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Calvin College

Calvin College (Visited 11/22/19)

Calvin quad 5Calvin is intensely and intentionally Christian in all they do. Two people called this one of the Christian “academic powerhouses” (compared specifically to Wheaton in Illinois, the other in the Midwest; Gordon and Messiah would also be similar type schools on the East Coast). Their 3 tenets are Think Deeply, Act Justly, Live Wholeheartedly; faith informs all they do. They’re affiliated with, and their beliefs stem from, the CRV church, “but at the end of the day, we want to open arms to people.” Their pastor is the first woman in the world to be ordained by the CRC.

Calvin 5What impressed me most was people’s willingness to help. They’re overwhelmingly friendly and go out of their way. Calvin organizes a great visit program, Fridays at Calvin, but part of the program involves choice – which panel, which class, or which tour to take. Sometimes this necessitates finding our way to places on our own. At several points during the day, students stopped to ask if we knew where we were going and offered directions or walked with us.

Calvin chapel 3

Friday’s chapel – it really was full! All students wanted to be there. They project the lyrics on the screens

I was visiting with another counselor, so we did a bit of “Divide and Conquer.” I attended the parent panel (she went to the student one). At the panel, someone asked about faith-specific rules: “It’s an option. You’re not required to go to chapels which is special because the people there want to be there.” (The Friday chapel we attended right before the panel was a Song-Fest, typical for a Friday – and it’s usually standing room only). All students are required to take 2 religion classes. Faculty members sign a faith statement (students do not) and must be active in a local church. Every year, they have to create a statement of how it will be tied into their class. One student said, “I think it helps tie in aspects of life and faith to each other.” The professor added: “the point of Calvin is that everything is informed by your faith. We regularly talk about things. In my engineering classes, I’m doing a series where we talk about Christian virtues of honesty and humility. Those take intentional practice and are vital to being good engineers.”

Calvin 11This is a Liberal Arts college. One professor said, “We get to explore creation in all its facets. You’ll take classes in subjects you aren’t so familiar with. It’s a chance to cultivate curiosity. Faculty feed that. They love to teach and they love their faith. They’re happy to talk about what it means to be a Christian in X field.” Another professor on the panel said, “You have a chance to shape your professors with the questions you ask. We want you to think deeply, Act Justly, Live Wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal and justice in the world. We want you to know how your story matters to God. We’ll walk with you in the process, but that’s the goal during your time here. Ask questions about what you’re passionate about and do hard work in a personal learning environment.”

We asked the students on the panel how their faith has grown or been challenged?

  • Calvin chapel 4“I went to a Christian school k-12. I took a Christian theology class this term going through basic Reform views – that class taught me more about my faith than in 12 years of Christian school. I look at things differently and see why people believe it. I never thought the class would do anything like that. We’re challenged to see how things fit together.”
  • “I’ve been getting involved in a local church. It helped me make my faith my own. It’s been cool to uproot and replant myself across the country and be intentional about that. Also time management – making devotions a priority hasn’t always been consistent.”
Calvin sci atrium

Atrium of the Science building

There are 50+ denominations represented among the 3700 students. Students come from 65 countries, and 17% self-identify as domestic students of color. One of the reps said that Calvin is unique in that the community as a whole doesn’t identify strongly politically. They’re about 50/50 among faculty AND students. “The world is full of people who don’t agree with you. The faculty facilitate ways to learn to have respectful dialogue. We challenge your beliefs and your faith.”

Calvin is deliberate in how they want students to Live Wholeheartedly: “We want you to be plugged in whether that’s through art, chapel, or other interests. During freshman orientation, students participate in StreetFest, a half day of service. They’re partnered with community groups to learn and get connected to the community. Campus is located about halfway between the airport and downtown (about 10 minutes to either); they can ride the city buses for 50 cents. The Beltline is a little hard to walk because there aren’t sidewalks, but doable. There are 2 malls and lots of stores within walking distance. Anyone can have a car on campus.

Calvin walkway

Walkway across a main road to some of the athletic facilities and the Conference Center where many of us visiting for Fridays at Calvin were staying.

They help students find ways in which students can figure out the answer to, “How do your gifts and talents benefit the world?” “Caring for God’s creation is part of justice.” Sustainability is a big deal here. Through the Clean Water Institute, they’re working to clean up one of Michigan’s most polluted watersheds. The Food Recovery Network helps to eliminate waste and feed the hungry. They reclaim 1,000 pounds of unused food every month to take care of hungry people in the community. The Calvin Prison Initiative cares for those who are on the fringes. They’re taking courses into a local prison.

Calvin arena

The largest DIII arena in the US. This is full in their games, particularly again Hope! There’s lots to do on campus.

All freshmen and sophomores live on campus unless they’re living at home with parents. There are on-campus apartments for upperclassmen; finding an off-campus rental can be hard, but a lot of people rent from relatives or someone they know. 98% of first-year students live on campus. Dorms are all suite-style, and they intentionally try to place a pair of freshman with a pair of sophomores. “Living there is one of my favorite things about Calvin. Events like Dorm Worship on Wednesdays are great. We have events through the weekends. We had a karaoke night a couple weeks ago.” Students say that the campus tradition “bind alumni whether they graduated this year or 20 years ago.” One of the favorites is Chaos Night which is a dorm vs. dorm competition. Students dress up in theme costumes. There’s always 1 dorm that mysteriously wins. “We don’t know if they’re practicing in the middle of the night.”

Calvin mineral museum

The Mineralogical Museum

Calvin offers all the usual opportunities such as research and internships (at least 85% of students will do at least 1). Faculty push students to the front of research projects. “They’ve already proven themselves in their fields, so if they can lift students up, they will. Students are often the lead researchers.” The college sponsors an award-winning Lecture Series in January with world-renowned experts; these are also open to the community.

I asked the panelists what their favorite class to take/teach had been?

  • Calvin 11Interpersonal Communications: it built one-on-one relationships. It’s applicable to all aspects of life and the professor is engaging.
  • My Kinesiology class. It was the first in the major. I discovered learning about muscles and how the body moves. It’s been really fun.
  • “Tough question – it’s like choosing a favorite kid! If I had to choose, I’d say teaching Vibration Analysis to Seniors. There are lots of examples I can use, but it’s a sweet spot where the math and the other engineering classes come together and a ton of opportunities where students can say “OOOH, that’s why we learned that!”

A few academic programs worth noting include:

  • Calvin NM observatory

    The Astronomy Program is linked in to the Control Room at the NM Observatory

    International Development Studies (these students have to study in an underdeveloped country), Rec Leadership Minor, and Therapeutic Recreation.

  • Their World Languages program is one of the best I’ve seen at a college this size, including many less commonly taught languages such as Dutch, Korean, and Greek. They also offer Netherlandic Studies.
  • Strong STEM including several engineering concentrations, Biotechnology, Astronomy, 3 Neuroscience tracks (bio, chem, and psych), and Scientific Computation & Modeling.
    • They’re near the Miracle Mile comprised of several hospitals.
    • Pre-med students can apply for the Early Assurance Program in conjunction with MSU; there’s also 1 spot open at UMich that guarantees an interview. This is one of very few Full Tuition scholarships. They’ll be considered after filling out the Sponsored Scholarships form (only available after admission) and must go through an intensive interview process at Calvin and Michigan.
Calvin 8

The Science Building

Calvin offers a summer program called Entrada, open to high schoolers having just finished junior or senior years. They take one class in a month; if they earn a B- or better, they earn a $4,000 scholarship/year to Calvin and earn college credit (which can be transferred).

© 2019

 

Alma College

Alma College (visited 11/19/19)

Alma is the place to go if:

  • Alma signYou want to learn (or already know) how to play the bagpipes! Or perhaps you just want to hear the Highland Band, the kilted marching band, or hear bagpipers before football games. Can you tell they’re proud of their Scottish theme?
  • You want to join the “winning-est MUN team” (Alma was in a jeopardy question for this!)
  • You’re looking for an incredibly diverse and accepting campus: this has been voted the most LGBTQ+-friendly campus in the state, the college is the most racially diverse it has ever been (“and we’re only getting better”), and inclusive of people of any or no faith.
  • Alma MUN house

    The MUN house

    You’d like to join or watch the National Champion Percussion Ensemble or the nationally ranked (1st or 2nd depending on the year) Cheer & Stunt team (“It’s very acrobatic/gymnastics based”) that competes mostly against DII teams.

  • You’d like a campus with “massive Sumo squirrels that are friendly, calm, and well-fed.”
  • You’re looking for an intense but highly supportive academic and social environment.

Alma chapelIt seems like Alma would be a hard sell for people coming from a distance – but it should NOT scare people away! “We’re sort of the northernmost Liberal Arts college in the state. There’s a stereotype that most students are from the UP, but they’re not. Many come from the suburbs of Detroit. For others, this is a big town.” For those coming from a distance, shuttles run to airports at breaks. Many students fly into Detroit (2 hours away) because it’s a hub and cheaper, but Grand Rapids (1.5 hours) is an option. They’re also good about getting people to other places as needed; for example, they’ll take students to Lansing for the GRE when they don’t have a car.

Alma lounge 1

Highland Java

Students mostly come from Michigan, but they pull from all over: “Most students come here for A Thing – football, MUN, the Highland Band,” said the rep. “They end up falling in love and stick around. We’re like the mafia, but not scary! Once you’re in, you’re in for life!” The Assistant Provost agreed: “I grew up in the Midwest and did everything I could to get out of it. They were looking for a person to come in for a year. I haven’t left.” That was 6 years ago!

Alma dorm 1

One of the dorms

Campus is highly residential; 90% live on campus (and must live here all 4 years unless living within 20 miles with family) and the students aren’t bored. When we visited, students were everywhere – studying, socializing, staffing tables for clubs, walking around campus. The small town is also safe and accessible with things to do (movies, stores, cafes, restaurants). They are Rail Trails for those who want to walk, run, or bike. Students said that there was plenty to do off campus when they wanted it, but usually were so busy with classes, athletics, performing arts, and clubs that they forgot they were in a smaller town. There’s even a PickleBall team; the tour guide is playing in the intramural finals for that.

Alma donuts!“The community is about encouraging and building people up. We go to events and support each other. We want everyone to have opportunities.” They even host an annual Silent Party; people are giving headphones for music – or can choose not to listen to anything – to acknowledge that some people have auditory sensitivities and need a quiet place but still want to be with other people.

Alma Sci Tech buildingAcademically, “it’s intense. No one is going to say it’s easy,” said a student. Alma runs on a 4-4-1 schedule, different from the big public institutions. Students take 4 4-credit courses in the first 2 terms and 1 in Spring Term that runs from the end of April through Memorial Day. Everyone is required to complete 2 spring terms. Graduation is in April so seniors can be in the job market early (although they can stay if they want). Many spring courses involve travel. Also, they grade differently: instead of pluses or minuses, grades are A, AB, B, BC, etc.

Alma Remus

Remus hanging out in the greenhouse

Classes, of course, are small. The tour guide’s largest class had 34 students; the largest she’s in this year has 21. There’s quite a bit of innovation in the classrooms. For example, they’ve partnered with Google to link up/partner classes between colleges in real time. “A friend of my mine took one of these and loved it,” said the tour guide. They have a planetarium which is used in and out of classes. All students can borrow film equipment for class projects or just for fun. They have a giant tortoise named Remus who lives in the science courtyard in good weather and the greenhouse over the winter.

Fine and Performing Arts are huge here:

  • Alma Scot muralsStaying true to their Highland/Scottish “heritage”/theme, they offer Highland Arts, including Highland Dance and Piping & Drumming. They offer a Scottish Arts Scholarship for students coming in with a high level of skill in these areas.
  • There are a lot of music classes offered; students do not have to be in the major to take advantage of these. They’ll bring in teachers for any instrument a student wants to learn. I asked where they’d find a bassoon instructor in small-town Michigan; the tour guide laughed and said, “They contract with music teachers in public schools or anywhere else they can find them.” She’s learning to play the bagpipes (which are a big deal here).
  • Alma mini concert

    a lobby set up for a recital

    Students give lobby recitals on a regular basis.

  • There are multiple choral groups to join. The Select Choir goes to Scotland and Ireland every other year
  • Their Kilted Marching Band is competitive to get into and people come to games as much to see them as the athletics.
  • They have a Midi Lab to record their own music.
  • They offer majors in Music Composition, Dance, Musical Theater, and more.
  • Community members join the orchestra.

Alma Heritage Center 2They’re moving away from the cafeteria-style Gen Ed and towards a more scaffolded, integrated experience. Everyone’s required to take a FYS class and English 101, but they’re piloting a new program that combines these into one full-year course. Students cannot test out of a foreign language – but if they test into a higher level, it’ll also count for a humanities course. They’re creating new interdisciplinary majors including:

Other things to note about their academics include:

  • Alma Heritage Center 2They have Applied Physics/pre-engineering but no engineering majors.
  • Nursing: students still take a liberal arts core in addition to their major. The school has a great relationship with the local hospital.
  • The sciences are incredibly strong, including Public Health, biochem, and biotechnology. This is one of undergrad schools in the state to have a cadaver lab (they get 10 a year from the Michigan grad school).
  • The Psych dept focuses on research, including Neuroscience,
  • The Entrepreneurs in Action business class runs Highland Java, a popular coffee spot on campus.

Alma artworkStarting after the sophomore winter term, students can apply for a $2500 Venture Grant for use in spring term or summer internships. Students can also partner with NY Arts or different organizations in DC, Chicago, and Philly for a semester (housed with other college students through agreements with other universities) and transfer in 16 credits. There’s also the Posey Fund for about 40 students per year – our tour guide went to India for 7 weeks over the summer.

Alma rockThe minimum admissions scores are 960 SAT/18 ACT. They take a weighted GPA but only take what the school gives them; for admissions, it’s not as big a deal, but the scholarships depend heavily on the GPA, so high school counselors should convert this and email the admissions reps. GPAs of 3.4GPA or higher are eligible for Scholar Summit which means up to $4000 more. There are also several competitive scholarships for art, STEM, faith leadership, etc.

We asked people what they thought Alma did really well:

  • We support individual students in helping them along the path they choose. It’s so rare to come to a campus where they’re all focused on student success. It’s a piece of core identity.
  • We hold ourselves to high expectations. If people have negative experiences, there’s a team that jumps on that.
  • We’re the perfect place for the student who doesn’t want to have to decide. There are very few things that you can’t do both of (like marching band and football team).

Historically, retention has been around 80%. The Provost’s goal is to get students linked in to a group earlier. The 4-year graduation rate is about 60% “which is higher than you’d think given the retention rate,” said the provost. “We hear that often from counselors that this is the school of choice for students coming from diverse backgrounds.” About 35% of students are fully Pell-Eligible and 30% are First-Gen students. They have a strong track record of being successful with retaining and graduating these populations.

© 2019

Bryant University

Bryant University (visited 4/30/19)

Bryant pondBryant pleasantly surprised me. The people are great, there’s a good vibe, and the campus is attractive with lots of green spaces and a pond (complete with fountain) in the middle. Buildings are new and well kept up, and facilities align with the current educational trends they’re making available for students. Almost ¼ of their population is first-gen, and they make a great deal of resources available to accommodate for an array of diversity, including a large interfaith center where Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish services are offered every weekend. They have a full-time priest and rabbi on campus, and they have a kosher kitchen available to students.

Bryant 3“This is not a static university,” said the VP for enrollment. The university is particularly known for its business program for good reason. Most programs are highly ranked, including International Business in the top 25. They have extensive options, including Marketing Analytics, Global Supply Chain Management, and Advertising & PR in addition to more traditional offerings in undergraduate business schools. “One area we’ve moved into is Data Science.”

Bryant 5“We also have strong pre-Health Sciences (they guarantee an interview at the PA school) and a strong college of Arts & Sciences.” Students can take an EMT class to satisfy their science requirement! They have an array of traditional majors/minors as well as more unusual ones such as Chinese, Applied Psych, and Biotechnology.

Bryant gate

The arch – like most schools, tradition says that students can’t walk through before graduation.

Students must have both a major and a minor chosen from different schools. This dynamic helps to round out skill sets “and is a key towards our 99% job placement rate,” said one rep. This is the 3rd highest job placement rate in the country. “College costs too much money to not have something at the end – and that something is a job.” One of the students told us that a lot of students will major in Business (its own school) and a minor in Economics, Actuarial Math, or Applied Stats (in Arts & Sciences). He said that that’s an easy way to “kind of work the system.”

Bryant 7All first-year students participate in the IDEA Program, a 3-day, 1-credit design-based program in which teams solve a real world problem. “It’s exciting. It’s exhausting. They work around the clock. Campus is buzzing.” Students learn how to observe people, how to identify what the issues are, identify a challenge (usually this is given to them), brainstorm multiple ways of looking at the problem, break down ways to solve it, set up an experiment to see if a solution would work, and finally present it to others. The go into malls, the zoo, classrooms, etc. Some of the projects included how to make malls more accessible, box stores more efficient, and a children’s museum more interactive.

Bryant quad 4Over half of Bryant students go abroad at some point for internships, a semester/year, or for a study-trip. They created a Sophomore international Experience, a 2-week study-travel trip, to help get “students’ feet wet” – and many of the students who do this will then elect to go abroad for a semester or year as juniors. Bryant runs a campus in China and offer opportunities in 65 other countries around the world.

Bryant 8All incoming students receive an HP Elitebook laptop, and then they trade that in for a new one as a junior (or they can buy out the old one and keep it).

Bryant indoor farmers market

One of the periodic Farmer’s Markets held in the Student Center

They’re still skewed more heavily male because of the business programs. During the admissions process, they’re looking that applicants have 4 years of math with 1 beyond Algebra 2 (they prefer pre-calc and calc). Students do not need to submit test scores – but if they don’t, they need to do 3 supplemental essay questions. To be eligible for the Honors Program, students should have a 1270 SAT and about a 3.6 GPA. There’s a very little bit of wiggle room, and students must interview if they’re on the bubble. They can sometimes come in on probation for a year: under this, they’ll take 1 class first semester, and if that goes well, they take another in the 2nd semester. At that point, if they meet the criteria, they move fully into the Honors Program without probation.

Bryant fountain 3Campus is active and the students we spoke to are happy with their experiences. Every weekend has at least one big event which ranges from a trip to a major league game or an on-campus event to help people get engaged in the community or beyond. There are 4 special big weekends a year: right after students return to campus from summer, then Fall-, Winter-, and Spring-fests. The majority of seniors live in 5-7 person townhouses, allowing for a bit more independence before leaving campus. Students seem happy enough with clubs and activities (including their a cappella group that was ranked #32 in the nation).

© 2019

CSU San Marcos

CSU San Marcos (Visited 7/9/18)

CSUSM union 1

The Student Union on the hillside

CSUSM has a new, well-maintained campus sitting on a hillside. When I parked on the first floor of the parking garage during my visit, I was surprised to see a sign that said “Walkway to campus, 6th floor” – but that’s definitely indicative of its hilliness. “It’s nickname is CSU Stair Masters” said one student. Buildings and landscaping are attractive; this is one of the newest CSU campuses (the 20th out of 23) with the first class of freshman starting in 1990.

CSUSM 3Campus is easy to navigate; it’s a medium-sized school with just over 13,000 undergrads; they are steadily increasing their enrollment with record freshman classes for the past several years. It’s still primarily a commuter campus, pulling almost all of the students from California (about 2-3% are from outside the state). Because the school still pulls so many commuters, “Parking is a real problem,” said a recent graduate. “It costs something like $340 per semester to park on campus in the garages! I paid $270 for the dirt lot that was a bit of a hike to my classes.”

CSUSM quad

The main quad

The students I talked to said that the professors were the best part of CSUSM. “They’re really accessible and know what they’re talking about.” One student had transferred in from the local community college and loved his Sociology program. “I loved my classes! Academics are about the only thing to rave about there, but we are there for an education, so I guess that’s a good thing.” A few unusual majors include Global Business Management, American Indian Studies, Biotechnology, and Kinesiology. Because they’re so close to the Mexican border (they’re about an hour away), it’s not surprising that they offer a Border Studies minor. Cool minors include Electronics, Music Technology, and Arts & Technology.

CSUSM disc golfOther than academics, diversity is definitely worth mentioning. This is classified as a Hispanic-Serving institution, but “religion and the LGBTQ communities are very well accepted here.” Another student said that “anyone can find a home here.”

This is considered a less-selective school, maybe because they’re increasing their numbers. First-to-second year retention is almost 80% which isn’t too bad, but their 6-year graduation rate is just over 50% which worries me. However, they do tend to take in many transfers and part-time students, so that may not be as surprising.

CSUSM University Village

The Village Apartments as seen from main campus

The University Village Apartments are right across the street from the main campus. This is considered on-campus housing since the university owns this. There are a lot of amenities, including grills, a fire pit, a pool, and fitness centers. There are also some apartments affiliated with the school, but run independently. The food on campus is not well-liked by students. Much of it is run by outside venders (Panda Express, etc) but students say that “the food is horrible. It’s all pretty much centrally located with is good, but that’s the extent of it.” Apparently, breakfast and dinner options are limited because so few students live on campus. “Live in an apartment so you can cook for yourself.”

© 2018

Cabrini University

Cabrini University (visited 7/21/16)

Cabrini 1Cabrini is a hidden gem of a school that I hope more people will look at. It has a lot to offer! The student panelists were impressive, articulate, and gave great answers to the “Why Cabrini?” question instead of just “It feels like home!” They talked about the honors program, club offerings, quality of their academic programs, the ability to play sports which wouldn’t have been possible at a larger school, the size, and being able to get involved. Students agreed that this is a transformative experience: One panelist said, “I was a quiet average kid in high school. I didn’t do anything special or get involved. I’ve opened up more and became more independent. I say yes to trying things. It’s presented challenges but also made me stronger academically.”

Cabrini statueWe drove up a wooded lane to get to campus and stopped in front of a huge stone mansion which (as we soon learned) had been owned by the President of Campbell Soup (and the guy who invented condensed soup). The mansion was one of the few buildings on campus when this was started as a women’s college in the late ‘50s. When they went coed in the early ‘70s, they built a dorm for the males “down the way,” according to the tour guide while the mansion remained as a dorm for females. Most of the university buildings have gone up since going coed giving the campus a clean, new feel. It’s grown so quickly that it now has gained University status (as of July 1, 2016).

Cabrini chapel

The chapel

Cabrini is a Catholic college started by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (which, unfortunately, is a dying order according to the admissions rep). Just over 1/3 of students self-identify as Catholic; about 30% don’t report a religious affiliation. Students are required to take one religion class; our tour guide’s class was Search for Meaning. She loved it because talked about all religions and students could make it personal to their own journey.

Cabrini acad bldgEngagement with the Common Good (or ECG) is one core requirement; this is another distinctive curriculum piece that makes Cabrini stand out, and students had a lot of positive things to say about it. Students take 4 interdisciplinary classes over the four years designed to raise awareness of social issues and give students hands-on experiences in community service and/or solving problems. One student took “Our Interdependent World” which looked at things like social justice, refugees, and climate change. These classes take the place of Comp 101. It’s writing-intensive, but based on current events.

Cabrini dorms

One of the new dorms

The people we talked to said that the community is well-integrated and people are accepting of others. Of the 1300 full-time students, just under 40% (almost equally divided) self-report as African-American or Hispanic. They have doubled the number of Hispanic students in the last few years and are working on becoming a Hispanic-Serving institution (requiring at least 25% Hispanic population). They’re working on bringing in more students from South America; the Sisters are pretty active down there.

Cabrini dorm int

The interior of a dorm

The campus is in a residential area of town; not much is within walking distance, but shuttles run 15-20 times a day around town, and all students can have cars. Campus is quiet and safe. “I’ve never heard of anyone using the blue lights. Sometimes a goose will approach you … but that’s about it,” said the tour guide.

This is still mostly a regional institution. A vast majority of students come from mid-Atlantic “ranging from Connecticut to Virginia, an in Pennsylvania, east of the Susquehanna River,” an admissions rep told us. However, most freshmen (90%) live on campus. This drops to about 40% overall after first year. A couple students on the panel were commuters and never felt like they weren’t part of the community. In addition to Living Learning Communities for first and second year students, Cabrini recently created a Commuter LLC; about 25 students get involved every year, and although they don’t live there, they meet regularly.

They’ve created several new dorm options in an effort to increase the number of upperclassmen on campus. Upperclassmen can get suites that are often arranged in “pods” – 4 or 5 bedrooms with 1 bathroom. Dorms house anywhere from 20 to 250 students, and rooms are spacious. There are some triples which are huge. Singles, doubles, and triples were interspersed along the hall we saw. Food on campus “is pretty good! People get very excited about the pickles. I don’t know what that’s about.” Chicken Nugget Tuesday is also popular.

Cabrini tv studio

A tv studio

The academic program most worth noting is Digital Communications and Social Media, although pretty much anything in their Communications department is going to be excellent. The studios and technology are amazing. Comcast uses the studios on the last Friday of the month, often hiring Cabrini students to help. They share a radio frequency with Villanova. The newspaper is published every 2 weeks, but the online newspaper is done more frequently.

Cabrini radio station

A radio station

A couple other majors of note include: Molecular Biology and BioTechnology, Gender and Body Studies, and Health and Wellness Management. They also have multiple dual-degree options including:

  • Hospitality Management and Tourism (BS in any Business major, MHTM from Widener)
  • 3+3 Law Degree with Widener
  • Podiatric Medicine (3+4): BS Biology, DPM from Temple
  • Pharmacy (3+4): BS Biology, PharmD from Thomas Jefferson Univ. School of Pharmacy
  • Social work: 5-year BSW/MSW with Widener
  • Dentistry: (3+4): BS Biology, DMD from Temple
  • Nursing (4+1) with Villanova or Temple

The students’ favorite classes include:

  • Scriptwriting: “We got a great hands-on experience!”
  • Media Influences and Psychological Development: “We looked at music, music, tv, even Barney and how those things influence people.”
  • Engagements and the Common Good. “We participated in role-playing historical scenes. I was a protester at the Convention in 1968.”
  • Multimedia story Creation: “We made 3-5 minute videos that were like documentaries. It taught me all aspect of media but also a LOT of patience! Editing takes so much time.”
  • Photo for Publication: “ We got assignments from the newspaper. I did a lot of the sports games. We took trips off campus around Philly. It was very hands-on and taught lots of cool tricks with the camera.”

They do have an Honors College; students applying to the school will get flagged for this if they have a 3.5 GPA and will get a chance to apply for HC. To stay in, students take 4 honors classes the first year (including their ECG, and Search for Meaning classes) and at least 1 a year after that. The Honors LC has a Master Learner, an upper level student who has already taken those classes, and honors students have special trips (like to the Philly Orchestra) and other events.

© 2016

Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College (visited 2/5/16)

FSC waterski ramp 2

Ski jump for the waterskiing team

Want to join a varsity waterskiing team?

Maybe you’d like to major in Citrus?

Are you a Frank Lloyd Wright fan?

Would you like a work-study job walking Riley the Therapy Dog?

Then check out Florida Southern!

FSC dining hall

Students studying in the dining hall

FSC takes a well-balanced, holistic approach to education. The college President said, “Students have to actively engage in the learning process and apply what they’ve learned. If you’re looking for an anonymous experience, go to UF. If you want to be involved with professors and see how learning is applied in a real-world way, this experience becomes transformative.”

FSC arch and towerFlorida Southern has 3 distinctive guarantees:

  • Graduation in 4 years. Students must follow certain straight-forward guidelines; if they do so and still can’t graduate on time, FSU will help cover the cost of the remaining time.
  • Internships: Everyone is guaranteed an internship in their field of study if they want it, although these are not required. However, real-world readiness is stressed here and the National Society of Experiential Education Ranked FSC #1 in engaged learning. Almost all students (98%) do internships, practicum, field work, research, or study abroad.
  • Study abroad. Many students do traditional study abroad, but FSC offers Junior Journey at no or reduced cost to all students. They’re eligible after completing 4 semesters of study. They can apply this to a longer study abroad experience if they want.

FSC bikesStudents have fun here, but academics are important: “I’m surprised how much more academically focused I am,” said one of the students we spoke to. The most popular majors are accounting, business, broadcast and print/online journalism, economics and finance, education (offered in multiple areas), marine biology, music, nursing, and psychology.

FSC PAC

Performing Arts Center

 

For students interested in fine and performing arts, this is a great place. Interested students must audition (remote auditions are available). They just added a new Dance Performance and Choreography major. Their thriving music program includes music education, performance, management, and musical theater. Theater students can major in performance, theater arts, and technical theater/design. Fine arts students have options of graphic design, studio art, art education, and art history. There’s a large art gallery on campus used extensively by students. There are 30+ performance and gallery shows every year, including a full opera accompanied by the orchestra.

FSC business atrium

The lobby of the new Business building

The new Business building opened in August 2015, and in the fall semester of 2015, students had the option of majoring in Political Economy which is only offered at a few universities in the nation.

FSC citrus trees

Some of the citrus trees that Citrus majors help manage.

Biology, Marine biology, and Biotechnology are all strong. Lakeland and the university are within an hour’s drive of both coasts, and there are 29 lakes nearby. FSC students often work with other students from schools like USF and UCF. Dr. Langford, a biology professor, spoke to us. His “how to” for getting students involved in research is: “Recruit students sophomore year, give them original projects, train them, get out of the way, and brag about their results!” Students have access to a ton of topics either self-developed or with professors: they’re actively working on shark ecology, antibiotic discovery, genetics and evolution, paleobotany, wetland ecology, marine microbiology, herpetology, parasitology, and invertebrate phylogenetics among other things, and they present regularly at regional, national, and international meetings and have publications in peer reviewed in scientific journals.

FSC dorm 1

One of the dorms

There’s a strong sense of campus pride and inclusivity here. With 11 dorms, 3 apartment complexes (with a 4th on the way), and Greek housing (about 1/3 of students rush, but not all live in housing), this is a highly residential campus; first-year students are required to be on campus unless living with parents (94% are on campus). Dorm rooms are big and many have water views. Greek rush happens during the 3rd week in the fall. Students can join both a social and a professional Greek organization.

FSC has 19 varsity DII sports, and they’ve won 28 National Championships. There are 25 intramural options including Inner Tube Water Polo, Rock Paper Scissors, and Kayak Racing.

FSC bikesStudents can walk to downtown Lakeland in about 15 minutes (“or about 3 minutes on a bike”). Students like the town: “It’s little and cute and there’s plenty to do,” including First Fridays, coffee shops, a great farmer’s market, and a flea market. If they get tired of Lakeland, beaches and Orlando are both an hour away. This is the oldest private school in Florida, founded in 1885, and is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

FSC FLW chapel

The Chapel

Students perform 32,000 hours of community service a year. Although the university is affiliated with the United Methodist church, there are no religious requirements; those who are interested can help run chapel services.

The college is responsive to students and what they need and want: for example, they kept the library open later when students asked for it. They’ve changed up the food options; there are now more food trucks on campus. They have offered more vegan and other options, as well.

FSC fountain and tower

The fountain where WaterDome Splash occurs

Some of the students’ favorite classes are:

  • Philosophy: “The professor is Lebanese and has a different perspective on a lot of things; he took it to a whole new level.” Bikes apparently are useful but not used so much.
  • Marketing Principles: “The professor is really straight-forward; we do cool projects!”
  • Speech class: The professor is passionate.”
  • Intro to Microbio Research: “We do concrete projects. The professor is interesting and has expanded the content past the textbook.”

Things that they’d like to change are:

  • More centralized parking: “All students can bring a car but parking can be a struggle. It’s there but can take awhile.”
  • “Sometimes school spirit for athletics gets forgotten. It’s very academic here. People would rather go to the library than to a game.
  • “I’d change the accounting program.”

Traditions students particularly like are:

  • WaterDome Splash: going into the fountain is forbidden except for seniors at graduation who are allowed in.
  • Blast Off: on the day before classes, clubs in the gym host a club fair.
  • Pizza with the President: “She’s super involved; she even got kicked out of a basketball game because she was yelling so much!”
  • Winter Wonderland: “they bring in snow to the green”
  • One student said, “It’s not a traditions, but I’m going to miss my professors when I leave.”

Admissions is rolling between September 1 and March 1 with an ED deadline of 12/1. They admit approximately 45% of total applicants; admitted students average a 3.6 GPA, 26 ACT, 1134 SAT. They will superscore both tests.

© 2016

Carlow University

Carlow University (visited 11/7/15)

Carlow as seen from 5th Street.

Carlow as seen from 5th Street.

I’ve never heard of a school that allowed students to become Autopsy Specialists before. That’s just one of the things that makes this campus a hidden gem!

Carlow walkway

Carlow walkway

Carlow is not at all what I expected. Although this is a self-contained campus located right in Pittsburgh, it’s more compact than what I thought it would be. The old brick buildings are built onto a hillside of a main street next to some of the major hospitals and close to the University of Pittsburgh.

Carlow quad

Walking up the steps from the street, there are pockets of gardens, places to sit, and attractive water features; the campus opens up at the top of the hill to a small quad surrounded by old buildings including a former convent. Even with the traffic just down the hill and downtown Pittsburgh not that far away, the campus feels like an oasis.

Best known for it’s Education, Business, and Health Services, it still has a strong liberal arts foundation. It was ranked 69th in the country by the ETS College Rankings Index for graduate job placement and earnings.

Some of the best and most unusual programs are:

Interior of the gym

Interior of the gym

We spoke with several students who were watching or helping to staff a basketball event in the very small gym on campus. They love the school, rating it from 7-9/10. They love the community and that everyone is really accepting. They appreciate the improvements on campus such at the revamped library and student center.

Carlow statue and seating“This is definitely a Catholic school, but nothing is forced.” Students have to take one religion/theology/philosophy class but there are no mandatory masses. Only about 1/3 of students who report a religious preference say that they are Catholic; another 20% say that they’re “Other Christian,” with other religions making up almost ¼ of the student body. One of my students who is Jewish is currently a sophomore at Carlow and loves it.

This is still very much a regional campus with only about 5% of students coming from outside Pennsylvania. 75% of freshmen – but only 30% of all undergraduates – live on campus. It’s still almost completely women (only 11% male) with men only recently being able to live on campus, according to the students we talked to. “There are definitely more men now that there’s a men’s basketball team.”

(c) 2015

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