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Archive for the tag “actuarial science”

University of Saint Joseph (CT)

University of St. Joseph’s (visited 5/30/19)

USJ quad 1I’m glad I took the time to stop at St. Joseph’s on my way to the University of Hartford. In some ways, USJ gets overlooked, but it was a pleasant surprise and will hopefully grow beyond its regional status (it’s about 90% in-state students). Although it’s a smaller school, students at USJ can expand their options through the Greater Hartford Higher Education Consortium (with U Hartford, Trinity, CCSU, and UConn Hartford) to take courses not offered on the home campus as well as to utilize study abroad programs and other resources.

USJ missionOpen since the early 1930s, they just went coed in 2018; they’re already about 1/3 male which is amazing one year into admitting men. “We’re still holding onto the idea of women’s empowerment, though. Just because we went coed doesn’t mean we lost that identity.” This includes a Women’s Leadership Center founded in 2016. They added 5 men’s teams this year (and Jim Calhoun, formerly a UConn coach, is the men’s Basketball coach!) with more to come. “I expect them to mirror the women’s teams.” They’re DIII and compete in the GNAC.

USJ chapel 2This is a Sisters of Mercy (Catholic) institution with 3 Sisters employed on campus. “In many ways, they’re the female version of the Jesuits,” said the rep I spoke to, and the university promotes the values of education and caring for others, tenets of the founding group. A large portion of the student body self-identifies as Catholic and there’s an active campus ministry, but they’re less focused on the practice than on exploring Catholicism and celebrating ethnicity and culture. The two on-campus weekly masses (Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon) are open to the public. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but students must take two religion classes – one on exploring religion and the other is open-ended to explore a particular religion or philosophy].

USJ 3Campus is beautiful with cohesive architecture and a large quad. About half of the 1000 undergrads live on campus in 4 traditional and 2 suite-style dorms reserved for upperclassmen. They have no immediate plans to build more dorms “but not unimaginable if we continue to grow. We’re at 95% capacity in terms of beds.” They’re looking to expand their geographic region now that they’ve gone coed. Housing grants are available to encourage students to live on campus.

The biggest lecture hall on campus seats 40 with average class sizes of 14. Although graduate students outnumber the undergrads (not surprising with their Education, Pharmacy, PA, and other programs), undergrad classes have no grad TAs. “Most grad students are professionals who are taking evening or online classes,” said the rep. They’ve done a great job focusing on providing quality undergraduate education and programs, many of which lead into a grad program if the students want.

  • USJ 1Business is growing;
    • Digital Media and Mass Communication was just started with 2 areas of focus: Spanish Media and Sports Media.
    • The Sports Management and Promotion major looks at both sides and requires 2 internships, one with an on-campus team (management side) and one outside (including ESPN which is right down the street in Bristol, about 25 minutes away).
  • The Math Department has expanded beyond traditional math to include Computer and Data Science and Actuarial Science. “Connecticut is the insurance capital of the world with companies like MassMutual, Traveler’s, Hartford, Cigna, and Aetna. Students get snatched up. They take the CPA exam and are ready to be hired.”
  • USJ athenaeumNursing is Direct Entry (applicants need a 3.0 and 1070 with B+ in Chem and Alg2). If they don’t meet that but are close, they’ll come in as pre-nursing. These students have their grades monitored by the nursing staff but take exactly the same classes. “No one knows who’s who. There’s no difference other than the monitoring.” The labs have 6 automated mannequins, including one that gives birth to twins. Labs are capped at 14. In Sophomore year, they work at the nursing home across the street. In Junior and Senior years, clinicals are completed at the local hospitals. They often offer a Sisters of Mercy trip to Guyana so nursing students can work at the hospital there. Non-nursing majors can join the trip and participate in more of the cultural activities.
  • Education: “I used to teach in town, and if we saw a kid coming out of USJ, we wanted that kid over those from other institutions because we knew the training here was better.” There are 2 on-campus schools: one K-Adult special needs, and the other is more of a day-care (infant-PK). As soon as students start education classes (usually sophomore year), they’re in one of those settings immediately getting experience from day. Special Education is technically the only education degree at the undergrad major – but licensure for Elementary and Secondary levels (reciprocal in almost 40 states) is available.
  • The Pharmacy school opened 10 years ago. They just graduated 52 students. 3+3 program.
  • The Physician Assistant program offers both direct entry (3+2) and a grad-only program. Direct-entry students major in Health Sciences as undergrads. This is popular with athletes because it works well with their practice schedules. USJ students who apply to the PA school get priority (but not guaranteed).

USJ 6The USJ alumni network is broad, and the connections the university has in the region means that the name carries weight. Salaries of USJ graduates are often higher than others in Connecticut. Career center helps alumni as well. A vast majority of the faculty have worked in professional or research fields so they have huge connections. Over 90% of students get involved in research, internships, and service projects. “This is a highly service-oriented community. All clubs are required to participate in a service-based activity, a requirement that was enacted by the student government itself.”

USJ quad 2They’ve seen a large interest in growing the on-campus student activities. They’ve just upped the fee as part of the tuition in order to expand what happens on campus. It’s all student-run with a facilitator. Students who are looking to get off campus utilize the local area of West Hartford, “a destination for restaurants and shopping. You can get around really easily without a car,” said the tour guide. The USJ Student ID doubles as a bus pass. Not only does this get students around town, but “you can hop on a city bus to Hartford and transfer to the New Haven MetroNorth station for free. From there, it’s $6 into NYC.”

Admissions is “Score Alternative” – only students interested in the health sciences or the Honors program need to submit test scores. During admissions, a 3.5 GPA and 1220 SAT will flag applicants to be sent to the Honors Committee who makes the final determination for an offer. This provides a half-tuition scholarship right off the bat. Honors Classes swap out the Gen Ed classes.

There’s plenty of scholarship and grant money available including a Visit Scholarship ($1000 for freshman year) and the Mercy Values Scholarship where students write an essay on one of the 7 values and explain how they embody it and will live that on campus. This ranges from $1000 -10,000.

© 2019

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Salisbury University

Salisbury University (visited 4/26/19)

Salisbury towerI was impressed with Salisbury; this is an amazing medium-sized institution located in a small city with a lot within walking distance. Campus is architecturally attractive with lots of upgrades, statues, and trees. When one of the new administrators came to Salisbury, he said, “The Academic Commons is better than anything I saw at Dartmouth.” One of the students said that SU is “the perfect size” both in terms of student population and the physical campus.

Salisbury LC 2

Academic Commons

Academics are rigorous and well supported. “It’s a fun place, but it’s a serious task. It’s about adult life and figuring it out,” said one of the reps who is also a Salisbury alum. “We serve a wide range of students. We’re moderately selective. Some students are here ready to go … and then there’s the group who need to still figure it out and realize they actually have to study.”

Salisbury quadSkill-building (critical thinking, writing, presenting ideas) is weaved into all programs, and faculty give early assessments to give students a feel of what’s expected and catch them if they flounder. SU has doubled the number of advisors to make sure students have access and guidance. They’re clearly doing something right; they have a strong retention rate and higher-than-average graduation rate.

Salisbury 3

Some of the academic buildings

Professors are highly engaged with students: “the interaction is different here. People actually transfer from College Park (the state flagship) where they’re only incentivized to do research. Here, they’re rewarded for their mentorship skill; that includes research but it goes far beyond that. This is a real gem.”

I asked the student panelists what their favorite classes were:

  • Media and Terrorism: “We talked about different groups using social media to recruit. I took it because I had heard that the prof was good and it was awesome!”
  • Stats through Baseball: “I’m bad at math but this was real life.”
  • Leadership: “We get to connect with the community. Speakers come in and we can talk to other people.”
  • “A class taught partially by Ghandi’s grandson! He taught about half the classes – the first few we discussed world problems like the war in Ireland. We read The Gift of Anger and talked about it with him. At the end of the class, groups took an issue from the book and did something with it. We had to decide what it was, so we could take a lesson that resonated and turn it into something like a painting or an activity to “find your worth” – it definitely made some people made uncomfortable.”
  • Scriptwriting classes: “I never had a chance to do to that before.”
  • “Geography was the most interesting class I’ve ever had. The professor was so passionate about weather. He’d go on rants about how cool tornados were. I started the semester in the back of the class. By the end, I was sitting in front.”
  • Grant Writing: “It was practical and we could focus on what we’re interested in.”
  • History of Africa Post-1865: “It wasn’t from an American viewpoint.”
Salisbury dorms

Some of the on-campus housing

There is a lot of new or renovated housing for students, including some “off-campus” apartments that are across the street. Those are open to any student so there are a few from the Community College and UMES, but “about 90% of them are from Salisbury.” Most freshmen (but only 1/3 of the 8,000 undergrads) live on campus; they’re trying to increase that, but with so much nearby housing, the campus is still vibrant and students are around. The food is amazing and it’s one of the nicest dining halls I’ve ever seen with lots of food stations and well laid-out seating areas in small pockets and rooms around a centralized location rather than a massive hall.

Salisbury dorms 5

Off-campus student apartments across the street from campus (There’s a tunnel running under the main road connecting campus to this area) 

There are 4 academic schools, all endowed (unusual among public universities). They have several stand-out and/or unique programs:

  • Liberal Arts:
  • Science and Technology:
    • Dual Degree in Bio and Envi Sci
    • Physics: Students can focus on Microelectronics, Engineering Physics, or a 3+2 Engineering They aren’t there to wash people out. If the student meets the qualifications, they have guaranteed slots, but rigor is fairly significant. Usually 30-40 will start in a cohort; maybe 10 end up deciding that it’s what they want to do. Many switch to Computational Physics. They’re employed to look at many larger/non-specialized engineering problems.
    • In addition to traditional Math, they can choose Applied, Actuarial Science, Computational Math, or Statistics.
    • Geography/Geoscience includes Human or Physical Geography, GIS, and Atmospheric Science.
  • Salisbury glass

    This glass was made on campus!

    The Business School is the University’s smallest with about 1650 students. It’s dual accredited and has “Gated Admissions” (2.5 minimum GPA). “We do dismiss students if they get Ds.” Internships are required.

    • Entrepreneurship is strong with one of the oldest competitions.
    • Sales/marketing: Companies on the Eastern Shore pay to interview students on campus. “It’s not just a degree. It’s getting a job at the end.”
    • Accounting: “We don’t graduate enough students. There are more accounting firms than we have students ready to graduate.”
    • Finance students have to manage portfolios of $1m minimum. “You’re on a treadmill, and someone else is controlling the speed. You’re going to have to run.”
    • International Business majors need to go abroad for at least 6 months; their internship must have an international component.
  • Health and Human Services:
    • Several Health Sciences are gated: students get accepted to SU, complete preliminary work, and then can get into the program. Respiratory Therapy and Nursing are capped at 24 seats for accreditation purposes. They produce the most Baccalaureate-trained Respiratory Therapists in the country.
    • 3+3 Pharmacy: they hold 5 slots at UMES. Students usually need a 3.7 GPA to earn a spot.
    • They offer Medical Laboratory Science and Applied Health Physiology as majors.
Salisbury Student Center

Dining hall/student center

Students who have a 3.5 wGPA (4.0 scale) are eligible for test-optional admissions. They can be considered for additional merit money if they submit additional grades or scores. There are some competitive area-specific (like STEM) scholarships but students must declare the major on their application. On the website, students are encouraged to check out “Academic Works” and answer 10 questions to match with scholarships they’re eligible for. This CLOSES in mid-January, so do it early! The majority of scholarships are for incoming students; these are stackable to the merit scholarships given by admissions.

© 2018

Seattle University

Seattle University (visited 6/22/17)

Seattle atrium Chihuly

The Chihuly glass; the Bottom Line Cafe is to the right

“Students who come here are engaged and aware of the world and want to make an impact, as cliché and Jesuit as that sounds. This is further solidified when they get here,” said one of the reps. This idea of “lighting the world on fire” is even evident in the artwork around campus: hanging front and center in the Pigott Building Atrium is a Chihuly glass sculpture called “Accendo” which means “to ignite”. (Also in this atrium is The Bottom Line Café which highlights companies in Seattle).

Seattle chapel int

The interior of the chapel

This is one of the US’s 28 Jesuit universities. “We’re Catholic but incredibly inclusive. The core curriculum is centered around students thinking for themselves and how to articulate what’s important to them. We’re not telling them what to think.” Only 30% of the 4,700 undergrads self-identify as Catholic. Although never required, Mass is offered regularly in their modern, award-winning chapel. The walls are unfinished to symbolize that people’s journeys are never finished. Students do need to take 2 ethics/philosophy-based classes.

Seattle 7We asked people to characterize the type of student who would most benefit from Seattle University:

  • Someone who wants Seattle. It’s kind of an interesting place, very entrepreneurial. It’s young, alive, progressive, going someplace, dynamic. It’s been named one of 5 best for college education. The students here want urban but this type of urban.
  • Seattle library

    They’re looking for an intellectual challenge: they believe in a core curriculum that’s engaging and the foundation for a broad education. Our part is looking at how we challenge them to know what they think and why they think that

  • The professor-student relationship shows itself in independent study, research, etc. We’re particularly strong in science and engineering because of this environment and our long relationship with Boeing.
  • Seattle 2They want engagement with community and neighborhood. There’s a Community Youth Engagement Project covering 100 square blocks to the east of campus. There are 3 schools within this area, so students look at how work with education, support, language development, etc. Our students help those students graduate from high school.
  • This is the most diverse university in the state. It’s almost like an identity lab for the students. How do they bump up against The Other?

Seattle scienceAlthough in Capitol Hill in the heart of the city, Seattle U’s campus was intentionally designed to be an urban oasis and is a certified urban wildlife sanctuary. Students have the best of both worlds: they’re as close as they can be without being in Downtown. “This is the 8th most hipster neighborhood in the country – I don’t know if that’s a plus or minus! It’s an art and music hub.” It’s a 20-25 minute walk to the water and Pike Place. Professors expect Students to use the city as an extension of their curriculum; “it’s a common denominator.” Students get bus passes and tickets for off campus events.

Seattle dog park 2

The “Dog Park” … one of the quads

All classes are taught by professors despite a relatively large graduate student population. The tour guide’s largest class has been 25 students. He likes the quarter system: “students are more involved. If you don’t like something, it’s over quickly. If you love it, you can really delve in because you’re only taking a few classes at a time.”

Seattle fountain with dog

The fountain in one of the quads. Yes, that’s a dog playing in the fountain. It’s a very dog-friendly campus!

All academics are direct entry. Courses are inquiry based where students look at issues within that field.

  • Students can build their own majors through the Matteo Ricci College.
  • Pre-major (Med, Vet, etc) advisors meet often with the students and work with them to reflect “in that very Jesuit way” about what calls them to this profession. What does it mean to pursue this degree? Which program is better for them? What does it really mean to be in the health field, etc?
  • Seattle engoHonors programs were recently expanded to have themes (intellectual traditions, innovation, law & society) meant to help students find a cohort with similar interests. They apply to the programs when they apply to the university.
  • Nursing majors must declare this on the application. Once they’re in, they’re guaranteed the spot assuming they continue to meet the minimum requirements. The average accepted HS GPA is a 3.85 with a B or better in bio/chem/math. They average a 1360 SAT/29ACT with a minimum 570/24 math score.
  • Science/Engineering: the average accepted GPA is 3.72 with a B or better in science and math. The average accepted SAT/ACT scores are 1272/28 with a minimum 570/24 on the math. A few more unusual programs include:
  • They offer a 6-year accelerated business and law degree: Students need a 3.5 GPA with an SAT/ACT math score of 620/27. They completely their undergrad business degree in 3 years and then do the regular 3-year law degree.
  • Their Environmental Studies degree has 4 specialization tracks: Ecological Systems, Environmental Education and Communication, Politics/Policy/Justice, and Urban Sustainability.
  • Criminal Justice Majors can specialize in Administration of Justice, Criminology and Criminal Justice Theory, Forensic Psychology (BA or BS) or Forensic Science (BA or BS).
Seattle dorms

Some of the dorms

All freshmen and sophomores live on campus. It’s available after that, but students have the choice to move off. Thos who do usually they live within a 6 block radius and stay involved on campus. Almost 70% of students come from out-of-state so this is not a suitcase school. Signature Events that the community rallies around include:

  • Christmas Tree Lighting including live reindeer
  • Homecoming usually during January/February to correspond to basketball season
  • Dance marathon: This year will be the 11th They’ve retained their record as the largest Miracle Network DM on the west coast.
  • Luau: 500 guests from campus and community
  • Sports: SeattleU is DI. Basketball and soccer are big.
Seattle fields

Some of the sports fields

The Sullivan Leadership Award is the only extra (non-merit) scholarship that a first-year student can apply for. This is a 4-year full ride. Last year they had 350 applicants for 9 available awards. “This is really a ‘You don’t know until you try’ situation,” said the Rep. They look at the whole student, specifically leadership and how they apply that in a unique way; “we want students who are authentic in their leadership so we look at how they have applied and could apply that to the world around them. It’s not about the numbers.” Each year, the cohort looks different. Students interested must apply (both to the university and for the Sullivan) by the EA deadline. If they get past the first round, they’re invited to campus to interview.

© 2017

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

St. Joseph’s University (PA)

Saint Joseph’s University (visiting 7/20/16)

St. Joe's 1This is absolutely an amazing school! Beautiful campus, enthusiastic students, and strong academics. Who could ask for more?

Founded by the Jesuits in 1851, St. Joe’s mission is “to educate men and women with and for others.” This is 1 of 28 Jesuit schools in the US, and they seem to live the “Care for the Whole Person: mind, body, spirit” ethos: this was the first school on the tour to have a Safe Space sign in the Admissions Office (or anywhere that I saw).

St. Joe's statue

Statue from the Institute for Jewish-Catholic relations

Another phrase you’ll see and hear all over campus, on t-shirts, etc is “That’s the magis,” which is all about more/digging deeper. “Things people do here are for the greater glory of God,” said an admissions rep. Although almost ¾ of the students identify as Catholic (although not necessary practicing), people are free to do what they want. Mass is not required. Jesuits are about finding out who they are spiritually. “Religious life is here if you want it. I’m not Catholic, and I’ve never felt out of place or pushed to go to mass or anything,” said our tour guide. There are even Muslim and Jewish spaces on campus for worship.

St. Joe's dorm

One of the dorms

Greek life is also another “there if you want it” thing on campus. There are 3 on-campus frats and 5 on-campus sororities, but no Greek housing. “We’re Jesuit. That’s not our deal.” About 20% of the population goes Greek. Students can live in suite-style dorms (6 double rooms around a common area) as freshman. “I was shy coming in, and I’m so glad I chose this option. I had 11 people to interact with instead of 1, and it brought me out of my shell,” said the tour guide.

St. Joe's 3There are just under 5000 undergrads on campus from 44 states and 36 countries. They draw heavily from the mid-Atlantic from Massachusetts down to North Carolina. This year’s freshman class is the most racially diverse so far with 19% self-identifying as students of color. “I feel like it’s diverse, but I’m a straight white male. I’m probably not the one to talk about it. That being said, I’ve never seen animosity. I feel like people are inclusive and get along,” said the tour guide. He went on to talk about a friend from Virginia who is openly gay; she feels much more comfortable and accepted on campus than she ever did at home.

St. Joe's hawk

One of the hawk (mascot) statues around campus

Philadelphia is the second largest college town in the country after Boston. Although the university is technically within the Philly city limits, when you cross the street, you’re in the suburbs of Montgomery County. A train station is about 5 minutes away; from there, the 30th St Station is one stop away where people can get anywhere, including the airport and downtown.

St. Joe's bballThis is a DI school (Atlantic 10 Conference) with 20 teams (no, football isn’t one of them!). Basketball is a huge deal; Villanova is the big rival. Students can get season tickets for $85 or $13 a game. They have a large student section set aside, and the excitement generated by students have led them to earn the ranking of #2 student section in the country. They’ve also been ranked #1 for their mascot. Two students are selected as Hawks after an extensive application process (including an essay, recs, and a physical test because they literally have to flap the entire game!). This comes with a full tuition scholarship!

St. Joe's library int 2The Jesuits are big proponents of liberal arts education and focusing on the whole person as an academic. The General Education Program requires 16-18 core classes. Average classes are 22-23 with most classes capped at 35. Since the Jesuits are big on having students question things and participate, most classes are seminar style. There are also many Experiential Learning options; most students participate in at least one of these:

  • Study Abroad
  • Co-op: specific for Business with the exception of Food Service. They take 2 semesters off for 2 paid positions. They take summer courses to make up for the coursework not taken in those 2 semesters. Food Marketing majors graduate in 5 years and complete 3 co-ops.
  • Service Learning. “500 spots filled up in 3 hours for the trip this year!” said the tour guide. “I missed out on it because I had no idea it would fill up so quickly.”
  • Internships
  • Washington Center Program

St. Joe's quadIn addition to Experiential Learning, there are several distinctive academic experiences:

  • Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support: community members can come for mentorship, students in the Autism Behavioral Studies major can work or volunteer here, and students on the spectrum can get support, as well (for a $6000 additional cost).
  • Honors program: Students with a 3.75 GPA and 1300 (old SAT) might be invited to join. They take 8 core classes at the honors level, go on field trips, have priority registration, etc.
  • Thomas Jefferson University Partnership. SJU doesn’t have PT, OT, etc; students interested in this complete 3 years at SJU then a variable number at TJU depending on the program.
  • Summer Scholars: students in all majors, not just science, can complete paid research on campus. They can do this as many summers as they want.

St. Joe's archesMajors fall into one of two schools:

Our tour guide had a hard time narrowing down some of his favorite classes. “Can I have more than one??” He talked about the following:

  • Creative writing taught by Tom Coin who has written books on golf (and was a clue on Jeopardy!) “He was more of a mentor than a teacher and encouraged me to trust my humor. I’m now signed up for a grad level screenwriting class with him this fall.”
  • His Freshman Seminar: Genesis, Sex, Lies, and Mayhem. It was a practical class and gave him a better understanding of the Bible. “If I’m at a Catholic school, that’s helpful! The Bible comes up from time to time.”
  • In the Theology/Philosophy realm, he enjoyed Religious Differences (Islam), God and Evil, and Philosophy of Death.
St. Joe's 6

The quad with the bell tower, gargoyles, and the heads of past university presidents

Here, admissions reps also serve as Financial Aid officers. Families have 1 person to connect with. Admissions is test-optional but students do have to make the decision on the application. If students say that they do NOT want their scores to be considered, SJU will not look at them even if they’re sent in. If students indicate on the application that they DO want them considered, scores are then required.

Here’s a fun fact to end with: there are no bells in the bell tower because hawks were living in there. Around the bell-tower quad, the past-presidents’ heads are depicted in stone along with some gargoyles.

© 2016

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee School of Engineering (visited 4/14/15)

MSOE walkway

Entry into the quad area. Bikes are big on campus .

I didn’t even know this school existed; I had a couple free hours before another college tour in Milwaukee and spent it walking around the city to get a sense of the place. I saw on a tourist map that I was only a couple blocks from MSOE so I headed over there. The school surprised me in a good way!

MSOE mapThis is a small school of about 2,600 undergrads (not surprisingly, males outnumber females 3-to-1) allowing for a lot of hands-on opportunities for students. One student I spoke to chose MSOE specifically for this reason. “I did not want to be sitting in a large lecture hall. I knew I’d get a better education here than some of the bigger name schools because I can apply what I’m learning and ask questions.” His classes are small: his largest had 28 students; the smallest had 4. He absolutely loves it here. “I’m really well prepared.”

MSOE field and dorm

The outdoor athletic field and dorms in the background.

Incorporated into the city, MSOE is a small, manageable campus within walking distance of many things and accessible to many more through the city’s public transportation. It’s close to downtown but not right in the middle of the busiest part. Freshmen and Sophomores must live on campus unless they come from within 50 miles of campus; about 80% live on campus. Options range from traditional rooms to suites to apartments (those are reserved for juniors, seniors, and international students). The new tower with apartments has brought up the total undergrad residential percentage to about 35%. For the upperclassmen who move off, it’s very easy to find close, affordable housing in the city.

MSOE stud cntr int

The top floor of the student center building.

Food is “ok . . . it’s campus food,” said one student. You aren’t going to go hungry, and if you get bored, you have the whole city at your disposal. The hours aren’t always great. “Dinner is over at 6 or 6:30” but the late-night place is open until 11 Sunday to Thursday. They do offer commuter plans as well.

Despite the school’s name, students can major in more than just Engineering although that is their “flagship.”

  • MSOE nursing

    Nursing Department

    There is a good Nursing program that boasts a 97% placement rate of their graduates.

  • The Business school offers majors in Management, International Business, Management Information Systems, and Technical Communications.
  • The Math department offers both Actuarial Science and Operations Management.
  • Engineering offers degrees in Architectural, Biomedical, BioMolecular, Civil, Computer, Construction, Electrical, Industrial, Mechanical, and Software.
    • Their Mechanical Engineering program has the most students (126) and ranks in the top 10 in the country.
  • MINORS: Students can minor in 7 areas: Business Management, Chemistry, German Studies, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Math, Physics, Psychology, and Technical Communication
MSOE Engo Bldg

Engineering Building

One of the students I talked to is a senior Civil Engineering major. “It’s pretty new. I was one of the first classes, so I feel like I get to help shape it.” He’s an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and has competed in Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe competitions against places like Notre Dame, Purdue, and Indiana. He’s completed a Senior Design project which is an applied project to solve a problem. All students present their work to professionals at the end. He’s a structural specialist, but his senior project wasn’t specifically on that. He would like to see this change in the future; right now, they bound a bit by the project availability, but he did say that it was good to expand out a little bit and gain that experience in other areas of civil engineering. He’s completing a 5-Year freshman-to-MSE program. Students who have a minimum GPA can complete their 5th year for free.

MSOE museum ceilin

The ceiling of the museum building

I’m impressed with the study abroad opportunities. I think an advantage to going to school at a specialized university like this is that they create opportunities for students that align with what they need for graduation. MSOE has agreements with Lille Catholic University in France, Czech Technical University, Florence University of the Arts, Lubeck University of Applied Science in Germany, and Manipal Institute of Technology in India. They also have a travel-study course on Doing Business with China.

Admissions is moderately selective. Although Engineering and Math students need a minimum GPA of 3.0 (nursing requires a 2.75), typical admitted students have about a 3.65. Engineering and Nursing students need at least a 22 composite ACT (Engineers need a 24 math sub-score). Math majors need a 24 composite and 26 math sub-score on the ACT. All students need to have completed pre-calc in high school. They will grant credit for almost all AP classes with a 4 or 5; only a couple areas will grant credit for a 3.

MSOE LibraryI asked a student whether people stuck around campus or went downtown for fun. “Depends on their age . . . I’ll leave it at that.” One of the favorite campus traditions is St. Patrick’s week — apparently he’s the patron saint of engineers. Who knew? This is a big deal in the city as well as on campus. MSOE has parties, students dress up, some professors have their ties cut, classes sometimes get canceled, etc. Quiz Bowl is another event that the students mentioned as an activity they look forward to.

There are things to do on campus. Sports are popular, and they have a large rec facility which includes a hockey rink. Some of their more unusual sports offerings are crew (DIII – “It’s a good team,” said one of the students), fencing, judo, cheerleading, badminton, rugby, and weightlifting (all club). Greek life is fairly small in terms of numbers of students who affiliate, but they do run several social events around campus. There’s an active performing arts contingent on campus, as well.

(c) 2015

Bellarmine University

BELLARMINE UNIVERSITY (visit 9/16/14)

~Bellarmine statue 2Bellarmine (pronounced “Bell-are-min”) is a medium-sized (2,500 undergrads) Catholic university in a residential neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. Although originally an all-male institution, they merged with the all-female Ursiline College in the 1960s. Today, the student body is almost 2/3 women, due in part to the nursing program.

Both the campus and the students were impressive. The students we spoke to were articulate and weren’t “scripted” – the spoke openly about their experiences, giving personal examples of their life on campus rather than just mindlessly spouting information given to them by the admissions office. One of our tour guides, a psych major, said that one of her favorite classes had been Intro to Acting. “If it hadn’t been for that class, I wouldn’t be here talking to you now.”

~Bellarmine students 2Lauren, one of the Admissions Reps, presented the info session to us (a group of counselors); she prefaced it by saying that she was going to do the presentation as she would have if we were a bunch of prospective students so we would get a sense of what our students would hear. Early in the presentation, she said, “The question you need to be asking yourself is, ‘Can you see yourself succeeding here as a student?’” which is a wonderful way for students to approach the search process.

~Bellarmine ampitheaterThe Catholic heritage is clearly part of the university but isn’t overbearing. Many of the values are woven into aspects of campus like the full day of service that all students do during Orientation. One of our tour guides self-identified as Catholic, the other as a non-denominational Christian. Both enjoy the feeling on campus. The religion is there for those who want it. A small campus chapel holds Catholic masses and other Christian services, none of which are mandatory. Students do have to take 2 theology classes (1 in world religions and 1 elective) during their time here, which they see as very reasonable.

~Bellarmine sci centerStudents also have to take 2 lab science classes; in addition to the bio, chem, and other more traditional classes, they can fulfill this with classes like Human Health and Disease, Astronomy, or Gross Anatomy (Bellarmine is 1 of only 8 undergraduate institutions that offer this class!). As a freshman, my tour guide had to reassemble organs in the Cadaver Lab. Bellarmine has a contract with the local zoo; the university gets the animals when they die in order to provide study opportunities for the students (including once getting a giraffe which a professor was going to use to study decomposition, until they realized that they had placed it too close to the air-vents on the roof!). One of the physics professors works with a super-collider (CERN). Upperclassmen help analyze the data.

Nursing, Clinical Lab Sciences, and Respiratory Care Therapy majors make up almost 1/3 of the student population. Nursing, a direct-entry program (assuming criteria is met), counts for about 20% of students, and students speak very highly of the program.

Not surprisingly, their Theology program is strong, as is Math (including Actuarial Science), Poli Sci, Kinesiology, Digital Arts and Technology (with an emphasis in music, art, and communications), Computer Engineering, foreign languages, and Arts Management.

~Bellarmine library inside

Inside of the Library

One of the biggest draws for students is the interaction they have with professors. The largest classroom on campus has 70 seats; the average class size is 20. “We’re setting them up for success,” said an Admissions rep. Students do get to know professors well. In exit interviews, the vast majority say they would make the same decision to do it all over again; when asked where they would like to see money spent, many of them said they would put money towards increasing salary of professors!

All dorm rooms have AC, carpet, a microwave and fridge, and are cable-ready. About ¾ of freshmen life on campus, including in 1 of 4 learning communities: STEM, Honors, Social Engagement, and Health Sciences (called Galileo). About 50% of the entire undergrad population lives on campus. There are a lot of hills on campus – one of the students said that it’s hard to gain the Freshman 15 because of this. In fact, they also give a “hybrid tour” to prospective students using both walking and trolleys because of the hills! Freshmen can have cars on campus, but there are bike rentals and buses for people who don’t have them, so cars aren’t necessary.

~Bellarmine soccerLouisville one of 20 largest cities in the country. It’s been named as one of the top cities for entrepreneurship, a top food city, and a great 20-something city. There’s lots going on, but students don’t often look to Louisville for entertainment since there’s plenty to do on campus. Sports are mostly DIII except for the lacrosse team (DI). Knights Nation is a group dedicated to celebrating the Knights at different games. One well-loved tradition is wearing Halloween costumes to basketball games. There are 90+ other clubs, as well, including a breakdancing club, a Pokemon League, and a Whovian Society. The Daily Knight newsletter will announce upcoming events.

The application is free and is moving to all-online. Currently there is no Common App option. The Honors program requires a 28+ ACT and 3.4 GPA, but they are moving this year to an application-based process. Most students receive scholarships of some sort. The average merit award is around $21,000; comprehensive packages average around $29,000. They do give 5 full-tuition scholarships each year; to be considered for one of these, applicants must submit an essay by 12/1. Competitive students have a 30+ ACT or 1330 SAT and a 3.4 unweighted GPA. Faculty read and invite students to come compete for the scholarship.

© 2014

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