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Archive for the tag “Environmental Studies”

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (10/19/15)

~RIT quad 2

~RIT fountains~RIT acad bldg 4I came away from my RIT visit well-informed and so impressed that I was already texting pictures of relevant departments to faculty at school and emailing students telling them to check things out. The campus is more attractive than expected (one of several nice surprises!); while a few buildings have a tech-school feel, most of campus has new buildings, trees, and green spaces. Quarter-Mile is the main thoroughfare, but it’s actually one-third mile long; its name came from a Greek fundraiser where people put quarters end-to-end to raise money. A large portion of campus is undeveloped giving Environmental Studies and other students an opportunity to complete surveys and other work on campus.

~RIT scupture 3~RIT art bldgWith 15,500 undergraduates, this is one of the largest private universities and one of the largest producers of STEAM (add Arts to STEM) graduates from private institutions. Students come from all 50 states (48% from NY); the 2,500 international students hail from 100 countries; there are 1,200 deaf and HH students on campus through NTID; and almost 2,900 underrepresented minority students. “RIT is diverse with people coming from all over. They’re friendly, welcoming, and don’t judge,” said one student panelist.

A student advertising the weekly activity schedule on the Student Center window

A student advertising the weekly activity schedule on the Student Center window

~RIT bleachers fountain

A fountain in the Student Center which had been the gym. These bleachers had been built into the foundation and weren’t able to be moved so they made a fountain.

This is a spirited community. Students were everywhere and engaging with people around them: walking in groups, studying or socializing in every building we went into, etc. These are not “stick-your-nose-into-a book tech nerds,” said one student. There’s a ton to do on- and off-campus including 1,300 annual on-campus events including free movies on Thursdays, Brick City Weekend, FreezeFest, SpringFest, Imagine RIT, Orange and Brown Fridays, student concerts/theater productions, sports, and performers (Macklemore, Michael J. Fox, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Al Pacino, Maroon 5, and MythBusters, to name a few). Greek life hosts lots of events. Hockey (they have a new arena) is big with lots of traditions. Students look forward to the annual Haunted Trail (they turn the fields and woods into a giant haunted house and invite the public) and the Humans vs. Zombies game (campus-wide nerf-gun tag).

~RIT hallway

Students gathering in an academic building between classes

“We’re not looking for students who are interacting only with the machine. We’re looking for students who will interact with other students. Don’t bother listing something you did for an hour. Put substantial things on your application that you did regularly and are meaningful.”

RIT practices differential Admissions: students must declare a major and list first, second, and third choices on their application; on average, 57% of applicants are accepted, but this varies by program. For example, it’s far more difficult to get into Mechanical than Industrial Engineering. (Biomedical, Computer Science, Game Design, and PA programs round out the 5 most difficult majors to get into). The Deans give numbers to the admissions staff based on space. However, students aren’t stuck in that major: it’s easy to switch majors “95% of the time,” said an admissions rep. Much of it depends if there are spots available in the new major.

Undecided students have 2 options:

  • Students interested in areas that cross 2 or more colleges should apply for University Studies. They accept about 100 students a year into this program. Students may not graduate on time (but could) depending on how soon they decide.
  • Do an Undeclared/Exploration major in any of the schools. There’s no problem graduating on time because they’re taking the first-year classes right away.
~RIT science bldg

Students studying in the science lobby. Check out the floor and walls!

The high school record (GPA, rank, rigor, pre-reqs, grades in content courses) makes up about 60% of the admissions decision. Portfolios (if required) are sent to that school’s faculty and get ranked 1-6. If the portfolio doesn’t make the cut, Admissions will work with the applicant to suggest a similar area without a portfolio requirement.

~RIT atriumRIT offers more than 90 majors, 90 minors, and 40 accelerated dual-degree programs. Technology is woven into every major, but the Liberal Arts are also important: There are about 1000 students in the College of Liberal Arts, and all students must do a LA “immersion” – 3 classes in one subject. Some of their new, well-known, or unusual programs include:

~RIT labs

One of the many labs

Experiential Learning is crucial; many students graduate with a portfolio equivalent to Master’s level work. Their Co-op Program is the country’s 4th oldest and among the largest in the world:

  • Students complete 6,100 co-op education assignments each year with 2,100 employers in 50 states and 40 countries.
  • Students generally complete 4 placements over 2 semesters and 2 summers. They can’t go back to the same company unless it’s in a different division doing completely different work.
  • Students collectively earn $26 million annually.
  • Princeton Review has consistently ranked them in the Top 10 for career services.
    • 60% get employed by one of their co-op placement companies.
    • Graduates report a 95% placement rate: 85% in FT jobs, 10% in grad programs.
  • Some programs such as Mechanical Engineering take 5 years to complete but students only pay for 4. “I have 60 weeks of work experience: I worked for a company here for 48 weeks and was a supply-chain engineer and a mechanical engineer. I worked in Sweden working for Volvo. One of the big things I like is that it shows us what we’ll be doing when we graduate. The first week was pretty nerve-wracking. I felt confident going in, but getting there and seeing all the complicated stuff … we encourage people to ask questions. I’ve gotten more confident every time I’ve done another co-op.”
~RIT engo bldg

Student built projects in an engineering building

Other on-campus or nearby facilities help students develop sought-after job skills:

  • The Center for Media Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity studio helps students launch their own companies with high-tech facilities needed to commercialize computer gaming, film and animation, graphic design, and imaging science projects.
  • Their science labs – including clean-suit labs – are top-of-the-line and made us feel like we were walking through the halls of some high-tech company
  • Rochester has lots of cottage industries, fiber-optics, high-tech companies, medical technology, pharmaceutical firms, etc. There’s no shortage of internship opportunities.
  • Students get creative when internships are difficult to find. A Photo student on the panel said that “It’s hard to get internships in photography; they aren’t looking for interns.” She was paired up with a 3rd year student; they did all the photography for a department on campus.
~RIT infinity sculpture 2

Plaza and the Infinity Sculpture (even the art is scientific!)

Despite the size, most classes are not in lecture halls: 88% of classes have fewer than 40 students so classes tend to be discussion-based. GAs and TAs help in labs but never teach classes.

Global Village

Global Village

They’ve recently opened more student housing including the RIT Inn (an old Marriott) and the newly built Global Village housing 400 sophomores in suites. “They had been getting lost in the shuffle: we have traditional dorms for freshmen and apartments for upperclassmen.” School-owned apartments are ½ a mile down the road with shuttles running to campus. One complex only houses RIT students; the other gives first crack to students, then opens it to others. Greek housing, Special Interest Houses, and Academic and Lifestyle Floors are also available. Tunnels connect most of the on-campus dorms.

~RIT art bldgStudents had few complaints except that parking is difficult. Preferred/reserved parking costs $225 a year (General parking is $50). It’s not unusual to drive around for 10 minutes looking for a spot and then walking a ways to get where they’re going. Cars aren’t necessary except for some internships. Buses running through town are free to students on weekdays and $1 on weekends.

(c) 2015

Colgate University

Colgate University (visited 7/24/15)

~Colgate 7The first thing that I noticed (other than the hilly campus!) was the very consistent campus architecture. It’s beautiful and well maintained. At the base of the hill sits Taylor Lake, a man-made pond supposedly in the shape of a 4-leaf clover (although we couldn’t see it). Campus is safe: our tour guide never heard of anyone using the Blue Light system for actual security issues. One student fell on it accidentally, and one got scared when a deer popped out of the woods.

~Colgate quadThe student body seems very preppy – and also book smart. One of the tour guide’s favorite traditions involves a symbolic “transfer of knowledge”: professors walk up the hill with torches at the beginning of each year; at graduation, the seniors carry the torches down the hill. Colgate students grab opportunities. Our tour guide got a free trip to Oxford in his freshman year for a debate tournament.

Sculptures outside the science center

Sculptures outside the science center

Classes, not surprisingly, are small. The average class size is 19. Our tour guide had about 30 in some of his intro classes. His smallest class (Intro to Philosophy) had 7 students. Unusual majors include: Astrogeophysics, Native American Studies, Greek, and several Environmental Studies concentrations including: E. Biology, E. Economics, E. Geography, and E. Geology. Unusual minors include Applied Math, LGBTQ Studies, Jewish Studies, and Mathematical Systems Biology. The science department has a Visualization Lab “which is like a hybrid between a planetarium and IMAX.” They can show the night sky anytime in history, anywhere in the world. The sciences tend to be relatively strong here: 70-80% get into med school on the first application, almost twice the national average.

West Hall

West Hall

Dorms are coed, some by floor, some by room. The Freshman Quad has 6 dorms; West Hall was actually built by students back in the 1800s when there was a physical labor requirement. Almost 1/3 of students are involved in Greek Life (rush doesn’t happen until sophomore year). Roughly 60% of affiliated students live in Greek housing located down on Broad Street. “They’re owned by the university so they’re bound by all the rules on campus.” The dining hall is open 24/7. Freshman and sophomore meal plans are unlimited so they can get coffee or a snack without wasting a meal.

Student Center

Student Center

A student lounge

A student lounge

There’s plenty to do on campus. They bring in lots of big-name speakers like the Clintons or the Prime Minister of Israel (the tour guide didn’t know if it was the current PM or not . . .). Dancefest, a twice-yearly event, showcases the 30+ dance and music groups including the all-whistling a cappella group. Sports are popular, and there are also a lot of club teams dedicated to the less popular sports that don’t necessarily have an outlet otherwise such as Fencing, Curling, Western or English/Hunt Equestrian, Rugby, and Figure Skating.

~Colgate 6The town of Hamilton is a small, cute town with a few things to do. “We’re not going to go hungry,” said the tour guide, but if you’re looking for hopping city night-life, this isn’t the place. Shuttles run around campus and town four times an hour from 7am – 1am (3am on weekends). Syracuse is less than an hour away, and there are plenty of outdoor events like skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and kayaking available, many of which are free to students through the Outdoor Club and other college organizations. There’s a long-distance bus stop on campus so it’s easy to get to other cities (including 2 buses a day to NYC). They also run shuttles to the Amtrak and the Syracuse airport (a round-trip shuttle to the airport costs $20).

ALANA Center

ALANA Center

Multiculturalism and diversity is big here. The ALANA cultural center has a full kitchen, offices, and meeting/class spaces; they hold brown bag lunches almost every week. There are multiple groups dedicated to a variety of religious, political, and cultural identities.

© 2015

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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