics; Computing in the Arts; Computer Science (very popular – they’re putting up a new building, and students work for Google and Boeing, both of which have big offices in town); specializations within Business Admin (the most popular major in terms of enrollment) including Commercial Real Estate, Global Logistics and Transportation; Hospitality and Tourism Management (the flagship program); and Leadership, Change, and Social Responsibility; International Business (students must minor in a language and must study abroad); and Education (they have the highest Praxis II scores in the state). Foreign languages they offer (to at least the Intermediate level) include: Ancient Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Russian in addition to the more popular offerings.~CofC acad bldg 3~CofC chapel and bikes

~CofC archStudents admitted to the Honors College almost always come in as freshmen so they can start and continue through with their cohort. There are also specific classes they need to take through the Honors College. If they think they want to apply once they’re on campus, they should talk to advisors to make sure that they don’t enroll in classes that they’ll have to repeat. Classes are smaller, averaging about 14 students per class. Honors students will complete an independent study in one semester and a bachelor’s paper which normally takes two semesters to complete. There is new Honors-specific housing available consisting of two floors of coed suites.

They’re a DI school playing in the Colonial Conference, and basketball is the big spectator sport. Unusual sports include sailing (both men and women) and sand volleyball (women).

© 2014

Coastal Carolina University

COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY (visited 4/5/14)

~Coastal arch~Coastal 2Coastal is a beautiful campus located 20 minutes from Myrtle Beach. Someone said that he had always perceived it as “an extension of a community college.” I think this might have been more accurate in the past; I don’t think this holds up anymore. There has been extensive growth and it’s become more selective in recent years. Started as a branch campus of USC in 1954 with only 150 students, it’s now the fastest growing comprehensive public university in SC with 9,500 students. It’s been listed as a 100 Best College Buys school, placed on Forbes America’s Top Colleges 3 years in a row, ranked in top 15% of 4-year schools, and was named as a College of Distinction (based on engaged students, performance after they leave, faculty commitment, and more) in both 2012 and 2013.

~Coastal fountainThe school has been conducting Exit Surveys for several years and have found that students love Coastal because of:

  • The 70+ Academic Programs. The most unique are: Marine Science, Musical Theater (BFA), Exercise and Sport Science, Intelligence and National Security (faculty are former CIA and FBI), Professional Golf Management or Resort Management (within the Business Program), and Nationally Accredited Teaching Degrees.
  • The Small Classes. Freshmen level classes average 30-35, and there’s no room on campus that can seat more than 125. Of the students I spoke to, the smallest classes were: 4 (Education) and 7 (Business law); the largest were 93 (Intro to Bio) and 60 (Marine Science). “Even in my biggest class, the professor got to know us. She took roll every morning and had extra office hours so we could talk to her.”
  • The Location. Great weather, great internships (especially for Resort or Golf management and Marine Science), and great access to Myrtle Beach. Students love the stuff to do around town, including the research and networking opportunities and the internships. Coast owns Waites Island (a 1000 acre barrier island with no public access) and Coastal Explorer (a research vessel).
  • On-Campus opportunities. In addition to all sorts of usual things that many campuses have, they have a recording studio accessible to anyone. Big-name acts come, including yearly performances by the Carolina ballet. They host weekly a Farmer’s Market which outgrew the small area in front of the admissions center, and has moved to a larger quad.
  • The Tuition. In-State is $17,810, Out-Of-State is $30,820. The in-state tour guide that I spoke to said, “I’m pretty happy with my tuition.” I think that’s a first! Students are automatically considered for scholarships (In-state ranges from $1,000-$6,000; out-of-state ranges from $6,000-$11,000.)

~Coastal clock towerBefore the tour, I spoke to several of the tour guides who were there to help direct the flow of students:

  • One was a Marine Science major from Ohio. He picked Coastal because of the major and proximity to the ocean. He’s getting a hands-on education and is doing an internship at the aquarium. He’s looking to get a job there and wants to do marine Veterinary work. He also scubas with sharks!
  • Library

    Library

    Another was an Elementary Education major. She loves that this is one of the top 3 programs in her field. She’s a junior and is already completing her 2nd placement. She transferred in from another school because this was closer to home, her sister was here, and she liked the program.

  • The third was a senior Business Major from DC. He learned about Coastal from a guidance counselor and like what he learned about it. He’s had a chance to get highly involved in campus life and even started a Latino fraternity.
  • Another student was a Marketing major from NJ. He came here as a back-up option. “I was on the athletic track, but busted my knee senior year. I came with the idea that I would transfer, but I fell in love with it.” The only thing he didn’t rave about was the dining hall: “It’s ok; it’s pretty typical for a college.”
  • The last student I spoke with was an Education major from SC. “Dorms are an 8. Dining hall is a 6; grab-and-go options are an 8.”

~Coastal 4Food seemed to be the one thing that students didn’t love. When I asked them if there was a meal that everyone loved, two tour guides said, “Fried Chicken Friday!” in unison. Another tour guide later also referenced this. “That’s the only day that there’s a line for food!” Other than food, no one could really think of anything to do to improve. “Anything we want, they’re doing already – 3 new academic buildings, additions to the library, new dorms, etc.” One of the reps said, “The students would say parking. We don’t really have a parking problem. We have a walking problem.”

(c) 2013

Furman University

FURMAN UNIVERSITY (visited 3/11/13)

~Furman fountain quad~Furman porch chairsThe city of Greenville has a beautiful downtown and is much bigger than I expected it to be. The university is five miles straight down Poinsett Boulevard; the university has its own entrance off what is essentially a highway at that point. As you pull in, you’re met with a beautiful fountain and the visitor’s center. That sets the stage for the feel of the whole campus. Behind this is the Furman Mall; this grassy area extends back for several blocks and is lined with large trees. The university has done wonders with landscaping and maximizing green spaces. During the student panel, a counselor read an introductory paragraph from one of the college guide books that called Furman a “Country Club” and asked students if they felt that was accurate, too harsh, whatever. The students laughed, but then said, “Look outside! Who’s complaining??”

~Furman interior

Dining Hall

Dining Hall

The students do say that Furman can be a bit of a bubble because there’s so much to do on campus and because downtown isn’t in walking distance, but none of them saw that as a hindrance or drawback to campus. The college works hard to bring in programs, and the student groups themselves (clubs, music ensembles, theater, etc) do a lot of programing. All students have a Cultural Learning Experience (CLE) requirement in which they must go to 8 events a year. These can be lectures, plays, concerts, etc. Our tour guide said that she actually likes it – whenever something is offered for CLE credit, it will clearly state it on the promotional materials, so she said that it makes her consider things that she might not have paid attention to without this requirement. There are also a lot of campus-wide events; some of the students’ favorite traditions involve carnivals such as O Week, Homecoming, Spring Week. Also, it’s easy to get off campus. The college runs shuttles all around town, and all students are allowed to have cars on campus.

~Furman chapel~Furman patioAlthough every admission office will say they want to attract and admit the best students for their institution, this admissions office is very clear on articulating their mission: “We want to recruit graduates, not students,” and they clearly have thought through how they want to accomplish this. They look at three types of fit: academic, social, and financial. If any of these three are way out of whack, it causes stress and a negative experience, usually leading to the student transferring out. The admissions deans were also very clear on how they evaluate students for admission: They use a 1-60 scale when looking through files. 22 points comes from what the schools tell them in the form of letters of recommendation. GPA and course selection counts for 24 points. They are a test-optional school – but if applicants submit scores, they will be used as part of the consideration. The nice thing about Furman is that they are also test-optional for merit scholarships, which is a little more unusual. Scholarship consideration is automatic in most situations, but there is a separate application for the four most competitive scholarships.

~Furman 1

Student Center

Furman is also actively trying to increase their diversity. They have attracted students from across the US for a while (22% of students are from SC, 60% from the Southeast including SC), but are now increasing the international population which has grown from 5 or 6 students to almost 7% of the student body. Racial diversity has increased quite a bit in recent years, bringing the population up to 22%. The students on the panel said that the campus is impressively diverse politically. The panelists themselves represented the spectrum including the President of the Student Republicans group and one campaigned heavily for Obama. The college is now working on increasing religious and other types of diversity on campus. They recently built a Hillel space and have hired a campus Rabbi.

~Furman dorm

Dorms

More dorms

More dorms

Surprisingly (since it goes against the norm for smaller liberal arts schools), Furman has more males than females on campus. Greek life is VERY popular on campus with more than 50% of students belonging to a Greek organization. The students we talked to who were not involved, though, said that they didn’t feel left out, nor did they feel any pressure to join. A lot of events are open to the entire student population, and there’s no Greek housing, so people aren’t separated out. Rush also takes place second semester after everyone has settled in, so there people already have their social circles before joining. It’s not unusual for groups of friends to have members in different frats or sororities, and the dorms are mixed, too. Freshmen and sophomore dorms are typical hallway dorms, but the Junior/Senior apartments have full beds and kitchens. It is a residential campus; although the numbers have been holding steady at about 2600-2700 students, Furman can go up to almost 3000 students and remain residential.

~Furman acad bldgs 2

The resident cat who lives at the Environmental Center on campus

The resident cat who lives at the Environmental Center on campus

Some of the favorite classes of the students on the panel were Medicine, Morality, and Culture (taught by a Philosophy prof), a hiking class, Comparing Vietnam and Iraq, PoliSci 100 (because it included “Real world stuff” and they got to read the NYT and novels), and Perspectives on American Education (it was discussion based, the read three Young Adult novels, utilized journals, etc). All the students gushed at the quality of teaching and accessibility of the professors. The biggest lecture hall on campus has only 60 seats, so no class can exceed that. There are supports in place for struggling students, and the faculty gets involved since classes are small enough to pay attention to students, but it’s ultimately the students’ responsibility to take advantage of safety nets. Clearly, students are looked after though. Graduation rates across the board are high, and they rank third nationally (after Notre Dame and Colgate) for athletes who graduate in four years.

(c) 2013

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