campus encounters

"Get the first-hand scoop about colleges and universities"

Archive for the tag “Jesuit school”

Fairfield University

Fairfield University (visited 10/11/16)

fairfield-statueStudents who are willing to explore or who have a professional mind-set but don’t want to be stuck on a single track are going to love Fairfield. “We do a great job with the undecided students helping them to find a path,” said the admissions rep.

Fairfield is a hidden gem. They take great care of their students in all realms, true to their Jesuit roots. As 1 of the US’s 28 Jesuit universities, there are 3 core values to Fairfield’s philosophies:

  • A liberal arts education: Jesuits are known for being educators and have a commitment to social justice. All students, regardless of area of study, will engage in core classes. They engage with people who have a range of interests.
  • fairfield-bell-tower

    The bell tower by the chapel

    Cura personalis: care for the whole person. They want students to think about where they’re going in mind, body, and spirit. Obviously, students are growing intellectually in the class but also outside of it. They’re using NYC, going to lectures, etc. Body – Healthy Living Floors, classes on meditation, using the rec center.

  • Men and Women for others: They want students be asking, ‘How are they able to give back?’ … and then following through. Many students take classes with Service Learning components (such as Non-profit Accounting, developmental psych, or Non-profit grant management) where things are built in. They look at how they can engage in the community using what they learn in the classes and at other community service.

fairfield-quad-1Clearly they’re doing something right. They have an impressive 89% retention rate from freshman to sophomore year (and they’re actively working to get that into the 90s). They hold two 2 orientations programs in June and August, and the FYE class taken in the first semester is an outreach from Orientation. The 3800 undergrads are happy on campus, and Fairfield works hard to make sure they graduate: 82% within 4-years, 84% within 6 (both of which are well above the national norms).


Sculpture in front of the chapel as seen through the bell tower.

About 2/3 of students self-report as Roman Catholic (which doesn’t necessarily mean practicing!). Things are there if you want them, including on and off campus retreats. During masses, music is often provided by students. All students must take 2 religion classes: the first, an overview, is required; the second is a choice.


The fountain in the pond on the edge of campus

This is a beautiful partially-wooded campus in a residential area, but there are things to do within a 10 minute walk. Sunny Daes is a favorite ice cream place, Archie Moore’s has wings, and Peppi’s Pizza (5 minutes off campus) has been ranked the #1 pizza. They’re also close to local farms for apple and pumpkin picking. For those looking for more action, a MetroNorth stop is close to campus; Grand Central is an hour away by train. Shuttles run all day every 30 minutes starting at 7am on weekdays, 11am on weekends. It’s a full-sized bus so there’s always room!


Freshmen dorms in the center of campus

Most things on campus are within a 10-minute walk, with a few more minutes to reach some of the outlying corners. Housing is guaranteed all 4 years, but about half the seniors choose to live off campus. Dorms are fairly traditional for freshmen. Many sophomores are able to move into suites, and apartments and suites are available for upperclassmen.


Some of the upperclassman suites in a “village” on the side of campus

A couple favorite traditions include Midnight Breakfasts and the senior tradition of going to the beach to watch a final sunrise with friends before graduation; Fairfield Beach is just a couple miles from campus, also making it a favorite place to hang out during good weather.

Most intro classes are capped at 30; chem is one of the few above this number (capped at 40). Students can choose from 44 majors, 16 interdisciplinary programs, and 12 4+1 programs:

  • fairfield-business-2

    The business school

    Business: Dolan is ranked as one of Bloomberg’s Top 50 Undergrad Business Schools. All business majors all get a broad basis before specializing. It’s not unusual for students to complete 2 or 3 internships. They’re close to several Fortune 500 companies in Stanford. They run startup competitions and Elevator-pitch competitions.

  • fairfield-new-construction

    Expansion of the Nursing and Health Sciences buildings; they’re very careful to leave the trees intact.

    Nursing: This is Fairfield’s only direct-admit program. Students can’t transition into nursing because classes start immediately in freshman year and clinicals start sophomore year. Students can study abroad for a semester in Brisbane or Ireland (where they’ll complete their surgical rotations) or in Nicaragua for a shorter experience, usually getting experience in clinics.

  • fairfield-mascot

    The mascot

    Engineering: incoming students can apply to a specific program or come in as undecided. Students can complete a 4+1 in Management of Technology to be ready to cross over into the business section and be ready to manage if they want.

  • Arts and Sciences: Among the many majors, students can choose: Irish Studies, Black Studies, Digital Journalism, Judaic Studies, and Behavioral Neuroscience.

Almost half (45%) of students spend at least a semester abroad; 70% graduate with some sort of international experience such as the short-term classes.


The student-run sustainable garden

Fairfield is Common App Exclusive, and admission is test-optional. Last year, 39% of students did not submit test scores. Interviews, which tend to be informal, are available through Thanksgiving, and can be done by admissions rep OR a senior. The top 10% of applicants are named Magis (“The More,” a very Jesuit term) Scholars. Students getting this tend to be those students who enhance lives around them, who push themselves hard, and tend to have a 31+ on the ACT.

© 2016

St. Michael’s College

St. Michael’s College (visited 4/15/14)

~St. Mike's quad~St. Mike's statueSt. Mike’s, located just outside of Burlington and about 10 minutes from UVM, is a medium-sized, attractive campus comprised of mostly brick buildings. They’re an Edmundite institution (the only one in the country), describing themselves as similar to the Jesuits in terms of their commitment to equality and peace/social justice. Only 50% of students are Catholic with the other students self-identifying as belonging to a variety of faiths, including non-Christian. There’s a sense that students who want “Real Catholic” won’t be comfortable here. However, although this wasn’t as “in your face” as some other Christian schools I’ve visited, there were a few crucifixes and religious paintings on the walls. Seventy percent of the students are involved in community service, including working on the Fire and Rescue Squad based on campus, but that serve several surrounding communities.

~St. Mike's portalThe Fire and Rescue squad, in existence for 44 years, is actually separate from the college but staffed mostly by students. The rescue and the fire units both have two vehicles; combined, they go on about 2000 calls a year. Students on these squads must work 24 hours a week, but as they work their way up, they do more. The crew chief is the busiest. I talked to him during our info sessions; he’s currently taking an Advanced EMT class at UVM.

~St. Mike's dining hall

Dining Hall

This is a strong Liberal Arts residential college and is 1 of only 4 Phi Beta Kappa in the Northeast. Their biggest overlap in applications is UVM, but their size is what distinguishes them. They do pull 80% of their students from out-of-state who also tend to apply to places like Stonehill, St. Anselm, Providence. The Integrated Experience (a graduation requirement) is an experiential learning component which can be an internship, study abroad, or a leadership experience on the Fire & Rescue squad, community service groups, or sports.

~St. Mike's acad bldgBurlington is highly ranked by places like National Geographic as a “livable city.” Students have easy access to it; they can use their Culture Pass to travel downtown and beyond, and get low-cost tickets at Fly Center in downtown. Not surprisingly, there’s world-class skiing in Vermont. Students get a free pass at Smugglers’ Notch Resort which isn’t far away (and is where the men’s and women’s alpine and Nordic DII teams practice). The university also has an award winning Wilderness Program. The two full-time staff members organize and train people to lead  4-6 trips every weekend in activities such as hiking, backpacking, rock or ice climbing, biking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, orienteering, and wilderness medicine, and more. About one-third of the student body will do something through this office during the year.

~St. Mike's quad 3They run two pre-professional programs in Education and Business, but these students also need a concentration in the Liberal Arts. The Honors Program is strong and is unusual in that it’s student run; they do the all the programming and are even involved in the admissions process! Students complete 5 honors classes, including a first-year seminar and a Senior Capstone. The remaining class can be in the student’s major or Gen Ed classes.

30% of students do a credit-bearing Study Abroad experience. Many more do volunteer or short-term study-travel experiences. Financial Aid packages will travel with students for 1 semester of credit-bearing work. For a full-year, they can’t take institutional scholarships with them, but can take federal aid. Faculty led trips over the summer are partially subsidized.

Retention from freshmen to sophomore years is about 90%. The college’s tag-line is “I like St. Mike’s” and that certainly seems true! Almost all students live on campus, with some upperclassmen living in 3 dorms or one of the apartments on North Campus, a couple blocks from Main campus.

© 2014

St. Louis University

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY (visited 4/12/13)

SLU 1 SLU (pronounced “slew”) impressed me immediately with the vibrant atmosphere and the gorgeous campus. Although it was a cloudy, chilly day, students were out in booths selling cupcakes, doing martial arts, etc. We asked a student for help getting to the admissions office, and she was perky, helpful, and just plain nice. It’s true what they say about getting an immediate gut reaction to a school; SLU delivers.

SLU 6SLU is clearly doing something right since they have an 88% retention rate. Our tour guide was one of the best couple tour guides I’ve ever had. Completely excited, passionate, and knowledgeable about the school, he described it as one that lets students discover and explore passions. There’s very little he doesn’t like here; the only thing he thinks he would like to change is making Atlas Week (when the school brings in a ton of speakers) longer. He is “still deciding” (aka what SLU calls “undeclared,” and is the most popular “major” for freshmen). He works closely with advisors dedicated to students who are still figuring out what they want to do.


The aviation building.

SLU works to expand academic offerings and have recently added several new programs to keep up with student interests and job projections. They’re very proud of their extensive list of “firsts”: the first college west of the Mississippi, America’s first federally licensed school of aviation in 1927, the first US university with its own campus in Europe, and more. Aviation and Aeronautics (Flight Science, aviation management, and engineering) are strong here. Health Sciences (including Investigative and Medical Sciences, Radiation Therapy, and Nuclear Medicine Technology) and Engineering (including Engineering Physics) are also popular. The most recent additions are Public Health, Health Information ManagementAfrican-American Studies, and Anthropology. All majors are direct-entry so students can start their major as early as freshman year. However, students who want to major in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, or Nursing must begin as freshman if they want to graduate on time, and they must complete the entire major at SLU. Students interested in these majors must apply by 12/1 because they tend to fill up; if students are unsure about majoring in one of these areas, they recommend listing it as the intended major on the application; switching out is easy but students cannot transfer in.


One of the many statues around campus.

Applying is easy; SLU will take either the Common App or the school-based app, and there’s no application fee. They recommend an interview, a resume, and letters of rec. They will not super-score either the SAT or ACT, but will take highest composite. They start accepting apps on September 1 and make decisions on a rolling basis, but they set a priority deadline of 12/1 for scholarship consideration; they don’t guarantee consideration for scholarships after that. The Honors and Scholars deadlines vary between 12/1 and 2/1 with decisions announced by 3/1.


An academic building.

Their honors and scholars programs include the Cook program (students finish in three years), Accounting (a 5-year program in which students finish with a CPA license), Medical (students are guaranteed an entry interview a year before other candidates, and the MCAT score does not factor into the application), Prelaw (guaranteed entry into their law school if they maintain the minimum GPA), and Honors (students take at least 24 hours of Honors Credits, do an honors thesis project, can register for classes earlier, and get a fancier diploma).

The Carnegie Foundation has ranked SLU as a High-Research-Activity University, a testament to the level at which students get involved in their academics. Our tour guide’s classes have ranged in size from 12 (Spanish class) to 200 (Intro to Bio). There are only three lecture halls in the entire university, and they’re located under a small quad. Often the large classes of 150-200 students are introductory level, usually in the sciences; students will be assigned to smaller break-out or lab sections. The school has strong sciences and a popular pre-med track (anything “pre” is a track, not a major); students have to take those science classes here at SLU. As a side-note, SLU is rated #1 in Health Care Law, as well!

One of the Residential complexes in the middle of campus.

One of the Residential complexes in the middle of campus.

Living on campus is about the “Four-Frees: wifi, cable, laundry, and shuttle.” About 3800 students live on campus, located in the middle of St. Louis (although once you’re on campus, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a city). Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus unless they live with parents within a 50 mile radius. SLU offers several living options for all students. First, there are several Learning-Living Communities based on academic or extracurricular interest; the language floors require a signed contract that only that language will be used on the floor. The Griesedieck Complex, located conveniently in the middle of campus, is comprised of one 15-story building (coed by floor) flanked by two 5-story buildings (1 male, 1 female). These are traditional double-occupancy rooms with hall baths, but each room has a sink. Reinert Hall houses 400 freshmen about two blocks from campus, but rooms are bigger and it has private bathrooms. It’s also located right across the street from a Starbucks and Chipotle (a popular spot). The Upperclassman-only Marchetti building is a 12-story complex with everything from studios to two-bedroom apartments. All apartments above the first floor have balconies. No freshmen live here. The Village Apartments are probably the best, according to students. It’s mostly Juniors and Seniors with a “few lucky sophomores.” “Off-campus housing” usually means within two blocks of campus where there are plenty of apartment complexes and houses for rent; it’s very easy to find places to live, and the SLU police force (the third largest in the state!) will also patrol a couple blocks off campus. Students feel safe and will walk around campus at night without worrying.

There are extensive options of activities to keep busy on and off campus, including over 200 clubs and organizations on campus. Their DI athletics place them as the only St. Louis school in the Atlanta 10 Conference, and about 20% of students participate in Greek life with Rush happening during first semester of freshmen year. They is no Greek housing, but students can choose to live on a floor with others in their organization. The campus is located centrally in the city giving students the Fox Theater is only a block away, and students can get the “best available seat” for $20 with their ID. They’re only a couple miles from the Riverfront (the Arch) and Busch Stadium. In the other direction, they’re not far from Forest Park (which is bigger than Central Park in NY), the Science Center, Botanical Gardens, and other free things to do.

SLU 2This is the second oldest Jesuit school in the nation after Georgetown, and the small crucifixes and pictures of St. Ignatius prominently displayed around campus serve as reminders of its Jesuit identity which revolves around “men and women for others.” They pride themselves on the combination of education and service, education of the whole person, and doing things in an ethical manner. Students participate in over a million hours of service each year through a variety of organizations such as Campus Kitchen, Relay for Life, and a Business student group. Next to the beautiful campus chapel is a large apartment-style building; I asked if it was a dorm, and our tour guide told us that they were apartments for the Jesuits, many of whom teach or otherwise work at the university. This area has the largest Jesuit pop in the US.

Their mascot is a Billiken (they’re the only school in the country to have this) which is a mythical creature that originally looked a little like a Buddha combined with . . . a smurf? A goblin? It’s hard to describe. It was created in the early 1900s by an art professor and is seen as a good-luck charm or “The god of things as they ought to be.” It’s become this cute little ghostish-smurfish-impish creature.

(c) 2013

Regis University

REGIS UNIVERSITY (visited 10/4/12)

Regis chapel


Regis is primarily an undergraduate institution of 2400 students on 100 acres within the city of Denver, a “Destination Location.” However, they do have a graduate population and have a beautiful new graduate building meant to centralize their grad programs. The campus is listed as a National Arboretum, so they get funding for trees on campus, and they take this seriously. As a Jesuit institution, they live by the “Men and Women in Service of Others” motto. Last year, students completed 18,000 hours of community service.


One of the main buildings on campus.

Students have a lot of activities to choose from on campus. Thursday Thrill is a big deal; the Student Activities Board plans something special every week ranging from hypnotists, comedians, Zombie Crawls on Halloween, and “Tailgating” involving zip-lines, cookouts, and watching whatever game is on campus that night. Regis is a DII school and participates in the Rocky Mountain Conference. They have an active fan club named the Raucous Rangers. For people not wanting to play varsity sports, there are lots of club and intramural teams; Lacrosse and Rugby are club sports and competitive. Cars are allowed on campus, but rarely needed; being so centrally located in Denver has its advantages, and students can ride the city buses and Light-Rail system for free with their student IDs.

The Coors Center (you can tell you’re in Colorado!) is dedicated to growth outside the classroom. The health center, career center, fitness center, and tutoring are all located in the building in there. The career center is available to alum as well. Once a Ranger, always a Ranger. The writing center has specialized writing tutors so it doesn’t matter if you need help in a lit class or writing up a science lab.

Approximately 40% of the students are Catholic. A big, beautiful new chapel has recently been built on campus; both Catholic masses and interfaith services are held in there. Students are not required to attend any sort of religious service, but they must take a World Religions class (a survey class), and one Christianity course at the 300 level: there are 10 to choose from.

Regis 3The sciences get rave reviews from students, particularly biology, nursing, and pharmacy programs. Regis offers a 2+4 Pharmacy program; students spend two years in in the undergrad, pre-pharmacy program and then apply to be admitted into the Doctoral program which takes an additional two years. The science building is specialized by hall so bio is on one floor, chem is on one floor, math and physics on one floor. Classrooms, labs, and offices are all together which the students said contributed to getting a cohesive experience. However, sciences are not the only departments that are strong; business has a good comprehensive program, and communications is great; they even have their own radio station on campus.

The school only has one big lecture hall which is rarely used for classes because there just aren’t any classes that big. Instead, it’s used for more special events such as guest lecturers. Our tour guide had class sizes ranging from 12-60; his favorite class was a neuroscience class in which they got to do surgery on a rat brain.

The school has a two-year residency requirement; about 50% of Juniors and Seniors stay on campus. The tour guide was off campus and paid about $400 in rent in a 4-bedroom house which was a 4-minute walk off campus. Freshmen usually live in traditional dorms, but there are suites and townhouses available, mostly used by upperclassmen. There are kitchens in dorms complete with utensils, pots, etc that students can check out to use so they don’t have to bring their own. The dining hall is good, and students tend not to complain about the food. Our tour guide says that he rarely needs to wait more than five minutes for food, even during busy meal times.


One of many chairs with reading lights available in the library.

There are a lot of nice “extras” on campus that make it feel like home. The library had really cool comfy chair cubicles with individual reading lights for students. There’s a pub on campus available to students 21 and over. The table tops are basically chalk-boards, and there are large pieces of chalk on the tables so they can write on the tables. The “three frees” on campus are parking, laundry, and printing.

(c) 2012

Santa Clara University

SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY, Santa Clara, CA (visited on 7/20/12)

Santa Clara view from balcony

View from the balcony

Santa Clara MissionI was hugely impressed with SCU (which, incidentally, used to be the University of Santa Clara, but since they were getting confused with the University of Southern California – same initials AND same colors! – they switched around their name to SCU). This is a beautiful campus located about 45 minutes from San Francisco and Oakland. It’s very close to both San Jose State and Stanford, giving this southern tip of the San Francisco Bay area a real college-town feel, although being in the Bay area, you’re never far from a college. The Santa Clara Mission is still on campus, and the entire place has a very Southern California feel – stucco, red tiled roofs, etc. We got a great view from the 3rd floor balcony of the Union where we had breakfast with the admissions staff.

Santa Clara winning houseOne of the coolest things about the college is the chance to take a class called SLURP: Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project. The campus has a bit of a “crunchy” feel; one of the admissions reps said that SCU is “more of a longboard campus than a biking campus like Davis is” – and it’s true. We saw lots of people riding around. One of the most interesting, and certainly the most unique, activities offered on campus is the chance to participate in the Solar Decathlon Project in which teams of students design sustainable eco-friendly housing. SC was the smallest campus participating in this national competition and the only one west of the Rockies. They took 3rd in the competition in DC, beating out Ivies and those schools with grad students working on the project; SC only had underclassmen working on the house, which is now displayed right on campus (those winning 1st, 2nd, and 3rd get to keep their houses as part of their bragging rights).

Santa Clara tree and quadSC has slightly over 5,200 undergrads, and 3,000 grad students but none of them are TAs who teach classes. Most work with professors doing research (although some will grade). This campus is highly focused on undergraduates, keeping true to its Jesuit roots in which education is highly esteemed. Their dedication to students shows in their 94% freshman to sophomore retention and 85% 4-year graduation rate. Just over half of the undergrads are from California. It’s very much a residential campus. They guarantee housing for freshman and 95% live on campus. About 75% of sophomores stay on campus, and many students take advantage of the Residential Learning Communities.

Santa Clara quad60% of students are in the liberal arts division, 25% in business, and 15% in engineering. They have several particularly strong departments, including communications (including a mass media focus), psychology (including graduate work), pre-health, engineering (incluidng biological engineering), theater/dance/art (and do not require auditions except for scholarships), and business. As an illustration of the strength of the program and the school, last year, 194 of the 197 graduates from the business program had a job at the time of graduation. Students who think they want to be in the Business or Egineering programs should apply directly to those programs. It’s easier to switch out than get in once starting at SC since they have to spend a year in the program to which they were accepted before they’re able to switch to a different one. However, there are 3 interdisciplinary minors in the business school that students don’t need to be in the Business program to take: Retail, Entrepreneurship, and International Business. Our tour guide was in the Retail program and loved that she got a taste of a lot of different subjects in business.

Santa Clara acad bldg

SC offers acceptance under both the ED and EA programs (both with 11/1 deadlines) and RD (1/7). They accept about 50% of applicants with an average of 3.65 GPA, 28 ACT, 1280 SAT (they don’t look at the writing). There is no separate app for scholarships, but they do require both the FAFSA and CSS. There is limited merit aid for international students.

There are 19 D1 sports, and they were up-front about the fact that if a student hasn’t been recruited by the beginning of senior year, they probably aren’t going to play for SC. Just under 1/5 of the students participate in Greek Life, but they’re “off campus Greek.” They are not allowed to advertise, put tables out, etc. The tour guide said that people will wear t-shirts that say “Ask me about ___” to get the word out about events or rushing. Study abroad is popular amongst the students, and the school even has a study-abroad program in Cuba.

Students seemed very happy on campus, and raved about their professors, the classes, and the overall atmosphere. The problems that the students mentioned were that there wasn’t AC in the Western dorms, students were not very politically active, and that there wasn’t any discount on public transportation. Even though CalTrain and busses run right past campus and it’s really easy to get to wherever they want, there is no agreement with the public transportation systems like there are at other colleges.

(c) 2012

Post Navigation