campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Athletic Training major”

Springfield College

Springfield College (visited 5/29/19)

Springfield sign 3Want to be able to say that you attend school where basketball was invented? Want to join a hammock club? Maybe ride for a club equestrian team? Springfield College could be the place for you.

I fell in love with this place! This was another school that I knew almost nothing about, but I walked away wanting to recommend it to several students. There are a couple things in particular that I think made it stand out:

  • Springfield waterThey own a 57-acre Outdoor Learning Center, technically called East Campus, located on the shores of a lake a couple miles from man campus.
    • There are bike trails, ropes courses, disc golf, and authentic SW pueblos which serves as a space for overnight retreats. They hold an optional pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen as well as camps for younger students. “We call it Challenge by Choice,” said the rep. “No one is going to force you to do things, but if you want to be challenged in this way, it’s here.”
    • Springfield bell towerThe tour guide said that the OLC is her favorite place. “The memories you make are so special. Running to find a blue racquetball because a whistle blew or kazooing your heart out for no other reason than just because you can is great.”
    • They offer a class called Outdoor Pursuits which is required by several majors, but it’s open to anyone interested in enrolling in it. The Recreation Management major and Adventure Education minor use this location extensively.
  • Springfield statue 1They have an active YMCA club and offer a minor in YMCA Professional Studies. I’ve never heard of another program like that – but the college was founded as a YMCA training center, so this isn’t entirely surprising. Students are heavily involved in tutoring, and last year there was a service trip to Peru.
  • “Springfield provides a really good safe zone system with required training. There’s real multicultural education here. I learned about disability acts, LGBTQ issues, financial equity classes. There’s a lot in place to make people feel included and safe.”

Springfield humanicsSpringfield’s mission is “Educating Spirit, Mind, and Body in Service for Others.” This comes across as similar to the Jesuit Mission, but Springfield is totally non-affiliated with any religious group. Rather, they model this after the Greek Humanics ideals that balance is important. Students not only know what the mission is, but they seem to have bought into it. It is embedded into the culture and the curriculum. Students buy into a seriousness of purpose when it comes to academics and decorum but also how to have fun. “We don’t cut corners in life so we don’t cut corners on campus. Students will literally yell ‘Grasshole’ to students who cut across the grass just to get somewhere more quickly,” said my tour guide. “People will absolutely go on the quad for recreation – you’ll see people playing Frisbee and hanging out. They just don’t walk on the grass to get somewhere more quickly.”

Springfield 4When I arrived on campus, the admission rep and I had lunch in the dining hall while we talked about the college. Choices were limited because it was summertime, but they had absolutely amazing chicken marsala, rice pilaf, and fresh vegetables (in addition to burgers and a sandwich bar). I was really impressed. The tour guide said that she’d rate food about a 7-8 (I would’ve said higher based on what was served that day), but “weekend food is a 5 mostly because there are fewer options.”

“There are so many leadership opportunities and support and training for that. You don’t have to be a Type-A person, but if you want to make a difference and develop skills and implement them, this is a great place. There are so many people here who will help you do what you’re passionate about.” They have more extensive academic offerings than I expected for a campus this size (just about 2,500 undergrads).

  • Springfield learning commons

    The Learning Commons: the 4th floor has a study lounge that overlooks the athletic fields. “It’s a great place to get work done while you watch games,” said the tour guide. She also said that the furniture was chosen by students.

    This is a good place for athletes and majors that revolve around that (Sports Biology, Sports Management, Sports Journalism, etc)

    • There is a massive athletic center (bigger than any I’ve seen outside huge DI institutions) with classrooms (especially for Athletic Training and Movement and Sports Studies/PhysEd majors and their coaching minor), Dance Studios (they have both a major and a minor, and Dance teams perform at halftime during football games).
  • PT, AT, OT, and PA are direct entry programs but are capped.
  • Education is big. Students are in the schools starting their first semester.
  • They have some visual and performing arts, but seem to offer more minors than majors in this area, including 3D animation, Web Design, Creative Writing, and Community Arts.
  • Internships are required and transportation can be found. “You can totally explore what you’re interested in.”

Springfield 6Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus, but there are shuttles around town on the weekends. There are also a lot of bus trips to Boston, NYC, Albany, and other places. There is a 3 year on-campus residency requirement, but 85% of all student live on campus. The senior dorms (townhouses and suites) are on the far side of the football field so they get great views of the games. The tour guide said that given the opportunity, she would put money into scholarships or to improve the bathrooms in some of the dorms. She also said that they can improve the number of People of Color on campus, but think that’s something that is being worked on.

© 2019

Shaw University

Shaw University (visited 3/14/17)

Shaw bridge

Bridge over a city street connecting the academic and residential sides

This is the first college I’ve heard of that requires a criminal background check of their applicants. “That’s not to say that they will automatically deny. It’s a safety thing for the campus,” said the rep, herself an alum of the college.

This small, liberal arts HBCU with about 1800 students is located right near downtown Raleigh. Despite being in the city, it still manages to have a cohesive campus that’s compact and easily walkable. “Classes as small as 7 here. Professors are going to know who you are or if you’re in class.”

Shaw sign

Mural under the pedestrian bridge

Shaw was the first HBCU to admit women; today they enroll almost 60% females. Almost ¾ come from North Carolina.

I was not impressed with the organization, communication, and willingness to help on campus. No one seemed to really know what was going on. Even something as simple as parking and finding the admissions office was off. I stopped and asked a security guard and got pretty good directions, but the security officer inside the building near where I parked was on her cell, barely acknowledged me, and when she did, didn’t bother moving the phone when I asked if I was ok where I was parked. She waved dismissively and said “You’re fine if you’re down at the bottom” and turned her back. I was concerned that my car was going to get towed. The Admissions/Welcome Center was no better: the woman at the desk said I needed to check in upstairs with Admissions. Once upstairs, the Rep in an office near the stairs kept an earbud in while telling me that I had to go downstairs, check in with the Receptionist (the one who just sent me upstairs) and wait there for the tour. When I went back down, she had no idea what I was talking about or how to help. She called upstairs and got told a different story from what I was told. I almost left …

Shaw chapel

The chapel

Affiliated with the Baptist church, the religion major and Divinity Schools are well known. Chapel is active but not required for undergrads. Some of the health sciences are also strong such as kinesiotherapy and athletic training. Social Work and Education are also noteworthy.

Shaw dorms

The two dorm buildings

Dorms are mostly traditional. Only freshmen have to live on campus, and they and the sophomores have priority for housing. If space remains, upperclassmen can stay on campus; otherwise, they have to move off. There are some triples (not forced) as well as some rooms with double beds available for an extra charge. Food is “ok.” Fried Chicken Wednesday and Fish Fridays (“We are in the south,” said the rep) got special mention. For those interested in Greek Life, all Divine Nine are on campus. They have plots in Greek Park. Students have to meet minimum GPA and credit hour requirements, and so they can’t rush until at least sophomore year.

Shaw mascot 2Athletics are DII, and the student ID gets students into all the games, all of which are held on campus except for football that plays at the Durham County Stadium. Buses are available to get students out there. Women’s basketball is the most competitive team with a National Championship, but “All games are packed out. Even the community comes. The women’s games are full because they’re so good.” The Marching Band has become increasingly good over the past few years.

Shaw quad and cityStudents must have a minimum 2.0 GPA for admissions. Although they don’t require a minimum test score, all students must take a standardized test and submit the scores. These are used for scholarships and placement purposes. “There are lots of scholarships available.”

SShaw bell towerhaw has instituted a First Year Experience that encompasses mentoring, seminars (even covering financial literacy), and a required attendance at monthly Cultural and Spiritual Enrichment Seminars (which upperclassmen are “highly encouraged” to continue attending). Students must attend CASES in order to graduate; they’re held once a month. Students are issued blazers, a tie (men) or scarf (women), and must wear grey or black slacks or skirts and a white button up shirt. I’m not sure The FYE has done much … Only about 45% return for sophomore year and only 25% graduate within 6-years. However, it is an excellent deal at about $25,000 (Tuition, Room & Board, and fees) for the year.

© 2017


Plymouth State University

Plymouth State University (visited 10/17/16)


Robert Frost Statue

If you want to study meteorology in a small school or brag that Robert Frost taught at your alma mater, this is a place for you to check out.

“I was surprised at how friendly the place is. It’s a hold-the-door sort of place,” said one of the students. It’s a homey atmosphere, the type of place where a professor will run a Stitch-and-Bitch on a Friday evening in a dorm and have 40 kids show up.

psu-2People describe Plymouth as a transformative place: “it’s almost a “do-over/start-over” place where students who maybe didn’t think that they were college material come and realize that they are. They can hit the reset button here. They can move into a future that a lot of them never imagined for themselves,” said one of the reps. A student agreed: “I’m a better student now. I’m actually doing my work and getting As and Bs.”


Typical fall colors when the morning fog burns off

Students who haven’t found their voice yet often do well here. They have to engage in the process and understand what they’re learning because they apply it in a lot of classes. They’re responsible for it during group projects. “My biography does not preclude my destiny. If you’re not good at math, you know what? We have math classes here!” said another student. “No matter where they start, development happens,” said a rep.


Early morning walk to class in the fog

Lazy doesn’t work here. Students are “gritty and willing to work hard. Most are not coming from affluence. They’re willing to work for things and want to take advantage of the opportunity because they know that not all kids get that,” said a rep. The kids here are “often on the cusp of finding their passion. We do really well with kids who have heart and spirit. They’re good kids. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their hot-mess moments, but they have heart.” That being said, they recognize that their graduation rates need some work.

There are several things in place to help PSU students succeed. One is the existence of first-year success coaches. They take the “GPS approach: think of it as a roadmap. We know the way and what’s ahead.” Students get a nudge/reminder via text, email, etc when something is coming up “or missed a turn.”

psu-acad-bldg-2Plymouth has taken a deliberate stance towards “rebuilding the liberal arts.” They spend time asking themselves, How are they going to let students be transformative, to come out of school and be ready to take on challenges? The result is a redesigned core curriculum (starting the 2016-17 school year) revolving around 7 multi-disciplinary clusters:

  • Education, Democracy, and Social Change
  • Tourism, Environment, and Sustainable Development
  • Justice and Security
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Arts and Tech
  • Health and Human Enrichment
  • Exploration and Discovery

For a school this size, 50 majors and 60 minors is impressive. The largest enrolled departments are: business, CJ, Education, Envi Sci & Policy, and Health and Human Performance. Things to brag about include:

  • psu-meteorology

    The meteorology building


  • Adventure Education
  • The Allied Health majors: Athletic Training, nursing, and Social Work. A PT department is in the works. Students from all majors come together four times before graduation to work on a “virtual patient;” they have to come up with solutions for cases as a group.
  • Theater Arts: Dramatic Writing, Acting, Musical Theater, and Design-Tech tracks
  • DHL now only recruits at Arizona and Plymouth State. They love the kids’ authenticity and that many of them have been working since 15 or 16. Some of these kids have never been on an airplane, and they get to live in AZ for the first 18-24 months of their careers.

Class sizes for students on the panel ranged from 9 – 32. Their favorite classes were:

  • Mind, Brain, and Evolution (psych). “It’s just fascinating.”
  • Event Management: we learn how to market and run fund-raising events by raising money for a local event.
  • Disney: Magic Kingdom or Evil Empire (FYS). The professor gave both sides of the arguments, we learned how to formulate arguments, etc.
  • US Feminism (history). I decided to minor in women’s studies because of this. We didn’t learn the stereotypical things.

One of the biggest dorms, and the tallest point in town.

Over 40% of the 4,100 students come from outside NH, although 90% of the population is from New England and the Mid-Atlantic. There are some buses running to Logan, Concord, and Manchester. They’re seeing an increase in the international population including a lot from Sweden: “I think they come for the hockey and maybe soccer,” said the tour guide. There’s an athletic culture here: about 80% of students participate in some form of athletics, whether on one of the 24 DIII teams or in club/intramural sports.


One of the dorm kitchens

96% of students live on or within 1 mile of campus. Housing is available all 4 years. A new Res Hall with 288 beds is opening fall of 2017. Freshmen are integrated into dorms; there’s no separate building. Weekends are less than busy, but there are certainly things to do. Skiing is popular (Cranbrook is only 20 minutes away). Before graduation, the students on the panel said that students have to:

  • See a movie or go stargazing on Lynn Green while drinking hot chocolate.
  • Take a selfie with Robert Frost (the statue on campus)
  • psu-chairsFloat the river!
  • Learn to ski or snowboard. “There’s no point coming to school here if you aren’t going to do that!” Students often come here because they’re active and/or enjoy the environment and being outside. There’s an outdoor center where students can get equipment for free to get outside whether it’s on the lakes or mountains.

Admission is Rolling; their app is free (Common App costs $50). Students only need 1 letter and NO test scores: they won’t look at scores even if they’re sent in!

© 2016

Neumann University

Neumann University (visited 7/22/16)

Neumann domeNeumann has come a long way since its opening in 1965. Founded in the Franciscan Tradition, “it’s a very loving place,” said one admissions rep. “We’re interested in admitting people who we’ll be able to assist in meeting their goals. Neumann is going to take care of you. If you’re struggling, we’ll find you and help you through.”

Franciscan Sisters still live on campus and are highly involved in the school. Although about half of the undergraduates identify as Catholic, they have a number of different religions on campus. There’s also a great deal of racial and other diversity. Almost ¼ of the population is African-American, and many others identify as multi-racial.

Neumann garden

A garden on campus

This is a nicely landscaped campus with what we dubbed “pocket gardens,” small areas around campus with a couple benches and trees/bushes/flowers.

Neumann dorm

One of the dorms

This had been primarily a commuter school, but this is changing. The current on-campus population hovers around 50%; they are actively trying to move that to 60%. They have room for 900 students, but usually only 7-800 live on campus at this point. They’re building “intentional communities” within the dorms such as floors in the halls for the Honors program and other LLCs. They’re zoned for triples but most are doubles right now; students choosing to have a triple can pay less. Housing is guaranteed for all 4 years. The great thing is that all dorm rooms have their own bathrooms!

Neumann 1The tour guide has been impressed that the school listens to students and are changing the culture to holistic living and learning allowing students to learn to manage their lives properly, become adults, etc. For example, the alcohol policies have started to change; this had been a dry campus, but alcohol is now allowed in the apartments (generally only occupied by seniors and therefore of legal age).

Neumann tv studio

One of the tv studios

Nursing is the biggest major, and they prepare students well: they have an impressive 93-94% NCLEX pass rate (3-year average). They are somewhat more flexible with admissions into the program because they’re willing to have students try if they want to, but they do have a bit higher attrition than peer institutions. Students realize they don’t like it and/or that they aren’t doing well and self-select or are counseled out.

Other programs worth mentioning are:

Neumann plaza 2Located within 30 minutes of Philly and just north of Wilmington, DE, Neumann maintains 170 active internship sites NOT including education or health science clinical experiences, allowing students to graduate with hands-on experience.

Neumann is a big hockey school, including roller hockey as a club sport. They’re a DIII school playing in the Colonial States Conference. They’re adding Men’s Volleyball and women’s swimming this year.

© 2016

Lebanon Valley College

Lebanon Valley College (visited 11/19/14)

I had a student who recent graduated from LVC and adored it. Having now visited, I can see why!

~LVC archThis is still very much a regional institution. The bulk of their 1650 students come from a 3-hour radius. Many come here without having gone very far out of their comfort zone; they don’t always realize what they’re going to be engaging with “which is a whole lot of fun to watch,” said an admissions rep. “They don’t know how much the study abroad, study away, internships, etc will shape who they become.”

~LVC statueStudents are hard working and “the talent density is enormous.” They engage meaningfully in a variety of ways in all sorts of campus activities. Football games, for example, bring out more than players and fans. If you add in the student trainers, the 150-member marching band (they need a separate stand for them), cheerleaders, twirlers, students selling concessions, etc, there are about 400 students actively involved in a football game – ¼ of the student body.

~LVC lounge

Lounge in the Student Center

Stained glass in the chapel.

Stained glass in the chapel.

There’s usually more happening on campus than there is time to do it all. “Common Hour” (11-12:30 on Tuesday and Thursdays) provides time for clubs and organizational meetings. A fairly small percentage of students are active in Greek life; these are mostly service groups. Students have a few favorite traditions including Thanksgiving Festival (professors serve dinner) and a day off from classes in the spring (kickball, tie-dye, inflatables all over the quad, bonfire, bands, etc). There almost always some event on Friday (such as a performer) and a bus trip on Saturday (the zoo, Baltimore, murder mystery night). Classes sometimes run trips on the weekends; for example, the Non-Western Art class went to NYC to one of the museums. Open seats on the bus are made available to any student wanting to go to the city. The library has a huge collection of DVDs for students “since there’s nothing in town.” For students wanting to get away to do something, Amtrak stops in Harrisburg and Elizabethtown and a bus line runs through Annville that goes to Harrisburg and Hershey.



Last year, students completed 24,000 service hours: “the ethos of helping other is simply part of living.” Although affiliated with the United Methodist Church, there is no attendance requirement at any sort of service, although they have a beautiful chapel that offers services for those who want them. Students do have to take 1 religion or philosophy class as part of their distribution requirements. These are often held in the basement of the chapel.

Pedestrian Bridge over the tracks

Pedestrian Bridge over the tracks

This 350-acre campus is split into three distinct areas: the athletic fields on the far side of the train tracks (with a pedestrian bridge over), the residential side, and the academic side. Freight rains regularly run through campus. “You lose about a week’s worth of sleep at the beginning; then you never hear it again.” There is a four-year residency requirement. Freshmen and sophomores usually live in more traditional type dorms, but there are many options available as they move up, including special-interest housing, suites, and apartments. There are single rooms in many of the housing options which cost a little more. Newer dorms have study rooms in them. Food is generally considered to be “pretty good.” Chicken tenders are one of the meals that people rush to get; the waffle fries on Thursdays also get rave reviews.

Cafe and lounge in the old gym.

Cafe and lounge in the old gym.

One of the most interesting buildings was the old Gym. After building the new athletic center, they refurbished the old one, but kept much of the interior intact such as the floor. They added a coffee shop and turned the middle of the building into a welcoming lounge/study space. Classes open into the atrium.

Admissions relies heaving on the high school transcript. Students tend to have a B average or higher. One-third fall in the top 10%; 91% are in the top 50%. At this point, class rank is the main factor in awarding scholarships, but this is changing. Unranked students have to submit test scores to be considered. Scholarships are awarded at the time of admission and range from half- to quarter-tuition awards. Their new scholarship, the Carnegie Award, is worth $9000 per year. This is their first year with ED.

They offer a 5-year Masters in Athletic Training (no observation hours are required for admission) and a 6-year DPT program. Admitted students usually have A averages, strong science backgrounds, and be in the top 20% of their class. Their new Health Professions building should be ready by 2017, and they’re looking at a nutrition program that will dovetail with Exercise Science, PT, and AT.

Art gallery

Art gallery

LVC is well-known for its music program. 20% of the students study music (even if they don’t major in it), and the music business has recently been trending upward. Music majors must audition for admission into the program. The Vale Music Industry Conference, hosted on campus, is part of their class.

The student panelists said that their favorite classes were:

  • Music and Aural Theory: “I really liked the professor!”
  • Philosophy of Religion: “It was a huge change from my math classes.”
  • General Bio: “I took this as a freshman. It was one of my first classes and taught me to study.”
  • Greek: “It was the hardest class I’ve taken but showed me a lot about myself.”
  • “Al my Education classes. The professors are great! I like going to class every day.”
Sculpture of Hot Dog Frank, a local business man who was a big fan of the college's baseball team.

Sculpture of Hot Dog Frank, a local business man who was a big fan of the college’s baseball team.

The biggest adjustment coming to LVC was:

  • “Studying!”
  • “Being more outgoing. I was a big homebody so getting out my shell was a challenge.”
  • “Being a student athlete.”
  • “The different style of learning.”
~LVC interactive screen 2

A student projects her phone onto the interactive screen.

LVC has invested a great deal of money into creating a warm, welcoming, open Learning Commons complete with state-of-the-art technology that enables students to project and share information, even from devices like their phones. There are study areas, testing-areas, a career center, tutoring areas, and more.

© 2014

University of Vermont

University of Vermont (visited 4/15/14)

~UVM mascotIn case you were wondering, UVM comes from the Latin Universitas Viridis Montis, or University of the Green Mountains.

~UVM 2Located in Burlington, UVM is the state’s flagship, land-grant university. With almost 10,000 undergraduates and 1,800 graduate students (about ¼ of whom are in the medical school), students say that it’s the “perfect size.” Although this is the flagship state university, 65% of students are not from Vermont; “There just aren’t that many students in Vermont,” said the tour guide. There’s a lot of diversity, openness, acceptance, and safe spaces around campus. In fact, it’s the first college in the country to have written into its bylaws that it wasn’t adhering to a particular religious sect – and was also the first school to all women and African Americans full membership status in Phi Beta Kappa.

~UVM sci cntr interior 3

Stairs in the Science Center

“UVM fits any student,” said one of the students we talked to. “It’s inclusive.” In additional to more traditional types of Gen-Ed requirements, the school has a Diversity Requirement. Students must take 1 D1 (Diversity 1) class which covers Race/Racism in the US. They can either then complete one more D1 class or a D2 class which is “Human and Societal Diversity.”

~UVM Sci Cntr interior

Atrium of the Science Center

Some of the more unusual majors are Holocaust Studies, Community Entrepreneurship, Community and International Development, Molecular Genetics, Sustainable Landscape Horticulture, and Neuroscience. Athletic Training, Nursing, and Exercise Science are competitive and some of the most popular majors; nursing is restricted by capacity. They have a 5-year Engineering program with St. Mikes. It’s more difficult to transfer into Engineering or Nursing/health sciences if students don’t declare them coming in, but not impossible. Students completing an Animal Science major have an opportunity to gain early admission to the Tufts University Vet School. People in these departments can still study abroad and minor outside the department which is a bit unusual.

The science center is one of the newest buildings on campus. They made use of local woods for the flooring which changes color to imitate changing landscapes (designed with student input). The building has “awesome lab spaces,” according to our tour guide, including hydraulics, soil, and more. They even have a wind tunnel!

~UVM museum


Their business program puts a great deal of focus on current themes in the business world such as global issues and entrepreneurship. Our tour guide also raved about the strong theater and music programs. They have three main stage events every year, and students are involved in the technical aspect as well. Their art department is impressive, and the university owns the largest art collection in the state (but is that saying much?).

~UVM statue 3Students can be admitted to the Honors Program as a freshman or apply for sophomore admission with a certain GPA and recs from professors. Students in the program live in the newest housing on campus, and the seminars for the first 4 semesters are held in this building. Our tour guide said that her Pursuit of Knowledge was a nice break from Engineering, and the seminars are interesting. She took Discovering a Sense of Place: Transcendentalism. During Junior year, they take a thesis prep course to get ready for their senior thesis.

~UVM theater

Theater Building

~UVM sculptureStudents must live on campus for the first two years. 70% of juniors and seniors move off, but they don’t have to. The tour guides said that there’s way more to do on campus than there’s time to do it all. They laughed when they told us about “The Bored Calendar” which lists all the activities on and around campus. Students complete quite a bit of community service right in Burlington, a city all the students raved about. “We’re in a city on a lake surrounded by mountains.” Church Street is a pedestrian area, well utilized by students and townies alike. When they get sick of the local area, they can hop on the Megabus which goes to both NY and Boston.

Internships and career development are big. The host several career fairs every year with lots of out-of-state employers coming to each. One of the admissions reps said that “Career success is everyone’s job on campus.” Within 6 months of graduation, 20% of alumni are in grad school and 80% are employed.

© 2014

Castleton State College

CASTLETON STATE (visited 4/16/14)

~Castleton dining hall

Dining Hall

Castleton is the oldest college in Vermont and the 18th oldest in the U.S. (founded shortly after College of Charleston in SC). However, facilities are modern and comfortable: they’ve put over $70 million in renovations and new buildings over the last 10 years or so. One of the new buildings is a pavilion where they now hold graduation, and in the winter, they flood it to make a skating rink.

One of the new dorms

One of the new dorms

They serve a variety of students – they have the A kid in the Honors College and the C kids who have amazing transformations. Thirty percent of their students come from out-of-state, and 50% are first-generation college students.

~Castleton 2They bring in a lot of events, but they are quick to acknowledge that “Castleton isn’t exactly the most bustling of towns,” so they give students the opportunity to get off campus with buses to Yankees and Red Sox games, concerts, city trips, and more. Skiers can get a season pass to all 3 major ski resorts in the area (including Killington) for $300 a year. A Rail Trail goes right by campus which is great for runners or cross-country skiers. Our tour guide was surprised ~Castleton quadat how big sports were here, which range from intramural to varsity. Some of the more unusual sports offered are Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding (Club), Mountain Biking, Homerun Derby, Wallyball, Water Polo, and Dodge Ball (they were recently listed in the Guinness World Record book for the longest Dodge Ball tournament that lasted 41 hours).

~Castleton study area

Student Center

Two other students were surprised at the community and level of support. First Year students meet once a week with advisors who make sure they’re being challenged and supported. Their retention is starting to go up (currently at 70%). Forty percent of each dorm is reserved for freshmen who are mixed through the dorms. Our tour guide, a senior, lived next door to freshmen. The dorms are single-sex by suite, and rooms are spacious.

~Castleton sports complex

Sports Complex

Academics of note include Athletic Training, Computer Information Systems, Global Studies, Geology, Social Work, and Sports Administration. The school does a good job linking academics and clubs, sending students to conferences, helping set up internships, and in other ways giving students real-world experiences related to their majors.

© 2014

CSU – Northridge

CSU – Northridge (visited 1/17/14)

CSUN 6CSUN (pronounced as “see-sun”) is the largest in the Cal State system. The university is in a suburban area, located equidistant (25 minutes) to the beach and to downtown. Students can walk to the mall; there are definitely things to do off campus. Students are described as friendly and helpful, doing things like stopping to ask people if they need help. The university has a 75% retention rate, so students are generally happy with their experiences.


Students outside the library

The Citrus Grove

The Citrus Grove

They get 30,000 apps a year from which they’ll admit 17,000 students for a yield of about 4,000 freshmen. Most of the students are in-state, but they do draw some out-of-state students, as well as about 15% from abroad. Because of CSU policy, CSUN admits students from the local area if they’ve met the minimum criteria. They use a formula of (GPA x 800) + SAT (CR+M). If a student takes the ACT, the formula is (GPA x 200) + (10 x ACT). They do not care which of the tests are submitted.The index is higher for out-of-state students with a required 3200-3400 (this has been moving up over time). Film production majors have to submit a portfolio and have an interview. Music applicants have to audition (those applying for Vocal Music have to have prepare a piece in a foreign language).


Apartments across from the main campus

On-campus housing is limited with only 3000 bed spaces available, but off-campus housing is easy to find and many students commute from home. They currently have two buildings for first-time freshman. One of the things they’re working on is building more housing; the new dorms will have a fire pit, lounges, and Living Learning Community areas. Greek life is active; the groups that have houses are located right across the street. Students rush right away in the fall semester.


A sculpture commemorating the earthquake

Of the 65 majors, only 3 are impacted (Accounting, Finance, and Business). Film and music are both strong, and Athletic Training is popular. Students have wonderful access to faculty, and facilities are state of the art. There are five science buildings and space for most majors. “The earthquake was the worst thing to happen to campus and the best thing to happen to campus.” Things were rebuilt after the earthquake which allowed the university to reassess what they wanted and how they wanted things laid out.


An academic building

The largest classes rarely have more than 100 students; in fact, there are only about five auditoriums which each seat about 120 people, so they physically can’t hold large classes. Hands-on opportunities abound. Students will complete some sort of major community service project or internship before graduation. Film students will create and submit films; 1 went to the Cannes Film Festival (and won!). Engineering students do things like create an unmanned vehicle and compete in competitions with it (also coming in first!). Students have showcased at TechFest; it’s a great time to see robots and other things like that around.

© 2014

University of Charleston, WV

University of Charleston, WV (visited 4/12/12)

What first struck me about UC was how little it looked like the typical college. The buildings were all a light, yellowish brick and stone (clearly all designed to go together rather than adopting various styles as they grew), and the campus was long and compact, wedged in the block between the river and the main street and taking up about two or three blocks lengthwise. Buildings sat in two long rows with plenty of parking in the middle, effectively separating the Res life side of campus (the side away from the river) from the academics/admin side. Not only is the campus accessible from town, but everything is quickly available on campus. The Academic buildings are mostly connected with enclosed walkways/bridges so in bad weather, you don’t have to go outside. For example, the library takes up four levels of one of the buildings and it’s accessible on many levels. The river view is amazing and they love to show it off. In one of the academic buildings, they have a multi-level art gallery with panoramic views across the water. The artwork changes periodically, but all of it is by female artists from WV. They have maximized their use of space to let in a lot of light and open the buildings to the river views. One of the academic buildings, the Clay Tower, is eight floors; some colleges might put the fancy offices in the rooms with windows overlooking the river, but here, those are taken up with classroom, labs, and work-spaces for students. The Capital Building (and its gold dome) sits right across the river.

One of the most unique aspects of UC is that there is no core curriculum like at many other colleges. Instead, they integrate English (particularly writing and communication) into any major that students choose. All classes are writing and presentation intensive; they care more about having students apply what they have learned through practice rather than just spit back information on a test. They also have 6 Liberal Learning Outcomes, important traits for success in the workplace, such as critical thinking, citizenship, and infusing science and technology. These LLOs show up over and over in the classes that students take throughout their time on campus.

For a variety of reasons such as not having a core curriculum, accepting goal/career-oriented students, and the class structures, 35-40% of students graduate in fewer than the traditional four years (fabulous from an economic standpoint). Most students declare a major within the first year or so, but it is not required – however, in order to graduate early, students do need to know what they want to do fairly early on. However, they also have a Discover Program for first year students who are undeclared/undecided.

Driven, engaged, goal-oriented students tend to thrive here. Internships are available as early as 2nd semester freshman year. My tour guide, a freshman Chemistry major from Northern Virginia, was asked by one of his Chem professors if he wanted to help do research on finding traces of cocaine on paper money. Although he was a bit disappointed that they didn’t find any, he got a lot of practical research experience, and he said that they found other really interesting things in the process. The professor is going to be expanding the research, and this student is first in line to help continue the project over the rest of his time at college. He is also involved in a variety of campus clubs, including some that compete in regional and national levels. When I asked him what he’d like to change about the university, he said that he wishes more people got involved in some of the extra-curriculars. Several people were really involved, but some students got more wrapped up in the academics.


A view of the WV capitol building from campus

Health Sciences and Pre-Professional programs are strong here. There are 7 hospitals within 10 miles of campus, so internship and hands-on experiences are common and accessible. They also have a 6-year Doctor of Pharmacy program; students do 2 years of prereqs and then spend 4 years on the doctoral program. They also have a fast-track business degree in which students can get their BA in 3 years and then spend 1.5 years getting an MBA. Public Policy, politics, and pre-law are also very popular. The Capital Building is directly across the river from campus, so again, internship opportunities are there and highly sought-after. Finally, both the Interior Design and the Athletic Training programs are hands-on; students majoring in Athletic Training get assigned to different sports teams, so they work for full seasons with the same people; they also rotate through teams for different seasons to get a sense of what different athletes might need. Incidentally, UC is DII which surprised me because there are only 1,600 students at the college. They even have a large football stadium across the river, something almost unheard of for a college this size.

There are 4 residence halls: 1 for only freshman, 1 mixed, and 2 for upper level students. They also have a new graduate residence hall for the MBA, PharmDoc, and other grad students on campus. All the dorms are suites or private bathrooms. My tour guide and his roommate, for example, had a private bathroom directly across the hall from their room. They had a key for it so they knew that no one else would be using it. On the Res Life side of campus, they have a brand new fitness center (with views of the river, of course!) and a gym right behind it. That building is next on the list to be renovated with the expectation that it will eventually be joined to the new fitness center. All students can have a car on campus; parking costs $100 a semester.

(c) 2012

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