campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “CSU”

CSU – Northridge

CSU – Northridge (visited 1/17/14)

CSUN 6CSUN (pronounced as “see-sun”) is the largest in the Cal State system. The university is in a suburban area, located equidistant (25 minutes) to the beach and to downtown. Students can walk to the mall; there are definitely things to do off campus. Students are described as friendly and helpful, doing things like stopping to ask people if they need help. The university has a 75% retention rate, so students are generally happy with their experiences.

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Students outside the library

The Citrus Grove

The Citrus Grove

They get 30,000 apps a year from which they’ll admit 17,000 students for a yield of about 4,000 freshmen. Most of the students are in-state, but they do draw some out-of-state students, as well as about 15% from abroad. Because of CSU policy, CSUN admits students from the local area if they’ve met the minimum criteria. They use a formula of (GPA x 800) + SAT (CR+M). If a student takes the ACT, the formula is (GPA x 200) + (10 x ACT). They do not care which of the tests are submitted.The index is higher for out-of-state students with a required 3200-3400 (this has been moving up over time). Film production majors have to submit a portfolio and have an interview. Music applicants have to audition (those applying for Vocal Music have to have prepare a piece in a foreign language).

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Apartments across from the main campus

On-campus housing is limited with only 3000 bed spaces available, but off-campus housing is easy to find and many students commute from home. They currently have two buildings for first-time freshman. One of the things they’re working on is building more housing; the new dorms will have a fire pit, lounges, and Living Learning Community areas. Greek life is active; the groups that have houses are located right across the street. Students rush right away in the fall semester.

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A sculpture commemorating the earthquake

Of the 65 majors, only 3 are impacted (Accounting, Finance, and Business). Film and music are both strong, and Athletic Training is popular. Students have wonderful access to faculty, and facilities are state of the art. There are five science buildings and space for most majors. “The earthquake was the worst thing to happen to campus and the best thing to happen to campus.” Things were rebuilt after the earthquake which allowed the university to reassess what they wanted and how they wanted things laid out.

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An academic building

The largest classes rarely have more than 100 students; in fact, there are only about five auditoriums which each seat about 120 people, so they physically can’t hold large classes. Hands-on opportunities abound. Students will complete some sort of major community service project or internship before graduation. Film students will create and submit films; 1 went to the Cannes Film Festival (and won!). Engineering students do things like create an unmanned vehicle and compete in competitions with it (also coming in first!). Students have showcased at TechFest; it’s a great time to see robots and other things like that around.

© 2014

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Cal Poly Pomona

Cal Poly Pomona (visited 1/16/14)

The library and triangular main Admin building

The library and triangular main Admin building

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (or Cal Poly Pomona), one of the 23 CSU campuses, has traditionally been both a regional campus and the “little brother” of the better known Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Because of the nature of the CSUs which serve specific areas in the state, they do tend to draw heavily from the local area. However, this seems to be changing due to increased national awareness of the university’s offerings and more aggressive marketing by the new Director of Enrollment. They’re seeing an increased number of out-of-state students at the transfer level; this is trickling down to the freshman level.

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Some of the planes built by students

~CPP 5During our visit, we met with Mario Cordova, an Admissions Representative. Applications have risen over the past four years from 20,000 to 32,000. Admitted students have about a 3.5 GPA and an 1100 on the CR and M sections of the SAT or a 26 on the SAT. Acceptance rates now hover around 50%, but Mr. Cordova said that this is a little deceiving since it fluctuates by major. Engineering is the most popular major, but other academic strengths include programs such as hospitality management, vet tech (CPP is 1 of 3 schools in the country where students can take the Vet Tech exam directly after graduating without additional training), architecture, sciences, and even music industry studies! About half of their impacted majors are in the engineering fields; the others are in architecture, some sciences including animal sciences and kinesiology, and a few in the social sciences. The architecture department needs more space; currently, they’re only taking a few students each year in order to provide them with appropriate studio work space.

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One of the original buildings dating back to when the property was a horse ranch

Mr. Cordova told us that their goal class is about 3,000. Currently, only 18% of students live on campus, and they’ve added 600 new beds over the last three years. Demand to live on campus isn’t overwhelming since they’re still pulling so many kids from the local area who don’t need to live on campus. First-year dorms are stereotypical dorms. Suites with 4 bedrooms and kitchenettes are newer and tend to house upperclassmen; these are located behind the bookstore. The Village is the off-campus apartment area. The traditional dining halls are in the dorms and utilized mostly by freshmen. There are a lot of fast-food options (sushi, subway, Qdoba, etc) in the Union which was busy as we came through to get lunch at about 12:45, but not overwhelming. We didn’t wait more than 5 minutes for food and we were able to get a table.

This get repainted several times a year by students intrepid enough to climb up the hill

This get repainted several times a year by students intrepid enough to climb up the hill

“You Hour” is held from 12:00 to 1:00 on Tuesdays and Thursday. No classes are held during this hour, and the quad was full of student groups advertising their activities, holding fund-raiser BBQs, and more. One of the BBQs was sponsored by Delta Alpha Beta, a Hispanic/multi-cultural frat. They do a lot of community service, especially with kids. We stopped to talk to the guys to ask them about their experiences. One of them does AF ROTC on the USC campus and enjoys being here but having access to the other campus. The boys told us that Greek Life at CPP was small and had been on the decline, but seems to be picking back up again.

~CPP acad bldg 3Although there seems to be a lot to do on campus, we were told that we hit a “busy time” when a lot of people were out and about, but the crowds we saw only represented a fraction of the students. There are certainly people who don’t feel like there’s enough of a social scene and transfer out. Another reason people give for transferring is that the quarter system is a little too intense for them. Some students aren’t fans of the local area; town is not always safe and there’s not much within walking distance.

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The Japanese Garden

As we walked across campus, two students were helpful in helping us find the building we were looking for; they were both freshmen recruited athletes from California (the volleyball player was from Stockton; the baseball player was from Temecula). Both are happy with their choice and felt that they fit here and were getting good educational and athletic experiences. The school is starting to get recognized nationally, partly because they just won a DII basketball title. Later, we had lunch with a brother (senior) and sister (freshman) from the area who answered a lot of our questions. The sister was an architecture major and part of the Honors College and was loving her experiences so far; she felt part of the community already. The brother was a big fan of the Integrated General Education requirements; instead of separate, lecture-based classes, the IGE program brings together social sciences, humanities, writing requirements, and more into the program. He felt that this approach was more interesting and conducive to his learning style. He’s studying Industrial Engineering. A lot of people in that area tend to specialize in supply chain management, and graduations have gone on to work at major companies like UPS, Netflix, and Amazon. He’s a member of Hillel which he said has 20-25 active members, and Shabbat Dinners are a regular things. They’re always looking for regular donors since it costs about $300 per dinner.

© 2014

Colorado State University

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY, Ft. Collins (visited 10/3/12)

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One of the large quads on campus.

This was not the clichéd large state university full of concrete and large, looming buildings. We arrived on campus next to a long tree-lined quad. Kids were playing Frisbee or lounging in the sun, and it looked more like a stereotypical small college quad – until we passed by a class of about 16 students sitting on the grass with notebooks and a professor writing on a portable white-board. That was a first for me; although I’ve seen classes meeting outside, those have usually been discussion groups rather than a teacher bothering to bring a white board. It was great to see.

CSU pondCSU started in 1870 as the land-grant institution for Colorado. It’s a major research university with a medium-sized school feel. About 12% of classes are taught by TAs, but those are almost all labs and recitation sessions.

The city of Fort Collins is a big draw for students: with a population of about 144,000 people, it’s diverse and active. They just admitted their largest freshman class – and have had four record years in a row. They expect that next year, there will be more out of-state applications than in-state apps. 200 miles of hiking and biking trails are accessible from campus, and (like other places in Colorado) it has about 300 days of sunshine each year. Students get outside and do a lot; for $40 a semester, they can use rent outdoor equipment from the student center for camping, kayaking, skiing, etc. Students get free city bus passes which run by campus all day. The city and the campus are both extremely safe; the biggest crime on campus is bike theft.

CSU2They’ve done quite a bit of building and renovation on campus. They’re looking to build an on-campus football stadium to replace the one that’s currently two miles off campus. One of the projects that they’re most proud of is the recently completed new engineering building. Students can complete a dual degree in biomed and engineering which is fairly unusual. Students do two separate majors rather than a single biomedical engineering degree. The Biomed Sciences major is the only one to which students must apply to directly. There are only 100 spots so people should apply early. Last year, they filled those spots by mid-December.

CSU dormsThere are six majors (including business, computer science, art, and engineering) which require applicants to have a higher GPA because the programs are more competitive. CSU’s business program is highly ranked, and students often take advantage of internships at places like Hewlitt Packard and other big-name companies in town. Engineering is strong, and the graduates of the program pass the national test at well above the national average. Pre-vet, health, and exercise sciences are very popular and well regarded. The university also has one of the top landscape architecture degrees in the country.

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The Business Department building

CSU differentiates tuition: business and engineering have an additional tuition charge of $60/credit hour because of the increased costs associated with running those programs. They are a WUE school so students residing in one of the 15 Western states can receive this award; the WUE is considered a merit-based deduction and is renewable with a 3.0 GPA. There are also other scholarships available for students outside the WUE states, including an Honors Program scholarship. The Honors scholarship can be stacked with other merit awards, but other than that, students can only get one merit scholarship.

CSU chapel and hillAdmission to the Honors Program comes with the offer of admission to the university and is based on GPA and test scores. Students can also apply after the first year if they don’t get it coming into the school. There’s an Honors Living Learning Community. The tour guide loves the coursework because of the discussion. Other benefits include early class registration and smaller classes. Our tour guide’s smallest classes had 17 students (Honors) and 30 (non-Honors). The biggest class he took was Oceanography with 300 students. When asked if there’s a lot of need for Oceanography in Ft. Collins, CO, the tour guide laughed and said, “It’s really more theoretical.”

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Another large open space between several academic buildings and their new athletic center.

The university is committed to helping students get comfortable on campus and to adjust to campus living. Thy run orientations throughout the summer, including one for students coming in from a distance; this happens directly before Ram Welcome (the fall orientation program) in August, so students only have to travel to campus once but still can take advantage of the extra orientation time. Freshmen are required to live on campus; the housing application is due by May 1 and costs $150; $100 of that goes towards the cost of housing. Off campus housing is close, cheap, and easy to find. The university has an off-campus housing office to assist students in finding places to live. Our tour guide said that he had no problem; he’s paying $375 for his bedroom in a three-bedroom house about a five-minute walk from campus. Even people who live off campus stay engaged in on-campus activities, leading to a vibrant campus environment. Only about 10% of the student body are members of fraternities or sororities, but Greek Life is active and many activities are open to any member of the community.

(c) 2012

San Francisco State University

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY (visited on 7/19/12)

SFSU tiger and acad bldgSFSU scienceSFSU lives up to its reputation as being in the coldest area of town. As we toured in the afternoon, we could watch the fog roll over campus; you definitely can’t forget that you’re in San Francisco! This is the most compact, size-wise, of the CSUs, and with 25,000 undergrads, it also has the highest density. It is called the “City’s University” because it mimics the diversity found in San Francisco: 68% of the student body are students of color. It has also been called a “College with a conscience.” They got a 2010 award from President Obama because the students provided over 300,000 hours of service during the year. There is no community service requirement; students do it because they want to.

SFSU businessSFSU commerceThe university offers Bachelor degrees in 115 areas. They have an outstanding Marine Biology and cinema programs. The movie “Dolphin’s Tale” was based on the work of a SFSU professor who provided the new tail for the injured dolphin. In cinema, alumni have been nominated for 13 consecutive years for Oscars in a variety of categories. They also have an apparel design program which might be one of their most unique programs. The most competitive would be nursing which has 80 spots open per year. Students cannot apply directly to nursing. Instead, they apply undeclared with an intent to major in nursing, then have to take the prereqs on campus and apply into the program. They have several impacted majors on campus, a term applied to schools in California which have more applicants than spots available to accommodate them. Some of the impacted programs are environmental studies (a major that is becoming more and more popular on several campuses), psychology, journalism, and social work.

SFSU quadSFSU 2The campus is attractive, nicely landscaped, and welcoming. I really liked the college and would highly recommend that my students take a serious look at it. The only drawback is that housing is a problem on campus. They only have 2400 beds and have no immediate plans to add, mostly because of space issues. Students have to apply for housing by mid-December; this application has a $55 fee attached to it. Most people who meet this application deadline can get housing provided.

(c) 2012

Sonoma State University

SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY, Sonoma, CA (visited 7/18/12)

Someone described Sonoma State as a place where “people actually talk to people” and it seems to live up to that! I would recommend this school to a lot of people. It’s simply amazing!

Sonoma dormsSonoma housing plansThe housing at SSU is probably the best I have ever seen. Students live in beautiful suites starting in freshman year. They have a variety of options: single or double rooms within suites, suites with or without kitchens, different layouts, different numbers of people, townhouses, and Student Interest Groups. Costs vary according to space. The townhouses are so good that they rent them out as houses over the summer. For the special interest housing, the students do not need to major in that area, just be interested in that subject. However, they do have to test in with good SAT or ACT scores. Different Residential Units have dining halls; the food is good. I like that the college let us eat in one of their halls to experience what the students get.

Sonoma housing areaSonoma libraryThis is the newest of the CSU campuses at about 50 years old. It’s also the most residential of the CSU campuses at about 64% residential. Dorm quiet hours are 10-8 during the week, midnight-8 on weekends. They pull a large percentage of students from San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. On the weekends, they offer lots of trips into SF, the ocean, national parks, etc. They also have the largest study abroad per capita in the system and have the largest EOP grant of the CSUs for California residents.

Sonoma acad bldgTheir student population hovers around 8,600 with the best retention and graduation rate in the CSU system. About 20% of the student population is Hispanic right now; the university would like to get that up to about 25%. This would label them officially as “Hispanic serving” and make more grant money from the state to help them continue improving services. They’re also looking to attract more STEM and more academically qualified students.

Sonoma libraryTheir impacted majors (those that have more applicants than space in the program) are EnviSci, Liberal Studies (create your own major with a 4 year graduation guarantee), business, psych, kinesiology, and criminal justice. The average graduation time is 4.5 years because of double majors or late advising. The average class size is 26. The largest lecture hall on campus is 120 so they have some of the smallest lecture classes in the system.

Sonoma gymSports are big on campus and school spirit is high. However, the football stadium is now an observatory for astronomy because they don’t have a football team anymore. Soccer is the new football in terms of homecoming games, attracting fans, etc. Women’s softball and Men’s baseball are both competitive and several pros have come out of the university.

Sonoma 1The campus is pretty and easy to get around. They have two things worth mentioning: First, they have 1 of 12 saplings grafted from a tree that Anne Frank planted (another one is at the White House) and a Holocaust Memorial. Second, there are two ponds stocked with fish; students can fish with their ID which doubles as a fishing license. There are even geese and ducks walking across the quad between the ponds!

(c) 2012

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