campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “First-Gen”

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

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Western Oregon University

WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY (visited 7/15-16/13)

WOU 5I guess I didn’t expect much from this school; it seemed to be a small “outpost” state school – and once again, I learned not to pre-judge a school without learning more about it. It’s a lovely campus that’s easy to navigate. The small Main Street (and by that I mean that it’s about 2 blocks long) is about a 5 minute walk away. Despite its size, one of the tour guides said that, “Monmouth is pretty chill.”

WOU Library

WOU Library

WOU ROTCThe students say that “students come first here.” Academic advising is a core function, and several people have won awards for advising. There are no teaching assistants, so students are taught by experts in the field. Their ASL is a big program, maybe the “flagship” program, if there is such a thing. Students can major or minor in it; there’s a theme floor where the RA signs, and there are several deaf faculty members. They’re looking into a Master’s in interpreting, and a major national call center has called them to ask to be a “relay station” for when they need interpreters. Other programs worth noting are the nursing partnership with OHSU (Oregon Health Science University) in Portland, although it’s extremely competitive and they have to apply to OHSU. The science building is nicknamed the “Life and Death building” and has a cadaver lab. This is also only one of two in the state that is affiliated with Microsoft so there are some internship options open to them. The ROTC Army program is strong and fairly active on campus.

WOU 2Admission to WOU is rolling. For admissions purposes, SAT/ACT scores need to be sent, but if students meet the GPA requirements for admission, scores are a technicality. However, for NCAA, Honors, scholarships, and other considerations, they will need the scores. Students in WUE states get it automatically if admitted. All students have the Tuition Choice of locking into a higher tuition rate that stays consistent for 4 years, or starting at a lower tuition rate and having it increase every year; the admissions rep described it as, “save now or save later.” There are plenty of scholarships offered. The Presidential Scholarship (worth up to $3,500 a year) is given to first year students who have a completed app on file by 2/28. The Diversity Commitment Scholarship (worth $3,500 a year) requires a separate application and is awarded to students form diverse backgrounds who have demonstrated sustained and significant effort and commitment to activities supporting diversity. Their General Scholarship (worth $1,000 but is not renewable) requires a separate online application, and selection is based on academic merit, essays, activities, and quality of application.

WOU food court

WOU food court

Eighty percent of students come from Oregon, but WOU has been named as the most ethnically diverse university in the state (with about 20% of the students self-identifying as minority students) as well as being named a First-Gen Serving Institution and being federally recognized for their Hispanic integration. They have a program for First Gen, Low-Income, and LD students, but they students have to apply to be involved since space is limited. It provides a great deal of support for the students, including a building dedicated to this program with lots of study spaces, tutors, and programing. The university has approximately 400 International Students from 13 countries, China and Saudi Arabia leading the way with highest numbers. One of our tour guides was from Nepal and came here for the Criminal Justice Program. There is an international studies office which all sorts of support services, including helping them with rides to and from the airport.

WOU 3Although the university is two years older than the state of Oregon (making it the oldest state university in the West), there are lots of renovations and new buildings around campus. The new library was built in 2000 and includes a 24 hour lounge and a silent study floor. They also have text-book rentals, and will start renting computers, graphing calculators, and more this year.

WOU 1There are Bear Tracks on sidewalks around campus to show “safety zones.” The tour guides both felt safe on campus and walking around at night. This might come from the location in a very small town. The biggest problem is bike theft when people don’t lock their bikes. They’ve never known anyone who has needed public safety officers. However, the university offers WolfRide; they’ll pick people up around town at night or provide safe rides home if they’ve been out drinking. One of the guides would like to increase the amount of time this is available since hours are limited, but they appreciate that it’s there. The university is a dry campus, and students will be cited if found in possession. They take this very seriously. However, there’s a wine bar and a bar only a couple blocks off campus, so students are able to drink if they want.

Lounge in the newest LEEDS certified dorm

Lounge in the platinum LEEDS-certified dorm

Dorms (and the campus as a whole) are proactive about holding events, and vents are scheduled all the time. Freshmen live on campus and housing applications open in October. Ackerman is the newest dorm (LEED platinum certified) containing 10 learning-living communities. They have two gender-neutral bathrooms on each floor that are entirely private in addition to other single-sex bathrooms. Greek life is just getting started on campus due to a student led initiative. Currently there is only one federally recognized fraternity. The sororities are solely club-based and revolve around community service groups. Football is big here, as is the marching band, showing that students can get involved in a variety of ways. They also offer Rugby for both women and men.

© 2013

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