campus encounters

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Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

IUPUI (visited 9/17/14)

Quad with the Indianapolis skyline in the background

Quad with the Indianapolis skyline in the background

I was expecting not to be impressed with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, but it surprised me and is an absolute gem of a college. Located a very walkable mile from the downtown area of Indianapolis, this urban college is still very much a campus surrounded by a lot of opportunity. “It’s the best of both worlds,” said one student. The school opened in 1969 “and has been under construction ever since,” said my tour guide. “There are so many opportunities, and the school is really invested in keeping up with the times and what students are looking for in terms of their education.”

One of the nicest things about this university is that students complete exactly the same programs and degrees as they would find at either IU or Purdue, including the highly ranked Kelley Business School at Indiana or the engineering at Purdue. My tour guide will graduate this year with a double major in Bio (her degree will be granted by Purdue) and Spanish (granted by IU) with minors in Chem and Psych (granted by Purdue) – and she can walk in both schools’ ceremonies if she wants. She said that one of the major advantages of attending IUPUI is not only being able to combine things, but that the students have all the resources of downtown at their disposal, including a huge array of internships. My tour guide is currently shadowing a doctor and doing stem-cell research. A friend of hers is interning with the mayor. Others have done work with the police, in business, with the sports teams (including the Colts).

Campus Center

Campus Center

The Campus Center is an amazing 4-story glass building and is really the hub of campus. There’s food, student offices, entertainment, the post office, study spaces, and much more, including the health center. “I’ve had to use it a couple times and loved the care I got there.” Lots of clubs have offices or meet in this building. There are over 300 organizations available for students, and Greek Life is growing. My tour guide has started a Donate a Holiday club which collects presents, packages them up, and gets them to people who might otherwise not have anything for the holidays.

With over 200 majors to choose from, students really can do anything here. There are a few worth pointing out:

  • They have the only accredited art school in the state, including art therapy.
  • They offer a BS and MS in Motorsports Engineering; the master’s is the only one in North America. The students in this program beat Purdue in their own race!
  • Some of the more specialized/unusual majors are:

Other notable programs, opportunities, and facts include:

One of the many walkways on campus

One of the many walkways on campus

Confucius Institute

Confucius Institute

  • A Confucius Institute. This offers language classes and activities surrounding Buddhist and Chinese culture. There’s also a Zen Garden on campus.
  • The Scholarship Office. They are nationally ranked for their scholarship opportunities. A male accidentally applied for a Single Mother scholarship – and got it because no one else applied for it!
  • The Honors College provides an $8000 scholarship, a study abroad stipend, and housing that comes with a stocked kitchen! Students need a 3.75 and 1250 SAT to get in when they first start, or they can apply to get in once on campus if they have a 3.5.
  • 71% of the campus is connected by walkways or tunnels.
  • The have one of the fastest pools in the country. I asked what made it so fast and she said it had something to do with the way water was circulated through the system. They have a lot of banners up of swimmers who swam a personal best in that pool. Michael Phelps was up for a long time until he beat his own record in Beijing.
  • They have some of the best job rates around, ranking #2 in Indiana.
  • IUPUI is highly rated for the diversity on campus. The tour guide said that the level of diversity was one thing that really surprised her when she arrived on campus.
Library with a rooftop garden

Library with a rooftop garden

IUPUI has 30,000 students, but only 2,000 live on campus. There are 2 freshman dorms, including the Tower which had been a 4-star hotel. The New England Patriots stayed there when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl. As the tour guide said, “If it’s good enough for Tom Brady . . ..” There are also the Riverwalk apartments, townhomes, and other options with more being added. She raved about the food. The breakfast bar is open until 11 pm; that’s a big hit with the students.

Students can have cars; parking costs $135 per semester. They do have a parking garage. However, a lot of students take advantage of public transportation which is convenient because of its location in the city.

© 2014

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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

McDaniel College

McDaniel College, Westminster, MD (visited 1/25/12)

Listed in Loren Pope’s Colleges that Change Lives, this beautiful campus is about an hour north of DC. Until about 10 years ago, this was Western Maryland College, a bit confusing since it’s not in the western part of the state: it was originally named after the railroad that went through town. McDaniel is the name of a former college president who was well loved and had given a great deal of time to the students. The campus, where most of the 1,600 undergrads live, has a traditional college campus feel: lots of older (but well maintained) brick buildings, slightly rolling hills, etc. The campus is compact; walking from one end to the other takes about 10 minutes.

I really liked some of their unusual majors such as American Sign Language/ Deaf Studies, Graphic Design, or Athletic Training/ Exercise Science and Physiology. Students can also self-design majors such as Sports Journalism. The college offers 5-Year BA/MS programs in Counselor Education, Gerontology, Human Services Management, and 3 areas of education. The January Term is great; I wish I had been able to take some of the classes they offer, particularly some of the study-abroad options: art/photography classes in a variety of places, marine biology in the Bahamas, investigating the Dracula legends in Romania, working with deaf children in the Dominican Republic.

My tour guide was an upperclassman from Baltimore who originally had wanted a bigger, more urban school, but visited and fell in love with the campus. She doesn’t regret coming at all, but when I asked what she would change if she could, the only thing she would change is the location. She loves the people, the campus, and the education, but doesn’t like that so much around campus closes down at 10; one restaurant stays open until 2, but it’s a 15 minute walk away – doable, but not something they do every day.

(c) 2012

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