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Archive for the tag “Adventure Education”

Springfield College

Springfield College (visited 5/29/19)

Springfield sign 3Want to be able to say that you attend school where basketball was invented? Want to join a hammock club? Maybe ride for a club equestrian team? Springfield College could be the place for you.

I fell in love with this place! This was another school that I knew almost nothing about, but I walked away wanting to recommend it to several students. There are a couple things in particular that I think made it stand out:

  • Springfield waterThey own a 57-acre Outdoor Learning Center, technically called East Campus, located on the shores of a lake a couple miles from man campus.
    • There are bike trails, ropes courses, disc golf, and authentic SW pueblos which serves as a space for overnight retreats. They hold an optional pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen as well as camps for younger students. “We call it Challenge by Choice,” said the rep. “No one is going to force you to do things, but if you want to be challenged in this way, it’s here.”
    • Springfield bell towerThe tour guide said that the OLC is her favorite place. “The memories you make are so special. Running to find a blue racquetball because a whistle blew or kazooing your heart out for no other reason than just because you can is great.”
    • They offer a class called Outdoor Pursuits which is required by several majors, but it’s open to anyone interested in enrolling in it. The Recreation Management major and Adventure Education minor use this location extensively.
  • Springfield statue 1They have an active YMCA club and offer a minor in YMCA Professional Studies. I’ve never heard of another program like that – but the college was founded as a YMCA training center, so this isn’t entirely surprising. Students are heavily involved in tutoring, and last year there was a service trip to Peru.
  • “Springfield provides a really good safe zone system with required training. There’s real multicultural education here. I learned about disability acts, LGBTQ issues, financial equity classes. There’s a lot in place to make people feel included and safe.”

Springfield humanicsSpringfield’s mission is “Educating Spirit, Mind, and Body in Service for Others.” This comes across as similar to the Jesuit Mission, but Springfield is totally non-affiliated with any religious group. Rather, they model this after the Greek Humanics ideals that balance is important. Students not only know what the mission is, but they seem to have bought into it. It is embedded into the culture and the curriculum. Students buy into a seriousness of purpose when it comes to academics and decorum but also how to have fun. “We don’t cut corners in life so we don’t cut corners on campus. Students will literally yell ‘Grasshole’ to students who cut across the grass just to get somewhere more quickly,” said my tour guide. “People will absolutely go on the quad for recreation – you’ll see people playing Frisbee and hanging out. They just don’t walk on the grass to get somewhere more quickly.”

Springfield 4When I arrived on campus, the admission rep and I had lunch in the dining hall while we talked about the college. Choices were limited because it was summertime, but they had absolutely amazing chicken marsala, rice pilaf, and fresh vegetables (in addition to burgers and a sandwich bar). I was really impressed. The tour guide said that she’d rate food about a 7-8 (I would’ve said higher based on what was served that day), but “weekend food is a 5 mostly because there are fewer options.”

“There are so many leadership opportunities and support and training for that. You don’t have to be a Type-A person, but if you want to make a difference and develop skills and implement them, this is a great place. There are so many people here who will help you do what you’re passionate about.” They have more extensive academic offerings than I expected for a campus this size (just about 2,500 undergrads).

  • Springfield learning commons

    The Learning Commons: the 4th floor has a study lounge that overlooks the athletic fields. “It’s a great place to get work done while you watch games,” said the tour guide. She also said that the furniture was chosen by students.

    This is a good place for athletes and majors that revolve around that (Sports Biology, Sports Management, Sports Journalism, etc)

    • There is a massive athletic center (bigger than any I’ve seen outside huge DI institutions) with classrooms (especially for Athletic Training and Movement and Sports Studies/PhysEd majors and their coaching minor), Dance Studios (they have both a major and a minor, and Dance teams perform at halftime during football games).
  • PT, AT, OT, and PA are direct entry programs but are capped.
  • Education is big. Students are in the schools starting their first semester.
  • They have some visual and performing arts, but seem to offer more minors than majors in this area, including 3D animation, Web Design, Creative Writing, and Community Arts.
  • Internships are required and transportation can be found. “You can totally explore what you’re interested in.”

Springfield 6Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus, but there are shuttles around town on the weekends. There are also a lot of bus trips to Boston, NYC, Albany, and other places. There is a 3 year on-campus residency requirement, but 85% of all student live on campus. The senior dorms (townhouses and suites) are on the far side of the football field so they get great views of the games. The tour guide said that given the opportunity, she would put money into scholarships or to improve the bathrooms in some of the dorms. She also said that they can improve the number of People of Color on campus, but think that’s something that is being worked on.

© 2019

Plymouth State University

Plymouth State University (visited 10/17/16)

psu-frost-statue

Robert Frost Statue

If you want to study meteorology in a small school or brag that Robert Frost taught at your alma mater, this is a place for you to check out.

“I was surprised at how friendly the place is. It’s a hold-the-door sort of place,” said one of the students. It’s a homey atmosphere, the type of place where a professor will run a Stitch-and-Bitch on a Friday evening in a dorm and have 40 kids show up.

psu-2People describe Plymouth as a transformative place: “it’s almost a “do-over/start-over” place where students who maybe didn’t think that they were college material come and realize that they are. They can hit the reset button here. They can move into a future that a lot of them never imagined for themselves,” said one of the reps. A student agreed: “I’m a better student now. I’m actually doing my work and getting As and Bs.”

psu-leaves

Typical fall colors when the morning fog burns off

Students who haven’t found their voice yet often do well here. They have to engage in the process and understand what they’re learning because they apply it in a lot of classes. They’re responsible for it during group projects. “My biography does not preclude my destiny. If you’re not good at math, you know what? We have math classes here!” said another student. “No matter where they start, development happens,” said a rep.

psu-students

Early morning walk to class in the fog

Lazy doesn’t work here. Students are “gritty and willing to work hard. Most are not coming from affluence. They’re willing to work for things and want to take advantage of the opportunity because they know that not all kids get that,” said a rep. The kids here are “often on the cusp of finding their passion. We do really well with kids who have heart and spirit. They’re good kids. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their hot-mess moments, but they have heart.” That being said, they recognize that their graduation rates need some work.

There are several things in place to help PSU students succeed. One is the existence of first-year success coaches. They take the “GPS approach: think of it as a roadmap. We know the way and what’s ahead.” Students get a nudge/reminder via text, email, etc when something is coming up “or missed a turn.”

psu-acad-bldg-2Plymouth has taken a deliberate stance towards “rebuilding the liberal arts.” They spend time asking themselves, How are they going to let students be transformative, to come out of school and be ready to take on challenges? The result is a redesigned core curriculum (starting the 2016-17 school year) revolving around 7 multi-disciplinary clusters:

  • Education, Democracy, and Social Change
  • Tourism, Environment, and Sustainable Development
  • Justice and Security
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Arts and Tech
  • Health and Human Enrichment
  • Exploration and Discovery

For a school this size, 50 majors and 60 minors is impressive. The largest enrolled departments are: business, CJ, Education, Envi Sci & Policy, and Health and Human Performance. Things to brag about include:

  • psu-meteorology

    The meteorology building

    Meteorology

  • Adventure Education
  • The Allied Health majors: Athletic Training, nursing, and Social Work. A PT department is in the works. Students from all majors come together four times before graduation to work on a “virtual patient;” they have to come up with solutions for cases as a group.
  • Theater Arts: Dramatic Writing, Acting, Musical Theater, and Design-Tech tracks
  • DHL now only recruits at Arizona and Plymouth State. They love the kids’ authenticity and that many of them have been working since 15 or 16. Some of these kids have never been on an airplane, and they get to live in AZ for the first 18-24 months of their careers.

Class sizes for students on the panel ranged from 9 – 32. Their favorite classes were:

  • Mind, Brain, and Evolution (psych). “It’s just fascinating.”
  • Event Management: we learn how to market and run fund-raising events by raising money for a local event.
  • Disney: Magic Kingdom or Evil Empire (FYS). The professor gave both sides of the arguments, we learned how to formulate arguments, etc.
  • US Feminism (history). I decided to minor in women’s studies because of this. We didn’t learn the stereotypical things.
psu-dorm-2

One of the biggest dorms, and the tallest point in town.

Over 40% of the 4,100 students come from outside NH, although 90% of the population is from New England and the Mid-Atlantic. There are some buses running to Logan, Concord, and Manchester. They’re seeing an increase in the international population including a lot from Sweden: “I think they come for the hockey and maybe soccer,” said the tour guide. There’s an athletic culture here: about 80% of students participate in some form of athletics, whether on one of the 24 DIII teams or in club/intramural sports.

psu-dorm-kitchen

One of the dorm kitchens

96% of students live on or within 1 mile of campus. Housing is available all 4 years. A new Res Hall with 288 beds is opening fall of 2017. Freshmen are integrated into dorms; there’s no separate building. Weekends are less than busy, but there are certainly things to do. Skiing is popular (Cranbrook is only 20 minutes away). Before graduation, the students on the panel said that students have to:

  • See a movie or go stargazing on Lynn Green while drinking hot chocolate.
  • Take a selfie with Robert Frost (the statue on campus)
  • psu-chairsFloat the river!
  • Learn to ski or snowboard. “There’s no point coming to school here if you aren’t going to do that!” Students often come here because they’re active and/or enjoy the environment and being outside. There’s an outdoor center where students can get equipment for free to get outside whether it’s on the lakes or mountains.

Admission is Rolling; their app is free (Common App costs $50). Students only need 1 letter and NO test scores: they won’t look at scores even if they’re sent in!

© 2016

Paul Smith’s College

Paul Smith’s College (visited 7/15/15)

Want to go somewhere where you can minor in Maple Syrup (they run a Certified Organic operation) . . . or maybe Craft Beer where you can learn the science behind it and how to market it?

How about a place where you can kayak to a rock outcropping in the lake to do your homework . . . and still get wifi?

Maybe joining a Woodsmen’s Team is more your style? (And yes, women can participate. Check out this YouTube video!)

If so – check this place out!!

~Paul Smiths lakefrontAll told, this is one of the more unique schools I’ve visited (think Sterling College in Vermont but bigger and more focused on forestry rather than a working farm). Paul Smith’s tagline is “The College of the Adirondacks – and it truly is. They’re sitting right in the middle of the state park on the edge of a lake. The college owns most of the land around three public-access lakes for a total of 14,200 acres plus the Visitors Interpretive Center up the road. The UN has named the area a Biosphere Reserve.

Paul Smiths canoe storage

Kayak and canoe racks

Although the college sits in the middle of almost nowhere (the 1,000 students at PS doubles the local population during the school year), students aren’t isolated – although if you love being in nature, you’ll be in heaven here. The school runs multiple shuttles from Friday to Sunday to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and beyond. Also, students can bring up to 3 vehicles to campus – for example, a car, a 4-wheeler, and a kayak; the school provides plenty of space to store all these things.

Additionally, students can bring “up to 2 weapons for hunting,” said the rep. “The first thing they do when they arrive on campus is check in with Security and lock these up in the armory. The last thing they do before leaving campus is stop at Security and check them out. We always know it’s the first day of deer season because at least half the students are missing from classes.”

~Paul Smiths logs

Logs that the Woodsmen’s team practices on

Athletic offerings reflect various student interests. They have 7 DIII varsity sports (soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross-country, rugby, and skiing): “Rubgy is very popular!” There are many, many intramurals, club sports, and recreational activities including Skiing/ Snowboarding, fly-fishing, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, snowshoe softball, inner-tube water polo, duathlons, scuba diving, bowling, and an emergency wilderness response team. They even have a draft horse team! They flood the tennis courts in the winter so students can ice skate. The saline swimming pool is used for recreation and training for water sports – and there’s a fake burling log that the Woodman’s team uses to practice.

~Paul Smiths dorm 3

One of the dorm options

~Paul Smiths honors dorm

Blum house

Dorm options are varied including a yurt where students can live for a semester! Overlook is one of the newest buildings on campus; the suites/apartments here have 4 single rooms, 2 baths, and a common area. Blum House is directly next to the lake; students need to apply to live here and must have a 3.0+ GPA, no disciplinary problems, and agree to substance-free living. Freshmen are housed in one of 2 dorms, and transfers are housed together. “They’re in a different place in life; it makes sense to let them bond.”

~Paul Smiths dining hall 2

Dining Hall

Students really like the food at the dining hall. The director plans all sorts of great activities such as Late Night Open Mic and Night at the Oscars (formal wear encouraged). There’s a pub for the 21+ students. The bookstore sells a lot more than books since they recognize that it’s hard for students to get what they need locally. They carry the culinary and other specialized stuff that students might need, there’s a notary on staff, etc.

Academically, Paul Smith’s is split into two divisions: the School of Natural Resource Management and Ecology and the School of Commercial, Applied, and Liberal Arts. There’s a Dean for both divisions with open door policies. “We’re very casual here.” There’s only 1 lecture hall on campus. Intro to Bio tends to be the biggest class: “I think we had 167 students once,” said the rep.

In the NRM/E school, some cool majors include:

  • Arboriculture and Landscape Management
  • Surveying Technology
  • Forest Technology
    • Forestry students help manage the school’s forest through timber sales, looking ecologically to see about infestations, what’s helping and hurting.
  • Parks, Rec, and Facilities Management
  • Ecological Restoration: they look at what’s impacting ecology and how to change it. Students have access to the Adirondack Water Institute where they do Shoreline restoration and look for invasive species. Students can get scuba certified.

Many students work for the Adirondack Park Agency during their time at college, and there’s 94% placement rate after graduation (not just for APA) but doing everything from research and advocacy to law and communications.

~Paul Smiths culinaryIn the CALA school, students can study:

  • Hotel, Resort, and Tourism Management
  • Food Service and Beverage Management
  • Rec, Adventure Ed, and Leisure Management
  • Baking/Pastry or Culinary Arts
    • There are 6 professional kitchens and 1 baking lab.

There are two on-campus restaurants and a bakery, all staffed by students. The St. Regis is a farm to fork café. Students do rotations in the back and front of house. The second is The Palm at Paul Smith’s which is based on The Palm in New York City which is co-owned by an alum who wanted to give students hands-on experience. Both are open to the public for lunch, dinner, and/or cocktail hour.

Alumni tend to be committed to the school. They come back so often that the school maintains a campground just for them. Although they do have some favorite traditions such as Smitty Fest, “There aren’t traditions here so much as there’s a way of life,” said the rep.

© 2015

Green Mountain College

Green Mountain College (visited 4/16/14)

~Green Mtn bikes

~Green Mtn zen garden

Zen Garden

Green Mountain is the kind of college you would expect to find in Vermont – outdoorsy, environmentally conscious, maybe a bit quirky. They have a bike shop on campus, their on-campus coffee shop sells only local foods and fair trade goods, they have an outdoor kiln, there’s a Zen garden outside the library, and bathrooms are unisex.

~Green Mtn quad 2Known as the Environmental state college, the have a distinctive core curriculum called Environmental Liberal Arts (ELA) consisting of four Environmental-based classes in addition to the other required distributions. All freshmen take a 6-credit class called “Images of Nature” in the fall. In the spring they take a writing intensive class. “Delicate Balance” and “Dimensions of Nature” are the upper level ELA classes which can be completed at any time before graduation.

~Green Mtn solar

Solar panels and maze

People are great and definitely aren’t generic. However, lots of people also leave after freshmen year. We asked some students why, and they said that a lot of people come here thinking that it’s a party school and either realize that it’s too small, not what they want, or they bottom out because they party too much. One counselor asked, “So you don’t party now?” The student said, “I didn’t saw that. Let’s just say that I figured out the balance.”

~Green Mtn dining hall

Dining Hall

Most of the 825 students live on campus because there’s a 4-year residential requirement unless students meet an age requirement. Dorms are assigned by major or interests, and there are several Interest Floors. Currently, the campus isn’t completely wired for wifi, but they’re provided with Ethernet cords for the rooms.

~Green Mtn bulls

Campus farm

~Green Mtn Main 2People come for the stand-out majors like Adventure Education, Natural Resources Management, Renewable Energy and Ecological Design, and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production. They have a working farm on campus, and 20% of the food used on campus is produced on the farm. Our tour-guide was a sophomore Envi Sci and Education major, and double majoring or interdisciplinary work is highly encouraged. They also encourage hands-on and practical applications to what students learn in the classroom. For example, the Green MAP (Mountain Adventure Program) is run by people in the outdoor adventures major. One program they run is the Wilderness Challenge, a pre-orientation program which several students participate in; options include kayaking, hiking, yoga, mountain biking, and more.

Check out their YouTube Video: GMC – Our Home!

© 2014

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