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Archive for the tag “Geology major”

Bates College

Bates College (visited 8/5/19)

Bates Puddle 2

The Puddle with the Arts Center on the far side

Lots of colleges have traditions surrounding a body of water on campus: dunking on a birthday, regattas of some form, etc. This is the first I’ve heard of a mid-winter Puddle Jump tradition – in the middle of Maine, no less! In February, people cut a large hole in the ice covering the pond. Students put on costumes and jump in. “It’s safe,” said the tour guide.” You don’t even have to get yourself out. I just put my arms up and they pulled me out. There’s even a bonfire afterwards to warm up.” For a campus that put heated pipes under the library plaza to help keep the snow and ice clear (“There’s no excuse for not studying,” said the tour guide), this is a big deal!

Bates library plaza 2

The library plaza

Bates atrium

The atrium of one of the academic buildings

Bates is a beautiful, traditional-looking New England campus AND it’s carbon neutral! They beat their goal to be neutral by 2020 (“We have to do certain things to offset our carbon footprint; ironically, the department that’s the worst at that is admissions because of all the travel”). They’re great at recycling, including composting, and they’re big on Community Outreach. Lewiston is classified as a Federal Refugee center with 10% of the population coming from the Eastern African Diaspora; more than 30 languages are spoken in public schools. All teams have a liaison to make sure all members volunteer. There is a center to help them facilitate this. It also runs international mission trips and provides other community service opportunities.

Bates quad 1

The Quad

There’s a large quad surrounded by brick buildings; a relatively new art center (check out the Arts and Visual Culture major or one of the multiple a cappella groups) sits on the far side of the “Puddle” (pond) which also has ducks swimming in it; 22 Victorian Houses around campus are used as dorms. There are some new dorms which have some of the best lounges and kitchens I’ve ever seen! The town of Lewiston has plenty for students to do; students can ski for free at Lost Valley, the ski resort 10 minutes from campus, and they can get hugely reduced tickets at several other places nearby. They can borrow outdoor gear (including skis) from the Outdoor Center on campus. The beach is 45 minutes away, and there’s a bus stop on campus where they can get the busses to Portland or Boston.

Bates gatesBates was founded in 1855 by Free Will Baptists who believed that education should elevate people out of their current situation and that people should work with a diverse cohort. More than 100 years before most peer institutions went coed, they were admitting women. They believe in access to education (ironic that they’re so selective now). Their endowment is a bit lower than some of their peer institutions because they invest it back into financial aid and other student-centered programs.

Bates 8Students at Bates have to complete a Major + One; in other words, a major plus another major, a minor, or GEC They have an extensive list of these Gen Ed Concentrations which are comprised of 4 intentionally interdisciplinary classes revolving around a theme. For example, The Human Body might include classes in bio, dance, and PoliSci. This gives students plenty of opportunities to “test-drive” interests in the real world and a chance to learn by doing. Students are interested in getting out and doing things to put theory into action. Between 60 and 70% of juniors will study abroad, and 12-13% of the students come from other countries.

Bates 6Bates has a 4-4-1 academic calendar. The longer terms are 13-week semesters in which students take 4 classes each. They’ll take 1 class in the short term. Students have to complete 2 short terms but can’t take more than 3 (“but some people get creative because it’s a popular time to be on campus,” said the rep). This is a time to delve into their majors. Math students do “math camp” where they do math 6 hours a day to figure out what they want to do for their thesis. “It’s great for community building.” Other unusual offerings include a Geospatial class (popular with the Geology majors) that will kayak up the Maine coast to collect water and dirt samples (which they then analyze). One of their graduates, a Boston Globe journalist, comes back to teach Online Journalism.

Bates dorm kitchen 2

One of the dorm kitchens

All students must complete a capstone project, often a thesis. Each department has it’s own thesis lounge where they have previous theses on display (and it’s tradition to ask a freshman to bind it). One student recently compared the serialization of Austin to Netflix; another looked at the influx of incarceration of mentally ill people in the county.

Bates 4Classes are capped at 45 (the largest classroom) but average 19-20. The tour guide’s largest class was Intro to Bio with 45; his smallest class, FYE, had 9. They offer FYS in all subjects; his was in neuroscience. Sciences are strong; 91% of students get into med school “in the first round on their first try.” Two faculty members who have NASA grants.

© 2019

Central Washington University

Central Washington University (visited 6/21/17)

CWU 2CWU was a surprise in the best possible way. I walked away knowing that I’d be comfortable recommending this school to students: it’s a welcoming, modern, attractive campus with a lot of unusual majors that would appeal even to students coming from across the country. Check out this YouTube video put together by the Arts and Humanities Departments – made entirely (including the music) by faculty and students in that school!

CWU mascot 2

The mascot in front of the student center which also houses their Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals office

All first-year students are required to live on campus and therefore get priority for housing. Many live in 4-person “pods” (like suites). There are about a dozen LLCs available; our tour guide lived in the Aviation LLC his first year even though he ended up not majoring in it. There are some university-owned apartments available for upperclassmen. Off-campus housing is relatively easy to find and not expensive. Ellensburg is a small, easily manageable city with things to do and with lots of access to outdoor activities. Students can fly into Sea-Tac airport and get school shuttles for the 2-ish hour trip to campus.

CWU sculpture

One of many such sculptures on campus

Despite being a medium-sized university of about 11,000 students, they take excellent care of students and work hard to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks. Students get both a Major and a Support Advisor so there are plenty of people checking in on them. They are dedicated to providing accessible education for students, particularly those who historically have not had easy access to higher education. Their first-gen students graduate well above the national average, for example. One student spoke to us at dinner; he was extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities and support he received at the college, saying that his success came due to the support he got from faculty and the institution as a whole.

CWU sci 1

One of 2 new science buildings

The evening we were on campus, one of the physics students gave us a mini-lecture on Dark Matter… we couldn’t believe he wasn’t a professor! The Astronomy Club gives monthly presentation, so this was something they would have available to students and the community at large. A physics professor then let us crawl into their portable planetarium (who knew that was even a thing!?); it looked a bit like an igloo and easily fit 25 people. (We also got to go into their permanent planetarium but the equipment was being upgraded so we were unable to see it in action). He gave us a great presentation followed by an extensive tour of the geology and physics labs and ending at the telescope and observatory on the roof.

They offer a number of interesting and/or unique majors such as:

  • CWU museumMuseum Studies
    • They’ve excavated a mammoth about 30 minutes from here and will most likely keep the bones on campus since students did a lot of the work.
  • Law & Justice
  • Para-medicine
  • Aviation/Aerospace/Aviation Management
    • Aviation has been going on for about 40 years; there’s a pilot shortage and they’ll get jobs, but it’s a lot of money up front for the training.
    • There are additional admissions requirements such as a physical for flying.
    • There are 60 incoming freshman bringing it up to 160 total. They’re hoping to bring even more in next year.
  • CWU mammoth

    The first mammoth bone excavated

    Music

  • Sciences (College of Sciences combines Computational, Natural, and Social Sciences)
    • They have a Cadaver Lab!
    • The geology department is the largest in the state
    • A physics professor has a grant to discover exoplanets.
  • Primate Behavior and Ecology: Washoe, one of the original chimps that was taught ASL lived here.
  • Integrated Energy Management
  • CWU japanese garden

    Part of the campus Japanese Garden

    The Business School is AACSB accredited (less than 5% of more than16,000 schools get this). Admission is not competitive but must keep a 2.5 GPA to stay in the program; students can declare after 30 credits.

    • There are 8 concentrations including HR, Economic Forecasting, Supply Chain, and Managerial Economics
  • Safety and Health Management: they have the top program in west. Two professors got awarded National Educators of the Year awards.
  • Apparels, Textiles, and Merchandising: graduates can work as designers or buyers.
  • Global Wine Studies: This is not meant to teach students how to make wine (although they do learn how) but focus on the marketing.
  • Craft Brewing: Students do learn how to make beer in this major! “They get a lot of science.” They can also get a certificate in this if they don’t want the whole major.
  • They’re starting Hospitality Program and will incorporate the beer and wine programs into the event management. This will be an international program where they can work in Spain, too. Getting a dual degree from each institution will be a possibly.
  • Their Army and AF ROTC programs win awards across the country.
CWU creek 1

This stream runs through campus. “You could swim in it, but I’m not sure you want to,” said the tour guide. “However, it is tradition for seniors to float down it in tubes right before graduation.”

Admission to the university is automatic – without the test scores – if a student has a 3.4 and will have completed all the College Academic Requirements by graduation (but they still need to submit test scores; they just aren’t used for admissions, but are looked at for scholarships and for placement). All others go through the comprehensive review process. This is already one of the most affordable institutions in the Pacific Northwest. On top of that, they offer WUE to qualifying students who then pay in-state tuition x 1.5. The average incoming GPAs for WUE students was a 3.31; overall was a 3.1.

© 2017

Beloit College

Beloit College (visited 4/15/15)

~Beloit cafe

Campus Cafe

The students at Beloit were some of the most open, forthcoming, articulate students I’ve met. I was hugely impressed with them and the school as a whole. They’re doing something very right there. It’s clearly earning its spot on the Colleges that Change Lives list!

~Beloit acad bldg 4Beloit is great for students who like to do more than one thing. The professors also demonstrate this range of interests. For example, a physics professor teaches “The Physics of Asian Sounds” and co-teaches a class with a Music professor on “Keeping it Real.” Students tend to be jacks-of-all-trades who want to do a lot and maybe need help focusing (in a good way). About half the students become involved in the arts in some way during their time here just because they enjoy it. The campus has a lot of facilities for performances including a thrust stage and 2 black box theaters.

~Beloit sci lab

Science Lab

The happiest students engage across the curriculum. “There are excited students who want to do this and excited faculty who want to work with them,” said one admissions rep. Faculty work with them to show how to fit things into their majors. “They help students move into the driver’s seat of their own education” by letting them articulate what they’re interested in and why. The ability to articulate their own narrative is important. A student put it this way: “We’re challenged in different ways at different times. Be ready to have your world turned upside down in a good way.”

~Beloit students quad

Quad

Students are collaborative, not competitive. Students are internally motivated, not grade-grubbers. They’ll ask “What did you think about the reading?” not “What did you get?” They want to know what they can do better. “They take the responsibility for their education,” said one professor. “They’ll ask, ‘What can I do differently next time?’ not ‘Why did you give me that grade?’”

~Beloit sci bldg interior

Science Building

Students here learn by doing and are expected to do something with what they learn in class. Beloit calls it Liberal Arts in Practice: “We want them to graduate with a resume, not just a transcript.” All students complete a significant project such as research or an internship – and Beloit makes it easy to do this. Students don’t even have to leave campus for real-world experience (although many still do):

~Beloit 1

Archaeology Museum in a converted chapel

  • There are 2 teaching museums on campus: Art and Anthropology/Archaeology (and there are 20 Indian Mounds on campus). Many students work here as researchers, curators, and educators since the museums only have 4 staff members
  • Students who like to make things happen are supported in the Entrepreneurship program CELEB.
  • There’s a fully functional campus TV station.

~Beloit student on quadThere’s a high degree of flexibility in the Curriculum. Rather than Core or Distribution Requirements, Beloit has 5 Domains (such as Creative Processes and Scientific Inquiry) and 3 Skills (Writing, Cultural Competency, and Quantitative Analysis) that they want graduates to have. There’s vast amount of choice involved; many of these can be fulfilled within a major.

~Beloit bridge“It just kind of worked out that no more than 10% of students in any given year are in a major. We don’t do that on purpose,” said an admissions rep. “Professors are hands-down the best here,” said one student. Some of the unusual majors or programs of note include:

  • 3-2 and 4-2 Engineering: Two to four students a year will take advantage of program. Many more come in saying they’re interested but change their minds. Students spend 3 or 4 years at Beloit earning a B.S. and then will earn a 2nd Bachelors or a Masters in Engineering from Columbia, RIP, Michigan, Wash U, or Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Environmental Management and Forestry: this is a cooperative program with Duke. The accelerated program (3-2) is competitive; students can also start at Duke after the full 4 years at Beloit.
  • Critical Identities Studies
  • International Political Economy
  • Geology
  • Languages: Beloit offers classes in many languages beyond the “traditional” including Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and even Hungarian. About 75% of students will study another language even without a language requirement. The Modern Languages major lets students combine more than one language.
  • Comparative Literature
  • Creative Writing: this is a full major, not an afterthought within the English Department
  • Health and Society
  • Anthropology: Rated the top undergrad program in the country and #2 for students who go on to get a PhD

~Beloit quad 4Favorite classes include:

  • Thinking Queerly: “It was about identity, and a really rigorous class. It pushed me in a unique way.”
  • Women, Race, and Class: “It was a wake-up call.”
  • Masculinities: “We did a lot of research.”
  • “Social Technology Entrepreneurship: “There were 6 professors and 4 students. Where else will that ever happen?”
  • Anthropology of Race and Identity

~Beloit frat houseAlthough there is only a 3-year residency requirement, 95% stay on campus all four years. Housing options include special interest and Gender Neutral housing. The alcohol policy is for students to be responsible and respectful. “There aren’t a lot of regulations here. It’s much more laid back so there’s no pressure to binge drink,” said one student. “People can reach out for help if they need it without fear of repercussions”.

~Beloit dorms

Dorms

Athletics are big but not overwhelming (they’re DIII). The Athletic Director (also the baseball coach) told a story about one of his players who was going to miss practice for the opening of his Senior Art Show. He felt bad about missing practice and proactively told the coach — who not only told him not to worry about it, but delayed the start of practice by about an hour to allow the rest of the team to support their teammate at the opening. “If we’re good, we’ll win without the extra practice.” Because they’re DIII, they don’t have much influence, if any, on admissions: “Admissions reps don’t show up to practice and tell us how to bunt. I don’t tell them who to admit.”

~Beloit quad 3Admissions is competitive, but applicants tend to be fairly self-selecting. They will recalculate GPA to a 4.0 unweighted scale. This year, they’re Test Optional for the first time. International students need to demonstrate skills with TOEFL or SAT/ACT.

Students love Beloit. The town is cute with lots to do. One student did say that “sometimes it can be a bit isolating. The good side is that it makes us a community, and there’s so much to do here that there’s no reason to leave anyway.” Some of the favorite traditions on campus are:

  • “Bizarro” held at the on-campus bar. Students dress up as someone else on campus.
  • Bell Run: “You can be naked on the residential side, but not the academic side. The bell sits just over the line on the academic side; students run across the “line” to ring the bell.”
  • The 2-day Folk and Blues Music Fest
  • Spring Day Carnival
  • Ultimate Frisbee Championships between faculty and students. “We also joke about whether “Old School” (faculty) will be any good this year.”

(c) 2015

Castleton State College

CASTLETON STATE (visited 4/16/14)

~Castleton dining hall

Dining Hall

Castleton is the oldest college in Vermont and the 18th oldest in the U.S. (founded shortly after College of Charleston in SC). However, facilities are modern and comfortable: they’ve put over $70 million in renovations and new buildings over the last 10 years or so. One of the new buildings is a pavilion where they now hold graduation, and in the winter, they flood it to make a skating rink.

One of the new dorms

One of the new dorms

They serve a variety of students – they have the A kid in the Honors College and the C kids who have amazing transformations. Thirty percent of their students come from out-of-state, and 50% are first-generation college students.

~Castleton 2They bring in a lot of events, but they are quick to acknowledge that “Castleton isn’t exactly the most bustling of towns,” so they give students the opportunity to get off campus with buses to Yankees and Red Sox games, concerts, city trips, and more. Skiers can get a season pass to all 3 major ski resorts in the area (including Killington) for $300 a year. A Rail Trail goes right by campus which is great for runners or cross-country skiers. Our tour guide was surprised ~Castleton quadat how big sports were here, which range from intramural to varsity. Some of the more unusual sports offered are Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding (Club), Mountain Biking, Homerun Derby, Wallyball, Water Polo, and Dodge Ball (they were recently listed in the Guinness World Record book for the longest Dodge Ball tournament that lasted 41 hours).

~Castleton study area

Student Center

Two other students were surprised at the community and level of support. First Year students meet once a week with advisors who make sure they’re being challenged and supported. Their retention is starting to go up (currently at 70%). Forty percent of each dorm is reserved for freshmen who are mixed through the dorms. Our tour guide, a senior, lived next door to freshmen. The dorms are single-sex by suite, and rooms are spacious.

~Castleton sports complex

Sports Complex

Academics of note include Athletic Training, Computer Information Systems, Global Studies, Geology, Social Work, and Sports Administration. The school does a good job linking academics and clubs, sending students to conferences, helping set up internships, and in other ways giving students real-world experiences related to their majors.

© 2014

University of Montana, Western (Dillon, MT)

University of Montana, Western (Admissions Representative Presentation)

UMW is unique in the Montana system in that classes are offered on the block schedule; in this way, they’re very much like Colorado College or Cornell College. Students take one class at a time, three hours a day for 18 days. Classes meet either from 8:15-11:15 or from 12:15-3:15, and the students may NOT take 2 classes during the same 18 day block. At the end of the block, they get two extra days off (so a four-day weekend) and then will start their next class. Classes are capped at 25 with an average of 18.

Half the students are in Education, but Business and Biology are also popular. Geology is the most prestigious, and Natural Horsemanship is the most unique.

This is a small, compact campus with 1400 undergrads. Almost 2/3 of the students are from Montana. For those flying in, Bozeman is usually the most convenient (more flights), but Butte is closer (60 miles). The drive from Bozeman is an hour and 45 minutes. There is definitely a rural feel with the school located near Continental Divide and Ranches. Freshman must live on campus.

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