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University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky (visited 9/23/19)

UKY lawn artThis is one of only 8 universities in the country with the full complement of liberal arts, engineering, professional, agricultural, and medical colleges and disciplines on one contiguous campus. This is a large university with 22,000 undergrads in the 16 academic colleges (plus the Lewis Honors College) but they’ve done wonders at making it feel accessible and smaller to students with quite a few initiatives:

  • UKY students on walkwayThey’ve moved up to tie for 60th nationwide among public universities because of the capital campaigns, the graduation rates, and record retention rates hovering around 85% and they’ve set a goal of raising this to 90% within the next few years.
  • They have Exploratory Studies options for undecided students in nine colleges so they all have a home college and guidance from their very first day. They can do career assessments and more – “and that may mean jumping from one exploratory major in one college to another,” said one rep. That’s doable because everything is on the same campus.
  • UKY housing complexThere are no “traditional style” dorms left on campus, and none of the dorms are older than 2005. There are 13 LLC programs including Health Care, Creative Arts, engineering, and Honors to help students create community.

UKY 10Lexington sits right in the middle of Horse Country and has been dubbed “Athens of the West” and “City Within a Park” because of the horse farms. “You have the urban environment but you can be out in the farms in about 10 minutes.” Keeneland Race Track is a popular spot for students in April and October. They held the first Breeders Cup with 13 races over 2 days and a week-long festival. This will return to the area in 2020. The city itself has over 300,000 people with almost 550,000 in the metro area, ranked #7 Best City for new college grads and #3 safest metro city in the US. There is a city airport, but many students will fly into Louisville or Cincinnati and use shuttles from there.

UKY sci bldg int

Science Building atrium

UK is an attractive, well kept-up large public university that’s nicely incorporated into the city of Lexington. “We have great new facilities, but it’s more about what happens within the space, the collaboration, the community.” Many buildings are new or newly renovated (although there are certainly some older buildings, as well). Something like $22 million was put into the science building that came from the athletics department. “It really shows that they want academic success, not just athletic success,” said the tour guide. Students make amazing use of green space, and students were seen using the Adirondack Chairs, swings, and other lounge areas on campus. Campus is easy to get around, and has been voted most Bike-friendly.

 

UKY 12The university has recently started several new initiatives:

  • Smart Campus Digital Initiative: Apple iPad distribution was one of the most visible things. “Alone, they’re just a thing, so we focus on how we can use technology to leverage the enhancement of well-roundedness, improve wellness, jumpstart and ease the transition from high school, create a digital career portfolios, and develop proficiencies in coding.”
  • E-Sports: something like 19,000 HS students in the state are in gaming. They currently have competitions (Cats Clash) etc, and this will grow. However, they aren’t going to give scholarships because they’re often given for a particular game; “What happens if that game goes away?”
  • The Winslow Project: They are designing an Innovation Center which will have an App Development Lab, the eSports center, retail space, and more.

UKY int seatingUK is tied for 3rd among colleges and universities with graduates who are CEOs of Fortune 100 companies. They do some great work with their academics here. They boast that 85% of classes have 50 or fewer students. My tour guide’s biggest class had 450 students; his smallest had 6. There are a few academic programs or special entry requirements that are worth noting:

UKY 14The application to the honors college is part of the regular application to the university, but they must apply by 12/1. Benefits include priority registration, access to the Center for Personal Development, mentoring, and 4 residence halls as part of the LLC. Students don’t have to live in the LLC, but they try to steer them in that direction. The Honors Program costs $500 a year.

UKY chairs 3For Admission purposes, they’ll take the December SAT, but for scholarship and honors applications, the Oct ACT or early Nov SAT will be the latest they accept. They do not superscore for admissions or scholarships – but it can be useful to have all test scores, particularly if there’s a higher subscore because it helps for placement and to show competency.

December 1 (Early Action) is the final deadline for Honors College as well as the competitive and academic scholarships. The Presidential Scholarship (tuition for 4 years) and the Singletary Scholarship (tuition for 4 years, housing for 2) have an additional essay topic. This year’s question is, “What 4 faces would you put on Mt Rushmore and why?” As soon as students get their acceptance, they can apply for housing, etc.

© 2019

NC State

NC State (Visited 3/12)

For such a large campus, I was impressed with how attractive it was. Most of the buildings are brick with only a couple notable exceptions, one of which is unfortunately on an otherwise brick-building-lined-quad filled with trees, flowers, and open grassy spaces. The campus, including the quad, has wi-fi, so this becomes a popular study area in the warmer weather. The “Brickyard” is another open space where students tend to congregate.

State’s library is more notable than most I’ve seen; not only is it extensive (8 floors of stacks and study spaces – and students can access the catalogues and request materials from the Duke and UNC Chapel Hill libraries, as well) but the first floor is a funky, open, well-lit, inviting space for students filled with lots of computers, meeting areas, overstuffed chairs, and even PlayStations. Even though I visited during spring break, this space was well utilized.

My tour stayed only on the main campus so I did not get to see the Centennial Campus (the school is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, just as a side note). The Centennial Campus has most of the Engineering and associated programs and is about an 8-10 minute shuttle ride away. Most Freshmen, even in that department, will take their core classes on the main campus to acclimate before they have to start going back and forth between campuses. The university is also in the process of putting dorms on Centennial Campus to make it easier for students and to alleviate some of the housing crunch. Now, many of the dorms are on the far side of the train tracks (under which runs the “Free Expression Tunnel” full of fun graffiti and signs that advertise all sorts of activities and points of view). The university does not guarantee housing, but reserves space for at least 70% of freshmen to live on campus. There are extensive opportunities for off-campus housing. On campus, there are several themed Villages: Global, Honors, First Year, Scholars, Women in Science and Engineering, and others.

The university is currently in the process of reducing the size of their freshman class by several hundred students to about 4,300 students. Although in part to do with housing, it has more to do with budgets and class sizes. They want to be able to continue providing high-quality education and class availability. Applications have steadily gone up over the past two decades, and this year is the first time that applications have exceeded 20,000. Their acceptance rate in 2011 was 53%. Currently, 9-10% of their students are out-of-state. Like other NC public universities, they have to cap OOS at 18%; they would like their numbers to be closer to that.

Because application numbers are going up so much, they highly recommend that students apply before the deadline. Files are read in the order that they are received so if anything is missing, students will be notified much earlier if they have submitted materials before the deadline – even if it’s just a week. Also, the completed application will be read earlier. If students send SAT or ACT scores during junior year, they will keep them on file and students will be placed on the “perspective” list so they will be invited to open houses, etc. If a student does not report scores until Senior year, the admissions people do NOT recommend rushing the SAT scores – it’s a waste of money and will not really get them to the admissions office any more quickly. Essays and recommendations are not required, but the admissions people will read them if they are sent. Students must apply by 11/1 to be considered for Merit Scholarships.

The most prestigious scholarship they offer is the Park Scholar, named after an alum. This comprehensive scholarship covers tuition, fees, books, room and board, and stipends for living expenses and technology. Students also become eligible for additional grants for study abroad, service projects, or other enrichment opportunities. About 45 scholarships are granted each year. Last year, they received 1500 applications so the acceptance rate is about 3%. Endorsement for the Park Scholar program can come from the school (by 10/1) or from the student (by 10/25). The application is due on 11/1. Students must also complete the NC State application by 11/1 to be a PS candidate. Scholars are selected based on Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character.

The University has several schools; along with the more traditional and expected sorts of majors, there are several unusual ones: 1) College of Natural Resources: Forest Management, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management: Tourism and Commercial Recreation, Natural Resources, Professional Golf Management, Sport Management. 2) College of Management: Internal Auditing, Labor Economics, Supply Chain Management. 3) College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences: Marine Sciences, Meteorology, Financial Mathematics. 4) Engineering: Agricultural, Biomedical, Aerospace, Nuclear, Paper Science, Texile. 5) College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Creative Writing; Public Relations and Organizational Communications; Africana Studies; Science, Technology, & Society. 6) College of Textiles: Fashion and Textile Design. 7) First Year College: Undecided? Use this college to explore, get advice, and figure it out!

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