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Stevenson University

Stevenson University (visited 12/5/17)

Stevenson mustang

The Stevenson mascot

Stevenson is in the process of rebranding itself, and it seems to be doing an amazing job. The institution began as Villa Julie, a Catholic women’s college, but it’s been independent of the church since the ‘60s, coed since the early ‘70s, and changed its name in 2008 when it gained University status. The growth and ongoing changes are remarkable.

Stevenson shuttles

One of the shuttle buses waiting by some of the residence halls

The university has two campuses situated six miles apart northwest of Baltimore. “They have a totally different feel,” said one student. Another agreed: “There’s more nature there [Stevenson]. This one [Owings Mills] is more hussle-bussle.” Shuttles run every 30 minutes between the two, but all students can have cars, so it’s easy to drive over. The students agreed that parking was not a problem. However, Owings Mills (considered the main campus) is overhauling much of campus, including putting in a quad that will replace a large chunk of their main parking lot. This will go a long way in alleviating the predominant institutional feel when first driving on campus; their plan is to have this completed by the time return back to campus in January 2018.

Stevenson walkway

The new walkway connecting North to the main section of campus

The quad is just one example of the recent, rapid growth of both students and facilities. Buildings are modern and well equipped for what the students need to live and learn. Owings Mills has all the residence halls, the Business school, and more. The college just built a wooden walkway to connect the main part of campus to “North” Campus, officially Owings Mills Extension, where there is a new, massive (22,000 square feet) academic center housing the Design School (including fashion, film, graphic design), sciences and math, Business Communications, Marketing, PR, and more.

Stevenson Business

The Business School

Given the main campus growth, the President thinks that they’ll eventually consolidate: “It’s impractical to run 2 campuses.” The majority of classes are at OM. Although the Schools of humanities/social sciences and education are at the other campus, when people need a class (like psychology for nurses), it’s offered at OM. However, theaters, competition basketball and tennis facilities, and more are on the Stevenson campus. “Specialty equipment is harder to shift.” The master plan includes expanding the Southern part of the OM campus to make it the hub of student life, including athletic fields and more housing.

Stevenson res quad

The residence quad

About 2500 students live on campus, and students raved about the dorms. “There are no communal bathrooms,” one said. Even freshmen (85% of whom live on campus) live in 2-bedroom suites. Later, they can move into larger suites, suites with single bedrooms, or apartments. “About 75% of juniors who want them can get into the apartments,” one student told me. There are 6 on-campus and 16 off-campus dining options.

Stevenson diversityThere is excellent support here, particularly for first year students. Orientation gets rave reviews, and the optional Orientation Adventures (students go to Orioles games, Hershey Park, etc) program has grown rapidly. “They didn’t push it much when I started,” said a senior. “A lot more freshmen do it now.”

Stevenson Stu Cntr ext

Some outdoor seating by the Student Center; in good weather, this place is packed!

Additionally, they’ve changed 1st year advising: “by all measures, this is going extremely well,” said the Dean of Admissions. Students are assigned a Success Coach at orientation, and students must meet with them at least 4 times in the fall and 3 in the spring. “It’s intrusive advising;” each session has a particular purpose instead of a generic “how’s it going?” check-in. Students complete goal-setting activities and look at what they want their college experience to be. After the 1st year, students transfer to a more traditional faculty advisor, but are able to meet with success coaches whenever they want.

“Professors are my favorite thing about this place. They work outside the classroom. They have lives.” The students like that connection to the outside world, information about internships, etc. “One of my favorite classes was an Intro to Theater class. There were no theater majors in there, so the professor completely overhauled the syllabus to make it more relevant to us.”

The academics at Stevenson seem to be deliberately thought out; as they’ve overhauled the university, they’ve also innovated academic offerings to prepare students for graduate school (about 1/3 go on) or jobs. “We offer connection to careers within the liberal arts tradition.”

  • All students must complete a capstone experience. They even offer a Design-firm Capstone: students solve a problem for a community group such as working with a community center to design interactive programs for the kids. There are 40 Service-Learning classes where they work for a local non-profit.
  • Sales Management and Leadership is one of their more unusual majors. They encourage students to pair this with a minor that might correspond with their professional goals such as a minor in Chem for Pharmaceutical Sales.
  • Other unusual majors are: Visual Communication Design, Medical Laboratory Science, Public History, and Fashion Merchandising.
  • Professional Minors will be offered starting in 2018. Students take four interdisciplinary classes to build skills applicable to various job markets: Applied Management, Entrepreneurship/Small Business Development, Human Resources, Real Estate, Software Design and Coding.
  • Students can earn complete a 5-year BS/MS in 9 areas.
  • Sciences are strong: there has been an 87% acceptance rate into health-profession (med, dental, vet) schools over 5 years. Any interested student can apply; they don’t cut kids during pre-advising programs. Qualified students can do a 3+3 Pharmacy with UMD.
  • 100% of the students have been accepted to law schools; their Legal Studies major is ABA accredited. Students can complete a 3+3 with UBalt’s law school.
  • There are many music groups on campus and a music minor.
  • Film and Moving Image majors start to write and direct in their first year.

There are plenty of shops and restaurants are within walking distance, many physically surrounding campus. Given its location on the outskirts of Baltimore, there’s a myriad of other options as well, with Towson and Hunt Valley being popular. “We also go to Towson or Baltimore for parties,” said one student. There’s a metro stop on campus “but it’s mostly underground and we lose reception. I like knowing I can reach someone if there’s a problem so I don’t take it a lot, but it is convenient.” Often students will take the Light Rail from Hunt Valley if they’re heading into downtown Baltimore.

Stevenson stadium

The stadium and the athletic center which sit on the edge of campus.

Athletics are a big deal. Stevenson’s teams have had 30 NCAA championship appearances and 27 conference and national championships. Football, women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, and lacrosse all pull a large fan-base. They’re the first in the nation (and the northernmost?) to have a DIII Beach Volleyball team. All their club sports are professionally coached to give those students a solid athletic experience. A men’s club rugby team is in development, and they even have a Club E-sports (gaming) team!

The top 10% of admitted students are selected for Freshman Honors; there’s no way to apply separately for this program. There’s a new University Honors program in development for fall of 2019. The application for their largest scholarship, the Presidential Fellowship, is due 11/1. Students interested in general merit scholarship (up to $20,000 per year) must apply to Stevenson by 2/1; these are automatic consideration. There are several Specialty Scholarships (Leadership, Service, Art, Founders) scholarships that are stackable with other scholarships; these applications are due by 1/15. The invitation to apply to the Founders will be included with the acceptance letter.

© 2017

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University (visited 10/10/16)

seton-hall-chapel-int

Interior of the Chapel

Like many Catholic schools, students here agreed that SHU is “as Catholic as you make it.” This is a Diocesan university, unaffiliated with a specific branch of Catholicism. Just over 2/3 of the 5,800 undergraduates self-identify as Catholic, “but that doesn’t mean we’re practicing.” All faiths are welcomed. The mission is to create a “University of Opportunity for Deserving Students” while teaching respect and understanding based on the vision of “Home for the Mind, Heart, and Spirit.” SHU has a 44% diversity rate; students who come from all over the US and 70 foreign countries.

seton-hall-studentsStudents are engaged with each other and lots were wearing Seton Hall gear. There were so many students around that I was surprised to learn that students were actually on break. 80% of freshmen and 50% of total undergrads live on campus. Housing is not guaranteed, but they’ve never had a student denied if they’ve applied by the deadline. RAs and priests live in each of the 6 residence halls; they also provide 2 apartment buildings for upperclassmen.

The dining hall, an all-you-can-eat option, is spacious and has lots of stations and food choices. Booths have power outlets which is smart. “When they serve chicken tenders or mac & cheese, the line is out the door. Otherwise, maybe it’s a 3 minute wait for food,” said one of the students. I ate lunch there and was pleased with the food.

seton-hall-statueStudents feel that there’s enough to do on campus. As a founding member of the Big East, their 14 DI sports teams are a big draw, particularly basketball. Tickets cost $100 for the season (refunded if they go to all the games). Another student raved about the fact that Seton Hall won “Best College Christmas Tradition”: on the first Monday of December, they light the large outdoor tree, sing carols, and have hot chocolate.

seton-hall-2One student told me that campus can be quiet on the weekends. However, there’s no shortage of things to do. Many students choose Seton Hall because of its proximity to NYC. The train station is a 10-minute walk (or quick shuttle ride) from campus; from there, it’s a 30-minute ride into Penn Station. Luckily, the train station is on the “good side” of campus. I was worried as I drove in: an area close to campus was run-down with boarded-up/gated storefronts, garbage, and people literally wandering in the streets. Suddenly, within a block or two of campus, things changed. “One side of campus is shady; the other is a mega-rich neighborhood,” said students. Campus is beautiful, safe, and gated; students swipe in, and visitors check in with a guard.

Shuttles run every 30 minutes. Only seniors, commuters, and students with jobs or internships can have cars on campus. Commuters are given lots of resources and chances to integrate into the community; the university also recognizes the different needs of commuting students. For example, the Commuter Café is open 10-7 when classes are in session.

seton-hall-6Academics are student-centered, and students like the atmosphere: “We’re pretty chill here. It’s cooperative,” said the tour guide. Freshmen are assigned both an academic and a peer advisor, and they’re enrolled in a 1-credit University Life class to help transition into college. Students get a laptop when they start and a new one 2 years later (they can keep that one after graduation). They rank in the top 5 universities (keeping company with places like UPenn and Duke) for internships: over 80% of students complete at least 1. Clearly they’re doing something right: they’ve had 18 Fulbright awards since 2009.

seton-hall-signThe size of the school “offers all the advantages of a large research university but the support of a small school,” said the admissions rep. Classes average 21 students with Freshman English averaging 15 and languages capped at 15. The tour guide’s larges class was 30 (Intro to Bio) and smallest was 15 (Freshman Eng). Another student’s smallest class was 7 (Russian).

Students take 5 religious classes: the first one, and the only common one, is Journey of Transformation. “It’s mostly philosophy and introspective.” Students then choose 4 others. Students in the Honors Program (requiring a separate application to get in) take a different class in place of Freshman English and the Transformations class.

seton-hall-3There are two early deadlines to be aware of for scholarships. First, students interested in Special Scholarships need to apply by 1/5. Second, to be eligible for the Public Tuition Rate, they must apply by 12/15. For this, students must rank in the top 10% of their high school class and meet various GPA and score requirements. They do not need to be NJ residents to get this award. If the high school doesn’t rank, the school counselor should contact admissions with information.

Information about the different schools include:

  • Arts & Sciences
    • Engineering (electrical, civil, computer, mechanical, biomedical, industrial) is housed in this school
  • Health and Medical Sciences: All the programs in this school are streamlined undergrad majors combined with graduate degrees (Masters except for the DPT).
    • For PA Candidacy: students have to complete the application in junior year
    • All others: students are automatically in as long as they meet minimum GPA
  • Diplomacy and International Relations
    • Seton Hall has an exclusive alliance with the UN
    • 100% do internships or study abroad with UN, USAID, UNESCO, UNICEF, FBI, Embassies, Red Cross, Missions abroad, etc.
  • Business
    • The Leadership program was ranked #1 in the US for the 2nd year in a row
    • They boast a 95% employment rate (within 6 months) and 100% admission to grad school
    • Management Information Systems, Legal Studies, and Finance and Mathematical Finance are worth nothing.
  • Nursing
    • This is a Direct-Admit program.
  • Education and Human Services
    • Students complete more practicum placements and hours (and in a variety of schools) than at other schools.
    • A Joint Masters in speech language pathology is available.
  • Communication and the Arts
    • The student-run radio station and the college newspapers are consistently highly ranked (often in the top 5)
  • The Medical School will open in the fall of 2018; they’ll partner with Hackensack University Medical Center, listed as the #1 hospital in NJ. They’ll have a direct admit, 7-year BS/MD degree program.

© 2016

Champlain College

~Champlain academic buildingChamplain College (visited 4/15/14)

~Champlain dining hallChaplain College has a small campus straddling a main street in town with a nice mixture of new and renovated older buildings. They have what they call “Agile Programs” enabling them to adjust their curriculum and academic offers with the market. They prepare students for a career through three separate avenues:

1)      The Major (career based programs). They use an “Upside Down” curriculum providing in-depth classes in the freshman year. This allows students to know early on if they really are interested in this area of study.

~Champlain sculture and tables2)      The Core (Liberal Arts curriculum). This is an interdisciplinary program. One of the first classes is “Concepts of Self” incorporating history, neuroscience, and psychology. They started this program 7 years ago based on employer feedback: they wanted communication, teamwork, etc.

3)      The Life Skills Program (such as community service, career management).

This program is working; in 2012, 90% of their graduates were employed, most of which were in career-related jobs, and 40% of them receive promotions within 6 months. This was based on a 95% response rate of the 2012 graduates.

~Champlain loungeChamplain central plazaThe 2000 undergrads (62% of whom are male) are accepted into one of the four academic divisions. When they apply to the college, they can apply for a specific major or as undeclared within a specific division.

Business School (Management and Innovation, Management of Creative Media)

  • Info Technology and Sciences (including an AS in Radiology, and BS degrees in Computer and Digital Forensics, Cybersecurity, and Game Design)
  • Communication and Creative Media (including a BFA in Creative Media, and degrees in Broadcasting and Streaming Media, Public Relations, and Professional Writing).
  • Education and Human Studies (including a BSW and degrees in Environmental Policy, Organizational Psych, and Legal Studies or Criminal Justice with a specialization in Computer Forensics)
Google Glasses

Google Glasses

The head of the Cyber Security department talked to us about their program which is ranked as the #1 CS program in the country, graduating about 45 students a year. He’s committed to making sure they the students are up-to-date on current technology, but also have the critical thinking and creative skills to succeed in a field that is rapidly changing. For example, they have an entire class on Mobile Device Forensics. He will bring in all sorts of devices to have them work on, take apart, and learn from.

Applications to Champlain have increased 12% last year, and have doubled in the past three years. Admitted students’ average GPAs are 3.3 with an average of 580 on each SAT section or a 26 on the ACT. During the admission process, students applying to Professional Writing, Game Design, Graphic Design, Digital Film, Creative Media, or Game Art and Design must submit a portfolio.

Champlain dorm

Dorm

About 80% of students live on campus; they’re in the process of constructing 3 new dorms (1 is already open; 2 more will open this summer). There is no housing requirement, but most students still choose to live on campus (maybe because it’s cheaper to live on campus than in Burlington).  The Old Dorm holds 55 students and is one of the biggest; the smallest dorm holds 17 people.  There are 2 rooms on campus that house 5 students which I’ve never heard of before, but these are usually comprised of  2 or 3 connected rooms.

© 2014

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