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Archive for the tag “direct entry nursing”

Bethel College

Bethel College (visited 11/21/19)

Bethel pond 2Bethel is a small welcoming school on a pretty campus (including several fountains), lots of traditions (a couple involving said fountains), solid academics, and a strong faith-based community; “you have to be willing to engage with the religion,” said the tour guide. Students must earn 3 chapel credits per week in any combination of services (chapel meets at 10am on MWF), coffee with a philosophy professor, small group bible study in the dorms, etc. They’ve switched chapel credits this year, the tour guide thinks it’s a good change: “There’s more choice and it shakes things up a bit.”

Bethel chapel 2

The small chapel

Our tour guide wanted a school that wasn’t just Christian in name. Bethel is intentionally Christian in everything they do, including their Statement of Faith and expectations for the community. People here want to grow in their faith. They choose to participate not just in established activities such as Chapel, but seek ways to go beyond that. For example, our tour guide described “Scripture 66” which takes places over a weekend every fall semester. Students read the entire bible out loud between chapel on Friday and chapel on Monday, usually in the small chapel.

Bethel ampitheaterStudents tend more towards the conservative religious side. If that’s what they grew up with, they’ll be comfortable here. Students have a lot of forums to speak up. The tour guide feels that they do a good job of being inclusive of all races, but “We’re predominantly white. We’re in Indiana. That’s going to happen.” They’ve create clubs for spaces for people and to have a forum to talk to admin. “The effort is there.”

Bethel windowThis still feels very much like a small regional school. Only about 800 of the 1400 live on campus (and, living up to the Christian school norms, it’s a dry campus and dorms have specific coed visitation hours). Retention is ok, hovering around 72% but there’s definitely room for improvement, which they realize. They’re starting a new First-Year Experience to help students create connections, and they’ve hired a new grad to revamp it.

Bethel pond 5They have some fun traditions: Pond Run is held on the first day of freshman year. Helm Run is held on the day of the first snowfall: guys run in their underwear (and no shoes) from the dorm to the Helm and back. Babe and Dude weeks (Babe Week is usually first) are also big deals – they do slip-n-slide in the dorms, panels, FroYo runs, initiation, etc. They also have good activities such as an Escape Room campus.

Since they’re in NAIA rather than NCAA, they can provide athletic scholarships. They just brought in a new athletic director so games tend to be drawing in more fans now.

Bethel is flexible with AP and dual enrollment. They have some interesting options for majors an minors such as:

© 2019

University of Michigan – Flint

University of Michigan – Flint (visited 11/19/19)

UMFlint main signUM-Flint is a University of Michigan institution but has its own admissions policies and its own scholarships. “We’re not a satellite of Ann Arbor,” said the rep. However, students who want a UMich education and degree (the diploma just says University of Michigan!) but in a smaller school (8,000 undergrads rather than 28,000 at Ann Arbor), a more urban environment (they’re right in downtown), or who maybe want to get their grades up to be competitive at Ann Arbor would thrive here. They offer great academics including direct entry nursing, business, BFA degrees in fine and performing arts, engineering, psychology, and an array of health-care degrees.

UMFlint ice rink

The campus ice rink

We added UM-Flint to the itinerary at the last minute since we were staying in town and had a bit of time. I did not expect to spend long on campus; in fact, when I contacted the admissions office, I asked if I could pick up a bit of info right before they closed and said that we could just wander a bit on our own. They went way above and beyond: the rep had gift bags of swag, she talked to us for about 30 minutes (staying past closing to do so), and they had a student waiting for us who toured us around campus for an hour in the evening.

UMFlint walkways

One of the walkways between buildings

While this would still be a harder sell for most out-of-state students, there are definite pluses going for it. As a much smaller campus that Ann Arbor, the average class hovers around 25-30 students, so students might find more success and access here, particularly for those looking for a more personal touch in their intro level classes. The atmosphere here is distinct and much more urban. The campus sits close to downtown; 5 or 6 of the buildings are connected by skywalks (“Hamster Tunnels,” the student said) so students don’t have to cross streets or get cold in the winter. There’s a lot to do on and around campus, including the campus ice skating rink. “There are a lot of options within the county, not just Flint,” said the rep. “When I think of local, I think of the entire county. There are tons of things to do.” Students love the Farmer’s Market which is right next to the Freshman dorm, and there are several things within easy walking distance. “There are interesting, one-of-a-kind places around.” Traffic is almost a non-issue as well; it’s very easy to navigate and get around town.

UMFlint quad

The dorm quad at night

“We’re very much a non-traditional school; we have tons of freshmen and transfers as well as adults coming in for completion degrees who are working FT.” Although many people do come from the area, they’re being deliberate in trying to expand their reach out. They’re going to give Out-of-State students free housing this year to help grow the market! They have dorms for freshmen and for upperclassmen, but only about 15% of students currently live on campus. The dorms are phenomenal — all dorms are suite style with single rooms and a great lounge. Hallways look like a hotel, and they’re new and clean. They have the 2nd most affordable housing in the state, and there are tons of options surrounding campus. Freshman must have a meal plan. Parking is no additional fee. “We expect that everyone has a car.”

UMFlint student cntr

The student center

This is a great option for students who want to earn a UM degree. Students can transfer later to Ann Arbor, but not every class they take at Flint will transfer over. They should work with their advisor to make sure they take appropriate classes if transferring is their goal. “Gen Ed classes are fairly transfer-friendly,” said the rep. Flint’s only offers General and Mechanical Engineering, but they offer a 2+2 with Ann Arbor for the other programs. This is basically a guarantee as long as they maintain grades, etc. The school’s retention and graduation rates are lower than I’d normally like to see – and the rep agrees that these are not where they’d like them, but there are several reasons for this: first, they do lose a lot of students to Ann Arbor, particularly because of the 2+2 engineering program; even though this is a planned articulation agreement, those numbers count against Flint. Second, because they have so many non-traditional students studying part time, they don’t graduate “on time.”

Classes usually run Mon-Thurs so they’re a little longer. Occasionally there’s one on Friday, but often these are graduate or evening classes to accommodate returning, working adults pursing a degree. Flint’s top programs include:

  • Nursing: this is direct admit. It’s relatively new, but eventually they’ll put a limit on it. They must maintain a 3.0 in all their science and nursing classes. All nursing classes must be taken on campus (they can’t take things at a community college over the summer, for instance).
  • School of Management: many students come here for that, particularly Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Organizational Behavior/HR, and Operations/Supply Chain Management.
  • Health Sciences including Public Health, Clinical Health Sciences, Radiation Therapy, OT, PT as well as new graduate programs in nurse-anesthesia and PA.
  • Engineering because of 2+2.
  • Within Arts and Sciences, Psych and Geography/Planning/Environment stand out.

© 2019

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

Elms College

Elms College (visited 5/28/19)

Elms flowers“The practical education is one of the best parts of an Elms education. Students get a close look at whether or not the major they’ve chosen is really the right field for them.” I think this is one of my favorite things about Elms (in addition to the attractive campus) – it’s small and personal enough that they can really make sure that the students are getting what is most useful for them.

Elms fire pitThe rep I spoke to graduated from Elms (the full name is College of Our Lady of the Elms – but everyone just calls it Elms). “As a senior in high school, I met a faculty member here who already made me feel connected to campus. It seemed like the right place to be.” He was looking for a small campus where he could get involved and do internships and found that here. “I got to explore a lot. I took a Social Work class because it was required and ended up double majoring.”

Elms gateFounded by the Sisters of St. Joseph, this is very clearly a Catholic institution, but they make no assumption that students are Catholic. However, they do expect people to be understanding of others. “We’re pretty reserved when it comes to religious requirements and ideology. Students do have to take one 3-credit course which focuses more on being a good person and helping the community, and there’s a 30-hour community service requirement before graduation.” The Dorothy Day Service program offers the first-year students the chance to come to campus a week before classes start and complete many of these hours.

Elms signThere’s no expectation that students live on campus for any length of time; they currently house about 500 students on campus, but enrollment is more than twice that. The students who live on campus tend to stay, but they also pull a lot of kids from a 20-30 minute radius who commute in. They encourage students to live on campus by offering residents slightly larger scholarships. The rep would like to see another res hall added. “It would be a good step. Res halls are almost always at capacity. It would make it easier to grow. It’s not sorely necessary, but it would bring some new options.”

Elms sealThe Lyons Center for Natural and Health Sciences (built in 2012) is the best change the rep said he has seen since he got here. “It’s a nice improvement. It looks uniform to the rest of campus in terms of the outside, but the inside has the most state-of-the-art nursing, bio, Chem, and Computer Info Tech labs in the area. The simulation labs are modeled after Bay State Medical Center down the street which is the most used place we send students for nursing clinicals. It’s a really robust program.”

Elms library intSome of the academics worth noting include:

  • All majors have some sort of clinical, internship, etc attached to them.
  • Nursing is direct entry (as are all others majors) with a 100% NCLEX pass rate last year.
  • The Education program (including certification in Moderate Special Needs) also has strong outcomes year to year with a 100% job placement rate for the last 7 years.
  • The Accelerated MBA is “really aggressive. Students graduate in May and start the Masters two weeks later.” There’s a Certified Financial Planning program.
  • They have a great 3+3 articulation with Western New England University for law. Students majoring in psych or Criminal Justice with a 3.5+GPA, they can apply.
  • They offer an MSW hybrid with St. Louis University; they get the BSW and complete half of the program at Elms; the other half is online.
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders “is enveloped in the Social Sciences division.” There’s also a major for Speech-Language Pathology Assistant.
  • They offer a few unusual minors such as Irish Studies, Bioethics and Medical Humanities, and Coaching.

Elms 2Admissions is moderately selective with incoming students having an average of 3.0 GPA. Currently, applicants need to submit test scores, but Elms will go test-optional in 2020-21. Recommendation letters are optional except for the nursing majors who also will require to submit test scores because of Board licensure (the minimum SAT requirement is a 1000 or it’ll be really difficult), and they must get through Algebra 2.

© 2019

University of Saint Joseph (CT)

University of St. Joseph’s (visited 5/30/19)

USJ quad 1I’m glad I took the time to stop at St. Joseph’s on my way to the University of Hartford. In some ways, USJ gets overlooked, but it was a pleasant surprise and will hopefully grow beyond its regional status (it’s about 90% in-state students). Although it’s a smaller school, students at USJ can expand their options through the Greater Hartford Higher Education Consortium (with U Hartford, Trinity, CCSU, and UConn Hartford) to take courses not offered on the home campus as well as to utilize study abroad programs and other resources.

USJ missionOpen since the early 1930s, they just went coed in 2018; they’re already about 1/3 male which is amazing one year into admitting men. “We’re still holding onto the idea of women’s empowerment, though. Just because we went coed doesn’t mean we lost that identity.” This includes a Women’s Leadership Center founded in 2016. They added 5 men’s teams this year (and Jim Calhoun, formerly a UConn coach, is the men’s Basketball coach!) with more to come. “I expect them to mirror the women’s teams.” They’re DIII and compete in the GNAC.

USJ chapel 2This is a Sisters of Mercy (Catholic) institution with 3 Sisters employed on campus. “In many ways, they’re the female version of the Jesuits,” said the rep I spoke to, and the university promotes the values of education and caring for others, tenets of the founding group. A large portion of the student body self-identifies as Catholic and there’s an active campus ministry, but they’re less focused on the practice than on exploring Catholicism and celebrating ethnicity and culture. The two on-campus weekly masses (Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon) are open to the public. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but students must take two religion classes – one on exploring religion and the other is open-ended to explore a particular religion or philosophy].

USJ 3Campus is beautiful with cohesive architecture and a large quad. About half of the 1000 undergrads live on campus in 4 traditional and 2 suite-style dorms reserved for upperclassmen. They have no immediate plans to build more dorms “but not unimaginable if we continue to grow. We’re at 95% capacity in terms of beds.” They’re looking to expand their geographic region now that they’ve gone coed. Housing grants are available to encourage students to live on campus.

The biggest lecture hall on campus seats 40 with average class sizes of 14. Although graduate students outnumber the undergrads (not surprising with their Education, Pharmacy, PA, and other programs), undergrad classes have no grad TAs. “Most grad students are professionals who are taking evening or online classes,” said the rep. They’ve done a great job focusing on providing quality undergraduate education and programs, many of which lead into a grad program if the students want.

  • USJ 1Business is growing;
    • Digital Media and Mass Communication was just started with 2 areas of focus: Spanish Media and Sports Media.
    • The Sports Management and Promotion major looks at both sides and requires 2 internships, one with an on-campus team (management side) and one outside (including ESPN which is right down the street in Bristol, about 25 minutes away).
  • The Math Department has expanded beyond traditional math to include Computer and Data Science and Actuarial Science. “Connecticut is the insurance capital of the world with companies like MassMutual, Traveler’s, Hartford, Cigna, and Aetna. Students get snatched up. They take the CPA exam and are ready to be hired.”
  • USJ athenaeumNursing is Direct Entry (applicants need a 3.0 and 1070 with B+ in Chem and Alg2). If they don’t meet that but are close, they’ll come in as pre-nursing. These students have their grades monitored by the nursing staff but take exactly the same classes. “No one knows who’s who. There’s no difference other than the monitoring.” The labs have 6 automated mannequins, including one that gives birth to twins. Labs are capped at 14. In Sophomore year, they work at the nursing home across the street. In Junior and Senior years, clinicals are completed at the local hospitals. They often offer a Sisters of Mercy trip to Guyana so nursing students can work at the hospital there. Non-nursing majors can join the trip and participate in more of the cultural activities.
  • Education: “I used to teach in town, and if we saw a kid coming out of USJ, we wanted that kid over those from other institutions because we knew the training here was better.” There are 2 on-campus schools: one K-Adult special needs, and the other is more of a day-care (infant-PK). As soon as students start education classes (usually sophomore year), they’re in one of those settings immediately getting experience from day. Special Education is technically the only education degree at the undergrad major – but licensure for Elementary and Secondary levels (reciprocal in almost 40 states) is available.
  • The Pharmacy school opened 10 years ago. They just graduated 52 students. 3+3 program.
  • The Physician Assistant program offers both direct entry (3+2) and a grad-only program. Direct-entry students major in Health Sciences as undergrads. This is popular with athletes because it works well with their practice schedules. USJ students who apply to the PA school get priority (but not guaranteed).

USJ 6The USJ alumni network is broad, and the connections the university has in the region means that the name carries weight. Salaries of USJ graduates are often higher than others in Connecticut. Career center helps alumni as well. A vast majority of the faculty have worked in professional or research fields so they have huge connections. Over 90% of students get involved in research, internships, and service projects. “This is a highly service-oriented community. All clubs are required to participate in a service-based activity, a requirement that was enacted by the student government itself.”

USJ quad 2They’ve seen a large interest in growing the on-campus student activities. They’ve just upped the fee as part of the tuition in order to expand what happens on campus. It’s all student-run with a facilitator. Students who are looking to get off campus utilize the local area of West Hartford, “a destination for restaurants and shopping. You can get around really easily without a car,” said the tour guide. The USJ Student ID doubles as a bus pass. Not only does this get students around town, but “you can hop on a city bus to Hartford and transfer to the New Haven MetroNorth station for free. From there, it’s $6 into NYC.”

Admissions is “Score Alternative” – only students interested in the health sciences or the Honors program need to submit test scores. During admissions, a 3.5 GPA and 1220 SAT will flag applicants to be sent to the Honors Committee who makes the final determination for an offer. This provides a half-tuition scholarship right off the bat. Honors Classes swap out the Gen Ed classes.

There’s plenty of scholarship and grant money available including a Visit Scholarship ($1000 for freshman year) and the Mercy Values Scholarship where students write an essay on one of the 7 values and explain how they embody it and will live that on campus. This ranges from $1000 -10,000.

© 2019

Salve Regina University

Salve Regina University (visited 4/29/19)

Salve gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salve chapel

The chapel

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

Salve BLM rally

Part of the Black Lives Matter rally

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salve 9

Some of the newer dorms

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

© 2019

Hood College

Hood College (visited 11/9/18)

Hood chapel

The Chapel

Every year, Hood holds “May Madness,” a fun end-of the year festival on campus (with food, games, crab feast, prizes)… and every year, it takes place in April (despite its name).

This is a quintessentially pretty campus full of brick buildings. Relatively compact, “it’ll take you about 10 minutes to get across campus if you’re dragging your feet,” said one of the reps. Even the artsy downtown area of Frederick is accessible, sitting 3 blocks from campus. Frederick is like an extension of campus. Students do a lot of service; the hospital allows some parking in their garage; students and staff have a garden to donate food to local places. “There’s a real shop-local mentality here.” Lots of guest speakers like Bill Nye and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar come to the art center, and students get discounted tickets for the diversity series to hear people like Lavern Cox and LeVar Burton.

Hood quad 4Started as a women’s college (it was the counterpart to the all-male Mercersburg Academy), it went fully coed by 2003; male commuter students were allowed to enroll in classes in the early 70s. Starting in 2019, there will be a 3-year residency requirement (it’s now 2 years) once the new dorm goes opens in fall of 2019. The students who move off campus often live in apartments within a few blocks of campus. On-campus food is great! There’s a lot of variety and the dining room is spacious. Freshmen get “All you can eat” swipes for the dining hall which is helpful if they just want to grab a coffee or piece of fruit. “It helps them figure out how much they’re really going to eat without them feeling like they have to use-it-or-lose-it,” said a rep.

Hood Pergola 1

The interior of the Pergola which benches, bird feeders, and the poles that you shouldn’t “split”!

The campus is split roughly into academic and residential sides. Theirs is a gorgeous wisteria-covered Pergola in the residential quad; it marks the physical center of campus. Tradition says that students can’t “split the poles” – if they’re walking with friends, they have to walk on the same side rather than split apart to go around the poles. If they do, it’s said that they will not be friends after graduation. There is also a large Chapel on campus dating back to when Hood was affiliated with the Reformed Church, but they are no longer religiously affiliated. The chaplain, however, is active and well loved on campus, doing lots of interfaith work, holding “get-to-know-you” activities, meditation, and generally supporting the whole campus. “She’s here to help figure out who students want to be. Programming is very student focused and intended to pull people together when things happen.

Hood fountain 2There are all the typical majors you would expect at a small liberal arts school with 1400 undergrads, but they do offer interesting interdisciplinary things and accelerated programs – although one rep said, “I’d love to see us develop some “buzz” majors like forensics.

  • They are rolling out more concentrations in business. Many students start with Sports Management until they realize how competitive it is. It’s not unusual to see several of the athletes (who make up almost 50% of the student body!) think about this major at some point.
  • Hood quad 2Nursing is direct-entry with 32 spots, so they recommend applicants use the Early deadline. They’re looking to double that but they need more space. This is a full 4-year program but they’ll take some transfers as room allows; however, 3 years is the least amount of time they can complete this in. Campus is right next to Frederick Memorial Hospital making clinicals easy and accessible.
  • They have a new 5-year BA/MBA, bringing their dual-degree programs to 4 along with an Environmental Bio, Info Tech, and Psych/Counseling. They’re planning on adding more such as a CS/Cyber-security. Students interested in this have to apply to the program during sophomore year and maintain certain GPA requirements.
  • Some of their interdisciplinary programs include Art & Archaeology (with Archeo, Art Education, or Art History concentrations), Coastal Studies, Criminology & Deliquency, and Public History.
  • Students who major in a language must either study abroad or living in one of the Language houses where students agree to speak the target language while in the house and at least 1 native speaker lives there. These are currently housed in duplexes on the edge of campus, but they will be moved into wings of the new dorm building. These students often double major or will minor in Global Studies. Many go on to teach or work in Embassies.

Hood 1There seems to be a large global/world focus among the student body. Hood is the most racially diverse private school in the state. Last year’s incoming class had 51% of students self-identifying themselves as underrepresented students. “It helps that we have scholarships for high-achieving underrepresented students,” said a rep. The President is a big proponent of diversity, and they have a new Director of Inclusion. “There was a bit of kick-back because he’s white, but he’s been great. He’s gay and very involved in community,” said a rep. Currently, only 3-4% of the students are international, but the new VP for enrollment has a plan to expand that.

Hood mainMerit scholarships are a percentage of tuition so they go up when tuition goes up. Five full tuition scholarships are awarded each year. Students accepted into the honors program awards an extra $2000. The admissions staff recommends qualified students to the Director of the program who makes the final decisions. In this case, the writing submitted by students becomes highly important because there are no exams; classes are all taught seminar style, more than the rest of the classes. Honors students are expected to complete a service component including working a semester at a non-profit aligned with the major.

© 2018

West Chester University of PA

West Chester University(visited 11/13/18)

The Ram mascot in front of the main library. 

I didn’t expect WCU’s main quad to be so beautiful – there are old stone buildings surrounding most of it (there is one glaring exception withfairly hideous ‘70s architecture). Many of the buildings, including Recitation Hall, date back to (or soon after) the university’s 1871 founding. With an undergrad enrollment of just under 14,500 students (total enrollment of 17,500),WCU is the 4th largest college in the Philly metro area and the largest of the 14 PA state-system schools (which doesn’t include Penn State,Temple, or Pitt).

The Frederick Douglass statue in front of one of the oldest buildings on the quad

Campus (ranked as 37th safest in the nation) is a 10-minute walk from downtown West Chester where there are lots of restaurants, shops, etc. It’s been named one of the best college towns in America and as Best Town where grads stay after college. They’re only 30 miles from Philly: “Ideally, it’s 45 minutes, but realistically an hour,” said the rep. Amtrak and SEPTA aren’t far from campus, and they provide shuttle to the Exton train station. They also now run shuttles to shopping centers even though much is walkable off campus.

All classes are taught by faculty, not TAs. They have a 67.3% 6-year graduation rate (almost 10 points above the national average). They offer 120 undergrad majors across 5 colleges plus Exploratory Studies and a School of Music.

  • All Business majors are pre-business: they have to satisfy pre-reqs because of accreditation. Transferring between majors is fairly easy as long as you’ve met the GPA requirements. A new business building went up in 2017, making it the newest on campus. They have a variety of options including Urban and Environmental Planning.
  • Arts and Humanities includes fine arts.
  • College of Sciences and Math:
    • Multiple accelerated programs are available.
    • Overthe past 35 years, 95% of pre-med students who receive Pre-Medical Committee Support got placed into med schools.
    • Two students each year are granted scholarships through the PA Space Grant program.
  • Health Sciences:
    • Nursing is probably their most popular major within this school. Currently, students do their pre-reqs on the main campus and will shuttle to Exton for classes in the major. This will be moved back onto the Main Campus by Fall 2020.
    • Exercise Sciences include concentrations in pre-chiropractic, Pre-OT, and Pre-PT. They have articulation agreements with places like NY Chiropractic College and Arcadia University for the graduate programs.
  • Honors College is by invitation; students are considered after acceptance to WCU. In the past, a 1350/3.5 GPA would put them in initial consideration.
  • The School of Music allows for multiple concentrations including Music History, Composition, Performance, Theory, and even Elective Studies outside the School.
The planetarium

The university is split between North (main) and South Campuses, located about 1.5 miles apart. “It’s definitely walkable, although most people don’t want to.” South campus has all the athletic fields where the DII teams practice and play (there is a fitness center on North campus), dorms, and currently houses the Health Sciences academics. Shuttles run between campuses every 5 minutes, 20 hours a day (basically corresponding to library hours). They have a Philly campus for a few majors (Social Work, Business Management) mostly for adult students or upperclassmen who need to finish up amajor.

Some of the dorms on North Campus

About 90% of freshmen are on campus, usually housed on North Campus; most students don’t want to live on campus after that. There areseveral large (8+ story) dorms on North Campus which mostly are traditional andsuite style. South Campus has traditional dorms and apartments. The food here is fairly good with several options including dining halls, a food court, PODs (like airport kiosks), and food trucks: “we take those very seriously here… Imay have had that for lunch today!”

A few traditions are worth mentioning that students talked about:

One of the main quad buildings
  • Banana Day! “It’s like a big festival day with games around campus. There are competitions to win a Banana T-shirt.” Last year, they won “Best Campus Tradition” because of this.
  • MLK Day: They pair up with the Frederick Douglass Institute (housed on campus) for events that day. Douglass gave his last public lecture on WCU’s campus in 1895.
  • Black and Latino Greek Council Step Show
  • Rams After Hours which happens every Friday night for food and entertainment.

There are multiple support programs at WCU. They have the well-established DUB-C Autism Program (or D-CAP) for students on the Spectrum. They provide a multitude of skill-development and social interaction supports for students needing these. They also have a Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC)

© 2018

Le Moyne College

Le Moyne College (visited 8/23/18)

LeMoyne statue

Statue of St. Ignatius

This is a small (just under 2,800 undergrads) liberal arts, Jesuit college in a residential section on the edge of Syracuse. It’s a quiet area, but Erie Blvd, a main drag full of restaurants and stores, is less than a mile away. Because of its Jesuit heritage, they stress the development of critical thinking and thinking outside the box; students who embrace this are likely to thrive there.

LeMoyne chalk 2Students who choose Le Moyne come because they don’t want a massive school. The Admissions Rep for my area told me that there’s a stronger sense of community here than anywhere else he has worked; he thinks it might be a Jesuit influence and the ingrained idea that people are important. “I got that sense the first time I visited.” At some large places, “you have world-renowned faculty who you may only see as a grad student and sometimes not even then. Here they want to teach the undergrads, and that comes through loud and clear.”

LeMoyne jesuit residence

The Jesuit Residence

The Jesuit influence is there, but “it’s not heavy-handed,” said the rep. There is a Jesuit Residence on campus and the priests are active. I spoke to several students before taking the tour; 2 of them said they were not looking for a Jesuit school at all; they chose this for other factors. About 60% of students self-identify as Catholic, “but there are all sorts of religions represented including Jewish, Muslim, and nothing at all.” There is no religious requirement other 1 class in religion or philosophy; there is one required community service trip usually during freshman orientation. The tour guide said that he was taking a class on Buddhism to fulfill his requirement. There is a beautiful chapel and masses are offered but never required. However, Mass on the Grass (usually at the beginning of the year) and the Blessing of the Brains (held before finals) are popular events to attend.

LeMoyne chapel 2

The Chapel

Most freshman live on campus, and dorms are fairly typical. They’re slowly renovating them. The most coveted dorm (for underclassmen) is on the top floor of the Business School which has beautiful rooms and AC. They used to alternate years between male and female, “but they guys messed that up,” said the tour guide. “I’m a little annoyed about that!” There are some townhouses and other specialty dorms for upperclassmen, but many also move off campus; there’s plenty of places for rent in the area and plenty of parking. No complaints from students about that. Food “is an 8, mostly because of the options,” said the tour guide.

LeMoyne quad 3

The Quad

Students are pretty happy with the social life on campus. Their sports teams are DII and are popular (participation and to watch). Shuttles run regularly around town to Wegmans (a favorite grocery store), Target/Walmart, and Destiny USA (a massive mall with ropes courses and more inside). There’s a pub on campus; students need to show their school ID and a license to get alcohol. Underage students can get free soda. A favorite tradition is “Dolphy Day” (their mascot is the Dolphin – an early symbol of Christianity). This is a day in the spring, usually late April, when classes get canceled. The actual day is a secret until it’s announced at midnight. The next day, students gather on the quad for barbecues, music, and more.

LeMoyne athletics 1One of the Academic programs that the Rep stressed was the Madden School of Business. “Programs are excellent, and the faculty are terrific,” which leads to a 98% job placement rate coming out of the program. They offer the typical/expected majors, but in addition to those, they also have also one of the top programs for Management Information Systems (ranked 18th in the country), Business Analytics, and HR Management. All students in the school complete at least 1 internships; several do 2-3. There are opportunities around the world, and they can take advantage of the Jesuit school network in India, Mexico, and other parts of the world.

LeMoyne Innovation labIn terms of performing arts, Theater is the only major in visual and performance arts. Minors in dance, visual arts, Arts Administration, and music are available. Auditions are not required for theater or any of the minors, but they are required to get a role in plays or in the music groups. They have several a capella groups: “My favorite is called ‘From Out of Nowhere’,” said the rep.

LeMoyne new science bldg

The new Science building addition

Health Sciences are particularly strong for a school this size, and they even have a cadaver lab. They have Direct Entry Physician Assistant, Occupational Therapy, and Nursing programs as well as a 3+3 Physical Therapy program. PA requires a 1250 SAT; the application deadline is 1/15. They will interview by invitation only; students must have completed at least 10 shadowing hours at that point (and 50 total at point of entry). Nursing is done in conjunction with St. Joe’s School of Nursing in Syracuse, located about 2 miles away. Students complete pre-reqs and capstones on Le Moyne’s campus and the nursing-specific classes and clinicals at St. Joe’s. However, they live on Le Moyne’s campus all 4 years.

© 2018

Seattle University

Seattle University (visited 6/22/17)

Seattle atrium Chihuly

The Chihuly glass; the Bottom Line Cafe is to the right

“Students who come here are engaged and aware of the world and want to make an impact, as cliché and Jesuit as that sounds. This is further solidified when they get here,” said one of the reps. This idea of “lighting the world on fire” is even evident in the artwork around campus: hanging front and center in the Pigott Building Atrium is a Chihuly glass sculpture called “Accendo” which means “to ignite”. (Also in this atrium is The Bottom Line Café which highlights companies in Seattle).

Seattle chapel int

The interior of the chapel

This is one of the US’s 28 Jesuit universities. “We’re Catholic but incredibly inclusive. The core curriculum is centered around students thinking for themselves and how to articulate what’s important to them. We’re not telling them what to think.” Only 30% of the 4,700 undergrads self-identify as Catholic. Although never required, Mass is offered regularly in their modern, award-winning chapel. The walls are unfinished to symbolize that people’s journeys are never finished. Students do need to take 2 ethics/philosophy-based classes.

Seattle 7We asked people to characterize the type of student who would most benefit from Seattle University:

  • Someone who wants Seattle. It’s kind of an interesting place, very entrepreneurial. It’s young, alive, progressive, going someplace, dynamic. It’s been named one of 5 best for college education. The students here want urban but this type of urban.
  • Seattle library

    They’re looking for an intellectual challenge: they believe in a core curriculum that’s engaging and the foundation for a broad education. Our part is looking at how we challenge them to know what they think and why they think that

  • The professor-student relationship shows itself in independent study, research, etc. We’re particularly strong in science and engineering because of this environment and our long relationship with Boeing.
  • Seattle 2They want engagement with community and neighborhood. There’s a Community Youth Engagement Project covering 100 square blocks to the east of campus. There are 3 schools within this area, so students look at how work with education, support, language development, etc. Our students help those students graduate from high school.
  • This is the most diverse university in the state. It’s almost like an identity lab for the students. How do they bump up against The Other?

Seattle scienceAlthough in Capitol Hill in the heart of the city, Seattle U’s campus was intentionally designed to be an urban oasis and is a certified urban wildlife sanctuary. Students have the best of both worlds: they’re as close as they can be without being in Downtown. “This is the 8th most hipster neighborhood in the country – I don’t know if that’s a plus or minus! It’s an art and music hub.” It’s a 20-25 minute walk to the water and Pike Place. Professors expect Students to use the city as an extension of their curriculum; “it’s a common denominator.” Students get bus passes and tickets for off campus events.

Seattle dog park 2

The “Dog Park” … one of the quads

All classes are taught by professors despite a relatively large graduate student population. The tour guide’s largest class has been 25 students. He likes the quarter system: “students are more involved. If you don’t like something, it’s over quickly. If you love it, you can really delve in because you’re only taking a few classes at a time.”

Seattle fountain with dog

The fountain in one of the quads. Yes, that’s a dog playing in the fountain. It’s a very dog-friendly campus!

All academics are direct entry. Courses are inquiry based where students look at issues within that field.

  • Students can build their own majors through the Matteo Ricci College.
  • Pre-major (Med, Vet, etc) advisors meet often with the students and work with them to reflect “in that very Jesuit way” about what calls them to this profession. What does it mean to pursue this degree? Which program is better for them? What does it really mean to be in the health field, etc?
  • Seattle engoHonors programs were recently expanded to have themes (intellectual traditions, innovation, law & society) meant to help students find a cohort with similar interests. They apply to the programs when they apply to the university.
  • Nursing majors must declare this on the application. Once they’re in, they’re guaranteed the spot assuming they continue to meet the minimum requirements. The average accepted HS GPA is a 3.85 with a B or better in bio/chem/math. They average a 1360 SAT/29ACT with a minimum 570/24 math score.
  • Science/Engineering: the average accepted GPA is 3.72 with a B or better in science and math. The average accepted SAT/ACT scores are 1272/28 with a minimum 570/24 on the math. A few more unusual programs include:
  • They offer a 6-year accelerated business and law degree: Students need a 3.5 GPA with an SAT/ACT math score of 620/27. They completely their undergrad business degree in 3 years and then do the regular 3-year law degree.
  • Their Environmental Studies degree has 4 specialization tracks: Ecological Systems, Environmental Education and Communication, Politics/Policy/Justice, and Urban Sustainability.
  • Criminal Justice Majors can specialize in Administration of Justice, Criminology and Criminal Justice Theory, Forensic Psychology (BA or BS) or Forensic Science (BA or BS).

Seattle dorms

Some of the dorms

All freshmen and sophomores live on campus. It’s available after that, but students have the choice to move off. Thos who do usually they live within a 6 block radius and stay involved on campus. Almost 70% of students come from out-of-state so this is not a suitcase school. Signature Events that the community rallies around include:

  • Christmas Tree Lighting including live reindeer
  • Homecoming usually during January/February to correspond to basketball season
  • Dance marathon: This year will be the 11th They’ve retained their record as the largest Miracle Network DM on the west coast.
  • Luau: 500 guests from campus and community
  • Sports: SeattleU is DI. Basketball and soccer are big.

Seattle fields

Some of the sports fields

The Sullivan Leadership Award is the only extra (non-merit) scholarship that a first-year student can apply for. This is a 4-year full ride. Last year they had 350 applicants for 9 available awards. “This is really a ‘You don’t know until you try’ situation,” said the Rep. They look at the whole student, specifically leadership and how they apply that in a unique way; “we want students who are authentic in their leadership so we look at how they have applied and could apply that to the world around them. It’s not about the numbers.” Each year, the cohort looks different. Students interested must apply (both to the university and for the Sullivan) by the EA deadline. If they get past the first round, they’re invited to campus to interview.

© 2017

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