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Archive for the tag “Education major”

Springfield College

Springfield College (visited 5/29/19)

Springfield sign 3Want to be able to say that you attend school where basketball was invented? Want to join a hammock club? Maybe ride for a club equestrian team? Springfield College could be the place for you.

I fell in love with this place! This was another school that I knew almost nothing about, but I walked away wanting to recommend it to several students. There are a couple things in particular that I think made it stand out:

  • Springfield waterThey own a 57-acre Outdoor Learning Center, technically called East Campus, located on the shores of a lake a couple miles from man campus.
    • There are bike trails, ropes courses, disc golf, and authentic SW pueblos which serves as a space for overnight retreats. They hold an optional pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen as well as camps for younger students. “We call it Challenge by Choice,” said the rep. “No one is going to force you to do things, but if you want to be challenged in this way, it’s here.”
    • Springfield bell towerThe tour guide said that the OLC is her favorite place. “The memories you make are so special. Running to find a blue racquetball because a whistle blew or kazooing your heart out for no other reason than just because you can is great.”
    • They offer a class called Outdoor Pursuits which is required by several majors, but it’s open to anyone interested in enrolling in it. The Recreation Management major and Adventure Education minor use this location extensively.
  • Springfield statue 1They have an active YMCA club and offer a minor in YMCA Professional Studies. I’ve never heard of another program like that – but the college was founded as a YMCA training center, so this isn’t entirely surprising. Students are heavily involved in tutoring, and last year there was a service trip to Peru.
  • “Springfield provides a really good safe zone system with required training. There’s real multicultural education here. I learned about disability acts, LGBTQ issues, financial equity classes. There’s a lot in place to make people feel included and safe.”

Springfield humanicsSpringfield’s mission is “Educating Spirit, Mind, and Body in Service for Others.” This comes across as similar to the Jesuit Mission, but Springfield is totally non-affiliated with any religious group. Rather, they model this after the Greek Humanics ideals that balance is important. Students not only know what the mission is, but they seem to have bought into it. It is embedded into the culture and the curriculum. Students buy into a seriousness of purpose when it comes to academics and decorum but also how to have fun. “We don’t cut corners in life so we don’t cut corners on campus. Students will literally yell ‘Grasshole’ to students who cut across the grass just to get somewhere more quickly,” said my tour guide. “People will absolutely go on the quad for recreation – you’ll see people playing Frisbee and hanging out. They just don’t walk on the grass to get somewhere more quickly.”

Springfield 4When I arrived on campus, the admission rep and I had lunch in the dining hall while we talked about the college. Choices were limited because it was summertime, but they had absolutely amazing chicken marsala, rice pilaf, and fresh vegetables (in addition to burgers and a sandwich bar). I was really impressed. The tour guide said that she’d rate food about a 7-8 (I would’ve said higher based on what was served that day), but “weekend food is a 5 mostly because there are fewer options.”

“There are so many leadership opportunities and support and training for that. You don’t have to be a Type-A person, but if you want to make a difference and develop skills and implement them, this is a great place. There are so many people here who will help you do what you’re passionate about.” They have more extensive academic offerings than I expected for a campus this size (just about 2,500 undergrads).

  • Springfield learning commons

    The Learning Commons: the 4th floor has a study lounge that overlooks the athletic fields. “It’s a great place to get work done while you watch games,” said the tour guide. She also said that the furniture was chosen by students.

    This is a good place for athletes and majors that revolve around that (Sports Biology, Sports Management, Sports Journalism, etc)

    • There is a massive athletic center (bigger than any I’ve seen outside huge DI institutions) with classrooms (especially for Athletic Training and Movement and Sports Studies/PhysEd majors and their coaching minor), Dance Studios (they have both a major and a minor, and Dance teams perform at halftime during football games).
  • PT, AT, OT, and PA are direct entry programs but are capped.
  • Education is big. Students are in the schools starting their first semester.
  • They have some visual and performing arts, but seem to offer more minors than majors in this area, including 3D animation, Web Design, Creative Writing, and Community Arts.
  • Internships are required and transportation can be found. “You can totally explore what you’re interested in.”

Springfield 6Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus, but there are shuttles around town on the weekends. There are also a lot of bus trips to Boston, NYC, Albany, and other places. There is a 3 year on-campus residency requirement, but 85% of all student live on campus. The senior dorms (townhouses and suites) are on the far side of the football field so they get great views of the games. The tour guide said that given the opportunity, she would put money into scholarships or to improve the bathrooms in some of the dorms. She also said that they can improve the number of People of Color on campus, but think that’s something that is being worked on.

© 2019

Immaculata University

Immaculata University (visited 7/22/16)

Immaculata dome 2My tour guide completely sold me on this school. She loves it and answered questions well without being insipid or gushing. She, herself, had no real interest in coming here and had assumed that she would go to her local in-state institution. As a high school senior, she came here to watch a friend play field hockey and never looked back. “The Dome is Home! We say that a lot, and I don’t think people realize how much it’s true until it’s almost gone.” As a senior, it’s starting to sink in how little time she has left!

Immaculata statue 2She feels welcomed here, and all types of diversity are important and celebrated. Although this is a Catholic institution, no one is pressured to do anything with the religion. Our tour guide was surprised about how much the nuns were involved on campus; “We’re even friends on Facebook.” There are at least 20 who are full-time faculty. Others are in the Ministry Office, theater, etc. As an IHM school, one of their tenets is hospitality. There are plenty of Catholics (50-60% of the study body), but also a lot of non-Catholics and even non-Christians.

Immaculata 3There are 600 beds on campus (And almost all rooms have sinks in them); 85% freshmen and just over 50% of all undergrads live on campus. IU just built new apartments for upperclassmen, bringing the numbers up. There are some Learning-Living Communities, but no separate Greek housing for the 5 sororities and 1 frat. I asked if this was indicative of the gender ratio, but it’s not (the university went co-ed in 2005, and the gender ratio evened out last year). “There just aren’t as many guys who want to join,” said the tour guide.

Immaculata 2“The students who won’t succeed here are the ones with an attitude or ego. Teamwork is a huge deal, and if people don’t want to work with others, they won’t last long.” This is also a dry campus; most people come in knowing this and being ok with that, but she found some who liked to complain about it and didn’t want to follow that rule. They ended transferring as well. “We provide a nurturing environment because the students here are the ones who want to interact. People need to get involved. That’s how they find their purpose and their voice. Students can be shy but they need to be proactive,” said an admissions rep.

Immaculata AT dept

Part of the Athletic Training department

There are ore than 100 degree programs offered, and the goal is to fit students into their major as soon as they’re ready. The most popular majors are Education, Psych, Music (with an emphasis on performance, music education, or music therapy), and Nursing; growing majors include Business and Exercise Science (they even have a hydrotherapy pool). The Allied Health concentrations are specialized and include such areas as Nuclear Medicine Technology, Cardiovascular Invasive Technology, Medical Dosimetry, Radiation or Respiratory Therapy, and Surgical Technology.

Immaculata acad bldg 4

One of the academic buildings

Most majors require an external experience; all recommend one. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 7 students (her Forensics class which was also her favorite). Her largest (writing) had 21 students. Students do take a religion class; our tour guide took “Exploring Yourself in God and Prayer” and found it really useful. “It was really introspective.”

They want to make sure that the 4-year graduation rate is attainable. Retention is nearly 85%, and graduation rates hover around 75%. They are taking steps to increase both, even though they’re already above the national average. Students are accountable for themselves, but everyone works as a support system. A new Center for Student Engagement should be up within 2 years.

Immaculata main

Back Campus

Immaculata rotunda

Inside the Rotunda

Back Campus, the big quad behind the main buildings, holds many of the campus-wide events such as the Block Party, Back-to-School Bash, and Movies on the Quad. Weekends are busy so students like sticking around. In addition to things on campus, trips to Baltimore Aquarium, Dooney Park, Hershey Park and more are offered regularly. Philly is about 50 minutes by car (all students can have cars on campus for $50 a year). The closest train is about 2 miles away in Malvern, but a SEPTA bus that stops on campus every hour. A favorite tradition is the Christmas tree in the rotunda. It’s decorated, people sing carols, sophomores get their pins and juniors get their class rings. It’s a huge deal.

Immaculata bball awards

The 3 National Championship awards

Immaculata sports are DIII, and the university is considered both the Birthplace of Modern Women’s Basketball and the start of NCASS divisions. The Mighty Macs movie was about the team in the ‘70s that won 3 consecutive national championships. They’re currently expanding the pool by either a centimeter or an inch (no one seems quite sure which it is!) to make it officially long enough for swim meets. Professors work with athletes to work around schedules: “they know you didn’t create your travel schedule, but it’s still on you to be responsible about it. You have to get a paper signed by you, your coach, and the teacher if you’re going to miss a class.”

Immaculata music

Setting up for a concert

Students come mostly from the mid-Atlantic, usually with between 12-15 states are represented. It’s free to apply to Immaculata online and applicants only need 1 rec (2 for nursing). Music requires an audition. There are some music scholarships ranging up to $5000, stackable with other merit scholarships.

© 2016

Holy Family University

Holy Family University (visited 7/20/16)

Holy Family 1Holy Family, with its 1400 full-time undergraduates, is still very much a commuter school. They had been almost exclusively commuter before 2005 except for athletes and international students. Today, still only about 300 students live on campus. However, Residence Halls are all new or renovated since 2005, and the university has worked hard to provide weekend activities such as trips and events on campus, so most residential students do stay on the weekends. Haunted Weekend is a big draw: they have a dance (with prizes for costumes), paintball, and more. There is a train station nearby, so downtown is accessible for off campus fun.

HFU has the lowest net cost of any private school in the Philly area, and Monday Magazine has named it a Value All-Star.

Holy Family nursingNursing is the largest major followed by Education (they offer Early Childhood, Middle, and Secondary certifications as well as Special Education). Some of their Business tracks are unusual, including Digital Forensics, Business Intelligence, and Fire Science and Public Safety Administration. Some of their sciences are unusual as well, including Neuroscience, Psychology for Business, and Medical Technology. Students can elect to complete a 4+1 MBA, a 4+1 Masters in Criminal Justice, or a 4+2 in Counseling Psych.

Holy Family businessThe Business building is brand new (and the only one that looks really new; other buildings are mostly yellow brick, and while they’re maintained, they look dated and not much like a college). Located on the edge of campus at the bottom of the hill, it almost doesn’t feel like it’s part of campus. The new building provides lots of new classroom and other learning spaces.

Holy Family gazeboThe tour guide’s class sizes ranged from 8-15 for the smallest, and 20-25 for the largest. “I know some classes go up to about 32, but those aren’t that common.” 80% of students have some sort of field experience before graduation, and the school promises a 100% internship placement rate – if students qualify, according to an admissions rep.

General Ed classes are pretty standard. First Year Experience students need to attend at least five 20-minutes lectures during Common Hour. It would be a club presentation, a visiting lecturer, etc. This is to help students participate in campus life.

Holy Family stu cntrHFU’s sports are DII in the Central Atlantic Colligate Conference. The athletic center is someone new and is one of the bigger buildings on campus. It has all the standard things you’d expect but no bells or whistles (no rock-climbing wall or fancy track, for example).

© 2016

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University (visited 2/12/16)

J'ville waterfrontSitting directly on the St. John’s River (which is one of two rivers that runs north – the other being the Nile), JU’s Marine Science Research Institute is top-notch. The city of Jacksonville is industrial, and the university does a lot to help lower the impact of the city on the local environment. It’s a “sweet water river” which flows out of the swamps. The water’s brown color has nothing to do with pollution; instead, it’s from tannins in the swamps.

J'ville Marine Sci Inst

Marine Science building

J'ville Marine lab

Tanks on the first floor of the Marine Science building.

The Marine Science building is new with amazing resources. The ground floor has tanks, flumes to simulate currents, and more. The 2nd floor has classrooms, labs, and meeting rooms. Several students were there studying; when I spoke to them, they were excited about the major and the school in general. “It’s an 8.5 on a 1-10 scale,” and “Tell your students to come here! The faculty ratio is great,” they said. They love that they can do cross-disciplinary work such as assessments of Coral Reefs: aviation majors fly the drone, engineering students run the tools, marine science majors examine the coral reef health. “There’s also an abnormally high number of people who start their own business,” said the Director of the program.

 

J'ville swing“Trans-disciplinary learning is nothing new here,” said one of the deans. This is the only school in Florida to require a class in economics: “Macro-economics requires a holistic view of the global economics.” The school invests in personal enrichment and community engagement. “The community today is the globe.” This leads to innovative research that students are excited about. “We are at the top 4% nationally for the number of submissions and acceptances for national undergraduate research conferences. We beat all the Ivy-league schools.” They had the highest number of accepted proposals (126) beating out even the top Ivy (Cornell had 115).

Business, Health Sciences, and Fine & Performing Arts are strong

  • Their Kinesiology program is highly hands-on and cross-disciplinary; one well-liked project is the bio-chemical assessment of athletes which lets students in that department work with biology, chemical engineering, and other students.
  • J'ville nursing lab

    Nursing department

    The Nursing department is selective; faculty interviews potential students as part of the admissions process. They have direct entry, but students can also apply during freshman year.

  • Their Emergency Nurse Practitioner program is 1 of only 7 in the country.
  • The Education department has a pre-school on campus for 2-5 year olds; students intern there all the time.
  • Business majors can specialize in International or Sport Business or Accounting.
  • The Fine Art Complex is amazing, including a glass-blowing major and minor. A
    J'ville glass 2

    The glass-blowing studio

    freshman gave us a glass-blowing demonstration and almost finished making a bowl in the 20 minutes we were there. “The oven typically runs at about 2200 degrees; it’s running cool today at 2000.”

  • In additional to the traditional types of art, students can also do sculpture, animation, illustration, and graphic design.
  • They have a Dance major in addition to Theater Arts.
J'ville flight sim 3

The Advanced CRJ simulator

The size and quality of their Aviation Management and Operations major surprised me. Of the 160 students in the program, 22% are women. When asked who attends here versus Embry-Riddle, the Director of the program said, “ERAU is more the engineering, building of aircraft, etc. You can learn to fly at either place, but if you want to learn the business end of things, this is where you want to be.” The flying aspect costs an extra $65,000 over the student’s time at school.

 

J'ville aviation bldg

Inside the Aviation building

NROTC has 54 students who take classes on campus; they’re ready to be commissioned right out of college. They participate in many local events including at the nearby base. They complete 4-6 week training cruises (or an equivalent: a Nursing student spent a summer at Walter Reed) all 3 summers.

J'ville outdoor work area

The outdoor working area with tables and electrical outlets

The new President, an alum, has invested a great deal of money into the university. He had been in the business world for a long time, and he’s invested in making the school better. “Our campus has never looked more beautiful. There are a number of improvements: a new residence hall for freshmen, a new outdoor leisure space (which is used extensively as a study place, and even has electrical outlets), and a new workout center. We’ve also created new scholarships to appropriately reward students.”

J'ville apts 2

Some of the apartment buildings for upperclassmen

There’s a 3-year residency requirement, but many students stay because of the new apartment buildings; the surrounding area also doesn’t get rave reviews, but all students can have cars on campus. The current president sent people up to look at UVA’s dorms and replicated them, adding study spaces, fireplaces, etc. They want to make the most of their location and their buildings. The River House had been the President’s house, but eventually was slated to be taken down for parking. When the current President came in, he nixed that: “we don’t need a parking lot with this view.” It overlooks the water, the campus pool and sand volleyball court, and more. Now it’s used for meetings, the Ratskeller, and more. Lots of students have cars on campus.

J'ville golf practice

The golf practice area

Greek life is very small, but sports are a big deal and they’re very proud of their teams. They currently have 501 student athletes, and 18/20 teams have a 3.0+ GPA. Retention rate among athletes is 94% with a good graduation rate. They’re DI “mid-major” (no PAC, Big 10, etc), including Beach Volleyball, Shooting, and Crew (“The women’s team is great! The men’s team… meh”). Campus has a practice green for golf, intramural fields, even an outdoor workout station. They just hired a Director of Ticketing, Sales, and Game Day Experience; attendance and school spirit is way up. The Athletic Director is also a full-time business professor who talked to us for a few minutes. “We win with honor and win in the classroom.”

J'ville art studio

One of the art studios

Students who have left have done so for a variety of reasons: some had bad experiences with a coach, didn’t want to go to class, wanted to hide in a bigger class, bombed their first year and lost a scholarship, etc. That being said, JU is “pretty good at second chances.” One student spoke of a friend who failed a class and was put on probation but dug her way out of the hole and is doing great now. “Send us your B+ students. We can change their lives.”

© 2016

St. John Fisher College

St. John Fisher College (visited 10/20/15)

~SJFC signFisher, nicknamed the College on the Hill, is a much newer university than I realized. They opened with 110 students in 1951to give an education to local Catholic boys, often from immigrant families. Now, they’re coed and have 2600 full-time undergrads and still hold the ideal of providing college access to generally underrepresented students. About 1/3 of their students are first-gen (their First-Gen scholarship provides support for up to 24 students) and 1/3 receive Pell Grants. 30-35 HEOP students enter each year with a 92% graduation rate.

~SJFC 9St. John Fisher was the Bishop of Rochester, England and the Chancellor at Cambridge. He was martyred when he was executed for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the leader of the Church of England. SJFC broke away from the Catholic Church in the early ‘70s but retained their core beliefs – “Teach me discipline, wisdom, and knowledge” – but nothing is forced. Religious classes are offered but not required.

Mascot

Mascot

The student who ate breakfast with us said: “I’m pretty happy with the diversity. There’s a lot of religious diversity and I’ve seen a growth in the number of African-Americans since I’ve been here. I knew them all when I was a freshman, but I think the college saw that this was a problem and they’re working to recruit more people of color.”

~SJFC 8People are committed to the success of the students. People take care of each other and help each other out. In 2015, they received the Presidents Higher Education Community Service award for the 9th year in a row. The Service Scholars program provides 50% tuition scholarships; these students commit to 130 hours of service the first year and 200 hours every other year. We spoke to a student in this program; she’s currently doing Service Learning at the Galway Autism Program.

~SJFC labsFisher combines the Liberal Arts (college of A&S) with professional training (Education, Business, Nursing, and Pharmacy). Even the academic buildings are connected (except for 2): when the floor changes, you know you’re in another building. Students in the 2+4 Pharm program are assured an interview and are put into seminars for prep work. Media Studies provides training in new medias but also teaches older ones and how they inform the new. Nursing saves spots for the declared majors. Students who change majors and transfer students compete for the remaining spots. The Education Department is 1 of only 3 NYS schools with a teaching simulation lab.

~SJFC pharmacyThey’re clearly doing something right: the faculty get rave reviews from students (5 have received a Fulbright), and their alumni have met with a lot of success. Alumni include Ed Stack (Chairman and CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods) and Martin Mucci (founder and CEO of Paychex). A junior we spoke to was surprised by the alumni connections. About 70% live within 100 miles so it’s easy to get in contact with them, shadow them, get internships, etc. The new President is committed to “creating a transformative educational experience for the students;” he particularly wants to grow the study abroad program (only 10% of students currently go abroad.

Sports fields with upperclassmen housing on the far side

Sports fields with upperclassmen housing on the far side

This is still very much a regional school (many students are from 100 miles) but they’re working on changing this. Only about 10% of their 550 freshmen commute, but only about 55% of all students live on campus. They do bring in a lot of transfer students who usually commute. Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus. They get free bus tokens for the RTS (city) buses which run through campus every hour; 1 token lasts all day. Campus shuttles run about every 5 minutes, and there are even shuttles to Wegmans (the iconic supermarket that has its roots nearby).

Art Studio

Art Studio

None of the students we spoke to ever had a class larger than 25; the smallest classes were almost all in the single-digits. Students had great things to say about the Honors Program: our tour guide is in this; she’s mentoring freshmen and doing research on mentoring in academia.

~SJFC 3Fisher provides freshmen with a core group of advisors who also teach the Freshmen Seminar classes. They meet with these advisors before they’re moved off to an academic advisor. Additionally, Learning Communities helped them adapt better and it enriched their experience right off the bat. One student said: “It taught me a lot about my interests. I took Americans Abroad, and we went to Quebec.” Another said, “It answered any and all questions. It’s really helpful.”

Sports are strong here both in terms of involvement on the teams and in drawing a fan base, particularly the football team (and the college has hosted the Buffalo Bills training camp). They have about 800 athletes, 80 of whom play for 2 or 3 seasons in one (or more) of the 23 DIII sports. Teams have made it to the quarterfinals twice in the last 3 years. Crew has tanks in the boathouse for year-round training. Athletes’ overall GPA is higher than the campus average, and retention tends to be 3-4% higher (86% vs about 82%).

Dining services get rave reviews and even won the “2014 Best of Rochester” in the Food Service Category. They have a Stir Fry station that our tour guide made a point of showing to us: “Where else can you have shrimp, steak, and lobster every day? Also, the dining staff knows you. The woman checking us in can tell when we’re not having a good day.”

A couple of students’ favorite traditions include:

  • Every other Thursday, a different food truck pulls up. The first 100 students eat for free! The Dining hall is good, but it’s nice to have the variety.
  • Courage Bowl, an annual event that benefits Camp Good Days and Special Times. They bring in campers to be honorary cheerleaders and coaches.

© 2015

Elizabethtown College

Elizabethtown College (visited 11/18/14)

~Etown 6We asked the student panelists to complete the sentence, “I’d like to thank E-town for ___.” Here’s what they said:

  • letting me excel on a personal level.
  • preparing me for my next step in life.
  • allowing me to discover myself and my talents.
  • providing me with a 2nd home.
  • encouraging me not to give up.

~Etown cafeThe admissions office sent us on tour with only 2 counselors per guide; we asked lots of questions and get a good sense of the students who thrive here. 87% of students live on this attractive, residential campus. Dorms have free cable hook ups, and the school recently refurbished all dorm lounges and study spaces. There are several living options, including special interest floors such as Friends of Asia (“We cook food, watch movies, whatever”) or the new 4-person apartments. The dining hall gets good reviews and is “known for its carrot cake.” Our tour guide’s favorite meal is the cheese-steak wrap.

~Etown sculpturePeople need to want to engage here or they won’t last, but it’s also “easy to get over-engaged,” said one of the students. Freshman-to-sophomore year retention is solid at 82%. Some students transfer out because of money; others because they didn’t know enough about the college before they came. “You have to know it’s small. It can be overwhelming when you can’t be anonymous,” said a singer from the a cappella group I spoke with after dinner.

People are simply nice here. I spoke to several students who were not part of the formal admissions presentation. They were gracious with their time and genuinely excited to be telling me about their experiences. Two different students – one tour guide and another from the a cappella group – said, “People hold doors for each other.”

~ Etown plazaPerforming Arts are huge. Sock and Buskin is the theatrical group; Emotion, the coed Dance Group, is the largest club on campus with 150 participants. The Band Director is “the world’s nicest person,” said my tour guide who plays saxophone in the 80-member, non-audition concert band. There are 2 other groups that require auditions, 3 choirs (2 requiring auditions), and 3 a cappella groups (including the “All male, All Attractive” group that performed at dinner). All the a cappella groups were invited to the International Championship of A Cappella last year! Non-music majors can get music scholarships as long as they continue to participate in groups.

~Etown steepleAll students complete at least 2 unique Signature Learning Experiences (capstones, internships, study abroad, or research). Advisors help pair students with significant, meaningful experiences. They want outcomes to equate to real-world success. Alumni report a great deal confidence in the workplace because of these. The school does a survey every year, and they report on every student, unlike a lot of other schools.

In order to help guarantee success, they developed Momentum, a program for First Gen (40% of the population), students with financial need, and traditionally underrepresented students. This 1-week summer program helps them get accustomed to campus, teach study skills, etc. The retention of these students is as strong or stronger than the other students on campus.

~Etown library 2Academics are generally strong here. “You’re going to work!” The president teaches a class and was asked if he could cut back on the homework: “The other professors are killing us.” The Education program got rave reviews, especially since they start working in classrooms during freshman year. The OT program. is also well regarded. Students really appreciate that academics are intertwined: “nothing is hanging out there by itself. We can see how it works together.” Favorite classes include:

  • Geophysics
  • A class on the Amish (“We went to dinner at a family’s house and attended a church service. I never would have expected to do this when I came in here”)
  • Humor, Irony, and Despair in Modern Literature
  • FYS on Myths and Reality of Boyhood (A psych class)
  • Medieval Magic Then and Now
  • Basic Acting

The smallest classes ranged from German (“The 2 of us met in the professor’s office”) to English (16). Largest classes included General Bio (32), American National Government (35), and Anatomy Lecture (40) – which included work in the Cadaver Lab!

~Etown 4The school motto, “Education for Service,” leads to deep community involvement. Moving Forward Together is a mentoring group that works with at-risk high school students. One of the big traditions is Into the Streets, a massive service day in October. Town-gown relations are strong. “Lucky Ducks is a favorite restaurant.” Amtrak is also in walking distance making travel easy.

On campus activities are strong. Popular traditions include Mr. E-Town and Thanksgiving Dinner/Tree Lighting. Soccer is the most well-attended sport (men’s and women’s). The gym is small but conveniently located in the Student Center basement. One area our tour guide sees for improvement at E-Town would be an expansion of the gym.

~Etown 2The Admission Office wants to “enroll graduates” so they look for the “Trinity of Fit”: Academic Match, Co-curricular Fit (what will they contribute?), and Social Match (work ethic, integrity, persistence, level of interest). Rolling Admissions begins September; a couple majors have hard deadlines (OT: 12/15 deadline and requires an interview; Music Majors must apply early enough to schedule the required audition). Students in the top 10% or have a 3.5/4.0 (if their school doesn’t rank) don’t have to submit test scores unless they apply to a program which requires them. In this case, scores will only be used for entrance into the program, not for admission to the college.

Students are assigned a Financial Aid Counselor who stays with the student for all 4 years. E-town recently increased their financial aid by $3.1 million (including 8 full-tuition scholarships through the Stamps Foundation). “We want to spread the good news out a little bit: scholarship letters go out 2-3 weeks after acceptance.” Loan indebtedness averages $27,000 at graduation.

© 2014

Meredith College

Meredith College, Raleigh, NC (visited 3/13/14)

Meredith main bldgMeredith is a Women’s College located less than a mile from NC State University in Raleigh. Unlike some other women’s colleges, their enrollment has been going up. Although they brought in 420 new freshman last year (which is up by about 20 from the year before), they also bring in quite a few transfers, so they graduated 500 students last year, which they expect to remain steady.

~Meredith acad bldg 3Because I was visiting during their spring break, an admissions rep gave me the tour. As a 2012 grad, she had great insight from both sides of the desk. Originally from Winston-Salem, she chose Meredith because it felt collaborative instead of competitive, and it’s close enough to NC State to not feel isolated. The schools provide shuttles between the two, but it’s also walkable. I drove down the street after the tour to check out the area and to get lunch; in 10 blocks or so, I saw two coffee shops, a music store, a book store, and a lot of restaurants including Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and several chain fast-food places, pizza, and bar & grills. There’s also a Ben and Jerry’s directly across the street (“Whoever marketed that was a genius,” the rep said).

An outdoor classroom

An outdoor classroom

Meredith and the five other schools in the area (St. Augustine, Wake Tech, NC State, William Peace, and Shaw) allow cross-registration. Meredith allows their students to take up to 3 classes a year for free. The students can go to any other schools’ events, including athletics, for free with the other school ID (which they get even for a 1-credit PE class). Students at Meredith can get the big DI school at State feel without sacrificing the small school individual attention.

Meredith Penrose floorClasses at Meredith average 17 students. The rep’s smallest classes had 2 (in a research class) and 8 (in a regular class); the largest was 40 (Intro to Psych). Education is one of their strongest departments; their majors have had a 100% passing rate on the Praxis II over the last few years, and schools in the area hire Meredith grads right out of school. They also have 1 of only 11 Autism programs in the world, and the only one where undergrads can work with the kids. A Swiss family moved to Raleigh specifically to have their child in the program. They also have an AACSB accredited business program (held by 5% of programs worldwide).

Meredith Penrose tilingStudents are highly involved in designing areas on campus, often as part of their classes or independent research projects. The tile floor of the Science Building was designed by two students in 2001 as part of their undergrad research project; it’s modeled after the method developed by mathematician Roger Penrose. Interior Design students competed to have their design put into place for the commuter lounge. They put in four outdoor classrooms complete with chalkboards behind one of the academic buildings, and in front of another building, students planted an edible fruit garden with pomegranates, berries, and more.

Dorm balconies

Dorm balconies

The fire pit

The fire pit

The school has some interesting traditions. The first that the rep pointed out was the Class Doll, designed each year by a fashion design major. These are displayed in cases throughout the three-floor atrium of the main building where they also have displays of faculty-done art, photography, dresses, quilting, and more. A second tradition is Dance Works, an annual event held in the spring, and is completely student run from the choreography to the dancing to the marketing of the event. The third, and maybe the biggest tradition, is Cornhusking which is held annually during the last week of October. “It’s one of those things you have to experience!” Essentially, it’s a weeklong competition between classes. Each class is given a theme, and they make up skits and other events revolving around it, including “can art” in which the class uses cans to create artwork illustrating something about their theme; this gets done on one quarter of the quad. Students will stand on the balconies of the dorms to help direct the artwork since they have a birds-eye-view. They also have a fire pit on campus that’s used during orientation and at other times throughout the year including at the “Camping on the Quad” event (which also includes sunrise yoga).

~Meredith chapelThe Chapel on campus dates back to when they were affiliated with the Baptist Church. They are no long affiliated, but they have a non-denominational chapel service at 10am on Wednesdays, although this also can be community wide speaker events (the topic being advertised for the following week was dealing with anxiety and depression). They’ve brought in big-name speakers including Nancy Pelosi, Jane Goodall, and the guy who runs Post Secret. There are no 10am classes on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, enabling them to hold large events or allow clubs and activities to have meeting times.

~Meredith eating areaStudy Abroad is easy to do. Students can do direct-enrollment programs around the world, but there are also several college-sponsored trips. Meredith runs a Semester in Italy program; they bought and renovated a Palazzo complete with their own chef. “Family lunch” is served instead of a big dinner. Apparently, the chef never repeats a meal the entire semester. Current Summer Study Abroad options include Italy (Childhood Development or Opera Experience), Iceland (Environment and Lit), UK, Italy and Switzerland, China (International Business), Spain (Language and Culture), and France (Fashion).

A dorm kitchen

A dorm kitchen

Arches into the dorm quad

Arches into the dorm quad

Students must live on campus for the first two years. Even though they can move off after that, 86% of all students live on campus. They recently built new campus apartments, increasing the on-campus number over the last few years; students love the convenience, and the apartments are beautiful with hardwood floors, washers and dryers, etc. Dorms have Open Hours when males can be in rooms, but men can visit in the lounges 24 hours a day. Parking is available in “The Pit” which is never full. Passes cost $200 a year. If they don’t have cares, students can rent one of the 2 zip cars or can take the State Wolfline or city bus.

© 2014

Rhode Island College

Rhode Island College (visited 3/22/14)

RIC (called “rick”) is the oldest of the three public universities in RI (URI and the Community College of RI are the other two; RIC students can cross-register at either of these). It was founded 150 years ago as a College of Education, and is still known for this, although Communications and psych are also popular.

~RIC 4This suburban campus, located less than 10 minutes from downtown Providence, is surrounded by a residential area on one side and a golf-course on the other. A bakery and some stores are a 5 minute walk away, and buses run every 20 minutes into the city. Providence College is down the street, and many more colleges are located in Providence so there are lots of students; many stores cater to college students.

~RIC quadThe college has an interesting mix of buildings; we parked near the Admissions office, located on the edge of campus. The Saturday info sessions were held in another part of campus, so we had to find our way over there; at first, we weren’t impressed with campus, but as is true with many universities, the edges aren’t the most flattering parts. The main part of campus redeemed it for us, and I think both of us ended up with a much more favorable opinion by the end of the tour.

~RIC acad bldg 2They pull most of their students from RI, but they offer a “Metropolitan Tuition Policy” for people within 50 miles of RI (specified CT and MA communities). Jeff, the Assistant Director of Admissions, said there seems to be a divide in RI: students in the south tend to look at “the University” and the northerners look at RIC. Students from NY, Northern NJ, CT, and MA make up the bulk of out-of-state students (about 20% of the population).

Of the 90 majors and programs, they’re particularly known for:

  • Education (including PhysEd). 100% of those who complete the Education program pass the State Licensure tests. Students apply at the end of the freshman year after completing the pre-reqs with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Nursing. The NCLEX pass is “consistently above state and national averages; 95% ranked in the top 15% of all nursing programs in the US.” Like the Education department, students apply at the end of the freshman year after completing the pre-reqs with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Social Work. They offer both a BSW and MSW (the 8th most selective in the country).
  • School of Management. They offer a cutting-edge facility with a well-established internship program, placing interns in more than 50 local leading companies ranging from Fidelity Investments to the New England Patriots.
  • Fine and performing arts. They built a new $10 milion center, and they offer technical theater, dance performance, and a new combined BFA Studio/Art Education program.

There are no mass lecture courses except for one bio and two psych classes with about 150 students. 99% of the classes are capped at 30 students. They now offer evening classes to make sure students have access to classes they need and want, and to keep class size down.

~RIC dorms

Dorms

Housing is guaranteed for all freshmen and for out-of-state students for all 4 years. Currently, only about 1200 of the 7000 students live on campus, but they’ve doubled the number of students on campus and built a new dorm (336 beds) a few years ago because they had a waiting list. They’re currently doing a feasibility study for a 7th dorm. Many tend to live on campus for a year or two, but campus is so easily commutable that they end up moving off. There is some unofficial off-campus housing, and sometimes people will share houses with Providence College students.

Admission decisions are based primarily on an applicant’s academic record; they look for a 3.0-ish average. They require test scores but say that these numbers are AN indicator – not THE indicator. To be invited to the Honors College, students must be in the top 20% of the class and have a 1200 SAT. This is an automatic consideration based on admissions applications. Honors classes average 12-15 people. The Presidential Scholarship ($2,000-$4,000) is awarded to students ranking in the top 30% of the class and a minimum 1100 SAT or 24 ACT. They also have several talent awards (communications, theater, etc.) which do require a separate application.

The tour guides (we had 4!) were pleased with activities on campus, and mentioned several things like Anchor Madness (class competitions); the Wednesday “Free Hour” (12:30) with events on the quad like paint ball, a rock wall, build-a-bear, block party with a mechanical bull, and exotic animals; trips to places like Nantucket, Boston for a Buck, NYC, and Montreal (students will sleep outside the Union to get tickets for this); and more. We commented on the fact that there was NO ONE around; it was so quiet, we thought they were on spring break. They insisted it was “still early” on Saturday (it was going on noon) and things picked up later. All students can have cars on campus (with no parking fee!), so it’s easy to get off campus. The fan base for the 21 DIII teams is large. Games are held at the Murray Center, located at one end of the main quad. The new Rec Center with general work-out areas is at the other end of the campus.

We got a chance to talk a bit with one of the tour guides who was wonderfully open. He started at RIC, transferred out, and then transferred back because he realized what he had there. “People underestimate working out of class with a professor. I didn’t have that at my other university.” People who throw themselves into the community and manage time well will thrive here. The university is still working on improving retention rate which is currently at 76% (still above the national average); 6-year graduation rate “is about the national average.”

(c) 2013

Rowan University

ROWAN UNIVERSITY (visited 7/30/13)

Rowan meetingOne of Rowan’s claims to fame is that it hosted a meeting in 1967 between President Johnson and Soviet Premier Kosygin at the Hollybush Mansion, the university president’s home. They met here because of its location halfway between the UN and DC. Apparently, Lady Bird Johnson took the chairs which are now in the Smithsonian with a tag that says “Donated by Rowan” – the tour guide says that if we go there, we should tell people that they were taken from Rowan, not donated!

I had no idea what to expect from Rowan, one of New Jersey’s public universities, but I walked away with a good impression. Students are happy and enthusiastic about the programs and the opportunities they’ve had. This school of 10,750 undergraduates has recently been designated as a state Research Institution, and they’re proud that they do not do research at the expense of the undergraduate. Instead, they’ve been doing a great deal to expand their offerings and opportunities for their students. More money has been going into resources for students, and more scholarship money is available than ever before. They’ve increased their academic offerings for students, including eight new PhD programs and several new Masters programs are in the pipeline. Their Med School is highly competitive, receiving 3,000 apps for 50 seats, and it’s only the second university (after Michigan State) to offer both an MD and a DO (osteopathic medicine) degree. This has had a “trickle-down effect” into their undergraduate programs, and every undergraduate college on campus has a pre-med program, even the performing arts, including using dance as part of therapy. They’re getting away from the traditional model of pre-med prep.

Rowan academicsThey are proud of their Four Pillars program which includes: Economic Engine (helping students getting job and becoming involved in the community); Affordability (they froze tuition by keeping efficiencies in the system); Accessibility (making education available even though they’re getting more selective); and Growth (they’ve built the Stratford Campus for the medical and graduate programs, and they’ve built a partnership with Rutgers for a biomedical school). They’re looking to DOUBLE their student population over the next 10 years. They’ve already shown tremendous growth in their numbers; they used to only serve students from 4 or 5 counties; now they’re a well-known regional university, and they want to become better known across the country. Their out-of-state applications have been rapidly increasing, almost doubling last year from 400 to 700. In the most current freshman class, students had an average of a 3.6 GPA and 1200 SAT or 26 ACT.

Rowan Sci outside

Outside of the new science building

Inside the Science Building

Inside the Science Building

Some of the students’ favorite classes have been the History of WWII, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Developmental Psychopathology. Their classes range from 10-35, and they appreciate the small classes and the chance that they know the professors; people notice if they aren’t in class, and they’re able to get a lot out of classes. Rowan has a strong business program, including Supply Chain and Logistical Systems, Management Info Systems, Entrepreneurship, and other more usual concentrations. Engineering students can choose to specialize in Chemical (ranked 3rd in nation, top among public universities), Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, or Mechanical (ranked 8th in nation). Within the Humanities and Social Sciences College, their Africana Studies, Law and Justice Studies, and Planning are the most unusual majors. In the Science and math division, students can choose from all the usual majors, plus Bioinformatics and Child Behavioral Services. Education is strong at Rowan, and they have a program that allows students to graduate before student teaching, as long as they’ve fulfilled all the other requirements. Two of the tour guides had just graduated but were staying for one more semester to do their student teaching requirement.

Rowan quadAlthough there’s a lot to do on campus, students love that they’re only 20 minutes from Philly, 45 minutes to the shore, and halfway between NYC and DC. The school is doing a lot to do more outreach into the local community, and the activities on campus give students a real sense of community within campus and into the wider town. Unless students commute from a parent’s house, they have to live on campus for the first 2 years. There are freshman-only dorms which are mostly traditional style, but some have suites where they have to clean their own bathrooms. The university is building a 5-block-long apartment complex with Honors housing, B&N bookstore, Starbucks, retail shops and restaurants, arts and entertainment district. Ten percent of the student population joins Greek life.

© 2013

Pace University

PACE UNIVERSITY – Westchester (visited 7/26/13)

Pace bldg 2 Pace is unusual in that it has two distinct campuses but is considered one university. The 8000 undergraduates are accepted as Pace students and can move back and forth between the campuses at will; approximately 3000 live at the Westchester campus and 5000 in NYC. Students really get the “best of both worlds: a suburban campus with all the benefits of the city.” The Pleasantville campus sits on about 200 acres (of which about 40% is used) with a supplemental campus in Briarcliff (2.7 miles away) which has five dorms, a dining hall, and the practice fields for their DII teams. The benefit of living on the Briarcliff campus is that “it’s like going home after I’m done for the day,” said one of the tour guides. However, plans are in the works to sell the Briarcliff campus and combine campuses. Shuttles run frequently between the Westchester campuses and to the MetroNorth station. The last shuttle stops at 12:30 but there’s an agreement with a local cab company that allows kids to get taxi rides for free between the Westchester campuses after that. Parking on the two Westchester campuses is easy and free, but the shuttles are so good that cars aren’t necessary. However, more students tend to bring cars as they start to get internships. Shuttles also run to the downtown NYC campus (but not as frequently) which is located in the Financial District near City Hall and around the corner from South Street Seaport. This campus is home to Inside the Actor’s Studio; Pace students can watch the taping for free. The NYC campus does not have any sports facilities so athletes usually study in Pleasantville during their sport season. (FYI, the Giants used to practice in the Westchester campus). The theater arts people gravitate to NYC; hands-on arts kids usually stay in Pleasantville.

Although Pleasantville is a small town, there is quite a bit to do. The tour guides all rattled off a list of things like to do and places they like to eat. On campus, they have a lot traditions and activities that they look forward to every year like Relay for life, Greek Week, 50 Days & 50 Nights, Midnight Breakfast, and Unity and Justice Week. They provide discounted tickets like $15 tickets to Yankees games or Broadway shows. The school is about 15% Greek, but not to the exclusion of other things: “They’ll talk to us normal people.” The Student Center has posters advertising all sorts of activities, and I can’t imagine that students could be bored at Pace.

Pace’s tagline is “Work Toward Greatness;” they provide a Liberal Arts foundation (everyone completes a Liberal Arts core from the Arts and Sciences school) alongside stellar professional skills, earning them a place as “One of the top 20 Colleges that will make you rich” on Forbes’ list. USN&WR has also listed them as #1 in NY and in the Top 10 in the nation for internships. Pace has links with 500 companies, and students can begin internships in sophomore year. Many students will do part-time internships (like 1 day a week) as they take classes. Pace wants students to create a tangible resume and make contacts. Paid internships average about $15 an hour; alternatively, they can get credit for it.

Pace environment cntr

Environmental Center

Many students get hands-on experiences in their majors even before internships: Education majors (who all study at the Pleasantville campus) start teaching in their sophomore year. The students use an avatar program called “TeachMe” developed and operated by people at the University of Florida; students link into a cyber-classroom and teach “students” who are controlled by people at UF. As students get better, the “students’” behavior often gets worse, so they get experience dealing with issues in classroom ranging from cell phones ringing to kids falling asleep to students mouthing-off. The Nursing program (also only at Pleasantville) is direct-entry, and clinicals start sophomore year for them, as well. They work in state-of-the-art Sim-labs on campus before rotating through clinicals in all areas. Pace boasts a 98% pass rates on Certification exams including a 90% NCLEX-RN pass rate for first time test takers in 2011. Sciences in general are strong; they have a new $8 million science building with renovated labs. The Environmental Studies Center is centrally located on campus; this used to be the equestrian center (which no longer exists). Now there is a solar-paneled house being used as a classroom, barns with animals like chincillas, prairie dogs, chickens, an owl, and more. There are gardens and other areas for experiential education. The Fine Arts building is in a beautiful stone building near this area; they’ll eventually move this to make room for the new Environmental Center.

In the school of Computer Science and info Systems, they’ve recently developed a Cyber-security major and offer Cyber Security Scholarships. Their Business school is accredited as both business and accounting schools (which is rare), and they offer a 5 year BA/MBA program. Pace actually was founded in 1906 as an accounting school, so their program is strong and well-established. Students can take advantage of their 3-3 program with the law school: they take the LSATs in Junior year and start the law degree as a senior, completing it in the standard 3 years.

Advisors will make the first semester schedule for incoming freshmen, but students can talk it through with them if they want to change something. After that, students schedule their own courses. All freshmen take a University 101 class (students are grouped usually by majors) that has a common theme for the year (this year it was Justice). Classes are supposedly capped at 25, but they won’t leave people out of a class if they need it. One of the tour guide’s biggest class was 33 (their smallest classes were 5 (math) and 10 (marketing)). Some nursing classes are combined for presentations.

The admissions process is holistic and straight-forward. They try to make it as easy as possible for students to apply (and they even have a tutorial online to help families fill out the FAFSA). 4 or 5 on AP will usually transfer in. Students can get invited into the Honors College based on their SAT scores (minimum of 550 in Critical Reading and Math) and a 3.5 GPA. These students get $15,000 a year and an iPad; they need to maintain a 3.3 to stay in the program.

Pace bldg 1Pace guarantees housing for all 4 years on both campuses, usually in double rooms. Freshmen can state which campus they want to live on, but don’t really get to pick which dorm. The dorms we saw in Pleasantville were pretty typical dorms – cinderblock structures with long halls, but without the claustrophobic feeling of some halls that I’ve seen. The lounges were functional but ordinary; there were lots of couches, a 6-person table, and a large flat-screen tv. Housing selection is based on a point system which takes GPA and extra-curriculars into account. The Townhouses (which we didn’t see) have a full kitchen and living room on the first floor, then 2 double rooms on each of the second and third floors.

(C) 2013

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