Lynn University (visited 2/6/16)
I had heard limited things about Lynn before visiting: the impression I had was that it served students with learning issues and students who maybe hadn’t quite come into their own academically yet. I was wrong.
Lynn is changing drastically, most obviously in that that enrollment has gone up 52% in the last few years, growing intentionally and strategically: “we’re growing but going to stay small.” Undergraduate population is about 2000; the most recent incoming class has about 700 students. Almost ¼ of the students are international, ranking them the 5th highest in the US for international enrollment.
One of the most remarkable things is Lynn’s partnership with Apple: all students get an iPad, acting as an iPad Pro trial market. Apple selected Lynn as a 2016 Distinguished School for Innovation, Leadership, and Education Excellence. A dean said, “They can say that about less than two handfuls of schools.” They are always looking for ways to improve the students’ educational experience; the tie with technology is a major way to do this. Faculty create their own textbooks which are then loaded onto the iPads. Students use iTunes U instead of Blackbaud. Because of these and other innovations, Lynn has been named in College (Un)Bound, among the 25 “Most Innovated Schools,” top 5 “Most International Schools,” and in the top 100 “Best Online Bachelor’s” among the best national universities by HS guidance counselors.
Another difference at Lynn is that their math proficiency class is focused on life skills, not College Algebra or another of the traditional math classes. “We don’t have a single kid ever saying ‘When are we going to use this?’” They teach them things like how to balance a checking accounts, how to read a lease, how loans work (interest, how to apply, etc), how credit and credit cards and FICA scores work, etc. “It’s amazing what they don’t know …” said one of the professors.
Lynn calls their Core Curriculum “Dialogues.” One of the students said, “They help prepare us for others classes, especially in terms of presentations.” A professor said,“There are certain things that students just need to be able to do in college. These can’t be optional.” For students who are struggling, Lynn employs 42 content-specialist tutors with at least a Masters.
“Five adjectives to describe our school are agile, student-centric, forward-looking, dedicated, well-placed.” Students are remarkably well-prepared here and are given multiple opportunities to get real-life experience. The Counselor visit day was put together by a 2nd semester sophomore in the Event Management program (they also have Hospitality Management). He organized everything from the schedule to the food service. In the Aviation Management program, students go into airport management, etc. Students can earn certificates to be an Airline Transport Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Instrument Pilot Rating, Private Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor, Recurrent Flight Training, and Professional Commercial Pilot (all piloting lessons incur an extra charge and are done at the Boca airport). The Communications Department has new, state-of-the-art facilities providing a lot of practice for the students before they even start an internship.
Lynn has a 3+3 articulation agreement with the St. Thomas University School of Law, as well as a general 3-year accelerated degree program called “3.0” which almost 1/3 of the student body is enrolled in (Education and Music majors can’t take advantage of this program). Students can take extra classes, including over the summer, all paid for by the colleges. Usually students will take 2 classes in J-term, not 1.
J-term classes got rave reviews. Students have to complete a class for the first 3 years; the last is optional. The first year has a community service focus; the 2nd year is a language and cultural focus; the 3rd deals with career paths. Classes during this term can be held on campus or in places like Las Vegas, the Dominican Republic, and even at the X Games.
We asked the student panelists what their favorite classes were:
- Aviation Class: “The professors are great!”
- Personal Finance: “This class was heaven sent. It taught us real life stuff!”
- Intro to Criminal Justice. “It was awesome! It was taught by an ex-lawyer from Los Angeles so we learned real-world stuff.”
- Ethical Decision Making: “The professor was from Japan and so cool! We had great discussions.”
- Media Literacy: “It’s really essential because we deal with it all the time now.”
Currently there are not enough dorms to house all the students, so juniors and seniors basically have to move off campus. However, a new apartment-style dorm should be open shortly. The existing student center is “not very engaging. People don’t want to hang out there.” However, they just got the largest gift in university history to build a new student center and that will be up and running soon, as well. There will be a pub in the new student center, as well as more dining options. The main dining hall now keeps one station open all day. The sanctuary building is always available. Students come in to meditate, study, or do group memorials or meetings.
Clubs and organizations give students experience with a variety of things in additional to building a robust on-campus social life. The Knights of the Round Table have live news broadcasts to get news out to campus. They have their own news app for phones edited by students. Greek life is only a tiny portion of the social scene here with 3 frats and 2 sororities; “not many kids are involved in this,” said our tour guide. Shuttles run to the beach, the mall, and stores. Parking can be a hassle, as can laundry. Soccer is a big deal; Barry is the big rival.
Founders Day is a big tradition. “It’s a food truck invasion, and the food is free! There’s a big carnival. It’s a lot of fun.” Another tradition is National Days when countries of all international students are represented in festivals, food, and even in a mini-World Cup.