campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “cross-registration”

Case Western Reserve University

CASE WESTERN RESERVE (visited 4/11 and 1/13)

~CWR bikes and quadOne of the admissions reps described Case Western students this way: “Every place says that their kids are nice. . . . it’s bizarre here.” So nice, in fact, that students regularly take up the Million Minute Community Service Challenge.

~CWR 5Students are also very competitive, very smart, and very demanding on themselves. Many double or even triple major. “Our kids are focused but not so set in their one path that they aren’t willing to try other things.” However, about 2/3 do end up graduating in the division in which they entered, although not necessarily the same major. Nursing is the exception to this with about 95% continuing.

CWR students

Students collaborating in a Business School lounge.

Students can be creative and innovative here: they design, fail, break things, and try again. The school isn’t setting kids up to fail. Often, this is the first time they’re with a lot of people who were in the top of their classes in high school but learn quickly that this is ok.

~CWR dorms and track

New residential area surrounding some of the athletic facilities

This is a big campus for 4500 undergraduates (about ¼ of whom are from Ohio); there are actually more graduate and professional students than undergrads, but CWR is actively increasing research opportunities for undergrads who can start as early as the first year. Case actively looks for ways to “expand” campus by encouraging students to utilize all the wonderful things at their doorstep in the city of Cleveland. Campus borders University Circle, a renowned cultural, artistic, medical, and educational center.

Case’s SAGES program (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) includes 5 semester-long, writing-intensive seminars. These classes, limited to 17 students, include 3 interdisciplinary classes over the first two years, 1 class in the student’s major, and a capstone project. Students can no longer test out of their writing requirement based on AP scores, and faculty say that this helps with writing skills. The content and sequence is “integrated and intentional. Students are well-coached and well-practiced in skills employers want.”

~CWR 7The first seminar (taken in the first year) focuses on skill building by providing extensive feedback about writing, speaking, engagement, etc. Students have several options meant to engage them in life of the mind. The built-in “Fourth Hour” includes events scheduled in the institutions around the Circle (Art museum, Natural History museum, etc) so that students take advantage of the region’s cultural capital. Before the end of sophomore year, students also complete 2 University Seminars meant to extend knowledge by exploring topics at a more sophisticated level. They produce longer writing projects and oral presentations showing a more advanced analysis. The Seminar in Major allows them to become facile in disciplinary knowledge and the modes of communication in that discipline. Finally, the Capstone allows them to define a problem or ask a question, then find a solution or answer. It could be an experiment, an artistic creation, an extensive research project, etc. Both written and oral presentations are required.

~CWR 6About 2/3 of the students are in the Science and Engineering departments. Biomedical Engineering draws the most students followed by Mechanical Engineering. Systems and Control Eng., Engineering Physics, Civil Engineering, and Polymer Science and Engineering are the “small but mighty” departments. In the Sciences, the Gerontological Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and Evolutionary Biology programs are worth noting.

~CWR Applied SSTheir Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences departments are smaller but still strong; these departments will feel much more like a small Liberal Arts college with discussion courses. There are several Collaborative Programs that link CWR with other schools and programs throughout the city. Their music department is a bit unusual in that they teach musicology and music history but not theory or performance: students looking for those can cross-register at the Cleveland Institute of Music and neither can complete degrees without the other. They do the same with the Cleveland Institute of Art: students at either school interested in Art Education complete part of their degrees at the other school. All CWR students can take up to 4 credits per term at either the CIA (Art) or CIM (music).

~CWR business 3

Business School

The Business School is booming and housed in a modern, well-designed building. Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Organizational Leadership, International Business, and Supply Chain Management are particularly worth taking a look at.

~CWR nursing

Nursing building

The nursing program is particularly strong and is named as one of the top 15 in the country. This is a direct-entry program with classes starting in the first semester – and clinicals starting in week 3! Students complete 1600 clinical hours before graduation, almost 2 times the national average. If that weren’t impressive enough, students can also study abroad through articulation agreements with programs in China, Cameroon, and Alaska (yes, they know that this isn’t abroad – but students say that it sometimes feels that way in the small villages they’re placed in!). One student from Pittsburgh did her capstone in Hong Kong where she audited classes and studied increasing obesity in high schoolers. Also unusual is that students in the program can double major. One student from Cincinnati is also getting a degree in PoliSci.

Applications have increased more than 200% in the last 8 years; international apps are up from 500 to over 4000. Applicants get ranked in 22 academic, leadership, and extra-curricular categories. They currently admit about 42% of applicants. Students who visited campus, went to the HS visit, or did an alumni interview are twice as likely to be admitted. “We can still take kids with a 1200 SAT. We don’t want to have it harder to do that.” They have a single-door admission except for music (audition requirement) and art (portfolio requirement).

~CWR north Res VillageFreshmen are housed in 4 residential communities helping Case with their excellent 93% retention rate. There are also residential complexes for 2nd year and for upperclass students. Their Graduating Senior Experience program is one of the few I’ve run into. Almost 1/3 of students are Greek-affiliated (and many live in Greek Housing). 20% of students stay on campus to take classes, do research, or just take advantage of other opportunities during the summer. The college-owned Squire Valleevue Farm is about 8 miles from main campus. Aquatic Biology is offered in May Term so students can go into the streams for hands-on learning. There’s also a ceramics area out there.

© 2015

Clarkson University

Clarkson University (visited 7/27/15)

Fire pit and the main quad

Fire pit and the main quad

The old campus center and the school mascot.

The old campus center and the school mascot.

Clarkson’s campus looks like anything but a school known for its engineering programs. It’s a spacious campus with modern buildings and lots of open space. This surprise doesn’t just extend to the physical plant; it also applies to the people. I was shown around campus by an admissions rep, himself a recent Clarkson graduate and a Business major. “What surprised me about Clarkson is how many people aren’t doing engineering, and how many things not related to this field they’re interested in.”

The on-campus ice rink

The on-campus ice rink

The school is great at “repurposing” buildings and other things on campus. The old campus center now houses the Ice Rink – right in the middle of campus! Their men’s and women’s hockey teams both play at the DI level (all other sports are DIII). The women were the 2014 national champs, beating the University of Minnesota. They have a pub in this building, too, “which is mostly open during games,” said the rep. It’s not a dry campus. “We know they’re college kids. As long as they’re of age and responsible, we don’t have an issue with it.”

One of the dorm options

One of the dorm options

A vast majority of students (86%) live on campus. Only 10-12% of students choose to affiliate with fraternity or sorority; rush happens sophomore year. There is some Greek housing, much of it on the perimeter of campus. I passed several of the houses when I mistakenly turned into campus too soon, so I wove my way through a fairly wooded area where the Greek houses were, finally emerging onto the main part of campus by large new dorms and academic buildings.

Freshmen dorms

Freshmen dorms

Students can have cars on campus all 4 years for no fee. If they don’t have a car, Adirondack Trailways stops on campus, and they can get to Syracuse and Albany (and from there, really anywhere).

The school has several divisions that deserve more recognition but are overshadowed by the engineering:

  • ~Clarkson 4The School of Arts and Sciences offers many of the typical undergraduate majors you might expect. The surprise major is Social Documentation which combines the social sciences or humanities with Communication and Media.
  • The School of Business offers interdisciplinary programs including Engineering and Management.
  • The Institute for a Sustainable Environment offers only 2 majors: Env. Health Science and Env. Science and Policy but offers several minors and 2 graduate programs

If Clarkson doesn’t have what students want in terms of course offerings, they can cross-register at St. Lawrence University, Canton, and SUNY Potsdam, all of which are within 15 minutes of Clarkson.

An Academic Building

An Academic Building

Engineering is, of course, the “crowning glory” of the school and what they are known for. Many first year students aren’t sure which specialty they want to pursue, or they think they know but mistakenly pick the wrong one. For example, students who are interested in Wind Energy should study aeronautical engineering, but those who want to look at sustainable energy should go into chemical. However, students have until the 3rd semester to declare which of the 9 specialties they’d like to pursue. This gives them a chance to explore a bit or change their mind if they started a program and then learned that it wasn’t what they expected.

Concrete canoe

Concrete canoe

As I was touring, one of the engineering professors was in the hall, so I talked to him for a few minutes. He was engaging and interesting. I asked him what he’d like students to know or do to be better prepared to enter engineering at Clarkson: “Writing is really important! I don’t think they think they’ll need this skill for this field, but they do.” Students do need to take a writing class at Clarkson, but this can be fulfilled through technical writing

Student-made snowmobiles

Student-made snowmobiles

I got to talk to a student who stayed on campus to do research over the summer. She told me about all the hydroponics and the great projects she was working on. She showed me the watermelon, hot peppers, and cucumbers being grown and how they were comparing using certain water and fertilizers . . . there was something in there about fish in the water that she was super excited about, but I’m not quite sure what was going on there 🙂 .

Here are some other cool things about the Engineering program:

  • They have wave machines.
  • Their Wind Turbine testing facility is 1 of only 4 that has actual turbine blades.
  • Students work on actual Distillation towers for work with fuels, alcohol, etc
  • Many of their students work with Engineers without boarders.
  • Students have built an Electric snowmobile and a Clean snowmobile with 0 emissions.
  • Teams from Clarkson have been FIRST Robotics winners and have competed in concrete canoe races, SPED, and other competitions.

© 2015

Wellesley College

WELLESLEY COLLEGE (visited 4/11/14)

~Wellesley  field and dorms

One of the fields with upperclass dorms seen through the trees.

I was surprised at what a sprawling campus this is. There is a lot of open space filled with fields, ponds, and wooded areas. I asked one of the students if she ever felt unsafe walking around, since parts of the campus actually have a very rural feel to it; she said it’s relatively well lit, but it can be a bit creepy at times. The rep added that the campus is located in a “very quintessential New England town with a lot of money; the town has small boutiques, Starbucks, and more. Although that certainly doesn’t preclude things from happening, it’s a safe area in general.”

There were lots of students walking around; I think partially because of the expansive nature of the campus, I didn’t see too many people interacting with each other. Most people were walking alone or with one other person, and it was rare to see anyone greeting others as they passed. I did see small groups of people in the student center talking and socializing, but mostly people seemed to just be going about their business.

Wellesley main dorm

The Tower as seen from the lake.

Lounge in The Tower dorm.

Lounge in The Tower dorm.

This is a highly residential campus. 98% of students live on campus all four years. The largest dorm of the 19 options on campus is The Tower with 650 residents. All residence halls are integrated across grades; there are no freshmen-only or solely upperclassmen halls, although juniors and seniors do tend to have singles. Our tour guide said that there was a real sense of passing information down through the years; older students give advice about classes, clubs, and more.

Atrium of the Science library

Atrium of the Science library

Many of the buildings retain their original character, but they’ve built, added, and renovated as necessary. The Science and Math library is in the modern extension of the Science building. From a distance, it looks like they’re doing renovations on it, but as we got closer, I realized that the architecture just looks that way. They built onto the old building so the open, multi-level atrium is light and open with a wall of exposed brick. They also have an astronomy and physics library is attached to the observatory, a fine arts library, and a main library.

Science library

Science library

~Wellesley observatoryWellesley has instituted a Shadow Grading policy for the students’ first semester. Although they get grades internally, the transcript just says P/F. They recognize that there’s an adjustment period, and they wanted to take the pressure off as well as encourage risk-taking. They also see that it creates a broad foundation of learning in which they gain skills and tools that help regardless of the field (how to research and write a compelling paper, present in class, argue or debate a point, thoughtfully participate, think critically about an issue from different angles). I asked if Grad Schools have a problem with this; because it’s a school policy rather than a choice on the student’s part, there isn’t an issue (and several other schools like Swarthmore, Olin, and MIT do this as well). Grad schools will know that it’s a standard process and not that the student has elected to do that.

Theater house.

Theater house.

About 40% of students double major. They have the option to cross-register at Babson, Olin, and MIT. The bus to MIT is free on weekdays, but there’s a small fee on weekends so they can use it for recreation purposes as well. The tour guide believes that their location and relationship with partner schools changes who they are and helps them stand out among other women’s colleges (although certainly there are other schools that have similar profiles). She doesn’t feel that there’s any sense of cloistering. Overall, it’s been a very positive experience for her. She said that people there just expect that women are in leadership positions (including 65% of tenured faculty).

Student Center

Student Center

The First Year Experience program includes seminars in which college-level writing is stressed. Our tour guide’s writing class was about women and gender studies; her seminar was “Play, Electricity, and Democracy” about Pre-K education in the US. Overall, classes usually run with 17-25 students. Some intro level lectures are 45-50, but often these are broken down to labs or discussions. Students strive to do well, but it’s a “self-competitive environment” rather than one in which students compete with each other. “It’s supportive in academics and socially, as well. It’s the nicest relationship I’ve had with other women my own age.” With a 96% retention rate, I imagine that others would agree.

Athletic Center

Athletic Center

Our guide said that “we love our traditions here! Lake Day is a secret celebration until you’re here. Dorms also often come up with their own traditions.” Flower Sunday is one tradition that several students brought up. Every first-year student is assigned a big sister, and on Flower Sunday, her older sister is introduced to her and gives flowers to the first year.

© 2014

Meredith College

Meredith College, Raleigh, NC (visited 3/13/14)

Meredith main bldgMeredith is a Women’s College located less than a mile from NC State University in Raleigh. Unlike some other women’s colleges, their enrollment has been going up. Although they brought in 420 new freshman last year (which is up by about 20 from the year before), they also bring in quite a few transfers, so they graduated 500 students last year, which they expect to remain steady.

~Meredith acad bldg 3Because I was visiting during their spring break, an admissions rep gave me the tour. As a 2012 grad, she had great insight from both sides of the desk. Originally from Winston-Salem, she chose Meredith because it felt collaborative instead of competitive, and it’s close enough to NC State to not feel isolated. The schools provide shuttles between the two, but it’s also walkable. I drove down the street after the tour to check out the area and to get lunch; in 10 blocks or so, I saw two coffee shops, a music store, a book store, and a lot of restaurants including Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and several chain fast-food places, pizza, and bar & grills. There’s also a Ben and Jerry’s directly across the street (“Whoever marketed that was a genius,” the rep said).

An outdoor classroom

An outdoor classroom

Meredith and the five other schools in the area (St. Augustine, Wake Tech, NC State, William Peace, and Shaw) allow cross-registration. Meredith allows their students to take up to 3 classes a year for free. The students can go to any other schools’ events, including athletics, for free with the other school ID (which they get even for a 1-credit PE class). Students at Meredith can get the big DI school at State feel without sacrificing the small school individual attention.

Meredith Penrose floorClasses at Meredith average 17 students. The rep’s smallest classes had 2 (in a research class) and 8 (in a regular class); the largest was 40 (Intro to Psych). Education is one of their strongest departments; their majors have had a 100% passing rate on the Praxis II over the last few years, and schools in the area hire Meredith grads right out of school. They also have 1 of only 11 Autism programs in the world, and the only one where undergrads can work with the kids. A Swiss family moved to Raleigh specifically to have their child in the program. They also have an AACSB accredited business program (held by 5% of programs worldwide).

Meredith Penrose tilingStudents are highly involved in designing areas on campus, often as part of their classes or independent research projects. The tile floor of the Science Building was designed by two students in 2001 as part of their undergrad research project; it’s modeled after the method developed by mathematician Roger Penrose. Interior Design students competed to have their design put into place for the commuter lounge. They put in four outdoor classrooms complete with chalkboards behind one of the academic buildings, and in front of another building, students planted an edible fruit garden with pomegranates, berries, and more.

Dorm balconies

Dorm balconies

The fire pit

The fire pit

The school has some interesting traditions. The first that the rep pointed out was the Class Doll, designed each year by a fashion design major. These are displayed in cases throughout the three-floor atrium of the main building where they also have displays of faculty-done art, photography, dresses, quilting, and more. A second tradition is Dance Works, an annual event held in the spring, and is completely student run from the choreography to the dancing to the marketing of the event. The third, and maybe the biggest tradition, is Cornhusking which is held annually during the last week of October. “It’s one of those things you have to experience!” Essentially, it’s a weeklong competition between classes. Each class is given a theme, and they make up skits and other events revolving around it, including “can art” in which the class uses cans to create artwork illustrating something about their theme; this gets done on one quarter of the quad. Students will stand on the balconies of the dorms to help direct the artwork since they have a birds-eye-view. They also have a fire pit on campus that’s used during orientation and at other times throughout the year including at the “Camping on the Quad” event (which also includes sunrise yoga).

~Meredith chapelThe Chapel on campus dates back to when they were affiliated with the Baptist Church. They are no long affiliated, but they have a non-denominational chapel service at 10am on Wednesdays, although this also can be community wide speaker events (the topic being advertised for the following week was dealing with anxiety and depression). They’ve brought in big-name speakers including Nancy Pelosi, Jane Goodall, and the guy who runs Post Secret. There are no 10am classes on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, enabling them to hold large events or allow clubs and activities to have meeting times.

~Meredith eating areaStudy Abroad is easy to do. Students can do direct-enrollment programs around the world, but there are also several college-sponsored trips. Meredith runs a Semester in Italy program; they bought and renovated a Palazzo complete with their own chef. “Family lunch” is served instead of a big dinner. Apparently, the chef never repeats a meal the entire semester. Current Summer Study Abroad options include Italy (Childhood Development or Opera Experience), Iceland (Environment and Lit), UK, Italy and Switzerland, China (International Business), Spain (Language and Culture), and France (Fashion).

A dorm kitchen

A dorm kitchen

Arches into the dorm quad

Arches into the dorm quad

Students must live on campus for the first two years. Even though they can move off after that, 86% of all students live on campus. They recently built new campus apartments, increasing the on-campus number over the last few years; students love the convenience, and the apartments are beautiful with hardwood floors, washers and dryers, etc. Dorms have Open Hours when males can be in rooms, but men can visit in the lounges 24 hours a day. Parking is available in “The Pit” which is never full. Passes cost $200 a year. If they don’t have cares, students can rent one of the 2 zip cars or can take the State Wolfline or city bus.

© 2014

William Peace University

William Peace University, visited 3/15/14

~WP balcony and downtown

View towards downtown from the main building

WPU is nestled on a pretty campus not too far from downtown Raleigh. This had been a Women’s College under the name of Peace College from 1857 (its founding) through 2012 when it went coed. There was controversy with this move, and some students and professors left. However, it’s also attracted many more students: enrollment has grown from just under 500 students in 2011 to almost 850 in 2014 with a current freshmen class close to 350 students. They’re already at 35% men, several of whom entered as transfer students.

WP main

The main building; the chapel is inside towards the left.

The university was started by William Peace, a Presbyterian minister. Today, although loosely tied to the Presbyterians, there are no religious overtones other than the original chapel still located on campus. There are no required services, but they are offered for interested students. Part of their distribution requirements includes 5 classes under “Critical Thinking about Culture and Society,” one of which is a religion class, but there are several options that will fulfill this.

~WP quad 3Our tour guide was Brendan, a sophomore psych major from Harlem. I asked him how he learned about WPU; one of his friends had already applied and was talking about it. The friend had come to visit and told the admissions rep about Brendan; the rest, he says, is history. He loves being in Raleigh: “It reminds me of Times Square without the neon!” Transportation around town is easy; students can take city buses or the NC State shuttle if they have a State ID (given if they take any classes, even a 1 credit gym class, on campus).

~WP dorms

Dorms

~WP seatingHousing is currently the biggest problem. Dorms are spacious and well maintained, but with the recent growth in population, they’re struggling to provide living space. The freshmen and sophomores must live in dorms or university-affiliated housing, including Wolf Creek (an option for sophomores, juniors, and seniors) which also houses students from Shaw, St. Augs, and Meredith colleges, giving students a unique way to expand social circles and creating more of a college community in Raleigh. Since students can also cross-register at these universities (as well as NC State), students are more likely to take advantage of this opportunity because they already have friends on other campuses. They can take up to 5 classes at other campuses towards their majors; after that, the credits count towards electives.

~WP quadI asked Liz Webb, the admissions rep for my area, what types of classes students often took on other campuses. One example is not many languages are offered at WPU so students often go to State. ROTC is also offered there or at Shaw. There are some chances for students to join Greek life at State, as well, since there are not any Greek options at WPU, but this can be more difficult since it’s such a social thing and the students often don’t get to know people there well enough to rush.

~WP quad 2

Library first floor

Library first floor

There are several new buildings on campus, but they’ve also maintained the historical buildings. The original building is a beautiful 4-story structure in the middle of campus (on a historical note, it used to be a hospital in the Civil War). Rumors say that the fourth floor is haunted. “I’m not sure I believe it,” said Brendan, “but I stayed there last summer, and if I heard weird noises at night, I definitely didn’t go investigating!” The library is another older building. It’s small but conducive to studying. They rely quite a bit on online journals and other sources, and with the easy accessibility of other university libraries, not having an overwhelming number of books on site isn’t much of a worry.

~WP game design

Game Design classroom

Two unique majors are Simulation & Game Design and Criminal Justice with a forensics minor being added this coming year. Liz said that she would love to see more programs added, especially in engineering. They offer a BFA which is also unusual for a school this size. They have two beautiful theaters (regular and blackbox), and there are several practice rooms available for musicians. We spoke to one of the girls in the program who was friendly, outgoing, and more than willing to share her experiences. She loves the professors who are active in their fields and get the students out and about in the music and theater worlds; they also bring visiting lecturers in who will do workshops. Students get a lot of experience with auditions before having to head out into the “real world.”

~WP events

Activities offered on campus

The largest lecture hall on campus seats about 85 students. Brendan’s largest class was his biology class with about 80 people; his smallest had 9. All freshmen have a Common Reading summer assignment. His was Wine to Water by Doc Henley; he came to speak to the students (as other Common Reading authors do). He loved the book and liked having the assignment: not only was it interesting, but it also gave people something to talk about.

I asked Brenden what he would like to see changed about the college; he had to think for a minute, but he finally said, “I wish more people knew about us. We’re not very popular; we don’t win big sports tournaments. It’s a good school, so I’d like people to know our name.” They have the standard sport offerings, and are adding lacrosse next year. Brendan liked that the school was willing to listen to what students wanted in terms of new programs.

The average accepted student has a 3.0 GPA and a 900 CR&M SAT or 20 ACT score. The admissions team looks for students “who want to prove to themselves that they can do what others said they couldn’t.” Liz says, “The students really appreciate being here.”

© 2014

Goucher College

GOUCHER COLLEGE (visited 12/10/13)

A student building a snowman on the quad

A student building a snowman on the quad

~Goucher art

Student artwork on a window ledge

“There’s an interesting mix of students here. Put ten of them next to each other and they won’t look or  sound alike,” the Director of Admissions Corky Surbeck told me. This rang true as I walked through  campus; people all had their distinct styles. Despite this diversity, there’s a real sense of community and pride in the school. Although there is no residential requirement, 85% of students choose live on  campus. The big question they’re looking to answer when admitting students is, “Are you willing to step  up?” The individuals look out for the whole, and the unit looks out for the individual. The school is built  on inclusion and cooperation; students integrate from Day 1 (and they’re doing something right; last  year, they had an 87.3% retention rate between freshmen and sophomore years). First semester, students take two required classes: a writing class and Frontiers (basically a FYE class). It’s capped at 15 students and the professor is the initial advisor. Topics are meant to be interests of exploration and interest and can range from Freedom of Speech to Biodiversity.

The observatory.

The observatory.

I asked Mr. Surbeck what distinguished Goucher from other CTCL schools. He listed two things:

  • Study abroad is required, and “127% of students study abroad.” About 15% go for a full year, and maybe 40% for a semester. Many do at least one 3-week intensive trip; many others will do more than one or the 3-week intensives plus a semester abroad. This year, they’re bringing back an International Business class in Cuba. One of their more popular classes is The Art and Science of Glass co-taught by a science professor and an art historian; they go to Romania for three weeks, but also do two weekends in Corning, NY before and after the trip.
  • Location: very few other CTCL schools are in such proximity to a major city (Lewis & Clark and Rhodes are the others that comes to mind). They are 2 blocks from I-695 (Baltimore Beltway) but you’d never know it. The highway gives easy access to several areas, and students can be in downtown Baltimore in very little time. However, shopping, dining, movies, or work all located within a couple blocks of campus. Towson University, a large state school, is only 1.5 miles away.

Goucher 5Goucher students can cross-register at classes at eight affiliated schools in the Baltimore area – Notre Dame, Loyola, JHU, Towson, MICA, UMBC, and Morgan State. Freshman cannot take academic classes  on other campuses, but can take advantage of any extra-curricular offering; after that, they can register for two classes in each of the following years. Technically, 15% of space is set aside for cross-registration but that rarely becomes an issue. Mr. Surbeck estimates that 15-20% of students will cross-register and wishes that more students would take advantage of that. Most are happy with the offerings on campus or are taking advantage of study-abroad options so they don’t go to other campuses.

I got to talk to several students before going on tour:

  •  A junior philosophy and sociology major from NJ. He is studying abroad in Prague soon. He said he found Goucher “serendipitously” when he got a postcard in the mail.
  • Hillel room

    Hillel room

    Yashe, a Junior from just outside of Pittsburgh, who is majoring in Psychology and Russian. He’s hoping to spend a semester in Russia next term and is waiting for his final visas and other paperwork to come through. He was looking for a small school with a Hillel.

  •  Liz, a sophomore from Virginia, who wanted a school with a good dance program. She came up to audition and then again for admitted student day. She loved the people here and made his final decision after meeting everyone.
  • Blake from NH was looking for a Dance program. He’s hoping to do the Dance Intensive program in Taiwan. He loved the location and the opportunities.
  •  An international business and Spanish student from Atlanta. She originally did NOT like the school and wasn’t going to come here, but her mother made her come back for admitted student day; she loved the interactions with students she had when she visited and that changed her mind.
Lounge with a whiteboard running the length of the room

Lounge with a whiteboard running the length of the room

The students’ favorite classes have been: Distress and Disorder (psych); 3 Frontiers classes (Surveillance in Cinema, one on Shakespeare in which it was related to today, other movies, etc., Apocalypse (looking at fears); Existentialism and Theater; Social Deviance; Art and Activism (the Beat poets, Woody Guthrie, etc).

Things they would like to change would be to get AC in freshman dorms, adding Greek life, scholarships, providing scholarships for study abroad programs, and perhaps making the student body a little bigger. “There isn’t a lot of personal time here; it’s good in some ways, but because there are always people around, there’s not much privacy.”

The forum in the Anthaceum (the Library)

The forum in the Anthaceum (the Library)

~Goucher treeThey have a “small but fabulous theater major and minor.” They put on 3-5 shows each semester.  Playworks, which is put on every fall, is completely student run. The black box theater is a great space  with chairs and platforms that can be moved around to create any configuration they want. It’s clearly  easy for students to get involved in any activity without majoring in a particular field: the Head Tech  guy is an English major and the Head of Student Government (and he gets paid for his work in the  theater!). Sports are DIII except the Equestrian program which is DI. Students can bring their own  horse or use one of the college’s horses. Students who want to learn to ride can take horseback riding as  one of their PE requirements. There are two a capella groups (one coed and one all women), and musicians take advantage of the non-denominational chapel which has great acoustics and a full organ. Performers also can showcase talent at the student-run Gopher Hole Café (open 9pm-2am) where thy have music and open mic like a club space. The library (Anthaceum) is a Gold LEED certified building with a Forum which seats 800 plus additional standing room.

(c) 2014

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) (visited on 12/9/13)

UMBC 1 I visited campus on a snowy, overcast day, but that didn’t dampen the activity on campus. Roads and UMBC 2sidewalks were cleared, and people were outside. I was impressed with the sense of camaraderie exhibited by the students. People were talking and laughing, greeting each other as they passed, making plans for activities. Very few students were plugged into music as they walked around.

~UMBC bldgs 3The campus is well planned out (not surprising considering that it’s about 50 years old). I expected a more traditional campus with large green spaces; it is located in the suburbs, after all. Coming in from the parking lot, the campus struck me as a bit sterile, but this impression changed quickly. There is a pond and fountain and some areas of open space. It is a lovely campus which is clearly well-thought out in terms of how it was developed.

UMBC 3

Info Tech and Engineering building

Biological Sciences building

Biological Sciences building

UMBC’s stellar reputation in STEM fields unfairly overshadows their other opportunities; they offer 44 majors, 41 minors, and 20 certificate programs. The university is ranked with Yale, Notre Dame, and Berkeley for teaching quality, and it’s been listed as a best value in education (it’s public). Experiential Learning (including funding undergrad research through publication and presentation) is part of their mission, and the Shriver Center helps students set up internships, co-ops, and service learning. President Hrabowski sits on President Obama’s council for education, has done TED Talks, and was listed on Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2012. He’ll eat with students in the dining hall or talk as they pass by on campus. Our tour guide said when he sees people with books, he’ll ask what they’re reading, and he remembers things like when they’re taking tests; weeks later might ask how the exam went.

~UMBC trips poster

Poster advertising trips offered to students.

Students can get into downtown Baltimore in 15 minutes and into DC in about 45 minutes. The College Park Metro Stop is about 30 minutes away (as is the flagship campus of the UMD system), or students can take the MARC train into DC (which recently started running from Baltimore to DC on the weekends, as well). BWI (airport) is about 10 minutes away and Penn Station (Amtrak) is about 20 minutes away.

The University System of Maryland Inter-Institutional Registration Program allows students to cross-register at institutions such as University of Maryland College Park (30 minutes away), University of Baltimore (20 minutes), Bowie State (30 minutes), Towson State (30 minutes), and University of Maryland at Baltimore (15 minutes). Enrolled, degree-seeking students with sophomore and higher standing can take classes at other UM schools and receive credit at their home institution. No spots get reserved for students from other schools, so it’s first-come, first-served. Students must meet whatever prerequisites are in place and pay any additional class-specific fees.

One of the dining commons

One of the dining commons

~UMBC mascot

Mascot

Students get highly involved in campus. Sports and school-spirit seem to be big here; many students were wearing athletic and Retriever gear (the mascot is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever; students rub the nose of the Retriever statue in front of the Athletic Center for luck). The school takes the success of their athletes seriously and has an Academic Center for Student Athletes in the athletic center; the center is open to all students and there’s plenty of space for all sorts of fitness activities (including both an indoor and an outdoor pool). There are lots of other ways to get involved beyond sports. During Welcome Week, organizations set up tables in the quad so that students know what’s going on and get join groups. The university purposefully sets up “Free Hour” during which no classes are scheduled, giving everyone, including commuter students, the chance to be part of clubs and other activities on campus. There is no Greek Housing but Greek Life is active; students can rush after getting a semester of credit. One of the students’ favorite events is Quad Mania, a sort of Spring-fling event.

UMC 5About 4000 of the 9,500 full-time undergraduates live on campus. All dorms are suites, and facilities are new (a benefit of a newer university). Freshman suites are set up with two bedrooms sharing a bath; upperclassman suites usually also have a common area with a small kitchenette area. There are multiple options, including Living Learning Communities within the Res halls and several apartments on campus. All students living on campus must have a meal plan, but with multiple dining options, they can buy what suits their needs and their living arrangements. Students in the apartments will often buy the 5-meals-a-week plan (the least); freshmen almost always buy the 18-a-week (the most). There are many off-campus housing options, and the Off-Campus Student Services Department in the Commons keeps a listing of apartments as well as helping with roommate matching. The busses serving the university stop at five or six different apartment complexes nearby so transportation is easy. The Res Hall even smelled good.

Admissions is selective with successful applications having mostly As and Bs, but they will look at the trend through high school. Both the ACT and SAT are superscored. They have several Scholars Programs for qualified students: Center for Women in Tech (CWIT), Humanities, Linehan Artist (must audition), Meyerhoff Scholars, Sherman Teacher Education, Sondheim Public Affairs. Additionally, approximately 125 students a year are accepted into the Honors College which gives students the added benefits of Applied Learning Experiences, an Honors Community, and honors-specific classes. Successful applicants tend to have at least a 3.5 and a 2100 SAT or 31 ACT. Our tour guide was in the Honors Program; one of her favorite classes, The Anthropology of Food, was part of this program (and was her smallest class with 17 students; her largest was an Intro to Chem class with about 200).

(c) 2014

Agnes Scott College

AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE (visited 3/6/13)

P1010222I was excited about visiting Agnes Scott because my cousin graduated from here. AS did not disappoint. The college sits on a beautiful campus with lots of brick and open green space, about ten minutes away from downtown on the MARTA. It’s so nice, in fact, that 30 movies have been filmed on campus, including The Blind Side.

Agnes Scott is a school for go-getters. They’re looking for women who will get engaged on campus, both in and out of the classroom. Our tour guide told us that a Morehouse student once told her that Agnes Scott women have the reputation for “being smart and playing hard.” From what I saw, this held true.

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Library

Academics are amazing here. Students get involved from the very beginning, and what students end up doing – both as undergrads at AS and as graduates after they leave – is incredible. The astrophysics professor recently got a grant from the NSA and put six students, including two first year students, on the project. Agnes Scott ranks in the top 6% of PhD earners since the 1920s. The Economics Department is 2nd in the country for producing PhDs. Last year, TWO students were awarded Goldwaters – Georgia Tech only had 1! Students are getting high-profile internships such as with the CDC and big governmental agencies as well as major corporations. Students can enroll in joint MPA and MBA classes as undergrads, or enroll in a Dual Degree (3-2) program for Computer Science (with Emory), Engineering (with Ga Tech) or Nursing (with Emory). Additionally, the ARCHE (Atlanta Region Consortium of Higher Education) program is open to the students so they can cross-register at Emory, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Spelman, Morehouse, and many others. Shuttles run every 10 minutes.

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Chapel

Students seem really happy here. We talked to several on the student panel and more during lunch, but beyond that, the campus was humming with activity. The students were outside, even though it wasn’t the nicest of days, and they were interacting with each other. I didn’t see too many people using iPods between classes; instead, they were talking to each other. It felt comfortable on campus. I asked the tour guide if she knew people who transferred out of AS; she said there were a couple people during the first year that she knew. People who leave, she said, tend to get here and decide it’s either too small or that a women’s college isn’t for them. However, with all the resources in Atlanta, even those issues don’t seem like a big deal. The students tend to socialize with students from other campuses, particularly Georgia Tech. The tour guide said that people assume that they would go to Emory more because it’s right around the corner, but they go there less so than some other campuses.

AS 1P1010221Princeton Review has ranked AS #8 in the country for Quality of Life. Ninety-two percent of students live on campus, helping to create a great community feel (and they have no Greek Life – students say that they have enough community without it). The school has a ton of traditions such as Pancake Jam (professors make pancakes at midnight during finals week), HubSing (students and alum get together in the Hub to sing school songs), being able to ring the bell in the bell tower as a senior when they get a job or grad school offer, or being thrown into the pond for engagements. The biggest thing, though, is the Sophomore Ring. In the fall of sophomore year, the students are given rings with a black stone and the seal, and they can get it engraved with their year and degree. Apparently they wear it “facing them” while they’re a student, and at graduation, they turn it around to “Face the world.”

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Dining Hall

A couple things that students really seem to like about campus are that the gym facilities are improving (they just built a new facility) and that finals are self-scheduled. The students work on the honor system, so they can take the finals in any order they want, wherever they want, and at any time during finals week. The food also ranks highly here. We got to eat lunch in the dining hall on the most popular meal-day of the week: fried chicken and mac&cheese. People from the community also come to eat there, so there were middle school students, business people, and others in the dining hall. Our tour guide said that students rush over after class because the line can get long – and she wasn’t exaggerating! The only thing that the tour guide said that she would like to improve on campus was the strength of the wi-fi in some areas. She lives in an older building on one of the floors above the admissions department, and she said that the signal strength up there isn’t great.

(c) 2013

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