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Archive for the tag “Coastal Studies”

Hood College

Hood College (visited 11/9/18)

Hood chapel

The Chapel

Every year, Hood holds “May Madness,” a fun end-of the year festival on campus (with food, games, crab feast, prizes)… and every year, it takes place in April (despite its name).

This is a quintessentially pretty campus full of brick buildings. Relatively compact, “it’ll take you about 10 minutes to get across campus if you’re dragging your feet,” said one of the reps. Even the artsy downtown area of Frederick is accessible, sitting 3 blocks from campus. Frederick is like an extension of campus. Students do a lot of service; the hospital allows some parking in their garage; students and staff have a garden to donate food to local places. “There’s a real shop-local mentality here.” Lots of guest speakers like Bill Nye and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar come to the art center, and students get discounted tickets for the diversity series to hear people like Lavern Cox and LeVar Burton.

Hood quad 4Started as a women’s college (it was the counterpart to the all-male Mercersburg Academy), it went fully coed by 2003; male commuter students were allowed to enroll in classes in the early 70s. Starting in 2019, there will be a 3-year residency requirement (it’s now 2 years) once the new dorm goes opens in fall of 2019. The students who move off campus often live in apartments within a few blocks of campus. On-campus food is great! There’s a lot of variety and the dining room is spacious. Freshmen get “All you can eat” swipes for the dining hall which is helpful if they just want to grab a coffee or piece of fruit. “It helps them figure out how much they’re really going to eat without them feeling like they have to use-it-or-lose-it,” said a rep.

Hood Pergola 1

The interior of the Pergola which benches, bird feeders, and the poles that you shouldn’t “split”!

The campus is split roughly into academic and residential sides. Theirs is a gorgeous wisteria-covered Pergola in the residential quad; it marks the physical center of campus. Tradition says that students can’t “split the poles” – if they’re walking with friends, they have to walk on the same side rather than split apart to go around the poles. If they do, it’s said that they will not be friends after graduation. There is also a large Chapel on campus dating back to when Hood was affiliated with the Reformed Church, but they are no longer religiously affiliated. The chaplain, however, is active and well loved on campus, doing lots of interfaith work, holding “get-to-know-you” activities, meditation, and generally supporting the whole campus. “She’s here to help figure out who students want to be. Programming is very student focused and intended to pull people together when things happen.

Hood fountain 2There are all the typical majors you would expect at a small liberal arts school with 1400 undergrads, but they do offer interesting interdisciplinary things and accelerated programs – although one rep said, “I’d love to see us develop some “buzz” majors like forensics.

  • They are rolling out more concentrations in business. Many students start with Sports Management until they realize how competitive it is. It’s not unusual to see several of the athletes (who make up almost 50% of the student body!) think about this major at some point.
  • Hood quad 2Nursing is direct-entry with 32 spots, so they recommend applicants use the Early deadline. They’re looking to double that but they need more space. This is a full 4-year program but they’ll take some transfers as room allows; however, 3 years is the least amount of time they can complete this in. Campus is right next to Frederick Memorial Hospital making clinicals easy and accessible.
  • They have a new 5-year BA/MBA, bringing their dual-degree programs to 4 along with an Environmental Bio, Info Tech, and Psych/Counseling. They’re planning on adding more such as a CS/Cyber-security. Students interested in this have to apply to the program during sophomore year and maintain certain GPA requirements.
  • Some of their interdisciplinary programs include Art & Archaeology (with Archeo, Art Education, or Art History concentrations), Coastal Studies, Criminology & Deliquency, and Public History.
  • Students who major in a language must either study abroad or living in one of the Language houses where students agree to speak the target language while in the house and at least 1 native speaker lives there. These are currently housed in duplexes on the edge of campus, but they will be moved into wings of the new dorm building. These students often double major or will minor in Global Studies. Many go on to teach or work in Embassies.

Hood 1There seems to be a large global/world focus among the student body. Hood is the most racially diverse private school in the state. Last year’s incoming class had 51% of students self-identifying themselves as underrepresented students. “It helps that we have scholarships for high-achieving underrepresented students,” said a rep. The President is a big proponent of diversity, and they have a new Director of Inclusion. “There was a bit of kick-back because he’s white, but he’s been great. He’s gay and very involved in community,” said a rep. Currently, only 3-4% of the students are international, but the new VP for enrollment has a plan to expand that.

Hood mainMerit scholarships are a percentage of tuition so they go up when tuition goes up. Five full tuition scholarships are awarded each year. Students accepted into the honors program awards an extra $2000. The admissions staff recommends qualified students to the Director of the program who makes the final decisions. In this case, the writing submitted by students becomes highly important because there are no exams; classes are all taught seminar style, more than the rest of the classes. Honors students are expected to complete a service component including working a semester at a non-profit aligned with the major.

© 2018

Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College (visited 7/30/18)

Bowdoin quadI haven’t found many schools that have annual Lobster Bakes. Several people I talked to listed this as one of their favorite traditions: “The entire campus goes out to the field where Dining Services have steamed 1,500 lobsters. You’re getting an intro to Maine but also an intro to this really cool community!” said one of the reps.

Bowdoin 7The Orientation Trip was another event that got rave reviews from several students. “Everyone sleeps together in the field house the first night, then they depart on their trips the next morning,” explained one student. There are multiple options for trips. One student loved it because she said, “If I backpacked for 40 miles, I can do anything.”

Bowdoin 10The sense of community is developed immediately starting with this orientation, and of course, admissions make deliberate decisions based on fit. Their supplemental essay asks students to choose one line from “The Offer of the College” and write up to 250 words about it. It talks about what they think is meaningful. “If you don’t want to do these things, maybe this is the wrong school for you,” said the admissions Rep. “We’re looking for curious people, who are looking at the world and trying to solve problems, who love learning. We want you to have a vibrant intellectual live but also an equally vibrant life outside the classroom.”

Bowdoin 2“I think Bowdoin is a remarkably diverse community considering where we are,” said one student on the panel. “It’s a pretty white state, but this stands out as a place that draws people from all over, all colors and religions. I thought my high school was diverse, but this place blows me away.” About 35% of the incoming class are American students who self-identify as POC. “We don’t want to say that we’re perfect,” said a rep. “There’s always room for growth. We want this to be representative of the world around us.”

Bowdoin House

One of the campus houses.

Because of it’s relatively rural location, a lot happens on campus. Freshmen are housed together (including in suites which have tiny bedrooms, but the sitting room makes up for that), and all first-year students are affiliated with one of the Campus Houses (about half the sophomores live in one of Campus Houses which replaced Greek Life). Affiliated students get first-dibs on the activities thrown by that house, although all students are welcome at any house on a space-available basis. They got rid of Greek life since that wasn’t inclusive enough; the Campus House system is inclusive and provides a great deal of social life as well as a way to integrate the first-year students into campus.

Bowdoin stu cntr

The Student Center

Almost 1/3 of students are athletes. The big athletic center is about a 10-minute walk from the main campus, and there are some townhouses near there for upperclassmen. There seems to be a fairly robust athletic culture on campus, both for participants and spectators. The student union is in what was the old field house (and you can tell!). It’s an interesting building with a variety of spaces, including different places to eat. The Thursday and Saturday SuperSnacks (open 10pm-1am) were brought up by a couple students. Food overall gets high marks (one student said it was a 10). The Holiday meals, particularly Thanksgiving, were mentioned more than once: “the meals are delicious meals and the community is invited. It makes me happy to see families come with kids.”

Bowdoin mascot

Their Polar Bear mascot

Getting off campus is easy, as well. The Outing Club is active and popular, not surprising because of the location in Maine. For a one-time $50 outdoor activity fee, student have access to over 150 trips per year and equipment. For students wanting a bigger city, buses run into Portland.

Bowdoin theaterOne of the students on the panel said, “This is a place where we don’t compete with each other. Students don’t ask each other what they got or say, Well, I beat you.” This is shown in the alumni network as well. They have one of the most well-connected alumni bases in the world; they want to hire Bowdoin grads. Classes incorporate collaborative projects; for example, math classes may have students list who they worked with on the problems because they want people who can work together.

Bowdoin 12There are distribution requirements in five broad areas with lots of choice. Additionally, everyone takes a First-Year Seminar (this does NOT fulfill one of the 5 areas) capped at 16 people. One of the panelists took Women at War; another took Class and Identity. “It was nice to have a space where you don’t feel intimidated by upperclassmen.”

Government and Legal Studies is their most popular and well-known program with about 20% of students majoring in that. For a school this size, they offer an amazing array of unusual programs, some of which you’d be hard-pressed to find even at some large universities:

Bowdoin 13For a school of this size, I was surprised at how large some of the classes were. Although class size averages 16 students, all the students I spoke to had large classes up to 70 students (Intro to Africana Studies). Two said their Intro to Psych was their largest (45 and 50) and Economics (40). However, they also had classes of 4 (Intro to Chinese) and 9 (Historical Simulations).

Admissions is test-optional. “Test taking a great skill, but it doesn’t tell me how you interact with peers, see the world, overcome problems, how you write or create – it tells me nothing about who you are as a person.” They’re definitely curious about the people who are applying and want them to use the application as a means to convey who they are. “Don’t use your essay to tell us what you want to do when you graduate. It’s important and part of who you are, but we’ll get that in other parts of your application. We want to know about who you are RIGHT NOW.”

A couple last fun facts:

  • Longfellow and Hawthorne are alumni (and the library is named after them).
  • The campus (or at least several of the buildings!) is haunted.

© 2018

East Carolina University


ECU pirate and quad

ECU mascot statue and the quad

Coming into Greenville for an hour in any direction, there’s nothing but cow farms and cotton fields, but within town, there’s a lot to do. I was impressed with the small-city feel with stores, hospitals, their Greenway (Riverwalk), etc. ECU was founded in 1907 as a teacher’s college and became a comprehensive university in 1967. It’s now the third largest public school in the state with 21,000 undergrads (28,000 total). Greenville has a year-round population of 80,000 residents; town-gown relations are strong with lots of purple and gold displayed in stores around town.

ECU has the largest nursing program in the state, but they also have several other programs of note including Hospitality, Interior Design, Coastal Studies, Animation, and the brand new Forensic Science program. Sciences are strong with specialized opportunities such as the Cadaver Lab and the telescope in the physics building. They have a total of about 100 majors across 10 Academic colleges. The average class size is 28. Some of the upper level classes in specialized majors have 2 or 3 kids; the largest classes have about 200.

ECU library arch

Library Arch; chimes sound when motion is detected

The average for Fall 2013 admitted freshmen was a 3.2 unweighted GPA, and a 1080 SAT (M/CR) or 23 ACT (with writing). They’ll superscore both SAT and ACT. UNC Schools require: 4 English, 4 Math (1 higher than Algebra 2), 3 Science, 2 Social Studies (including US History), 2 language. The application opens in September; the final deadline is 3/15, but they release decisions on a rolling basis within that time. The rep strongly encourages students applying for popular majors and out-of-state students to apply early so space doesn’t run out (UNCs cap out-of-state population at 18%). If students apply early in the year and are denied, they can request a reevaluation if they meet any deficiencies (ie, they didn’t have the additional math class, etc).

Students interested in scholarships must apply by 12/1. If applicants meet the minimum criteria of a 3.5 unwighted or 4.0 weighted GPA plus 1200 SAT/27 ACT, the name will be sent to Honor Scholars. If they get in, they get a scholarship equal to in-state tuition. There is a limited number of EC Scholars who receive a $45,000 scholarship plus $5,000 stipend to study abroad. Additionally, there are 4 Early Assurance seats to the Medical School, 2 seat for the PT program, 1 to Audiology, OT, and Nursing, and 10 Business Scholars seats.

ECU dorm quad

Quad in a dorm unit



All incoming freshmen are required to live on campus; there are both hall style and suite style dorms (all with AC). Several Special Program Dorms are available including First-year Experience, Honors, Leadership, and LLCs. Off-campus housing is easy to find; they host housing fairs during the spring. Transportation around town is easy with the largest university transit system in the state (this is included in student fees) with multiple routes all over campus and Greenville. Freshman can bring cars, but “parking is a commodity.”

ECU quad

Main Quad

There’s plenty to do on campus with 400 student organizations, including Greek life, an underwater hockey club, and Pirate Club (booster club). School spirit is high: the air is “electric” during football games, said our tour guide. There are 8 men’s and 9 women’s DI sports. Club sports include rugby, bass fishing, scuba diving, and ski/snowboarding. ROTC is available on campus; their program includes a Virtual Shooting Lab.

© 2014

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