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Trine University

Trine University (visited 11/20/19)

Trine quad 2

Some of the original buildings on the quad

Trine is a small university in a small town in rural northern Indiana. In addition the standard array of liberal arts degrees, they offer strong education programs, design engineering tech, biomedical engineering, and golf management as well as lots of unusual minors. Sports and Greek Life are big deals here. One of the old buildings in the attractive quad area had Hall of Humanities engraved in the stone; we didn’t get to go into that, but we thought that might be an indication of what they thought was important, but choices for majors in Arts & Sciences are limited.

Trine gymTrine is the fastest growing private college in Indiana; they’re looking to keep growing over the next 15 years. The main campus has about 2,200 undergrads (skewed heavily male) and 5,000 students total. (There’s a smaller satellite campus in Ft. Wayne that hosts Health Sciences and some online programs). Almost half (45%) of students are engineering majors; the rep, an alum gave us a tour and zoomed past the biomedical building in the golf cart so we didn’t get to see any of the labs which would’ve been cool. (Note: we did ask her to show off what she was most proud of; we ended up spending a chunk of time wandering around the new sports arena; she walked us around the entire perimeter of the basketball court and showed off the bowling alley but not the eSports room … go figure). Although they’re mostly considered a STEM and education school, they do offer some other options:

Co-ops are encouraged but not required; typically students choose to do a full year. This will delay graduation if they choose to do this, but they do get paid and can receive academic credit after the 3rd session. Their 5-year graduation rate is 60% mainly because of Co-ops, although their freshman-to-sophomore retention is also fairly low.

Trine 3They are in a small town that’s difficult to get to for students coming from a distance; there’s no convenient public transport. The closest airport is 50 miles away (Ft. Wayne); the nearest train station is 15 miles (Waterloo). The town of Angola isn’t big, but there are a few things to do in town: students get free movies on Mondays at the Brokaw; MTI hosts College Bowling Nights 1-2 times a week, there’s Open Skate at the Thunder Ice Arena, and the Y hosts Trine Nights where students can use the pool, fitness center, sauna, etc. There is no pool on campus.

Trine apts 2

upperclassmen apartments

As counselors, we’re always looking to see what a school’s hook is – what would draw students to that school over other similar ones. This is a cute school with a few niche majors, but we had trouble finding a compelling reason to recommend this to people from a distance. We asked her what her “elevator spiel” was when students stopped to talk at a college fair and what would draw a student (particularly one who had to travel and really work at getting to campus) to Trine over another school. Unfortunately, she didn’t really have an answer to that. She mentioned the small school/class experience (LOTS of colleges have that), the “community feel” (pretty much every school out there talks about that), and that she would talk about her experience on campus – which she didn’t share with us.

Trine Greek 3

One of the Greek houses

Trine recently built Stadium Hall, a new dorm, to accommodate the growing population. Students have to live on campus until they’re 21, unless they’re in one of the massive Greek houses (about 25% of students join Greek life but few live in the houses; the rep said, “Greek life is not dominant but it’s present.”) or in the non-denominational Christian Campus House which is technically not considered on-campus (landlords are different). They have 3 houses: 1 each for men and women and a Main house (surprisingly, only about 15 students total live there despite this being one of the biggest groups). They serve free hot dogs on Wednesday and pancakes on Fridays; host a “root beer kegger” during orientation; and offer alternative spring breaks, mission work, etc. Trine is not religiously affiliated, by the way.

Sports provide much of the social life on campus. They’re DIII with 35 competitive teams. Bowling, eSports, Cheer & Dance, and Synchronized & Figure Skating are club sports so they can give scholarships to students. Lacrosse is a big draw for East coast students. They’ve invested a lot of money into their facilities, including a great indoor track including long-jump sand pit.

Scholarships are based on GPA and scores, and they’ll accept new scores and transcripts until May of senior year. Students can only earn one academic scholarship but can stack up to 2 more awards such as Diversity, valedictorian/salutatorian, legacy, activity award (music, choir, skating, etc), or Pre-Health Profession Track. Students can be invited for the Scholarship Days where they come to campus to compete for certain awards.

© 2019

Franklin Pierce University

Franklin Pierce University (visited 10/20/16)


Hammocks overlooking Pearly Pond

Franklin Pierce is located in Rindge, a small town in the southwest corner of NH, 10 miles from the Massachusetts border and 25 miles to Vermont. The closest small city, Keene, is about 30 minutes, as is Fitchburg, Massachusetts. From there, students can hop on an Amtrak into Boston or Albany if they want a bigger city. Being so remote, I asked about travel for the students coming in from a distance. The student on the panel who hails from California said, “Travel to campus isn’t too bad. Many of us will coordinate with friends in the area to get picked up from the train station or from the airports. There are busses, too. It’s doable.” The campus offers shuttles around campus during the day; starting at 5 pm, they go off campus. All students can have cars without any parking fees.



The Outdoor Adventure building

Pearly Pond is on the edge of campus; students can use the school’s kayaks, canoes, sailboats, paddle-boards, etc. They also have a crew team that practices on the pond. They hold an annual Cardboard Regatta at the end of orientation. Students can only use cardboard, saran wrap, and duct tape. This tends to rank highly on favorite events.


Some other favorite moments of students’ time here include:

  • A trip to Ghana with a professor and 2 surgeons to work in a medical clinic. “I got to do sutures and really cool medical procedures!”
  • Hiking the mountain: Students take buses over, and some compete to get to the top first “but just getting there is a feat in itself.”
  • “The professors help set up internships.”
  • “We can do what we have a passion for. I got to have conversations with visiting speakers.”

fp-2Students and faculty, like at most schools, talked about the community feel here. The Dean of one of the colleges sat with us at breakfast and told us about FP’s early warning system for students who struggle. “We have great NSSE Scores. They’re usually 20-30 points above national average.” However, she said they only have a 67% retention rate. I was unable to find out what steps were being taken to increase this.

fp-dome-2Because they’re located in such a small town, there tends to be good town-gown interaction. FP will host Trick or Treating for the community: “Last year we gave away an average of a pound of candy to each kid; no wonder it’s so popular!” said one of the admissions reps. There are haunted hayrides at Halloween, too. Community members often come to sporting events. They’re DII, so they have some athletic scholarships. They will be adding women’s swimming in 2017. The school also ties the local to the academics: My Antonia is the current Community Read; Willa Cather wrote part of this in Jaffrey, 5 miles away. As part of the Community Read program, they have speakers and other events; this year, they’re including a candlelight reading at her grave.


The Glass-Blowing studio

FP hosts the Institute for Nature, Place, and Culture and recently screened an original documentary, Hurricane to Climate Change. They also have a glass-blowing studio which we would never have known about if we hadn’t walked right by it. That’s a pretty cool resource available to students!


Academic offerings are standard for a small liberal arts college. They have a couple more unusual minors such as Forensic Psychology and Public History. They now offer a direct-admit 4+2.5 DPT program with some full-ride scholarships for qualified students; students complete a Health Sciences degree in 4 years at FP; if they meet the minimum standards during this time, they earn guaranteed entry into the 2.5 year DPT program at either the Manchester or Arizona site.


The Towers (Junior housing)

I sat in on about 20 minutes of the “Drones and Thrones: Modern European History” class. The professor was from Ireland and had great interactions with the students. She knew their names and called on them. However, it seemed like there was a lot of basic review from the previous class on the PowerPoint: general topics were listed (“Remember, we went over this” with very few details, and she told students several times, “This is something you should write down” if there was a detail added. Class wasn’t overly rigorous, and while there were two or three regular contributors, there wasn’t much discussion among the students.


Sophomore Housing

They just brought in their largest freshman class ever (the free applications through Common App are read on a rolling admissions). This is a highly residential campus, mostly because there are limited places nearby to rent. Housing gets progressively more independent: for example, juniors live in The Towers (not really towers) in suites with partial kitchens, and seniors move into townhouses (with full kitchens) overlooking the pond. “It’s a good transitional stage from college to adulthood.”

© 2016

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University (visited 10/10/16)


Interior of the Chapel

Like many Catholic schools, students here agreed that SHU is “as Catholic as you make it.” This is a Diocesan university, unaffiliated with a specific branch of Catholicism. Just over 2/3 of the 5,800 undergraduates self-identify as Catholic, “but that doesn’t mean we’re practicing.” All faiths are welcomed. The mission is to create a “University of Opportunity for Deserving Students” while teaching respect and understanding based on the vision of “Home for the Mind, Heart, and Spirit.” SHU has a 44% diversity rate; students who come from all over the US and 70 foreign countries.

seton-hall-studentsStudents are engaged with each other and lots were wearing Seton Hall gear. There were so many students around that I was surprised to learn that students were actually on break. 80% of freshmen and 50% of total undergrads live on campus. Housing is not guaranteed, but they’ve never had a student denied if they’ve applied by the deadline. RAs and priests live in each of the 6 residence halls; they also provide 2 apartment buildings for upperclassmen.

The dining hall, an all-you-can-eat option, is spacious and has lots of stations and food choices. Booths have power outlets which is smart. “When they serve chicken tenders or mac & cheese, the line is out the door. Otherwise, maybe it’s a 3 minute wait for food,” said one of the students. I ate lunch there and was pleased with the food.

seton-hall-statueStudents feel that there’s enough to do on campus. As a founding member of the Big East, their 14 DI sports teams are a big draw, particularly basketball. Tickets cost $100 for the season (refunded if they go to all the games). Another student raved about the fact that Seton Hall won “Best College Christmas Tradition”: on the first Monday of December, they light the large outdoor tree, sing carols, and have hot chocolate.

seton-hall-2One student told me that campus can be quiet on the weekends. However, there’s no shortage of things to do. Many students choose Seton Hall because of its proximity to NYC. The train station is a 10-minute walk (or quick shuttle ride) from campus; from there, it’s a 30-minute ride into Penn Station. Luckily, the train station is on the “good side” of campus. I was worried as I drove in: an area close to campus was run-down with boarded-up/gated storefronts, garbage, and people literally wandering in the streets. Suddenly, within a block or two of campus, things changed. “One side of campus is shady; the other is a mega-rich neighborhood,” said students. Campus is beautiful, safe, and gated; students swipe in, and visitors check in with a guard.

Shuttles run every 30 minutes. Only seniors, commuters, and students with jobs or internships can have cars on campus. Commuters are given lots of resources and chances to integrate into the community; the university also recognizes the different needs of commuting students. For example, the Commuter Café is open 10-7 when classes are in session.

seton-hall-6Academics are student-centered, and students like the atmosphere: “We’re pretty chill here. It’s cooperative,” said the tour guide. Freshmen are assigned both an academic and a peer advisor, and they’re enrolled in a 1-credit University Life class to help transition into college. Students get a laptop when they start and a new one 2 years later (they can keep that one after graduation). They rank in the top 5 universities (keeping company with places like UPenn and Duke) for internships: over 80% of students complete at least 1. Clearly they’re doing something right: they’ve had 18 Fulbright awards since 2009.

seton-hall-signThe size of the school “offers all the advantages of a large research university but the support of a small school,” said the admissions rep. Classes average 21 students with Freshman English averaging 15 and languages capped at 15. The tour guide’s larges class was 30 (Intro to Bio) and smallest was 15 (Freshman Eng). Another student’s smallest class was 7 (Russian).

Students take 5 religious classes: the first one, and the only common one, is Journey of Transformation. “It’s mostly philosophy and introspective.” Students then choose 4 others. Students in the Honors Program (requiring a separate application to get in) take a different class in place of Freshman English and the Transformations class.

seton-hall-3There are two early deadlines to be aware of for scholarships. First, students interested in Special Scholarships need to apply by 1/5. Second, to be eligible for the Public Tuition Rate, they must apply by 12/15. For this, students must rank in the top 10% of their high school class and meet various GPA and score requirements. They do not need to be NJ residents to get this award. If the high school doesn’t rank, the school counselor should contact admissions with information.

Information about the different schools include:

  • Arts & Sciences
    • Engineering (electrical, civil, computer, mechanical, biomedical, industrial) is housed in this school
  • Health and Medical Sciences: All the programs in this school are streamlined undergrad majors combined with graduate degrees (Masters except for the DPT).
    • For PA Candidacy: students have to complete the application in junior year
    • All others: students are automatically in as long as they meet minimum GPA
  • Diplomacy and International Relations
    • Seton Hall has an exclusive alliance with the UN
    • 100% do internships or study abroad with UN, USAID, UNESCO, UNICEF, FBI, Embassies, Red Cross, Missions abroad, etc.
  • Business
    • The Leadership program was ranked #1 in the US for the 2nd year in a row
    • They boast a 95% employment rate (within 6 months) and 100% admission to grad school
    • Management Information Systems, Legal Studies, and Finance and Mathematical Finance are worth nothing.
  • Nursing
    • This is a Direct-Admit program.
  • Education and Human Services
    • Students complete more practicum placements and hours (and in a variety of schools) than at other schools.
    • A Joint Masters in speech language pathology is available.
  • Communication and the Arts
    • The student-run radio station and the college newspapers are consistently highly ranked (often in the top 5)
  • The Medical School will open in the fall of 2018; they’ll partner with Hackensack University Medical Center, listed as the #1 hospital in NJ. They’ll have a direct admit, 7-year BS/MD degree program.

© 2016

Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University (visited 3/20/14)

Walkway into the Quad

Walkway into the Quad

Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus, the main campus, is well-manicured and attractive. The buildings are mostly low-level (2 or 3 story) brick, and the curving walkway from the parking lot led us past some dorms and into a large, open quad. Hills surround campus, creating a bit of an idyllic, slightly remote feeling; in fact, the campus is right next to Sleeping Giant park, a popular place for students to hike.



The university is made up of three campuses; Mount Carmel is the main campus where most of the academics and athletics are located and where Freshmen and Sophomores live. Freshmen dorms are fairly typical units; sophomores live in suites, often with balconies. Juniors and seniors live about 10 minutes away on the York Hill campus, a new campus overlooking the Mount Carmel campus (and you can see the parking structure from main points on the Mount Carmel campus); this campus also houses the hockey rink and basketball court. Shuttles go back and forth regularly. The buildings at York Hill have been built in the last few years, and the university has also invested in the infrastructure at Mount Carmel, resulting in state-of-the art Business and Communication buildings (two of the newest buildings, housing two of the most popular majors).

Student Center

Student Center

The third campus is located in New Haven and houses the Nursing and other Health Sciences departments as well as Education (and eventually the Law school). Some notable programs here are their 5.5 year Occupational Therapy program (BS/MOT), 6 year Physician Assistant program (BA/MHS), and direct-entry Physical Therapy Doctorate (6 or 7 years leading to a BS/DPT). There are no residence halls on this campus, so most students utilizing this campus will commute from one of the other two (usually York Hill since most students taking classes in New Haven are upperclassmen), or will live off campus. Off campus housing is easy to find; in addition to campus-owned apartments, they provide listings for privately run housing units, and many places are found by word of mouth. Almost 25% of the students will live in non-university housing (off campus, not in a university owned apartment).

One of the food trucks

One of the food trucks

Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus, but the students we talked to did not feel that they were necessary. Shuttles run into New Haven and Hamden (the closest town) until 3am. The town is small, but there’s plenty to do. Louie’s Lunch and Frank Peppy’s Pizza come highly recommended. Apparently the clam pizza is a specialty. Food on campus is reportedly “pretty good,” but it is campus food. There are some food trucks that come to campus that are highly popular, and students are willing to wait in line for a change of pace. Because town is small, most of the social life is found on campus. 25% of students get involved in Greek life; students can rush in the fall. New York City is only about an hour and a half away, so it’s an easy day trip; students can grab a commuter rail train from New Haven.

Students are generally happy here; they have about an 88% retention rate from freshman to sophomore years, and close to 80% graduate in 6 years.

© 2014

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