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Trine University

Trine University (visited 11/20/19)

Trine quad 2

Some of the original buildings on the quad

Trine is a small university in a small town in rural northern Indiana. In addition the standard array of liberal arts degrees, they offer strong education programs, design engineering tech, biomedical engineering, and golf management as well as lots of unusual minors. Sports and Greek Life are big deals here. One of the old buildings in the attractive quad area had Hall of Humanities engraved in the stone; we didn’t get to go into that, but we thought that might be an indication of what they thought was important, but choices for majors in Arts & Sciences are limited.

Trine gymTrine is the fastest growing private college in Indiana; they’re looking to keep growing over the next 15 years. The main campus has about 2,200 undergrads (skewed heavily male) and 5,000 students total. (There’s a smaller satellite campus in Ft. Wayne that hosts Health Sciences and some online programs). Almost half (45%) of students are engineering majors; the rep, an alum gave us a tour and zoomed past the biomedical building in the golf cart so we didn’t get to see any of the labs which would’ve been cool. (Note: we did ask her to show off what she was most proud of; we ended up spending a chunk of time wandering around the new sports arena; she walked us around the entire perimeter of the basketball court and showed off the bowling alley but not the eSports room … go figure). Although they’re mostly considered a STEM and education school, they do offer some other options:

Co-ops are encouraged but not required; typically students choose to do a full year. This will delay graduation if they choose to do this, but they do get paid and can receive academic credit after the 3rd session. Their 5-year graduation rate is 60% mainly because of Co-ops, although their freshman-to-sophomore retention is also fairly low.

Trine 3They are in a small town that’s difficult to get to for students coming from a distance; there’s no convenient public transport. The closest airport is 50 miles away (Ft. Wayne); the nearest train station is 15 miles (Waterloo). The town of Angola isn’t big, but there are a few things to do in town: students get free movies on Mondays at the Brokaw; MTI hosts College Bowling Nights 1-2 times a week, there’s Open Skate at the Thunder Ice Arena, and the Y hosts Trine Nights where students can use the pool, fitness center, sauna, etc. There is no pool on campus.

Trine apts 2

upperclassmen apartments

As counselors, we’re always looking to see what a school’s hook is – what would draw students to that school over other similar ones. This is a cute school with a few niche majors, but we had trouble finding a compelling reason to recommend this to people from a distance. We asked her what her “elevator spiel” was when students stopped to talk at a college fair and what would draw a student (particularly one who had to travel and really work at getting to campus) to Trine over another school. Unfortunately, she didn’t really have an answer to that. She mentioned the small school/class experience (LOTS of colleges have that), the “community feel” (pretty much every school out there talks about that), and that she would talk about her experience on campus – which she didn’t share with us.

Trine Greek 3

One of the Greek houses

Trine recently built Stadium Hall, a new dorm, to accommodate the growing population. Students have to live on campus until they’re 21, unless they’re in one of the massive Greek houses (about 25% of students join Greek life but few live in the houses; the rep said, “Greek life is not dominant but it’s present.”) or in the non-denominational Christian Campus House which is technically not considered on-campus (landlords are different). They have 3 houses: 1 each for men and women and a Main house (surprisingly, only about 15 students total live there despite this being one of the biggest groups). They serve free hot dogs on Wednesday and pancakes on Fridays; host a “root beer kegger” during orientation; and offer alternative spring breaks, mission work, etc. Trine is not religiously affiliated, by the way.

Sports provide much of the social life on campus. They’re DIII with 35 competitive teams. Bowling, eSports, Cheer & Dance, and Synchronized & Figure Skating are club sports so they can give scholarships to students. Lacrosse is a big draw for East coast students. They’ve invested a lot of money into their facilities, including a great indoor track including long-jump sand pit.

Scholarships are based on GPA and scores, and they’ll accept new scores and transcripts until May of senior year. Students can only earn one academic scholarship but can stack up to 2 more awards such as Diversity, valedictorian/salutatorian, legacy, activity award (music, choir, skating, etc), or Pre-Health Profession Track. Students can be invited for the Scholarship Days where they come to campus to compete for certain awards.

© 2019

Keiser University

Keiser University (visited 2/7/16)

Keiser mascotKeiser is in the midst of a massive overhaul and should continue transforming dramatically over the next several years. Until last year, this had been Northwood College, owned and operated as a satellite campus of the parent university in Michigan. Now, the university in its entirety has been bought by Keiser which runs programs all over Florida. This will be their traditional, 4-year, residential campus.

Keiser st cntrThis small campus is Keiser’s flagship and only residential campus. As part of the buy-out agreement, all current students can continue with their Northwood programs. Some of these will phase out as the current students finish, some will continue, and many programs will be added. Most of the Northwood students stayed, and the current seniors, assuming they finish their degree requirements by the end of the school year, will receive Northwood diplomas. All others will receive Keiser diplomas.

They licensed all the programs for 4 years so it’s a seamless transition. In addition to those programs, they’re picking up all of Keiser’s health care and liberal arts programs. There was also very little faculty turnover; 2 retired, a couple others left. They did hire more so they have more working here than before.

Keiser dorm courtyard 2

The dorms and courtyard.

“Students First” is the recurring theme. President Tom Duncan (a PhD in PoliSci and an Anglican Priest from the Ozarks) welcomed us as we arrived, shaking everyone’s hand and chatting. In his opening remarks, he said, “I suspect that we’re not going forward as a liberal arts program but more comprehensive with business and health care, maybe computer science. It’ll be a little more practical, more hands-on.” He’s very proud that the accreditation team visited and found nothing wrong (although without a health or counseling center on campus – according to the admissions rep I spoke to – I’m not sure how that’s possible. I hope this is one of the areas they work on quickly).

Keiser 2Students seem to come here for the sports or for very specific academic programs. The panel of students we spoke to included:

  • A sophomore from the Bahamas, majoring in Finance and Econ. He was looking for good academics, a positive atmosphere, and the ability to connect to professors. He said he was surprised at how friendly people were: “I had an image from American movies, but people so nice here!” It’s why he stays.
  • A senior from Columbia, majoring in Int’l business and finance. She likes the small classrooms and personal connections. “We’re surrounded by people we know and we’re familiar with.” He started playing baseball but got injured.
  • A Marketing and Advertising Major came here because of her passion for business. “There are lots of volunteering opportunities and options to join clubs.”
  • A sophomore Canadian student is enrolled in the Automotive Marketing and Management program. “It’s a pretty specific program. Not many schools offer it.”
  • A student from Texas transferred from a school in Iowa. She plays volleyball here. “We live in paradise!”

Their athletic program is particularly strong; their 17 DII teams (19 next year with the addition of lacrosse and swimming) play in the NAIA against schools like SCAD and Johnson & Wales. Women’s golf won last year and are currently #1 ranked. (As a side note: golfers have a GPA of 3.92). They offer $1,000 athletic scholarships.

Keiser bell tower 5Driving into campus felt like a wilderness preserve. They own 100 acres, most of which is not currently being used. They’ve received a level 6 accreditation which means they can offer doctoral programs, and they plans for expansion and new buildings. Enrollment is currently 600 full-time undergrads with a goal for 1000 within 3 years. They’re approved for 1800 students, but would ultimately like to go beyond that. Application numbers are soaring with 2.5 times as many applications as this time last year. Students need a minimum of 2.75 GPA and a 16 ACT or 880 SAT to get in. About 1/3 of the students are international; the TOEFL or SAT/ACT is needed when their high school instruction wasn’t in English. Keiser offers good merit scholarships, also available to international students.

Health Care programs are strong. They offer programs such as BioMedical Technology (also counts as their Pre-Med program), Dietetics and Nutrition, and Imaging Sciences. They’ve just been approved to offer a BSN this fall. They’ll pull in 2 cohorts a year (1 each semester) with 24 students per cohort. Eventually, this campus will offer every 4-year health program that Keiser offers. Currently, they don’t have labs built, but they should be open by the fall of 2016.

The Sports Medicine & Fitness Technology programs looks for motivated, disciplined, people who want to help others. “Students in this program are a mix of brains and brawn. They usually embrace a health lifestyle, and perhaps want to pursue a career in PT, Chiropractics, or OT.”

Sports Management is a BS or a BBA degree: students hit the ground running when they get here, and almost half get weeded out: “They realize they want to have fun, but this really is a business. This isn’t what they pictured it to be.” They give students a combination of sports management AND business to appeal to both types of employers. About 2/3 of students get a job in the field upon graduation, higher than the 50% national average, and they’re also well prepared for grad or law school through an internship and a practicum. They get jobs in professional and college sports, Sport tourism, Facility management, Adventure sports, Sports Agent, or sport lawyers.

Keiser golf school 3In the College of Golf Management students become teachers, go into the Hospitality industry, design clubs or golf courses, etc. Right now, this is an AA degree, and students usually continue on to do a BS in Sports Management. They have a very high placement rate for students in this program. They have 3 PGA professionals on staff.

We asked the student panelists about their favorite class:

  • Entrepreneurship: “I always loved it. I spoke to the teacher and he invited me to a class and that extended to the whole semester. I love verbal communication and he spoke right to us. No PowerPoints or anything. Being able to sit in on a class I didn’t even have to register for was great.”
  • Capital Investments: “It gave me knowledge I could apply to my internships.”
  • Principles of Advertising. “It teaches you a little psychology and how to sell. It’s really interesting! I want to be involved in all aspects of my business.”
  • Italian: “I like learning languages.”
  • Current trends in Advertising. “There were only 5 students. We bring in articles and talk about what’s new. Next week’s project will be the Super Bowl commercials.”

© 2016

Coastal Carolina University


~Coastal arch~Coastal 2Coastal is a beautiful campus located 20 minutes from Myrtle Beach. Someone said that he had always perceived it as “an extension of a community college.” I think this might have been more accurate in the past; I don’t think this holds up anymore. There has been extensive growth and it’s become more selective in recent years. Started as a branch campus of USC in 1954 with only 150 students, it’s now the fastest growing comprehensive public university in SC with 9,500 students. It’s been listed as a 100 Best College Buys school, placed on Forbes America’s Top Colleges 3 years in a row, ranked in top 15% of 4-year schools, and was named as a College of Distinction (based on engaged students, performance after they leave, faculty commitment, and more) in both 2012 and 2013.

~Coastal fountainThe school has been conducting Exit Surveys for several years and have found that students love Coastal because of:

  • The 70+ Academic Programs. The most unique are: Marine Science, Musical Theater (BFA), Exercise and Sport Science, Intelligence and National Security (faculty are former CIA and FBI), Professional Golf Management or Resort Management (within the Business Program), and Nationally Accredited Teaching Degrees.
  • The Small Classes. Freshmen level classes average 30-35, and there’s no room on campus that can seat more than 125. Of the students I spoke to, the smallest classes were: 4 (Education) and 7 (Business law); the largest were 93 (Intro to Bio) and 60 (Marine Science). “Even in my biggest class, the professor got to know us. She took roll every morning and had extra office hours so we could talk to her.”
  • The Location. Great weather, great internships (especially for Resort or Golf management and Marine Science), and great access to Myrtle Beach. Students love the stuff to do around town, including the research and networking opportunities and the internships. Coast owns Waites Island (a 1000 acre barrier island with no public access) and Coastal Explorer (a research vessel).
  • On-Campus opportunities. In addition to all sorts of usual things that many campuses have, they have a recording studio accessible to anyone. Big-name acts come, including yearly performances by the Carolina ballet. They host weekly a Farmer’s Market which outgrew the small area in front of the admissions center, and has moved to a larger quad.
  • The Tuition. In-State is $17,810, Out-Of-State is $30,820. The in-state tour guide that I spoke to said, “I’m pretty happy with my tuition.” I think that’s a first! Students are automatically considered for scholarships (In-state ranges from $1,000-$6,000; out-of-state ranges from $6,000-$11,000.)

~Coastal clock towerBefore the tour, I spoke to several of the tour guides who were there to help direct the flow of students:

  • One was a Marine Science major from Ohio. He picked Coastal because of the major and proximity to the ocean. He’s getting a hands-on education and is doing an internship at the aquarium. He’s looking to get a job there and wants to do marine Veterinary work. He also scubas with sharks!
  • Library


    Another was an Elementary Education major. She loves that this is one of the top 3 programs in her field. She’s a junior and is already completing her 2nd placement. She transferred in from another school because this was closer to home, her sister was here, and she liked the program.

  • The third was a senior Business Major from DC. He learned about Coastal from a guidance counselor and like what he learned about it. He’s had a chance to get highly involved in campus life and even started a Latino fraternity.
  • Another student was a Marketing major from NJ. He came here as a back-up option. “I was on the athletic track, but busted my knee senior year. I came with the idea that I would transfer, but I fell in love with it.” The only thing he didn’t rave about was the dining hall: “It’s ok; it’s pretty typical for a college.”
  • The last student I spoke with was an Education major from SC. “Dorms are an 8. Dining hall is a 6; grab-and-go options are an 8.”

~Coastal 4Food seemed to be the one thing that students didn’t love. When I asked them if there was a meal that everyone loved, two tour guides said, “Fried Chicken Friday!” in unison. Another tour guide later also referenced this. “That’s the only day that there’s a line for food!” Other than food, no one could really think of anything to do to improve. “Anything we want, they’re doing already – 3 new academic buildings, additions to the library, new dorms, etc.” One of the reps said, “The students would say parking. We don’t really have a parking problem. We have a walking problem.”

(c) 2013

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