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Utah State University

Utah State University (visited 9/26/18)

USU A quad

The quad and the Aggie A … if you kiss an Aggie on top of the A, then you, too, are an Aggie! It’s a major tradition here.

Here are some cool facts about USU:

  • You can take a Drone Photography class!
  • USU is a NASA Space Grant University: “We send more things into space than any other institution in the US.”
  • They’ve had several Carnegie professors, more than most places!
  • They have the 2nd Oldest Undergrad Research Program in the nation after MIT.
  • They have a spider silk lab on campus. They put the silk into goats and can then extract that from the milk and have as much silk as they want! They’ve made Kevlar vests, ligaments in medical stuff, and more.
  • USU drone 1

    Students in the Drone Photography class

    They are the 7th lowest costing public university in the country: the out-of-state cost of attendance is under $28,000 total (and even lower at the regional campuses).

  • The HOWL is the largest Halloween Party in the country.
  • They have one of the largest LDS Institutes in the country.
  • Their quad is used for military training, and sometimes helicopters land there for ROTC. (Students can get commissioned through Air Force ROTC within the Aerospace Studies or Army ROTC with Military Science)

USU Old MainUSU has 3 residential campuses; the main campus in Logan (a small city north of SLC) has 18,000 undergrads; another 8,000 students study on other 2 regional campuses. There’s also a large online presence, offering 400 online classes for 88 Masters and 41 doctoral programs. All 50 states and 78 countries are represented with 30% of students from outside of Utah; 84% of students “live away from home” (which includes students living in town, not only in university housing).

USU bikes mntnsI was incredibly impressed with the campus. It was attractive and easy to navigate with lots of open space and a mountain vista around campus. This is a great place for outdoorsy types; certainly the winter sports are notable, but people clearly want to be all year with options for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and more. Students were around campus in groups, walking together or utilizing the space on the quad for studying, classes, and hanging out. Students can use Logan town busses for free; shuttles to SLC take about 90 minutes, run 3 times a day, and cost $40.

USU frat house 1

There are a few Greek Houses

The students we spoke to love the school: “there are so many opportunities to do whatever we want in or out of the classroom.” One of them mentioned the weekly campus Farmer’s market. Greek life is almost non-existent (but it’s there if you want it). Sports are a huge deal here, and the football team is doing really well nationally. “Going to games is a big deal – students even camp out for the game against Air Force. They open the gates at 3:00 am. You need to be there to get into the first rows,” said one of the tour guides.

USU engineering quadThis is Utah’s Land Grant institution so it’s not surprising that their Agriculture and Applied Sciences are particularly strong. They offer really cool majors such as Agricultural Communication and Journalism; Aviation Technology (Pilot or Maintenance Management); Landscape Architecture; Residential Landscape Design and Development; Land, Plant, and Climate Systems; Animal, Dairy, and Vet Sciences; and Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. There are further options through the College of Natural Resources such as Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Ecology and Management of Rangelands, Forests, or Wildlife.

USU Book automation

Part of the automatic retrieval system in the library for research books: “It’s like Monster’s Inc,” said the tour guide.

The Engineering Department is well regarded. There’s a Water Lab in the Civil Engineering department. Aeronautics is a concentration within Mechanical Engineering (and they offer graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering. As long as they meet the GPA, they’re in that program.)

Nursing, however, is competitive, taking 26-30 students at a time. The program just started so they are working on accreditation; they need to have a graduating class before full accreditation can happen; this is “retroactive” for current students so they aren’t hurt by this. Admission to the program works on a points system, students usually apply in sophomore year after completing pre-reqs.

Students can earn a BFA in Art or Theater; they do offer Interior Design as well (BID) and Music Therapy.

USU stu cntr intThe admissions office does a lot of national outreach to increase their out-of-state population (already just over 25%), including nationwide open houses where they’ll tell applicants on the spot if they’re eligible for scholarships as long as they apply while they’re there. Scholarships are generous, but many are contingent on students gaining residency after the first year. They recognize that much of this depends on not being claimed on the parents’ taxes. They said that often when families do the math, they could come out ahead with the student declaring Utah Residency. If a student chooses not get Utah residency, the scholarship will only pay the in-state tuition amount after the first year, and the family is responsible for the difference. If students accept the WUE scholarship, they must complete their degree within 4 years; if they go beyond that, they revert to the full out-of-state tuition starting the 9th semester.

© 2018

 

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Central Washington University

Central Washington University (visited 6/21/17)

CWU 2CWU was a surprise in the best possible way. I walked away knowing that I’d be comfortable recommending this school to students: it’s a welcoming, modern, attractive campus with a lot of unusual majors that would appeal even to students coming from across the country. Check out this YouTube video put together by the Arts and Humanities Departments – made entirely (including the music) by faculty and students in that school!

CWU mascot 2

The mascot in front of the student center which also houses their Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals office

All first-year students are required to live on campus and therefore get priority for housing. Many live in 4-person “pods” (like suites). There are about a dozen LLCs available; our tour guide lived in the Aviation LLC his first year even though he ended up not majoring in it. There are some university-owned apartments available for upperclassmen. Off-campus housing is relatively easy to find and not expensive. Ellensburg is a small, easily manageable city with things to do and with lots of access to outdoor activities. Students can fly into Sea-Tac airport and get school shuttles for the 2-ish hour trip to campus.

CWU sculpture

One of many such sculptures on campus

Despite being a medium-sized university of about 11,000 students, they take excellent care of students and work hard to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks. Students get both a Major and a Support Advisor so there are plenty of people checking in on them. They are dedicated to providing accessible education for students, particularly those who historically have not had easy access to higher education. Their first-gen students graduate well above the national average, for example. One student spoke to us at dinner; he was extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities and support he received at the college, saying that his success came due to the support he got from faculty and the institution as a whole.

CWU sci 1

One of 2 new science buildings

The evening we were on campus, one of the physics students gave us a mini-lecture on Dark Matter… we couldn’t believe he wasn’t a professor! The Astronomy Club gives monthly presentation, so this was something they would have available to students and the community at large. A physics professor then let us crawl into their portable planetarium (who knew that was even a thing!?); it looked a bit like an igloo and easily fit 25 people. (We also got to go into their permanent planetarium but the equipment was being upgraded so we were unable to see it in action). He gave us a great presentation followed by an extensive tour of the geology and physics labs and ending at the telescope and observatory on the roof.

They offer a number of interesting and/or unique majors such as:

  • CWU museumMuseum Studies
    • They’ve excavated a mammoth about 30 minutes from here and will most likely keep the bones on campus since students did a lot of the work.
  • Law & Justice
  • Para-medicine
  • Aviation/Aerospace/Aviation Management
    • Aviation has been going on for about 40 years; there’s a pilot shortage and they’ll get jobs, but it’s a lot of money up front for the training.
    • There are additional admissions requirements such as a physical for flying.
    • There are 60 incoming freshman bringing it up to 160 total. They’re hoping to bring even more in next year.
  • CWU mammoth

    The first mammoth bone excavated

    Music

  • Sciences (College of Sciences combines Computational, Natural, and Social Sciences)
    • They have a Cadaver Lab!
    • The geology department is the largest in the state
    • A physics professor has a grant to discover exoplanets.
  • Primate Behavior and Ecology: Washoe, one of the original chimps that was taught ASL lived here.
  • Integrated Energy Management
  • CWU japanese garden

    Part of the campus Japanese Garden

    The Business School is AACSB accredited (less than 5% of more than16,000 schools get this). Admission is not competitive but must keep a 2.5 GPA to stay in the program; students can declare after 30 credits.

    • There are 8 concentrations including HR, Economic Forecasting, Supply Chain, and Managerial Economics
  • Safety and Health Management: they have the top program in west. Two professors got awarded National Educators of the Year awards.
  • Apparels, Textiles, and Merchandising: graduates can work as designers or buyers.
  • Global Wine Studies: This is not meant to teach students how to make wine (although they do learn how) but focus on the marketing.
  • Craft Brewing: Students do learn how to make beer in this major! “They get a lot of science.” They can also get a certificate in this if they don’t want the whole major.
  • They’re starting Hospitality Program and will incorporate the beer and wine programs into the event management. This will be an international program where they can work in Spain, too. Getting a dual degree from each institution will be a possibly.
  • Their Army and AF ROTC programs win awards across the country.
CWU creek 1

This stream runs through campus. “You could swim in it, but I’m not sure you want to,” said the tour guide. “However, it is tradition for seniors to float down it in tubes right before graduation.”

Admission to the university is automatic – without the test scores – if a student has a 3.4 and will have completed all the College Academic Requirements by graduation (but they still need to submit test scores; they just aren’t used for admissions, but are looked at for scholarships and for placement). All others go through the comprehensive review process. This is already one of the most affordable institutions in the Pacific Northwest. On top of that, they offer WUE to qualifying students who then pay in-state tuition x 1.5. The average incoming GPAs for WUE students was a 3.31; overall was a 3.1.

© 2017

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