campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “DI sports”

University of Evansville

University of Evansville (visited 11/15/16)

evansville-walkway-2Evansville is a surprising school; on the surface, it appears to be a low-key school, but they have amazing programs ranging from DI athletics to a highly selective theater department. “You have all sorts of people here. We all fit in. If you want a close-knit feel, this is it.”

This is a traditional, residential liberal arts college with additional professional options offering over 80 majors. The university is organized into 4 schools: Liberal Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Education & Health Sciences (the only division with Grad programs). They are currently starting several new programs:

Health sciences and pre-med are strong: they boast a 100% placement rate at Med School for the last 10 years). Many allied health programs are Direct Entry either for the undergrad program or for a spot in the graduate school (as long as benchmarks are met along the way). They’ll require an interview from some applicants (it can be by phone).

  • evansville-lab-2Nursing: They want someone who is passionate about the subject AND has a minimum skill set. They take about 25 students a year.
  • Physician Assistant (started last fall): This year, they brought in 20 direct-entry freshman on the PA path who will have a spot in the grad program.
  • Physical Therapy: This is a little more competitive than Nursing: applicants must have a minimum test score to get invited to interview for Direct Entry. Those selected will earn a spot in the DPT program. Students not accepted into DE can still come, do the program, and apply to the graduate school. The program averages about 70 students per year.
  • Baccalaureate to MD: This is an accelerated program only open to IN residents.
evansville-acad-bldg

The theater building

More than 1000 students audition annually for 40 spots in Evansville’s Theater program; this number includes students interested in behind-the-scenes work (costumes, tech, etc), requiring a portfolio review/interview instead of audition. They put on a musical every fall (but it’s not a Musical Theater program) and Shakespeare every spring along with 3-4 other productions. Tech students do everything from making their own wigs and make-up to sets and ticket sales. There are several well-known alumni including Rami Malek, Ron Glass, Kelli Giddish, Kelly Preston, and Jack McBrayer.

evansville-main-bldg

The main building

UE now offers a 5-part Guarantee:

  • 4-year graduation: UE will pay for additional time if students can’t graduate in time as long as they’re in good standing with the university (not failing things, have met regularly with the advisor, not changing major in senior year, etc).
  • No classes are taught by TAs.
  • Scholarship guarantee: all freshmen this year receive one. Most scholarships range from $10K-20K. Some are more (ie, National Merit finalists get full tuition).
  • Internship or Co-op experience. Co-ops are mostly offered to Engineering students (Toyota is a big place for co-ops; there’s a plant about 30 minutes up the road).
evansville-engo-projects

Several engineering projects

About 2/3 of classes have 20 students or fewer; 18 is the average. The largest class (Organic Chem) has 40. Some of the students’ favorite classes have been:

  • Organic Chem (2 students chose this!): “It can be scary, but as a Pre-med, it’s applicable. The prof is one of those teachers who makes something so complicated seem so easy. He’s really personable and puts students first. He’s just awesome.”
  • Business Law: “The professor makes the class. He’s a full-time lawyer and takes real-world cases and applies them to what we’re learning. He’s also really funny.”
  • Intro to Theater and Intro to Ancient Greek Philosophy: “These are so different from my major and I get a bit of a break. I didn’t know how great the theater program was until I saw it in action. The philosophy makes me think in a way that I don’t in my math and science classes. It challenges me in a way that I’m not in math.”
  • Spanish Conversation: “We had to read, write, and speak all the time. We got to write and act out plays. We’re terrible actors, but we got to display the skills we had.”
evansville-fountain-1

The fountain commemorating the basketball team that was killed in a plane crash in the ’70s

Last year, they saw a 4% increase in the freshman class with 3 enrollment records:

  • 540 new freshman including an increase of international students (71 started this fall, bringing it up to 15% of the population).
  • Domestic Diversity is up from 10% to 15%. They’ve set a new goal of 18%.
  • Retention has gone up to 89% with the class that started in fall 2015.

UE owns Harlaxton, a “castle” (Victorian Manor) located in an hour north of London. “It’s our version of Hogwarts,” one student said. “Do you like Hogwarts? How about Downton Abbey? No? Then you can’t go.” Almost 60% of undergrads will study there, either for a 5-week summer program or a full semester, with150-160 attending per semester including 16 senior nursing students doing clinical rotations. To be eligible, students must have a 2.0 GPA after finishing 2 semesters at UE. Classes are not held on Fridays to encourage travel. Some trips are built in, and others are offered at a reasonable cost. Everyone takes a British Studies class taught by a British UE faculty member. There’s no difference in cost to study there (but students pay airfare and travel within Europe that they choose to do); all financial aid and scholarships get applied.

evansville-chapel-1We asked students what surprised them about the university. They said:

  • How friendly everyone was. People would smile and say hi, ask how you were and meant it, and asked if you needed help.
  • How challenging the academics were.
  • How different college is from high school. You don’t see the same people all the time. You can find your niche and spend time there.
  • How easy it is to get connected and meet people.
evansville-bball-game-2

The opening basketball game of the season; the stands get increasingly full as the season goes on. 

This is one of the smallest DI schools in the country. Basketball and soccer pull in a lot of fans. They’re starting Track and Field (indoor and outdoor) this coming year; the coach they have on board was asked to coach the High Jump at the Olympics.

About 30% of students go Greek, and those tend to join a lot of other activities. They plan a lot of events open to everyone including philanthropic events. “There are lots of events to raise money” such as Friday Night Live, Watermelon Bust, and cook-outs.

evansville-pep-band

The pep band at the game

Some favorite traditions include:

  • Road Trip: “I love meeting new people.”
  • Freshman orientation and being a leader: “you get close to other leaders and get to meet the freshman before other people which is cool – and going through orientation with them and helping them deal with things and seeing campus again through their eyes is great.”
  • “Basketball season!”
  • Fall Festival: This is the 2nd largest street festival in the nation after Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

evansville-4Evansville itself offers a lot; it’s a decent sized city with a population of 120,000 (300,000 in the metro area). Everything is close; students don’t need cars: There are bike-shares, buses, shuttles, and friends with cars.

© 2016

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La Salle University

La Salle University (visited 7/19/16)

La Salle walkway

The walkway over main street running through campus

This is a great school for students who want a real campus in an urban environment and are sports-oriented, either to watch or to participate in. Although this is in the city, it’s a safe area, and campus is well patrolled and gated; students and faculty swipe IDs to get through the gates at the entrances. A major street runs through campus, but the students seem to like it. “It actually ties the campus together,” said our tour guide. “Students hang out there.” In First Year Odyssey, students learn how to get around the city and use it as a resource. They can’t have a car as freshmen, so they really have to learn SEPTA (which stops just up the street) and the buses.

La Salle 1“We take the B+ student who plugs away and has potential. They thrive here,” said an admissions rep. This year, they’re bringing in 826 freshmen from 26 states and 11 countries.

“Students who are looking for a Villanova feel but maybe don’t have the grades will probably do great here,” said our tour guide. Currently, freshman to sophomore retention is at 78%, but they’re working to get it to 85%. They just hired a new person who can work with “those kids that all schools miss,” an admissions rep told us.

La Salle grottoThis is 1 of 6 Christian Brother colleges in the US. Part of the Christian Brothers’ ethos is to work with under-served students. More than 50% of La Salle’s students are First Gen and about 35% are PELL eligible. Serving people extends to the wider community, as well. A Community Service requirement is tied to the major.

About 35 Brothers live on campus, and many teach and work there, as well. (As a side note, they’re building a new retirement home on the edge of campus because “Brothers live forever. It’s a known fact,” joked our tour guide.) Our tour guide had a business class with one, and another works in Admissions and is charge of all the CB high school applicants. He talked to us and said that Community separates them from other schools. They’re part of the school, Philadelphia (“It’s our largest classroom”), and the CB community worldwide.

La Salle quadStudents eligible for the Honors Program are pulled during the admissions process based on GPA and test scores, but students can apply separately if they want to be considered. These students take an interdisciplinary Philosophy, History, and English class for all year. After freshman year, they have honors electives. Normally 2 philosophy and 2 religion classes are required, but the honors electives fulfill that.

In addition to the typical majors you would expect at a medium sized school, a few unusual (and most interdisciplinary) ones stand out: Integrated Science, Business, and Technology; Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics; Economics and International Studies; and Business Systems and Analytics.

La Salle 4This is the first school I’ve heard of that does completely random lottery selections for class registration; seniors might be last to register. Class sizes are pretty typical for a school this size. There are 3 lecture halls on campus which hold about 100 people; big classes have tutors and supplemental instructors. English classes are capped at 18.

International Students can take advantage of the English Language Institute and/or additional support with the English.

  • Regular Admit: Students need an 80+ score on the TOEFL can enroll without the extra support.
  • Pathways: First year students with a 65-79 TOEFL will receive tutoring and extra support as they start their classes.
  • ELI: This is a Conditional Admissions program for students without at least a 65 on the TOEFL. Students can enroll in ELI to gain proficiency and have to reach level 5 for undergrad or 6 for graduate work.
La Salle townhouses

Some of the townhouses for upperclassmen

About 80% of freshmen live on campus. Housing is guaranteed all 4 years; some students do move off campus, but many stay. North Campus has most of the freshman dorms along with some singles usually taken by upperclassmen. La Salle just put up a new dorm with mostly suites interspersed with some doubles. There are 5 frats and 5 sororities but no Greek housing. Students like the dining options.

La Salle baseball field

The baseball diamond

Their DI sports are strong here. There is no football team (except for an intramural, non-tackle team), but they have all the typical sports as well as water polo and crew for both men and women. They have lacrosse for women but not men. Rugby and softball are new. All events are free for students to attend.

© 2016

Stetson University

Stetson University (visited 2/10/16)

Stetson 3D equipment

3D printing equipment in the library

This is the first university I’ve visited that has power tools, sewing machines, soldering irons, 3D printers, and more in the library for students to access. They have a whole innovation lab in the library at the students’ disposal.

Stetson printed objects

Students’ printed objects

I enjoyed Stetson and can see why students are drawn to it. People are friendly, the campus is attractive, and its ranked Top 5 Universities in the South by USNWR. It’s a small school with a big school feel. Even the town of DeLand (just north of Orlando) was named in the “Top 3 Best Main Streets in America” by Parade Magazine (www.destinationdeland.com).

Stetson dorm lounge

A dorm lounge

Stetson is growing, currently with just over 3,000 undergrads. About 40% of students come from outside Florida, including 185 students from 55 countries. They make it easy to get to and from campus with airport shuttles. They’ve added dorms to keep up with the demand: there’s a 3-year residency requirement, but most seniors stay on campus with 86% of students on campus. Almost 1/3 of students go Greek; housing is available but limited.

Stetson library

The library

This is an animal-friendly campus; we saw several dogs around campus, and a student had a dog with her in the library as she was studying. There is a friendly, family feeling here. Students talked about lots of traditions such as the candle ceremony at the beginning of the year where freshmen carry a candle through the original gates.

Stetson organ

The organ in the music school

All students need to accumulate 24 cultural credits to graduate. These can include anything from watching a debate and discussing it, attending any of events at the music school, or going to a lecture by a visiting academic. “It’s easy to do. Most people go to these things anyway, and most of my friends are done with their 24 events well before the end of sophomore year.” This is a highly engaged campus in many ways including with high voter turnout. The political divide is almost equal: 32% democratic, 28% republican, 18% independent. Whatever political side you lean towards, it’s ok here.

Stetson bikes

Bikes are a favorite way to get around campus

There are 18 DI teams (as a side note: Stetson alumni won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year). Football is in its 4th year. They have a Mad Hatters section for students at games which is often full (yes – they’re the Hatters … it is Stetson University, after all!)

They’ve hired several new faculty members to keep up with the increasing academic opportunities, and classes are kept small. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 6; her largest was 33 (Intro to Bio). On the student panel, we asked what their favorite classes were and why:

  • Pirates: “Pirates are just cool!”
  • Poverty and Micro-credit: “it was a service-learning class; we worked in a prison helping with entrepreneurship.”
  • Predictive Analytics: “We did real-life stuff like working with an airline.”
  • Calculus 3: “The professor combined computer programs and the process and theories behind it. It was hard but learned a lot.”
  • Spanish: “The professor offered us accelerated learning when he saw that a few of us were ready to move ahead more quickly.”

Stetson 7They have 3 undergraduate schools as well as a law school (Florida’s first):

  • The School of Business Admin is accredited in both business and in accounting.
  • Arts and Sciences: They have many traditional offerings plus:
  • Stetson quadTheir School of Music is impressive.
    • They take 80 students per year and graduate 55-60. Many change majors but stay at the university. They’re encouraged to dabble early if they’re interested because it’s so heavily proscribed – it’s easier to move out than in.
    • Everyone majoring or minoring need to audition and must be admitted to both the university and the music department. Because it’s a school of music and not a conservatory, they can be accepted at several levels (for a minor but not a major, etc). They can also audition for entry during their freshman year.
    • About half of the students go into music education; they’re in very high demand. 50% graduate in performance or composition.
    • There’s no marching band (no football team!) but the students can get experience working with a local high school that has a 400-member marching band.

Many students Study Abroad, and those who do a language immersion can complete a minor in 1 semester or a major in 2.

Stetson bell towerStudents in the Honors Program can design their own majors by combining any passion and interest; their degree is whatever they label it as. One student combined Art, Art History, and Chemistry to make an Art Restoration major. Students live in honors housing, receive a $2000 stipend for travel or research, and are exempt from many of the gen ed requirements. Students admitted to the honors program average 31.5 ACT or 1410 SAT. They like a 30 ACT and at least a 600 on each of the SAT sections.

The Bonner Program brings in 18 students each year as a cohort; this is reserved for people with a true passion for community service and engagement. The application deadline is Feb 25 with the finalists invited to campus later in the spring.

Stetson cafeAll students complete a research project. Their major will determine the type of research they do, but there’s always an oral presentation component. A Senior Research class gives them some time and structure to do this as needed, but there are multiple opportunities outside the class to do the research.

Admissions is test-optional. If students choose to submit their scores, Stetson will superscore the SAT but not the ACT. They will recalculate GPA (.5 to Honors, 1 point to AP and IB). Students who visit get their application fee waived, and 0ut-of-State students get a 1-time $1,000 travel scholarship. International applicants can have the TOEFL waived if they completed 3 years in an English-speaking school; otherwise, they need a 79 on the test.

Stetson 8Students are automatically considered for Merit Scholarships up to $33,000. Music scholarships are done separately and require an audition; the deadline is 2/25. Non-majors are welcome to apply. Scholarships for DI athletics and ROTC are also available. These are stackable with merit scholarships. The J. Ollie Edmunds Scholarship awards 1 full-ride scholarship each year: students with a 3.5 GPA are eligible to apply. They usually get about 350 applications for this. Four finalists are selected from this pool to come to campus to interview. The winner gets everything paid (including fees) plus 2 study abroad stipends. Additional scholarships for those qualified for the JOE scholarship include one for Humanities, Environmental Sustainability, Writing, and Business Systems and Analytics.

Stetson 2We asked students on the panel to complete this phrase: “I want to thank Stetson for …”

  • Making me who I am.
  • The people. I had a question for a professor who couldn’t answer it right away but had an answer in my email by the next day.
  • Lots of connections with professors and the alumni.
  • Being welcoming. Sometimes change is hard. They did a good job at making the transition easier. People reach out. Everyone has a hard transition but no one admits it. Everyone has that moment when it clicks and you know you’re supposed to be here. The support is here.
  • Expecting us to step up into leadership positions.
  • I had a wakeup call with academics. You might have been the best student in High School, but they expect a lot here. I had a 20 page paper due but never wrote one longer than 5 before. I wasn’t getting the grade I wanted, but the professor met with me in the coffee shop and worked with me. The writing center is there. You can do it.

© 2016

University of Portland

University of Portland (visited 7/14/13)

I was impressed with UP’s campus and the people. The students were eloquent without being forced, and six of them were willing to come in on a summer Sunday afternoon to eat lunch with us, give us tours, and sit on a student panel.

Portland main quad

Main Quad

Downtown Portland from UP

Downtown Portland from UP

UP is a Catholic school in the “largest non-church-going state in the union” according to one of the admissions reps. Half of the students are not Catholic but choose UP because of the community feel, the safety, and because students can (and are expected to) question things. Our tour guide was not Catholic but never felt unwelcome or out-of-place. Students make the religious life what they want it to be. There is even a Jewish Student group (and Jewish professors will welcome the Jewish students for Shabbat and the holidays) as well as an Islamic Prayer room on campus. Priests, who live in all the dorms, are described as the “favorite uncles,” often hosting card games and other events. There are non-required chapel services, but students have to take three theology classes: World Religions (freshman year), Biblical Traditions (sophomore year), and an elective. Nursing majors must take “Death and Suffering,” but most students can choose from a myriad of options including “Divas in the Bible.”

Portland main  quad 2

Main Quad

Two notable programs are Direct Entry Nursing and Direct Entry Engineering. Students remain in the program as long as “you don’t give them a reason to kick you out” by failing a class or getting into serious trouble. A nursing major ate lunch with us; during the first two years at UP, some of her distribution classes were Nursing-specific such as microbiology and stats. Clinicals start in junior year (“8 am classes seemed really early until I had 5 am clinicals!” said our tour guide), and students stay over the summer between junior and senior years to continue clinicals so they can graduate in 4 years. We asked our tour guide if she felt that she missed out on meeting people in other majors, or if the program felt too small. Her interaction with others has lessened as she moved up in the major, but she took her early classes with people from all majors and she participates in clubs and lives in dorms with people from other majors.

Portland chapel

Chapel

Professors are supportive and want students to do well; education is hands-on, starting with small classes. Nursing has simulation labs with fancy, expensive mannequins. The new Engineering Building provides hands-on lab space. The business program has a class that lets students invest $10,000; many of the business majors (and some others) will intern with Nike or Adidas which are headquartered in Portland. All students must complete a capstone experience before graduation. Clinicals count for the Nursing Capstone; others will do original research with a professor or another major project.

Portland academic

An academic building

The school deliberately builds community starting with a Freshman Workshop; students get involved and included right away. They get a call from their upperclassman leader (usually someone in the same major) over the summer. The group meets once a week for an hour, talking about everything from using Portland’s public transportation to how to study in college. Secondly, students can’t have cars their first year which encourages them to take advantage of the campus and city offerings. Finally, all freshmen live on campus in mixed-level dorms that helps everyone get to know each other and learn as a community. There is no Greek life, so social life revolves around dorms and all-campus events. By junior year, about half the students move off campus; it’s cheaper and people like the increased independence. Off-campus housing is close and easy to find. UP has built new suites and apartments, but many dorms are traditional. Our tour-guide lived in one of these her first year, and she liked it, especially the sauna and a pottery room in the dorm. This same dorm has a bomb shelter in the basement which is ironic since the building is shaped like an X: “The architect obviously had a sense of humor.” Wi-fi isn’t always so strong in the dorm, requiring an Ethernet cord sometimes; this is one of the few things that the tour guide wanted to change about the school.

Portland 2It’s easy to get around Portland for internships and activities. The school owns several cars that students can use for free, and they run frequent shuttles. For $2.50 (less if bought from Campus Security), students can get all over the city on Light Rail and the bus system. The school offers subsidized tickets to sports, theater, and more, including $10 tickets to see Wicked and Beauty and the Beast. However, students say there’s so much to do on campus that they don’t need to rely on town for their entertainment – but they do appreciate that it’s there.

Portland soccerUP is the state’s second smallest DI school. Soccer is big; the stands are packed for both women’s and men’s games. Basketball is also fairly big, and they have men’s and women’s crew (a new program; they practice on the river down the hill), but no football. In addition to sports, there are plenty of activities on campus. They bring in big name speakers like the Dalai Lama and Michael Palin. Each dorm also has its own traditions such as kickball tournaments. Additionally, all the students we talked to said that one of their favorite traditions is the massive Slip-n-Slide event held every year

Portland sculptureUP is ranked #1 nationally for service (and 3rd leading school – of schools their size – providing Peace Corp volunteers), with students exhibiting a strong ethical responsibility and social justice. A favorite annual event is the “Man Auction” in which members of a social fraternity auction themselves off for charity. Our tour guide works with a center that hooks her up with things in town like the Food Justice Fund, a hospice program, and more. Some of the “Plunges” (chances to immerse – or plunge – into a certain activity) revolve around service and/or education: going to the Mexico/Arizona border to learn about the immigrant experience or building a Habitat for Humanity house. The pre-orientation Plunge for incoming freshmen is very popular; they spend several days in Portland completing community service with a small group. Students are inclusive and accepting towards all groups. For example, there is a fairly large gay population, and last year, students held Purple Pride in which they fought to have GLBQT issues addressed by the administration; this was well received by students and staff alike.

Study abroad is a major deal here, and they make it relatively easy to go. Language majors must study abroad in a country speaking that language. UP also offers a specific study-abroad program for nursing in Australia in Perth. Our tour guide studied abroad at the University of Grenada where she took all her classes in Spanish. Salzburg is the “flagship” for study abroad. Only 40 students get selected though a rigorous process including interviews in sophomore year. They go all year and travel throughout Europe.

UP takes the Common App. Although admissions is rolling, the class usually fills by December even though the deadline is in January. The school is approximately 40% male (with this year’s freshman class at 44%) and has 25% self-identifying minority students. Merit scholarships are based on numbers with an average GPA of about 3.7 and 1200 SAT (CR & M) for scholarship winners. There are 7 Providence Scholars winners (5 for freshman, 2 for transfers) which pays academic expenses; students are guaranteed a job for 2 years (essentially trading service for the scholarship). There are talent scholarships in drama, music, and athletics; these students must audition or send in a DVD. The performing arts department isn’t huge, but puts on about 4 shows a year.

The campus is in generally good shape, but there are some older buildings. The gym, which looks like a bit like an elementary school gym, is old and historic: JFK gave one of his initial speeches there when running for office (and therefore the building is on the Historic Register and can’t be taken down or significantly altered), and Michael Jordan filmed his first Nike commercial in it. “Before you get too excited, you should know that it’s not such a good thing,” our tour guide said. “The theme was, ‘bad gym, good shoes’.” However, she loves this campus, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s plenty of open space and new construction going on fairly continually. It’s safe; the students we talked to have never known anyone to use or need the blue security lights. They walk around at all hours, and there are security patrols. People know each other, so they know if someone is out of place. The tour guide told us that the decision to come to UP was easy once she visited: “Every person we walked by said hi to the tour guide. It’s a place I thought I could call home.”

© 2013

Davidson College

DAVIDSON COLLEGE (visited on 3/17/13)

Davidson 5I wish I had visited Davidson sooner. I was highly impressed with the campus and the opportunities available to students. It’s unfortunate that it isn’t on more people’s radars. I had heard a lot about it after moving to the state, and I finally had a chance to bring some students for a visit on the way to a College Fair. This selective school of just under 2,000 students sits on a beautiful sprawling campus in the city of Davidson, about 20 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC.

The dining hall

The dining hall

Davidson acad bldg 2We visited on a Sunday when the admissions office was closed, so a student from Hillel gave us a tour and took us to brunch. Although there weren’t a lot of students in the dining hall when we first arrived a little after 11, it was getting busy by the time we left a just before noon. The food was excellent and there were plenty of options. The student we were with said that the line to swipe in can be long during the busiest times, but it moves quickly. The “make your own” stations can take some time to get through because the food is made fresh to order. The most popular stations are the noodle and the omelet bars, but any of the hot food is good because of the variety offered. They’ll hold international theme days (Singapore, Russian Culture Night – including dancers, Peru, etc) which students really like since it’s different. The Thanksgiving Dinner is also well attended and tends to be a highlight of the year. Since the campus is small enough, they only have one main dining hall, but there are a few other dining options on campus. The Davis Cafe in the Union is available for late-night food (it’s open until midnight), and the Cats Den in Sports Center is open for lunch (mostly sandwiches and other “grab and go” options). Also, instead of fraternities or sororities, they have “Eating Houses” which give students a group to join. There are several small houses with kitchens where members can go eat, giving them a small social group to connect with. The multi-cultural House also has a kitchen which groups can reserve, but it has to be educational or part of a recognized group on campus.

Students eating and working outside during lunch

Students eating and working outside during lunch

The statue of the mascot in front of the athletic complex

The statue of the mascot in front of the athletic complex

The sense of community is strong here. Although it’s a smaller school, there’s something for everyone. There’s a lot to do on campus: parties in the quad, movie nights, speakers, clubs that sponsor events (often with food!). A regular email gets sent to students called the “Cryer” which lists the upcoming events including deadlines for grants, internships, summer opportunities, and other similar things. Tables get set up across campus to provide information about everything from clubs to special events to offices (such as Religious Life) on campus. It’s easy to get off campus since the college runs shuttles. Wi-fi is everywhere so students can work outside. Tables and chairs are everywhere, and students were all over on campus utilizing them. They even had tables with umbrellas for shade near the large outdoor stadium. I image those are highly sought-after on game days! Their entire athletic complex is impressive. Davidson is a DI school which surprised me since they’re so small.

One of the dorms.

One of the dorms.

Davidson 4Their freshman dorms are traditional style with bathrooms down the hall, but each room has its own sink. People work hard to create a feeling of community within the dorms, both formally and informally. Our tour guide said that during orientation week, one of the activities was a cake race. Everyone in the hall brought back the cakes they won and had a social. After the first year, students can choose from a variety of dorm styles, including suites. There are also other types of living halls, including “Sub (substance) Free” halls in which residents pledge not to bring in alcohol or come back drunk. New sophomore dorms have kitchens on each floor which other students can use, even if they don’t live there. Most students live on campus, but there are apartments right across the street from campus in which about 100 students are granted permission to live through an application process. All students are allowed cars on campus allowed; parking costs $50 for unlimited parking or $25 for the lots far away. Cars aren’t necessary, though, since campus is in town and things are accessible. The college will run shuttles to the Lake Campus daily and to the Charlotte airport before and after breaks for $30. Lots of students will bring bikes on campus, especially those living in the upperclassman dorms located on the outskirts of campus.

Davidson acad bldgDavidson artsClasses are kept small here; even as a freshman, our tour guide’s largest class (a music class) had 23 students in it; her smallest (Chinese) had 8. Even though this is a small campus, students are not limited to the academics which they can take. The Charlotte area has a consortium of colleges (including UNC-C, Queens, and Belmont) at which students can cross-register with the approval from the Registrar. This is easy to do if the class isn’t offered at Davidson, but harder for more popular subjects like History. Additionally, students can do independent studies for some languages that are less common and aren’t offered – although Davidson does offer a lot, including Chinese and Italian. Students do have a language requirement in which they have to successfully complete three semesters (through 201) of a language, but they can place out if they come in with enough competency. Other requirements include a class in Cultural Diversity, Religion and Philosophy, Social Science, Math, Science with Lab, and English. All freshmen take a Writing Comp class that has some sort of theme (Memory, Gender, Music and Literature, Revisiting the Library – about history and archives), and they’re taught from professors from all disciplines (history, religion, anthro, etc).

(c) 2013

University of Denver

UNIVERSITY OF DENVER (visited 10/4/12)

DU~DU 7Before arriving on campus, I had never heard of a Green Ambulance, aka one that is Solar Powered. It was developed at DU (yes, they call themselves DU, not the other way around. We couldn’t find someone to tell us why) and now serves the campus community. People probably don’t think of DU as a college that’s developing new things, but a surprising amount of interesting stuff is being done here. However, after learning about the types of students they are attracting to campus, it wasn’t so surprising after all. DU is committed to drawing students who will actively engage in opportunities and will think outside the box. In the application and in the optional interviews (which can be done with any of a number people – faculty, staff, alumni), they look for evidence that students are motivated to learn, that they’re concerned about honesty and integrity, and are open to difference and new ideas.

The light-rail stop on campus

The light-rail stop on campus

DU debateI visited the University of Denver right after the first Presidential Debate, and there was clearly still a lot of residual energy surrounding that. We took the light-rail from downtown to the stop directly across the street from campus (students get to ride for free with their Student ID). This beautiful campus is located in a residential area of the city called (appropriately) University Place. There are malls nearby, and the first Chipotle ever opened is located only a couple blocks away. Downtown is seven miles away; a major technology corridor is six miles south (also on the light-rail line). Students use both areas for internships. Beyond that, students have access to all that this part of Colorado has to offer, including six ski areas within 90 miles.

~DU 6Denver is a medium sized school with just over 5,000 undergraduates, but they also have a sizable graduate population which includes their law school and PhD students. Less than 40% of the undergrad population is from Colorado; they draw students from every state and 61 countries with almost 10% of the population coming from abroad. The city of Denver is a major draw for people coming from out-of-state. It’s a major metropolitan area (one of the very few in the country that has every major sports team!), an amusement park within the city limits, and more – but also has the additional appeal of being so close to several smaller cities (Boulder, Colorado Springs, etc) as well as the Rockies and other outdoor opportunities.

~DU seatingDenver runs on the quarter system with three 10-week sessions and an optional 4th summer session. Because of this, students have a 6-week winter break from Thanksgiving to beginning of January which students find helpful if they want to get seasonal employment. Students complete a Common Curriculum comprised of a series of writing classes, arts and humanities, and social and natural sciences.

Denver has 13 schools with more than 100 areas of study including interdisciplinary and pre-professional programs. More unusual DU4majors include: Rhetoric and Professional Writing, Animation and Game Development, Real Estate and Construction Management, Astrophysics, and Cognitive Neuroscience. They have a full Music school, and the opera program is reportedly excellent. Students not majoring in music still have access to many classes in that school, but students must audition in order to major in music, and can only apply under the Regular Decision deadline. The Art school requires a portfolio, and Theater students who want scholarships must audition. Students interested in Business don’t apply to Daniels until freshman year for entrance into the school during the fall quarter of sophomore year; they are interviewed and submit a resume as part of the process. Special degree programs include 3+2 and 4+1 in Business, Education, and Social Work (in which students can study something different as undergrad), and in Art History, GIS, international studies, public policy, and engineering (in which students must major in that field as an undergraduate).

~DU gardenDenver prides itself on active, not passive, learning with average class sizes of 21. Our tour guide’s smallest and biggest classes have DU2been 17 and 120. Ninety-five percent of classes have fewer than 50 students; 82%% have fewer than 30. Every first-year student works with a faculty mentor. The five-year average retention rate is 88% (freshman to sophomore year). Professors teach 99.8% of the classes and are known for cutting edge contribution to research. Ninety percent of the full-time faculty hold the highest degree in their field and/or are active in their field such as the music professor playing in the symphony or the business professor who owns her own business. Sixty-five to seventy percent of students complete at least one internship before graduation. Over 200 students participate in research with faculty each year, and the school helps to pair up students with professors; students regularly publish and present their findings. About 1,250 students participate in 80 service-courses each year. DU is on the US President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll because of the amount of service they provide in the wider Denver area. They also want students to study abroad and have started the Cherrington Global Scholars program: If students have a 3.0 GPA, they can study abroad and not pay any more than they’d pay at DU. About 70% of students participate before graduation.

DU requires that students live on campus for the first two years; 95% of first-year students live on campus (the rest living with family inDU3 town). Dorms are comfortable and modern with cable, a micro-fridge, wireless, and other amenities coming standard. As is becoming more popular on campuses across the country, they have several Living Learning Communities available to First Year students who can choose from themes such as Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Environmental Sustainability, International, Social Justice, and Wellness. DU also provides Integrated Learning Programs which span all 4 years, the Honors Program, and the Pioneer Leadership Program. Students can minor in Leadership Studies which is becoming increasingly more popular.

~DU 11The Early Action and the Regular Decisions rounds are equally competitive. Applicants can use either the Common App or the Pioneer App (specific to DU). They take either the SAT or the ACT w/o writing, and they will SuperScore both tests. They require a counselor recommendation; additional letters are optional. AP scores, if available, can help the students (but to get credit, the student must have earned a 4 or 5 on the exam). Qualifications for scholarships and for the Honors program are evaluated during application process. Those being offered a spot in the Honors program usually have just under a 4.0 GPA and about a 32 ACT or the SAT equivalent. University scholarships can carry over to the 5th year.

~DU chapelCampus has lots of activities to participate in or to watch. DU has 17 DI athletic teams; the college has earned 28 team and 109 individual champions, 308 All-Americans, and 57 Olympians. Non-athletes actively support the teams; hockey is the most attended event. The Alpine Club is particularly popular. Its goal is to get people outdoors, so they have equipment for student use, offer rides, and get discounts at local places. Homecoming, Winter Carnival, and May Days are particularly popular traditions which draw large crowds.

(c) 2012

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