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Utah State University

Utah State University (visited 9/26/18)

USU A quad

The quad and the Aggie A … if you kiss an Aggie on top of the A, then you, too, are an Aggie! It’s a major tradition here.

Here are some cool facts about USU:

  • You can take a Drone Photography class!
  • USU is a NASA Space Grant University: “We send more things into space than any other institution in the US.”
  • They’ve had several Carnegie professors, more than most places!
  • They have the 2nd Oldest Undergrad Research Program in the nation after MIT.
  • They have a spider silk lab on campus. They put the silk into goats and can then extract that from the milk and have as much silk as they want! They’ve made Kevlar vests, ligaments in medical stuff, and more.
  • USU drone 1

    Students in the Drone Photography class

    They are the 7th lowest costing public university in the country: the out-of-state cost of attendance is under $28,000 total (and even lower at the regional campuses).

  • The HOWL is the largest Halloween Party in the country.
  • They have one of the largest LDS Institutes in the country.
  • Their quad is used for military training, and sometimes helicopters land there for ROTC. (Students can get commissioned through Air Force ROTC within the Aerospace Studies or Army ROTC with Military Science)

USU Old MainUSU has 3 residential campuses; the main campus in Logan (a small city north of SLC) has 18,000 undergrads; another 8,000 students study on other 2 regional campuses. There’s also a large online presence, offering 400 online classes for 88 Masters and 41 doctoral programs. All 50 states and 78 countries are represented with 30% of students from outside of Utah; 84% of students “live away from home” (which includes students living in town, not only in university housing).

USU bikes mntnsI was incredibly impressed with the campus. It was attractive and easy to navigate with lots of open space and a mountain vista around campus. This is a great place for outdoorsy types; certainly the winter sports are notable, but people clearly want to be all year with options for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and more. Students were around campus in groups, walking together or utilizing the space on the quad for studying, classes, and hanging out. Students can use Logan town busses for free; shuttles to SLC take about 90 minutes, run 3 times a day, and cost $40.

USU frat house 1

There are a few Greek Houses

The students we spoke to love the school: “there are so many opportunities to do whatever we want in or out of the classroom.” One of them mentioned the weekly campus Farmer’s market. Greek life is almost non-existent (but it’s there if you want it). Sports are a huge deal here, and the football team is doing really well nationally. “Going to games is a big deal – students even camp out for the game against Air Force. They open the gates at 3:00 am. You need to be there to get into the first rows,” said one of the tour guides.

USU engineering quadThis is Utah’s Land Grant institution so it’s not surprising that their Agriculture and Applied Sciences are particularly strong. They offer really cool majors such as Agricultural Communication and Journalism; Aviation Technology (Pilot or Maintenance Management); Landscape Architecture; Residential Landscape Design and Development; Land, Plant, and Climate Systems; Animal, Dairy, and Vet Sciences; and Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. There are further options through the College of Natural Resources such as Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Ecology and Management of Rangelands, Forests, or Wildlife.

USU Book automation

Part of the automatic retrieval system in the library for research books: “It’s like Monster’s Inc,” said the tour guide.

The Engineering Department is well regarded. There’s a Water Lab in the Civil Engineering department. Aeronautics is a concentration within Mechanical Engineering (and they offer graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering. As long as they meet the GPA, they’re in that program.)

Nursing, however, is competitive, taking 26-30 students at a time. The program just started so they are working on accreditation; they need to have a graduating class before full accreditation can happen; this is “retroactive” for current students so they aren’t hurt by this. Admission to the program works on a points system, students usually apply in sophomore year after completing pre-reqs.

Students can earn a BFA in Art or Theater; they do offer Interior Design as well (BID) and Music Therapy.

USU stu cntr intThe admissions office does a lot of national outreach to increase their out-of-state population (already just over 25%), including nationwide open houses where they’ll tell applicants on the spot if they’re eligible for scholarships as long as they apply while they’re there. Scholarships are generous, but many are contingent on students gaining residency after the first year. They recognize that much of this depends on not being claimed on the parents’ taxes. They said that often when families do the math, they could come out ahead with the student declaring Utah Residency. If a student chooses not get Utah residency, the scholarship will only pay the in-state tuition amount after the first year, and the family is responsible for the difference. If students accept the WUE scholarship, they must complete their degree within 4 years; if they go beyond that, they revert to the full out-of-state tuition starting the 9th semester.

© 2018

 

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

Salem College

Salem College (visited 3/17/17)

Salem main buildings

Some of the main buildings from the historic park (people in costumes were doing school programs). The Moravian church is in the distance.

Salem is impressive and seems to have its act together. This historical women’s college sits in the middle of historic Salem (complete with people in period-costumes giving tours), minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. The Welcome Center is in the original building built in the 1700s by the Moravian Sisters who walked down here from Bethlehem, PA. Although founded on Moravian traditions, they’re no longer affiliated but hold onto some traditions. There’s a large Moravian Church adjacent to campus; they hold a candlelight Christmas service every year followed by a traditional chicken pie dinner for all students who want to attend.

Salem transwomen banner“The diversity here surprised me,” said the rep, herself a recent graduate of Salem. “It’s not the stereotypical southern school.” She says that it’s “heavily liberal” and estimates that about 70% would self-identify as Democrats. About half the students come from NC with the highest numbers of out-of-state students coming from Texas (accounting for much of their Latina population), then MD, VA, and SC. They have clubs for all faiths and ethnicities.

Salem historic park

The Center for Inclusiveness and Diversity sits on the far end of the park.

Their Center for Inclusiveness and Diversity sits physically in the middle of campus “because why not put it front and center? We want it to be important.” They hold Round Tables and Open Mics on Wednesdays, discussing everything from politics to current events to ethnic relations. “It’s all about education and discussion,” said the tour guide. “They even did one on hair once.” It’s a safe space, and sometimes faculty aren’t allowed to attend so students can openly discuss issues. Other times, faculty will lead the round tables.

Salem walkway“A lot of women don’t want to come to a women’s college because they don’t want the drama. Of course, you eliminate the men which often cause the drama.” This isn’t to say that they’re living in a bubble. They’re in a city with other universities around (UNC School of the Arts is a little over a mile away, and Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State are also in town; add High Point and all the Greensboro schools, and there are huge numbers of college students within 45 minutes). “The drama here is about people coming from different backgrounds. People learn from each other. They grow because of it.” The rep told a story about initially having problems with a woman on her hall until she realized the behavior was from upbringing and just not knowing anything else; the two of them ended up talking and learning from each other and were in each other’s weddings.

Salem porch

The back porch of the main building backing onto one of many courtyards

The fact that Salem is so centrally located among other colleges means expanded opportunities. Students get free tickets to Wake Forest and some Winston-Salem State games and are free to join their Color Guards among other things. Almost 1/3 of Wake’s Color Guard comes from Salem, including their Drum Major for the past 3 years.

Salem dorm 1

One of the dorms on campus

All students live on campus unless they commute from home or there are extenuating circumstances (medical issues, etc). There are some off-campus suites within walking distance that are college-owned. These are within easy walking distance (5-7 minutes according to the tour guide), but all students can have cars. Parking costs $60 a year and is relatively easy to find. They can also use bikes that they check out at the student center. Dorms have open visitation policies: in the freshmen dorms, males can visit 24 hours on weekends (until midnight during the week) with all-week 24-hour visitation in upperclass dorms.

Salem 1Food rates a 7 on a 1-10 scale. The main dining hall is the traditional all-you-can-eat, but there’s also the Café where students can get sandwiches and other grab-an-go items. They get 4 meal exchanges per week that they can use at the café, no more than 1 per day. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the school brings Chic-fil-a sandwiches to the Café. “It starts at 11:30 and goes until they run out.”

Salem fountainDowntown is a 7-10 minute walk from campus giving students access to the Innovation Quarter, film festivals, all the businesses and stores. They do lots of internships in town including working in the Wake hospitals or labs. There’s also a ton going on on campus (including movies in the theater, often with popcorn. “Students bring blankets and pillows. It’s great!” said the tour guide. “If you’re bored here, it’s because you aren’t leaving your room.”

Salem art bldg

The arts building with greenhouse windows to let light into the studios.

A favorite tradition is Fall Fest which serves as a type of homecoming (there’s obviously no football). The students get the Wednesday after Labor Day off (they don’t get that Monday off), and they hold a day-long competition between classes including skits, singing competitions, and more. The Freshman get their Big Sisters on that day.

Classes are actively discussion or hand-on based with classes topping out in the 20s. The January Term classes tend to be more experiential; these were the tour guide’s favorites. One of them focused on prep for law school and careers in the field; they shadowed people, had deans from law schools talk to them, went to court houses, etc. The tour guide’s largest class was 23 in an intro class and 7 in a seminar. The Honor Code allows them to self-schedule exams during the week-long exam periods.

Sciences are strong with the usual majors offered (bio, chem, biochem, and envi sci). Chairs in labs are built for a female body, taking into account the bigger hip ratio and shape of the back. The environmental, eco-friendly movement is strong around campus. For example, the confetti at graduation is all biodegradable, and students are given reusable coffee mugs when they arrive so they don’t throw coffee cups in the trash.

Salem art gallery

One of many gallery spaces in the art building

Arts are a big deal at Salem. The have a huge fine arts building; the bottom floor has greenhouse windows for light. The building is full of display spaces. Students can major in Art, Studio Art, Art Management, Design, and Art History with minors/certificates/concentrations in Historic Preservation, Interior Design, Architectural Studies, and Visual Literature.

Salem May Dell

The May Dell Amphitheater

May Dell Amphitheater is a central point on campus. Orientation and graduation are both held there (among other events in good weather). At orientation, this is where they sign the honor code. A couple years ago, they started a new tradition where students “get their daisies,” the signature flower of the school. “It’s a cool ceremony; I’m sad they started right after my year!” said the tour guide, a junior. “Students walk up, a little like graduation, and are handed a daisy by the president. The idea is that we get a daisy now and the diploma later. We come full circle at May Dell.”

© 2017

 

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

Cazenovia College

Cazenovia College (visited 7/24/15)

~Caz quad 2I was surprised at how compact campus was. The main part of campus is encompassed by the equivalent of a large city block with several buildings across the streets along the perimeter. The main street of Cazenovia is literally a block away from the main campus, and Cazenovia Lake is a short 4-block walk away.

~Caz bell“If you want to know a lot of people and been known by a lot of people, this is the place for you,” said the admissions representative.

~Caz studentEven in the summer, students were populating the main quad on campus, sunbathing, talking in groups, and sitting at picnic tables. Almost 90% of students live on campus. Most students stay on campus until senior year, at which point, they do have the option of moving off “but moving off could affect scholarships and Financial Aid, so most elect to stay,” said the rep. There are some scholarship that come with residential requirements, but some students will elect to take a lower-level scholarship that will enable them to move off.

~Caz 4Cazenovia is located about 20 miles from downtown Syracuse in the small town of Cazenovia. They’re squarely in the middle of “Equine Alley,” as one of the students put it. There are lots of horse (and other types of) farms, and students can major in Equine Business Management. Other business tracks include Accounting, Fashion Merchandising, Health Care Management, Management, and Sports Management. The students in the Sports track worked at the Super Bowl last year doing event management!

~Caz 2Other strong and popular programs are:

~Caz flowersStudents who thrive here are those who want a solid Liberal Arts education with hands-on, practical experience. “B students are going to be fine here. If you’re a B-/C student . . . dazzle me with your essay,” said the admissions rep.

© 2015

Winthrop University

WINTHROP UNIVERSITY (visited 4/4/14)

~Winthrop sign ~Winthrop flowersWinthrop is a Comprehensive Liberal Arts Public University located on a 100-acre campus in Rock Hill, SC, a small city with 65,000 residents, which is considered an “outskirt” of Charlotte (the 2nd largest financial district in the US after NYC). Without traffic, students can be in Charlotte in about 20 minutes. In fact, they’re so close that they have a loose affiliate with UNC-Charlotte; any student doing AF ROTC goes there for the classes. Army ROTC can be done at Winthrop.

They currently have just over 5000 undergrads (plus about 1,100 grad students) and are growing by 3-4% a year. They have a warm and welcoming Admissions Office. The visitor coordinator was outgoing and friendly, greeting and chatting easily with visitors. Coffee and water were available in the large room used for the info session. They made a very good first impression!

Winthrop Business tickerSome unusual majors include Finance (either Corporate or Financial Planning); Health Care Management; Sustainable Business; Digital Commerce; Human Nutrition; Integrated Marketing Communication; Science Communication; BFA offerings in 11 areas including Photography (either Commercial or Fine Arts), Jewelry/Metals, Sculpture, Interior Design, and Illustration, and Bachelor of Music or Music Education. Art students can showcase work both on and off campus, and theater students can write and direct their own work.

~Winthrop swingsThe average class size is 24, but “that seems inflated by freshmen classes which are capped at 29,” said the admissions rep. Intro to Biology and Intro to Chem tend to be the largest classes with up to 40 per class. Their 3 most popular majors are pretty typical: Business, bio, and psych. Fine arts and Early Childhood Education round out their top five. They are known for fine and performing arts, and they are the Flagship School of the SE Region for Education. They maintain a satellite campus consisting of Wetlands, used primarily as a lab for bio classes.

~Winthrop ampitheaterAdmitted students have an average 3.8 GPA, a mid-50% SAT range of 960-1150 or average ACT of 23, and almost 50% in the top 20% of their class. In addition to other merit scholarships, they do offer an IB scholarship and Talent Scholarships which require a portfolio or audition (and are judged by the faculty).

In order to help students thrive and persist towards graduation, freshmen and sophomores must live on campus unless they live within a 50 mile radius. In addition to regular style dorms, they have several themed residence halls such as Math and Science, Honors, Leadership, Helping Hands, Historical Perspectives, Creative Habitat, Around the World, Environmental Issues, Healthy U, and more.

~Winthrop little chapel

Little Chapel

Robert Mills, who designed the Washington Monument, also designed Little Chapel on campus. This tiny building (it looks like it might hold 30-40 people) is tucked into a small garden in the middle of campus near the amphitheater (next to which stands a statue of an Amphibian Quartet, donated by an alum).

~Winthrop harry potter hallStudents definitely don’t lack for fun on campus. There is a multitude of cultural events (speakers, concerts, etc) on campus; students must attend 18 cultural events to graduate. The tour guide got most of hers done the first year. About 50% of students are involved in Greek life. “It’s a big deal,” said the tour guide, “but you don’t have to affiliate to be included in events or have fun on campus.” There is a full movie theater in the student center; movies are shown on Wednesdays and Saturdays and cost $2 per movie or $10 for a semester pass. The school maintains an18-hole Disc Golf Course. Athletic events are in the Rec Center a mile away, and the school provides shuttles. Their DI sports play in the Big South Conference with Baseball ranked #1 in the division and #3 in the state after USC and Clemson. The Women’s Basketball team was in March Madness.

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Meredith College

Meredith College, Raleigh, NC (visited 3/13/14)

Meredith main bldgMeredith is a Women’s College located less than a mile from NC State University in Raleigh. Unlike some other women’s colleges, their enrollment has been going up. Although they brought in 420 new freshman last year (which is up by about 20 from the year before), they also bring in quite a few transfers, so they graduated 500 students last year, which they expect to remain steady.

~Meredith acad bldg 3Because I was visiting during their spring break, an admissions rep gave me the tour. As a 2012 grad, she had great insight from both sides of the desk. Originally from Winston-Salem, she chose Meredith because it felt collaborative instead of competitive, and it’s close enough to NC State to not feel isolated. The schools provide shuttles between the two, but it’s also walkable. I drove down the street after the tour to check out the area and to get lunch; in 10 blocks or so, I saw two coffee shops, a music store, a book store, and a lot of restaurants including Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and several chain fast-food places, pizza, and bar & grills. There’s also a Ben and Jerry’s directly across the street (“Whoever marketed that was a genius,” the rep said).

An outdoor classroom

An outdoor classroom

Meredith and the five other schools in the area (St. Augustine, Wake Tech, NC State, William Peace, and Shaw) allow cross-registration. Meredith allows their students to take up to 3 classes a year for free. The students can go to any other schools’ events, including athletics, for free with the other school ID (which they get even for a 1-credit PE class). Students at Meredith can get the big DI school at State feel without sacrificing the small school individual attention.

Meredith Penrose floorClasses at Meredith average 17 students. The rep’s smallest classes had 2 (in a research class) and 8 (in a regular class); the largest was 40 (Intro to Psych). Education is one of their strongest departments; their majors have had a 100% passing rate on the Praxis II over the last few years, and schools in the area hire Meredith grads right out of school. They also have 1 of only 11 Autism programs in the world, and the only one where undergrads can work with the kids. A Swiss family moved to Raleigh specifically to have their child in the program. They also have an AACSB accredited business program (held by 5% of programs worldwide).

Meredith Penrose tilingStudents are highly involved in designing areas on campus, often as part of their classes or independent research projects. The tile floor of the Science Building was designed by two students in 2001 as part of their undergrad research project; it’s modeled after the method developed by mathematician Roger Penrose. Interior Design students competed to have their design put into place for the commuter lounge. They put in four outdoor classrooms complete with chalkboards behind one of the academic buildings, and in front of another building, students planted an edible fruit garden with pomegranates, berries, and more.

Dorm balconies

Dorm balconies

The fire pit

The fire pit

The school has some interesting traditions. The first that the rep pointed out was the Class Doll, designed each year by a fashion design major. These are displayed in cases throughout the three-floor atrium of the main building where they also have displays of faculty-done art, photography, dresses, quilting, and more. A second tradition is Dance Works, an annual event held in the spring, and is completely student run from the choreography to the dancing to the marketing of the event. The third, and maybe the biggest tradition, is Cornhusking which is held annually during the last week of October. “It’s one of those things you have to experience!” Essentially, it’s a weeklong competition between classes. Each class is given a theme, and they make up skits and other events revolving around it, including “can art” in which the class uses cans to create artwork illustrating something about their theme; this gets done on one quarter of the quad. Students will stand on the balconies of the dorms to help direct the artwork since they have a birds-eye-view. They also have a fire pit on campus that’s used during orientation and at other times throughout the year including at the “Camping on the Quad” event (which also includes sunrise yoga).

~Meredith chapelThe Chapel on campus dates back to when they were affiliated with the Baptist Church. They are no long affiliated, but they have a non-denominational chapel service at 10am on Wednesdays, although this also can be community wide speaker events (the topic being advertised for the following week was dealing with anxiety and depression). They’ve brought in big-name speakers including Nancy Pelosi, Jane Goodall, and the guy who runs Post Secret. There are no 10am classes on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, enabling them to hold large events or allow clubs and activities to have meeting times.

~Meredith eating areaStudy Abroad is easy to do. Students can do direct-enrollment programs around the world, but there are also several college-sponsored trips. Meredith runs a Semester in Italy program; they bought and renovated a Palazzo complete with their own chef. “Family lunch” is served instead of a big dinner. Apparently, the chef never repeats a meal the entire semester. Current Summer Study Abroad options include Italy (Childhood Development or Opera Experience), Iceland (Environment and Lit), UK, Italy and Switzerland, China (International Business), Spain (Language and Culture), and France (Fashion).

A dorm kitchen

A dorm kitchen

Arches into the dorm quad

Arches into the dorm quad

Students must live on campus for the first two years. Even though they can move off after that, 86% of all students live on campus. They recently built new campus apartments, increasing the on-campus number over the last few years; students love the convenience, and the apartments are beautiful with hardwood floors, washers and dryers, etc. Dorms have Open Hours when males can be in rooms, but men can visit in the lounges 24 hours a day. Parking is available in “The Pit” which is never full. Passes cost $200 a year. If they don’t have cares, students can rent one of the 2 zip cars or can take the State Wolfline or city bus.

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East Carolina University

EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY (visited 3/14/14)

ECU pirate and quad

ECU mascot statue and the quad

Coming into Greenville for an hour in any direction, there’s nothing but cow farms and cotton fields, but within town, there’s a lot to do. I was impressed with the small-city feel with stores, hospitals, their Greenway (Riverwalk), etc. ECU was founded in 1907 as a teacher’s college and became a comprehensive university in 1967. It’s now the third largest public school in the state with 21,000 undergrads (28,000 total). Greenville has a year-round population of 80,000 residents; town-gown relations are strong with lots of purple and gold displayed in stores around town.

ECU has the largest nursing program in the state, but they also have several other programs of note including Hospitality, Interior Design, Coastal Studies, Animation, and the brand new Forensic Science program. Sciences are strong with specialized opportunities such as the Cadaver Lab and the telescope in the physics building. They have a total of about 100 majors across 10 Academic colleges. The average class size is 28. Some of the upper level classes in specialized majors have 2 or 3 kids; the largest classes have about 200.

ECU library arch

Library Arch; chimes sound when motion is detected

The average for Fall 2013 admitted freshmen was a 3.2 unweighted GPA, and a 1080 SAT (M/CR) or 23 ACT (with writing). They’ll superscore both SAT and ACT. UNC Schools require: 4 English, 4 Math (1 higher than Algebra 2), 3 Science, 2 Social Studies (including US History), 2 language. The application opens in September; the final deadline is 3/15, but they release decisions on a rolling basis within that time. The rep strongly encourages students applying for popular majors and out-of-state students to apply early so space doesn’t run out (UNCs cap out-of-state population at 18%). If students apply early in the year and are denied, they can request a reevaluation if they meet any deficiencies (ie, they didn’t have the additional math class, etc).

Students interested in scholarships must apply by 12/1. If applicants meet the minimum criteria of a 3.5 unwighted or 4.0 weighted GPA plus 1200 SAT/27 ACT, the name will be sent to Honor Scholars. If they get in, they get a scholarship equal to in-state tuition. There is a limited number of EC Scholars who receive a $45,000 scholarship plus $5,000 stipend to study abroad. Additionally, there are 4 Early Assurance seats to the Medical School, 2 seat for the PT program, 1 to Audiology, OT, and Nursing, and 10 Business Scholars seats.

ECU dorm quad

Quad in a dorm unit

Dorms

Dorms

All incoming freshmen are required to live on campus; there are both hall style and suite style dorms (all with AC). Several Special Program Dorms are available including First-year Experience, Honors, Leadership, and LLCs. Off-campus housing is easy to find; they host housing fairs during the spring. Transportation around town is easy with the largest university transit system in the state (this is included in student fees) with multiple routes all over campus and Greenville. Freshman can bring cars, but “parking is a commodity.”

ECU quad

Main Quad

There’s plenty to do on campus with 400 student organizations, including Greek life, an underwater hockey club, and Pirate Club (booster club). School spirit is high: the air is “electric” during football games, said our tour guide. There are 8 men’s and 9 women’s DI sports. Club sports include rugby, bass fishing, scuba diving, and ski/snowboarding. ROTC is available on campus; their program includes a Virtual Shooting Lab.

© 2014

Becker College

Becker College (visited 3/22/14)

Becker Quad

Becker Quad

Becker surprised me; I knew almost nothing about it before visiting (and embarrassingly, only vaguely knew the name). I left with a very positive impression. The college is small enough to be personal, but large enough to give the students options – including being able to move back and forth between the two campuses in Worcester and in Leister, situated less than 20 minutes apart from each other. The college has a clear mission, and no one seems to be forcing it to be something it’s not – or to be all things to all people. Because of that, they do what they do very well, and the students get an excellent education and overall experience.

LLC for Interior Design

LLC for Interior Design

Our tour guide was Sarah, a senior Interior Design major from New Jersey who is headed to graduate school next year for Interior Architecture. She loves Becker and couldn’t ask for a better school. Her major, along with Nursing and the Animal Sciences, are the biggest majors. She took us into the Health Science building which didn’t feel like a classroom building – in fact, the hallways had carpeting. The labs are state-of-the-art including simulation dummies. Nursing has a 12:1 student to faculty ratio allowing students to get a lot of hands-on experience in these labs before they even start their clinicals (and they had a 99% placement rate for their nursing graduates). All majors have current technology to support the education, including a 3D printer in the Game Design house.

Lounge of the Game Design building

Lounge of the Game Design building

Game Design seems to be their fastest growing major, and they’re adding labs to accommodate the expansion. They’ve added a Game Management major dealing with the business side of the industry, and they brought in someone from Babson to run it. Exercise Science is also big. The brand new Forensic Science Building will open next month. They have a blood splatter room, a bullet room, etc. Even Game Design has made a “solve a murder” game that ties into this. They also started a Japanese minor because of the tie-in to anime.

Game Design House

Game Design House

Becker's largest dorm

Becker’s largest dorm

The university has made wonderful use of the neighborhood surrounding the school and has become part of the area. They have bought many of the Victorian homes in the several blocks on which the university sits and have maintained them as dorms. Each House has 25-45 students living in it, and all dorms are coed. They have Learning-Living Communities as an option for students starting in their sophomore year. The only large dorm is a brick building housing about 100 freshmen. This building also has 1 wing on the 4th floor designated as 21+; this is the only place on campus that students are allowed to have alcohol (and even then, only “small quantities”). Their Game Design building, a lovely two-story ivy-covered building is the newest property acquired by the college. They convert spaces as needs change: the library used to be their gym, and is not a spacious and light study area. Although they don’t house as many books as many other university libraries, they make sure not to duplicate resources between the libraries on the two campuses, and they shuttle books back and forth; students often get requested books on the same day so it’s easy to get what they need.

Library

Library

The campus isn’t far from Elm Park which the school has “adopted” and helps take care of. It was designed by the same guy who designed Central Park (supposedly this was the “trial run”!). There are lots of town-wide events like Art in the Park held there. The university recently acquired an apartment building with 708 upperclassmen on the main drag past the park.

~Becker 2The new President has placed a high priority on Global Citizenship. Students have worked in a sustainable garden in West Virginia and building houses in Haiti. They’ve provided scholarships for two students from Sierra Leone and they now have a partnership there where students are travelling to work. Students in classes are working on how to solve problems. Twenty percent of the faculty are international (born somewhere else). If all goes well, they’ve have the first Global Citizenship major in the country.

~Becker 5The average class size is around 16; the largest lecture hall on campus only has 70 seats. The classrooms we saw had about 24 seats in them set up around two-person tables and with nicely upholstered chairs. Any classes not available on Becker’s campus can be accessed through the Worcester Consortium of Colleges (Anna Maria, Clark, WPI, Holy Name, and Worcester State). Freshmen can have cars on campus (and there’s no parking fee), but there are also city buses and shuttles if students want or need to get to other campuses.

Food is pretty good on campus, but “it is campus food,” Sarah said. She’s never had more than a 5 minute wait for food even during rush times. The meal everyone rushes for is spaghetti; pasta is a huge deal here! Hawk’s Nest, the snack bar/ grill, is a popular hang-out. They will usually make what students want (if they have the ingredients!) even if it’s not on the menu. So many students were asking for chicken quesadillas that they ended up making in a permanent option.

Leister campus:

Student Center and classrooms at Leister campus

Student Center and classrooms at Leister campus

Although only about 20 minutes away, this campus has a distinctly different feel; whereas the other is incorporated into residential neighborhood in Worcester, this is a traditional campus. All the Animal Studies programs are on this campus, and there are plenty of open spaces to accommodate these. They have a 30 Acre equestrian center and students can board horses. Becker is the #1 producer of Vet Techs in NE (#15 nationally). Many of the athletic programs are also out here; their football field is turf. School spirit is huge! Soccer, football, and basketball pull in the most fans – but Hockey actually pulls in a lot of students to the school, and Becker now boasts 70% out-of-state student population, many of whom come from OH, NJ, CA, and CO.

The May House sits on this campus, which was owned by Louisa May Alcott’s family and where she wrote one of her novels. The 1812 House is supposedly haunted.

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