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High Point University

High Point University (visited 3/16/17)

HPU waner cntr 2High Point has come a long way in a very short time. I brought a group of students here 8 years ago; the changes since then are astounding. They have a few more buildings in the works to be completed by 2020: a res hall opening August 2017, and Schools of Health Science/Pharmacy and Undergraduate Science. An arena (ice hockey) and conference center just got approved: “45% of our students are from the north.” When these are finished; they’ll expand the endowment.

HPU Galileo statue

Statues of famous people, like Galileo, are all over campus

The current president has made a big difference changing the mindset on campus. “You don’t get an education by picking up information. Knowledge isn’t understanding. You can get trained anywhere, but education better be holistic.” The campus is purposefully designed to change how students approach education. “I want people to think about WHY, not just how. Why do we have a steakhouse on campus? So students can learn business etiquette. Be a human being of relevance. This takes knowledge, understanding, and human relations.”

HPU stu cntr 2It’s important to take much of this with a grain of salt. I spoke with 2 former students currently studying at HPU. They enjoy being there, but were open about problems facing the school. “It’s all about appearances. There’s not as much substance as they like to make people think.” The people who thrive here are confident and have a passion for something. It’s easy to get connected to resources. They both gave the career center and internship programs big thumbs up. “It’s one of the best things about the college, but it is very much NC based. There’s some stuff on the East Coast, but not much beyond that.” Counseling services were also given high ratings.

HPU pool

The pool outside the student center

“It is a country club. That isn’t a false reputation.” A lot of people here are into Greek and/or social life, or they’re here to take advantage of networking/Business connections. They both agreed that it’s an expensive school, and Financial Aid isn’t great. “Take advantage of everything here. You’re paying for it.”

“People here are image driven. It’s homogenous and easy to get caught up in the shallowness. People who are different are fish out of water; they’re probably going to transfer.” There is a great deal of apathy towards diversity. “It’s tolerated but not celebrated. It can be frustrating. Racial diversity seems to be the hardest because it’s the most visible,” said one. The other said, “LGBTQ students will be fine here if they’re not way out there. I’ve never heard overtly hostile comments or felt threatened, but sometimes hear ignorant comments.” That being said, they did agree that there is a lot of room to grow at HP. “You’ll struggle in a constructive way.”

HPU business interiorGrowth mindset is at the center of all they do: HPU has trained faculty and offer Growth Mindset Grants for faculty research projects, student scholarships, etc. Over the course of the counselor program, the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) was repeatedly brought up. The entire education is built on Four Pillars: Academic Excellence, Experiential Learning, Character Development, and Life Skills.

All classes are taught by faculty. Professional grad programs (physical therapy, physician assistant) means no TAs. The number of faculty with PhDs is lower than some other schools but they pull a lot of people directly from the field. For example, Joe Michaels teaches here. He directed The Today Show for 8 years, won an Emmy, directed the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, etc. “He doesn’t have a PhD. Who cares?? He’s an amazing resource for our students.” They also bring in Innovators in Residents like Steve Wozniak. Check out all the speakers at http://www.highpoint.edu/innovators/.

HPU sport med 1They’ve seen a sharp increase in undergraduate health sciences because of the grad programs. Generally anything labeled as “pre-“ is not a major except pre-pharmacy (one of the top-10 freshmen majors). Pre-pharm students complete 2 years of intense pre-reqs and then transition to a 4-year DPT program without their undergrad degree. Applicants need at least a 550 math on the SAT: “We don’t have a single exception to that … we’ve never had a student score lower who could do it.”

HPU 3Other strong programs include Visual Merchandising, Graphic Design, Actuarial Science, and International Relations. Unique programs include:

  • Interior Design: ranks in the top 10 in the country. High Point is the furniture capitol of the world. By junior year, students can be designing for major companies.
  • Business Admin: Entrepreneurship, Sales & Entrepreneurship, and a 5-year MBA.
  • Communication, including interactive Gaming & Game Design, Event Management (#1 in the world, beating out the reigning 5-year champs from Korea), and a 5-year Masters – strategic Communication.
  • Education including LEGO education and a 5-year Masters in Elementary Education.
  • 3-2 Engineering with Vanderbilt. “No students do this. They end up staying here all 4 years,” said the rep, “but the option is there.”

HPU amphitheaterAll classes are worth 4 credit hours to account for mandatory experiential learning: service-learning, internships, or problem-based inquiry. English classes could tutor local children, and Business Ethics partners with the Chamber of Commerce to interview and work with 30 Under 30.

They’re on their way to reaching an enrollment goal of 5,000 undergrads. Retention is increasing 1-2 points per year, and they bring in 1,375 new freshmen each year (21.5% from NC). They haven’t reached a gender balance (42% male), and racial diversity is still something to work on. However, they’ve seen a recent grown in Hispanic and African-American students. The 1-1 study abroad exchanges help diversity.

HPU dorm hammocks

Hammocks in front of one of the dorms

Part of their retention comes from the Common Experience, including:

  • All students take a Seminar on Life Skills from President Qubein. Two students said, “It’s not all it’s made out to be. I learned a few things, but it’s not all that.”
  • Common Read
  • In-hall educational programming and Community Meetings
  • First Year Seminars or Eng 1103: students are grouped in res halls based on what they’re enrolled in.
  • Freshman success coaches (they transition to a major-specific advisor in their field later).
  • Undergrad Research and Creative Works: students in all disciplines can research as early as freshman year, even sometimes a 2-month summer project before freshman year. Students do the bulk of the research in the summer and write it up over the year. Meals and housing are covered and get a $3000 stipend.
HPU dorm 2

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front

Students must live on campus through Junior year, but few leave because the dorms are so nice that there’s no reason to leave. They even have single-family houses for students. There are 5 tiers of housing with Tier 1 being the lowest price-point. “It’s hard to get into Tier 1 Housing unless you move to one of the off-campus areas and shuttle in,” one of the student told me. For a 3rd consecutive year, HPU ranked #1 in Aramark’s Student Satisfaction Survey of college food.

HPU classroom

A typical classroom in the business building

Classes are small. No one on the student panel had a class with more than 30 students; smallest classes ranged from 4-7. Their favorite classes were:

  • Astronomy taught by a guy who had discovered 5 new stars.
  • Linear Statistics: “We learned models and methods. For the last month, we did a project to apply this to whatever we wanted. I looked at airline delays and what caused them.”
  • Debating the Death Penalty: “I went in with a narrow idea of what I thought I believed. We filled out surveys about things like mental illness and pregnant criminals. We had to talk about what we believed, and she put out “What if?” situations. I loved that it was controversial and discussion based.”
  • Intro to Women and Gender Studies. “I had a narrow view of the topic. We did an action project involving the community. I partnered with a sorority about domestic violence and organized speakers and a candlelight walk.”
  • Intro to Event Management. “I didn’t think it would be so interesting. Speakers came to every class like a manager from the Sheraton. We had opportunities to work in the field and get hands-on experience.”
  • Science Fiction Philosophy: “I had a paradigm shift of how I look at the world, as simple as “who am I? Am I the same as when I was 7?”

HPU fire pitAbout 33% of students go Greek. Rush happens in spring semester, but one of the students (she’s affiliated) said that’s being changed next year to fall. Almost all affiliated students stay through graduation because it creates community, but “It’s not the end-all and be-all by any means.” There is Greek housing, but they each only hold about 15 people.

Campus has tons of activities, including a full movie theater and a bowling alley. The Concierge plans trips off campus ranging from Hanged Woods to Panthers home games to midnight premiers of Twilight. For students traveling home, free transportation is given to the Greensboro airport (about 20 minutes away) or to Charlotte or Raleigh-Durham, “Free if we were HP gear!”

Students on the panel were surprised by:

  • “I come from a big football area and I was a bit bummed that there wasn’t a team, but I love how much more attention the other sports get because there’s no football team.”
  • “How many opportunities there are. I knew it would be caring, but not how much people would be there for me. People do research all the time. It kind of woke me up and said “go do that!””
  • “How many professors have been in the field. One of my psych profs ran her own clinic. She uses real case studies to bring in real-world applications. My advisors worked at Lifetime and NBC. They want to help you with those connections.”
  • “We have the freedom to run with ideas.”
  • “How much it means to the community and people who work here. There are signs in town that say, “High Point’s University.” Businesses paint their buildings purple.”

During admissions, “The first place we’re going is the ‘Why do you want to attend HPU?’ question. We want them to be able to vocalize that they understand it’s a little different, otherwise they won’t enroll.” 125 students who look like they might be good fits but aren’t quite there academically are invited to complete Summer Experience. They recalculate to an unweighted GPA and will include everything with a grade on the transcript. EA students won’t get deferred, but they’ll be clear with students if they want to see new grades and/or test scores. Once supplied, they’ll make a decision.

HPU fountain 2Fellowship Applications are due 2/1. Students can apply to all 3 but can only enroll in 1.

1) Honors Scholars: Suggested eligibility: 1310+SAT, 28 ACT, and a 3.45 unweighted GPA.

  • The core curriculum includes 39 credits over 4 years in small, interdisciplinary classes. There are 5 foundation courses, Modern Language at 2nd semester level, 2 scholar seminars, a year-long signature project, and a senior professional portfolio.
  • Classes must be project-based, involve research, and be writing- and reading-intensive to qualify as Honors.
  • “It’s Qualitatively Different,” not just harder and more work. It’s work that gets them thinking in new ways. Our tour guide said, “Now it’s worth looking into. It’s not like when I came in 3 years ago.”
  • Students are housed in Finch.

2) Media Fellows: 16 Communication majors get a $3000 stipend, access to industry innovators, a living-learning community, and special trips (including international)

3) Leadership Fellows: Demonstrated leadership ability and potential.

© 2017

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Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry College (visited 11/4/16)

eh-quad-1This is the only college I know of that has a “retirement home” for horses – and the only I’ve heard of that enable students to earn a semester’s worth of work for through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (or another of similar scope).

eh-barn-1

The Equestrian Center barn

When E&H bought Virginia Intermont University in 2014, they took over their barn and equestrian program. One student rider we spoke to told us, “I’m glad they bought it because I wouldn’t have achieved this success without it.” About 50 horses live at the Equestrian Center, 16 miles from the main campus (3 shuttles a day run back and forth). All the horses are donated, including “some famous ones” like a horse from the Beijing Olympics. An alum, concerned about what would happen when they got too old for the 60-ish riders in the Equine Studies program, donated $250,000 for a retirement barn for the older horses. That barn, currently with 5 residents (and room for 6 more per year after this) sits adjacent to the main campus.

eh-studentE&H is another CTCL school that did not disappoint. Students we spoke to – ranging from tour guides to random kids in the café to the singers performing for us over dinner – couldn’t say enough about the school. One said, “People are so nice, it’s almost creepy!” Another one had this to say about academics: “Classes are challenging but not so much that you get down on yourself.”

It’s no wonder kids rave about their classes: E&H has more Virginia Professors of the Year than UVA and VTech combined!

eh-quad-and-chapelAt any CTCL school, I ask students how the institution has changed their lives. Here’s what I got:

  • “I can be myself here.”
  • “The music program is amazing and I’ve learned so much. It’s pushed me well beyond my comfort zone.”
  • “Individual attention I get here is outstanding. I really didn’t expect that from college.”
  • “People are really accepting. We’re not labeled here. We can spend hours in rehearsals or in a practice room. People don’t see that as weird. They just say that we’re hard working.”
  • “We go to a lot of auditions. We met people from schools where the students there didn’t even know each other. Here we do, and we support and help each other all the time.”
eh-statue-henry

The Patrick Henry statue

E&H is named for Patrick Henry (yes, of “Give me liberty or give me death!” fame – also the 1st Governor of Virginia) and John Emory (a Bishop of the Methodist Church); statues of the 2 men stand prominently in the middle of campus facing each other (and will often get dressed up

eh-statue-emory

The John Emory statue

by students for special occasions). A third statue of Ephraim Wiley (the longest standing college president) sits on top of one of the main buildings. This statue and the Chapel are the same height to show Wiley’s belief of their equal importance in the students’ education. E&H is associated with the Methodist church, and students must take 1 religion course. However, that’s where the religious requirements end.

There are a few academic programs worth highlighting:

  • eh-tech-workshop

    The theater tech workshop

    The music and theater programs are great, with BFAs offered in Acting, Directing, Musical Theater, and Production & Design. They put on 4-6 productions a year. They were putting on Rocky Horror Picture Show right after we visited (including a midnight performance!), so the students performed several numbers for us during dinner. There are several scholarship for music based on audition. The Chorale competes internationally (they went to South Africa last year). Students tend to get involved cross-disciplines (ie, the marching band Drum Major is in chorale).

  • eh-art-displayThe Art program is developing a Museum Studies Track. Students curate shows from the college’s permanent collection. They bring in visiting artists who give talks to the students (the community is invited as well). When we visited, the art on display in the main gallery was fresh from Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian). 30-35 students from all disciplines including EnviSci helped to install it. The insects are all real, mostly from SE Asia and the Pacific Rim. The exhibit is meant to make a positive out of negative; the Skull symbolizes what could happen and the eye is meant to represent the Evil Eye.
  • Lyceum Program: students must attend a certain number of lectures and cultural events. All arts count towards this.
  • Along with standard majors, they offer unique programs like Civil Innovation; Politics, Law, and International Relations; and a 5-year, BA/MA program in Community and Organizational Leadership. Students can build their own major if they choose to do so.
eh-debate-room

The Hermesian Literary Society room

Something unique are the debate rooms set aside for the 2 main Literary Societies/Debate clubs on campus. The Hermesian Literary Society (Lincoln-Douglass style debating) was founded when the school was founded; it stopped for awhile and was restarted 4 years ago; students interested in joining must take part in an introductory debate in which they can decide the topic. The Calliopean Room is across the hall; they debate in Parliamentary Style. There’s a friendly rivalry between them, and they’ll have intersocietal debates.

eh-dorm-1

One of the new dorm buildings

Most freshmen and 80% of all students live on campus. Two new apartment-style dorms have been built recently, both having about 250 beds. About 35% of the students join one of the 15 Greek organizations. While there’s no Greek Housing, members can choose to live together on a floor (although the college limits the number of students from any particular organization who can live on a single floor). This used to be a dry campus but that’s been rescinded, although a clear alcohol policy remains in effect.

eh-outdoor-arena

One of the outdoor riding areas

This has been named a Best Small School for Outdoor Activities. The Outdoor Program is well utilized by students. They’re located near the 2 highest peaks in Virginia, and they have a 9-hole golf course on campus. One of the most amazing programs is the Semester A.T.rail which lets students hike the length of the Appalachian Trail for a semester. They plan their program with the Director, but Nature Writing (an English Course) is required of all hikers.

eh-chapelStudents admit that there’s not much going on in the town of Emory, but “There’s a good farmer’s market in town.” On campus, however, there’s plenty to do. Football brings out big crowds. Homecoming is a big deal; lots of alumni come back for it. Tailgating becomes a networking event in addition to just being fun.

© 2016

Welcome to Campus Encounters

Welcome to the Campus Encounters blog. As part of on-going professional development, I visit a lot of campuses; the entries here will include factual information about the schools and my impressions of the campuses. I generally take extensive notes during and shortly after my visit so I can remember the unique things about each place, remember why I might want to suggest specific schools to specific students, and hopefully capture a bit of the feel and culture of the campus. When I return from trips, colleagues often ask about the colleges and I make an effort pass on information to people who might be interested (science information to science teachers, for example). Using a blog, though, seems to be a better way to make what I learned more accessible to a larger audience.

Please take these blog entries with a grain of salt: as much as possible, I will share interesting facts, little-known information, or new initiatives on the campuses. Any facts and statistics I put in here come from sources provided by the college itself: promotional material they gave to me, something presented at an Admissions Information session, or something told to me by an admissions counselor or tour guide. I will provide the date that I visited campus to give a sense of how recent the facts are, but obviously these things change so please don’t take them as written in stone. If I share opinions from tour guides, I will mark them as such. Otherwise, opinions are mine and mine alone. I will share personal impressions about the college: things that surprised or impressed me, things that I really liked or wished were different, etc.

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