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Archive for the tag “Honors College”

Towson University (Take 2)

Towson University (visited 4/16/19) (click HERE to see notes and pictures from my first visit on 9/30/16).

We asked the students to tell us about something that is uniquely Towson:

  • There are so many different places to go like Glen Woods or Freedom Square.
  • “The res halls are great. I hadn’t seen such diverse housing options at other places I toured.” Housing is guaranteed for 4 years in the Honors College, 2 years otherwise.
  • “Our health center is really great.”
  • It’s a great location – there’s downtown Baltimore and “uptown” Towson with shops and restaurants and the cinema.

This is the 2nd largest and fastest growing state school in Maryland. “There’s a huge momentum on campus” with an investment of $1.7B in real estate and a recently built new Science complex. However, they still keep classes at reasonable sizes with 24 students in an average class. There are a couple lecture halls with 125 seats, a couple more with 90. Those are the largest spaces on campus so no class can ever have more than that number of students. Some of their more unusual majors include Earth-Space Science, Metropolitan Studies, Deaf Studies, Dance Performance and Choreography, Bioinformatics, and Gerontology.

Students interested in merit scholarships must apply by 12/1 Early Action for consideration. They do NOT take Common or Coalition Apps. The $45 application fee can be waived in a variety of ways: College Board/SAT, College Bound, Baltimore City/County Top 10%, Alumni Admissions Nomination, Military Service, or Financial Hardship. The Personal Essay is an original TU Prompt: next year, it’ll be “Topic of your Choice” with suggestions. They’ve also changed requirements so interested students can use the same essay as their Honors College App.

The Honors College (open to incoming and enrolled students in any major within the first two years of study) enrolls approximately 700 students with 50 majors represented. Class sizes max out at 20. When interested students apply to Towson, they’ll check “yes” for honors on the application. This will trigger a prompt for the Honors Essay which is then used for both admission to Towson and for the Honors College. Applicants who click “no” will only write the essay for admissions (a different prompt). Decisions for Honors are done AFTER admission to the university; all honors decisions are sent out at once in February. Towson very intentionally builds community within the Honors Program with housing and Co-curricular programs run by students such as First Day Coff-Ay, Generation Jeopardy, First-Year Flapjacks, Smoothie Saturday, and Honors Helping Hands. One of the student panelists was in the honors program and said that she was a little apprehensive going in, but “Classes are seminar style. They’re a collaboration. They aren’t scary and they aren’t like AP classes.”

Towson offers a Freshman Transition Program which is a collaboration between CCBC and TU. This is an invitation-only program to selected freshman applicants. Usually 175-200 are in the program any given year. Students take Community College courses taught by CCBC faculty on TU’s campus in the late afternoon and evening. However, they are treated like full TU students with the exception that they cannot participate in intercollegiate or club sports. A major benefit is that they pay CCBC tuition and fees (cheaper than TU tuition) but TU Room & Board. If they hit certain criteria in the first semester, they can then segue directly into being a fully enrolled TU student in the 2nd semester (about 80-90%). If not, they have another chance in 2nd semester to meet that criteria. Students are assigned to an FTP advisor to help them through the process..

© 2019

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University of Utah

University of Utah (visited 9/27/18)

Fun fact: This was founded in 1850 (46 years before Utah became a state) as University of the Desert, making it the oldest one west of the Mississippi. Also, it’s on Buzzfeed’s 2017 “Most Beautiful Campus in Every State”list.

The campus farmer’s market

The U (how it’s referred to locally) provides a great mix of outdoorsy and urban. “We provide a Big School experience (including sports) in a big city with the added benefit of access to an excellent academic experience,” said a rep. Located in Salt Lake City, there’s a vibrant campus life with easy access to a growing urban center. Students get free public transportation, and there’s a Trax stop on campus. Students take advantage of academic and extracurricular exploration outside the classroom. “Everything you want is here and easily accessible.” The Wasatch mountains provide excellent hiking, biking, and skiing. One student we talked to came here specifically for the skiing.

We talked to several students who all described the campus as friendly; the willingness of several students to talk to us as we wandered through the quads and the farmer’s market definitely proved that they’re happy with the school and are outgoing. “The community is inclusive but it’s not as diverse as I’d like, but not every place can be a melting pot,” said an African-American junior from Long Island who came because of the speed-skating of all things! “Speed Skating is a club sport. They definitely work with us.”

This is a major Tier 1 Research institution offering one of the best arrays of academic colleges I’ve seen, grouping many in interdisciplinary ways:

  • College of Architecture and Planning
    • Architecture (3.0 GPA requirement; some students may be a direct admit),
  • Cultural and Social Transformation with concentrations in Ethnic, Gender, or Disability Studies.
  • Fine Arts (BFA): “We’re a great school for the arts. SLC is an artsy, hippy sort of place. We have Ballet West, orchestras, etc. We offer the best non-conservatory ballet experience if students want to pursue something else in addition.” They are currently ranked #2 program after Julliard.
    • Strong Visual Design, film, and music because of the connection to downtown.
  • Their Interdisciplinary programs are impressive:
    • Entertainment Arts and Engineering (basically Video Game Design) ranks #1-3 depending on the year. “It used to be something you got bullied for; now you can get a degree. It’s collaborative and group oriented.” The Founders of PIXAR and Atari graduated from here.
    • They offer a robust varsity eSports program with a League of Legends Scholarship.
    • Interdisciplinary sciences include Genetic Counseling, Biological Chemistry, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience.
  • Mines and Earth Sciences includes Atmospheric Sciences, Geology and Geophysics, Metallurgic Engineering, and Mining Engineering.
  • Nursing: Students have to apply separately for the Early Assurance Program; it’s fairly rigorous because of a limited number of spots. Admissions is mostly based off of HS GPA (most admits have at least a 3.7 unweighted). When they apply to the university, students select Pre-nursing.
  • Engineering offers some direct entry, but most students come in, complete the pre-reqs, and apply. They offer unlimited spots as long as students meet the minimum GPA.
  • The Business college “is really amazing,” said one of the students working a booth at the farmer’s market.
  • Honors College: this provides a small Liberal Arts experience (fewer than 3,000 students total) within the university. Students take 2 Honors classes a year and must complete either a junior or senior thesis. They live in Honors housing a little more centrally located. There’s a social justice focus; students look at how to apply their major to the wider community. Students interested in applying must use the Utah-specific app (NOT Common App) by 11/1 and write the additional 500-word essay. The essay is a huge factor. “The number 1 we look for is the desire to be in the program by demonstrated by the essay. Show that they can benefit and want to take advantage of it. GPA and test scores will help, but it’s not only that.”
  • “The Health Sciences are amazing here,” said one student. “There’s a hospital right on campus.”

Even with 24,000 undergrads, 65% classes have fewer than 30 students. “It’s nice to be in some of those lecture classes as a freshman so you don’t have to worry about being called on,” said one student working a booth on the quad. They have a 90% retention rate to sophomore year thanks to a few good programs. One is Block U which is an optional Gen Ed completion course. Students take a few courses throughout freshman year to finish requirements within a year. These are taught by specific professors, peer tutors, etc. “It’s good for undecided students, but lots of others do this too,” said a rep. Another is LEAP, their Academic Learning Communties. Students take courses with the same professors and students over the course of the year. This is more flexible than Block U because it’s only 1 course per semester and they can take other pre-reqs concurrently.

Students never have to live on campus, and housing is not guaranteed; they don’t have enough room. Just over half of freshmen (and 10% of all undergrads) live on campus. “We have a reputation of being a commuter school. It’s definitely been worse in the past. There are a lot of students who live right off campus in houses,” said a student. Usually, if students want housing and apply before the March deadline, they get it. Incoming students can apply for housing before they commit to the university; however, they’ll lose the $150 housing deposit if they decide not to attend Utah or not live on campus.

The Lessonde Entrepreneur Institute is a highly sought-after dorm/LLC with 4 themed residential floors (video game, entrepreneurial, etc). “There are large open spaces including lounges and kitchens. Students have to apply and write an essay to show how they’re entrepreneurs to get housing there,” Said the rep. The building has 20,000 sq ft of work space (design computers, metal working, meeting rooms, etc.) to promote creativity and free thinking. Anything created there remains the intellectual work of the students. A number of student inventions and business were created there such as outdoors stuff (portable tent and hammock). The space is open to all students, but the residents have access 24/7. “They’ve snagged Ivy-League students because they have all this attention and resources.”

Cost of attendance is higher than other Utah schools. Freshman should try to get applications in by 12/1 for automatic scholarship consideration. The FAFSA deadline is 2/1 but they encourage families to do it before the end of the calendar year. If students do know what they want to major in, they’re encouraged to look at the departmental websites for scholarships for incoming freshman. The U provides about 120 WUE scholarships, making it one of the most competitive; students cannot get in-state residency with the WUE. “61% of our students graduate without debt. Even those with debt, it’s lower than other PAC-12 peer institutions.”

© 2018

 

Westminster College (Utah)

Westminster College (visited 9/26/18)
Westminster walkwayThis is a perfect college for students who want that mix of traditional campus, an urban environment, lots of academic and athletic opportunities, and access to a multitude of outdoor activities, particularly winter sports. Campus is located about 3 miles from downtown in the Sugar Hill section of Salt Lake City. The neighborhood has a funky, artsy, lively feel with a ton of things to do within walking distance. There’s plenty of public transportation (free for students!) to get to other parts of the city.

Westminster fountainThis is the only private, non-religious college in Utah. One of the professors said that there isn’t a big push for private education in Utah. This was started by Presbyterians in the 1800s when they came to SLC to convert (ironically!) members of the LDS church. However, the college severed ties to the church in the 1970s and has been non-affiliated ever since.

Westminster outdoor climbing wall

An outdoor climbing wall

For a school with just over 2,000 undergraduates, there are amazing opportunities ranging from DII athletics to study trips to high-tech science equipment. “As long as you’re open to opportunities and aren’t closed-minded, you’ll do really well here,” said one student we talked to in the plaza outside the Student Center. He said that there’s good racial diversity and LGBTQ support on campus. “This is a great place for people who need accommodations whether physical or learning support. Things are accessible here, and there’s something for everyone.”

Westminster chalkCreativity is embraced; along with that comes strong Fine and Performing arts. The theater department offers both a BA and BFA for acting and tech, and they just started a dance major (the director has taught in several major troupes in NYC). SLC has “a surprising amount of theater and ballet in town. Students are encouraged to do community theater; maybe 1/3 of the students stay local afterwards, and others go onto grad school, often with complete funding,” said one of the theater professors.

Westminster bench

Westminster sci sculpture 3

A sculpture hanging in the open 4-level atrium of the science building

Sciences (including Neuroscience and Geology) are also strong, providing students with an amazing array of labs and equipment. They have an Anatomy (aka cadaver) Lab and even a Chromatography lab with a mass spectrometer! Undergrads can use this “as long as we vaguely look like we know what we’re doing under supervision,” said a chemistry major who took us through the building. The Great Salt Lake Institute, Institute for Mountain Research, and Environmental Center are all housed on campus. They have gotten funding from NASA to research bacteria living in harsh environments.

Westminster bridgeA covered footbridge over Emigration Creek divides the campus into residential and academic sides. There are two traditional dorms and others with suites. “Food is an 8,” said one student. All freshmen live on campus. There is no Greek life. Almost 50% of students come from outside of Utah. “They come for the winter sports,” said one student. Seven ski resorts are in close proximity, most within about an hour. “The snow is better here,” said the student working in the Honors College building. “The outdoorsy aspect is huge here. They even have Outdoor Education and Leadership major!”

Westminster honors bldg

The main floor of the Honors College building

The Honors College building, entirely staffed by students, is on the residential side of campus. We talked to the Junior working at the desk for about 30 minutes. The building looks a bit like a ski lodge; it’s a great space for them for holding events, studying, and more. “We can basically use it any way we want.” Freshmen and First Year Honors Students (students can apply to the program as freshmen or do a lateral entry once they’re here) do Tuesday Talks in lounge. She absolutely loves the program and working (officially and not!) in the building. They’re given better opportunities (including special study abroad options) and she likes that they’re acknowledged on the national stage – a professor from Columbia has called it the best Honors program in the nation. The courses that the Honors students take are a bit different but class sizes are the same size as regular (10-28). “Sometimes we get squished for time with getting everything in.” In the last couple years, they’ve grown the program’s population; she thinks that this has made it a stronger community because “there are lots of minds and ideas.”

Westminster dorm 1

The residential side of campus

Students can fulfill Gen Ed requirements through WCore or interdisciplinary team-based honors seminars. It’s a different type of learning for students who want to be challenged. Classes are limited to 16 with discussions based around primary texts. FYS combines 2 interdisciplinary classes. One student took Mystery and Puzzles (combined math and history); another took a Genetics and Probability class; a third took a Psychology and Literature class where they looked at Spellbound by Hitchcock, read The Bluest Eye and Girl, Interrupted and more. The FYS professors serve as initial advisors for students when they start at Westminster.

© 2018

Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University (visited 2/24/18)

FAU mascot

The mascot, a burrowing owl, with the football stadium in the background

This seems like a fairly run-of-the-mill large school with about 21,000 undergraduates on the main campus in Boca Raton. “We aren’t a college town. We’re in Boca which happens to have a major state institution in it,” said the Admissions rep at the info session. They’re only 2 miles from the beach and located almost exactly between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale (each 25-30 minutes). If students are looking for a school with solid (but not at all overwhelming or competitive) academics, warm weather/access to a beach and time to enjoy it, and a bit of a rah-rah atmosphere without the intense tailgating atmosphere of some of the SAC schools, this might be a good choice. Athletics are D1 (students get free admission to home games) with football domineering the scene, particularly after they became the 2017 conference champions. Fun Fact: their stadium is the only one in the country with a view of the ocean.

FAU walkway 2

The Breezeway

In regards to the main campus, one of the tour guides said, “It looks like such a big school, but it’s not! I can get places in 10 minutes” (although a trolley runs around campus if they don’t want to walk). Partly this comes from only 25-30% of students living on campus (about 5000). The rep described FAU as, “A bigger school with a smaller-school feel. We have resources, and we’re growing. Students can be part of that, making traditions, stuff like that.” FAU was founded in 1961 on an old Air Force Base – “in case you’re wondering why the Breezeway is so long and straight, it was built on the old runway,” the tour guide said.

FAU student union

The main entrance to the Student Union

That being said, I don’t get the sense that there is a vibrant campus social life. There is stuff going on (things you’d expect: clubs, speakers, and a movie theater with $2 tickets) but the students indicated that most of the fun is found off campus. No doubt that stems from a majority of students not living on campus, but it could also be a feature of the location with so much off campus to choose from. The beach, obviously, is a big draw. There is free bus that gets students around the area.

FAU runs five other campuses including:

  • SeaTech: FAU was the first to offer Ocean Engineering
  • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
  • Honors College: This is its own campus. The rep likened it to a private liberal arts college. “It’s all honors, all the time. Courses are more rigorous across the board.” Students can major in many areas, but not engineering, music, nursing or other “specialty” majors. There is an Honors Program on the main campus for students who do not want that particular environment, or who want to major in an area not offered at the Honors College.
  • Architecture: This is a 5-year program in Fort Lauderdale. Architecture isn’t capped “but is limited access.” I had to prod the rep a bit to get her to explain what that means: “there’s a supplemental application process. You have to have selected architecture on your application. Once admitted to the university, it’ll trigger the next step. Students need to do supplemental work like submitting drawing, etc.” This appears to be more like a portfolio process: if a student is qualified, they’ll be admitted into the program

FAU freshman housing

One of the freshman dorms

Freshmen are required to live on campus unless living with parents within 30 miles. There are 3 freshmen housing options: Parliament is a little newer but a little further away. Suites house 4 students (in 2 double or 4 single rooms) with 2 bathrooms. Glades and Heritage (4-person suites but 2 doubles or 1 double/2 singles) only have 1 bathroom and separate vanity. They’re at 100% capacity for freshmen but they’re adding housing. Off-campus housing is relatively easy to find. “It’s expensive around here, but it’s not more than living on campus.” The students I talked to before the tour said that they wish they had Greek housing.

FAU quadThe tour guides said that campus food is generally good, and there tends to be enough choices so it’s not boring. They love The Burrow which serves food late-night and has trivia nights, karaoke, etc. In the main dining hall, mac-n-cheese tends to draw the crowds.

FAU 3Admissions is rolling (they only accept their own application), but “merit aid is competitive, so it’s better to apply early,” recommended the rep. No essay is required, but students must self-report grades. Students can check their Application Status directly on the application page. The university can admit students for either fall or a summer-start option. Generally, the GPA requirement is higher for the fall (the incoming class averages a 3.8-4.45, summer averages 3.4-3.9). They will weight the GPA on their end, counting major classes and electives. If admitted for fall, students can switch to summer, but cannot switch back (only 1 switch is allowed). If admitted for summer, they can ask to be reevaluated for fall-entry if test scores or grades go up.

FAU 2Decisions take about 4 weeks, give or take. Decisions for Limited Access Programs like nursing or architecture take a little longer. Nursing is capped at 120 students. Art and music applicants need a portfolio or audition for admission into that program, and applicants into engineering require need a 3.0 in their math classes and have completed at least 1 math above Algebra 2.

There are a few academic programs worth noting:

FAU 1Freshmen classes can run 100-200, but the average lecture class size is 39; average labs have 20 and discussion classes are 30. The tour guide’s smallest classes were 10-13 (both English); largest classes were 125-140 (general lab science).

I asked one of the guides about the types of students who might not fit in at FAU: “People who are ignorant and unwilling to go out of their comfort zone won’t do well here. People are accepted here; they’re safe to be who they are. The people who judge or make them feel safe don’t last.”

© 2018

 

University of North Carolina – Greensboro

UNC Greensboro (Visited 3/15/17)

UNCG original bldg

The original college building

Little known trivia about UNCG: it’s the only college in NC that has a Bojangles! UNCG also has a free tour app that’s worth checking out.

UNCG 5Although originally known as the Education school of the UNC system (it started as a teacher’s college), UNCG also has strong sciences and other programs. Academics are so impressive that the school has been listed as one of the country’s best institutions for undergrad education annually since 1999. It’s also the most diverse of the 17 UNC schools.

UNCG quadI was surprised to learn that Greensboro was one of the founding members of the UNC system in 1932 along with UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State. This is a research university serving about 16,000 undergrads. Faculty are still engaged in their fields, and they bring the undergrads along for the ride. Despite the size, the rep giving the info session, herself a UNCG grad, only had 1 lecture-style class with 125 people during her time here. The tour guide said that her biggest, also an intro science class, had 150 people but only had 17 in her English class the first year. She’s had classes with 7 students in her major. Her favorite class was an Anthropology class called Cults and Conspiracies. “The Anthro department gets really creative!”

UNCG minerva

Statue of Minerva sits in the middle of campus

A few things surprised the tour guides about UNCG: first, that everything stayed open late (“I’m from a small town; I’m not used to being able to get food after 10!”); second: “it initially feels huge but it’s really not! I see people I know all the time” (and you can walk campus corner-to-corner in 15 minutes); and third: “how helpful the professors are. They seem scary but aren’t.”

Some programs unique to UNCG (within the UNC system) include:

UNCG clock and quad

Don’t walk under the clock or you won’t graduate on time! (Every campus has one of these rules). 

Other notable/unusual programs are:

UNCG bell towerQualified students can participate in the UNCG in 3 program, an accelerated pathway to the degree available in about 30 majors. To be eligible, students must come in with at least 12 credits (AP, Dual Enrollment, etc). Benefits include priority registration and dedicated advising.

UNCG honors dorm

The honors dorm

Students from all fields of study are welcome to apply to the Honors College. Students who meet the HC criteria when they apply to the university will receive an invitation to apply to the HC. Because this is an internationally-focused program, students do need to study abroad for at least a semester. All students can take advantage of study abroad programs, including summer (but that alone does not fulfill the HC requirement). Many study abroad programs offer a 1-to-1 student exchange which helps increase diversity on campus.

UNCG plaza 4

One of the many plazas with seating areas. This sits between the dining hall and dorms.

Located in a residential area not far from downtown, the UNCG area caters to students. “You have all the things you’d expect like coffee shops,” said the tour guide. The Yum Yum shop got particular mention (“It serves hot dogs, hot dogs, ice cream, cheer wine, and hot dogs. If you want any of those, you can’t go wrong”). There are 3 free shuttle and bus routes available for students: the UNCG shuttle, the HEAT bus which runs between several Greensboro area universities, and the Greensboro City bus which has stops on campus. Students are able to take classes at other Greensboro area schools including Guilford, A&T, Elon, and Greensboro College. Everything is easily accessible, and the school provides transportation even the airport which is 10 miles away.

UNCG rec pool 2

The rec pool where Dive-In Moves are held.

There’s no lack of things to do on campus. Students love the “Dive-in Movies” held at the recreational pool. The art museum has exhibits from students, faculty, and even famous artists (they had a Warhol exhibit last month). All UNCG sporting events (there are 17 DI teams) are free for students. All teams compete on campus except for basketball that plays at the Coliseum just over a mile away.

UNCG dorm 2

One of the 2 largest dorms on campus (the other is next door and looks similar). This houses freshmen.

There are 26 residential halls, including special-interest housing. “Rooms in the ones with double names are a little bigger!” said the tour guide. Students are never required to live on campus, but about 80% of freshmen will live on campus in traditional hall-style. Apartments and Suite-style are available once they reach sophomore standing, and “at least 60% of students stick around.” There are some off campus apartments with shuttles available to campus. Shuttles also run around campus every 10 minutes.

UNCG art museumUNCG does not take the Common App; students need to apply through SpartanLink. Application review begins September 15th, and Priority Consideration is 12/1 which includes Priority Scholarship Consideration (certain scholarship winners are selected from this pool). They will superscore both the SAT and the ACT. Essays and recs are optional but encouraged. Due to NC regulations, applicants need 1 math beyond Algebra 2.

© 2017

 

Stetson University

Stetson University (visited 2/10/16)

Stetson 3D equipment

3D printing equipment in the library

This is the first university I’ve visited that has power tools, sewing machines, soldering irons, 3D printers, and more in the library for students to access. They have a whole innovation lab in the library at the students’ disposal.

Stetson printed objects

Students’ printed objects

I enjoyed Stetson and can see why students are drawn to it. People are friendly, the campus is attractive, and its ranked Top 5 Universities in the South by USNWR. It’s a small school with a big school feel. Even the town of DeLand (just north of Orlando) was named in the “Top 3 Best Main Streets in America” by Parade Magazine (www.destinationdeland.com).

Stetson dorm lounge

A dorm lounge

Stetson is growing, currently with just over 3,000 undergrads. About 40% of students come from outside Florida, including 185 students from 55 countries. They make it easy to get to and from campus with airport shuttles. They’ve added dorms to keep up with the demand: there’s a 3-year residency requirement, but most seniors stay on campus with 86% of students on campus. Almost 1/3 of students go Greek; housing is available but limited.

Stetson library

The library

This is an animal-friendly campus; we saw several dogs around campus, and a student had a dog with her in the library as she was studying. There is a friendly, family feeling here. Students talked about lots of traditions such as the candle ceremony at the beginning of the year where freshmen carry a candle through the original gates.

Stetson organ

The organ in the music school

All students need to accumulate 24 cultural credits to graduate. These can include anything from watching a debate and discussing it, attending any of events at the music school, or going to a lecture by a visiting academic. “It’s easy to do. Most people go to these things anyway, and most of my friends are done with their 24 events well before the end of sophomore year.” This is a highly engaged campus in many ways including with high voter turnout. The political divide is almost equal: 32% democratic, 28% republican, 18% independent. Whatever political side you lean towards, it’s ok here.

Stetson bikes

Bikes are a favorite way to get around campus

There are 18 DI teams (as a side note: Stetson alumni won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year). Football is in its 4th year. They have a Mad Hatters section for students at games which is often full (yes – they’re the Hatters … it is Stetson University, after all!)

They’ve hired several new faculty members to keep up with the increasing academic opportunities, and classes are kept small. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 6; her largest was 33 (Intro to Bio). On the student panel, we asked what their favorite classes were and why:

  • Pirates: “Pirates are just cool!”
  • Poverty and Micro-credit: “it was a service-learning class; we worked in a prison helping with entrepreneurship.”
  • Predictive Analytics: “We did real-life stuff like working with an airline.”
  • Calculus 3: “The professor combined computer programs and the process and theories behind it. It was hard but learned a lot.”
  • Spanish: “The professor offered us accelerated learning when he saw that a few of us were ready to move ahead more quickly.”

Stetson 7They have 3 undergraduate schools as well as a law school (Florida’s first):

  • The School of Business Admin is accredited in both business and in accounting.
  • Arts and Sciences: They have many traditional offerings plus:
  • Stetson quadTheir School of Music is impressive.
    • They take 80 students per year and graduate 55-60. Many change majors but stay at the university. They’re encouraged to dabble early if they’re interested because it’s so heavily proscribed – it’s easier to move out than in.
    • Everyone majoring or minoring need to audition and must be admitted to both the university and the music department. Because it’s a school of music and not a conservatory, they can be accepted at several levels (for a minor but not a major, etc). They can also audition for entry during their freshman year.
    • About half of the students go into music education; they’re in very high demand. 50% graduate in performance or composition.
    • There’s no marching band (no football team!) but the students can get experience working with a local high school that has a 400-member marching band.

Many students Study Abroad, and those who do a language immersion can complete a minor in 1 semester or a major in 2.

Stetson bell towerStudents in the Honors Program can design their own majors by combining any passion and interest; their degree is whatever they label it as. One student combined Art, Art History, and Chemistry to make an Art Restoration major. Students live in honors housing, receive a $2000 stipend for travel or research, and are exempt from many of the gen ed requirements. Students admitted to the honors program average 31.5 ACT or 1410 SAT. They like a 30 ACT and at least a 600 on each of the SAT sections.

The Bonner Program brings in 18 students each year as a cohort; this is reserved for people with a true passion for community service and engagement. The application deadline is Feb 25 with the finalists invited to campus later in the spring.

Stetson cafeAll students complete a research project. Their major will determine the type of research they do, but there’s always an oral presentation component. A Senior Research class gives them some time and structure to do this as needed, but there are multiple opportunities outside the class to do the research.

Admissions is test-optional. If students choose to submit their scores, Stetson will superscore the SAT but not the ACT. They will recalculate GPA (.5 to Honors, 1 point to AP and IB). Students who visit get their application fee waived, and 0ut-of-State students get a 1-time $1,000 travel scholarship. International applicants can have the TOEFL waived if they completed 3 years in an English-speaking school; otherwise, they need a 79 on the test.

Stetson 8Students are automatically considered for Merit Scholarships up to $33,000. Music scholarships are done separately and require an audition; the deadline is 2/25. Non-majors are welcome to apply. Scholarships for DI athletics and ROTC are also available. These are stackable with merit scholarships. The J. Ollie Edmunds Scholarship awards 1 full-ride scholarship each year: students with a 3.5 GPA are eligible to apply. They usually get about 350 applications for this. Four finalists are selected from this pool to come to campus to interview. The winner gets everything paid (including fees) plus 2 study abroad stipends. Additional scholarships for those qualified for the JOE scholarship include one for Humanities, Environmental Sustainability, Writing, and Business Systems and Analytics.

Stetson 2We asked students on the panel to complete this phrase: “I want to thank Stetson for …”

  • Making me who I am.
  • The people. I had a question for a professor who couldn’t answer it right away but had an answer in my email by the next day.
  • Lots of connections with professors and the alumni.
  • Being welcoming. Sometimes change is hard. They did a good job at making the transition easier. People reach out. Everyone has a hard transition but no one admits it. Everyone has that moment when it clicks and you know you’re supposed to be here. The support is here.
  • Expecting us to step up into leadership positions.
  • I had a wakeup call with academics. You might have been the best student in High School, but they expect a lot here. I had a 20 page paper due but never wrote one longer than 5 before. I wasn’t getting the grade I wanted, but the professor met with me in the coffee shop and worked with me. The writing center is there. You can do it.

© 2016

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College (visited 11/23/15)

~Swarthmore tower 1This is a physically impressive campus (stone buildings, a tower, an imposing main building on a hill) located less than 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I had wanted to visit for a long time since I’d already seen Haverford and Bryn Mawr, the other schools in the Tri-Co (3 College Consortium). Unfortunately, the students don’t seem to be as engaging as they are at many other schools I’ve visited.

~Swarthmore main

The main building on campus

Several students independently mentioned the “Swarthmore Bubble.” There doesn’t seem to be much need or desire to leave campus, and it shows in their attitudes: no one seemed excited to get to know anyone or take advantage of opportunities beyond the campus boarders, even though the town is nice and a SEPTA train stop is literally on campus, making travel about as easy as it gets. “We go into Philly for a specific purpose. It’s not like we say ‘Hey, we’re bored, let’s go to Philly. It’s a supplement not the core of social life.” One student is part of the Tri-Co dance group so she practices on other campuses, and she has gone to hear speakers. None of the students I spoke to took advantage of other campus for class or anything else. Swarthmore is the most distant of the 3 schools – about 25 minutes away – but that’s certainly not prohibitive. I did see a Bryn Mawr van on campus dropping off students.

~Swarthmore walkwaySwatties are very smart and want an academically intense program. Almost 20% of alumni go on to complete PhDs (3rd highest in the country). Our tour guide said, “It’s intense. You have to do the work and understand it or people will know – but there’s no shortage of help around if you want it.” Tutors often have names that play on their discipline: math tutors are Pirates (they work with Pi) and physics tutors are Jedis (they work with the Force).

~Swarthmore stained glassDuring the info session, the rep said: “The question of whether or not you can do this has been answered. You’ve been admitted. Now ask about why you’re doing the work you’re doing.” Our tour guide said that one of the reasons she came here was because academics didn’t just stay in the classroom. People would continue discussions over meals and in the dorms. What they don’t discuss are grades. It’s very much like the other Tri-Co schools in this regard. They also have an honor code “which isn’t spelled out like at other places. We just do it.”

~Swarthmore peace sign 1During the first semester, classes are graded P/F “which allows you to figure out how to do laundry for the first time, make friends, etc. I took an engineering class, Modern Chinese Cinematography, an education class.” Students can and do see what grade they’re earning and don’t just do enough to get by. “They come in with the same curiosity and work ethic. The shadow grades help them understand what the expectations are.”

~Swarthmore 2Even after that semester, students have 4 more classes they can take P/F. The student speaking at the info session said, “It’s nice to know that I can calculate the structural integrity of oak vs. steal, but it didn’t have to affect my GPA.” The tour guide said that they can decide fairly late in the semester if they want the class to be P/F.

~Swarthmore archDistribution requirements are fairly flexible: 3 classes each in Humanities, Social Sciences, and Physical/Natural Sciences, a foreign language, 3 writing intensive classes (taken in any discipline), and 4 credits of PE (completed through classes or outside things like an athletic club such as swing dancing).

This is one of a few Liberal Arts colleges that has its own BSE degree (not a 3+2 program), and students don’t have to declare their major in engineering early. They can come in and test it out. Even within this program, things are somewhat interdisciplinary. For example, there’s a class call Food Engineering that’s cross-registered with biology.

Swarthmore ampitheater 1

The Ampitheater where graduation is held

The Honors Program is more like an external exam program and just a different way to study. It’s something that students decide to do while they’re here rather than a program they apply to get into. The GPA requirements differ by major, and if they do an Honors major, they also have to do an Honors minor. About 1/3 of students will take part in it, and it’s so integrated into the rest of the system that people often have no idea who is doing it unless they happen to mention it. Seminars have about 8-10 students focusing on inquiry and discussion, and they bring in someone else to write the exam as well as conduct the oral exam.

Swarthmore Sci lounge

Science lounge

In addition to the usual internships (and there are stipends available for unpaid internships), students can complete externship where they’re matched with an alum to shadow (and often live with) for a week or so. One student will be externing at the EPA this winter to learn more about policy. The rep said, “This is a great opportunity to confirm what they think about their career goals – or to let them reassess. College is a great place to push the reset button.”

~Swarthmore dorm2 2

Some of the dorms

Almost all students (98%) live on campus all 4 years. All years and majors are mixed throughout the dorms. The 2nd and 3rd floors of the main building (also home to administrative offices and admissions) are dorms. A student said, “I lived in this building my first year, and I actually met with Deans in my PJs. It’s pretty informal here.” Food does NOT get good marks from the kids. When we first asked, the tour guide paused, and then said, “Let’s wait until we get outside.” She is not impressed – and I overheard another tour guide telling his group that he wasn’t thrilled with it, either.

~Swarthmore dining hall

A section of the dining hall

In admissions, “we see the well-rounded and the well-lopsided kids.” They do not take the writing section of either exam and do not require SAT 2 but will consider them if submitted. Students thinking about engineering should do the Math 2 exam. They allow for interviews but don’t require them. The “Why Swarthmore” question is really important given their academic rigor and different approach to academics: “We don’t want to hear about our great faculty, our pretty campus, or that we have your major. You should be able to identify things that made it stand out and how you can see yourself there for 4 years.”

© 2015

Marquette University

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY (visited 4/14/15)

~Marquette quad 1This is the only school I’ve visited that let us into their Cadaver Lab which was much bigger than I imagined; I thought it would look more like an autopsy room with maybe 2 or 3 bodies – instead, there were probably 25 or 30 stations, most with groups of 4-6 students surrounding it working diligently.

~Marquette sim lab

One of the Nursing sim labs

Not surprisingly, Health Sciences are strong here. Students admitted into these programs average a 28.6 ACT and have a strong science background. Calculus isn’t necessarily required since programs tend more towards the statistical side.

~Marquette engo 6

An Engineering lab

When applying to Marquette, students indicate their 1st and 2nd choice COLLEGE. Students are admitted to the college, not a particular major with the exception of Nursing and Athletic Training. Generally, indicating 2 colleges allows Admissions to consider applicants for 2 places. However, since students cannot transfer into Nursing as sophomores, they’ll only be considered for that even if they list a 2nd choice college.

Colleges and special majors include:

  • Arts and Sciences
    • Unusual majors: Computational Mathematics, Social Welfare and Justice, and Physiological Sciences
    • Students an do an art minor with Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design!
  • ~Marquette edu cntr

    The Education Center

    Education

    • Elementary Ed students major in a subject area AND education. They have a full teaching area that looks like an elementary school with rugs, books, etc. Upper level students run reading labs and have clients all semester.
  • Communications
  • Health Sciences
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy: Students can do a 6-year combined degree by majoring in anything but Education or Engineering and then jumping into the graduate degree. They receive about 1400 applications for an enrollment of 62.
    • Physician Assistant: they get about 900 apps and accept 14. Students apply after their first year; if admitted, they can finish in 5 years instead of 7. Exercise Physiology or Athletic Training majors work well with the PT program but students can major in almost anything.
  • Business
    • This is the first university to offer Business Ethics
    • Applied Investment Management Program. Students invest real money and must present the outcomes to the Board of Trustees at the end of the year.
    • 75% pass the exam the first time (national average is 40%). Students must intern during the summer between Jr and Sr years.
  • ~Marquette engo 5

    One of the Material testing labs in the Engineering Building.

    Engineering: This program is 4 years old; facilities are top-notch! We talked to students who were building easily foldable/portable children’s walkers for use on playgrounds and will easily go over wood chips and grass. There was a local need for this, so students were designing, building, and donating several of these.

  • Nursing: Nursing is highly selective: 100/1800 applicants are admitted.
    • Students go on mandatory spirituality retreats, “but not JESUIT retreats!” said the Dean. They want students to grapple with larger issues starting with “Who are you?” to issues of life, death, and dying – from whatever religion (or no religion) a student is coming from.
    • Marquette statueUnlike many nursing programs, study can study abroad on a few programs include maternal health in Peru, partnership with SLU.
    • The Simulation lab like a professional area. Everyone in there is in uniform and treats it like a job.

~Marquette sculpture

One of the sculptures on campus

Milwaukee is a great college city with the country’s 6th largest student population per capita. Marquette is integrated into downtown. Students have a wealth of cultural and job opportunities at their fingertips. The Courthouse and an Art Museum are each a block away, both of which provide internships – as do places like National Mutual and other businesses. There are several theaters, and free concerts happen regularly in Cathedral Square. Milwaukee hosts a 10-day Summer Fest, the largest music festival in the country. The stadium is a few blocks away, as is River Walk, a walking/jogging path. The Old Warehouse District has been revitalized with pubs, stores, and restaurants. Students can ride city public transit for free while school is in session. When (if!) students get bored in Milwaukee, the Amtrak station is 7 blocks from campus, making it easy to get into Chicago (1.5 hours away).

~Marquette union extMarquette is one of 18 Jesuit universities in the US. Jesuit schools share a educational philosophy of using knowledge and service to make the world better. Rooted in the Liberal Arts, they stress critical thinking and teach their students HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Approximately 60% of Marquette students self-identify as Roman Catholic; others represent a range of religious diversity.

~Marquette chapel 2

Chapel of St. Joan of Arc

The Chapel of St. Joan of Arc is on campus. Built in the 1500s, it was dismantled and brought to Long Island from France in the 1920s. In the early 1960s, it was given to Marquette. Masses are still held here. Although we didn’t get to go inside to check this out for ourselves, the tour guide told us that there’s one spot near the altar that’s always a couple degrees colder than the rest of the building. Science students have done experiments to try to figure out why.

~Marquette streetStudents are serious about their education but are also active outside the classroom. People need to want to be involved. Greek life is there, but not huge (about 15% of students affiliate). There’s some Greek housing but it’s small. The theater department puts on 5 big shows a year. “Late Night Marquette” got mentioned a couple times by students where they’ll have a chocolate theme, a casino night, and other things like that.

~Marquette jarsSome University-wide special programs include:

  • ROTC: Marquette is the host institution for all 3 branches for students in Milwaukee.
  • Honors: They’re looking to grow this. They currently get about 400 apps for 100 spots; the application is due by 2/1 and requires several essays. Honors students take small core classes with other Honors students, meant to bring together as a group. After that, they can contract with professors to make any class as an Honors class.
  • Study Abroad: If Marquette doesn’t have a program a student wants, they have the option of going through Loyola in Chicago.

~Marquette dorms

Some of the dorms

Almost all freshmen and about half of all students live on campus; a new residence hall is opening in the fall. There’s a variety of housing types ranging from singles to quads; many triples and quads have their own bathrooms. Students can live in suite styles as a freshmen. One student said that dorms are “good, not great” and large. Honors Housing is in a “Tower” with lake views – some of the best housing around. “Food is good. There are options in different dining halls like Italian, 50s diner, traditional buffet.” Students can eat in any of the dozen or so spots on campus with their meal cards.

© 2015

Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University (visited 3/3/15)

~TCU main sign~TCU flowersOne of the big question a lot of us on the Counselor tour had was, how Christian is TCU? The general consensus was: as much as you want it to be. The school is insistent that students figure it out for themselves and be respectful of others. “We have really interesting conversations about God,” said one of the tour guides. Students are required to complete 1 theology class as part of their distribution requirements, but the choices range from Religion in the Arts to The Afterlife in Roman/Greek Traditions (taught by a German professor). One student on the panel wishes that the university were more Christian. “It’s in the name; no one is hiding that it’s part of who we are, but there’s 1 cross on campus. I’ve actively looked.”

~TCU main quad~TCU fountainThe campus is attractive with nice architecture and wonderful landscaping; daffodils were already popping up in early March, despite the chilly weather and dreary skies. Many of the buildings are made of yellow brick, and they’re making an effort to keep consistent to the general feeling as new construction goes up. The campus is located in Fort Worth, a city described by a student as a “booming suburbia.” It has a definite residential, family feel; students and younger professionals tend to like living here. “Dallas feels more business-like than here,” said one professors. Students can take easy advantage of the city with free bus rides with their TCU ID; they also have access to bike shares. However, there’s lots to do directly off campus, as well. Students get discounts at many places in town including free lunches at some places on Fridays. 35 places off-campus will take Flex Bucks.

~TCU dorm hallway

A dorm hallway

TCU has a two-year residency requirement but currently can’t meet demand for juniors and seniors. However, they’re committed to rectifying that and are building a new res hall per year for a decade; 4 new ones are up already. Students are happy that they’re working on the residential issues.

~TCU plaza 2Greek life is a huge part of campus life with almost half of students affiliating (it’s a higher percentage of women than men affiliating – about 55% and 40% respectively – which almost matches up with the general gender mix on campus). One student wishes that she knew how much Greek life was part of campus before she came here. She said that sometimes it feels like much more than half of the students belong to one of the Greek organizations. There is a bit of Greek housing, but many end up living together in regular dorms.

~TCU studentsStudents love the academics here, but “you need to want to learn. They can facilitate the learning, but can’t do it for you.” Favorite classes include:

  • Literature and Civilization: they spoke with a woman from Rwanda
  • Speech Pathology (she’s had her own clients for 2 years now).

~TCU main bldgAs with any university, there are a number of colleges to choose from including:

  • Business
  • Liberal Arts (notable programs: Geography, Criminal Justice, and Hispanic Studies). Students wanting to take classes in Aerospace Studies or Military Science can do so through the Air Force or Army ROTC (respectively).
  • Communications including Communication Studies, Film-TV-Digital Media, and Journalism.
  • Fine Arts: Art, Dance, Music, Theater, Interior Design and Merchandising, and Arts Administration
  • Education
  • Science and Engineering including Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, Computer Science, and the School of Geology, Energy, and the Environment.
  • TCU Honors volleyball

    Sand Volleyball Court

    The Honors College provides small classes and specialized housing (complete with a sand volleyball court!). Honors students have the opportunity to attend a special orientation and have access to Honors Study Abroad trips.~TCU mascot

~TCU mascot statue

Football stadium

Football stadium

Sports are a big deal here. Super Frog the Horned Frog is the beloved mascot (and listed in the top-10 weirdest mascots!); students rub the nose of the Horned Frog statue for luck before exams, and the university even owns a real horned frog. It’s housed at the FW Zoo because it’s an endangered species. TCU’s teams are DI; in addition to the common teams, there are women’s Equestrian and Rifle teams, and men’s DIA football. TCU ranks #1 in the country for attendance at women’s soccer and men’s baseball games. Their big rival is Baylor. Intramurals and club sports are a big part of life on campus, as well. They offer bowling, ice hockey, gymnastics, rugby, and water polo in addition to many other sports. There’s even an outdoor pool with kayaks and canoes available for students.

© 2015

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