campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “BFA”

Sage College of Albany

Sage College of Albany (visited 7/29/15)

~SCA quadWhile I was waiting to talk to the admissions rep and then go out on tour, I had the opportunity to speak with a student who transferred in from a community college, got his Bachelors at Sage, and is now doing grad work here. “I wish I had known to get involved more when I was an undergrad,“ he said.

SCA had been a 2-year college for a long time and had that feel of come, take a few classes, and go again. In WWII when there was a bigger need for medical field training, this school blossomed. It’s now a thriving 4-year college with extensive graduate programs; there are approximately 1500 students split about 50-50 between undergrad and grad.

Old armory

Old armory

I get the feeling that the campus activities program is getting more and more robust all the time. There’s definitely stuff to do on campus, there are several other colleges nearby, and Albany isn’t lacking for things to do – even so, the college is also trying to get more things on campus to bulk up the residential life. The DIII teams get a lot of support from the students, particularly the basketball, soccer, and volleyball teams. The old armory building has artificial turf for winter practices as well as for general student use. They hold things like Spring Carnival and dances there.

~SCA 1The campus is small and easy to navigate. It runs directly into the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Science campus; they even share some privately owned housing, the University Heights College Suites. While these are technically on the ACPHS campus, they act as kind of the dividing line between the two colleges. Those suites are no more than a 6 or 7 minute walk from any other point on the main SCA campus.

~SCA 2All SCA students can take classes at Russell Sage (the other Sage College located in Troy) and even major in an area offered on that campus. There are some females who choose to be an SCA student and live in Albany but who will major in areas offered at Russell Sage. “I think it’s because of the boys,” said the tour guide. “I think they like the coed environment.” Both places are warm, friendly, and highly supportive. “You feel like a celebrity because everyone is always saying hi,” said the rep. People give hugs. People know who you are, and even professors are called by their first names. It’s a bad place if you don’t want to participate or have people in your business.

~SCA Art&Design“Academics here aren’t siloed,” said the rep. It’s not just art or bio or creative writing. Students can do applied writing with bio, business with art/photo, whatever works for them. A lot of the majors are interdisciplinary by nature already. For example, Writing and Contemporary Thought combines English, Philosophy, and Humanities. Law and Society combines Criminal Justice, psych, pre-law; students pick a track to focus on (ie, L&S with a psych track) so it turns into something close to a Major-Minor pair.

Ceramics Studio

Ceramics Studio

They offer a BFA in Fine Arts, Photography, Interior Design, and Media Design. The studios are spacious and well-stocked. Students even learn to make their own clay.

Students have the option of participating in several linked and/or accelerated programs. Students in the Business department can go on to earn Masters in Health Services, Business, or Organizational Management at Sage. Students interested in a Doctor of Physical Therapy can do a 3+3 or 4+3 program, completing an Applied Biology program at Sage and then continuing on for the DPT. An accelerated JD program with Albany Law is available for qualified students. The accelerated program holds your spot – but you still need to take the LSAT.

Admissions to SCA is test-optional except for linked programs with other schools. If students want to apply when they’re here, they can apply in-house. Generally, the Law program looks for an 1100 and a 90 average.

(c) 2015

College of St. Rose

College of St. Rose (visited 7/29/15)

~St. Rose sign 2Have you ever dreamed of producing your own CD? Come St. Rose, win the yearly Battle of the Bands, and you’ll be able to do just that! St. Rose runs its own label: Saints and Sinners.

Or perhaps you want to work in a biology lab with animals like Skittles the tarantula and Bradford the mystery lizard. You can do that, too, at St. Rose!

The Meditation garden room in the chapel is used by people of all faiths

The Meditation garden room in the chapel is used by people of all faiths

One of the biggest surprises for me about St. Rose is that it’s no longer under the Diocese of the Catholic Church. It was started by four Carmelite nuns in the early 1920s; men (veterans primarily, at least at first) were admitted to evening and graduate programs after WWII; in the 1970s, the decision was made to go coed; the Diocese said no, but the Board of Trustees felt strongly that this was the way to go so they broke ties with the Church. “There’s still a relatively strong sense of our history, but there is no affiliation,” said the rep.

The St. Rose TV Studio

The St. Rose TV Studio

The school is still approximately 2/3 women, and almost 90% come from New York with New York City (about 2.5 hours south) strongly represented. More than 20% self-identify as ALANA, so the student body is relatively diverse.

The St. Rose Recording Studio

The St. Rose Recording Studio

Much of the work done at St. Rose is cross-disciplinary and based in real-world experiences. For example, it’s not unusual to see musicians working with Communications majors to produce work. The Hearst Center for Communications and Interactive Media is the only communication building in the US with the Hearst name attached to it. Students can study journalism as well as TV, video, and film with lots of hands-on experience. The school runs its own broadcasting studios and students then move on to intern at local stations. Jimmy Fallon is one of the most famous alums coming out of here; although he had dropped out of St. Rose 1 semester short of graduating (surprise – he took the SNL job instead of sticking around!), they gave him his honorary degree in 2009 (they figured he had enough life experience to qualify at that point).

Concert Hall

Concert Hall

Music is a fairly big major here. Music Education, Music Industry (they rank in the top 10 nationally for this degree), and Music Performance majors all must audition to get in. These degrees are either BA or BS degrees; they do not offer BFA in music (but do offer one in Studio Art and Graphic Design). They have a full music library in addition to an Educational Curriculum and the main libraries. Currently, they’re “80% Steinway,” said the rep.

Classrooms are left unlocked; students can go in to study or use the technology for presentation

Classrooms are left unlocked; students can go in to study or use the technology for presentation

Education is another large, strong department here. Options range from Early Education (birth – 2 year) all the way up to high school. Speech Pathology has become increasingly popular in the last several years.

Unusual majors include Forensic Psychology, Bioinformatics (part of the Computer Science department), and Biology-Cytotechnology. They also have a new Public Health major.

~St. Rose Business

The Business department

There’s a great deal of school pride here both from students and staff. Alumni donate a great deal to the college. The school does a wonderful job of creating community through their Freshman Experience classes as well as through Residential Life. Housing is guaranteed; 90% of freshmen live on campus, but that drops to about 50% after that. Campus is located in a residential area of Albany, so housing is easy to find. The college is actively trying to get those numbers up and have just built new campus apartments with a burger station in the building.

The main quad

The main quad

However, even those who move off campus remain active in campus life. Sports (DII) bring out a lot of fans (and Women’s soccer recently won a championship title). There are several traditions that the students rave about including Rose Rock (aka Spring Fling) which brings live music to campus. The favorite tradition, however, seems to be TPing the big tree on the Quad every Halloween. The President, after learning the hard way that this wasn’t going to be something that could be stopped, now throws the first one: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

© 2015

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (visited 11/18/14)

PCAD Lobby

PCAD Lobby

Gallery Space

Gallery Space

PCAD is housed in a large 5-story building (really 2 connected buildings) in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All 300 undergraduates complete a BFA degree in one of five majors: Digital Media, Fine Arts, Illustration, Photography, and Graphic Design. Two-third of their classes will be in their major. The rest are distribution requirements and electives. Business classes are part of their non-studio requirements, and all students complete an internship the summer before their senior year. All students complete a foundation year after which they declare their major. Classes are pretty much set that first year, but students interested in photography can replace Drawing 2 with Black&White photography.

Some of the work done for Broadway Theater

Some of the work done for Broadway Theater

Senior Studio spaces

Senior Studio spaces

Professors are all active in the industry giving students real-life information and contacts. They can complete lots of client-based projects in classes. For example, every year, students complete designs for Broadway Theater in town which are used in the company’s playbills and promotional materials. Students must have a Mac laptop, although there are plenty of desktops around campus, as well. The library is small, but students have complete access to the Franklin and Marshall library, less than a mile away.

Printmaking lab

Printmaking lab

Digital class

Digital class

The nice things about Lancaster is that it’s a small city of 60,00 residents. “It’s a good for those students who aren’t quite ready to take on NY or Chicago,” said the admissions rep, “but it still gives them lots of connections with the art community to exhibit.” The school brings in lots of speakers and visiting artists who show work and teach workshops and classes. All seniors get their own space that mimics professional space in a workplace. I talked briefly to one senior who said her favorite thing about PCAD was her space! She’s looking at Naropa University for grad school to go into therapy. The school can boast a 97% placement rate for their graduates. The Fine Arts majors are more likely to continue to graduate school, but the others tend to get jobs quickly.

Student artwork which is displayed all through the hallways

Student artwork which is displayed all through the hallways

3-D design class

3-D design class

Housing is an issue: there are no dorms. There are some school-run furnished lofts about 2 blocks away, but there are only spots for 26 students. “I recommend that they apply early if they’re interested in this.” Other apartments are available through landlords, and the housing office helps connect students to these places. They are not furnished, but they’re all within 5 blocks of campus. There’s also no food service on campus (other than vending machines), but there are a lot of grocery stores and food places around. Central Market (like a large farmer’s market) is close, but it’s only open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.

© 2014

Indiana University

INDIANA UNIVERSITY (visited 9/17/14)

~IU students in treeFor a large state/Big 10 School, IU is wonderfully landscaped and attractive. There’s a stream through campus, lots of trees, and even 2 cemeteries (the university can’t move them because of purchase conditions of the property). Near the chem building is the Dunn Family Sweetheart Tree, named for the family who had sold the university the land for that part of campus. One stipulation they made during the sale was that this tree had to remain on campus. The new chem. building is built around the tree. The 2nd stipulation was that for every tree cut down, the university has to replace it with 1 more, but they went one better and replaces every lost tree with 2 more.

~IU class changeThe main part of campus was swarming with students moving between classes. During the student panel, someone asked the students what it was like getting around campus for the first couple days and how they avoided getting lost. One student said that there are “IU Guides” – upperclassmen — who are posted around campus for the first couple days to help people. There’s also a mobile app. “I could look like I’m texting instead of a lost freshman,” said another student. There are also buses that circulate every 7-10 minutes which helps get them where they need to go.

With 4,000 classes each semester, students can’t possibly be bored. Average classes have 33 students, and only 7% of classes have more than 100. The largest lecture hall holds 420 students. “It’s the smallest largest lecture hall in the Big 10!” said the tour guide. Her largest class was close to that number. Despite the size of campus, professors make sure the students get hands-on experience. This is not the place for students who don’t like group work.

~IU arts

IU Art Building

Some academic information to note:

  • The Kelley Business School, ranked the #7 Business program in the nation, has about 5000 undergraduates. The program is designed for students to explore options through a first-year 12-credit Integrative Core to help them choose from the 12 programs including: Professional Sales, Economic Consulting, Public Policy Analysis, Real Estate, and Supply Chain Management.
    • Co-majors include Law, Ethics and Decision-Making, Technology Management, and Sustainable Business.
    • There are several accelerated 4+1 Master’s programs (the +1 is from the Kelley Business School.)
  • The music program competes with Eastman and Julliard. Thy have a full opera company which performs at the Met. Students have to audition and submit materials by 12/1. There’s a pre-screening process in the popular areas such as violin, saxophone, voice etc.
  • There are more languages taught here than anywhere else in the country with a total of 70, 50 of which are taught on a regular basis.
  • Physical Sciences are some of the smallest majors (and tend to have the smallest classes).
  • Many majors offer direct admission, and 26% are directly admitted into the program of choice. Students need to indicate on the application that they want that major.

    ~IU chem window

    A Chemistry Building window carving.

  • Nursing and Social Work are not direct admits.
  • Students interested in theater or studio arts can apply for the BFA program (requires an audition or medium-specific portfolio) or a BA (no audition/portfolio).
  • The Chem building is shaped like the periodic table. The elements are carved under the windows with a few blank for future discoveries.

IU admitted 24,000 students from the 38,000 who applied last year. From that, they enrolled 7716 first-year students, the largest in history. About a third came from outside Indiana; 9% were international. Students had a 3.73 median GPA and 1216 average SAT. They admit on a rolling basis (answers take 4-6 weeks).

~IU flowers bldgNovember 1 is a hard deadline for scholarship consideration but students can submit test scores through January 15 to increase scholarship money. Students are automatically considered for many scholarships, but not all. Selective scholarships require an additional application. Students are notified via mail and email regarding the link to their personalized Selective Scholarship Application, used for Hutton Honors College, Cox Research Scholars Program, and more. A couple scholarships worth noting are:

  • The Dean’s scholarship is worth up to $8,000 and given to non-residents.
  • The Global Engagement Scholarship for incoming freshmen, up to $11,000.
  • The Wells Scholars Program requires a nomination from the applicant’s high school, due by 10/1. Nomination packets are mailed to eligible high schools in August. Students from non-nominating high schools should submit all required materials to the admissions office by 9/20

Students are invited to the Honors College with an SAT of 1450 or 34 ACT, and a 3.8+ GPA. Honors housing is available but not required.

~IU BikesStudents must live on campus for freshman year. They’re housed in “neighborhoods” with academic support advisors with offices right there. There is also themed housing as well as beautiful Greek Housing (about 18% of students are affiliated, but not necessarily living in Greek Houses). There are 730 clubs and organizations on campus, including an Ushering Club (which gets them into some of the 1100+ music and theater productions for free). There’s a now-defunct Leaf Raking Club. Several students from California

~IU fountain 1

The infamous fountain, missing one of the statues

thought it sounded like fun; “that lasted about 15 minutes,” said the tour guide. One of the favorite activities is “Little 500,” a bike race modelled after the Indy 500. Students like going into town for food; Bloomington has the 2nd highest density of ethnic restaurants per capita after NYC. “It’s a tough life when you have to choose between Ethiopian restaurants”

Not surprisingly, sports are huge here. “We bleed Crimson . . . which isn’t so impressive come to think of it,” said one student on the panel. When IU last won the NCAA, the Arts Plaza got flooded during the celebration. The fish from the fountain were taken (“They weigh about a ton each. I don’t know how that happened,” said the tour guide. Although 4 were found (one of which was on a roof!), the 5th fish is still missing. There are several legends surrounding this: one says that it won’t be brought back until Bobby Knight apologizes, “and that’s not gonna happen!” Another says it’s gone until IU wins again.

© 2014

SUNY Purchase

SUNY Purchase (visited 8/12/14)

~SUNY Purchase acad bldgSUNY Purchase is located on a large campus (about 500 acres – including the first multi-racial cemetery in the area that sits in the middle of campus) about 30 miles north of New York City. It’s in a suburban community only a few miles from the interstate and the Westchester Airport (which was obvious during our tour when several planes flew so closely overhead that they guide had to stop talking until the noise subsided). The university opened in 1968, designed to be the “artistic” campus of the SUNY system. Governor Rockefeller chose the location to allow students to access the resources of the NY Metro area. The school runs a free shuttle service to White Plains (20 minutes away) that runs every hour from 7 am to midnight (2 am on weekends). From there, they can catch MetroNorth into New York City (30 minutes away on an express train). Students are allowed to bring cars; parking only costs $20 and parking areas are assigned based on the student’s earned credits.

~SUNY Purchase music library

Music Library

About 1/3 of the students major in the arts (theater, music, dance, film, or the fine arts). However, the school is designed for students who don’t ONLY want that conservatory or Art/Design experience. They offer a BA, BS, or BFA/BMus degree. Students majoring in the arts can choose the level of involvement they want: the BA and BS degrees will give them much more flexibility to take electives outside of the major, whereas the BFA requires about 2/3 of the coursework to be in the major. Adding that to the required distribution requirements (about ¼ of their coursework) means that they have little flexibility to take electives or add a minor or another major without taking extra time. There’s also a more selective admissions process. For example, only 20 students are admitted to the theatre BFA program a year and work as a cohort in productions and classes. However, many more students can get involved in productions open to the BA students interested in theater and performance.

“Purchase is a small place. There are 4,200 students here. You’re not going to be a number. The largest lecture hall you’ll ever be in holds 70 students. If you want to~SUNY Purchase patio be a number, go to Buffalo,” said Jon, the Admissions Rep giving the info session. Our tour guides both said that their largest classes had 30 students; the smallest had 8 and 12. The only graduate students are in the arts, so undergraduates in other areas are doing research with the faculty. They have a very limited number of grad students teaching classes for non-majors.

Students have all the resources of the SUNY system at their disposal. There are standard state-wide gen-ed requirements throughout the SUNY system, so students can transfer those classes easily if they’d like to take anything at another campus over the summer. Students can also take advantage of study-abroad options or other special programs through any campus.

SUNY Purchase art studio

An Art Studio

A science building

A science building

Some of their unusual majors include Media Society and The Arts, New Media (a tech-based arts major: one students used webcams to film a “24 hour sunrise”), Arts Management (for those interested in the business aspect of art), and Language and Culture (students can study Hausa, Hebrew, or Chinese as well as the more common European languages). Many students complete internships for credit under the direction of a faculty member. Students are assigned work to be turned into the professor in addition to whatever is assigned to them on the job.

Applicants NOT interested in the performing arts can use either the SUNY App or the Common App. However, performing arts applicants can only use the SUNY app. Admissions is selective; they accept about 1/3 of applicants not looking to go into any of the arts majors. The acceptance rate in the arts depends on department and the student’s focus. (“Bassoon players have a much easier time than violinists!” said the rep). Admitted students tend to have about an 87 average and 1100 SAT. Scholarships are automatically granted to non-performing arts applicants; recipients tend to have a 90+ average and 1200+ SAT. In the arts, scholarships are awarded through the particular department/area based on academic and talent combined.

~SUNY Purchase dorm room

A triple-style dorm room

About 65% of students live on campus; space is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Fort Awesome (dorms are named by students – other dorms include Big House, Far House, and Outback) is the newest dorm and houses upperclassmen. This is the only dorm with wifi; the others are all equipped with Ethernet hook-ups, “but you can buy a router from the Tech Office if you want,” said the tour guide. The first floor has classes and art space. Dorm rooms for freshmen are converted triples (basically double-sized rooms with a third person added) because of increased numbers of freshmen and transfers. There are some Learning Community Floors with double rooms (and the RA will be in that major). There are also 4-, 6- and 8- person suites scattered throughout the dorms. The 8-person suite has its own bathroom. The others have a common room but share the bathroom down the hall. There are a couple food options on campus. There’s the more traditional all-you-can-eat dining hall; the tour guides said that Sundae Friday, Wing Wednesday, and Stir-fry Thursday are popular. The Hub is campus food court where meals are done on the ABC plan (meaning they choose something from each category: Main meal, a side, and a drink). Meals don’t roll week to week; “If you have meals left by Friday, students start using up the points at the campus store so you don’t lose them by Sunday,” said the tour guide.

Traditions that the students are particularly excited about are Zombie Prom and Culture Shock (a weekend art festival). There is no Greek life on campus. Students are not bored on campus. There are always events, activities, and clubs doing things. The Cheese Club got mentioned a couple times (and apparently is so popular that there’s a waiting list – never heard of that for a club before!). The founder was a film major and got interested in cheese made from camel’s milk which led her to research camels which led to her senior projects about different products from camels.

Everyone does a Senior Project (check out this YouTube video on it), a serious academic work in an area of their choosing. Since this is a full-year project, students sign up for a 3-credit class both terms, and usually do the preliminary plans, including choosing an advisor, in their junior year.

© 2014

Birmingham-Southern College

Birmingham-Southern College (visited 4/2/14)

~BSC quadOne of the counsellors asked our tour guide, a senior majoring in religion, if she agreed with the reputation that Birmingham-Southern students “are smart and out-there.” She said yes: “You can be nerdy, and that’s cool here.” BSC, a CTCL school, does place a lot of emphasis on the whole student and making sure that they aren’t pigeon-holed. For their senior capstone, students have to complete a major project outside of the major. Our tour guide’s project was writing about modern issues in the style of Camus.

The college President is General Krulak, a dynamic leader who is well respected by the students and staff. He spoke to our group; he’s funny, well-spoken, has great ideas, and clearly cares about the college. He impressed us with his energy and ideas for the college as well as his plans on how to carry them out.

~BSC quad 2One complaint students seemed to have about BSC is that it’s not ethnically diverse – “but it is intellectually diverse. Students are open to diversity. There are plenty of passionate discussions.” BSC doesn’t have a great deal of religious diversity, but it is there. One of my colleagues went to BSC and loved it; as a Jewish student, she felt supported and had a community that met her needs. The city of Birmingham also has a great deal of diversity, so students can attend local Synagogues, Hindu Temples, Mosques.

Dorm room

Dorm room

Dorms are (mostly) new and comfortable. Freshmen are housed in traditional dorms; all other students live in suites. They have a relatively new Frat Row with 6 buildings (built mostly with private donations), each housing about 24 students. BSC also served as the Olympic Village for the Soccer players, and they have an Olympic torch in the fitness center. Basketball and baseball get best fan turn-out, and lacrosse is getting more popular. Their lacrosse, Track & Field and football field is called The Battlefield.

Some of their notable academic points are:

  • Frat houses

    Frat houses

    A new Human Rights and Conflict Studies Minor. Current students interested in this program can use previous classes towards meeting the requirements because it’s so new. They complete classes in 4 categories: History, Personal experience (internship), lit, and writing.

  • Their arts program. Students can earn a BA (Art History, Art Education, Film and Media Studies, or Studio Arts), a BFA (Studio Arts, Print, Photo, Sculpture, Painting, Clay), or both. A portfolio is needed for scholarships.
  • Their Critical Languages cross-registration with Samford and UAB. Our tour guide is studying Hindi, and BSC has Arabic-speaking Fulbright Scholars on campus. One of the professors at dinner said, “Here’s something you aren’t going to hear anywhere else: Sanskrit on Demand!”~BSC hammock
  • The Science Center purposefully put large windows for all the labs to make it a “science on display” building.
  • The Birmingham Area Consortium for Higher Education allows students to cross-register at UAB, Samford, Miles, and the University of Montevallo.
  • Their Urban Environmental Studies major is strong and fairly unusual.
  • They maintain an archaeology site at Turkey Creek (an old mill).
  • They offer 3-2 programs in Nursing (in conjunction with Vanderbilt) and in Engineering (at several institutions)
  • Their Honors Interdisciplinary classes include choices such as: “Lit, Medicine, and the Body,” “American Art and Conventions of the Body” (Art History), “Harry Potter Bigger than Jesus” (religious themes in HP), “Crucible Steel” (Human Rights/Creative Writing), Senior Research
  • Hess Fellows Advocacy Internships gives $3000 stipends/scholarships to selected sophomores and juniors. They are partnered with companies and non-profits in NYC, DC, San Fran, Birmingham, and Montgomery in order to work on projects for two months over the summers.

~BSC bikesThe student panel was enlightening. Students were articulate and forthcoming about information:

1) BSC is one of the Colleges that Changes Lives. How has BSC changed your life?

  • Study abroad opened my eyes to the rest of the world. I grew up in a small town, and I have a much more global view now. I appreciate that BSC is so supportive – financially and otherwise – of students who want to go abroad.
  • I’m friends with everyone. It’s not cliquey here. I get real world interactions.
  • I got involved in things I never thought I would or could do. I was really shy in high school, and here I’m pushed out of my comfort zone. In high school, I wouldn’t be up here talking to you or leading a club, but now it’s just what I do.
  • It’s empowering. They give us opportunities and expect us to take them.
  • I’m less apathetic than in HS. I’ve learned so much about people and the world.

2) What should BSC never change?

  • The small classes.
  • January term (BSC works on a 4-1-4 system. J-Term is “the exploration term.” All students must complete 2 of these, although many students do more. Some majors require specific ones, including freshmen education majors who are placed in schools (and later, they can teach in Ghana), or pre-med students who work in the hospital. This is to make sure it’s what they want to do.
  • Greek Life. I wouldn’t have rushed at a bigger school.

3) What needs to change?

  • Diversity
  • The caf. The food is ok, but it gets boring.

© 2014

Tufts University

TUFTS UNIVERSITY (visited 4/10/14)

~Tufts student and skyline

Boston skyline from Tuft’s campus

Tufts’s traditional campus, located in Medford, Mass, has an open, well-used with brick buildings that are attractive and well-maintained. Several areas overlook the Boston skyline. This is a residential community with most people living on campus.

~Tufts quad and studentsWith 5000 undergrads (making them a bit of an outlier in the NESCAC conference with arguably the strongest DIII conference in the country), they can keep classes small with an average of 15-18 students. Even in the bigger Intro classes, professors go out of their way to make it personable. One professor tells the class that if he doesn’t learn their names by the end of the first week, he buys pizza for the whole class. The school also gives students incentives for getting to know their professors; for example, if they bring a professor to the Tower Café, both drink for free. Some professors hold office hours there just to get the coffee.

~Tufts quad 2Interdisciplinary work is valued at Tufts. The Experimental College has some of the more unique programs. Usually, these are taught by Juniors and Seniors who propose a class to the Board based on what they’re interested in (Lobstering or Deconstructing Rap, for example). EC classes are graded as P/F so it won’t affect GPA. Some professors, often one in the trade or from another university, will also teach these classes. One of them used to be the GM of the Boston Celtics and he teaches a class about the legal issues of owning/running a professional sports franchise. The admissions rep doing the info session majored in Community Health in which he combined biology, math, and politics. Don’t even get him started on Greek Yogurt, which he say is horrible for the environment! Yes, we asked why: for 4 ounces of milk used, only 1 ounce ends up as yogurt. The other 3 ounces is poison whey (not to us but to the environment). They’re doing work with enzymes to break this down so it won’t be harmful anymore.

~Tufts bridgeAnother example of interdisciplinary work includes the two 5-year dual degree programs that Tufts students can earn either with the New England Conservatory or the Museum of Fine Arts. Students spend half their time at each institution and will earn both n BA and a BFA at the end. Students do need to be accepted to both institutions. The rep said, “A lot of electives get cut out if you choose to do this: you still have to fulfill a major and do the distribution requirements for both degrees.”

~Tufts chapel 3When applying to Tufts, students choose to apply Arts & Sciences OR Engineering but it’s possible to transfer from one to the other once they’re enrolled. The engineering students’ classes are a little more tracked with 38 required credits in the major and at least 6 classes in the Humanities, but they are exempt from the language requirement. A&S students take ten core distribution requirements including 6 semesters of Language and Culture if they don’t have a strong language background.

During the admissions process, they look at 3 things in depth:

1) Numbers (GPA, test scores)

  1. Students must submit the SAT and 2 subject tests OR the ACT with writing. They even superscore the ACT. Students applying to the engineering department should submit Math 2 and Physics or Chem subject tests.
  2. 80% of the 17,000 applicants were qualified to do the work; 50% were “overly qualified. However, they have a 20% acceptance rate. They narrow down the qualified applicants by looking at the 2 sections other than numbers.

2) Extra-curricular profile

3) Applicant’s voice (the essay and the recommendations).

  1. Why Tufts? Don’t make it about Boston. Boston has 54 universities!
  2. Let Your Light Speak: Make it about you! College apps are different from other essay – you can start with “I think” or “I believe.” They want to know who you are, where you stand, what you’ve done, what you want to do.
  3. They give students the option to send a YouTube video or a link to artwork.
  4. What makes you happy? Pick one or two things and explain why; don’t just give a list.

~Tufts arch and bldgThe students I spoke to on campus were friendly and wanted to brag about their school. I asked them what they were surprised about when they got on campus. One said, “the willingness of students to get into discussions with others. There’s so much to learn here, and people want to know more. A couple weeks ago, there was a big presentation about Palestine, and it was full.” I asked if he felt that issues were balance here and if they heard multiple sides to issues – like in this case, were there both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine sides? “Absolutely. People are still talking about it, and they’re willing to learn about the other side of the issue.”

~Tufts acad bldg 2The other student said he loved that there was so much going on both on and off campus. “We’re close enough to downtown to take advantage of the city, but we don’t have to do there to have fun. The activities board also runs trips to destinations further away. They actually own a lodge in NH, and students can take trips up there for $5 which covers all costs: transportation, lodging, etc. Once they’re there, they can hike, kayak, climb Mount Washington, etc. Trips aren’t even limited to the US – several students took a mountain-climbing trip to Kyrgyzstan; they got to name the mountain because they were the first to summit it.

© 2014

Rhode Island School of Design

~RISD patio and skylineRhode Island School of Design (visited 3/21/14 — Click HERE for my 2nd visit on 5/2/19)

Providence is a beautiful, hilly, historic city with unique events with plenty of options for recreation; there are lots of street performers, vendors, Gallery Nights, and more including Waterfire (started by a RISD alum), an annual event on the river running near campus. With five colleges, Providence is a college town (and has been named as the #3 Best City for Foodies).

~RISD house

A Hill House

RISD is a highly residential campus. Freshmen and sophomores must live on campus, and 70% of all students live in university housing. Freshmen are housed in a centrally located quad: the four buildings are completely connected, including underground passageways. Most rooms are doubles with occasional triples in the mix. 15 West are the student apartments located above the library and a café. The university also owns Hill Houses, old houses with loft ceilings and great views that have been renovated into dorm rooms and shared spaces. Met is the main dining hall (located in the Freshman Quad) where the Admissions Rep, a RISD alum, said that “they actually use spices. I pay money to eat there.” However, if they get tired of the campus food, there are plenty of other places in Providence to eat.

~RISD freshman quad

Freshmen Quad

The education prepares students for the professional side of being an artist – not just through career services, but through how they teach them to think and create. The academics here require a lot of problem solving and trans-disciplinary approaches. They’ve actually changed the STEM acronym to STEAM by adding “Art and Design” with the idea that ideas are useless unless they can be communicated. A lot of alums are working in STEM disciplines, collaborating with MIT students, etc. They run a full Nature lab of natural-history collections allowing students a hands-on opportunity for a variety of projects. Risk taking and creative thinking are encouraged here. Students create board games, create a solution to real world problems, etc. In Spatial Dynamics last year, students had to create “3D but functional headwear” as part of a competition, and the creations were displayed in a fashion show.

~RISD patiosBrown and RISD offer a Dual Degree; students must be admitted to both schools separately and must write an essay explaining why this program is good for them. This is a 5-year program; the first year, they live at one school and take some classes at the other; the 2nd year live at the other school at take classes at the first. After that, they alternate semesters. Right now, they have a student who is Furniture Design major at RISD and studying Music at Brown. She wants to make her own instruments.

~RISD 2

Museum

Students must declare a major by March of freshman year. The Foundation classes average 20 students; other classes average 17 students. Ceramics and Glass classes are the smallest, reflecting the size of the majors. The school offers BFA in any of the 4 year programs (apparel, ceramics, film/animation/video, furniture design, glass, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture). The BArch degree takes 5 years. Students need to complete 42 credits in the Liberal Arts including History of Art and Visual Culture, Literary Arts and Studies, History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences. If they want, the students can complete a concentration in Liberal Arts. Many take advantage of the cross registration option with Brown. After freshmen year, students can take whatever they want there. Languages and Environmental Sciences (especially among illustration majors) are popular options. Many students also take advantage of the Wintersession to take non-major electives, liberal arts travel courses, and internships. 72% of students do an internship; 54% did 2 or more.

~RISD mural 4Facilities are top-notch. The Museum has many more things in storage than are on display, but the curator will pull anything from storage for students to work with. The library was an old bank and redone by faculty and students and is now named as one of the “50 most amazing libraries”. Campus is compact and walkable. Although the furthest building (architecture) is only a 10 minute walk, there are shuttles around campus (nice when they don’t feel like hiking up the hill!)

Although students will be spending a lot of time on work (“You’ll spend at least as much on homework as on studio work – at least 8 hours a week,” said the tour guide), there’s active campus life beyond academics. The 70 clubs/organizations keep kids busy. They even wrote and produced “RISD The Musical” (you can check it out on YouTube). “We have sports teams, too. They’re not very good . . . except for cycling. We have a lot of hills! But we have a lot of fans. We get a little rowdy!” said the tour guide.

~RISD mural 3RISD is Common App exclusive. Applicants must upload 12-20 images of best and most recent work (done within last couple years). They also ask for 3 images from a sketchbook/journal. Separate from this are two 16×20 hard-copy Required Drawings which should be completed in 1 day, and done on paper to fold up, put in an envelope, and mailed. Drawing 1 is a Bicycle (graphic only); Drawing 2 can be 11 related images (still on 1 page), a 2-sided drawing, or a Drawing instrument. Students can also attend a National Portfolio Day; they recommend bringing a friend or family member to help stand in line since it often takes a while to get seen.

Clearly, RISD is doing something right with their education. Ninety-five percent of freshmen persist to sophomore year, and 87% graduate within 6 years. Students and alum have won 9 MacArthur Awards (kind of the Nobel Prize for artists that comes with a $500,000 award) and 50 Fulbright awards in the past 15 years.

© 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

Rhode Island College

Rhode Island College (visited 3/22/14)

RIC (called “rick”) is the oldest of the three public universities in RI (URI and the Community College of RI are the other two; RIC students can cross-register at either of these). It was founded 150 years ago as a College of Education, and is still known for this, although Communications and psych are also popular.

~RIC 4This suburban campus, located less than 10 minutes from downtown Providence, is surrounded by a residential area on one side and a golf-course on the other. A bakery and some stores are a 5 minute walk away, and buses run every 20 minutes into the city. Providence College is down the street, and many more colleges are located in Providence so there are lots of students; many stores cater to college students.

~RIC quadThe college has an interesting mix of buildings; we parked near the Admissions office, located on the edge of campus. The Saturday info sessions were held in another part of campus, so we had to find our way over there; at first, we weren’t impressed with campus, but as is true with many universities, the edges aren’t the most flattering parts. The main part of campus redeemed it for us, and I think both of us ended up with a much more favorable opinion by the end of the tour.

~RIC acad bldg 2They pull most of their students from RI, but they offer a “Metropolitan Tuition Policy” for people within 50 miles of RI (specified CT and MA communities). Jeff, the Assistant Director of Admissions, said there seems to be a divide in RI: students in the south tend to look at “the University” and the northerners look at RIC. Students from NY, Northern NJ, CT, and MA make up the bulk of out-of-state students (about 20% of the population).

Of the 90 majors and programs, they’re particularly known for:

  • Education (including PhysEd). 100% of those who complete the Education program pass the State Licensure tests. Students apply at the end of the freshman year after completing the pre-reqs with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Nursing. The NCLEX pass is “consistently above state and national averages; 95% ranked in the top 15% of all nursing programs in the US.” Like the Education department, students apply at the end of the freshman year after completing the pre-reqs with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Social Work. They offer both a BSW and MSW (the 8th most selective in the country).
  • School of Management. They offer a cutting-edge facility with a well-established internship program, placing interns in more than 50 local leading companies ranging from Fidelity Investments to the New England Patriots.
  • Fine and performing arts. They built a new $10 milion center, and they offer technical theater, dance performance, and a new combined BFA Studio/Art Education program.

There are no mass lecture courses except for one bio and two psych classes with about 150 students. 99% of the classes are capped at 30 students. They now offer evening classes to make sure students have access to classes they need and want, and to keep class size down.

~RIC dorms

Dorms

Housing is guaranteed for all freshmen and for out-of-state students for all 4 years. Currently, only about 1200 of the 7000 students live on campus, but they’ve doubled the number of students on campus and built a new dorm (336 beds) a few years ago because they had a waiting list. They’re currently doing a feasibility study for a 7th dorm. Many tend to live on campus for a year or two, but campus is so easily commutable that they end up moving off. There is some unofficial off-campus housing, and sometimes people will share houses with Providence College students.

Admission decisions are based primarily on an applicant’s academic record; they look for a 3.0-ish average. They require test scores but say that these numbers are AN indicator – not THE indicator. To be invited to the Honors College, students must be in the top 20% of the class and have a 1200 SAT. This is an automatic consideration based on admissions applications. Honors classes average 12-15 people. The Presidential Scholarship ($2,000-$4,000) is awarded to students ranking in the top 30% of the class and a minimum 1100 SAT or 24 ACT. They also have several talent awards (communications, theater, etc.) which do require a separate application.

The tour guides (we had 4!) were pleased with activities on campus, and mentioned several things like Anchor Madness (class competitions); the Wednesday “Free Hour” (12:30) with events on the quad like paint ball, a rock wall, build-a-bear, block party with a mechanical bull, and exotic animals; trips to places like Nantucket, Boston for a Buck, NYC, and Montreal (students will sleep outside the Union to get tickets for this); and more. We commented on the fact that there was NO ONE around; it was so quiet, we thought they were on spring break. They insisted it was “still early” on Saturday (it was going on noon) and things picked up later. All students can have cars on campus (with no parking fee!), so it’s easy to get off campus. The fan base for the 21 DIII teams is large. Games are held at the Murray Center, located at one end of the main quad. The new Rec Center with general work-out areas is at the other end of the campus.

We got a chance to talk a bit with one of the tour guides who was wonderfully open. He started at RIC, transferred out, and then transferred back because he realized what he had there. “People underestimate working out of class with a professor. I didn’t have that at my other university.” People who throw themselves into the community and manage time well will thrive here. The university is still working on improving retention rate which is currently at 76% (still above the national average); 6-year graduation rate “is about the national average.”

(c) 2013

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