campus encounters

"Get the first-hand scoop about colleges and universities"

Archive for the tag “chemical physics”

Centre College

Centre College (Visited 9/24/19)

Centre quad 3There’s a reason that Centre is on the Colleges that Change Lives list. Students are “Happy, successful, and grateful” which shows in their freshman-to sophomore retention (in the low 90s). Combined with a 4-year graduation in the low-to-mid 80s, you have a recipe for a lot of success. When visiting a CTCL school, I ask students how the school has changed their lives. Here’s what 2 said:

  • “I come from a community where education hasn’t been important. Being able to see the world as it is, I’ve grown closer to my culture and community, but it’s inspired me to give back to a world that has accepted my identities. I came here as a refugee, and I understand myself better. I will treasure the mentorships.”
  • “The people change the lives of Centre students whether it’s a faculty member who says ‘try something new, don’t assume you know your path yet’ – or a student who gets us involved in something. We’re challenged to be better and go outside our comfort zone.”
Centre 3

The college’s “200 years” banners

This is Centre’s bicentennial year “which we celebrated by raising $200 million” – not bad for a small school of 1410 students sitting on 150 acres in a small Kentucky town! For the last 30+ years, they’ve landed in the Top 10 for percentage of alumni who give back to the college. This has helped grow their endowment to over $330M.

One counselor asked, “What’s here that offers opportunities to people from non-college going cultures?” We got what I think is one of the best, most thoughtful, well-reasoned answers I’ve heard: “We think it’s important and it’s intentional. They find people who are like themselves here. We’re not a place of privilege like many places like this. We aren’t overweighed with rich kids – that just hasn’t been the culture here. That matters. There’s an incredible culture of personal concern for students here. Faculty are invested in success of students that is different from a lot of places.”

Centre dining hallAlmost ¼ of the students are Pell-eligible, and about ¼ of domestic students self-identify as students of color. Just over 20% are First-Gen. “This is a great place to be a first-gen: they graduate at higher rates than continuing gen students,” said one of the professors.

Centre is almost entirely (98%) residential (even though only 40% come from out of state) which builds community, and it shows from walking around campus. New dorms are gender-inclusive. Students are happy and engaged with each other. We saw few people alone or plugged into their music. Campus is gorgeous and traditionally styled with meticulously maintained brick buildings.

Centre 4Although Presbyterian by heritage and maintaining “a loose connection,” you’d never know it by being on campus. Centre is open spiritually with multiple groups representing different identities. There’s a spirituality center and plenty of opportunities to reflect various beliefs. They create a safe space to foster faith (or non-faith). “You can be who you are while still learning about the other. They’ll often open convocations with prayers in native languages, in different faith traditions, etc. It breaks down the fear and mistrust of what they maybe don’t understand yet.” The tour guide said that she’d like to have a central intercultural center, a one-stop shop. Two years ago, they hired 3 diversity people and today they see lots of programming, training on how to be an ally (such as pronoun use), etc.

Centre lincoln 3We asked the students and faculty, “Why here?”

  • Students learn to perform: “They put themselves out there and learn to fail and succeed.”
  • “It’s the Centre Commitment: Students will graduate in 4 years, they’ll study abroad at least once (85% do it once, 50% do it twice; record was 7 times with graduation in 4 years), and/or do an internship or research. Study abroad is built into the fabric of the college. We’re not doing superficial tourism. Students dive into the culture and place. We balk at the word “trip” – students complete a rigorous academic course. They hit the ground with questions to ask. This is important especially because of the college’s location in Kentucky. We want to expose people to a wider context. Over half of the students come from KY and sometimes have never left the state. This is the way to open them up.”
  • Centre quad 2

    A view of one of the quads

    “We kind of own the high impact practices – our experiences in the classroom, the labs, etc – is off the charts. We’re really, really good at this.”

  • “We’re taking young people and shaping them as citizen leaders in whatever they choose to do going forward. They’ll have 3 or 4 more careers, live in several places. It’s the norm. The placements they get are to be envied which is a credit to a lot of people, including career services and the faculty.”
  • “It’s way more than providing an education. It’s creating an adventure. It’s a first-rate undergrad education, prepared for work in service, but be given a chance to go places socially, emotionally, academically to move beyond. We give them practice to be a person of adventure.”
Centre Norton 1

Norton Center for the Arts

Everything we heard from students, admission reps, Deans, professors – spoke to an educational experience that’s off the charts, in and out of the classroom.

  • “People can pursue diverse interests whether it’s cutting-edge research, the arts, or athletics.”
  • They operate on a 4-1-4 calendar that allows for 10-12 classes to be taught overseas in January. Pre-med students, athletes, etc go abroad which isn’t always the case.
  • The average class has 18 students with 60% having fewer than 20. The largest class maxes at 30. Teaching is prized: “It’s rewarded in merit pay and in tenure and promotion decisions,” said one of the Deans. Faculty members here have received many Kentucky Teacher of the Year awards.
  • The Norton Center for the Arts is an exceptional space, rivaling several I’ve seen at larger schools. It provide space for Visual/Fine Arts and Dramatic Arts majors and minors, and the venue brings the wider world to the students, part of the mission they do so well: they’ve hosted the 2000 and 2012 VP debates, Shanghai Ballet, Architecture festivals, and a myriad of nationally and internationally known performers. “The Norton Center is one of the most phenomenal things I’ve seen on a college campus: students can get behind the scenes, have international acts in their classrooms, etc,” said a Professor.

The students’ favorite classes include:

  • Centre skeleton 3

    Some of the skeletons in one of the Science buildings

    A study-away trip to Morocco and Spain: “We studied the three major Abrahamic religions. We talked to Jewish communities, the Conquistadors, the history attached to the other places and how they created community. Interactions with locals were amazing.”

  • Islamic America: “We traveled 10 days from here to Denver to see different states and how the Muslim community works there. I’m not from the US. To learn those facts and stories and to experience the emotions was fascinating.”
  • “Urban Economics in London, specifically learning how a local economy develops, why certain business develop close together, the banking system, etc. was great!”
  • “Churchill’s World about his life and world. I read more than I have for any other class and I loved it. I was eager to write the next paper.”
  • Acting Storytelling Class: “For my final project, I told an immigration story through my Dad’s eyes. It was powerful to learn his story and then share it.”

Centre quadAcademics to note include:

  • Over 200 students major in Economics & Finance, which is almost unheard of at a school this size. Students can prepare for finance and business careers without a business degree. They also offer a minor in Global Commerce.
  • “We have good participation in the sciences” including Chemical Physics and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. They provide strong prep for professional schools: over the last 5 years, med school acceptance has ranged between 80-100% with 11-25 applying each year.
  • They have several new programs including a Data Science Major/Minor and Arabic
  • They’ve developed a graduate nursing partnership with Vanderbilt and an MAT partnership with University of Louisville and Vanderbilt.
  • This is one of very few liberal arts colleges with a Hot Glass program!
Centre arch

The arch between academics and athletics

Not surprisingly, they’re strong with service and leadership, including Bonner and Posse Scholars. “We’re engaged communicators, collaborators, leaders, and are community-driven. We get involved in a lot. We’ve earned our spot here and want to be challenged,” said the tour guide. There are over 100 organizations on campus and 23 DIII teams competing in the SAC. There’s a bridge arch “that symbolized the connection between academics and athletics,” said the tour guide. Centre beat Harvard in football in 1921 by one touchdown but haven’t played since: “I think I think they’re scared!” About half the students join Greek Life with deferred rush until spring. Frat houses sit on 1 side of Greek Row, sororities on the other “except the ones that switched awhile ago. I’m not sure why that happened,” said the tour guide. “They have a good track record of being safe, mentoring, taking care of each other.” A couple favorite traditions include:

 

  • Centre flame statue

    The infamous Flame Statue

    The Open and Close processions. Students are given a token with the seal to give to someone who made an impact.

  • Students run from dorms to the Flame Statue, around it 3 times, and back to the dorms – naked.
  • They put pennies on Lincoln’s feet for good luck.
Centre lincoln penny

Penny for good luck placed on Lincoln’s shoe

“Most students are curious. They want good grades but also want to understand what we’re talking about. We bring up controversial issues; students engage. They dig into literature and high-level arguments that don’t have yes or no answers. The students are ready, and we push them higher. We’re sensitive to the way we use test scores in admissions. We can say yes to people who are qualified to be here.” Only about 15% of the class get admitted through Early Decision. Common overlaps include Vandy, Rhodes, Miami of Ohio, Sewanee, Davidson, Kenyon, and Furman.

 

There are three significant programs worth mentioning:

  • Grissom Scholars: 10 full tuition awards per year plus a $5000 enrichment stipend are awarded to high-achieving, high-need, first-gen students. They’re looking for academic excellence (although test scores rarely play into that: they see a gamut of scores). “The recipients are good citizens, have significant school or community involvement, and are mature, kind, determined, joyful, supportive, and show exceptional potential for leadership.”
  • Lincoln Scholars: 10 recipients per year receive full tuition, room & board, and 3 funded summer experiences. “This is for students who believe they have the desire and capacity to change the world.” They look for students who are bold, selfless, unafraid, and passionate; who have integrity, courage, curiosity, drive, vision, and talent to change the world; and who are high-achieving students who are “bright enough” academically to fulfill their vision.
  • Brown Fellows: this is a more traditional merit-driven “big ticket” scholarship: there are 10 awarded per class, covering full tuition, R&B, fully funded summer travel and projects (~$6,000), and faculty mentorship. Students are intellectually curious, ambitious, focused, disciplined, and trustworthy. The University of Louisville is the only other school in KY with this program; sometimes they do joint cohort things. This is the only scholarship that has a score minimum (31 ACT/equivalent SAT) required by the funding partners. Recipients almost always have maxed out their high school curriculum and often gone beyond. “They’re typically more apt to be generalists. We’re drawn to the well-rounded kid rather than the ‘angular’ highly-focused kid.”

Centre “can be a bit of a bubble but town-gown relations aren’t bad.” Greek organizations and athletics do a lot of community service. The Bypass has lots of restaurants. Downtown Danville is walkable. “Dan Tran [public transportation] isn’t great but it works.”

© 2019

 

Hendrix College

Hendrix College (visited 3/27/17)

Hendrix bellHendrix sits right on the edge of Conway, about 30 minutes from Little Rock (they run shuttles to the airport before and after breaks). The town is large enough to provide opportunities but small enough to get around easily. There are 3 colleges in Conway; UCA is more visible because it’s bigger. Fun fact: Conway has more roundabouts than traffic lights. Campus is gorgeous (and even has a Creek Reserve): “Our facilities are exceptional; the people are more so.” This isn’t surprising as a school on the Colleges that Change Lives list!

Over breakfast on our Counselor visit Day, we were greeted by President Tsutsui (prounounced “suitsuey”). “How many people have been to Arkansas before? Not bad! Thanks for wanting to come back!” He went on to talk about the Top 5 questions he gets asked (as well as his answers to them) about Hendrix:

  • Hendrix quad 2

    Students outside enjoying the weather in one of the many open spaces on campus

    “Was it founded by Jimi Hendrix?”

    • Nope, but Bishop Hendrix of MO gave as much money as Jimi Hendrix so he might as well have!
  • “Wow, Arkansas, huh??”
    • There isn’t a single 17-year-old who wakes up and says, ‘I want to go to school in Arkansas, including people in this state!’ But it’s beautiful. It’s green. There are some of the friendliest, most curious people you’d ever want to meet. It’s not the saccharine, deep-south sweet. People here have time for each other. People who care about each other means something. This is a one-phone-call state. There’s someone on this campus who can pick up the phone and call anyone to arrange internships, an interview for a project, etc.
  • Hendrix class hallway

    One of the classroom buildings; classes are on the upper level with a hallway looking over faculty offices on the left. 

    “What’s that Odyssey Program all about?”

    • Students learn to take risks and craft personally meaningful learning experiences outside the classroom. They learn which paths may not be such a good fit. They prepare through research, skill building, leadership. Not all of these are unique, but here it’s not cookie-cutter. Students take charge and responsibility. We give them the power AND RESOURCES to create something that is meaningful.
  • “So what are your big plans for Hendrix?”
    • A clear student-centered mission that delivers on the rigorous Liberal Arts education that celebrates and encourages differences. There won’t be a business or engineering school or an online or graduate school. We aren’t going to grow. We want people to know each other. We’re adding a new center for teaching and learning (creative work), enhanced career services, expanded multi-cultural centers, more growth in diversity, some construction (dorms), new music/film/visual arts facilities.
  • “What makes Hendrix different than other colleges out there?”
    • It can’t be distilled down. We’re authentic and grounded. Students and alumni are smart and are good people. Staff want to be here. Watch the staff in the cafeteria. They know the students’ names. They give hugs. They ask how breaks went.

Hendrix 15Hendrix is a bubble. Compared to much of Arkansas, it’s pretty liberal, but “compared to the coastal areas, it’s much less so!” It’s a good halfway point. “Football has diversified us. There are a number of evangelicals on the team which makes us look more like America as a whole,” said one of the admission reps. “It’s not about us and them, it’s about interacting person-to-person,” said the President. He told a story about 2 students becoming good friends: “She was the first Muslim I ever met; I was the first scary-rural-American she met.”

Hendrix dorm

One of the dorms

This is a mostly residential campus with almost 90% of the 1,300 students living on campus. Campus feels vibrant with students everywhere. SOAR runs trips every weekend: ice skating, movies, etc. There are also tons of festivals around town: Toad Suck Daze Festival got rave reviews from several people, especially catching toads in the creeks to race! Students are never short of activities on campus or around town.

Food is excellent; they’re highly ranked on several lists. It’s all locally run, not a corporation. Students can – and do! – bring in recipes from home, and they get a cake on their birthday. They periodically bring out food carts: gyros, soft pretzels, etc. Tuesday Talks are held in the dining hall, bringing in people to talk about what jobs they do and how they got there.

Hendrix tunnel 1

A pedestrian tunnel with music and lights; if you know the secret code to tap the sensors, you can make it play specific songs — you need 2 people, 1 at each end!

Odyssey is their signature program, started in 2005. All students participate, not just the few who can fit it in. It’s integrated, connected to the classroom, and goes on the transcript (Research and Internships). They provide over $400,000 in support (not including study abroad). Students start with a course called Engaged Citizens and then must complete at least 3 of the 6 categories (a handful graduate each year having completed all 6):

  • Artistic Creativity: opportunities are spread across spectrum to produce something. There has to be a publicly-viewed product at the end.
  • Hendrix art 2

    Their art complex is extensive with 3 buildings. They offer everything ranging from ceramics to sculpture to woodworking

    Undergraduate Research: disciplinarily based. One professor does research on ants (social organization, etc). Students can get Odyssey credit if they do a public presentation such as a conference (even on campus).

  • Global Awareness: study abroad but can be domestic (did Somali community work)
  • Service to the World: at least 30 hours of volunteer or civic engagement (work on a campaign, animal shelter)
  • Professional and Leadership Development: They have a partnership with Heifer International (headquartered in AR) for leadership, global awareness,
  • Special projects:

“The secret sauce is reflection,” said the Odyssey Director. “You can’t just do the thing. You have to THINK about the thing. We have a lot of failed internships … they completed it fine, but it turns out that this isn’t what they want to do! If you have to present it, you have to think about it first.”

Hendrix gazebo“I’m struck by how earnest students are here and how hard working. It’s a great combination. They aren’t just falling back on being smart. They’re engaged… not that that’s 100% true across the board, but I don’t really find negative experiences with kids not wanting to be here,” said one of the professors. Academics are good across the board, but pre-Med and sciences seem to be particularly good here, including majors in Chemical Physics, Molecular Biology, Health Science, and Neuroscience. “I’ve been challenged almost too much,” said a student. There’s a 3+2 program with physics (at Hendrix) and engineering at WashU, Vanderbilt, and Columbia. can get their . “If they aren’t 100% sure they want to do engineering, it’s a great place to start. Often they think they want engineering and don’t,” said a physics professor.

Hendrix 16Students on the panel were asked about their favorite academic experience:

  • I was in an 8:15 class. People were late or overslept a lot, one in particular. One day, the professor had us call the student on speaker phone and told him we’d wait until he got to class.
  • Zoology: “We had literally thousands of things to memorize. All bio majors have to take it, usually in sophomore year. I just about quit college. I spent hours in the lab. I would sleep there. I eked out a C and am proud of that. The next summer, I found that I could identify all the shells on the beach during a family vacation. I thought I got nothing out of the class, but realized that I remembered so much.
  • Advanced Cell Bio: “The lab was the most challenging thing I’ve done. We had to think critically and design our own lab. We also learned how to read scientific journals.”
  • “I spent a semester in Oxford studying Tolkien and Lewis.”
  • “The school takes the advising process seriously.” The first year advising is sort of random to mix it up a little. They get training. Teach an Explorations class.

Hendrix quad 1What makes this a place to be unique:

  • I came out of my shell. Now it’s cool to tell people I write fiction.
  • This campus has spaces where things can happen. “I’m a queer person of color and I’m here. Like any campus there are issues, but there’s a willingness to check themselves, to realize they aren’t ready to talk about it, to want to learn. There are also a ton of alternative spaces on campus where students can be who they are. They may not be that visible, but they’re there. You can also occupy multiple spaces at once.”

 

© 2017

 

 

 

Catholic University of America

The Catholic University of America (visited 9/13/16)

cua-5“I assumed it was going to be really, really Catholic here, but after I enrolled I learned that it’s as Catholic as you want it to be. I was committed to another school before I came here, but it’s really friendly. It’s why I came,” said one of the students I spoke with. Religion is there if you want it. Attendance is never required at any of the daily masses, but students do have to take 3-4 theology classes.

cua-basilica-2

The Basilica

CUA is the only Papal Charter school in the US. The National Basilica borders campus (and although it gets used quite a bit by students and the university, it is not university-owned or on university property). A vast majority (80% or more) of students are Catholic. The student population is 65% white and 55% female. They have a fairly sizable Hispanic population. Other forms of diversity were harder to figure out. I couldn’t get statistics on socio-economic diversity, and when I asked about groups for LGBTQ students, I was told, “there are some unrecognized (unofficial) groups. We’re accepting but we stick close to the message and mission of the church,” the rep told me.

CUA sits in Brookland which is DC’s “Little Rome.” The neighborhood has gone through quite a bit of change in the last several years, with more stores, apartments, etc going up. The Red Line Brookland stop gives students easy access to anything in DC and beyond; they’re only 3 stops to Union Station (Amtrak).

cua-student-cntr

The student center

Freshmen are all assigned to Learning Communities for their First Year Experience; they take 2 classes each semester as a cohort in order to build camaraderie. Generally they take English and Philosophy (classical) in the first semester, then another philosophy (more contemporary) and theology in the second semester. “The theology class is more like a well-rounded view, teaching what different groups believe. It’s really cool and different from the Catholic school taught us,” said one student who was had gone to Catholic schools her whole life.

Things that surprised the students I spoke to were:

  • Every night, there’s something to do. There are so many events. Trips are offered every Saturday: this weekend we went to Annapolis. There’s ice skating, Nats games, $5 Broadway plays, pumpkin patches, they’ll rent out a movie theater so we saw Mockingjay for $5, Six Flags. Even on weekdays, they’re always catering events, clubs will run things, whatever. You can’t get bored here.
  • Campus is big enough to meet new people but I’ll still always see people I know. People are always talking to each other; it’s impossible to keep to yourself here.

cua-2The classes they’ve liked the best are:

  • Media and Rhetoric: The prof met with me on a Sunday after Odyssey day (admitted student day). Once I was here, he was always checking in on how I was transitioning, etc. It was nice that someone was looking out for me. I’m now minoring in Political Rhetoric: when and how we say things, not just what we say. He’s the connection to my internship doing digital marketing strategizing.
  • Intro to Am. Government: My prof used examples from DC and we’d go to monuments or historical places to connect what we were learning. It helped put all the pieces together.
cua-architecture-int-2

Part of the Architecture studios; all students get their own work space

Politics is the largest major with a lot of sub-categories under that (including Political Rhetoric). They also have other amazing, unusual programs including:

cua-law-school-lawn

The Law School Lawn

There’s plenty to do on campus, including 21 DIII sports. Football, basketball, women’s lax, and FH pull in the most fans. The Law School Lawn is a popular spot for concerts, other activities, and informal gatherings. There’s a parking lot under the lawn, “another way we go green and make the most of space,” said the tour guide. Juniors and Seniors can bring cars, but it’s almost prohibitively expensive to park. Between that and the metro stop on the edge of campus, there’s not really any reason to have a car. It’s easy to get off campus when they want to branch out: “There are SO many opportunities in DC!” said all the students I spoke to. Students like both the academic and social opportunities ranging from internships to free museums to concerts at Verizon Center (and plenty other places!).

cua-dorm-quad

One of the dorm quads

Freshmen and sophomores must live on campus unless they live at home within 25 miles. After that, they can stay but housing is not guaranteed. In addition to traditional RAs, all dorms have a Resident Minister, a position held by a student to facilitate spiritual and religious activities. One of the students would like the university to spend money on Upperclassman housing/apartments. There are currently 2 suite-style dorms for upperclassmen but there should be more. However, they did just put in a new 504-bed res hall on the north side of campus. There’s also a new student center and new student lounge.

cua-music

The Music School

Other expansions on campus include changes in the undergrad divisions. Theology, business, and social work had been departments but are now schools in their own rights. The school also has recently received a $27M donation to name the business school and got a grant from NASA “somewhere north of $15M” to do research.

CUA only takes the Common Application. Big cross-over schools tend to be Loyola, St. Joe’s, American, GW, College Park, Scranton, and UDel, Admissions is Test-optional but they will take them if submitted. They un-weight GPAs to a strict 4.0, and will also rank the class strength at their own high school; that gets factored into admission and scholarships. In addition to normal sorts of academic scholarships, there are special ones for Catholic and Legacy students.

© 2016

Hamilton College

HAMILTON COLLEGE (visited 7/24/15)

Canons, which (legend has it) were smuggled somehow out of Cuba a long time ago

Canons, which (legend has it) were smuggled somehow out of Cuba a long time ago

“I would like students to know that if you aren’t sure who you are or what you want to do, this is the perfect place for you! There’s so much to try, and it doesn’t matter if you switch in and out of things. The friends you made will still be there for you,” said the tour guide, one of the best I’ve ever had. If she’s any indication of the students at Hamilton, this is a warm, wonderful, embracing place to live and learn. This is a selective school, accepting approximately 25% of applicants; they’re definitely looking for students who are going to be open to trying a lot of things and getting involved in their own education.

~Hamilton 7Hamilton has an open curriculum to allow students to explore areas of interest. “I got to study a lot of areas I never would have had time to study otherwise like Africana Studies,” said the guide. However, they do have several general requirements that they have to fulfill such as 3 PE classes, 3 writing intensive classes, and 1 quantitative analysis class. “They’re easy to fulfill, and they don’t have to be done in any particular field. I’m not a math person, so my quantitative class was filled by taking Sociological theory.” The writing intensive classes are “hard to avoid. I’ve taken 3 in a semester sometimes.” The school also places a big emphasis on communications fulfilled in a large part by their focus on writing across the curriculum. They’re also one of only a couple schools to have an Oral Communications Lab to help students with presentations.

Student artwork in the new art building

Student artwork in the new art building

Econ and math are two most popular majors which is unusual at a small liberal arts school. They also have several majors that you don’t normally find at a school of this size, including Geoarchaeology, Chemical Physics, World Politics, and Middle East and Islamic World Studies. Research is popular, as it is at a lot of schools now. About 100 students stay on campus over the summer to research. Many are in the sciences, but not all. “My roommate is co-writing a paper on Faulkner that’s going to get published.” The arts are also big here. They opened a new art center this year; it’s a huge, beautiful building with lots of natural light and plenty of studio space (seniors get their own space). The art museum is across the street and has revolving exhibits.

~Hamilton 3

The quad

Campus is 100% residential. “We’re building a new dorm to take care of that ‘last little bit’,” said the admissions rep. Suites can be coed because the bedrooms themselves are singles. Dorms are clean and comfortable. We went into a freshman quad that had a bedroom, a bathroom, and a large common room. There are also very large doubles.

Dining Hall

Dining Hall

Dining hall food is very good. “They make a great baked mac and cheese!” There are several eating options. The main dining hall has everything you need, including allergy free areas, vegan and vegetarian, etc. The smaller café puts more emphasis on vegan and vegetarian options, and another place has more of the hamburger pizza types of foods. At midnight, this flips to breakfast, so showing up at midnight for pancakes or waffles is a popular thing to do.

The Library

The Library

One of the campus cafes

One of the campus cafes

The town of Clinton is fairly small, but there are stores and restaurants. The school provides shuttles around town, and the college is only about 45 minutes from Syracuse. There are busses to NYC and to the Syracuse airport and Amtrak station at breaks. Generally kids aren’t looking to leave campus all that often. Hamilton is regularly bringing big-name speakers like Hillary Clinton, Aretha Franklin, John Stewart, and Derek Jetter to campus. Greek life isn’t that big but “it’s there if you want it.” Greek housing is no longer provided so there’s no residential separation anymore, and all parties must be open to everyone on campus. Athletic life is relatively popular, but again, “it’s there if you want to participate, but no one cares if you don’t want to.” The gym is integrated right into campus, housed in a large stone building that blends in with all the other buildings. “I had a hard time finding it at first because it doesn’t look anything like one should look like!” said the tour guide. They even have an ice rink right on campus! They also have a 3-story rock-climbing wall (taller than most college walls), and students can get belay-certified in an afternoon. There are outdoor trips every weekend into the Adirondacks such as kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, etc.

~Hamilton 1The majority of students will study off-campus at some point during their undergraduate time. They have 4 Hamilton-run study abroad options (India, China, Spain, and France) and 4 domestic study-away programs including one in the Adirondacks where students live in a cabin and both take classes and do an internship in the Park.

The old Kirkland College arch

The old Kirkland College arch

The Hamilton-Kirkland joint project

The Hamilton-Kirkland joint project

Hamilton, which had been a men’s college, merged with Kirkland college (a women’s college) which was only open for 10 years and was located right across the street. As part of a collaborative project between a Hamilton student (a physics major) and a Kirkland student (Art major), there’s now a stone and metal sculpture in the student center. It’s chained down now, but before it was, there was a way to stand on the ring and by swinging back and forth, get the ring to “ride up” the other cords. Supposedly people got it up to the second floor.

An example of a "Light Side" building

An example of a “Light Side” building

You might hear students using the terminology of “Dark Side” or “Light Side” when referring to parts of campus. “Sometimes my friends think we’ve been sucked into Star Wars or we’re making value judgments or something. We aren’t,” said the tour guide. These names came about because of the architecture more than anything else. The Dark Side is the original Hamilton part of campus (darker brick, etc); the Light Side generally refers to the Kirkland area. “There also seems to be a bit of 2 sides of a personality. The Dark Side seems to be a bit more strict academics; the Light Side is a bit looser, more artistic. The great thing at Hamilton is that you don’t have to choose.”

(c) 2015

Monmouth University

Monmouth University (visited 7/29/13)

~Monmouth wilson hall stairsMonmouth is a private university with about 4400 undergraduates. The main hall on campus is Wilson Hall built in the early 1900s and named for President Wilson who had stayed there during his 1916 campaign for president. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it is surrounded by the Shadow Lawn Estate, modeled after the Gardens of Versailles. Many people will recognized it as Dr. Warbuck’s mansion from Annie. The Guggenheim family “cottage” (mansion) is also on campus and now houses the library and cafe.

~Monmouth fountainMonmouth stresses Experiential Education, required of all students. This can be fulfilled through study abroad, internships, or other similar experiences. Classes are caped at 35 with an average size of 22. The tour guide’s largest classes were 35 in her Gen Ed classes; the smallest had 8. She had transferred from Ramapo (a larger public school) for the hands-on experience and to take advantage of the 5-year BA/MBA program; she’s planning on doing her MBA in Health Care Management. “I like that they make sure we succeed. It’s not survival of the fittest here.”

~Monmouth businessThere are several notable academic areas to point out:

  • There are multiple 5-year Bachelor/Masters programs. Their Social Work (concentrations in International and Community Development or Families and Children) and Software Engineering programs are top ranked.
  • They have a student-run record label!
  • Marine Biology is well-regarded with research opportunities in the Bahamas.
  • The Center for Entrepreneurship. One student started a natural pet treat company and donates 10% of profits to animals for military
  • Their Clinical Lab Science major is unusual. Students can complete concentrations in Cytotechnology or Medical Lab Sciences.
  • Other unusual majors include: Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy, Chemistry: Chemical Physics, Homeland Security, and Fine Arts with concentrations in Creative Writing, Animation, or Graphic Design.
  • They’re starting their nursing program in the fall of 2014 with 25 spots anticipated. Students will need about a 1600 SAT and 3.25 GPA and must write an essay addressing interest.
  • They offer 3 free rides to law school.
  • The art museum has exhibits and studio space.

~Monmouth 4~Monmouth flowersHousing is guaranteed for freshmen, and starting this year, for sophomores as well (a new sophomore residential hall just opened up). A tunnel under the road leads to the residential oval where there’s a 50/50 split between traditional housing and suites, although freshmen tend to be in more standard cinderblock set-ups. Dorms are wired for wifi, but rooms have backup Ethernet hookups. Each room has cable access for students wanting to buy into that system. There is no official Greek housing, but groups can live together on a hall as long as they don’t exceed 15% of space. Most students will opt to live on campus, but there’s plenty of off-campus housing should they choose to move off. Most students living in non-campus housing will need cars or will ride the shuttle into school. Parking costs $300 a year in the assigned lot; it’s first come, first serve.

~Monmouth stud cntrThe Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC) was completely built with donations. They have TV and radio stations inside, student activity offices, and plenty of meeting spaces. There are even special recycling bins; by using them, students win points for iPods and more. Monmouth has a world-class debate team which won a national competition last year. Students are given a calendar of activities when they arrive on campus. “There’s a ton to do on and off campus,” said the tour guide. Big campus traditions include Battle of the Buildings (inter-dorms competition in the fall, Winter Ball (prom-like dance), and Spring Fling. Off-campus trips, include weekend shuttles to the beach, require a $5 reservation to hold a the spot, but they get it back when they get on the bus.

~Monmouth mascot~Monmouth hawkAdmitted students tend to have a B+ average and have about a 1600 SAT or 24 ACT. Crossover colleges are often Scranton, Charleston, Iona, TCNJ, Rowan, and Drew. About 65 students are admitted to the Honors program during the application process. They are housed together and have access to specially designed classes that are often thematic and emphasize creativity. Students need to keep a 3.5 in the major and 3.4 overall to stay in the program. The Honors Program has about a 94% retention rate.

© 2014

Post Navigation