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Spaulding University

Spaulding University (visited 9/23/19)

Spaulding 3I had no idea what to expect from this school. I thought I’d spend an hour or so talking to the rep, poking around campus a little, and leaving. I didn’t have hugely high expectations. I knew that it was very much an urban campus, Catholic, and from everything I had heard, a small regional school – all of which is true, but I ended up liking several things about it. However, there are a few things that would make it a hard sell for students from outside the area.

Spaulding map

Campus map showing its integration into the city

What makes Spaulding unique is their approach to classes. This is a great school for someone who is looking for a different way of scheduling. There are a few schools in the country where you can take 1 class at a time (usually for 18 school days) and then move onto the next. This is similar but with more flexibility. They split their semesters into three 6-week blocks with a week off in between. Students take either 1 or 2 classes in each block with classes meeting Monday-Thursday for 1 hour and 40 minutes each day. This allows students to take up to 18 hours in a semester while never taking more than two classes at a time and to customize the class load to meet graduation goals. Because a 12-credit semester is considered full-time for Financial Aid and athletics, they can choose to take only 1 class during 1 of the blocks each semester. This is particularly great for athletes during their in-season, students who want to do internships, seniors studying for the LSAT or MCAT, etc.

Spaulding buddhism garden

The Contemplative Garden in progress

The school was founded by Sister Spaulding (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth) when she was 16 in order to “teach girls crazy things like science, math, and reading.” They trace their nursing program back to a cholera epidemic when some students asked doctors to teach them to care for people with the disease. Today, they maintain their Catholic heritage, but the mission extends far beyond that. “We’re as Catholic as you want it to be, but in reality, we’re more historically Catholic than actively Catholic. There’s Mass offered on Tuesday but it’s never required.” Students have to take 2 religion courses, but there are 20+ to choose from. They are currently building a Buddhist Stupa, a contemplative garden, and a Zen labyrinth in an empty lot next to one of their current buildings. You can check out the contemplative garden here.

Spaulding old house 2

Part of the interior of the original old house. 

This is definitely an urban campus. The original building is a gorgeous historic house that was built in 1879 by distillers. “Surprisingly, it became available in the 1920s!” (Fun fact: it’s said to be haunted by a mischievous boy). In the courtyard right outside this building sits a Tulip Poplar, the largest tree in the city. Since the university opened, they’ve bought up several buildings in the surrounding blocks, but there is no central campus although there is a lot of green space, including a 5-acre site that used to be an overgrown parking lot. “We’re trying to bridge the gap in the revitalization.” There is very little security in most of the buildings (although we saw several officers around; it is still an urban campus!),

Spaulding 6

The Tulip Poplar

but signs on side doors ask people to use main doors for entry. “You can exit from any door, but only enter in some because of security,” said a rep. They have 8 acres of athletic fields about 4 blocks west of campus. They open these to the community, as well. They have some lined for field hockey and lacrosse but don’t offer them as varsity sports at this point. Most of the buildings are very well maintained and/or have been renovated. The library did smell a bit musty, but they were some really amazing hammocks inside, donated by the President of the college.

 

Spaulding library hammocks

Some of the hammocks in the library donated by the college president.

The College President, Tori Murden, was the first woman to row across the Atlantic (check out her book Pearl in the Storm), the first woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole, first employee of the Muhammad Ali museum. She’s doing a lot of things to help the university (she grew up in Louisville and earned her MFA in Writing from Spaulding). Although they don’t have a huge endowment, they’re in no danger of closing. “We err on the side of caution. We don’t borrow. We do fundraising instead of using tuition dollars, and we don’t build anything until we can fund it.”

 

Spaulding 5

Columbia Gym with the replica red bike over the door. 

One of their main buildings is the Columbia Gym which now houses several sports teams, an indoor batting cage and golf center, a large auditorium, and more. Over the main entrance is a replica of the bicycle which was the imputus for Mohammed Ali to start boxing; he had left it outside the building and it got stolen; he went in for help, and got introduced to a police officer who taught boxing. When Clay said he was going to beat up whoever stole the bike, the officer said he’d better learn how to do it properly and started training him.

 

Spaulding Ali sign 2Spaulding has 1700 students with undergrads making up about half of that. Incoming classes have 150-200 each. “We’d like to be closer to 210-220.” Retention first-second year is 76% with graduation rates in the 60s. “It’s not where we want it to be. There are several factors that feed into that,” said the rep. “One big one is that we tend to take chances on students that maybe other schools won’t. They often say the right things in admissions but can’t walk the walk. We’re over 50% Pell Eligible here. We try to give them wrap-around support, but for some it’s more difficult.”

Spaulding sign“We’re striking a balance between supporting people but also being mission-appropriate in reaching out to people who need it,” said another rep. They’re working with an Educational Advisory Board to try to increase success rates. They have a software programs that will look at things as simple as tracking attendance and using analytics to look at courses like the SU100 (intro to college). “If you aren’t successful in that class, you won’t be successful in others. It’s an effort class: If you show up and turn in the work, you’re going to get an A or B.” They take conditional admits who complete an intensive 1-week bridge program over the summer and meet with success coaches throughout the semester. To be an unconditional admit, students need a 2.5 GPA and 20 ACT (or SAT equivalent).

Spaulding patio

One of the many courtyards that helps make it feel a little less urban.

Dorm capacity is about 450; students coming from further than 50 miles away must live on campus for 3 years. Local students are welcome to live on campus, but they want to provide an opportunity for them to stay at home if that helps them finance their college education. Only about half the undergraduates live on campus, making Spaulding (at least as a non-commuting student) a harder sell – but students find connections through athletics or video games or even the city! “You’re in Louisville and there’s a ton of great things to do off campus, including UL (DI) football games.

Conversely, the price-point is phenomenal and makes this an easier sell for students! The cost of attendance for tuition, fees, and R&B (double occupancy and a standard meal plan) falls just under $33,000! They have some really good scholarships, too, including:

  • Heartland Scholarship: anyone coming in from outside Kentucky gets a 10% reduction.
  • Bonus award: This is worth $1,800+. Students with an 18 ACT+ composite score (or an equivalent SAT) receive their score x $100! Scholarships are stackable up to the Cost of Attendance.

Classes are kept small. The largest ones are usually 20-25 in the first year and 12-14 in upper levels. Many of the majors are profession-focused: business, communication, education, psychology, social work, and natural science including the pre-professional and Health Science tracks.

  • Students can double major in Accounting and Business and graduate in 4 years!
  • They have a BFA in Creative Writing and a renowned MFA program.
  • Criminal Justice started in 2019 with concentrations in Corrections, Forensics and Electronic Crime, Juvenile Justice, and Law Enforcement.
  • Nursing: there are spots for everyone as long as they meet the minimum GPA requirements and pass the entry exam.
  • Fine Arts has concentrations in General FA, Graphic Design, Digital Media, Painting/Drawing, and Interdisciplinary Sculpture.
  • The Center for Behavior Health provides counseling services for low-income in the area (students can get clinical or shadowing hours), and students can get EdPsych testing done for free by the Psych Doctoral students!
  • Students can come in with AP credit for scores of 3, 4, and 5, allowing them to graduate early and save tuition money.
  • Spaulding has paired up with Western Kentucky University for a Study Abroad consortium. WKU has a winter term right after New Years. Spaulding students can enroll in the pre-class during Block 3 and travel right after the holidays.
  • Students can supplement their schedule with classes at nearby schools (up to 2 per term)

© 2019

Albertus Magnus College

albertus-signAlbertus Magnus College (visited 10/12/16)

albertus-field

One of the sports fields, a popular place during evenings games

Albertus is a small school built on a hillside in a residential part of New Haven. This is a quiet, safe neighborhood (so much so that there are no blue lights; students are given an emergency tab for their keychains. No one was able to tell me a time that it was actually used for anything other than accidentally sitting on it when it was in a pocket). The admissions rep said, “If you’re looking to be a person instead of a number, this is the place to do it.” Students looking for a highly personalized, small environment would do well here, particularly if they’re looking to play sports. Over half the student body (55%) play on one of the 7 men’s and 8 women’s teams (right now, women’s swimming and golf are club level, not varsity. They’re looking to add Field Hockey next year, and hopefully these will be Varsity in the next couple years). Basketball and baseball draw a crowd, as will anything played on their turf field, particularly in the evenings.

albertus-dorm

The only dorm that looks like a dorm

There are only 500 day-population students (basically traditional-aged college students); there are 1000 in the evening population who have to be 22 years or older. This is still a regional school with many students coming from CT, NYC, NJ, and MA with a few random other states represented (often these students come for the sports). About 290 students live on campus with space available for another 100. It’s a historical campus, so most dorms look like old houses. Mostly it’s not a suitcase school because of the athletes.

albertus-library

The original building, now the library

Campus is close enough to downtown to take advantage of all that it offers. Students particularly enjoy the city-run events on the Downtown Green. From a stop on campus, students can take the Yale shuttle for free which takes them around town; this is well utilized. On-campus events are mostly organized by the Student Activity Board which runs weekly events, large annual events such as Spring Formal and Fall Fling, and off-campus trips to apple orchards in the fall, NYC, and Boston.

albertus-statue

One of the academic buildings

This is a religiously affiliated college in the Dominican heritage: the mission is about balanced education and to give students a safe space to grow, to discover who they are, and to be able to search for truth, whatever that means for them. As part of their core requirements, all students take a religion and a philosophy class; there isn’t any other religious requirement. Sisters live on campus, and the interim President is a Sister. There’s a deacon on campus, as well.

Like most small schools, faculty are involved, caring, and get high marks from students. “We have the best faculty! I’m a master’s student, and they are so supportive and that carries over into day population. They’ll email students if you aren’t in class to find out what’s going on.” Some of the academic programs that the admissions rep wanted to highlight included:

  • Business Management: in addition to the Management concentration, they just added one in entrepreneurship and are talking about a ThinkTank lab.
  • Digital Media is new
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology with concentrations in general psych, child development, counseling and mental health, and art therapy
  • Art Therapy can be done either under art or psych. Students can continue on to complete a Masters in Art Therapy; this is 1 of only 30 institutions in the county to offer this Masters. It’s competitive and students have to apply; 15 students are accepted each year; maybe 5 of them come from Albertus. Students coming from the undergraduate program have no edge over those coming from outside; they have to have the art background to get in.
  • Finance with concentrations in Corporate Finance or Personal Finance Management

albertus-1Students are well prepared for the job market: during their time at Alburtus, they create an e-portfolio and add anything dealing their major, job preparation (including a resume), etc into it. Almost all students (90%) complete an internship as an undergrad. High numbers also participate in one of 22 study-abroad programs which is done in conjunction with Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. Service Learning trips are also popular; students will build homes in Jamaica, renovate buildings in Montreal, etc.

© 2016

Chapman University

Chapman University (Information Session/Lunch, 9/26/16)

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Chapman, located in Orange Country, California. However, they hosted a lunch in DC last week; in attendance was an admissions rep and 5 or 6 recent alumni residing in the DMV area. I sat across from one (class of 2015) and 2 seats down from another (class of 2013). After a brief update from the Rep on programs and new things on campus, we had the rest of lunch to speak with alumni. This was a fabulous way to get to know about the feel of the school and some of the programs.

I was impressed that the Admissions office could send a blanket invitation to about 50 alumni in the DC area inviting them to lunch in exchange for talking to us. They did not screen the people who came; they trusted that they were excited about their experiences. They were right. The alumni couldn’t say enough about Chapman. They were articulate, excited, happily employed – and they say they’re the rule, not the exception. The woman across from me had been accepted into many of the UCs but chose Chapman. “It was absolutely the best choice. I was able to do so much there that I couldn’t have done other places. For examples, I had an idea for a conference, went to people, pitched it, and it happened. That’s what makes Chapman unique. I could plan, run, and budget a program. This isn’t unusual. Students do it all the time.”

She was also a First-Gen student so I asked her about support systems. “It’s there. It’s REALLY there. I had people reaching out to me all the time. However, I was not far from my family, I feel like I had a lot of support and knew how to run with things. I didn’t take advantage of these things, but in some ways, it was comforting to know it was there if I did need it. I finally reached out to them, told them I was doing great, and said that they could take me off the list so they could focus their energy on other students who might need the help more than I did.”

The Honors Program is a minor and takes an interdisciplinary approach. “That was the coolest part for me,” said the alum sitting a couple seats down. They have AMAZING minors (in addition to a lot of usual, more traditional ones) such as Holocaust History, Organismal Biology, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Studies, and Law/Justice/Social Control.

Updates on programs, buildings, and academics include:

Dodge College of Film and Media Arts is one of the best in the country. Most of the programs in this college are BFAs, including Screen Acting, Screenwriting, Creative Producing, and Television Writing and Production. Film Production is their most competitive major with a 5-10% acceptance rate (Compared to about a 51% acceptance rate for other programs. Students should put in a second choice, but know that there is rarely a space to transfer in.

Chapman has 6500 undergraduates. This year, they have 100 more freshman than anticipated, so there are going to be some more students in triples. They guarantee first year housing but not past that. Generally, though, people who want to stay, can. They’re located in a residential area: there are lots of nearby houses and apartments to rent within a 5-10 minute walk. Usually, they learned about places through older friends already off campus. Both of the alumni had lived off campus and never had a problem finding a place. One of them, as a senior, lived closer to her classes than she did in the dorms.

Average GPA of accepted students is 3.76. They look at 10th and 11th grade classes plus first semester of 12th grade if the student applies Regular Decision. They recalculate GPA based on Core Classes (including religion if it’s required at the high school) plus any classes related to the major. They’ll add weight to IB and AP classes; if the high school does not offer these, they’ll add weight to honors classes. Average test scores are 1880 (Old SAT) and 28 ACT; they superscore SAT but not ACT.

© 2016

Neumann University

Neumann University (visited 7/22/16)

Neumann domeNeumann has come a long way since its opening in 1965. Founded in the Franciscan Tradition, “it’s a very loving place,” said one admissions rep. “We’re interested in admitting people who we’ll be able to assist in meeting their goals. Neumann is going to take care of you. If you’re struggling, we’ll find you and help you through.”

Franciscan Sisters still live on campus and are highly involved in the school. Although about half of the undergraduates identify as Catholic, they have a number of different religions on campus. There’s also a great deal of racial and other diversity. Almost ¼ of the population is African-American, and many others identify as multi-racial.

Neumann garden

A garden on campus

This is a nicely landscaped campus with what we dubbed “pocket gardens,” small areas around campus with a couple benches and trees/bushes/flowers.

Neumann dorm

One of the dorms

This had been primarily a commuter school, but this is changing. The current on-campus population hovers around 50%; they are actively trying to move that to 60%. They have room for 900 students, but usually only 7-800 live on campus at this point. They’re building “intentional communities” within the dorms such as floors in the halls for the Honors program and other LLCs. They’re zoned for triples but most are doubles right now; students choosing to have a triple can pay less. Housing is guaranteed for all 4 years. The great thing is that all dorm rooms have their own bathrooms!

Neumann 1The tour guide has been impressed that the school listens to students and are changing the culture to holistic living and learning allowing students to learn to manage their lives properly, become adults, etc. For example, the alcohol policies have started to change; this had been a dry campus, but alcohol is now allowed in the apartments (generally only occupied by seniors and therefore of legal age).

Neumann tv studio

One of the tv studios

Nursing is the biggest major, and they prepare students well: they have an impressive 93-94% NCLEX pass rate (3-year average). They are somewhat more flexible with admissions into the program because they’re willing to have students try if they want to, but they do have a bit higher attrition than peer institutions. Students realize they don’t like it and/or that they aren’t doing well and self-select or are counseled out.

Other programs worth mentioning are:

Neumann plaza 2Located within 30 minutes of Philly and just north of Wilmington, DE, Neumann maintains 170 active internship sites NOT including education or health science clinical experiences, allowing students to graduate with hands-on experience.

Neumann is a big hockey school, including roller hockey as a club sport. They’re a DIII school playing in the Colonial States Conference. They’re adding Men’s Volleyball and women’s swimming this year.

© 2016

Messiah College

Messiah College (Visited 11/21/14)

~Messiah chairsIf you walked onto campus knowing nothing about the college (including its name), you would never guess that this was a religiously affiliated college. There are no statues, crosses, paintings – but in spirit, this is one of the most religious campuses I’ve ever visited. “If you aren’t interested in Faith, in exploring your Christian identity, you won’t be happy here. Our identity is right up front starting with our name. It doesn’t stop there,” said student panelist. Even professors sign an affirmation of Apostle’s Creed.

Stickers left on students' post office boxes

Stickers left on students’ post office boxes

The students live the school Mission: education towards maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation of church and society. What happens when seemingly opposite ideals such as faith and intellect co-exist? One outcome is a discerning spirit. For example, in a philosophy class, they look at a problem and identify the longing for meaning. “They grapple with ideas from all angles in order to see the world’s realities in a much deeper way.”

The library

The library

They have 3 main focal points:

  • Sharpening Intellect: They prepare students to make a difference in addition to preparing for the workplace.
    • They offer over 80 majors, 11 new since 2011 including Chinese Business, Digital Media, Economic Development, Public Relations, and Musical Theater.
    • About 9% study engineering, almost 8% study nursing, and about 5% each in psych, Business Admin, Education, and Applied Health Science.
    • Several students have been awarded Rhodes, Fulbrights, etc
    • 95% graduate with a job, in grad school, or doing service like the Peace Corps.
    • I spoke with a music professor about the arts; they aren’t cranking out “starving artists.” Based on information from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, 85% of graduates are employed professionally as artists.
  • Deepening Faith: They work towards a unity of faith, learning, and life seeing the importance of the person with an ethos for mutual respect. Everyone is honored in the community with high standards for student conduct.
  • Inspiring Action:
    • Messiah is in the Top 20 US undergrad institutions for sending students to study abroad (76%).
    • 98% participate in voluntary service. “Service has been part of the DNA of the college since its founding.” Students foster justice, empower the poor, reconcile adversaries, and care for the earth.
    • Washington Magazine ranked them 5th nationally for commitment to research and public service in 2014. Students solve real-world problems, partnering with organizations like World Vision.
    • An Experiential Learning Requirement starts in the fall of 2014. Students must complete at least 1 Internship/practicum, off-campus study, service learning, leadership development, or research project.

~Messiah waterStudents attend at least 24 Chapels a semester, 12 of which must be Common Chapel. These 45-minute events are held Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Elective Chapel, which could be sponsored by a variety of departments or groups, is held on Thursday morning. Alternative Chapels are held in the evenings. Students have things to say and this gives them a voice. The variety of options acknowledges the different ways to engage in worship and allows students to decide what works for them.

There are no church services on campus; students worship at the location of their choice in the community. Volunteers from churches pick up the students. Several students said that their favorite meal was chicken cordon bleu which is usually served for lunch after church (and of the nearby churches serves free dinner on Wednesday nights: “free food goes over well with college students!”).

~Messiah 5Messiah has 2800 undergraduates: 60/40 female to male, 39% from 38 states, 11% underrepresented populations, 3% international. They’ve developed partnerships with Malaysian churches and recently enrolled their first Chinese students. The president is engaged with students: “Friend me on Facebook!” She talked about the motto, “See Anew,” and showed a picture of stained glass. Each piece represents the students. The value system is the foil that holds the pieces together. They embrace diversity through curricular and co-curricular activities.

A music class in the new Arts Center

A music class in the new Arts Center

They did a good job selecting students for the panel, representing a spectrum of involvement in ministries, athletics, student government, Honors, study abroad, etc. The Student Body Chaplain puts together Elective Chapels and works with students to encourage outlets and initiatives students are interested in. He spent a semester in Uganda at a Christian university. The athlete had gone to a Christian high school and originally wanted to get out of the Christian School bubble but got recruited for basketball. She has worked on diversity committees here. The Engineering student has been working with pumps on latrines to assist people with disabilities.

Campus life is thriving (which is good since there’s not much in walking distance, and freshman can’t have cars unless they’re from more than 300 miles away). Sports are a big deal. Students go to all games, “even swim meets.” Messiah is ranked 3rd in country for soccer fans, and the soccer teams have won 16 national championships since 2000. There are several traditions that students spoke about:

  • Marshmallow Bowl is the game against E’town, the big rival.
  • Midnight Scream: During the 24-hour Quiet Hours around finals, all bets are off for 1 minute at midnight.
  • Duct Tape Wars: a “battle of epic proportions” is held during Spring Reading Day.
Cafe and lounge in the library

Cafe and lounge in the library

Accepted students have an average of 1127 SAT/24 ACT and a 3.7 GPA. 100 students with 1300+ SAT and in the top 10% of their class are invited to the Honors program; they interview on campus to compete for largest scholarships. 40-50 students are conditionally accepted each year; they tend to have under 1000 SAT and less than a 3.0 GPA.

87.5% of freshmen return for sophomore year; 71.6% graduate within 5 years. Students leave because they change their majors, because of the distance from home, or they want less of the Christian atmosphere. 86% of students live on campus; there is an expectation that students will uphold the ideals of student conduct which includes not drinking while school is in session.

© 2014

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (visited 11/18/14)

PCAD Lobby

PCAD Lobby

Gallery Space

Gallery Space

PCAD is housed in a large 5-story building (really 2 connected buildings) in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All 300 undergraduates complete a BFA degree in one of five majors: Digital Media, Fine Arts, Illustration, Photography, and Graphic Design. Two-third of their classes will be in their major. The rest are distribution requirements and electives. Business classes are part of their non-studio requirements, and all students complete an internship the summer before their senior year. All students complete a foundation year after which they declare their major. Classes are pretty much set that first year, but students interested in photography can replace Drawing 2 with Black&White photography.

Some of the work done for Broadway Theater

Some of the work done for Broadway Theater

Senior Studio spaces

Senior Studio spaces

Professors are all active in the industry giving students real-life information and contacts. They can complete lots of client-based projects in classes. For example, every year, students complete designs for Broadway Theater in town which are used in the company’s playbills and promotional materials. Students must have a Mac laptop, although there are plenty of desktops around campus, as well. The library is small, but students have complete access to the Franklin and Marshall library, less than a mile away.

Printmaking lab

Printmaking lab

Digital class

Digital class

The nice things about Lancaster is that it’s a small city of 60,00 residents. “It’s a good for those students who aren’t quite ready to take on NY or Chicago,” said the admissions rep, “but it still gives them lots of connections with the art community to exhibit.” The school brings in lots of speakers and visiting artists who show work and teach workshops and classes. All seniors get their own space that mimics professional space in a workplace. I talked briefly to one senior who said her favorite thing about PCAD was her space! She’s looking at Naropa University for grad school to go into therapy. The school can boast a 97% placement rate for their graduates. The Fine Arts majors are more likely to continue to graduate school, but the others tend to get jobs quickly.

Student artwork which is displayed all through the hallways

Student artwork which is displayed all through the hallways

3-D design class

3-D design class

Housing is an issue: there are no dorms. There are some school-run furnished lofts about 2 blocks away, but there are only spots for 26 students. “I recommend that they apply early if they’re interested in this.” Other apartments are available through landlords, and the housing office helps connect students to these places. They are not furnished, but they’re all within 5 blocks of campus. There’s also no food service on campus (other than vending machines), but there are a lot of grocery stores and food places around. Central Market (like a large farmer’s market) is close, but it’s only open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.

© 2014

Baldwin Wallace University

Baldwin-Wallace College (visited 4/19/12) (now BW University)

“Ok, before we go into the lab, we have a couple rules. First, leave all food and drink outside. Second, do not lick anything in the lab. Everyone good?” Really, you can’t beat a biology professor with a good sense of humor!

BWC 1

The main Conservatory building on campus.

First impressions mean a lot even though we’re told not to judge a book by its cover. BWC made an excellent first impression with its beautiful old stone buildings, immaculate grounds, and tulips and daffodils blooming everywhere. The good news is that the substance of the college did not disappoint! The people at BWC were the only ones on the seven-college counselor-tour who showed off what made them distinct from other schools instead of giving the typical spiel/song-and-dance. A couple other schools gave lip-service to the idea of “we’re not going to tell you that we have great faculty, study abroad options, and research opportunities, because every place you go is going to tell you that” . . . and then they proceeded to tell us about those things. BWC didn’t. Instead, we got to spend time in a lab to interact with students doing independent research, check out innovations in their athletic center and the majors associated with it (such as athletic training, exercise science, sports management and health promotion and management), and then tour their Music Conservatory and learn about programs there. I didn’t even know that they HAD a conservatory; neither did my sister who is a musician, so it’s clearly one of their best-kept secrets! The students go on to do impressive things including performing on Broadway. Seniors graduating with a Musical Theater major participate in a showcase every spring in New York City in front of several directors and producers. This happened about a week before our visit, and within a span of five days, all 13 graduating seniors had signed with agents. (As a comparison, I heard that Michigan had two at that same point in time). An audition is required for entrance into the Conservatory (accredited by the National Association of Music Schools) which offers emphases in performance, pedagogy, jazz, conducting, theory, composing, and sacred music in addition to the unusual major of Music Therapy. (Students also have to be proficient enough on at least one instrument to gain acceptance into the Conservatory if they want to major in Music Therapy).

BWC3Baldwin Wallace actively looks ahead to jobs that experts predict will be available for students in 5-10 years, and then creates majors and learning opportunities for students in order to prepare them. They created 14 new degree programs in the last four years or so. The Physician Assistant program is 1 of 6 in Ohio; they’re a year away from accreditation for a 3-2 program. They excel in Health Sciences and Allied Health majors. They utilize the nearby Cleveland hospitals, some of which are ranked in the top 10 nationally, and they work with industry professionals to develop the new degrees. Their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing utilizes Concept-based learning; only a couple other programs in NM and NC do this. The Health Sciences are producing impressive results; this year, two students (a junior and a senior) interned with the top pediatric neurosurgeon in the country.

Other majors of note include Digital Media and Design (combining artistry/creativity and technology), their Software engineering degree starting this fall (the only one in the state), Health Care Management, Public Health (which started this fall; 29 students are already enrolled), and Recreation Sport Sciences.

BWC4One of their major goals across all majors is to create a practice-based education. Most of the faculty members come to BW from the fields in which they teach allowing them to provide practical, real examples of how the theory and knowledge they teach translates into the real world. Almost every student completes some sort of “experiential education” experience through internships, study abroad, and other types of programs. The school has 52 articulated agreements for study abroad with options for others if students find a different program they’re interested in. Students must complete a minor here in order to broaden their educational field.

Although this is a Methodist-affiliated college, it does not feel at all religious. Although we didn’t get a full tour of the school, I’m not sure they even have a chapel; if they do, it’s not obvious in the main part of campus. However, the current president is only one of two in the history of the institution who is a non-Methodist, non-pastor president; he was also only one of two college Presidents on the tour to take the time to talk to us (Otterbein’s president was the other).

BWC is a Test Optional school; applicants have the option to turn in graded paper instead of test scores. They are also committed to affordability; there have been very small tuition increases in the last several years, the lowest in their peer-group. The entire bill comes to $35,000 a year including all the fees (tech, health, etc.), although the tuition at the conservatory is higher than the rest of campus because of the private lessons. The best thing – and the first time I’ve heard of a school doing this – has to do with the Meal Plan: students only get charged for what they use. If they don’t use it, BWC will give it back!

This incoming freshmen class (fall of 2012) can sign up for a 4-year graduation guarantee. BWC has been intentional about getting students out in four years, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is. They have a mapped-out four-year plan so students can stay on track. It is a completely voluntary program and basically requires that the students do common sense things such as meet with their advisor regularly and declare a major within two years as well as attend seminars and sign a waiver that will release information to the parents (if they drop a course, if they aren’t doing well in class, etc). If they do everything they need to do but can’t graduate within 4 years, the 5th year’s tuition is free.

BWC 2

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front.

Students must live on campus for freshmen and sophomores years unless they are within a certain radius of campus and living with family. About 80% of freshman and sophomores live on campus and about 2/3 of the total undergraduates are on campus – that’s almost 2,000 residents on campus. Freshman can have cars on campus.

I was left with the good impressions of BW that I started with and I would definitely recommend it to my students. It has the typical smallish-college feel but with a lot of options and innovative programs that allows students to take advantage of a lot. The campus is comfortable and students are friendly. A former student of one of the counselors had joined us at lunch so we got yet another student’s perspective; he loves the college and all that he can do there.

(c) 2012

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