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Flagler College

Flagler College (visited 2/12/16)

Flagler studentsOne thing that makes Flager stand out is that they’re rooted heavily in the liberal arts: there’s no engineering, no math major (yet; they have a minor), and no science departments – with the notable exception of their new Coastal Environmental Science program, now one of their biggest departments.

Coastal Environmental Science is the hardest major to get into. The difference between this and general Envi Sci is that “this is specific to the Coast. We don’t do volcanoes or tundras or mountains. Go to App State if you want the mountains. The coast is where most of the stress is; it’s where most of the population of the world lives; it’s where most of the job opportunities are. The job prospects are never going away.”

Flagler walkwayCurrently there are only 2 labs “and they’re pretty standard on purpose. The program is designed around our location. A lot of the teaching is done outside.” Students spend time in and around the water, including a nearby lighthouse where students can stay overnight. They don’t teach organic chemistry but they do aquatic and other specialized chemistry (one professor specializes in bio-geo-chemistry): “We do have students who go off to med school from here; they just need to plan ahead and do a couple summer courses somewhere else.”

Flagler 6A few other strong or unusual majors are:

“It’s not enough to have a college degree; you need to be able to show what you’ve done and talk about what you want to do with it.” All majors and minors require a capstone experience of some sort whether is research, an internship, or something else. Overall, 71% of students completed an experiential learning opportunity. Currently, some students are working on “Fish Communities and effects of plastic on the environment.” This hasn’t been done before and is going to end up in a publication for the students.

Flagler 4When asked, “Who Is a Flagler Kid?” we were told this: they look for “an academic kid who wants to be involved, wants smaller class sizes, and who appreciates where we’re located” (historic city, historic building). They do a great job with the B/middle-of-the-road kid who comes in liking 2 or 3 things and are willing to take some time to try them out. They should be somewhat self-motivated to look for internships, etc. There’s help and resources, but no one is going to force them to use them. Students should be invested in themselves.

Flagler Edison towerFlagler has no Greek Life but there are honor societies. There are about 55 student clubs including a Surf club, Deaf Awareness, creative writing, religious groups (Christian, Jewish, general religion), and political groups. Students agree that there’s a good split of politics on campus, but “people get along. There’s lots of discussion. “

Flagler male dorm

One of the male dorms

 

The average GPA hovers around a 3.5 with 1050 SAT or 23 ACT. International students need a TOEFL of 75. The exceptions to this are students applying to the Education and Coastal Envi Sci departments. Just over half of the 2,500 undergraduates come from Florida. The 40% out-of-state domestic students come from all over with the NY, NJ, MD, VA, and GA being the next most represented states. Just over 5% of the population is international from 43 foreign countries. They are actively trying to increase racial diversity on campus. They offer an additional scholarship to students “if they’re diverse in any way.”

Flagler 4

The Flagler Hotel – now a main building on campus with the dining hall and women’s dorm

The cost also makes Flagler stand out: at their current rate of $26,500 per YEAR (tuition, R&B), they run about 50% of the national cost of a liberal arts school. Most students receive financial aid, but “you aren’t going to see huge scholarships because our costs are already so much cheaper than other places.” The top merit scholarship is about $3,000.

Flagler female dorm

Hallway in the women’s dorm

There is a first-year residency requirement. Females are housed in the historic hotel originally owned by Henry Flagler. Each room is different and houses anywhere from 2-5 girls. As a trade-off, each room has its own bathroom (no shared baths in the building) and the dining hall is downstairs. Most freshmen males are housed across the street in a large building with all doors opening to the outside; most of these are suites so they share 1 bathroom between 2 rooms. Several athletes are housed closer to the athletic fields. Coed visitation is not allowed at any time; we were surprised by this since this has never been a religiously affiliated school. It’s also a dry campus, and they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs.

Flagler dining hall

The dining hall with Tiffany windows

The main campus is contained within a 2-block area with a few exceptions. The new communications building is about a block away among city buildings, and the athletic fields are a mile or so off campus. On campus, the old Flagler Hotel dominates the scene; outside is beautiful outdoor area for student to congregate, socialize, and work. There are plenty of shaded seating areas and trees with plugs everywhere so students can stay connected. The art building next door is only open to art students who have to swipe their cards to get in. The dining hall has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass. The library is very light and airy. The Edison Smoke Stack provided electricity to the hotel and campus 3 years before the White House got electricity.

Flagler comm bldg

The Communications Department tucked among houses on a side street off campus

We asked the students on the panel about their favorite classes and why they liked them:

  • Sign Language. All the teachers are deaf so it was intense was first. I took my first class here and knew nothing. We had an interpreter at first but then were on our own.
  • Political Leaders of the 20th Century: it was my professor, 1 other student, and myself. We would read what we were interested in and discussed for 45 minutes.
  • My internship with the Sheriff’s office. It’s not a classroom environment.
  • Criminal Behavior: the professor was amazing. We got to do a lot of profiling.

What do you love?

  • The First Year experience has been really important. Orientation was good; we had something every day and every night. Showing up at class a week later, I knew people.
  • The professors. You get to have the same ones several times, and they help us with internships. I can go to office hours for whatever. I had coffee the other day with one of them and just chatted.
  • I came here undecided. Taking smaller discussion-based classes were helpful. I was a good student in high school but not great. Being put into these classes helped me find what I really was interested in.
  • I thought I knew why I loved it until I took a class called Oral Histories. Now I’m interviewing alumni from the 60s and 70s about how it’s changed. I didn’t know how many alumni worked here. I love that!
Flagler plaza 3

The hotel courtyard

What would you like changed or improved?

  • Have some sort of building for a community center. I’d like to involve the town and the university. We should be working together and have events together.
  • We’re in a historical district, so it’s hard to get more parking. It’s an issue.
  • Add a science building with more labs, including a sterile lab.
  • Build a residence hall with a full kitchen. I like to cook!
  • Add a math department! Maybe it’ll also draw more males.
  • Have school shuttles to stores and other places (including airports) that are just for students.

© 2016

The College of New Jersey

The College of New Jersey (visited 11/14/15)

~TCNJ 4

The iconic campus building

I had wanted to see TCNJ since a colleague’s son had gone there and thrived. I had heard great stories: not only was he incredibly happy to be there (so happy that he stayed on campus for 2 summers), but he got involved in a lot of research and before he graduated, ended up being published in a textbook that one of his professors wrote.

TCNJ Mascot

TCNJ Mascot

TCNJ didn’t disappoint.

~TCNJ 2Two students told me essentially the same thing about what surprised them: it’s small enough for the class sizes they have but large enough to meet people. “I meet new people all the time, but I see people I know all the time.” Another student was surprised at how challenging the academics were and how smart everyone is. Classes tend to be on the small size: of the students I spoke to, the smallest classes ranged from 11-16; the largest ranged from 25-40. TAs don’t teach classes, but they may help run labs or foreign language discussion sections.

New Campus Village

New Campus Village

~TCNJ 1Housing is guaranteed for two years (4 years for out-of-state students), “but I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble getting it if they want it.” They traditionally had been able to house a bit more than half of the 6,500 undergraduates, but now they have space for 460 juniors and seniors in the new Campus Village apartments. The spots filled up within an hour, so TCNJ is building more to meet the demand. This area is designed with retail space on street-level to increase the amount of places students can walk to.

~TCNJ nature trailFreshmen can’t have cars. The Loop takes kids around campus and town, including the mall, the movies, and even into Princeton. They can also take the town bus, that that’s not free. Upperclassmen can have cars; there’s “always parking in the garage.” Campus is both walkable and safe. The blue lights were pressed “12 times by accident last year,” said a rep; when I asked a junior if he had ever heard of them being used, he couldn’t think of a single time.

~TCNJ stadiumThere really is something for everyone here. There are plenty of activities (including Bubble Soccer and Billiard Soccer tournaments) and traditions the kids like. The EPCOT Festival is a particularly popular as is jumping in the fountain before graduation. The Radio Station is well-run and DJing is popular; it is 1 of 4 radio stations nationally to get nominated for Station of the Year by College Music Journal. Approximately 1/3 of students will go Greek which has a delayed rush in the spring. Sports (DIII) are incredibly successful and well supported by fans. Students interested in service can apply to become a Bonner scholar.

The tour guide had a hard time thinking of anything she’d want to improve upon or change on campus. She finally said, “I want a bigger smoothie bar. What we have is good. I just more of it!”

~TCNJ Art and Interactive media

~TCNJ acad bldg int

The interior of one of the academic buildings

Students couldn’t say enough about their classes and professors. The Arts and Interactive Media building is relatively new, and they receive a 2010 Art grant resulting in 4 large colored balls as a permanent art installation on a quad that are supposed to be pixels. Departments are well-stocked with top-notch technology for teaching such as the simulation labs in the Nursing department and the planetarium for astronomy students. The Education department offers all the usual subjects plus Deaf/HH and Urban Education. The Biomedical Engineering degree gives students an option of doing a 7-year Medical School program. The iSTEM (integrative STEM) is noteworthy.

~TCNJ pixels

The PIxel installation on an academic quad

TCNJ is one of several colleges that offers Study-Travel classes during their Maymester. Some students take a class in the spring that has a travel component; other classes are “Stand-alone” classes in students travel for 2-3 weeks. Some travel sites/topics include studying/comparing Genocide in Armenia and Eastern Europe; the Gendered History of Food in Italy; and Biology in the Galapagos and the Rain Forest.

© 2015

California Lutheran University

CALIFORNIA LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY (visited 1/17/14)

Cal Lutheran 3Cal Lutheran’s spacious campus is home to just under 3000 undergraduates in Thousand Oaks. They are affiliated with the ELCA Lutheran Church: in terms of spectrum of churches, they’re very open in all that that suggests. They attract students of many faiths including a lot of Jewish students, and there’s a Rabbinical student who leads Shabbat services. There are no required chapel services or religion classes (at least in the theological sense). People in the area know that CLU is open to various people whether it be religiously, politically, or anything else (for example, there are lots of openly gay folks, even in the ministry).

Cal Lutheran 4

The cafe

“We tend to attract nice kids,” said an admissions reps. Students who have good organic intellectual curiosity will thrive here because of the 1-on-1 relationships and the opportunities they get bombarded with. Most students complete two internships during their time here. For the kids who want to dig in and experience things, it’s great, but they don’t have to be the smartest kid in the class to thrive. “This is not going to be a giant school experience; it won’t be a conservative religious experience. It’s a dry campus, so for kids who aren’t interested in the uber-party scene, this will work. But it is a very big social atmosphere; students are gregarious and open.”

Cal Lutheran Management bldg

Management Building

Admitted students average a 3.7 GPA and 25 ACT or 1150 SAT (CR&M). Students applying to CLU tend to overlap with UCLA (CLU lost the most kids to them last year), LMU, and UCSB. CLU will superscore both exams, and students can appeal for a higher scholarship with higher test scores after admittance. Students must apply Early Action to compete for the Presidential Scholarship. Students must be invited to come to campus to compete for this scholarship: decisions are based on an interview, a written response to a lecture, and more. Another great scholarship opportunity is the CLU Match Guarantee. If an applicant has also gotten accepted to UCLA, UCSB, UCB, UCSD, or UCD, they will match the in-state price (even if they’re out of state!!).

Cal Lutheran quadLearning here is experience-based, and students are guaranteed to graduate in four years if they meet the program guidelines (including meeting regularly with their advisor, declare a major on time, etc). Classes average around 20 students, and professors are interested in providing more than just theory and book learning. The university attracts professors who want to teach and who tend to stay for a long time. Core Classes include: literature, art (1 lecture-based, 1 participatory), philosophy/religion (historically, not theologically based), science, foreign language (students can test out but rarely do; a 4 or 5 on an AP would satisfy this requirement), and 2 social sciences. The writing requirement is often fulfilled during the senior capstone.

Cal Lutheran Acad bldg 2Business, education (Deaf and HH credentials are also offered), exercise science, and psych are some of the most popular majors. The Exercise Science major gets high accolades; most of those students continue on to PT graduate programs, but they can also be a coach or trainer without grad school. Game Design is gaining traction. They offer a TV/Film Production minor, and students get fabulous internships, especially in Burbank. There are specific pre-med, pre-vet, and pre-dental advising programs; the advisor, a chem professor, came from Berkeley. Under this program, the students get the right prep without the super competitive culture that they may find in other schools, and they’re still successful in getting into medical/vet schools (3 years ago they had a 100% acceptance rate).

Cal Lutheran food truck

One of the campus food trucks

CLU is a big fish in a small DIII pond. Football and volleyball teams have both won national championships, and in the fall, football can dominate the weekends. Kids get the best of both worlds: learning in smaller classes without sacrificing the “big-sports college experience.” Some students say that CLU is more homogenous than they’d like, but this is changing rapidly. Currently, approximately 25% students are from out-of-state, and they’re attracting international students as well. Students aren’t always thrilled with the feeling of “suburbia” around campus, but they’re certainly not cut off from things to do off immediately campus or from downtown LA.

Cal Luthern 1

One of the upperclassmen housing areas

underclassman dorms

underclassman dorms

Students rave about the dorms, most of which have been built in the last 10-15 years. Housing is guaranteed all four years if students want it, but only freshmen are required to live on campus (waived if they live at home within 30 miles). About 2/3 of sophomores stay on campus; after that, it drops a little more, but not significantly. Juniors and seniors are housed in apartments with pools, a bbq area, and volleyball court. CLU is committed to making on-campus housing affordable and attractive, mostly because off-campus housing is pricey, and they want to continue building community. Because more students are living on campus, they need a bigger central space for students. A new dining commons is being built and will open in the summer of 2014. Until now, there hasn’t been a great central meeting spot for students that’s the center for social activities, studying, and eating. The new building will have rooftop seating and dining. They deliberately made the decision not to bring in outside venders (except Starbucks!).

© 2014

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