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High Point University

High Point University (visited 3/16/17)

HPU waner cntr 2High Point has come a long way in a very short time. I brought a group of students here 8 years ago; the changes since then are astounding. They have a few more buildings in the works to be completed by 2020: a res hall opening August 2017, and Schools of Health Science/Pharmacy and Undergraduate Science. An arena (ice hockey) and conference center just got approved: “45% of our students are from the north.” When these are finished; they’ll expand the endowment.

HPU Galileo statue

Statues of famous people, like Galileo, are all over campus

The current president has made a big difference changing the mindset on campus. “You don’t get an education by picking up information. Knowledge isn’t understanding. You can get trained anywhere, but education better be holistic.” The campus is purposefully designed to change how students approach education. “I want people to think about WHY, not just how. Why do we have a steakhouse on campus? So students can learn business etiquette. Be a human being of relevance. This takes knowledge, understanding, and human relations.”

HPU stu cntr 2It’s important to take much of this with a grain of salt. I spoke with 2 former students currently studying at HPU. They enjoy being there, but were open about problems facing the school. “It’s all about appearances. There’s not as much substance as they like to make people think.” The people who thrive here are confident and have a passion for something. It’s easy to get connected to resources. They both gave the career center and internship programs big thumbs up. “It’s one of the best things about the college, but it is very much NC based. There’s some stuff on the East Coast, but not much beyond that.” Counseling services were also given high ratings.

HPU pool

The pool outside the student center

“It is a country club. That isn’t a false reputation.” A lot of people here are into Greek and/or social life, or they’re here to take advantage of networking/Business connections. They both agreed that it’s an expensive school, and Financial Aid isn’t great. “Take advantage of everything here. You’re paying for it.”

“People here are image driven. It’s homogenous and easy to get caught up in the shallowness. People who are different are fish out of water; they’re probably going to transfer.” There is a great deal of apathy towards diversity. “It’s tolerated but not celebrated. It can be frustrating. Racial diversity seems to be the hardest because it’s the most visible,” said one. The other said, “LGBTQ students will be fine here if they’re not way out there. I’ve never heard overtly hostile comments or felt threatened, but sometimes hear ignorant comments.” That being said, they did agree that there is a lot of room to grow at HP. “You’ll struggle in a constructive way.”

HPU business interiorGrowth mindset is at the center of all they do: HPU has trained faculty and offer Growth Mindset Grants for faculty research projects, student scholarships, etc. Over the course of the counselor program, the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) was repeatedly brought up. The entire education is built on Four Pillars: Academic Excellence, Experiential Learning, Character Development, and Life Skills.

All classes are taught by faculty. Professional grad programs (physical therapy, physician assistant) means no TAs. The number of faculty with PhDs is lower than some other schools but they pull a lot of people directly from the field. For example, Joe Michaels teaches here. He directed The Today Show for 8 years, won an Emmy, directed the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, etc. “He doesn’t have a PhD. Who cares?? He’s an amazing resource for our students.” They also bring in Innovators in Residents like Steve Wozniak. Check out all the speakers at http://www.highpoint.edu/innovators/.

HPU sport med 1They’ve seen a sharp increase in undergraduate health sciences because of the grad programs. Generally anything labeled as “pre-“ is not a major except pre-pharmacy (one of the top-10 freshmen majors). Pre-pharm students complete 2 years of intense pre-reqs and then transition to a 4-year DPT program without their undergrad degree. Applicants need at least a 550 math on the SAT: “We don’t have a single exception to that … we’ve never had a student score lower who could do it.”

HPU 3Other strong programs include Visual Merchandising, Graphic Design, Actuarial Science, and International Relations. Unique programs include:

  • Interior Design: ranks in the top 10 in the country. High Point is the furniture capitol of the world. By junior year, students can be designing for major companies.
  • Business Admin: Entrepreneurship, Sales & Entrepreneurship, and a 5-year MBA.
  • Communication, including interactive Gaming & Game Design, Event Management (#1 in the world, beating out the reigning 5-year champs from Korea), and a 5-year Masters – strategic Communication.
  • Education including LEGO education and a 5-year Masters in Elementary Education.
  • 3-2 Engineering with Vanderbilt. “No students do this. They end up staying here all 4 years,” said the rep, “but the option is there.”

HPU amphitheaterAll classes are worth 4 credit hours to account for mandatory experiential learning: service-learning, internships, or problem-based inquiry. English classes could tutor local children, and Business Ethics partners with the Chamber of Commerce to interview and work with 30 Under 30.

They’re on their way to reaching an enrollment goal of 5,000 undergrads. Retention is increasing 1-2 points per year, and they bring in 1,375 new freshmen each year (21.5% from NC). They haven’t reached a gender balance (42% male), and racial diversity is still something to work on. However, they’ve seen a recent grown in Hispanic and African-American students. The 1-1 study abroad exchanges help diversity.

HPU dorm hammocks

Hammocks in front of one of the dorms

Part of their retention comes from the Common Experience, including:

  • All students take a Seminar on Life Skills from President Qubein. Two students said, “It’s not all it’s made out to be. I learned a few things, but it’s not all that.”
  • Common Read
  • In-hall educational programming and Community Meetings
  • First Year Seminars or Eng 1103: students are grouped in res halls based on what they’re enrolled in.
  • Freshman success coaches (they transition to a major-specific advisor in their field later).
  • Undergrad Research and Creative Works: students in all disciplines can research as early as freshman year, even sometimes a 2-month summer project before freshman year. Students do the bulk of the research in the summer and write it up over the year. Meals and housing are covered and get a $3000 stipend.
HPU dorm 2

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front

Students must live on campus through Junior year, but few leave because the dorms are so nice that there’s no reason to leave. They even have single-family houses for students. There are 5 tiers of housing with Tier 1 being the lowest price-point. “It’s hard to get into Tier 1 Housing unless you move to one of the off-campus areas and shuttle in,” one of the student told me. For a 3rd consecutive year, HPU ranked #1 in Aramark’s Student Satisfaction Survey of college food.

HPU classroom

A typical classroom in the business building

Classes are small. No one on the student panel had a class with more than 30 students; smallest classes ranged from 4-7. Their favorite classes were:

  • Astronomy taught by a guy who had discovered 5 new stars.
  • Linear Statistics: “We learned models and methods. For the last month, we did a project to apply this to whatever we wanted. I looked at airline delays and what caused them.”
  • Debating the Death Penalty: “I went in with a narrow idea of what I thought I believed. We filled out surveys about things like mental illness and pregnant criminals. We had to talk about what we believed, and she put out “What if?” situations. I loved that it was controversial and discussion based.”
  • Intro to Women and Gender Studies. “I had a narrow view of the topic. We did an action project involving the community. I partnered with a sorority about domestic violence and organized speakers and a candlelight walk.”
  • Intro to Event Management. “I didn’t think it would be so interesting. Speakers came to every class like a manager from the Sheraton. We had opportunities to work in the field and get hands-on experience.”
  • Science Fiction Philosophy: “I had a paradigm shift of how I look at the world, as simple as “who am I? Am I the same as when I was 7?”

HPU fire pitAbout 33% of students go Greek. Rush happens in spring semester, but one of the students (she’s affiliated) said that’s being changed next year to fall. Almost all affiliated students stay through graduation because it creates community, but “It’s not the end-all and be-all by any means.” There is Greek housing, but they each only hold about 15 people.

Campus has tons of activities, including a full movie theater and a bowling alley. The Concierge plans trips off campus ranging from Hanged Woods to Panthers home games to midnight premiers of Twilight. For students traveling home, free transportation is given to the Greensboro airport (about 20 minutes away) or to Charlotte or Raleigh-Durham, “Free if we were HP gear!”

Students on the panel were surprised by:

  • “I come from a big football area and I was a bit bummed that there wasn’t a team, but I love how much more attention the other sports get because there’s no football team.”
  • “How many opportunities there are. I knew it would be caring, but not how much people would be there for me. People do research all the time. It kind of woke me up and said “go do that!””
  • “How many professors have been in the field. One of my psych profs ran her own clinic. She uses real case studies to bring in real-world applications. My advisors worked at Lifetime and NBC. They want to help you with those connections.”
  • “We have the freedom to run with ideas.”
  • “How much it means to the community and people who work here. There are signs in town that say, “High Point’s University.” Businesses paint their buildings purple.”

During admissions, “The first place we’re going is the ‘Why do you want to attend HPU?’ question. We want them to be able to vocalize that they understand it’s a little different, otherwise they won’t enroll.” 125 students who look like they might be good fits but aren’t quite there academically are invited to complete Summer Experience. They recalculate to an unweighted GPA and will include everything with a grade on the transcript. EA students won’t get deferred, but they’ll be clear with students if they want to see new grades and/or test scores. Once supplied, they’ll make a decision.

HPU fountain 2Fellowship Applications are due 2/1. Students can apply to all 3 but can only enroll in 1.

1) Honors Scholars: Suggested eligibility: 1310+SAT, 28 ACT, and a 3.45 unweighted GPA.

  • The core curriculum includes 39 credits over 4 years in small, interdisciplinary classes. There are 5 foundation courses, Modern Language at 2nd semester level, 2 scholar seminars, a year-long signature project, and a senior professional portfolio.
  • Classes must be project-based, involve research, and be writing- and reading-intensive to qualify as Honors.
  • “It’s Qualitatively Different,” not just harder and more work. It’s work that gets them thinking in new ways. Our tour guide said, “Now it’s worth looking into. It’s not like when I came in 3 years ago.”
  • Students are housed in Finch.

2) Media Fellows: 16 Communication majors get a $3000 stipend, access to industry innovators, a living-learning community, and special trips (including international)

3) Leadership Fellows: Demonstrated leadership ability and potential.

© 2017

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Colby-Sawyer College

Colby-Sawyer College (visited 10/19/16)

colby-sawyer-chapelThis is one of those schools that fits the quintessential “New England College” stereotype. The campus is pretty and the academics are solid. Students who put in the effort to do the work and be involved will fit in here.

colby-sawyer-studentsThere’s always stuff going on around campus and most students stay on weekends. There’s not much going on in the town of New London; there are a few restaurants and small stores: “You have to try a little bit, but there is stuff around. You find the little hole in the wall with a grill that makes the best breakfast sandwiches,” said one of the students. The college is located between Concord (state capitol) and Lebanon, both about 30 minutes away. Everyone gets a free ski pass to Mt Sunapee, and shuttles run there regularly. The college will offer trips to cities, and there’s a local bus stop if students want to go to NYC or Boston.

colby-sawyer-solar-panels

Solar panels

Their sustainability effort is about the only thing I could find to differentiate Colby-Sawyer from several other small New England (or really any) liberal arts colleges. I even asked several faculty and other people what they’d like me to walk away with to help me differentiate. Most had a hard time saying anything substantial. Community and faculty involvement were common threads, as they are at most schools. One faculty member said, “This is maybe a little harder” than another local college.

colby-sawyer-sugar-shack-int

Inside the Sugar Shack

Sustainability at Colby-Sawyer comes in many forms (and they’re looking to be Carbon Neutral in the next couple decades). There are several outdoor classrooms including 2 in the woods and a student-designed sustainable classroom. The sugar shack (which we would never have known about if we hadn’t walked right by it on tour and specifically asked what it was) is run by a wind turbine – and students run the entire process of making the maple syrup from the tapping of the trees to the designing of the labels!

colby-sawyer-outdoor-classroom-2

An outdoor classroom

Not surprisingly, they have a strong Community-Based Sustainability major. The Permaculture Class is open to the community: “When I took the class, it was like a pot-luck because it was an evening class. People brought food to share, and we got to know people in the community while we were learning.” Students can earn a certificate in Permaculture Design, and there’s even an Aquatics Studies minor.

colby-sawyer-library-2

One of the rooms in the library

Some buildings are fit with solar panels, and the college is committed to keeping old buildings when possible instead of tearing them down. The library is one of the coolest buildings on campus (and one of the best libraries I’ve seen on a college campus): the college refurbished two Civil War era barns and created a single building out of them. The pub building is over 200 years old. During the day, students can grab a snack or to-go meal, and many hang out by the fireplace to study. They will serve beer in the evenings.

colby-sawyer-headless-horseman

The college mascot, which students “dressed up” with the Headless Horseman for Halloween (check out the horse’s red eyes!)

They’re looking to grow their student population from its current level at just over 1200 students to the 1400-1500 range. They went coed in 1991 and are still about 2/3 female. “The only time I notice the gender imbalance is in class, but it depends on the major,” said a student on the panel. The students accepted here represent a wide academic range.

The college ethos revolves around experimental education, capstone and internship experiences, and hands-on real-world education. They can tailor education, and they’re good about helping students. Professors know the students and will work with them. Their 78% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is solid, and show that faculty and staff talk to each other and watch out for the students, but “Kids who need too much hand-holding won’t make it,” said one professor.

colby-sawyer-quad-1The First Year Seminar revolves around “This is how you survive in college.” One student took Anthropomorphism: “It was so much fun and a great transition to college. It helped us learn what to expect in college.” Another student took The Psychology of Friday Night Lights (Texas Football). “The professor was from Canada. I could be a help because I was from Texas.”

colby-sawyer-chairStudents complete a Third-Year Project, an 8-credit class that meets 3 times a week and 8 hours on Friday. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of stress, a lot of time out of the class, but it’s great. We’re bringing work to the President who’s helping put things into practice. It’s not just writing things down and having it thrown away later.”

Most academics here are fairly standard for a small liberal arts school with a couple exceptions.

  • They offer both a BSN and MSN; they have a partnership with Dartmouth Hitchcock medical for nursing clinicals. “Would you come here for part of the cost, or go there for more money? You’re doing the same clinicals,” said a nursing student.
  • Their Child Development major (also a minor) combines psychology, child development (biology), education, and even some sociology.
  • colby-sawyer-cowArts are strong, both studio arts and graphic design.

About 10% of the students are invited into the Honors Program; in addition to special classes, they get an additional scholarship and have access to an Honors Suite on the top floor of the main building for studying and hanging out.

Final piece of advice: apply by 12/1: these students are eligible for a $4000 Early Action award!

© 2016

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport (visited 10/11/16)

bridgeport-3

A view from one of the tall buildings on campus with classrooms, admissions, and administrative offices. The university is integrated right into Bridgeport.

This is one of the most racially diverse campuses I’ve visited, and I learned from the admissions rep that they’ve been ranked 17th in the country for diversity. Both the admissions rep and the tour guide talked about the racial and geographic diversity represented on campus; 20% of the population is international, as well. The tour guide was proud to be part of such a community, and felt that people really got along; rather than being cliquey, people were open with each other. However, he was less able (or maybe not as comfortable) answering questions about religious and LGBTQ diversity and acceptance on campus. He did tell me that there were some clubs on campus for different groups, and I was glad to see several women wearing hijab.

bridgeport-stu-cntrPeople are really connected and seem to work together. “I don’t know what causes that, other than it’s an open and welcoming community,” said the rep. “It really sets them up to succeed in the workforce when they’ll be working with people from all over.” Part of this may also stem from the fact that campus is integrated into the surrounding community without much of a centralized campus or quad. Bridgeport is a largest city in Connecticut with lots of Fortune 500 companies and other perks of living in a city. (It’s also the 2nd largest Park City … only Paris beats them on this front!)

bridgeport-dorm

The biggest dorm on campus

About 60% of students live in the 4 res halls, many with specialized floors including Freshman Achievement and Community Service. A great, unusual feature is that students get a free Knightflix account with new movies every month. Unless they’re commuting from home (and there is a decent commuter population), students live on campus for the first 3 years. Once they’re 21 or have 90 credits, they can move off. All students can have cars on campus for free. There are also UB shuttles and the public transportation is free with student ID. The MetroNorth train station is 5 minutes away; from there, Grand Central is an hour away.

bridgeport-2This is a career-focused university with lots of internationally focused majors. Many of the faculty have real-world experience. My tour guide’s Intro to Criminal Justice class (also his smallest class with 18 students) was taught by a lawyer; he loved the stories the professor told in class and how relevant the topics were. Classes average 20-25 students; the tour guide’s largest class, Art History, had 80 students. He loved his Abnormal Psych class (and was excited to tell me things he learned) and Criminology.

bridgeport-mural

A mural painted by a Cuban student to depict the history of the city and the university. PT Barnum (once a mayor of the city) is on the right.

A few programs to mention include:

  • Martial Arts Studies: this is the first major of its kind. Students in this program compete internationally.
  • The School of Design includes Graphic Design (BFA), Fashion Merchandising (AA or BS), Interior Design (BS), and Industrial Design (BS) — and a Fashion Journalism concentration is offered under the Mass Communications major.
  • English Language Institute offers small classes (maximum of 15) to allow students to strengthen their language skills to study at the university level.
  • Mechanical Engineering is new; they’re bringing their first class of freshmen on campus fall of 2016.
  • Nursing: They just absorbed the Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing, so now in addition to the RN to BSN program, they’ll be accepting 120 freshman for fall of 2017 into the Pre-Nursing They take a prescribed freshman curriculum of pre-requisites then apply to the Nursing program for sophomore year.
  • Students built a mini-sub and turned it into an ocean cleaner. They beat MIT in a competition.
  • Criminal Justice and Human Security offers 3 concentrations: Comparative Justice, Criminology, and Human Security.
  • International Political Economy and Diplomacy
bridgeport-quad-1

One of the green spaces on campus

“This is an events-based campus with at least 3 or 4 a day. They had 692 events last year,” my tour guide told me. They have 13 DII teams; Southern Connecticut State and American International College are big rivals. Students get really involved in things like MUN (which competes nationally and tends to do well), Student Government, and Student Activities Board. Students who hold formal leadership positions (study body president, etc) get a scholarship from a fund set up by alumni.

bridgeport-walkway

A walkway between academic buildings

The university is working hard on improving retention which was at 54% last year. They hired new retention specialist and new provost. Students who aren’t as prepared as they should be can be accepted into a pre-program; the president is committed to working with those students, and they understand that this often causes retention rate to take a hit. Interested students can apply to the Bridge Program that allows students to complete their FYE and Freshman Comp over the summer. This past year, they accepted 50 students and are hoping to grow it to 75. Students pay only $200 which covers everything including tuition and housing.

© 2016

Paier College of Art

Paier College of Art (visited 10/12/16)

paier-art-display

One of the art displays

Paier (pronounced like the fruit “pear”) is a very small art college located in New Haven. It only offers 5 majors, all housed in about 3 buildings. This allows students to get highly specialized education and an amazing hands-on preparation for a career in the arts or an arts-related field. They offer Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Photography, and Illustration. Students in most majors take a common foundation studying color, drawing, and composition. The idea is that they need to draw on a range of skills as they move forward.

paier-library

The library

“It’s small here, but we’re like family.” There are usually fewer than 150 students at any given time (about 2/3 of whom are women). The classes are small and they get a lot of individual attention. Students should interview as part of their portfolio review during admissions. Their process means that close to 90% of freshman return for sophomore year. They want to be there. It doesn’t hurt that tuition is a bargain.

paier-int-design-work-2

Interior Design drawings

Students usually get individual studio space, and often work in town on art shows. There are plenty of art galleries in town for students to intern with or do research. There are no sport, and almost no on-campus activities or clubs (student government and the yearbook seem to be exceptions to this).

paier-photo-lab

Photo lab

This is very much a regional school, mostly because there is no campus housing. However, there are some apartments nearby that cater to students, and the school will assist in helping students find housing. Students from outside the area looking for intensive art instruction would be served as well – or better – at another institution.

© 2016

Flagler College

Flagler College (visited 2/12/16)

Flagler studentsOne thing that makes Flager stand out is that they’re rooted heavily in the liberal arts: there’s no engineering, no math major (yet; they have a minor), and no science departments – with the notable exception of their new Coastal Environmental Science program, now one of their biggest departments.

Coastal Environmental Science is the hardest major to get into. The difference between this and general Envi Sci is that “this is specific to the Coast. We don’t do volcanoes or tundras or mountains. Go to App State if you want the mountains. The coast is where most of the stress is; it’s where most of the population of the world lives; it’s where most of the job opportunities are. The job prospects are never going away.”

Flagler walkwayCurrently there are only 2 labs “and they’re pretty standard on purpose. The program is designed around our location. A lot of the teaching is done outside.” Students spend time in and around the water, including a nearby lighthouse where students can stay overnight. They don’t teach organic chemistry but they do aquatic and other specialized chemistry (one professor specializes in bio-geo-chemistry): “We do have students who go off to med school from here; they just need to plan ahead and do a couple summer courses somewhere else.”

Flagler 6A few other strong or unusual majors are:

“It’s not enough to have a college degree; you need to be able to show what you’ve done and talk about what you want to do with it.” All majors and minors require a capstone experience of some sort whether is research, an internship, or something else. Overall, 71% of students completed an experiential learning opportunity. Currently, some students are working on “Fish Communities and effects of plastic on the environment.” This hasn’t been done before and is going to end up in a publication for the students.

Flagler 4When asked, “Who Is a Flagler Kid?” we were told this: they look for “an academic kid who wants to be involved, wants smaller class sizes, and who appreciates where we’re located” (historic city, historic building). They do a great job with the B/middle-of-the-road kid who comes in liking 2 or 3 things and are willing to take some time to try them out. They should be somewhat self-motivated to look for internships, etc. There’s help and resources, but no one is going to force them to use them. Students should be invested in themselves.

Flagler Edison towerFlagler has no Greek Life but there are honor societies. There are about 55 student clubs including a Surf club, Deaf Awareness, creative writing, religious groups (Christian, Jewish, general religion), and political groups. Students agree that there’s a good split of politics on campus, but “people get along. There’s lots of discussion. “

Flagler male dorm

One of the male dorms

 

The average GPA hovers around a 3.5 with 1050 SAT or 23 ACT. International students need a TOEFL of 75. The exceptions to this are students applying to the Education and Coastal Envi Sci departments. Just over half of the 2,500 undergraduates come from Florida. The 40% out-of-state domestic students come from all over with the NY, NJ, MD, VA, and GA being the next most represented states. Just over 5% of the population is international from 43 foreign countries. They are actively trying to increase racial diversity on campus. They offer an additional scholarship to students “if they’re diverse in any way.”

Flagler 4

The Flagler Hotel – now a main building on campus with the dining hall and women’s dorm

The cost also makes Flagler stand out: at their current rate of $26,500 per YEAR (tuition, R&B), they run about 50% of the national cost of a liberal arts school. Most students receive financial aid, but “you aren’t going to see huge scholarships because our costs are already so much cheaper than other places.” The top merit scholarship is about $3,000.

Flagler female dorm

Hallway in the women’s dorm

There is a first-year residency requirement. Females are housed in the historic hotel originally owned by Henry Flagler. Each room is different and houses anywhere from 2-5 girls. As a trade-off, each room has its own bathroom (no shared baths in the building) and the dining hall is downstairs. Most freshmen males are housed across the street in a large building with all doors opening to the outside; most of these are suites so they share 1 bathroom between 2 rooms. Several athletes are housed closer to the athletic fields. Coed visitation is not allowed at any time; we were surprised by this since this has never been a religiously affiliated school. It’s also a dry campus, and they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs.

Flagler dining hall

The dining hall with Tiffany windows

The main campus is contained within a 2-block area with a few exceptions. The new communications building is about a block away among city buildings, and the athletic fields are a mile or so off campus. On campus, the old Flagler Hotel dominates the scene; outside is beautiful outdoor area for student to congregate, socialize, and work. There are plenty of shaded seating areas and trees with plugs everywhere so students can stay connected. The art building next door is only open to art students who have to swipe their cards to get in. The dining hall has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass. The library is very light and airy. The Edison Smoke Stack provided electricity to the hotel and campus 3 years before the White House got electricity.

Flagler comm bldg

The Communications Department tucked among houses on a side street off campus

We asked the students on the panel about their favorite classes and why they liked them:

  • Sign Language. All the teachers are deaf so it was intense was first. I took my first class here and knew nothing. We had an interpreter at first but then were on our own.
  • Political Leaders of the 20th Century: it was my professor, 1 other student, and myself. We would read what we were interested in and discussed for 45 minutes.
  • My internship with the Sheriff’s office. It’s not a classroom environment.
  • Criminal Behavior: the professor was amazing. We got to do a lot of profiling.

What do you love?

  • The First Year experience has been really important. Orientation was good; we had something every day and every night. Showing up at class a week later, I knew people.
  • The professors. You get to have the same ones several times, and they help us with internships. I can go to office hours for whatever. I had coffee the other day with one of them and just chatted.
  • I came here undecided. Taking smaller discussion-based classes were helpful. I was a good student in high school but not great. Being put into these classes helped me find what I really was interested in.
  • I thought I knew why I loved it until I took a class called Oral Histories. Now I’m interviewing alumni from the 60s and 70s about how it’s changed. I didn’t know how many alumni worked here. I love that!
Flagler plaza 3

The hotel courtyard

What would you like changed or improved?

  • Have some sort of building for a community center. I’d like to involve the town and the university. We should be working together and have events together.
  • We’re in a historical district, so it’s hard to get more parking. It’s an issue.
  • Add a science building with more labs, including a sterile lab.
  • Build a residence hall with a full kitchen. I like to cook!
  • Add a math department! Maybe it’ll also draw more males.
  • Have school shuttles to stores and other places (including airports) that are just for students.

© 2016

Southeastern University

Southeastern University (visited 2/5/16)

SEU archTo imagine what this campus looks like, think Spanish moss (a la Savannah or Charleston) meets Southwest Architecture. The school is relatively new; although it was established in 1935 in Alabama, it relocated to its currently location in 1952 (accreditation was granted in the 80s). Buildings are new, remodeled, or well maintained so everything looks modern and attractive. Music gets piped around the main quad; when we were there, there were a lot of movie music being played. They were running a film fest, and one of the Pixar guys was on campus leading a seminar on storytelling.

SEU statueThis is a conservative Christian school, and students definitely live the mission. “I feel like the people here walk the walk. They want to be here,” said our tour guide. Applicants need to be highly invested in living their faith here. “It’s not someplace to come to explore if you believe; you come here because you DO believe and want to be surrounded by like-minded people and taught in a way that enforces that. All classes are taught from a Christian world-view, and that involves Creationism.” Another student on the panel said, “A lot of people think that god and science are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they don’t have to be.”

St Leo treeApplicants confirm their beliefs on the application. Although associated with Assembly of God (Pentecostal), they have students from a wide range of Christian faiths. An admissions rep said, “We do ask about faith on the application. We won’t reject someone outright if they check the No box, but we’ll have a conversation to see why they’re interested in this environment. We have a very small percentage of non-Christians who enroll.” Part of their application is a Christian Character Reference form from someone they’ve known for more than 6 moths.

SEU 2A variety of chapel services are offered multiple times a week. “We know that people worship in different ways. Some are more quiet and reflective. Others are more boisterous.” Southeastern’s Core Values are Academic Excellence, Spiritual Formation, and Social Engagement. More than 50 student-led mission trips happen each year. When the tour guides talked about their trips, it seemed like a lot were conversion-based trips, but after talking more to students, it seems like many really are more help-based as well as having conversations and exchanges of information.

There’s no official dress code here. “Essentially, it’s based on modesty,” said the tour guide. “No cracks in the front or back!”

SUE butterfly statueSoutheastern’s enrollment has been growing steadily over the last several years to its current enrollment of 4,538 total students, 57% of whom are women and 36% are minority. Racial diversity was evident as we walked around campus; geographic diversity showed up in the license plates from all over the country. They currently have 74 international students; the highest number is from Brazil (5). However, there are no shuttles to and from the airport for kids who have to fly in. “A lot will take a SuperShuttle or get a friend to pick them up.” Freshmen can have cars on campus; parking is tough but a garage is in the works.

SEU new LLC bldg

The new LLC construction

There’s space for1600 students to live on campus but they’re adding 450 new beds in the new LLC that’s currently going up and will be open for fall of 2016. The 1st floor will have food, the 2-3rd floors will be offices and classrooms, and dorm rooms will take up the 4-5th floors. There are no coed dorms, and this a dry campus. The myriad of social events has led to the reputation that this is “party school of Christian schools.” There’s plenty to do on campus. Sports are a big deal, both playing and watching. Football is now in its second year, and wrestling is new. When students want to get off campus, they can use town buses for free.

SEU dorms

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front

Overall, it seems like students like it here: “I was worried about whether I could have fun and be a Christian, too, but here you can.” Lakeland is a college town “but on a smaller scale than you might expect.” The beach, water parks, and Disney are all within an hour’s drive. Most students seemed happy, but while on the tour, three girls started saying, “Don’t do it! Don’t come!!” while shaking their heads vigorously behind the tour guide’s back. Another counselor and I went over to talk to them for a couple minutes and asked what they didn’t like about it. They said it wasn’t what it seemed and wasn’t worth the cost. However, when we entered the dorm, we talked to two students in the lounge. “On a 1-10 scale, it’s an 11! I love it here!”

SEU stadium

The football stadium

Of the 50 majors, graphic design, poli sci, and nursing are the newest. The students we talked to said that their largest classes were 115, 40, and 50; the smallest were 4 and 8. All students must complete 18 credits in Religion, so all of them end up with a minor in Bible Studies. They also have to earn 30 Chapel Credits per semester. “It’s pretty easy to do, and people want to go anyway.” The FYE is tied into Chapel; these classes are single-gender. There’s also a student-led workshop team: it’s a selective group involving a lot of singing, and students have to audition; they put out a yearly CD.

SEU sci bldg

The Science building

In the lobby of the science building is a mastodon skeleton named “Suzy.” It was found in Florida and on loan to the university for 6 years.

This school is an amazing bargain at $31,000 per year. The average financial aid package is $18,000 with the top scholarships going up to $15,000. Honors students (the ones getting the most money) need a 3.6 to keep their merit aid. Scholarships are generally given based on the applications; they will superscore both the ACT and the SAT. They accept counselor and teacher recs but don’t require them.

© 2016

College of St. Rose

College of St. Rose (visited 7/29/15)

~St. Rose sign 2Have you ever dreamed of producing your own CD? Come St. Rose, win the yearly Battle of the Bands, and you’ll be able to do just that! St. Rose runs its own label: Saints and Sinners.

Or perhaps you want to work in a biology lab with animals like Skittles the tarantula and Bradford the mystery lizard. You can do that, too, at St. Rose!

The Meditation garden room in the chapel is used by people of all faiths

The Meditation garden room in the chapel is used by people of all faiths

One of the biggest surprises for me about St. Rose is that it’s no longer under the Diocese of the Catholic Church. It was started by four Carmelite nuns in the early 1920s; men (veterans primarily, at least at first) were admitted to evening and graduate programs after WWII; in the 1970s, the decision was made to go coed; the Diocese said no, but the Board of Trustees felt strongly that this was the way to go so they broke ties with the Church. “There’s still a relatively strong sense of our history, but there is no affiliation,” said the rep.

The St. Rose TV Studio

The St. Rose TV Studio

The school is still approximately 2/3 women, and almost 90% come from New York with New York City (about 2.5 hours south) strongly represented. More than 20% self-identify as ALANA, so the student body is relatively diverse.

The St. Rose Recording Studio

The St. Rose Recording Studio

Much of the work done at St. Rose is cross-disciplinary and based in real-world experiences. For example, it’s not unusual to see musicians working with Communications majors to produce work. The Hearst Center for Communications and Interactive Media is the only communication building in the US with the Hearst name attached to it. Students can study journalism as well as TV, video, and film with lots of hands-on experience. The school runs its own broadcasting studios and students then move on to intern at local stations. Jimmy Fallon is one of the most famous alums coming out of here; although he had dropped out of St. Rose 1 semester short of graduating (surprise – he took the SNL job instead of sticking around!), they gave him his honorary degree in 2009 (they figured he had enough life experience to qualify at that point).

Concert Hall

Concert Hall

Music is a fairly big major here. Music Education, Music Industry (they rank in the top 10 nationally for this degree), and Music Performance majors all must audition to get in. These degrees are either BA or BS degrees; they do not offer BFA in music (but do offer one in Studio Art and Graphic Design). They have a full music library in addition to an Educational Curriculum and the main libraries. Currently, they’re “80% Steinway,” said the rep.

Classrooms are left unlocked; students can go in to study or use the technology for presentation

Classrooms are left unlocked; students can go in to study or use the technology for presentation

Education is another large, strong department here. Options range from Early Education (birth – 2 year) all the way up to high school. Speech Pathology has become increasingly popular in the last several years.

Unusual majors include Forensic Psychology, Bioinformatics (part of the Computer Science department), and Biology-Cytotechnology. They also have a new Public Health major.

~St. Rose Business

The Business department

There’s a great deal of school pride here both from students and staff. Alumni donate a great deal to the college. The school does a wonderful job of creating community through their Freshman Experience classes as well as through Residential Life. Housing is guaranteed; 90% of freshmen live on campus, but that drops to about 50% after that. Campus is located in a residential area of Albany, so housing is easy to find. The college is actively trying to get those numbers up and have just built new campus apartments with a burger station in the building.

The main quad

The main quad

However, even those who move off campus remain active in campus life. Sports (DII) bring out a lot of fans (and Women’s soccer recently won a championship title). There are several traditions that the students rave about including Rose Rock (aka Spring Fling) which brings live music to campus. The favorite tradition, however, seems to be TPing the big tree on the Quad every Halloween. The President, after learning the hard way that this wasn’t going to be something that could be stopped, now throws the first one: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

© 2015

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (visited 11/18/14)

PCAD Lobby

PCAD Lobby

Gallery Space

Gallery Space

PCAD is housed in a large 5-story building (really 2 connected buildings) in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All 300 undergraduates complete a BFA degree in one of five majors: Digital Media, Fine Arts, Illustration, Photography, and Graphic Design. Two-third of their classes will be in their major. The rest are distribution requirements and electives. Business classes are part of their non-studio requirements, and all students complete an internship the summer before their senior year. All students complete a foundation year after which they declare their major. Classes are pretty much set that first year, but students interested in photography can replace Drawing 2 with Black&White photography.

Some of the work done for Broadway Theater

Some of the work done for Broadway Theater

Senior Studio spaces

Senior Studio spaces

Professors are all active in the industry giving students real-life information and contacts. They can complete lots of client-based projects in classes. For example, every year, students complete designs for Broadway Theater in town which are used in the company’s playbills and promotional materials. Students must have a Mac laptop, although there are plenty of desktops around campus, as well. The library is small, but students have complete access to the Franklin and Marshall library, less than a mile away.

Printmaking lab

Printmaking lab

Digital class

Digital class

The nice things about Lancaster is that it’s a small city of 60,00 residents. “It’s a good for those students who aren’t quite ready to take on NY or Chicago,” said the admissions rep, “but it still gives them lots of connections with the art community to exhibit.” The school brings in lots of speakers and visiting artists who show work and teach workshops and classes. All seniors get their own space that mimics professional space in a workplace. I talked briefly to one senior who said her favorite thing about PCAD was her space! She’s looking at Naropa University for grad school to go into therapy. The school can boast a 97% placement rate for their graduates. The Fine Arts majors are more likely to continue to graduate school, but the others tend to get jobs quickly.

Student artwork which is displayed all through the hallways

Student artwork which is displayed all through the hallways

3-D design class

3-D design class

Housing is an issue: there are no dorms. There are some school-run furnished lofts about 2 blocks away, but there are only spots for 26 students. “I recommend that they apply early if they’re interested in this.” Other apartments are available through landlords, and the housing office helps connect students to these places. They are not furnished, but they’re all within 5 blocks of campus. There’s also no food service on campus (other than vending machines), but there are a lot of grocery stores and food places around. Central Market (like a large farmer’s market) is close, but it’s only open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.

© 2014

Maryville University

Maryville University (Visited 4/11/13)

Maryville 1

One of the main buildings on campus.

I didn’t even know that Maryville University existed before I got invited to the Counselor Fly-In, but over the course of this busy day-and-a-half program, I learned a lot. This university on the outskirts of St. Louis is a good choice for certain students, particularly the solid-B students looking to go into Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Nursing since these are direct entry programs.

Maryfille 4

Springtime on campus

The university is located directly off the highway among business complexes. We exited the highway and pulled quickly into campus with no stores to be seen; I asked the admissions rep if there was something on the other side of campus – cafes, bookstores, anything; there’s not. They are tucked squarely among businesses, so they a have limited area in which to grow. The campus itself, luckily, opens up once you’re on it. There are green spaces; flowers and trees were in bloom. However, even with that, the campus feels a bit industrial, for lack of a better word. Although they had some pretty buildings and the quads were nice, there was just something – plain? – about campus. Also, because there’s nothing within walking distance for students, everyone can have cars on campus, and the school offers shuttles to Target, Walmart, and other places, but only for the first few weeks of the school year since people stop using it after about a month. A city bus stops next to campus which runs to the light rail or all the way downtown. Light rail costs about $4 and takes about 15 minutes to downtown. We asked students what it was like without anything in walking distance, and mostly they shrugged: “It’s easy enough to get around because so many people commute (only 650 of the 2,000 traditional undergrads live on campus). You always know people with cars, and the shuttle is easy.” They said that there’s a lot to do off campus and that “lots of things are free.” They also tend to do things at the other schools in town (particularly WashU and SLU).Maryville quad

Some of the majors impressed me because of their uniqueness or because of particular strengths:

  • Criminal Justice and Criminology is one major. Students can spend a semester at the police academy and get 13 credits towards their BA! I don’t know of another school that does that.

    Maryville 2

    The first floor of the library

  • Their Sports Business Management program is sponsored by Rawlings, one of the businesses next to campus. Rawlings (which makes football and baseball equipment) offers several internship opportunities, as do the sports teams in St. Louis.
  • Health Sciences are generally good. They’re deliberately interdisciplinary and community-focused. “Be ready to be engaged” through simulation labs, clients from the city who come in for on-site clinicals, and even international clinical experiences such as with Healing Hands Foundation in Guatemala. Students complete 275,000 clinical hours annually.
    • They have direct-entry Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Nursing. One student panelist chose Maryville for the nursing, which she described as “rigorous. It definitely pushes me.” OT is a direct-to-Masters program (no Bachelors along the way). PT students earn a BS in Health Sciences and then do 3 more years to earn the DPT. OT students have a 94% passing rate on the boards; PT has 100%
    • Rehab Services is a bachelors program in which students complete coursework and field experiences, looking at societal needs, health care policy, legal mandates, access to resources, and how societal perspectives impact perspectives on disability.
    • Students registered in the Pre-Med track can do a Sophomore Review. They submit a resume and letter, then complete a mock interview. The panel will grill them. After, they write a letter explaining what the student did well and what to work on. 100% of those kids who are doing everything right get into med school.
    • One student panelist was taking Gross Anatomy as a sophomore and was heading there right after the panel. “We’re dissecting a human heart today. We’re actually taking it out of the cadaver. It’s a bit terrifying.”
    • The Education Department is intense; the students have more extensive and intensive school placements than many other colleges.
      • Freshmen visit seven schools (all levels, urban and suburban); Sophomores are in schools two days/week for a year and complete the Street Project as a scheduled, credit-bearing class; Juniors spend two half-days and one full day/week for a year (lots of teaching, case studies); Seniors see school begin in August, then two days/week until student teaching.
      • The Street Project: small groups are assigned a street that radiates from downtown out into the suburbs. They have to drive the street at least 3 times, noting communities, economics, cultures, etc. They have to attend a cultural event, research the history, visit a school, look at finances of schools, interview people, etc.
      • The Legal Studies major is approved by American Bar Association. Ninety-five percent of grads are employed at graduation, and 95% of those who want to go to law school are accepted.
      • The Forensic Science Professor came to talk to us in a tie-dyed lab coat. The program is three years old; he’s working on getting accreditation (but need to have a graduate first). Students have to be prepared to work from the initial crime through trial. They’re ready to teach, be police officers, do lab work, and more. “If I haven’t taught them how to think for themselves, I’ve failed.”
        • Two students said that Criminal Investigations/From Murder to Trial was their favorite class. A crime scene is set up (which is so realistic that they’ve had to tell other students that it’s not a real scene) and students do the CSI and take it to trial. Students in this class can get credit for a lab class, Criminal Justice, or Legal Studies.
        • Communications: Students can specialize in PR, Marketing, Advertising, Social Media, and more. Some of the courses include: Intro to New and Social Media, Health Communication, Writing for PR, Strategic Communications Campaigns, News Writing and Editing. The department pushes these students to complete at least 2 or 3 internships, some as early as freshmen year.
        • Music Therapy students are prepared to work in Gerontology, Physical Rehab, Special Ed, pediatrics, psychiatry, Hospice Care, and more. Students in this major often participate in “Kids Rock Cancer.”

          Maryville 3

          The Design “library”

        • They have partnered up with WashU and others for a dual-degree Engineering program.
        • Their hands-on Interior Design, Interactive Design, Graphic Design, and similar programs are well-funded and very hands-on. The Arts building has impressive studios; they can even take Metals and Jewelry classes.. We got to see an end-of-year display that students were putting together for an evening open-house/job fair that brings employers in to see final projects.
Maryville 5

The lobby of the newest dorm, a converted hotel, which houses 240 students.

Maryville bridgeMaryville pulls about 25% of their students from out of state, particularly from Illinois (right across the river) and California (it helps that they have a regional rep who lives out there). One of the students on the panel said that Maryville was more affordable than the California schools. They love the small school and small classes because they can get involved, get to know people, and get help when they need it. Most students who come from out of town can live on campus if they want to, but for those who choose to live off campus, it’s relatively easy to find housing, and the commuter students said that it’s easy to get involved with a Commuter Connection group to help them link into campus. The university would like to make this more of a residential campus. They recently added 240 beds by buying a hotel located directly across the street and converting it to a dorm; this is highly sought after because of the individual bathrooms. They would like to build more dorm space, but physical space is an issue since they can’t physically expand the campus.

Maryville picnicOne of the complaints on campus is that events aren’t always well attended. “You don’t’ get that 3000 person crowd.” The school has a ways to go to develop a vibrant, active, residential atmosphere, although they look out for students in a variety of ways, including some early intervention programs to make sure that kids don’t fall in the cracks, academically or socially. However, a lot of services seem to be “farmed out.” For example, there’s no Greek life, but it’s a “Greek friendly campus” and they’ll work with organizations from other places city-wide.

(c) 2013

McDaniel College

McDaniel College, Westminster, MD (visited 1/25/12)

Listed in Loren Pope’s Colleges that Change Lives, this beautiful campus is about an hour north of DC. Until about 10 years ago, this was Western Maryland College, a bit confusing since it’s not in the western part of the state: it was originally named after the railroad that went through town. McDaniel is the name of a former college president who was well loved and had given a great deal of time to the students. The campus, where most of the 1,600 undergrads live, has a traditional college campus feel: lots of older (but well maintained) brick buildings, slightly rolling hills, etc. The campus is compact; walking from one end to the other takes about 10 minutes.

I really liked some of their unusual majors such as American Sign Language/ Deaf Studies, Graphic Design, or Athletic Training/ Exercise Science and Physiology. Students can also self-design majors such as Sports Journalism. The college offers 5-Year BA/MS programs in Counselor Education, Gerontology, Human Services Management, and 3 areas of education. The January Term is great; I wish I had been able to take some of the classes they offer, particularly some of the study-abroad options: art/photography classes in a variety of places, marine biology in the Bahamas, investigating the Dracula legends in Romania, working with deaf children in the Dominican Republic.

My tour guide was an upperclassman from Baltimore who originally had wanted a bigger, more urban school, but visited and fell in love with the campus. She doesn’t regret coming at all, but when I asked what she would change if she could, the only thing she would change is the location. She loves the people, the campus, and the education, but doesn’t like that so much around campus closes down at 10; one restaurant stays open until 2, but it’s a 15 minute walk away – doable, but not something they do every day.

(c) 2012

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