campus encounters

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Weber State University

Weber State University (visited 9/26/18)

Weber quadWeber (pronounced “wee-ber” … “We’re not the grill!” said the Director of Admissions) is a dual-mission university offering 2- and 4-year degrees. “We pride ourselves in taking kids from where they are to where they want to be. We know how to challenge you, and we care enough to do it. You cannot avoid professors. They’re going to know who you are.” There are no TAs; all classes are taught by professors, half of whom are adjuncts because they work in their field and bring pragmatic experiences to the classroom.

Weber 3There is something here for all students from the high-flyers who know exactly what they want to those who may never have though that college was for them. Because there’s no community college north of Salt Lake City, Weber has an open-enrollment mission for the 2-year programs imbedded in who they are. Students who complete the AA degree in good standing and who want to continue on may do so. Many students are first-gen because of the community college aspect; they’re on the cusp of being named a Hispanic-serving institution because of the large community in Ogden.

Weber moutainsThey have six campuses in two counties; the main campus is in Odgen. “We’re where metro meets the mountains,” said an admissions rep. Many industries (“from the IRS to ski resorts”) are headquartered here. Downtown – about 1.5 miles north of campus – is “one of the most fun, eclectic areas you’ll see.” They sit directly on the side of Mount Ogden which students hike during homecoming. A ski resort sits on the other side. “Not that I recommend this, but if you wanted to hike it up and ski down the other side, I guess you could skip the lift fee…”

Weber tablesA lot of students come to Utah because of the accessibility to outdoor sports, particularly skiing. Students who live in Res Hall 3 (Yes, that’s really the name; there’s also Res Hall 1. The 2nd one got named. Go figure) get a free ski pass. “The point is to group those students together. A lot of skiers and outdoors people live there,” said the tour guide. Other places give discounts to students.

Weber W rockStudents are involved here, on and off campus. Apparently, Paddleboard Yoga is a big deal. Outdoor trips are plentiful and cheap: weekend trips cost around $35; a 5-day rafting trip cost $50. They offer 15 DI sports: Football is big and women’s soccer “is a lot of fun to watch.” Parking isn’t much of an issue: there’s plenty of space at the basketball stadium. Shuttles run every 5 minutes, and local buses also stop on campus.

Weber 2About 1100 students live on campus, many from outside Utah. Cost of housing depends on if they live in Wildcat Village (traditional style) or University Village (apartment) and if they’re in singles or doubles. Out-of-state students get a $1000 scholarship if they live on campus. Every student gets a Wildcard pass, getting them free travel on Light Rail from the SLC airport to downtown Ogden (about 45 minutes). From there, they get an express shuttle (also free) to campus. They can also take free Express Buses into Provo and SLC. Because SLC is a Delta Hub, it’s easy to get into.

Weber performing artsClasses are small; our tour guide’s largest class had 50 students (Intro to Anthropology); the smallest had 7. “That was Intro to Outdoor Pursuits. We talked about risk management and leading groups.” The 7 academic colleges offer amazing options:

Weber quad 2Applications are straight-forward and on the website (they aren’t on Common App); they do not need an essay. Test scores can come from the testing agency or the transcript. They have a 12/1 priority deadlines for scholarships. They start awarding scholarships on 12/2 and will award until they run out of money. In-state tuition is under $6,000; out-of-state is under $16,000; WUE is under $9000. They have solid scholarships (the top one brings the out-of-state cost to in-state). All tuition scholarships are guaranteed for 4 years if they maintain a 2.5GPA with 12 credit hours per semester. They award these based on an index score (ACT/SAT + unweighted GPA). Becoming a Utah resident for tuition purposes is relatively easy as long as no one claims the student on another state’s taxes, they spend 1 full year in the state, and get driver’s license/register to vote; this does not apply if they are on WUE.

© 2018

 

Eckerd College

Eckerd College (visited 2/8/16)

Eckerd beach“Eckerd brings out the good in us,” said the student sitting at our table at lunch. “It taught me that I’m pretty tough. I can roll out of bed at 2:00 am and go save people off a sinking boat.”

Eckerd skateboard parking

Skateboard “Parking” can be found around campus

Eckerd sits on about a mile and a half of waterfront property; not a bad place to spend 4 years! However, the administrators are quick to point out a line from Colleges That Change Lives: “On a sunny lush plot of land on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Eckerd College might seem like the perfect spot for an easy college career, four years marked by sun, surf and sand. But if you’re looking for a vacation, you should enroll elsewhere” (http://www.eckerd.edu/about/colleges-that-change-lives). Students describe classes as “intense and rigorous.”

Eckerd hammock 2

Hammocks are all over campus

People are excited about being here and are genuinely nice. “Very few places make the homesickness worth it. This is one of them,” said our tour guide. Less than ¼ of the students come from Florida (and about 5% are international); in fact, the average distance a student travels to attend Eckerd is about 1000  miles. The best way to describe students here are “beachy,” and students will even take extensive use of the yellow bikes on campus to get from place to place … they just grab one that’s free and scoot off to wherever they need to go! If they prefer to use a skateboard, there are even places provided to “park” them inside the buildings. The overarching feel is liberal, according to several students. They’re definitely relaxed and outdoorsy, taking full advantage of their surroundings, but not at the expense of their studies.

Eckerd water center

Waterfront equipment

The Waterfront substitutes for a campus rec center, and students come here for both fun and academics. Students, faculty, and even relatives can rent tents, coolers, fishing rods, and other equipment. In addition to a multitude of organized waterfront events (Fall FunFest, Hoedown, SplashBash, and the Talent Show to name a few), they have daily 2-hour windsailing and waterskiing trips and frequent overnight trips throughout the year such as a 4-day snorkeling trip to the Keys. Classes (wind-surfing, sailing, etc) are discounted for students, and anyone can sign up assuming they’ve passed the swim test. Clubs will also go scuba diving.

Eckerd water front

Boats at the waterfront

Faculty will bring classes to the waterfront; students will go out in kayaks or boats as part of their academics. Students may paddle to islands and read or write there for an English class. Environmental or Marine Science classes use the water and coast as a lab.

EC-SAR (Eckerd College Search and Rescue) is the only college water rescue in the country. It’s entirely student run (with some staff oversight!); they train and certify students to go out. They’re on-call 24 hours a day and go on about 500 calls a year (2nd to the Coast Guard). There’s also a land-based rescue: dispatch for 911 calls to help stabilize people on campus.

Eckerd chapel 1

The campus chapel

This is a Presbyterian-affiliated school, but you’d never know it; although there’s a chapel on campus, it’s non-denominational and there are no other statues or paraphernalia to indicate a religious affiliation.There are no attendance requirements or classes dealing with religion. They have an active Hillel and a club called “Scubie Jew” in which anyone (they don’t have to be Jewish) can get Scuba Certified. “I think they may be changing the name because people thought you did have be Jewish, but it’s kind of catchy so I hope they don’t,” said a tour guide. Students can get free transportation off campus to any service they want in the area. The school also holds alternative services on the beach sometimes.

Eckerd acad quad

Part of the Academic Quad

Admissions looks to bring about 500 first year and about 50 transfer students in a year. “It’s a challenge not to grow,” said one of the admissions representatives. Admissions decisions are done holistically, but scholarships are awarded based on grades and test scores (they’ll superscore ACT and SAT). The application fee is waived if the application is submitted by November 15 – with a guaranteed answer by 12/15. International students need a 550 CR SAT, a 79 TOEFL, or a 3000 word essay.

Eckerd library int

The study room on the main floor of the library

First-year students arrive 3 weeks before upperclassmen to complete orientation and the first class. This is called Autumn Term: “It should be called Sweaty term. There’s nothing Autumn about it,” said a rep. Transfer students CAN do an Autumn term but are not required to. Class runs from 9-12, and then students participate in orientation activities in the afternoons. Of the 25 classes offered, students can choose 6 classes that they’re interested in. Completing this class is a requirement for graduation, but it does not count towards the major. Orientation helps them learn about balance and other things.

Instead of “General Education” requirements, students complete Perspectives. The largest classes for our 2 tour guides were 40 (Chem 1) and 23 (Introduction to Anthropology); smallest were 2 (Latin) and 6 (Religion). Eckerd awards AP credit for 4 or 5 on the exams. Students can come in with up to 9 classes worth of AP, IB, or Dual Enrollment.

Eckerd Sci Cntr 1

The entry to the new science building

The most popular majors are the Natural Sciences (about 1/3 of students), followed by the Social Sciences (just under 1/4 of the students), Business (about 20%), then Arts & Communications and Humanities (both just over 10%). Marine Science, Geosciences, Human Development, International Business are particularly strong. They offer a 3-2 Engineering & Applied Science program with Columbia and Wash U; “Not as many people take advantage of this as we’d like. Usually they’re here for a reason and will stay for all 4 years to take advantage of the opportunities here.” There’s also a 3-3 Pre-law program.

Eckerd music cntr

The Music building

They’re getting a new Arts center in the Spring of 2017. “You might see a building coming down today. It’s intentional … if they hit the right one,” said the Dean. The main Academic Quad is fairly small; all the buildings have classroom doors that open to the outside. There are no long halls in the buildings. They have recently built a new science center. However, much of the campus is in need of a face-lift; people are mostly willing to overlook it because of the natural beauty of campus, and students see that improvements are being done over time.

Eckerd marine sci bldg

The Marine Science building

Experiential and Service Learning components are built into the fabric of life here. Research is everywhere, and a Mellon Foundation grant allows up to 25 freshmen to start researching immediately. All freshmen have to attend career services and complete 40 hours of reflective learning by junior year. The 2 aspects of this include both course content (1 example: Becoming Visible: Sex and Gender in American Society in which students look into how people can work with diverse populations) and an individual project or alternative spring break trip. They run trips to places like Cuba (looking at faith and lifting the embargo), Panama and Quito (working in orphanages), and Kentucky (poverty in the Appalachians). They’re ranked the #12 college in the US for short-term study abroad and study away: they travel internationally, but also at Ghost Ranch, NM; the Sundance Film Festival, UT; the United Nations, NY; and Woods Hole, MA. They’ve recently partnered with the University of Havana, Cuba so students can study Marine Biology there.

Eckerd dorm 4

One of the bigger dorms on campus sits right on the water

The dorms (all of which are mixed-classes: there are no freshman-only dorms) are named after Greek letters “partially to thumb our noses at Greek Life.” 86% of students live on campus, even though they only are required to live there for the first year. They have themed living, including Gender Neutral dorms. They opened their first one last year, and it’s so popular that they now have a 2nd one.

Eckerd dorms

Another set of dorms

There’s also Pet Friendly living; the Department of Pet Life provides oversight, health and wellness checks, flea and tick medication, and vet visits twice a year. Ten buildings allow pets; dogs have to be at least a year old and owned by the student for at least 10 months; Cats have to be 6 months old and owned for 3 months. “This is to make sure that the students know the pets well and how they react to things.” Usually parking is fine, but it’s been more of a challenge this year with the construction. Kids who fly in will usually take SuperShuttle or have friends who pick them up.

 

When students get sick of campus and/or the water, there’s plenty to do off campus, and the school runs free shuttles off campus to various locations and runs buses downtown to First Friday every month.

© 2016

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University (visited 1/28/15)

~WMU quad 6

An academic quad

For a public university, this isn’t huge, especially compared to the other public universities in the state. The campus is manageable; “compact” said one tour guide. “It takes no more than 15 minutes to walk across. You can get from class to class in 7 or 8 minutes.” There are buses, but they’re just not needed simply to get around campus. WMU is located (literally) directly across the street from Kalamazoo College, but there isn’t much intermingling between the schools.

~WMU dining hall

One of the dining halls

Before the info session and tour, I went to lunch with Rachel, a senior  – “but I won’t graduate for another year because I switched into nursing.” She came to WMU for the scholarship and the honors program, and because she felt like she was treated like an individual. People were “super willing to help, and I found that even as a student. Older students, professors, whoever are all willing to give advice.”

~WMU courtyardPeople who will do well here are solid students who also have outside interests, who want the larger school experience with the large athletics, but who still want a campus feel and who don’t quite want to get lost in the crowd.

~WMU quad 5Approximately 1/3 of the 19,000 undergraduates live on campus. Many freshmen live in traditional dorms, but there’s also specialty themed housing with activities, tutors, etc geared towards that subject. Some scholarships carry a residency requirement. Upperclassmen put themselves on waiting lists for the on-campus apartments which are in high demand. The 12,000 or so students who don’t live on campus find housing around town through word-of-mouth, on Craig’s List, or even just by showing up at apartment complexes. I spoke to three students who live off campus; they all said it was easy to find a place.

~WMU dorms 2

One of the dorm neighborhoods

There are also some Greek houses. Many members live in them for a year (sometimes 2 if there’s room). Often they move in the year after they pledge, so most of the residents are sophomores, occasionally juniors. Only about 5% of WMU students are affiliated with 1 of the 30 sororities or fraternities. 20 of these are nationally recognized; the rest are local or service groups.

WMU athletic cntr

The athletic center hallways. Classrooms are to the left.

Hockey is the big sport here; Rachel wishes that they would build a bigger stadium since it’s always packed. Most games are standing room only. Their big Hockey rival is Miami of Ohio; for all other sports, it’s Central Michigan. “Football is also a lot more fun now that there’s a new coach.” Intramurals cost usually $9 per season per sport “unless you have a team from all the same hall. Then it’s covered under student activities fee.”

~WMU windowBronco Bash, best described as a street fair with live music, activities, etc., is a favorite yearly activity. The monthly movies in the school theatre are also popular; for $1, they get popcorn and a movie. These are usually packed. “There’s something to be said about watching movies with 500 college students.” The town of Kalamazoo has plenty to do, including various “fests” (Rib Fest, Irish Fest) throughout the year. For people needing to go further afield for fun, Chicago is 2.5 hours west, Grand Rapids is 45 minutes north, and Detroit is 2 hours east.

~WMU acad bldg 2WMU only pulls about 5% of their students from other states and another 7% from other countries. It’s very easy to get Michigan Residency for tuition purposes. Students must live in Michigan for 12 consecutive months; the school year counts towards this. Students will either stay on campus or sublet an off-campus apartment through the summer so they can take classes, work, and/or do research. Once they live in MI for 12 months and switch their licence, they get in-state tuition.

~WMU rotunda

Atrium of a science building

Academics generally well regarded. Although there are larger classes associated with a large public school, they aren’t overwhelming and the students said that there’s always help available. Largest classes for the students I talked to have all hovered around 200 (Psych, Communication Theory, and Biology). Smallest have been 20 in labs and 15 in English.

Notable programs include:

  • ~WMU muralAviation Programs. The College of Aviation (one of the largest in the nation) maintains a separate facility at the airport in Battle Creek, about 20 minutes from the main campus. One of the students raved about how nice it was.  Majors include Flight Science, Maintenance Tech, and Management and Operations. 
  • Engineering: In addition to the more common Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, Computer, and Electrical Engineering, they also offer Aerospace, Construction, Paper, and Industrial/Entrepreneurial Engineering. The College of Engineering also offers Graphic and Printing Science, Engineering Design Technology, and Manufacturing Engineering Technology. Students applying to this school need a 25 on the ACT math section.
  • Business: students complete one year of “pre-business” before they specialize
  • Freshwater Science and Sustainability
  • Textile and Apparel Studies (Product Development, Merchandising, or Fashion Design). Students complete at least 1 semester at Fashion Institute of Tech or at American Intercontinental University in London.
  • Geosciences, including Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Hydrogeology.
  • The Honors College: Students need a 3.6 GPA and a 26 ACT (1190 CR&M on the SAT).
  • Air Force ROTC
~WMU stud activity cntr

Student Activity Center

Admission is rolling, but for the best scholarship consideration, students should apply by the first Friday in December. Medallion Scholarships award the most money; winners tend to average around a 3.7 GPA and 26 ACT. If they qualify, they are invited to campus to compete. Winners get $12,500 a year, but all who attend the competition are guaranteed at least $3,000. Endowed scholarships are awarded usually around the middle of March. Students wanting need-based aid should file the FAFSA by the priority deadline of 3/1.

Admitted students’ GPAs hover around 3.3 – 3.4; ACTs average around a 23; about a third of their students fall in the top 25% of their HS class. They will recalculate grades with AP classes getting an additional 1 quality point. If students are borderline, they’ll look at the essay, the rec letters, etc.

(c) 2015

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