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Salve Regina University

Salve Regina University (visited 4/29/19)

Salve gate

The entry arch to campus leading up to Ochre Court, the original college building

“I’ve never been as happy as when I’m here. It’s a special place.”

You will find very few schools in such a stunning location (I’m going to go on a ledge and say that Salve is like a smaller, East Coast Pepperdine): campus sits among the Newport Mansions on 80 ocean-front acres (not surprisingly, it’s ranked as a Top-10 School for Surfers). The original college building, Ochre Court, is itself a mansion that the owner couldn’t afford to keep up. It was offered to the Episcopalians who declined (oops); it was then sold to the Sisters of Mercy for $1. Campus has an eclectic mix of buildings ranging from historic mansions or other buildings (many of which were donated; the historical society will work with the college to restore them) to more modern places. Several films have been made on campus including True Lies (the tour guide pointed out the building that people rappelled down in the movie).

Salve 7“Salve is not our campus. It’s terrific and we love it and are glad to have it, but Salve is our mission: ‘To work for a world that is harmonious, Just, and Merciful.’ When students are fortunate enough to receive an education, they should use it for the benefit of others,” said one of the admission reps. The founding Sisters were known as the Walking Nuns of Dublin because they weren’t cloistered. They talk about mercy rather than charity, and about a responsibility to lift up/help others around them.

Salve 1“This place is magical, but if we had an airplane hanger with these kids in it, we’d be happy,” said the President. “There’s a transformation here. This senior said she wanted to come here to be anonymous, but she’s a tour guide, and she just got up to give a recital in front of 50 people. Sister Jane showed up to her recital. That’s really rare.” If this student is any indication, it’s not a surprise that Salve was ranked #18 most transformative college in the country. One students we spoke to transferred in. “I was here visiting a friend, and we sat around talking to the guy who sold spell check to Bill Gates. I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, and here’s this multi-millionaire hanging out and talking to two random kids on a Saturday, one of whom didn’t even go to school here. Who wouldn’t want to study here?”

Salve statue 1As a Catholic institution, they embrace that “the Liberal Arts is the foundation of what we do.” Corporations value a value an ethical foundations. They want to know that they’re bringing in people who will represent the organization. Students complete a 23-credit core with a broad liberal arts foundation providing a basis for academic growth and that empowers innovation and discovery. Part of the core includes 2 consecutive semesters of a language and 4 religion/ philosophy classes: 2 of these are religion classes of the student’s choice plus Quest for the Good Life (philosophy) and one upper level philosophy class. Our tour guide was taking “Saints, Superheroes, and Sinners” as her upper level class. Masses are offered on campus but never required (Although the dog in the chapel is a big draw!).

Salve chapel

The chapel

In First Year Experience, students take 2 conjoined classes: a 1-credit seminar on the transition to college and a full seminar class. The admission rep, an alum, took one about refugees. “The point of the FYE is to exercise the mental stuff to make it stronger. We began to see refugees as real people with real issues who might be our neighbors. The choices people made to emigrate from their home was informed less on the idea that they wanted to take something than on the idea that they wanted to give their family something. We’re now informed about how to implement policy.”

Salve BLM rally

Part of the Black Lives Matter rally

During the reception, I had a fairly in-depth conversation with one of the seniors. He feels that the non-visual diversity is fairly solid. There’s good religious diversity for a Catholic school. He started a group called Diversity to bring up ideas of discussion and mutual understanding around issues of religion and politics. “Artists fit in very well here.” Students who are looking for a philosophical community and who are maybe religiously minded (but also open minded about it) will do well here. “We’re on the liberal side of Catholic institutions.” He did say that racial diversity needs some work. Only about 15% of domestic students self-identify as students of color. “They’re working on it, but it’s slow.” However, there was a fairly vocal Black Lives Matter rally on campus when we got there with a lot of white faces in the crowd for support.

Salve 6“It hurts my heart to say that a lot of the jocks aren’t on a steep learning curve,” said one of the seniors I talked to. “Over 50% of our males are athletes (they have 3 nationally ranked DIII teams; the only 2 teams not in this division are Sailing – DI – and equestrian which is its own thing) and they don’t catch on as quickly that they shouldn’t be making snarky comments. I came in as a rugby player. As a freshman, I definitely did the swaggery thing, but I figured it out. A lot of people do not.” I asked the Dean of Admissions about this later. “We’ve developed Green Dot, a program targeted to athletes to help them understand language and bystander training. We have a responsibility to stand up. There’s been a huge decline in problems.” I asked how this decline showed itself around campus; he said that far fewer students were being brought up for issues and there was uptake in activity participation.

Salve loungeStudents must live on campus for 2 years (freshmen live in LLCs), but then are allowed to move off. Some upperclassmen stay, but it’s not guaranteed after the 2nd year. There are places to rent within a few minutes of campus. Although there are a lot of ritzy places in Newport, “It’s also one of the most diverse areas in the state. There’s abject poverty. You see that in the elementary schools and other areas,” said one of the reps. Parking isn’t really an issue, according to the students, but freshman can’t have cars. They all get free RIPTA access and there are campus shuttles. They also have an agreement with Uber. Our tour guide gave the food on campus a 7: “It’s not home-cooked, but there’s always something to eat.”

Salve 11There are 2100 undergrads with classes averaging 19 students. My tour guide said classes ranged from 10 – 30. There are lecture halls that are used for events but not for classes. They’re probably best known for nursing or education:

  • Students have to apply directly to the nursing program; transfers into the program aren’t allowed. NCLEX pass rates are high. The tour guide told us that a lot of the tests during the last year reflect the questions for their Boards to help them review, and the author of one of the review books teaches on campus.
  • Our tour guide would like to see more variety in majors offered on campus. There are a lot of unusual minors and certificates/concentrations (like Cybersecurity and Health Care Administration, Administration of Justice, and Spanish for Health and Service Professions) but it would be great to see these as majors as well.
  • Salve runs the PELL CENTER for international relations and public policy which approaches these from an interdisciplinary viewpoint.

Salve 8Salve is test-optional (Except for nursing and education). Students who are awarded a merit scholarship are invited to apply for Honors. Those in the program take 2 additional classes, usually in sophomore year. “There’s work; there’s more rigor but it’s more about the fit.” Honors students must do an internship and study abroad. There are 200 study abroad programs in 45 countries open to any Salve student.

Salve 9

Some of the newer dorms

The admission committee reads need-blind, but it’s rare that they can meet 100%. “We do what we can as a tuition-driven institution. A lot is driven by the application. The better the fit, the more we can do.” I asked a couple students about this, and they were happy with their scholarships and financial aid. “We’ll support DACA as well as we can. We’re a Sanctuary campus. It’s obvious fairly obvious when they don’t do FAFSA. We have the Mercy Fund since they can’t receive federal aid. We can’t get a student all the way there, but we work with other foundations to connect them to other sources of income. Of course, not all Dreamers have full need. Once they’re here, we think it’s our job to protect them and we use FERPA to do that since we don’t share information with the government.”

© 2019

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Gannon University

Gannon University (visited 3/18/19)

Gannon archThis is more urban than I had expected it to be, but it still has enough of a campus feel to make students feel like they have “a place.” Campus is about 2 blocks wide and 5 or so long. “You can walk across campus in 2 Spotify songs!” said the tour guide. Having the size of a campus described that way was a first for me – and I think that sums up Gannon in a lot of ways!

Gannon student cntrErie is the only port city in Pennsylvania. They get a lot of traffic from Routes 90 and 70, but it’s not a major city. Costs are reasonable, and the city opens up lots of options for social life including “funky brew pubs and lots of cool museums,” said the tour guide. The rep said, “The city and the college grew up together in the 1920s, and now we’re adults and we help each other out. We’re a weird city! It’s cool to be in Erie as a young person. This is an international place. 18% of the population isn’t from here. That’s also reflected in our student population. In the time it takes you to walk across campus, you’ll hear 5 or 6 languages.”

Gannon upperclass housingStudents are typically involved in 5 or 6 things on and off campus. The tour guide told me that “student like Greek Life. It’s there but not overarching. Many groups are volunteer based, and often dues are donated to community organizations. You join knowing you’re going to be involved. There are no rowdy parties because we’re in a residential neighborhood.” They discourage rushing Freshman year because there are so many other opportunities to take advantage of. “Greek Life isn’t the umbrella. It’s just one thing UNDER the umbrella of our entire experience.”

Gannon 2Gannon is a 5 minute walk to Presque Isle bay on Lake Erie. “The freshwater and marine biology students and the crew team don’t mind the lake access!” said an admissions rep. In addition to having access to the lake for their crew team, they have an amazing interior turf field on campus. They take athletics seriously and have strong (DII) teams: “We can put ourselves on par with the lower 20% of DI schools.” They offer women’s wrestling (the 1st in the state and still 1 of only 3 in PA). Football, baseball, lacrosse, women’s soccer, and volleyball tend to pull in the most crowds, but they also offer water polo, competitive cheer (co-ed and all female) and competitive dance teams. Inner-tube water polo is the most popular intramural “and it is hilarious! They’re bouncing all over the place,” said the tour guide.

Gannon chapel 2This is the only university in Pennsylvania run by the Catholic diocese. It’s named after its founder who saw an influx of homeless newspaper boys so “he rounded them up to give them an education.” Catholicism is still a part of the identity with about 50% of students self-identifying as Catholic. There are very few things around campus to indicate that this is a relisious institution (there are a few small crucifixes around, but no statues, the chapel is not obvious, etc). The tour guide said that the religious aspect “not in your face. It’s there if you want it, but really easy to ignore it if you don’t.” She’s not Catholic and hasn’t felt isolated, pressured, or anything else. Students do have to take two theology classes of their choice; nothing is scripted, and mass/chapel attendance is never required.

Gannon atriumThere are about 4000 students on campus, 1000 of whom are grad students. Many of these are Gannon undergraduates who move right into grad programs. “A lot of our engineers are torn between here and RIT for graduate school. We’re not unhappy about being in that league.” The average class has 19 students; the largest classes will cap at 60ish because the largest lecture halls aren’t really bigger than that but those classes are rare. Professors are known by their first names. “It’s peer to peer. Students are walking their dogs, having coffee with them, babysitting their kids.”

Gannon performance lab 1One of the coolest things I saw on my tour was the Human Performance Lab. The tour guide said she normally doesn’t get to take people in there, so she was excited to show it off. She was raving about the director of the program who happened to be in there working out on the treadmills. “Come on in! I’m just killing time before the next group comes in!” He showed off the amazing technology and machines in there, and also had the tour guide chime in about some of her labs that she did in the room. This is absolutely an incredible facility that a lot of undergraduates do not have access to and most universities.

Gannon library“Gannon is riding the sweet spot of becoming a top-tier university without being elitist.” There’s no shortage of offerings for students, and Gannon provides strong job training without losing the ethos of who they are as a personalized, liberal arts institution.

Gannon stained glassAdmissions is rolling but “most students apply in the fall.” They will superscore both the SAT and ACT. Tuition is affordable, and they’re generous with scholarships. “The top price anyone will see is $48K with the highest tuition for health sciences, engineering, and CompSci because of the labs, but there are scholarships for those, too.” Some other scholarships include:

  • Diversity Service and Leadership (diverse racial backgrounds; $1000 for just applying as a student of color; if you visit and write an essay, you get an additional $2000)
  • Schuster Memorial Music/Patron of the Arts. Some stipulations apply such as a commitment to community service in the arts
  • MUN Scholarships (up to $3,000)
  • Full Tuition (students must apply by 12/15). The top 10% of applicants get invited to be in a full-tuition program. Those who choose will come to campus to give a presentation (could be everything from Irish Dancing, bringing in models they built, etc).

Athletes can be recruited with scholarships, as well, since they’re DII.

© 2019

University of New Haven

University of New Haven (visited 10/12/16)

new-haven-sealUNH has their act together. They know who they are and what they expect from the kids. Their tag line is “Leader in Experiential Education,” and having seen their resources and talking to several of their kids, I believe it! One of the students I spoke to said, “There are so many resources and opportunities. I’m really proud to be here.”

Internships are required for about 80% of majors (all majors encourage it); most research is available in the sciences, but some companies hire business and engineering students to work on projects. Employers mention the passion and knowledge that UNH students bring to the job; they are mature and well-spoken, and employers keep coming back knowing that they’re going to get quality students. Additionally, the alumni network is strong; they’re willing to employ graduates or interns. “Wildcats look out for wildcats.”

new-haven-4

The Kaplan building with no 90 degree angles (except where it meets the ground and on the roof).

I had no idea that UNH was founded conjunction with Northeastern and Yale. Now, the campus is in a safe suburban area of West Haven (not in its original location downtown). This great college town has music, theater, and a world-class restaurant scene (including Peppi’s Pizza, ranked #1 in the world). When students get sick of New Haven, the are 2 train stations within 10 minutes will get students into NYC (1.5 hours on MetroNorth) or Boston (2 hours on Amtrak). The beaches are only a few miles away.

 

new-haven-bikesThe 4,600 undergrads are evenly split between men and women. Sixty percent come from outside of Connecticut with 41 states and 22 foreign countries represented. Diversity in all its forms is getting better. “A couple years ago, it wasn’t so good. It’s a lot more inclusive now,” said the tour guide in response to my question about how well different groups were represented on campus.

new-haven-lower-quad

Lower Quad where many of the dorms are located

About 2/3 of students live on campus; this will rise when the new building opens in fall 2017 with 67 suites, parking, and retail space (Starbucks and a burger place are confirmed; the rest is still in negotiation). The freshman dorm opened that in 2014 has bathrooms attached to each room. There are still some forced triples, but students in those get $500 off R&B. First-year students can choose an LLC (Army ROTC, honors, arts, marine bio, engineering, forensic science, criminal justice) filled on a first come, first served basis. The tour guides encouraged students to look into these: “They can help a lot in the first year, particularly in more competitive majors or those with lots of projects and late nights such as engineering; if you’re up at 2 am working on something, it’s nice to have others around doing the same things.”

 

One of the tour guides said that he was surprised at how good the food was on campus. The Dairy Bar is the first 3-star certified green restaurant in New Haven.

new-haven-galleryAnother student said he was surprised at how much there was to do outside the classroom. “I was never bored.” The Juggling and Hammock clubs are particularly popular. Students get free tickets to sporting events; the only game that might be difficult to get tickets for is the one against U Maine, their big rival. “We’ll camp out for tickets – that’s half the fun!” Intramurals are a big draw, particularly Broomball.

With 100 majors (and growing) and 70 minors/concentrations, students have no shortage of options. Many programs are hands-on and/or professionally-focused. Students start early doing real work in the field.

  • new-haven-crime-scene-bldg

    Crime Scene Building

    Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences: This is their claim to fame. Henry C. Lee, a nationally known forensic scientist (and still consults for shows and agencies), runs the program.

    • CJ has 7 concentrations: Corrections, Crime Analysis, Law Enforcement Admin, Victim Services Admin, International Justice and Security, Juvenile and Family Justice, Forensic Psych, Investigative Services
      • There’s a crime scene house (“My friends have done 11 hour labs there!” said a tour guide) and a building with crime scene rooms for labwork.
      • new-haven-crime-scene-room

        one of the crime scene lab rooms

        The National Cold Case Center sends information to campus; students and faculty get to work on these.

      • “The forensics floor smells pretty funky, but you’ll get used to it. A professor does research on Forensic Entymology up there,” said a tour guide.
      • One student studied in Australia and worked at a body farm.
    • Fire Science (Arson Investigation or Fire Admin)
    • Fire Protection Engineering
    • National Security Studies: Most students in this major will minor in a language (Chinese, Russian, Arabic are encouraged)
    • Paramedicine
  • Arts and Sciences
  • new-haven-6Business
    • Economics: Students can specialize in General, Behavioral, or Economic Sustainability
    • PACE program: individualized major within the school
    • Hospitality and Tourism Management: students run the campus café and restaurant on campus from top to bottom (marketing, scheduling, food service, purchasing, hiring and firing, etc)
    • The 3+1 Fast-Track allows students to get the Bachelor’s in 3 years. Although not required, it is helpful if students have AP or dual-enrolment credits coming into this program. 4+1 is also an option.
  • Engineering: This school puts a big focus on leadership, communication/presentation skills, and team building.
    • Cyber Systems, Cyber Forensics, and Cybersecurity
    • Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • New Lyme College of Fine Arts: When Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts closed, UNH acquired them and merged the programs into the university.

new-haven-1If students can’t (or don’t want to) spend a semester or year abroad, they have several 2-week intensive study abroad options or can spend first semester freshman year in Prato (Tuscany). A cohort is sent with bio and engineering professors to teach the same classes they’d take here. Music students go to Nashville, working in studios during the day and take classes at night.

New Haven is strict about application deadlines: EVERYTHING has to be in by those dates, not just the student applications. They only require 1 letter, and they will superscore both tests. Interviews are required for Early Decision only. The rep said, “Send things in early! We have the most money to give out and there’s space in all our programs. Applying early means that you have the best chance to be placed in the major you want.” The Priority App deadline is March 1, but if there is space available, apps will be evaluated on a rolling basis after that.

© 2016

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology (visited 10/10/16)

stevens-dining-hall

A view of the NYC skyline from Steven’s dining hall.

“The Innovation University,” as Stevens calls itself, is located on a surprisingly attractive campus overlooking New York City. Parts of Hoboken are congested and hard to navigate, but the university is in a more residential area (just be careful of the narrow, one-way streets!).

 

stevens-walkwayThe 3000 undergraduates (still skewed towards male, but better than the 70-30 ratio from a couple years ago) take full advantage of all the on- and off-campus offerings. Housing is guaranteed for all 4 years, but students are only required to live on campus for the first year. The university runs some off-campus apartments for students to lease; these are available only for a full-calendar year, great for students who are doing co-ops or internships. These are all within a 15-minute walk, and shuttles are available. New York City is only a 10-minute ride away on Path. “Off campus, students don’t miss Washington Street Wednesday. We can use our meal cards at participating restaurants. A meal there equals 1 meal swipe.” They also have NYC at their disposal, including discounted tickets for shows.

stevens-field-2

One of the teams practicing

On-campus life is active, and students love the number of options. Some favorite events are:

  • Techfest (fall) and Boken (spring)
  • Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break
  • Castle Point Anime Convention (Spring): this was started by a student who asked to have it on campus; it is now one of the largest and draws 5000 people to campus.
  • Ethnic Student Council’s Unity Carnival and Show
stevens-2

A dorm with a sand volleyball court in front. I’ll come in at 7am and see students playing there,” said a rep.

A little more than 1/3 of students go Greek here, and they’ve joined the Rethink Greek Movement which works towards getting away from hazing. There is 1 co-ed community service fraternity. The 26 DIII sports are evenly divided between men’s and women’s teams. Volleyball is really big here. They have a bowling alley on campus; it’s free for students and they serve free pizza on Tuesdays. “That’s a big draw,” said the tour guide.

 

stevens-lounge

A lounge in one of the academic buildings

Every student gets 3 advisors (academic, peer, and career) to help navigate social, academic, and additional options like internships, co-ops, and study abroad. Students can double major in anything across the 4 colleges except engineering (it’s too course-intensive):

 

  • Arts and Letters: Most of these majors are interdisciplinary and combine some sort of technology component.
  • Business: They offer 8 degrees including:
  • stevens-astro-and-physics

    An engineering and physics academic building

    Computer Science and Cybersecurity (winner of a national award): They’ve seen a huge jump in applications for this school. There are 8 concentrations within Comp Sci.

    • Game design is one of the most popular, and often will double major in VA&T to get the artistic aspects.
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Mobile and Pervasive Computing
    • Students can apply for a scholarship with the NSA in their freshman year. 15 are awarded to fund the rest of undergrad studies as well as graduate (when appropriate), a summer internship, and a job after graduation.
  • Engineering and Science: Stevens started by offering only Mechanical Engineering (still one of the biggest majors). All Engineering students take the Design Spine for the first 3 semesters: they all take the same classes and work in groups on projects. This means that that students are qualified to go into another discipline – as an undergrad, in the workforce, or in grad schools – if a job opens up and is appealing. Some of the unusual engineering majors include:
    • A concentration in Naval Engineering: They have a building dedicated to this with a large water tank. The Navy and other governmental organizations come here to use it; there’s a 2-year waiting list to get access.
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Advanced Chemical Biology: this takes 1 year of study off a BS/MD track in conjunction with Rutgers Medical School.
stevens-arch-2

The Arch, the only remaining part of the original estate where Stevens now stands.

Stevens wants students to have academic/technical knowledge and the ability to apply it. They require Professional Practice for all students: 40% complete Internships, 30% participate in Co-ops, 20% do Research, 10% do something else. Those choosing Co-ops take 5 years to complete their degrees. For the first and last years, they’re full-time students; in between, they alternate between classes and co-ops, graduating with up to 2 years of work experience. Study Abroad is open to all majors with programs already designed to enable smooth transitions and transferring of credits.

stevens-statue-2

A statue on one of the quads

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers an Innovation course, entrepreneurship minor. All students do a Senior design project. Advisors work with students to answer “What do you want to do?” That becomes the basis for the senior project (many continue after graduation). The Innovation Expo and Elevator Pitch Competition is held annually: students prepare a 90 second spiel and present it to a variety of people. The top 3 win money; the overall winner gets a position with a company in Hoboken.

Steven accepted 41% of their applicants last year; 90% were in the top ¼ of their class. The Subject Tests are only required for applicants to the Accelerated Pre-Med programs; those apps are due by 11/15. Admissions is test-optional for Music & Tech applicants; the Visual Arts & Tech students must send a portfolio if they don’t sent scores.

© 2016

 

 

 

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