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Archive for the tag “Computer Forensics”

Widener University (Take 2)

Widener Old Main 2

Old Main, the original building when this was Pennsylvania Military College

Widener University (visited 2/25/19)

(Click HERE to see notes and pictures from my previous visit on 11/20/15)

What makes students a good fit for Widener?

  • “We’re told by co-op employers that our students have grit and no sense of entitlement. There’s a drive that pushes them.”
  • “Kids come in with so much on their plate – but they keep going. They’re all passionate about something. They’re resourceful and innovative. They want to try new things and to connect.”
  • “We’re a smallish campus and a family style environment. People aren’t anonymous. You know the groundskeeper, the president, the person serving you in the dining hall, the student next to you in class.”
  • “We’re plugged in here. We’ll do wellness checks.”
Widener mascot

One of the Pride mascots (female, male, and cub)

“Student success is at the core of everything we do,” said an admissions rep. This ranges from a 3-year residency requirement (“data points say that students are more successful if they live on campus”) to experiential education “which is harder to find than you think!” Some students have never engaged in diverse environments, dealt with communities struggling with hunger insecurity, etc. They work with students to appreciate civic engagement for what it is and deal with it as career preparation. Students deal with privilege and power on a variety of levels.

Widener 1Widener uses their location to their advantage; some people worry about safety in that area, but “No one talks about all the rich things that happen in terms of service. All major cities have stuff. If you go to a rural campus, there are rural issues. If you go to an urban campus, there are urban issues. We talk to kids about being savvy about where you are. Because of all the lights, it’s like Yankee Stadium in the middle of a game. There are more than 100 cameras. There are tons of ways to keep campus safe.”

Widener hospitality cooking lab

One of the Hospitality lab/classrooms – the top slides back to expose stovetops

Widener students are 20% more likely to participate in research, internships, and high impact practices through Civic Engagement, hands-on education, Co-ops, and more. In the Philly region, Drexel and Widener are co-op powerhouses with two significant differences:

Widener tv studio 1

One of the student-run tv studios in the communications department

Although I had visited Widener several years earlier, I was glad to revisit and see many of the departments I hadn’t before; they did an amazing job getting us the academic facilities and talking to professors who were passionate and clearly care about the students. I can see why students do so well here! A professor told us that “one of our competitors on the accreditation team said, ‘We say we care; you guys really care’.”

“This is the place where you have dinner at the President’s House. You get that up close and personal. More than 1000 students have dinner there every year: she invites sports teams, Bonner’s Program, etc. The dogs come out and the pool is open.”

Widener computer forensics

One of the Computer Forensics labs

We asked the students on the panel, “Why should we send students here? What’s appealing?”

  • “During a revisitation day, two science professors sought me out. I’m 1 of 7 biochem
  • “It’s the only school in the area that goes to the European Simulation. It’s one of the most life changing things I’ve done.”
  • “Family and Growth. I’ve seen myself grow compared to my friends at other colleges. You can create your own legacy and leave your mark.”
  • “I run track and miss random classes for meets, but it’s easy to work with professors to make sure I keep up.”
  • “They’ll work with you to match you with internships because professors have connections. They have no problem helping out and linking students with their contacts.”
  • “I came for the accelerated PT program. I’ll starts grad classes in senior year to shave off a year of my graduate studies, but I keep my scholarship as a senior.”
Widener geology lab

A geology lab

With 3,000 full-time undergrads and 3,000 graduate students, Widener provides what many larger schools offer while giving students a smaller college feel and personal attention with an average of 25 students per class. “It’s a blessing and a curse because we’re put in with larger institutions, so we get hit with rankings.”

Student panelists said that their favorite classes were:

  • Genetics: “my research prof teaches it. She’s helped with med school, MCATs, shaping me as a person. This taught me resilience.”
  • “I don’t have a specific favorite, but I’ve taken 4 classes with one professor. He embodies the involvement faculty have =. He checks in with how I’m doing. He knows I ski.”
  • Constitutional Law: “The Prof engages without PowerPoints for 3 hours. I’m learning the same things as Villanova Law students.”
  • “I had one professor in fall of freshman year who helped me find my internship. We got close because I was always missing his class for meets so I was working a lot with him.”
  • Business Law: “I want to go into that. I took it with a professor who’s a lawyer. I learned things I could apply in the field.”
  • Environmental Engineering: “I had the professor for 3 classes and did research with her.”
Widener nursing 1

The nursing building

The largest major is nursing: about 200 of the incoming 750-800 freshmen declare that major. Overall, they have strong Health programs (especially PT) and are starting OTD and PA programs. They accepted 16 into next year’s PT accelerated 3+3 cohort: to be offered a spot, students need 570 math SAT (1200 composite) or 24 math ACT (24 composite). If they don’t meet that but are admissible to Widener, they’re offered a 4+3. PT students work in a pro-bono clinic and complete in-patient, out-patient, and 1 choice internship; some do sports, pediatrics, even abroad (currently in Belize or Italy; Costa Rica and China are potential future possibilities).

Widener library 1

The library

All majors can study abroad: “going abroad should not delay your education.” Students can also study away in the US. “There’s a diversity of options without even leaving the North America: HBCUs, sea grants, French-speaking in Quebec, Spanish speaking in PR.” Widener owns property in Costa Rica, often used for short-term abroad programs, research projects, etc.

Over 90% of students live on campus in a variety of options including gender-neutral. Housing is guaranteed all 4 years and required for 3 unless they live with family within 25 miles. All students can have cars; permits are $230/year. There are 2 nearby train stations (Chester and Swarthmore) and buses to get around town.

NCAA athletes (23 DIII teams) make up 25-30% of the freshman class. “Academics and graduating are the most important. That being said, we hate losing more than we love winning.” Just over half of the athletes made the honor roll, and athletes are the highest retaining cohort.

Widener has been named among the top 150 most affordable colleges (out of 1700 researched by LendEDU) for freshmen with financial need. The “Average Joe” gets about $26,000 in merit aid.

© 2019

 

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Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University (visited 9/25/18)

UVU 1This is an interesting, “Dual Mission” institution that combines a Community College with a full Bachelor/Master/PhD granting university, giving all types of students access to programs from hands-on to theoretical. They serve students who already know what they want all the way to those students who may need to prove themselves before moving into a Bachelors if that’s right for them.

UVU fountain 2The university started to fill a need for specific training during WWII; it is now the largest institution of Higher Education in the state with close to 37,000 undergrads. “There have been lots of growing pains, but we have figured it out, and we’re able to adapt to meet the needs of students.” UVU’s trade programs (44 certificate programs and 62 AA/AS degrees) are nationally ranked, but they also have robust Bachelors and Masters programs. They’re particularly known for providing real life, practical engagement (ie, students in the Mediation class worked in courtrooms).

UVU students fountainStudents are supported in all aspects, including with good accessibility Services. One student said, “I know I’m going to be successful. I know that I’m cared for and that I’ll be helped and can help other people as well.” The tour guide said that she has loved the opportunities, friends, and scholarships here. At one point, she went through a hard time at home that made it almost impossible to stay, but the profs worked with her to help her catch up. She said that this is an inclusive, safe place for all types of students: “I think it’s more accepting here. There are safe zones, houses for students who maybe can’t stay home anymore.” Some of her friends transferred here because they felt more comfortable.

UVU library

The library

A big drawback (really the only one I can think of) is that there is absolutely no campus housing at this point, although there is talk of up to 1500 students being housed over the new performing arts center when that’s built. This college, despite amazing academics, would be a hard sell for many of my students from the east coast because of this. However, we passed by a lot of housing complexes directly surrounding the university, man of which are within easy walking distance. Costs are highly affordable (and there are some housing scholarships); rent can range from about $180 – $450 depending single or double rooms and extras offered at the complexes. There’s a free service for students to get paired up with an apartment that meets their needs (costs, etc), and students get free UTA passes; buses come every 7 minutes. There’s also a new transit systems (also free for students ) running between cities.

UVU mascotNo housing doesn’t mean that there’s no social life. Athletics are HUGE here. Their basketball team recently was highlighted in “Toughest 24” after they played Duke and Kentucky back-to-back. There’s also a lot of turnout for soccer and volleyball. One of the campus traditions is for students to rush the field after a win.

UVU outdoor adventures

The Outdoor Adventure Center

The Provo/Utah Valley area (just south of SLC) has 60,000+ college students (Brigham Young is the other major university nearby); Utah Lake sits on one side of the city, and the mountains surround the area. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and more are popular; UVU runs a large, active Outdoor Center for students where they can run supplies or sign up for trips. “Sometimes people practice paddle-boarding in the fountain,” said the tour guide.

UVU sci bldg in

The science center atrium with a pendulum. Tradition says that if a student sees one of the pegs get knocked over, they’ll pass their exams.

They bring in 6,000 traditional-age freshmen each year. More than 80% of students self-identify as LDS, and therefore the 4-year graduation rate is low; the 6-year bounces up to about the national average which makes sense when considering that many students take time off for their religious mission work. Incoming students can also defer for up to 7 semesters for military service, religious missions, medical leave, etc so it’s not uncommon to see older non-traditional students.

UVU mntsThe campus is modern with large interconnected buildings so students can get from one end to the other without going outside. Signage is obvious within the buildings so it’s not difficult to get around or know where you are. A new Performing Arts complex (with at least 6 stages) will be completed by spring 2019. Their Center for Autism is the only one of its type: they saw a need to train teachers to teach students on the spectrum so they built a state-of-the-art center for education majors. The Health Sciences building looks like a hospital to help students acclimate to working in that environment. They even have a cadaver lab!

UVU automotive

The Automotive lab

The tour guide’s largest class had 160 students; her smallest was 15. Her roommate had one with 6. They offer some highly unusual programs including Mechatronics Engineering Technology, Digital Audio, Emergency Services Administration, Indian Affairs Administration (within PoliSci), Computer Forensics and Security, Forensic Chemistry (within Chemistry), Ballroom Dance (within Dance – ballet and modern dance also available), and Geomatics.

UVU glass panels 2

Stained glass panels in the library

Tuition is very reasonable, and students can declare Utah state residency after living there for a consecutive 365 days (yes, they have to stay over the summer). Some of their scholarships give a 1-year tuition waiver, and then they can qualify for in-state tuition.

© 2018

Marshall University

Marshall University (visited 4/12/12)

When I originally decided to go to Marshall, I was sure that I wasn’t going to be impressed, but I figured that I was going to be so close, I might as well see it. I was going to arrive late in the day because of other college visits, so I planned on stopping in the Visitors Center (the fancy term for Admissions Office that more colleges seem to be adopting), introduce myself to the NC rep, and then walk around campus a bit on my own. Instead, I found three talkative students in the main reception area who were more than willing to engage in conversation as I waited for the Assistant Director of Admissions to meet me for our appointment. Even though only one was “on duty,” they all joined in the conversation. They were articulate and positive about the school without “gushing” or seeming disingenuous. They told me what they were doing and why they chose Marshall. One is Junior nursing major; he was proud that Marshall had the highest passing rate in WV on the Boards. Another student was a Junior psych major and she said she loved the classes she was taking. The third specifically talked about how school spirit is big on campus; Homecoming and football games got special mention.

The woman from admissions spent a great deal of time with me about the university, including pointing out highlights on a map before sending me on my way to walk around campus after the office closed at 5. The fairly compact campus, occupying 4 blocks by 4 blocks, is a manageable size for a medium-sized university. Huntington’s official “downtown, filled with movies, restaurants, coffee shops, and more, is technically four blocks from campus but there are certainly a lot between campus and what the city would call “downtown.” I was impressed at how seamlessly the campus was integrated into the surrounding part of town while still maintaining an attractive traditional campus filed with lots of brick buildings as well as open green spaces. The quad, although it had a lot of grass, was not the traditional flat, grass-filled quad. Instead, it was a rolling area with a lot of trees, bushes, flowers, and brick walkways. A couple statues (one of John Marshall) and sculptures were in the area as well as a lot of benches and other seating areas, tables, and chairs. People were out on the quad interacting extensively. Students were using the seating areas to study as well as socialize, and people were talking to each other as they walked across campus (I saw very few people plugged into their music). Students were dressed in a variety of ways; it didn’t seem like there was a “type” of kid at Marshall – some were dressed up, some were in athletic gear, some in the stereotypical college sweatpants and t-shirt getups.

Marshall is the second largest public university in WV, but with 10,000 undergrads, it’s half the size of WVU. This is a largely residential campus, but not entirely since dorm space just doesn’t allow it at this point. All students who come from outside a 50-mile radius MUST live on campus for freshman and sophomore years, although there is talk of reducing that to a 30-mile radius. The freshman residence halls are only two years old – and each room has a private bathroom. They aren’t even suites, so students only share the bathroom with a single roommate! The upperclassmen halls are suites with either two or four single bedrooms, a bath, and a common space. They do have two large dorms called the Twin Towers which are 8 or 10 floors high. Only one residence hall on campus is all-women; the rest are coed. Freshman are allowed to have cars on campus; parking is accessible and costs $150/semester on a surface lot and a little more in the garage.

The Forensic Chemistry and the Computer Forensics are unique programs on campus. Education is huge; Marshall started as a Teacher’s College, so they have kept the program going strong. Their Business program is Internationally Accredited, which is rare. They have a new Engineering facility, as well, including some new programs that will be coming along shortly. Their Fine Arts/Communications (including Journalism) programs are also worth mentioning.

In order to attract more non-WV students, they have the Horizon Scholarship for out-of-state students who meet minimum requirements; this brings the price to about what an in-state student would pay (and I was told that this makes it cheaper than what a Penn resident would pay for Penn State). They also have the Yeager Scholarship which is a full ride: students need a 30+ on the ACT and need to fill out the application on the website by 12/15. They do not need a nomination. In terms of admissions, they basically look at GPA and test scores. There is no required essay. They do have an Honors College; applicants are invited based on their application. Generally, Honors College students have at least a 3.5 GPA and 26+ ACT scores.

The students who thrive at the college tend to be involved and who stand out; they also want attention in the positive sense: they want to talk to professors, they want to be able to ask questions, they want to discuss things. Marshall is invested in making sure that their students succeed at the college. The Student Resource Center, in addition to providing resources similar to those at peer institutions, also will track the freshman, and if they see that students are floundering, will reach out to them to offer help and set out plans for success (tutoring, study schedules, etc). They also provide excellent resources for students with specialized learning needs (ADHD, dyslexia, etc).

(c) 2012

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