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Radford University

Radford University (visited 4/3/18)

Radford fountainI was excited to have the chance to visit Radford since a student of mine was all fired up about it several years ago; it was the only one he wanted to go to. My welcome to the university by the admissions staff was enthusiastic, and they were helpful with parking and getting me registered for the tour. That being said, I was highly disappointed in the visit, and I left not knowing why I would recommend the school to a student, mostly because I had no idea what made it different from a multitude of other medium sized universities.

Radford 4This is a public university with 9,400 students, 90% of whom are undergraduate. The school didn’t go co-ed until 1972; today, it’s still almost 60% female. I do get the feeling that their reputation is getting better corresponding to its growing academics and cracking down on some of the partying that the school had been known for. “I get the party question a lot,” said the tour guide. “It was definitely a party school at one point. It’s not like that anymore. Admissions is getting more selective, and this is a dry campus. They even consider your body to be a container. If you come back to campus visibly intoxicated, you can get in trouble. You might not even get into your major if you’ve been written up for an alcohol charge.” They do seem to be doing some things right; retention is at about 77% which above the national average.

Radford dorm quad 4Radford is a good choice for a solid B/B+ student. Admitted students have a middle GPA range of 2.9-3.5. Generally, scholarships are granted to students with at least a 3.2 GPA and 1080 SAT or 22 ACT. Students must apply by December 1 to be considered for scholarships. Scores received by then will be considered: if new scores come in, they’ll reconsider the scholarship offer. Out-of-state scholarships are higher corresponding to the higher tuition (about $32,000 for OOS compared to just under $20,000 for in-state).

Radford dorm towerThe average class size is 30-35 students. This is a bit larger than many schools of this size, although fewer than 3% of classes are taught by Grad Assistants. Students seem pretty happy with their classes. There are 6 colleges to choose from for majors:

Radford dorm quad 1There are 15 residence halls clustered around several small quads. All dorms are suite-style or have en suite bathrooms; none have bathrooms down the hall. I’m sure this has gone a long way to Radford being ranked #3 best dorms in the state and in the top 100 nationwide. Their meal plan is like a debit card. With their card, food is half-price at the on-campus fast food vendors (Wendy’s, Starbucks, Chik-fil-a, etc) and 70% off listed prices at the dining hall. They have a sit-down style restaurant on the first floor of the largest dorm on campus, a 10-floor dorm that houses about half the freshmen. Parking is available for all students in a lot across a footbridge from the main campus, but cars aren’t needed. The Radford Transit shuttles run every 10 minutes from about 8am to about 1am. This gets them around campus as well as in town to places like Walmart and as far as Blacksburg (Virginia Tech area).

Radford dining hallStudents seem happy with the things to do on and off campus. “We’re in Southern Virginia among the mountains and rivers,” said a rep. There is a town, and Virginia Tech is not too far up the road, but this is not a booming college town. Thy have a popular Outdoors Club which gets students into the immediate area to hike, bike, ski, etc as well as outside of the area to scuba dive, sky dive, and more. The DI sports are strong, and students go for free, including trips to see away games during the NCAA tournament. “We’re the only Virginia team to win a game in the that,” said a rep. There are plenty of chartered club sports and 200 intramurals for students who don’t want to play varsity.

© 2018

 

 

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Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University (visited 3/3/15)

~TCU main sign~TCU flowersOne of the big question a lot of us on the Counselor tour had was, how Christian is TCU? The general consensus was: as much as you want it to be. The school is insistent that students figure it out for themselves and be respectful of others. “We have really interesting conversations about God,” said one of the tour guides. Students are required to complete 1 theology class as part of their distribution requirements, but the choices range from Religion in the Arts to The Afterlife in Roman/Greek Traditions (taught by a German professor). One student on the panel wishes that the university were more Christian. “It’s in the name; no one is hiding that it’s part of who we are, but there’s 1 cross on campus. I’ve actively looked.”

~TCU main quad~TCU fountainThe campus is attractive with nice architecture and wonderful landscaping; daffodils were already popping up in early March, despite the chilly weather and dreary skies. Many of the buildings are made of yellow brick, and they’re making an effort to keep consistent to the general feeling as new construction goes up. The campus is located in Fort Worth, a city described by a student as a “booming suburbia.” It has a definite residential, family feel; students and younger professionals tend to like living here. “Dallas feels more business-like than here,” said one professors. Students can take easy advantage of the city with free bus rides with their TCU ID; they also have access to bike shares. However, there’s lots to do directly off campus, as well. Students get discounts at many places in town including free lunches at some places on Fridays. 35 places off-campus will take Flex Bucks.

~TCU dorm hallway

A dorm hallway

TCU has a two-year residency requirement but currently can’t meet demand for juniors and seniors. However, they’re committed to rectifying that and are building a new res hall per year for a decade; 4 new ones are up already. Students are happy that they’re working on the residential issues.

~TCU plaza 2Greek life is a huge part of campus life with almost half of students affiliating (it’s a higher percentage of women than men affiliating – about 55% and 40% respectively – which almost matches up with the general gender mix on campus). One student wishes that she knew how much Greek life was part of campus before she came here. She said that sometimes it feels like much more than half of the students belong to one of the Greek organizations. There is a bit of Greek housing, but many end up living together in regular dorms.

~TCU studentsStudents love the academics here, but “you need to want to learn. They can facilitate the learning, but can’t do it for you.” Favorite classes include:

  • Literature and Civilization: they spoke with a woman from Rwanda
  • Speech Pathology (she’s had her own clients for 2 years now).

~TCU main bldgAs with any university, there are a number of colleges to choose from including:

  • Business
  • Liberal Arts (notable programs: Geography, Criminal Justice, and Hispanic Studies). Students wanting to take classes in Aerospace Studies or Military Science can do so through the Air Force or Army ROTC (respectively).
  • Communications including Communication Studies, Film-TV-Digital Media, and Journalism.
  • Fine Arts: Art, Dance, Music, Theater, Interior Design and Merchandising, and Arts Administration
  • Education
  • Science and Engineering including Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, Computer Science, and the School of Geology, Energy, and the Environment.
  • TCU Honors volleyball

    Sand Volleyball Court

    The Honors College provides small classes and specialized housing (complete with a sand volleyball court!). Honors students have the opportunity to attend a special orientation and have access to Honors Study Abroad trips.~TCU mascot

~TCU mascot statue

Football stadium

Football stadium

Sports are a big deal here. Super Frog the Horned Frog is the beloved mascot (and listed in the top-10 weirdest mascots!); students rub the nose of the Horned Frog statue for luck before exams, and the university even owns a real horned frog. It’s housed at the FW Zoo because it’s an endangered species. TCU’s teams are DI; in addition to the common teams, there are women’s Equestrian and Rifle teams, and men’s DIA football. TCU ranks #1 in the country for attendance at women’s soccer and men’s baseball games. Their big rival is Baylor. Intramurals and club sports are a big part of life on campus, as well. They offer bowling, ice hockey, gymnastics, rugby, and water polo in addition to many other sports. There’s even an outdoor pool with kayaks and canoes available for students.

© 2015

Purdue University

PURDUE UNIVERSITY (visited 9/15/14)

Twenty-three astronauts, including Neil Armstrong (for whom their engineering building is named), graduated from Purdue.

~Purdue quad 2 Purdue is Indiana’s land-grant public institution, home to 29,400 undergraduates: 57% are male, 57% are in-state, and 17% are international. We visited on a drizzly day, but the students were out in droves. The level of diversity seen in the student body impressed me.

~Purdue Boilermaker

The Boilermaker

As part of the counselor tour, some of us chose to ride the “Boilermaker,” a small “train” that goes around campus. We had about five minutes to talk to the students who ranged from sophomores to seniors. Most were in-state; 2 were from other Midwestern states. They were all thrilled with their education and excited to talk about their experiences. One student said that she was surprised at how manageable the campus felt for such a large school; the others agreed that it feels small quickly through the majors, living communities, clubs, etc. Three were involved in Greek life (about 20% of all students are, making it one of the largest Greek systems in the state). The unaffiliated ones didn’t feel left out of the social scene or pressured to rush.

Purdue sign and acad A few things the students particularly like about Purdue are:

  • The President who was a 2-term Indiana Governor. He’s making some good initiatives, including freezing tuition for 3 years.
  • The town. It’s very walkable with lots to do. They are two hours from Chicago; shuttles run all the time. (Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus because of parking limitations).
  • SPORTS! Students can buy a “Boilermaker VIP card” for $250 which gets them tickets to the games.
  • The strong ROTC program in all 4 branches.

There is no residency requirement but almost all freshmen live on campus. “It cuts in half about every year after that,” said the tour guide. A total of 11,500 students live in one of 16 dorms or a learning community (each housing 30-40 students) A new Honors College residence hall is about to be built. Greek housing is cheaper than other on-campus housing.

~Purdue walkwayStudents can be directly admitted to most of the 200 majors; undecided students enter the Exploratory Program. Many of the programs are largely hands-on with the goal of graduating marketable students. The admissions rep talked about their 4-3-2-1 “program” (although it’s not really advertised as such): they want students to graduate in 4 years, keep a 3.0 average, complete 2 hours of study for every hour of class, take 1 leadership role. The university boasts the largest student-run job fair in the country, and students do tend to transition easily into the job market. Our tour guide, an agri-business major, has a job already lined up for graduation (almost a year away!)

Purdue acad bldg 5Classes tend to be large. There are 2 lecture halls with 470ish seats and other halls that hold 120 students. Our tour guide’s smallest classes were 30 (Instructor-led) and 20 (TA-led). There’s support for people who want it, but no one will hold their hands. The OWL lab (writing center) is free. “It’s available online; I used it even as a high school student,” said the tour guide. However, other tutoring costs money.

During our visit, there were two sessions where we had options of seeing several different departments. I first went to the anthropology department and got a tour by one of the archaeologists who works in Egypt. She took us into the osteology lab where a several-thousand-year-old Sudanese skeleton was assembled on the worktable. She showed us some of the discoveries about lifestyle, and explained what type of work the students do in the class she teaches. Eventually it will go back to Sudan, but since they don’t have facilities to store human remains for study, they’re not anxious to get it back.

One of the kitchen classrooms for the Hospitality School.

One of the kitchen classrooms for the Hospitality School.

~Purdue fountain 3The second tour was the school of Health and Human Sciences. This encompasses everything from Hospitality and Tourism Management and Consumer Science to Nursing, Psychological Sciences, and Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. I talked to a Dean and a current Hospitality student. He showed off the school, including the sit-down restaurant on campus where all students must complete an internship.

Notable majors include:

  • Hospitality and Retail. Students can specialize in things like Sporting Events or get certified in Wine Tasting. Students all complete 4 concentrations including labs and internships on campus and must also complete 3 paid internships in different positions, totalling more than 300 hours. There’s one in China at the Shangri La Resorts. The student I spoke to had all his expenses paid, including travel and uniforms. He completed a research project in Employee Retention, so he spent a lot of time with HR.
  • PHASE (Purdue Hearing and Acoustics in Science and Engineering) which includes Acoustic Engineering and Biomedical Acoustics.
  • A new Brain and Behavioral Science Major, popular with the pre-med crowd (as is the Nutrition Science program).
  • Fashion Merchandising: They can spend their junior year at FIT in New York.
  • Financial Planning (one of the majors requiring an internship).
  • Aviation – complete with an airport on campus.
  • Selling and Sales Management. “They do lots of improv; they know how to deal with lots of situations,” said the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Education – they work in their first year.
  • Pharmacy is # 7 in the country. Students complete 2 years of pre-pharm then 4 years of pharmacy.
  • Film/TV and Communications is overlooked.

Purdue acad bldg 1Students must apply by November 1 to be eligible for scholarship money. They will superscore the SAT or take the highest composite ACT. They only need 1 recommendation letter which can come from the high school counselor.

© 2014

Winthrop University

WINTHROP UNIVERSITY (visited 4/4/14)

~Winthrop sign ~Winthrop flowersWinthrop is a Comprehensive Liberal Arts Public University located on a 100-acre campus in Rock Hill, SC, a small city with 65,000 residents, which is considered an “outskirt” of Charlotte (the 2nd largest financial district in the US after NYC). Without traffic, students can be in Charlotte in about 20 minutes. In fact, they’re so close that they have a loose affiliate with UNC-Charlotte; any student doing AF ROTC goes there for the classes. Army ROTC can be done at Winthrop.

They currently have just over 5000 undergrads (plus about 1,100 grad students) and are growing by 3-4% a year. They have a warm and welcoming Admissions Office. The visitor coordinator was outgoing and friendly, greeting and chatting easily with visitors. Coffee and water were available in the large room used for the info session. They made a very good first impression!

Winthrop Business tickerSome unusual majors include Finance (either Corporate or Financial Planning); Health Care Management; Sustainable Business; Digital Commerce; Human Nutrition; Integrated Marketing Communication; Science Communication; BFA offerings in 11 areas including Photography (either Commercial or Fine Arts), Jewelry/Metals, Sculpture, Interior Design, and Illustration, and Bachelor of Music or Music Education. Art students can showcase work both on and off campus, and theater students can write and direct their own work.

~Winthrop swingsThe average class size is 24, but “that seems inflated by freshmen classes which are capped at 29,” said the admissions rep. Intro to Biology and Intro to Chem tend to be the largest classes with up to 40 per class. Their 3 most popular majors are pretty typical: Business, bio, and psych. Fine arts and Early Childhood Education round out their top five. They are known for fine and performing arts, and they are the Flagship School of the SE Region for Education. They maintain a satellite campus consisting of Wetlands, used primarily as a lab for bio classes.

~Winthrop ampitheaterAdmitted students have an average 3.8 GPA, a mid-50% SAT range of 960-1150 or average ACT of 23, and almost 50% in the top 20% of their class. In addition to other merit scholarships, they do offer an IB scholarship and Talent Scholarships which require a portfolio or audition (and are judged by the faculty).

In order to help students thrive and persist towards graduation, freshmen and sophomores must live on campus unless they live within a 50 mile radius. In addition to regular style dorms, they have several themed residence halls such as Math and Science, Honors, Leadership, Helping Hands, Historical Perspectives, Creative Habitat, Around the World, Environmental Issues, Healthy U, and more.

~Winthrop little chapel

Little Chapel

Robert Mills, who designed the Washington Monument, also designed Little Chapel on campus. This tiny building (it looks like it might hold 30-40 people) is tucked into a small garden in the middle of campus near the amphitheater (next to which stands a statue of an Amphibian Quartet, donated by an alum).

~Winthrop harry potter hallStudents definitely don’t lack for fun on campus. There is a multitude of cultural events (speakers, concerts, etc) on campus; students must attend 18 cultural events to graduate. The tour guide got most of hers done the first year. About 50% of students are involved in Greek life. “It’s a big deal,” said the tour guide, “but you don’t have to affiliate to be included in events or have fun on campus.” There is a full movie theater in the student center; movies are shown on Wednesdays and Saturdays and cost $2 per movie or $10 for a semester pass. The school maintains an18-hole Disc Golf Course. Athletic events are in the Rec Center a mile away, and the school provides shuttles. Their DI sports play in the Big South Conference with Baseball ranked #1 in the division and #3 in the state after USC and Clemson. The Women’s Basketball team was in March Madness.

© 2014

Western Oregon University

WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY (visited 7/15-16/13)

WOU 5I guess I didn’t expect much from this school; it seemed to be a small “outpost” state school – and once again, I learned not to pre-judge a school without learning more about it. It’s a lovely campus that’s easy to navigate. The small Main Street (and by that I mean that it’s about 2 blocks long) is about a 5 minute walk away. Despite its size, one of the tour guides said that, “Monmouth is pretty chill.”

WOU Library

WOU Library

WOU ROTCThe students say that “students come first here.” Academic advising is a core function, and several people have won awards for advising. There are no teaching assistants, so students are taught by experts in the field. Their ASL is a big program, maybe the “flagship” program, if there is such a thing. Students can major or minor in it; there’s a theme floor where the RA signs, and there are several deaf faculty members. They’re looking into a Master’s in interpreting, and a major national call center has called them to ask to be a “relay station” for when they need interpreters. Other programs worth noting are the nursing partnership with OHSU (Oregon Health Science University) in Portland, although it’s extremely competitive and they have to apply to OHSU. The science building is nicknamed the “Life and Death building” and has a cadaver lab. This is also only one of two in the state that is affiliated with Microsoft so there are some internship options open to them. The ROTC Army program is strong and fairly active on campus.

WOU 2Admission to WOU is rolling. For admissions purposes, SAT/ACT scores need to be sent, but if students meet the GPA requirements for admission, scores are a technicality. However, for NCAA, Honors, scholarships, and other considerations, they will need the scores. Students in WUE states get it automatically if admitted. All students have the Tuition Choice of locking into a higher tuition rate that stays consistent for 4 years, or starting at a lower tuition rate and having it increase every year; the admissions rep described it as, “save now or save later.” There are plenty of scholarships offered. The Presidential Scholarship (worth up to $3,500 a year) is given to first year students who have a completed app on file by 2/28. The Diversity Commitment Scholarship (worth $3,500 a year) requires a separate application and is awarded to students form diverse backgrounds who have demonstrated sustained and significant effort and commitment to activities supporting diversity. Their General Scholarship (worth $1,000 but is not renewable) requires a separate online application, and selection is based on academic merit, essays, activities, and quality of application.

WOU food court

WOU food court

Eighty percent of students come from Oregon, but WOU has been named as the most ethnically diverse university in the state (with about 20% of the students self-identifying as minority students) as well as being named a First-Gen Serving Institution and being federally recognized for their Hispanic integration. They have a program for First Gen, Low-Income, and LD students, but they students have to apply to be involved since space is limited. It provides a great deal of support for the students, including a building dedicated to this program with lots of study spaces, tutors, and programing. The university has approximately 400 International Students from 13 countries, China and Saudi Arabia leading the way with highest numbers. One of our tour guides was from Nepal and came here for the Criminal Justice Program. There is an international studies office which all sorts of support services, including helping them with rides to and from the airport.

WOU 3Although the university is two years older than the state of Oregon (making it the oldest state university in the West), there are lots of renovations and new buildings around campus. The new library was built in 2000 and includes a 24 hour lounge and a silent study floor. They also have text-book rentals, and will start renting computers, graphing calculators, and more this year.

WOU 1There are Bear Tracks on sidewalks around campus to show “safety zones.” The tour guides both felt safe on campus and walking around at night. This might come from the location in a very small town. The biggest problem is bike theft when people don’t lock their bikes. They’ve never known anyone who has needed public safety officers. However, the university offers WolfRide; they’ll pick people up around town at night or provide safe rides home if they’ve been out drinking. One of the guides would like to increase the amount of time this is available since hours are limited, but they appreciate that it’s there. The university is a dry campus, and students will be cited if found in possession. They take this very seriously. However, there’s a wine bar and a bar only a couple blocks off campus, so students are able to drink if they want.

Lounge in the newest LEEDS certified dorm

Lounge in the platinum LEEDS-certified dorm

Dorms (and the campus as a whole) are proactive about holding events, and vents are scheduled all the time. Freshmen live on campus and housing applications open in October. Ackerman is the newest dorm (LEED platinum certified) containing 10 learning-living communities. They have two gender-neutral bathrooms on each floor that are entirely private in addition to other single-sex bathrooms. Greek life is just getting started on campus due to a student led initiative. Currently there is only one federally recognized fraternity. The sororities are solely club-based and revolve around community service groups. Football is big here, as is the marching band, showing that students can get involved in a variety of ways. They also offer Rugby for both women and men.

© 2013

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