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Cedar Crest College

Cedar Crest College (visited 4/24/18)

Cedar Crest gazebo“Women’s colleges are on the verge of a renaissance. Society benefits by the women who go there,” said Cedar Crest’s President. Just over half of women from women’s college complete a graduate degree compared to 38% from Liberal Arts colleges and 28% from flagship public universities. They’re also more likely to graduate in 4 years; more likely to engage in the high-impact experiences like research, internships, study abroad; and more likely to be in positions of leadership after they graduate. Only 2% of all people with college degrees graduate from a Women’s College but comprise 1/3 of Fortune 1000 Board members.

Cedar Crest buttons

Pronoun buttons in the Diversity House

Cedar Crest was founded in 1867 because a Lehigh Valley father who was angry that there wasn’t anywhere nearby to educate his daughters. (At the time, it had a Christian affiliation but is no longer affiliated.) Access is a big part of the mission while holding fast to its women’s college identity.

Cedar Crest diversity stairs

Steps in the foyer of the Diversity House

Almost 40% of students self-identify as a student of color, making CC the “most diverse of LVAIC campuses.” They have a beautiful new Diversity house including a Muslim Prayer room: there’s a foot-washing station and a kitchen so students can break Ramadan fast together. The Jewish students join forces with the Muhlenberg Hillel (about a mile away) for Shabbat, trips to Israel, etc. and they can stay there during High Holidays if they’d like. LVAIC schools come together 2x a year for conferences, usually one about race and one about LGBTQ issues. When students were asked if they’d be comfortable living with someone who identified as non-binary, 28% said yes (and if someone identifies as female, they can apply to CC). In terms of socio-economic diversity, they recognize that not all students can travel home or have a place to go over breaks: dorms stay open and some meals are offered. Every student can work on campus for 20 hours a week.

Cedar Crest 3“We encourage the ‘and’ here,” said a professor. “Students don’t have to choose; if they want to explore different things, we help make that happen.” They are ranked #5 in student engagement in the northeast. “We’re intrusive; I’ll even check to see if they’re swiping into the dining hall.” Several other things help make them distinctive:

  • FYE: includes First-year Friday: speakers (budgets, eating right), comedians, trips.
  • The new Sophomore Expedition: students are encouraged (but not required) to go on the all-expense-paid study trip in sophomore year. A gift from an alumna covers all expenses except the passport. “We’ve seen interesting things: students catch the travel bug, they change majors because of what they’ve seen/done.”
  • Cedar Crest 2Undergrad Research (often alongside PhD candidates).
    • Some research is done in a 2-course sequence: they set it up in the fall and conduct it in the spring. A Bio major in started in her 2nd week of college.
    • Many participate in the LVAIC undergrad psych conference. “In freshman year, I’m trying to pull them out of their shell. By senior year, I’m trying to shove them back in…We know that oral presentations aren’t everyone’s strength, but it needs to develop – but we can also encourage other strengths, too.”
  • Guaranteed Student Employment: they find that this is a valuable retention tool; anyone who wants can work 20 hours a week. They try to tie it to majors to make it more meaningful.
  • Honors is an interdisciplinary program. “It’s not harder; it’s different.” It’s not going over the reading, it’s connecting it to other things. “My favorite is Botany and Art.”

Cedar Crest quadThere are lots of interesting, specialized majors for a school this size. “We’re responsive to Gen Z; they want to get credentialed.” This shows through their hands-on, career-prep options; the sciences (in many of their forms) are particularly strong. The curriculum is adaptable with majors, minors, and certificates (and they get an advisor for each one!).

Cedar Crest 1For admissions, they superscore both SAT and ACT. Usually scholarships are given starting with a 3.4 GPA and 1070 SAT/21 ACT. They have a Departmental Scholarship Day in early November where they can earn an additional $1,500 per year up to 4 years. “The day is less about the scholarships opportunity and more about sitting with faculty and see that the focus is on teaching and learning.” The 10th Annual full-tuition scholarship competition (early February) is by invitation only; all participant gets $500 per year but can compete for 5 full-tuition 4-year scholarships. The top 25 will receive the following additional scholarship.

60-70% of incoming class will live on campus; the rest commute from 60 miles. One student said that she’d like to see more money spent on dorms because people are currently waitlisted for housing. The Food is got high marks, particularly the “Sundaes on Sunday.” Freshmen can have cars on campus; parking is free. There are lots of LVAIC inter-collegiate events (trips, sports, etc) and students get discounted tickets for events on other campuses. There’s an aquatic center on campus but it’s not run by Cedar Crest. However, students can use it for free, and several events like Battleship (using cardboard boats) and scuba classes are held there.

© 2018

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Providence College

Providence College (visited 9/12/17) (Scroll down for my 2nd visit on 5/1/19)

Providence 5I appreciated that the admission reps and other people presenting information to the visiting counselors made efforts to help differentiate Providence from other solid, similarly-sized liberal arts schools. According to them, their 4 pillars make PC different:

  • Human Flourishing: learn to take of yourself now so you’re able to do it later!
  • Cultural Agility: help to see through your lens AND how to learn from those people around you. “Erase the fear. Help include people who might feel different or alienated.”
  • Contemplation and communication: “We do this in the Dominican tradition. We want people to be intentional about contemplation. Take the time to do it. Share that with others.”
  • Integrated learning: “learning is important, but it’s not all you do. How do you put everything together – the internship, the extra-curriculars – to build yourself and get where you want to be?

Providence outdoor seatingA large part – really, the cornerstone – of their core curriculum is Western Civ. This is a 4 semester, team-taught, interdisciplinary course of study pulling together Theology, Lit, History, Philosophy, “really, the entirety of western civilization.” Students take this every semester of their first 2 years. The first 3 semesters cover ancient, medieval, and modern times; in the 4th semester, students complete a colloquium to “bring knowledge into a contemporary topic.” They can choose classes such as Our Monsters, Ourselves (how do we define monsters?), Ethical Practices in Business, Sustainability and Profits, etc. This is a huge part of PC’s culture and community and is almost a rite of passage: students will sport T-shirts saying things like “Done with Civ.”

Providence quad 2This is a Roman Catholic institution, and 50 priests live on campus. This dictates much of what happens around campus from class work to student services. There are options in some aspects of how religion plays out on campus. For example, teachers could opt into having a crucifix in the classrooms but most did not. “Religion is not heavy-handed here” but it’s clearly around and available. Students must take 2 religion and 2 philosophy classes, one of which must be ethics-based, but Mass or chapel is not required. “It’s is more of a social event,” said one of the tour guides. “We have a post-mass bash.” Catholic policy does dictate other things: “We’re a Catholic school, and our Health Center follows Catholic guidelines. I’m not sure you want me to be more specific … students aren’t always happy about this, but there are referrals for outside things as needed.”

Providence hockey

Practice time for the hockey team!

Although diversity and inclusion are, on paper anyway, part of the Dominican tradition, people we talked agreed that the college was not as diverse as they’d like but it’s gotten a lot better in recent years. “It’s the #1 strategic goal. We’re 18% non-white. We’d like to get to 25%.” The LGBTQ community is “not a closeted presence” and seems to be well supported. “Our students are overwhelmingly involved in service, athletics, etc. That’s a major characteristic.” They’ve put a lot of money into athletic facilities: all of them are new within the last 10 years (most within 5). PC has been ranked as the #1 school for intramural involvement. This is also a big hockey school.

Providence business int

Interior of the Business Dept

Academic programs worth noting include:

  • Arts and Sciences: every person takes classes in this school regardless of major.
  • Providence 8Professional Studies is the smallest school and consists of Applied Programs such as Education (Secondary and Elementary/Special), Health Policy Management (one of the fastest growing majors), and Social Work.
    • The BSW is so strong that students can often start their MSW with advanced standing. “We’re the liberal arts in service to others.” This school gives them flexibility to pursue things like pre-med, MPH, hospital admin, etc.
  • Business: Students become proficient in writing, oral communication, civic engagement, and diversity. They offer 4 majors in a new building (opened in January 2017).
    • First-year advising workshops are offered every other week for the first semester covering career education, study abroad, the curriculum, etc. They bring in alumni and faculty to talk about what they do with the majors.
    • The Finance lab has 12 Bloomberg Terminals. They’re pushing for more people to get certified on these

Providence 1Admissions is test-optional: “It doesn’t drive the process. Almost 40% of applicants didn’t submit them last year,” said an admissions rep. “It will not affect merit awards” (given to about ¼ of the students). They recalculate transcripts based on a 4.0 unweighted scale looking only at academic subjects. Last year was the first time admissions didn’t pull students from the waitlist, and in fact, they’ve been slightly overenrolled. 31% came from the ED pool which they’d like to max out at 35%. “We’re talking about the people we want to bring to our community, be part of our family. They want to be here because they love the place!”

© 2017

Providence College (5/1/19)

“I’m so content. I’m where I’m supposed to be,” said our tour guide who was amazing. It’s hard to find one who is so forthcoming about the benefits as well as any potential drawbacks. She recognizes that this isn’t the place for everyone – but it’s really right for a lot of people!

This is a Dominican university with 45 Friars living on campus. Many of them teach, particularly theology, philosophy, or the required Civ core classes. Mass/chapel attendance isn’t required, but many students will attend one of those offered on campus. “Last Chance Mass is offered at 10pm on Sundays, and it’s usually standing-room only.”

The Business school is the only one that students must apply directly to get into, however students can minor in one of the subjects without applying to the program. The Business School is big on teamwork, building much of their teaching on “The Power of We” and experiential learning. Students all attend a First Year Advising Workshop taught by their advisor. This program brings in alumni, faculty, and others to give students a broad and deep understanding of what business is. They offer a fast-track program for those wanting to go into elite firms/Wall Street. They’re also very much about building students’ cultural agility. Students can study abroad, including short-term faculty-led abroad for 10ish days. Last year, trips went to Japan and Australia. “It wasn’t hard to go to Sydney in January,” said one student. International Business majors must intern abroad.

Education majors can also go abroad to Puerto Rico, Ecuador, and Italy without worrying about losing credits or time towards graduation.

Admissions is test-optional, and 36% of applicants do not submit scores. About 1/3 of the incoming classes are admitted under Early Decision. The admissions office recalculates GPAs to an unweighted one. Last year, only 21% of students got merit scholarships. “Less merit means more need-based aid – which means more access for students. We’re putting our resources into meeting as much demonstrated need as possible.”

© 2019

 

Nazareth College

Nazareth College (visited 10/18/15)

Naz 4

Nazareth tunnels

Nazareth tunnels

Nazareth College is wonderful: the students are active and articulate, the range of majors and the experiential learning prepare students to be snatched up by employers, and the campus is beautiful (complete with bells ringing every hour). For people worried about winters in Upstate New York – worry no more. Tunnels connect much of campus. It’s a safe, manageable-sized campus in Pittsford, a cute suburb of Rochester; the city is accessible, but the immediate area is reminiscent of a New England town (with the noticeable exception that the Erie Canal runs right through it!). Our tour guide’s favorite things to do off campus were Public Market (farmer’s market plus craft fair) and hockey.

Naz stained glassDespite the name, this is not a religiously-based school. The President told us, “We have a Catholic heritage, a Jewish President, and a Muslim faith-based leader. We have a chapel, a Hillel, and a Muslim association. We do it all.” They were founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1924 but have been religiously independent and coed since 1971 – but they’re still approximately 70% female. One of the student panelists said, “Not too many guys would say this, but I wish there were more guys.”

~Naz flowers 2“The one thing we look for with every application is evidence that this is a good citizen.” They’re test-optional except for Nursing because they saw a correlation between SAT/ACT scores (1100 SAT, 24 ACT) and the NCLEX exam, and International applicants need to submit TOEFL scores. Admissions to OT, PT, and Nursing are more selective; physics is required for these majors. DPT applicants must have a minimum of 85 in all their math and science classes.

One of the science building libraries

One of the science building walkways complete with a play area for visiting children.

As a member of New American Colleges & Universities, “we’re focused on purposeful integration of liberal arts with professional programs for service to the community,” said the President. They run an amazing OT program and a 6-year DPT program to which students can apply as freshmen. Our tour guide was in the PT program and couldn’t say enough about it and the sciences in general at Naz: “I’ve composed aspirin, decomposed bug spray… it’s pretty cool stuff.”

Study groups in the around the science buildings

Study groups in and around the science buildings

Very rarely do you find clinics at a college this size. For a $5 donation, community members can get therapy on campus, allowing students to get clinical experience (under faculty supervision, of course!) early in their training. Naz built the new building because there was such a high demand that they doubled in size. They also have a cadaver lab; students in certain majors actually can do the dissections, and other students can watch what they’re doing. Every major incorporates experiential learning, and there are collaborative work spaces everywhere we went that were actually being used, even on a Sunday afternoon.

Their new programs include: Clinical Lab Science, Dance, 3+3 BA/JD with Syracuse Law, a combined 5-year OT program and a BSW/MSW with Brockport. Other programs of note include: Music Therapy (combines music and health/human services; students can audition on any primary instrument including voice); Toxicology; Technical Production; Community Youth Development; and languages (German, French, Spanish, Chinese, or Italian – or Modern Foreign Languages to focus on 2 languages).

~Naz sculpture garden

A tucked-away courtyard

Their music program (performance, business, therapy, education, theater, or general music) is phenomenal. One of the music professors wrote to the president of Elio Cars because there wasn’t music in the commercials; she asked if the kids could compete to compose the music, and they accepted. The same professor contacted Josh Grogan’s agent when he was touring through upstate NY and asked if he needed backup singers; he did, and 20 Naz students sang backup for his Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo concerts. Talent-based music scholarships for NON-majors are available.

~Naz doorwayThe new Core requirements went into effect for students who are now juniors. A Rep called it the “The Uncommon Core: The starting point is the student, not available courses.” Students focus on a question to explore and choose classes that help them answer that question. This was designed to enhance the skills most important to employers – critical thinking, persuasive communications, and problem solving. Students complete an online portfolio in which they save one major piece per class as well as reflections. Papers are graded on the database so students don’t have a choice but to upload their work. They must be doing something right: they’re one of the largest Fulbright producers for their size category: 18 in the past 5 years.

~Naz arched walkwayDuring the student panel, these were some of the questions they answered:

What will you remember most when you leave?

  • My major. It’s been cool to see it develop since it’s so new.
  • Naz sends students to the National Chemistry conference – airfare and everything
  • Clinical experience. I spent time working in Jamaica and living in a hut.
  • Being in the orchestra. I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up with music as a PT major, but I got to perform in the Bahamas with the national choir. I’ve made some my best friends there. It was really important to keep up something I loved.
  • I was part of the first hockey team.

~Naz doorWhat surprised you/what do you wish someone had told you?

  • How it’s changed me. I was dead set on majoring in psychology. I thought I’d help little kids, but I did an internship, came home and cried. I wish someone told me that it’s ok to change my mind.
  • The community feel on campus and within some of the departments. People are really helpful. I didn’t know how nice the professors are. I was used to boarding schools where you see teachers everywhere and thought it wouldn’t have that here, but they’re everywhere.
  • How prepared I am now as a senior. At an internship, I was the only sophomore; everyone else was a year ahead of me, and I beat out 200 people for the position.
  • In Jamaica, I was surprised at how prepared I was compared to people who had done 2, 3, or 4 clinicals already.
  • I didn’t know how cold it would get so quickly.

~Naz 3What would you change?

  • Make sports DII so students could get money. I dropped lacrosse so I had time for a job and my studies.
  • I love the size from the aspect of academics. I have awesome relationships with my professors, but I wish I went somewhere bigger for the social aspect. We don’t have Greek life, so that’s something I wish I had experienced.
  • I came in knowing that diversity isn’t where I would have liked. However, there’s been a great increase with international students and other forms of diversity.
  • Adding another eatery near the clinics. It would be helpful for students and for people coming for therapy.

Almost 90% of freshmen and sophomores live on campus: there’s a two-year residential requirement if students come from more than 30 minutes away. Currently, many juniors and seniors move off, but students get a $2000 residential grant every year they stay on campus as an incentive to stay. Athletics are popular; in addition to the usual sports, Crew is making a come-back (they row right on the Canal!), and they’re about to add a Women’s hockey team.

(c) 2015

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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