campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Education”

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University (visited 2/9/16)

St Leo treeThis is a stunning campus: clean, well-landscaped, and with new/renovated buildings that seem to have been planned out and meant to go together. There’s plenty of open space with a lake on the edge of campus. Students seem genuinely happy here: they’re interacting with each other and using all sorts of spaces available to them.

St Leo chapel int

Interior of the Chapel

Located in the small town of Saint Leo, this is a religious school with definite Catholic overtones. “Students are spiritual. There’s a sense of faith, but it’s not forced.” Students do have to take 2 religion classes but there’s enough variety to satisfy everyone. The campus chapel hosts masses which they open to the public; student attendance is not mandatory. Monks and nuns still live on campus and some of them even run a local garage to pay for electricity, etc

St Leo tea in library

The coffee and tea table in the library

The Core Values of the school (Respect, Excellence, Personal Development, Integrity, Community, and Responsible Stewardship) are heavily integrated into the curriculum and in other ways across campus. For example, the new Business building incorporated wood from the trees cut down to create space for the building. The library has coffee and tea out all the time for the students; the area was neat and well kept up. A couple students were helping themselves and picking up after themselves to keep it in good shape for the next person.

St Leo quad 3This is a residential campus with lots of open space. All freshmen and students need the unlimited meal plan. Once students move into a building with a kitchen (and most upperclassmen end up with their own rooms), they can drop down to the 5 or 10 meals a week plan. One of the dorms has an amazing lounge (open to all students) with a huge fish tank designed by Tanked (take a look for it on the Discovery Chanel!), a game room (including SkeetBall and pinball), plenty of tvs, and even sleep pods!

St Leo fishtanks

The fish tank

The 2,370 students come from almost every state and 66 countries drawing heavily from the Caribbean and South America. It’s almost evenly split gender-wise (with slightly more females than males). Tuition, Room, and Board run $30,700 making it a great deal.

St Leo activities

Monthly activity calendar

I talked to several students in the dining hall who said they all were really happy with the school: “Tell your students to come here!” said one student, and others nodded in agreement. They did make sure to say that social life revolves around campus. The town of St. Leo has very little to do, but Dade City is a 5-10 minute drive. Another said, “Bring a car or you’re out of luck!” Orlando is an hour or so away (and Orientation includes a trip to Disney or Epcot). Greek life is present but not huge. Freshmen can’t rush until they earn a certain number of credits. Bingo is a big deal on campus. “They give away insane prizes like GoPro, X Boxes, etc. People get really hyped up for this. Sometimes it’s even themed, like people will come in costume for Halloween.” Sports are DIII (playing in the Sunshine Sate Conference). Rivals depend on the sport: UT is big because of proximity.

St Leo business classrm

One of the classrooms in the business building

Business (including Sport Business, Health Care Management, and International Tourism & Hospitality Management), Criminal Justice, Education, Social Work, and Computer Science are their flagship programs. Students can choose specialties not often found at schools this size such as Criminalistics or Homeland Security within Criminal Justice or Advanced Literary Study, Dramaturgy, or Professional Writing within the English Department. They offer a Multimedia Management major; students learn management of social media, shoot commercials, etc. They have two 3+1 programs: marketing or management undergraduate with an MBA, and a computer science bachelors with a Masters in Cyber Security. Students in the Honors Program are automatically eligible for these programs (others have to apply).

Students all get a laptop or iPad. If they transfer out, they have to return it, but if they graduate, they can keep it.

Applying is free if done online, and they’re test-optional if the student has a 3.0+ GPA in high school. International students must prove English proficiency either by attending an English-speaking high school for all 4 years, by earning a 450 CR on the SAT (or equivalent ACT), or submitting a TOEFL score; St. Leo does offer a Bridge Program if students need to meet proficiency.

© 2016

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (visited 7/28/15)

Once known as North Adams State, this 1800-student college is nestled in the small but bustling town of North Adams in the Berkshires. The students rave about town: “There’s so much to do! Mass MoCA is free, the ice rink is free on Tuesdays, there are movies, pubs, restaurants. We saw Lady Gaga last week at Tanglewood [about 45 minutes away]. If we want to get out of town, there’s any outdoor activity you can think of.”

√MCLA acad bldg 1Campus architecture ranges from beautiful old houses to almost-ugly 60’s and 70s buildings to a brand-new environmentally friendly science center that has solar panels and a wind turbine on top. Many of the central buildings are connected or only steps apart. For example, one of the gyms and the theater are both attached to the student center. Campus is not huge: “You can get across it in about 5 minutes.”

√MCLA quadEnglish, Business, and Psychology are some of the biggest majors, and (not surprisingly given its history as a Normal College), Education is strong. They also have Arts Management, unusual for a school of this size. MCLA offers 2 “Jump Start” summer programs. The first is a week-long leadership initiative for approximately 30 students each year called LEAD (Leadership, Education, Action, and Development). The Second is STEM Academy which takes about 16-20 students.

√MCLA outdoor class

Outdoor classroom

The tour guide could not say enough about the teachers. “I know it sounds really cliché, but they do care.” This is one thing that really surprised her about MCLA. She had been told in high school that college professors wouldn’t care about how she did, and yet the do. She went on to say that even the librarians care about the students. One of the traditions she loves is that at the end of each semester during finals, they order food for students and will go through the library to tell them that the food has arrived so the kids can take a break.

New tower dorms

New tower dorms

Townhouses on campus

Townhouses on campus

MCLA has a 3-year on-campus residency requirement, and 95% of traditional aged students live on campus. Dorms range from traditional hall-style double rooms to suites and townhouses, both of which have singles and double bedrooms and which can be coed by suite. Townhouses have full kitchens and house only upperclassmen (MCLA defines this as sophomore and up). The new towers have suites which will usually have 4 doubles and a single.

√MCLA gates

The infamous gates

Another popular tradition/superstition revolves around the gates. At the beginning of the year, freshman will enter the gates from the main road, meet the president and their peers, and then have a party. The seniors will walk out of the gates at graduation. Rumor has it that walking between the gates before then means they won’t graduate – at least on time. “I know someone who walked through them accidentally. He graduated a semester late. I like to think it’s because it wasn’t intentional . . . otherwise he’d never get out of here!”

√MCLA sci cntr 2

Science Center

The tour guide’s largest class was Intro to Bio with 45 students. “We met for 2 hours twice a week. Usually we’d have a lecture for half and a lab for half.” Her smallest, College Writing 2, had 8 “which is weird because that’s a core class.” Her favorite has been Behavioral Analysis because the professor would tell them real stories from the field.

In terms of admissions, MCLA is a state school so they generally have to follow the Department of Education regulations which include 4 units of math, one of which has to be taken in the senior year. “We have a tiny bit of wiggle room to admit a few students to don’t immediately meet the requirements but who we think will be successful,” said a rep. Usually this is saved for out-of-state students who may have graduated under other requirements. They will superscore both the ACT and the SAT.

√MCLA walkwayVery few students come from out-of-state: probably only about 10% come from outside of MA or the Capital Region of NY (technically OOS, but only an hour away – closer than Boston). These students make up about another 10% of the student body. Transportation can be a little bit of an issue, but certainly doable. “We have a student from Colorado who just grabs a ride with a friend to Albany and gets a plane from there.” There’s also a bus that will stop at Williams College only a few miles down the road. Amtrak also goes through Pittsfield which is about 25-30 miles away.

“Students who are looking for a small liberal-arts, New England campus in a great cultural center and who have a sense of community service or activism will do really well here,” said the rep.

(c) 2015

Marshall University

Marshall University (visited 4/12/12)

When I originally decided to go to Marshall, I was sure that I wasn’t going to be impressed, but I figured that I was going to be so close, I might as well see it. I was going to arrive late in the day because of other college visits, so I planned on stopping in the Visitors Center (the fancy term for Admissions Office that more colleges seem to be adopting), introduce myself to the NC rep, and then walk around campus a bit on my own. Instead, I found three talkative students in the main reception area who were more than willing to engage in conversation as I waited for the Assistant Director of Admissions to meet me for our appointment. Even though only one was “on duty,” they all joined in the conversation. They were articulate and positive about the school without “gushing” or seeming disingenuous. They told me what they were doing and why they chose Marshall. One is Junior nursing major; he was proud that Marshall had the highest passing rate in WV on the Boards. Another student was a Junior psych major and she said she loved the classes she was taking. The third specifically talked about how school spirit is big on campus; Homecoming and football games got special mention.

The woman from admissions spent a great deal of time with me about the university, including pointing out highlights on a map before sending me on my way to walk around campus after the office closed at 5. The fairly compact campus, occupying 4 blocks by 4 blocks, is a manageable size for a medium-sized university. Huntington’s official “downtown, filled with movies, restaurants, coffee shops, and more, is technically four blocks from campus but there are certainly a lot between campus and what the city would call “downtown.” I was impressed at how seamlessly the campus was integrated into the surrounding part of town while still maintaining an attractive traditional campus filed with lots of brick buildings as well as open green spaces. The quad, although it had a lot of grass, was not the traditional flat, grass-filled quad. Instead, it was a rolling area with a lot of trees, bushes, flowers, and brick walkways. A couple statues (one of John Marshall) and sculptures were in the area as well as a lot of benches and other seating areas, tables, and chairs. People were out on the quad interacting extensively. Students were using the seating areas to study as well as socialize, and people were talking to each other as they walked across campus (I saw very few people plugged into their music). Students were dressed in a variety of ways; it didn’t seem like there was a “type” of kid at Marshall – some were dressed up, some were in athletic gear, some in the stereotypical college sweatpants and t-shirt getups.

Marshall is the second largest public university in WV, but with 10,000 undergrads, it’s half the size of WVU. This is a largely residential campus, but not entirely since dorm space just doesn’t allow it at this point. All students who come from outside a 50-mile radius MUST live on campus for freshman and sophomore years, although there is talk of reducing that to a 30-mile radius. The freshman residence halls are only two years old – and each room has a private bathroom. They aren’t even suites, so students only share the bathroom with a single roommate! The upperclassmen halls are suites with either two or four single bedrooms, a bath, and a common space. They do have two large dorms called the Twin Towers which are 8 or 10 floors high. Only one residence hall on campus is all-women; the rest are coed. Freshman are allowed to have cars on campus; parking is accessible and costs $150/semester on a surface lot and a little more in the garage.

The Forensic Chemistry and the Computer Forensics are unique programs on campus. Education is huge; Marshall started as a Teacher’s College, so they have kept the program going strong. Their Business program is Internationally Accredited, which is rare. They have a new Engineering facility, as well, including some new programs that will be coming along shortly. Their Fine Arts/Communications (including Journalism) programs are also worth mentioning.

In order to attract more non-WV students, they have the Horizon Scholarship for out-of-state students who meet minimum requirements; this brings the price to about what an in-state student would pay (and I was told that this makes it cheaper than what a Penn resident would pay for Penn State). They also have the Yeager Scholarship which is a full ride: students need a 30+ on the ACT and need to fill out the application on the website by 12/15. They do not need a nomination. In terms of admissions, they basically look at GPA and test scores. There is no required essay. They do have an Honors College; applicants are invited based on their application. Generally, Honors College students have at least a 3.5 GPA and 26+ ACT scores.

The students who thrive at the college tend to be involved and who stand out; they also want attention in the positive sense: they want to talk to professors, they want to be able to ask questions, they want to discuss things. Marshall is invested in making sure that their students succeed at the college. The Student Resource Center, in addition to providing resources similar to those at peer institutions, also will track the freshman, and if they see that students are floundering, will reach out to them to offer help and set out plans for success (tutoring, study schedules, etc). They also provide excellent resources for students with specialized learning needs (ADHD, dyslexia, etc).

(c) 2012

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