campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Information Session information”

University of Alabama

University of Alabama (info session 12/10/18)

‘Bama has become more popular with my students over the last couple years (although groups of students wanting the larger, Southern, rah-rah feel seems to cycle through every so often) – and they are doing more outreach in the mid-Atlantic region. In mid-December, they did a one-week trip through the Baltimore/DC/VA area with counselor luncheons, info sessions for families, and other outreach. There was quite a bit of good information that came out of this!

I sat at a table with a student form Northern Virginia who was part of the Alabama team travelling through the region. She’s a sophomore who is double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Dance! “Alabama can help make that happen!” She is overloading on classes and clearly has this well planned out, but it’s doable. Her brother also attended the university which is how she learned about it; she originally was not going to even look at it, but the more time she spent there visiting him, the more it grew on her – and the other schools she visited “just didn’t compare.

Part of what she loves about the school is that she isn’t limited, even as a double major, one of which is Engineering and can be highly dictated. She’s going to study abroad next year in Dublin; they have a program with a direct transfer for ChemE. There are also engineering co-ops. Outside of the classroom, she’s on the Hip-hop Dance Crew, in Society of Women Engineers (where she’s highly involved in community service), and a member of a STEM sorority. She said that she didn’t go Greek the first year because she was sure she didn’t want that, but the more she learned about it, the more she liked the group she joined.

Greek life can be important or not there at all, said both the student and one of the reps who graduated a few years ago. There’s no shortage of other options to choose from with 650+ clubs and counting, including cloud watching. The university sponsors Get On Board Day. Recruitment/info tables for clubs are set up between the dorms and classes so students have to walk through them and see it! Athletics are, of course, a big draw here. Students are guaranteed 3 tickets (2 if they pick the package including the Auburn game) to the football games; they pay $10 a game. If they don’t use their tickets, they can transfer them to someone else. As long as the ticket gets used, the student gets “points”/credit for going and can increase their standing for picking their package for the next time around. Also, the more academic credits they have, the more tickets they’re eligible to get (currently, if they have 60+ credits, they can get a full package).

They’re doing something well there with an 87% retention rate; 68% graduate within 6 years. They’ve also vastly increased their student population over the last 15ish years from 19,000 to just over 33,000 undergraduates. With that has come 90 new buildings since 2003. Currently about 60% of students are from outside Alabama: “It was a good surprise to see how many there were.”

They’ve started several Innovative Programs, as well:

The university app goes live in July. Students just need a transcript, test scores, and the app – no essays or recs needed. The university is getting strict about the Scholarship Consideration deadline on 12/15 – students must be ADMITTED by then! Once admitted, students have a variety of housing options with different price-points. That application opens on 10/1 with a priority deadline of 2/1. All freshmen are guaranteed space, but they longer they wait to apply/deposit, the less choice they’ll have in where they live. They do offer honors housing – Honors students don’t have to live there, but you have to be an honors student to get into that space.

© 2018

University of Washington – Bothell

University of Washington – Bothell (info session on the UW main campus, 6/22/17)

For 130 years, UW was 1 campus; in 1990, they decided to expand their reach to increase access, specifically for transfer students. There are now 3 campuses in the UW system (Bothell and Tacoma in addition to the main campus in Seattle) which provide different experiences. They share characteristics of collaboration, offering students joint access to programs across campuses including 275 study abroad offerings and 306 degree programs (although not all are available on all campuses). After completing 25 credits on their home campus, students can take up to 15 credits a year on the other campuses. Technically, students at Bothell or Tacoma can be involved in the athletics on the main campus although it’s a rarity.

The Bothell campus is located about 15 miles northeast of main campus. They structured themselves specifically to serve transfers, but then opened up for first year candidates and have grown like crazy. They’ve doubled in size in the last 7 or 8 years to a total of about 4800 students almost equally divided between first years and transfers. About 75% of these are residents of Washington. They offer apartments for on-campus housing.

This is a great option for those who want a UW education but in a smaller educational environment. They have a strong commitment to affordability and access. Bothell is a majority-minority campus with almost 70% self-reporting as an underrepresented student. About half of the students are first-gen college-goers. Their mission to change trajectories. Over half of UW grads don’t have “known debt”; those that do have less than the national average. They also earn more upon graduation than any other school in the state!

Bothell has 5 schools; some of their note-worthy programs are:

  1. Business
    1. Retail Management (operations, buying, etc).
    2. Applied Computing
  2. Educational Studies: interdisciplinary
  3. Interdisciplinary A&S
    1. Community Psychology
    2. Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior
    3. Interactive Media Design (joint program with STEM)
    4. Culture, Literature, and the Arts
    5. Mathematical Thinking and Visualization
  4. Nursing and Health Studies
  5. STEM
    1. Climate Science and Policy
    2. Conservation and Restoration Ecology

© 2017

University of Washington – Tacoma

UW – Tacoma (Info session on UW main campus, 6/22/17)

“There’s nothing better in an education than getting your normal shaken,” said one of the reps. UW-T is located about 30 minutes south of the main campus in mostly refurbished buildings that were originally built for the railroads and supporting businesses in the area. They’re part of the Coalition of Urban Serving UniversitiesAccess is at the center of everything they do. About 65% of the 5,000 undergrads are first-gen college goers. “That impacts everything we do.” Although primarily serving transfers from one of the Washington Community Colleges, about 20% of their students come in as freshman.

For 130 years, UW was 1 campus; in 1990, they decided to expand their reach to increase access, specifically for transfer students. There are now 3 campuses in the UW system (Tacoma and Bothell in addition to the main campus in Seattle) which provide very different experiences. They share characteristics of collaboration, offering students joint access to programs across campuses including 275 study abroad offerings and 306 degree programs (although not all are available on all campuses). After completing 25 credits on their home campus, students can take up to 15 credits a year on the other campuses. Technically, students at Bothell or Tacoma can be involved in the athletics on the main campus although it’s a rarity.

When asked what makes them different from other institutions, they said:

  • “Our mission is to foster a thriving and equitable society by educating diverse learners and expanding knowledge through partnership and collaboration with all our communities. We have diversity in a variety of forms: age, veteran status, underrepresented students, etc.”
  • “We’re urban; who doesn’t want Thai food under the computer center?”
  • “This is where real world housing meets residential life: you have the fob to get in, but it looks like a normal dorm inside.” There are Studio, 1-, and 2-bedroom apartments, all with kitchens so students can bring their coffee pots and popcorn makers unlike most dorms. There are only 300 spaces so priority is given to out-of-region students. “We have a conversation with students about living somewhere that’s academically healthy!”

Urban Studies is a unique major to this campus. It incorporates a lot of sociology by looking not just how cities work but how humans interact with the city. Students can choose tracks in Global Urbanism, Community Development and Planning, or GIS and Spatial Planning. Other unique programs include: Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies, Sustainable Urban Development, and Social Welfare.

© 2017

Chapman University

Chapman University (Information Session/Lunch, 9/26/16)

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Chapman, located in Orange Country, California. However, they hosted a lunch in DC last week; in attendance was an admissions rep and 5 or 6 recent alumni residing in the DMV area. I sat across from one (class of 2015) and 2 seats down from another (class of 2013). After a brief update from the Rep on programs and new things on campus, we had the rest of lunch to speak with alumni. This was a fabulous way to get to know about the feel of the school and some of the programs.

I was impressed that the Admissions office could send a blanket invitation to about 50 alumni in the DC area inviting them to lunch in exchange for talking to us. They did not screen the people who came; they trusted that they were excited about their experiences. They were right. The alumni couldn’t say enough about Chapman. They were articulate, excited, happily employed – and they say they’re the rule, not the exception. The woman across from me had been accepted into many of the UCs but chose Chapman. “It was absolutely the best choice. I was able to do so much there that I couldn’t have done other places. For examples, I had an idea for a conference, went to people, pitched it, and it happened. That’s what makes Chapman unique. I could plan, run, and budget a program. This isn’t unusual. Students do it all the time.”

She was also a First-Gen student so I asked her about support systems. “It’s there. It’s REALLY there. I had people reaching out to me all the time. However, I was not far from my family, I feel like I had a lot of support and knew how to run with things. I didn’t take advantage of these things, but in some ways, it was comforting to know it was there if I did need it. I finally reached out to them, told them I was doing great, and said that they could take me off the list so they could focus their energy on other students who might need the help more than I did.”

The Honors Program is a minor and takes an interdisciplinary approach. “That was the coolest part for me,” said the alum sitting a couple seats down. They have AMAZING minors (in addition to a lot of usual, more traditional ones) such as Holocaust History, Organismal Biology, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Studies, and Law/Justice/Social Control.

Updates on programs, buildings, and academics include:

Dodge College of Film and Media Arts is one of the best in the country. Most of the programs in this college are BFAs, including Screen Acting, Screenwriting, Creative Producing, and Television Writing and Production. Film Production is their most competitive major with a 5-10% acceptance rate (Compared to about a 51% acceptance rate for other programs. Students should put in a second choice, but know that there is rarely a space to transfer in.

Chapman has 6500 undergraduates. This year, they have 100 more freshman than anticipated, so there are going to be some more students in triples. They guarantee first year housing but not past that. Generally, though, people who want to stay, can. They’re located in a residential area: there are lots of nearby houses and apartments to rent within a 5-10 minute walk. Usually, they learned about places through older friends already off campus. Both of the alumni had lived off campus and never had a problem finding a place. One of them, as a senior, lived closer to her classes than she did in the dorms.

Average GPA of accepted students is 3.76. They look at 10th and 11th grade classes plus first semester of 12th grade if the student applies Regular Decision. They recalculate GPA based on Core Classes (including religion if it’s required at the high school) plus any classes related to the major. They’ll add weight to IB and AP classes; if the high school does not offer these, they’ll add weight to honors classes. Average test scores are 1880 (Old SAT) and 28 ACT; they superscore SAT but not ACT.

© 2016

Embry Riddle Aeronautic University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University (Informational Lunch on 9/18/14)

ERAU has two campuses: one in Florida (located next to the Daytona airport) with 5,500 students, and one in Arizona with 2,000 students. “The Arizona campus is up in the mountains and just stunning!” said one of the reps. Students come from all over the country, and per capita, they travel further to attend ER than anywhere else in the country, coming from an average of almost 800 miles away. Currently, their student population is almost 80% male, but that’s slowly lowering towards 75%.

The university got its start in 1925 when Embry took a flight lesson – a $20 plane ride –from Riddle. From there, they started a flight school, an airline (now American!), and a mail route. They taught flight and maintenance classes in Miami through WWII, and the school officially became a university in the 1960s.

Some majors are only offered at specific campuses. Global Security, Forensic Biology, Wildlife Science, and Industrial Psychology (among others) are only in Arizona. Aerospace & Occupational Safety, Computational Math, Business Administration, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science (among others) are only offered in Florida. However, most majors are available at either campus. Usually, students will stay at one campus for their 4 years. Sometimes they move after freshman year, particularly if their academic interests shift, but they generally don’t bounce back and forth between the two.

There are a lot of interesting things going on academically. Clearly, any of the aviation sciences are incredibly strong. Options range from Aviation Business Administration to Aeronautical Engineering to Air Traffic Management. “We shape industry and write policy.” They have a crash lab; both airlines and the government will hire them to look at why crashes happen and how they can avoid them in the future. Aviation students pay per hour for flight training which can be $15-18,000 for the first year, and it decreases after that.

Engineering is another strong and popular area. In addition to all the subcategories you’d expect, students can study Motorsports and Unmanned and Autonomated Systems. They offer both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. Comp Sci majors builds the software; Comp Eng builds the interface and is almost a bridge between Comp Sci and Electrical Engineering (they build the hardware). They also offer 2 meteorology programs: Applied meteorology is much more math intensive. These are the people who create the predictive models for weather forecasting. Operational meteorology doesn’t create the forecasting; they have an understanding of the weather, but are looking towards broadcasting or other fields that need that understanding rather than doing the behind-the-scenes forecasting.

Just over a third of the students live on campus. It’s guaranteed and required for the first year, and it’s guaranteed for those who want it during the 2nd year. There’s a housing office to help students find off-campus housing, but a lot is found just by driving around. There are a lot of apartment complexes nearby. Most students will drive in and park on campus. All students can have cars, and at most, parking is 15 minutes away. Parking spaces are based on their residential status (living on campus or commuting).

In terms of admissions, Engineering is looking for close to a 3.9 GPA. They require pre-calc, physics, and chemistry, and they prefer that students already have calculus. For Aviation majors, they must have at least Algebra 2. Students can test out of classes through AP scores, but they recommend that students do the whole program so there are no gaps. It’s a little easier to test out of the English, social science requirements through AP. Merit based scholarships are based on the application. They are now test optional! If they do submit scores, they can’t hurt the students, according to the rep.

Two of the reps I spoke with are alumni. One was most surprised at the all the ways there were to get involved – that’s what made him comfortable, less homesick, and ultimately kept him at the school. The other rep was surprised by the drive and the focus of the students. At first he said that he couldn’t think of anything that they should never change because they shift to meet new technologies and needs of the job field – but then he said that they should never change their flexibility. One of them said that he’d like to improve the endowment so they can give out better scholarships. He said that he expects that this will improve over time: the alums are young, so they’re not donating as much as some other places.

Students who transfer out often leave because their academic interests have changed. Others go to their local state schools because of finances.

Florida has DII sports; Arizona has NAIA. Students can participate in Army or Air Force ROTC on either campus; Navy ROTC is currently only in Florida. About 15% of the students are in Greek life. Clubs include rocket club, skydiving, and scuba diving. There’s a new student center and res halls in the works for the Florida campus. Both reps said that the food is good. Students love the omelets! There’s also lots of non-dining hall options such as Chick-fil-a and Starbucks.

(c) 2014

Scottish Universities

During the NACAC conference in Denver, I attended a lunch sponsored by the Scottish Universities. I knew very little about the options in Scotland before this, and although we only got a quick overview, there’s some interesting stuff going on there.


  • Scottish universities use a similar system to the US in which students can opt for a major and a minor.
  • The Scottish Universities rank third in the world in terms of research output (number of academic papers).
  • Scotland has a population of 5.1 million people which is 9% of the UK’s population (second only to England).
  • Scotland hosts over 30K international students from over 180 countries.
  • Student Life: There are many cultural and nightlife opportunities: clubs, societies, sports, theater, restaurants, music. It’s a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment.
  • They offer quite a bit of student support: Pre-arrival advice and guidance, Airport Welcome, Visa and immigration advice, social events program, international student center, careers service, library, housing (guaranteed often, at least for first year.
  • The UK universities use UCAS, (, a University Admission Service that allows students to fill out 1 form that will be submitted to up to 5 UK universities.
    • The cost is £21, about $30
    • There are particular things to note about the application process:
      • They’re interested in AP exams or SAT subject tests. These should be noted in the application, both completed and what will be attempted during senior year.
      • Write a personal statement to support application. This is not creative or personal piece but a neutral essay telling them why you want to study the particular subject area. It shouldn’t be directed to a particular university unless you are only applying to one university.
      • The Counselor recommendation should introduce the candidate and the high school and curriculum, then a commentary/narrative about the student, particularly including information from teachers of the discipline they wish to study.
      • 10/15 deadline for clinical programs (medicine, etc). Otherwise they can apply up to June 30, but some have earlier internal deadlines. They do recommend applying in the fall.


  • Founded in 1495 (3rd oldest in Scotland, 5th in UK). Beautiful friendly campus.
  • About 16,000 students; 20% international
  • 270 million pounds investment over the next 10 years: Olympic standard sports village, new library, more.
  • Curriculum reform: different from other Scottish universities. 25% of classes in first 2 years are taken out of the major; 12.5% in the honors years (3rd and 4th)
  • Over 60 undergrad programs; 150 masters programs.


  • Dundee, a city of 150,000 people, is located on east coast, north of Edinburgh. The University is in city center.
  • Established in 1881 and has 18,000 students. 43% are international from 85 countries.
  • The Life Sciences department is the largest section. They have a Nobel Prize winner on faculty.
  • Medicine: only 12 spots for international students. Largest teaching hospital in Scotland is located here.
  • £200 million redevelopment project.
  • Nightclub on campus; lots of new sports stuff, and new student accommodation.


  • Founded in 1583 in the capital city just south of the historic city center. They’re within walking distance to the National Library, National Gallery, Museum of Scotland, and the Parliament.
  • They’re often ranked in top 25 in the world.
  • They merged with Edinburgh College of Arts. Now there are 30K total, about 20K undergrads. Lots of North American students (about 2500). 140 different nationalities (30% non-UK).
  • This is a comprehensive institution; there are very few programs they don’t have.
  • They host the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


  • Very different from others – it’s a small, specialized school.
  • Only three departments: Fine Art (painting, sculpture, photo), Design (product design, engo component, fashion and textiles, jewelry), Architecture.
  • Glasgow is a great city for the arts.
  • Prestigious awards are often given to students, including 4 Turner Prize winners
  • The key factor in admissions is the portfolio, and applications should check online for requirements.
  • They do offer scholarships for international students.
  • Degrees are accredited through University of Glasgow.


  • Founded in 1451 (2nd oldest in Scotland, 4th in England)
  • 15,500 undergrads. 16% overseas students representing 120 different countries. The US contingent is 600 strong.
  • #59 World Ranking; 90% student satisfaction; 150 Student Clubs and Societies; 2 STUs
  • Adam Smith College of Economics.
  • $20,000 per year.


  • The oldest in Scotland (1413) located in a stunning medieval coastal town. No real campus; instead, it’s intertwined in the town.
  • Ranked 1st in Scotland, 3rd in the UK
  • 7,400 students total; 6,000 undergrads (small class size). 42% from outside the UK (13% from the US).
  • Popular degree subjects include international relations, history, econ, psych, physics, and sustainable development.
  • Very highly rank of student satisfaction which includes such things as completion rates and activities on campus.
  • They offer a joint degree with William and Mary: Students complete two years at each and get a degree from both.
  • New £45million medical science center.


  • This is located in Central Scotland (William Wallace country) less than an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can see Stirling Castle from campus.
  • Highly ranked academic schools: Applied Social Science, Arts and Humanities, Education, Management, Natural Science, Nursing, Midwifery, and health/sport.
  • 8,500 undergrads, 3,000 grads. 12% international.
  • The campus is on a 310 acre estate and is very green with a good campus community feel.

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming (

Ok, I’m cheating here. I didn’t get to “UDub” (as the locals call it) while I was at the NACAC conference in Denver. I wanted to; I really did – if for no other reason than to say that I’d seen the University of Wyoming and get a pennant for my wall. I almost went, but that meant giving up visiting two colleges that my students were more likely to apply to, so I reluctantly decided to forego the 5 hour round-trip bus ride to Laramie. As luck would have it, two counselors on the Counselor bus-trip to Boulder were from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I picked their brains about the school and it turns out that they had a lot to say. Here’s what I learned.

UW has an absolutely beautiful campus; the university has poured a great deal of money into building new facilities and renovating old ones. There is a ton to do on campus and students have more activities to choose from than they know what to do with. The town, on the other hand . . . not so great. Although there is some stuff to do, there’s not a lot and it definitely doesn’t have a “college town feel.” In fact, one of the counselors described it as having a lot of “cowboy redneck culture.” The other counselor said that Laramie itself is “flat, and the wind blows all the time.” They were both quick to say that students didn’t seem to care much about the town; if they stayed on campus, they were very happy because of the activities offered and the diversity. The university has been recently doing a lot of recruiting abroad, and since Laramie has a huge Latino population, that’s also represented in the student body. There’s a “funny mix of kids – outdoorsy, Midwestern cowboy, Latino, whatever.” However, they mentioned that cliques formed in a more obvious way than some other places they had seen.

In terms of academics, sciences, including health programs, are particularly fabulous. The theater program is growing. “They seem to be tackling one department at a time.” Because this is the only university in Wyoming, the academic range in terms of ability is huge. As a public university, they work to make higher education accessible to Wyoming residents, and as such, there are quite a few students who aren’t quite ready for post-secondary academics (particularly because “there seems to be a strong anti-Community College feeling in the area”). However, there’s also the other end of the spectrum, and the university pulls in a lot of smart, driven students. The honors program is a big draw which offers special housing and classes.

I met up with some other counselors later who went on the counselor tour, and I asked them what they thought. Immediately, one said, “You should have gone! It’s a gorgeous campus and the people were great . . . but wow, was it windy!” I hope to get there someday to see it for myself; if I do, I’ll update this post!

(c) 2012

California College of the Arts

CALIFORNIA COLLEGE OF THE ARTS (Admissions representative talk on 7/17/12)

CCA offers 6 areas of study including music, theater, visual arts, and architecture; they award BA, BFA, BArch, and BID degrees. Their BArch program is a 5 year program that is fully accredited which means that students can sit for their Boards after graduation. CCA believes heavily in the academic portion of the degrees because they not only want students to “make art that matters” but to be able to articulate why and how they made the art they did. Because the school is fully accredited and students do complete distribution requirements inherent in a liberal arts curriculum, students can transfer in or out of the school more easily than if this was strictly an arts school.

A few of the unusual majors they offer are Glass, Animation, Jewelry/Metal Arts, textiles, and Interaction Design. Housing is limited: only about 300 beds are available, but the community is strong. They also have 25 study abroad options at art institutes around the world.

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