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Oglethorpe University

OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY (visited 3/4/13)

Oglethorpe theater

Theater

One of the best things I learned about Oglethorpe is its collaboration with Georgia Shakespeare festival. This company is located on campus so students have access to all of the benefits from participating in the production to seeing the end product. Because they have this fabulous resource, Oglethorpe offers a Shakespeare and Renaissance Minor which is interdisciplinary and allows students to work on multiple aspects of the productions. Each year, they give two Georgia Shakespeare scholarships which are awarded for Academics and Acting; recipients also get an internship with the Georgia Shakespeare Festival and a trip to Oxford. In addition to the Shakespeare scholarships, they also give three Civil Engagement Scholarships which pay full tuition and provide a stipend for an internship with a non-profit, and Oglethorpe considers all Early Action applicants for a full tuition scholarship.

Oglethorpe dorms

Dorms

Approximately 2/3 of the 1,000ish undergrads live on campus. This may go up since they’re building new suite-style dorms for upperclassmen. Additionally, the college is looking to increase the undergrad population to about 1,200 students. On the edge of campus, just beyond where the new dorms are located, are some Greek Houses. Although 25% of the campus is involved in Greek life, not many people live there (each of the seven houses holds fewer than 20 students), but that is an additional housing option. Dorms get generally good reviews, but the general consensus of the students on the panel is that the food is just bad! They were almost unanimous with this answer when asked what they would like to change about campus. It’s repetitive and not cooked particularly well.

Oglethorpe main

Iconic main building

They have several things that they like about the school. First, faculty members are highly regarded. The students like the academic options and feel challenged in their classes. However, the Core got mixed reviews. It’s writing intensive, interdisciplinary, and has a “four-year arc with a holistic theme” which involves interesting things. They generally like that they can take classes from professors they wouldn’t have taken classes from in their majors, but the classes don’t transfer in or out of the college, so that can make it difficult. Second, they love the location. They feel like they have the best of all possible worlds. The campus is beautiful with lots of green space and buildings made of gray stone. It’s located in a residential area of Atlanta, but there’s still a lot to do immediately around campus, and downtown is easily accessible. Although all students are allowed to keep cars on campus for $50 a year, they’re not necessary. The MARTA stop is less than a mile from campus. They can get an unlimited monthly pass for $68 or pay $2.50/ride. They can get a free shuttle from campus to the MARTA station between the hours of 10pm to 6am. Additionally, there’s a bus stop on campus. The opportunities are “mighty because of the partnerships in ‘A Lab’” (Atlanta Laboratory for learning). As part of the ARCHE (Atlanta Regional Consortium of Higher Education), students can cross-register at many other schools, and Oglethorpe has a formal 3-2 engineering program with Mercer and Ga Tech, so the students have extensive educational options.

Oglethorpe tree and chairsThe students on the panel described the student body as “kind and fluid. You’ll see all the stereotypes here.” Students are very accepting of each other. “Be as weird or as normal as you want.” There aren’t any typical students, but those who don’t stay at Oglethorpe are the ones who aren’t involved. Students are active, vocal, and work hard.” There is a lot to do on campus. A third of the students participate on one or more of the 16 athletic teams. A group of students are involved in building 300 square foot homes for Atlanta’s homeless population – the panelists said that this is just one of many ways that they put the “Make a life, Make a living, Make a difference” motto into action. Clubs are abundant and well-funded. 100% of the student activity fee goes directly into Student Activities. There are a lot of traditions that help form community among the students. Two of the favorite traditions are Boar’s Head and Zombie Week. The Boar’s Head Celebration (inspired by the College Seal) happens before winter break. The faculty, dressed in regalia, carry in a stuffed boar’s head. They have a big dinner, bands play, etc. Zombie Week happens before Halloween. There are lots of activities, and there’s a campus-wide game of Assassin.

Oglethorpe signAt the end of our visit, Oglethorpe held a reception for us in the museum on the third floor of main building. The space is beautiful, and they have a curator who runs it. The President of the college came to speak with the group, and he made a point to have conversations with us in smaller groups throughout the night. He’s personable, invested in expanding the social-justice opportunities for the students, and is outspoken on points of social justice. I’m impressed that he’s so willing to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak – he was asked about his stance on gun control and whether he got backlash on being outspoken. He said that if we, as educators, are asking students to go out and change the world, to put words into action, then we can’t NOT be examples of that. We can’t ask them to do what we’re not willing to do ourselves.

(c) 2013

Spelman College

SPELMAN COLLEGE (visited 3/4/13)

Spelman sculpture 2Spelman looks like a typical small liberal arts school with lots of brick and open spaces with 25 buildings on 42 acres. I was surprised that this is a gated campus. Access to campus is restricted after about 11 pm, and students have to show ID to get onto campus at that point. Men must also be off campus by midnight.

Spelman oval

Oval

Ninety-two percent of Spelman’s 2100 students are of African descent but come from all over the world. The top five U.S. states represented are GA, NY, CA, MD, and IL. The tour guide said that 30 students is a “huge class.” Spelman boasts a 92% freshman-to-sophomore year retention rate and an 82% graduation rate – the highest of the HBCUs.

Spelman acad bldgThey are part of the largest HBCU consortium in the US. Morehouse is right across the street, Clark Atlanta is also “next door,” and they’re connected to the Interdenominational Theological Center and Morehouse School of Medicine. Although there are more than 100 clubs on campus, they can and do join clubs on the other campuses. Additionally, Spelman is part of the ARCHE program (Atlanta Regional Consortium of Higher Education) which includes all these schools, plus Oglethorpe, Emory, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, and more. Finally, they also have a “domestic exchange” with NYU, Grinnell, and Duke among others. Although first year students cannot have cars on campus, that doesn’t stop them from getting around to other campuses or into Atlanta itself. Public transportation is very easy to use.

Spelman chapel

Spelman oval 2US News has ranked Spelman #1 for sending women of color to med school, #1 of the schools of their size for graduates joining Teach for America, and top 20 for Best Buys. They have 27 majors, 10 pre-professional programs, and 6 minors (Anthropology, management and organization, Dance, Japanese, Child Development, and Film & Visual Culture). The Pre-professional programs add 10 or 11 classes to the student’s program of study to prep for graduate programs. They also offer a 3-2 engineering dual-degree program with GaTech.

Spelman 2Spelman 1Spelman is big on tradition and history. The students on the panel talked over and over about the feelings of sisterhood (this word was used A LOT) on campus. Students aren’t allowed to leave campus during orientation which raised a few eyebrows when the students first told us, but none of the women seemed to think that was a real restriction. They talked about how much of a community it created and how many friends they made during that time. Community is also built because all first and second year students live on campus; 1500 out of 2100 total live on campus. There is a lot of good-hearted competitions between dorms, and all the students say that their dorm is, of course, the best! Only about 10% of students join Greek Life; the students on the panel said that there wasn’t much need because they got the same community and sisterhood feeling just on campus and from the dorms. If they decide to join, they can rush after earning 30 credits. The panelists said that other favorite things about the college were the little things like getting a ‘good morning’ from others on campus, even if they didn’t know the person; a feeling that they’re all in this together; and that faculty have open door policies. With a 12:1 student to teacher ratio, they feel like they have good access to the professors. There is very little they said they wanted to change; one thing mentioned was that they’d like to change the communication through the departments.

Spelman dormThe administration is deliberate about goals they have for the institution, and even use the acronym of GOALS to list what they’re working on and they type of experience they want every Spelman woman to have: Global Involvement, Opportunities (Internships, etc), Alumni/student connections, Leadership Development, Service Learning. They are phasing out their DIII athletics in favor of intramurals and a wellness program. They were spending a lot of money on very few athletes, and this allows them to spread the money more evenly to be used by more students.

(c) 2013

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