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Archive for the tag “Liberal Arts College”

Colby-Sawyer College

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

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

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


Solar panels

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


Inside the Sugar Shack

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


An outdoor classroom

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


One of the rooms in the library

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2016

Franklin Pierce University

Franklin Pierce University (visited 10/20/16)


Hammocks overlooking Pearly Pond

Franklin Pierce is located in Rindge, a small town in the southwest corner of NH, 10 miles from the Massachusetts border and 25 miles to Vermont. The closest small city, Keene, is about 30 minutes, as is Fitchburg, Massachusetts. From there, students can hop on an Amtrak into Boston or Albany if they want a bigger city. Being so remote, I asked about travel for the students coming in from a distance. The student on the panel who hails from California said, “Travel to campus isn’t too bad. Many of us will coordinate with friends in the area to get picked up from the train station or from the airports. There are busses, too. It’s doable.” The campus offers shuttles around campus during the day; starting at 5 pm, they go off campus. All students can have cars without any parking fees.



The Outdoor Adventure building

Pearly Pond is on the edge of campus; students can use the school’s kayaks, canoes, sailboats, paddle-boards, etc. They also have a crew team that practices on the pond. They hold an annual Cardboard Regatta at the end of orientation. Students can only use cardboard, saran wrap, and duct tape. This tends to rank highly on favorite events.


Some other favorite moments of students’ time here include:

  • A trip to Ghana with a professor and 2 surgeons to work in a medical clinic. “I got to do sutures and really cool medical procedures!”
  • Hiking the mountain: Students take buses over, and some compete to get to the top first “but just getting there is a feat in itself.”
  • “The professors help set up internships.”
  • “We can do what we have a passion for. I got to have conversations with visiting speakers.”

fp-2Students and faculty, like at most schools, talked about the community feel here. The Dean of one of the colleges sat with us at breakfast and told us about FP’s early warning system for students who struggle. “We have great NSSE Scores. They’re usually 20-30 points above national average.” However, she said they only have a 67% retention rate. I was unable to find out what steps were being taken to increase this.

fp-dome-2Because they’re located in such a small town, there tends to be good town-gown interaction. FP will host Trick or Treating for the community: “Last year we gave away an average of a pound of candy to each kid; no wonder it’s so popular!” said one of the admissions reps. There are haunted hayrides at Halloween, too. Community members often come to sporting events. They’re DII, so they have some athletic scholarships. They will be adding women’s swimming in 2017. The school also ties the local to the academics: My Antonia is the current Community Read; Willa Cather wrote part of this in Jaffrey, 5 miles away. As part of the Community Read program, they have speakers and other events; this year, they’re including a candlelight reading at her grave.


The Glass-Blowing studio

FP hosts the Institute for Nature, Place, and Culture and recently screened an original documentary, Hurricane to Climate Change. They also have a glass-blowing studio which we would never have known about if we hadn’t walked right by it. That’s a pretty cool resource available to students!


Academic offerings are standard for a small liberal arts college. They have a couple more unusual minors such as Forensic Psychology and Public History. They now offer a direct-admit 4+2.5 DPT program with some full-ride scholarships for qualified students; students complete a Health Sciences degree in 4 years at FP; if they meet the minimum standards during this time, they earn guaranteed entry into the 2.5 year DPT program at either the Manchester or Arizona site.


The Towers (Junior housing)

I sat in on about 20 minutes of the “Drones and Thrones: Modern European History” class. The professor was from Ireland and had great interactions with the students. She knew their names and called on them. However, it seemed like there was a lot of basic review from the previous class on the PowerPoint: general topics were listed (“Remember, we went over this” with very few details, and she told students several times, “This is something you should write down” if there was a detail added. Class wasn’t overly rigorous, and while there were two or three regular contributors, there wasn’t much discussion among the students.


Sophomore Housing

They just brought in their largest freshman class ever (the free applications through Common App are read on a rolling admissions). This is a highly residential campus, mostly because there are limited places nearby to rent. Housing gets progressively more independent: for example, juniors live in The Towers (not really towers) in suites with partial kitchens, and seniors move into townhouses (with full kitchens) overlooking the pond. “It’s a good transitional stage from college to adulthood.”

© 2016

New England College

New England College (visited 10/19/16)


The bell tower set among the rocks and trees of campus

“Show up. Be prepared. Engage. Take responsibility. Be a self-advocate. Come with an open mind. We can give you the skills; what you do with it is your choice.”

A few things make NEC stand out from other small liberal arts schools:

  • nec-dining-hall

    The dining hall with flags of international students

    It’s amazingly diverse (the most diverse in NH). “We celebrate it; it’s part of our core environment.” The diversity comes in all forms: gender, sexual orientation, race, veteran status, socio-economic status, whatever. More than 40% of the undergraduates self-report as underrepresented students and more than ¾ of the students come from outside New Hampshire.

  • For students interested in politics, this is the place to be. “We’re the Super Bowl of Politics. Our kids meet the next President of the US. All the candidates come through here. There are town hall meetings, kids introduce them, meet them, end up working for them.”
  • nec-sign-2The have a pedagogy of engaged learning. “Our way is to roll our sleeves up and do it; let’s get out there and apply it!” Wednesday afternoons there are no classes so kids can get out and do things. They go all over NH.
  • NEC’s core values center on civics and the natural environment. How do we develop new citizens to make a difference in their local, national, world environments? They ask people to weave in civics and natural environment.

Some of the dorms

This residential, beautiful campus is home to about 1500 undergrads from 29 states and 19 countries, including 5 new Americans from the refugee centers in Concord and Manchester. Applying is free, and admissions is rolling and test-optional. Admissions wants to see what they’ve done and what they want to achieve. “We’re small; we know the kids we’re working with.” Academically, students fall within a wide range, coming in with 2.0-4.0 GPAs, although average is a 2.8. “NEC is a special place; we’re willing to take a chance and work with the students from ‘less than stellar’ backgrounds.”



A student painting along the river as leaves fall from the trees

The small, caring community provides opportunities for students who are willing to work for it and take advantage of them; those who want to engage in the community will do well here. “It’s hard to describe the typical NEC kid,” said a faculty member. “It’s perfect for the place for students who may need encouragement and for those ready to fly.” In addition to tutoring and advising, they have a fee-for-service ($4500 yearly) mentoring program, a 1-on-1 service for time management, skill-building, organization, etc. Students do not need a documented need for this; anyone can sign up; they get about 40 freshman, dropping to about half that for sophomore year.



The new academic building

There are 4 Academic Divisions offering 32 majors all grounded in the liberal arts tradition. New business and performing arts buildings will open in 2018. A few programs worth noting are:


  • Outdoor Education: Students in this program take education classes and academic classes to back up the outdoor educations: for example, for rock climbing, they’ll learn physics and geology. One graduate is running a program in Norway, and got her Masters (after learning Norwegian) there. Another is an Asst. Dir. of a wilderness program in Montana.
  • Computer Information Science: “this is as experiential as you can be with a CIS degree”
  • nec-stage

    Building the set for FortinbrasTheater Education: one of the few in NH, and they have to also take all the Special Ed classes to be dual certified.

    Theater Education: one of the few in NH, and they have to also take all the Special Ed classes to be dual certified.

  • Theatre: phenomenal.
    • They’ve sent a large number of graduates to Inside the Actor’s Studio.
    • While I was there, they were preparing to put on “Fortinbras” (tagline: “I’m not here to finish their story. They were here to start mine.”)
    • Theater students put on a Haunted Trail for the community
  • Integrated Studies in Philosophy and Literature: One of the tour guides took “Humanity of the Inhumane” looking at philosophy, ethics, read Clockwork Orange, etc.
  • The study-away program (Amazon rainforest, Belize, New Orleans, Rome, Cairo, Costa Rica, Ireland) is free of charge: “This isn’t just for people with resources.”
  • Juniors with 3.0 or higher can apply to be in an accelerated program to take 3 classes that count for both undergrad and the Master’s.

View of the main street from campus

Henniker is very small (population 2500-3000); there’s a very small main street with a pizza place, a bank, and a pharmacy. The owner of the local Chinese restaurant will cook traditional food for students. “What we do really well now is to embrace that we’re in the country. We used to try to say that we were close to Boston – and certainly we’re close enough for a Red Sox game or whatever – but you aren’t going to do it every day.” Concord is only 20 minutes away, and shuttles run on the weekend. There are miles of trails right here where students can run, hike, bike. A local farmer lets them use an area for bonfires. Students get a free ski pass (rentals are $10): Sunapee is 20 minutes away, Loon is 1.5 hours, and Pat’s Peak is 2 miles away. A popular annual event is night skiing there when the school rents out Pat’s Peak for 4 hours. Kids will often come to class with ski boots on, either coming directly from skiing or heading out right after class.



The library reading room

As an unwritten rule: if students represent NEC in athletics, at conferences or programs at schools, etc, it’s an excused absence from class. Their students run ropes courses for orientations, including local public schools and Keene State. 40-50% of students play on one of the 17 DIII team including a championship rugby team. Men’s wrestling is new this year; women’s volleyball will start fall of 2017. Lots of Swedes come here for hockey, and Indian students play cricket on the little league baseball field. The men’s soccer team hosts the local Age 8-9 league; the kids got to line up and walk in with the team.


© 2016

Connecticut College

Connecticut College (visited 10/13/16)

conn-college-studentsConn draws curious students who are go-getters; to be successful here, students need to want to engage, take initiative, and follow through on ideas. They go above and beyond academically, seeking out connections between disciplines and creating context for what they’re learning.

Admissions is selective and test-optional, but demonstrated interest is important. They want to make sure that students will thrive in this very particular learning environment. Interviews are recommended, preferably on campus, but alumni interviews are an option for students who may not be able to get to campus in time to interview.

conn-college-quadConn is gorgeous, just up the road from the Coast Guard Academy and not far from the water. Campus is long and relatively narrow with buildings (mostly made of stone) largely organized around a couple quads. Even early (by college standards!), students were walking places, some with yoga mats, some off to classes. It was a little too early and cool for students to be congregating outside, but the students I encountered were together, having conversations, and seeming to be very comfortable in their surroundings.


A cafe, one of the many meeting/study spots on campus.

There are a couple things that contribute to this level of comfort and camaraderie. First, most students (98%) live on campus, and dorms are called ‘houses.’ “We do think of them that way.” Students really know each other, and because they aren’t leaving on the weekends, they’re involved and engaged with each other outside the classroom – both academically and socially. Additionally, the admissions rep thinks that close-knit feelings also stem from the First Year Seminar. These writing-intensive classes, taught only in the first semester, are capped at 15 students and taught by faculty advisors from across departments. About 35 interdisciplinary topics are offered ranging from Epidemics, Sports Psychology, From the Holy Land to Disneyland, and Bioluminescence and Disease. Students forge a common bond with 14 other students who are interested in a variety of things.

conn-college-2There are three general areas that make Conn distinctive from many other liberal arts schools:

  1. This year, they’ve instituted a new core curriculum called “Connections” which very much aligns with the types of students that Conn attracts and retains. Students still engage in the liberal arts, but in a more focused and interdisciplinary way.
    1. conn-college-quad-2The former distribution requirements are now grouped in one of 5 Pathways: Public Policy, Sustainability, Interrogating Liberal Arts, Global Capitalism, Arts and Tech.
    2. They will be increasing the number of Pathways over the next three years, hopefully ending with 40 choices, including Education and Human Rights.
    3. This change was a student-based initiative; students wanted their education to be more interdisciplinary and focused.
    4. One requirement is 2 semesters of a single language; students can test into higher level, but can’t test out of the language requirement.
  2. conn-college-chapel-2Academic Centers: The 5 Centers have distinct themes. About 20% of the students will opt to join; entrance requires an additional application. These are designed to help students take passions to the next level by taking classes within the center and completing an independently designed project (funded by the center or career services). Students will graduate with a certificate.
    1. International Studies and the Liberal Arts: This is the most competitive. Students must continue past the required 2 semesters of a language, must study abroad, and must do a project abroad between junior and senior year.
      1. A double major in Islamic Studies and Dance is now studying in France and will go back to study the hip-hop culture there.
      2. An International Studies major with minor in Arabic has studied in Jordan and will also go back to do her project.
    2. Arts and Technology: This is the most quickly growing center.
      1. One student created audio-based video games because his visually impaired brother wanted to be able to play games, too.
      2. A Psych major is looking at how people could overcome their fear of heights using virtual reality.
    3. Community Action and Public Policy: This focuses on social activism and social outreach.
      1. A Government major, while studying in Buenos Aires, saw a lot of school dropouts. She did a study on options for them, then went back to implement strategies to keep them in school or provide other paths.
      2. Other students are working at Boston Hospital, on the housing crisis in NYC, and in the RI Dept of Health.
    4. conn-college-sprout-garden-2

      The student-run sustainable garden

      Center for the Environment: Conn was the second college to have an Envi Sci Dept, so this is a huge part of who they are as a school, but this center is not just for science related topics. Students see something and want to take action. One student is looking at environmental impacts of the fashion industry.

    5. Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity: This is the newest Center, looking at topics such as globalization, historical traumas (ie genocide), comparative histories of race, effects of race and gender on education and the workplace, etc.
  3. conn-college-athletic-cntr

    The athletic Center

    Career Center: Every student is guaranteed a $3,000 stipend for an internship between junior and senior years. This guarantees that they have access to internships that might otherwise be cost-prohibited, particularly if they need to pay room and board in a major city. Almost 20% intern abroad. Over 80% of students do use this stipend.

    1. Students are all assigned 3 advisors right as freshmen: a faculty advisor (who teaches one of the student’s first semester classes), a staff advisor (from the career center), and a peer advisor. Students will meet with all of these during the first semester to ensure that they’re adjusting well and are on track.

The majors and minors here are phenomenal, bringing a great deal of flexibility to meet students’ interests, but also providing multi-disciplinary and global approaches to their students, offering majors such as Global Islamic, German, Slavic, Italian, and Hispanic Studies. They have a particularly strong arts program (dance is phenomenal, as is fine arts). Sciences offer more than the usual choices for a school this size, such as Botany and Behavioral Neuroscience.

© 2016

Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern Connecticut State University (visited 10/13/16)

ecsu-sign-and-towerECSU is the great option for students wanting the best of both worlds: a medium-sized research institution with lots of options while still engaging in small classes, being able to create change around them, and forging personal relationships with peers and mentors. This is a solid university that sets its students up for success.

ecsu-seating-and-acad-bldgAs the smallest and most residential campus of the Connecticut State system (of which, surprisingly, UConn is not a part!), it’s also Connecticut’s only Public Liberal Arts School. They take an interdisciplinary approach to education, including lots of group projects, collaboration, and teamwork. Classes are largely discussion-based to teach students how to think critically and analytically. The average classes have 23; 94% have fewer than 40 students. The largest class last year was 46. No TA/GAs teach classes.


The Student Center

One of the best ways they ensure success is through the Eastern in 4 Program which involves a Dual Advising Program: students get an academic advisor and one from the Professional Advising center; with these 2 people, freshmen create a 4-year plan that helps them think through their interests and professional goals while graduating on time and being hirable. 95% of students complete internships or other applied learning experiences. Additionally, the college provides up to $8000 in scholarship money to make study abroad accessible. Students not wanting (or able) to do a complete semester or year abroad can participate in Global Field Courses (2-3 week study-courses). For example, Tropical Biology went to Costa Rica where they stayed in tree-houses, studied tropical reefs, etc. A Communications class went to London and Paris, a psychology class went to Dublin, and a Creative Writing class went to Italy.

ecsu-2The international experience also comes to campus. The tour guide feels that campus is diverse, with good reason: there’s a great deal of geographic diversity here with 24 states and 23 countries represented (good for a non-flagship state school). Being such a residential campus helps attract people. They do enroll slightly more females than males (about a 55-45 split), and more than 25% are self-reported students of color.


One of the dorms

Most freshmen (90%) live on campus but this drops to about 2/3 of all students after the first year. Many on-campus upperclassmen live in suites like mini-apartments. The housing lottery is done with priority points: the more they do on campus, the better housing they’ll get – and there’s plenty to do!

Students like the campus food: “Curley fries on Fridays are the best!” The milk and apples used in Dining Services are locally sourced from nearby farms, as are other vegetables. Even local restaurants and food stores are locally-sourced. When I asked the tour guide what surprised her about the school, she immediately said, “How good the ice cream place in town is!! Ok, really, I guess it’s how nice people are. People will hold doors, say hi to each other, etc”


A small pond with dorms in the background

They offer 15 DIII and 5 Club sports (and they have the highest GPA in their division, winning the President Cup 3 times!). One of our tour guide’s favorite activities is the Thursday Night pancakes served from 9 to midnight. “They do chocolate chip on the first Thursday of the month!” The “Stress Free Days” also draw big kudos. The college brings in therapy dogs, people can get massages, there’s a Panini truck, and more. There’s plenty of late-night programming similar to any other college, as well.

Freshmen can’t have cars on campus, but after that, parking is free. A shuttle runs every 10-15 minutes with 10 stops on campus (although it’s a highly walkable campus) and 2 stops off campus (at the mall and at Walmart). The college runs discounted trips to NYC and Boston fairly frequently (they’re located centrally between the two cities). For example, students can get RT transportation to NY and a Broadway ticket for $35. Longer weekend trips to places like DC and Philly are also available.


The Planetarium

Majors are fairly standard here; they don’t offer a ton of options, but what they do, they tend to do well, and major corporations tend to hire them quickly out of school. More than 30 Eastern grads work at ESPN, and not just from their Sport and Leisure Management or New Media Studies programs; one woman is doing their digital art and design work. “When you see the logo pop up, that’s her work,” said the rep. Students in the music program get opportunities such as singing with Josh Groban.


One of the academic buildings

ECSU is test-optional as long as the applicant has earned a 3.0 in academic courses – BUT in order to receive any merit aid, scores must be submitted! They do recommend sending scores because the admissions process is more stringent without them. Decisions are sent out on a rolling basis; the rep suggested: “Between Thanksgiving and winter break would be a good target area. It’s when we get most of our apps.”

© 2016

Albertus Magnus College

albertus-signAlbertus Magnus College (visited 10/12/16)


One of the sports fields, a popular place during evenings games

Albertus is a small school built on a hillside in a residential part of New Haven. This is a quiet, safe neighborhood (so much so that there are no blue lights; students are given an emergency tab for their keychains. No one was able to tell me a time that it was actually used for anything other than accidentally sitting on it when it was in a pocket). The admissions rep said, “If you’re looking to be a person instead of a number, this is the place to do it.” Students looking for a highly personalized, small environment would do well here, particularly if they’re looking to play sports. Over half the student body (55%) play on one of the 7 men’s and 8 women’s teams (right now, women’s swimming and golf are club level, not varsity. They’re looking to add Field Hockey next year, and hopefully these will be Varsity in the next couple years). Basketball and baseball draw a crowd, as will anything played on their turf field, particularly in the evenings.


The only dorm that looks like a dorm

There are only 500 day-population students (basically traditional-aged college students); there are 1000 in the evening population who have to be 22 years or older. This is still a regional school with many students coming from CT, NYC, NJ, and MA with a few random other states represented (often these students come for the sports). About 290 students live on campus with space available for another 100. It’s a historical campus, so most dorms look like old houses. Mostly it’s not a suitcase school because of the athletes.


The original building, now the library

Campus is close enough to downtown to take advantage of all that it offers. Students particularly enjoy the city-run events on the Downtown Green. From a stop on campus, students can take the Yale shuttle for free which takes them around town; this is well utilized. On-campus events are mostly organized by the Student Activity Board which runs weekly events, large annual events such as Spring Formal and Fall Fling, and off-campus trips to apple orchards in the fall, NYC, and Boston.


One of the academic buildings

This is a religiously affiliated college in the Dominican heritage: the mission is about balanced education and to give students a safe space to grow, to discover who they are, and to be able to search for truth, whatever that means for them. As part of their core requirements, all students take a religion and a philosophy class; there isn’t any other religious requirement. Sisters live on campus, and the interim President is a Sister. There’s a deacon on campus, as well.

Like most small schools, faculty are involved, caring, and get high marks from students. “We have the best faculty! I’m a master’s student, and they are so supportive and that carries over into day population. They’ll email students if you aren’t in class to find out what’s going on.” Some of the academic programs that the admissions rep wanted to highlight included:

  • Business Management: in addition to the Management concentration, they just added one in entrepreneurship and are talking about a ThinkTank lab.
  • Digital Media is new
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology with concentrations in general psych, child development, counseling and mental health, and art therapy
  • Art Therapy can be done either under art or psych. Students can continue on to complete a Masters in Art Therapy; this is 1 of only 30 institutions in the county to offer this Masters. It’s competitive and students have to apply; 15 students are accepted each year; maybe 5 of them come from Albertus. Students coming from the undergraduate program have no edge over those coming from outside; they have to have the art background to get in.
  • Finance with concentrations in Corporate Finance or Personal Finance Management

albertus-1Students are well prepared for the job market: during their time at Alburtus, they create an e-portfolio and add anything dealing their major, job preparation (including a resume), etc into it. Almost all students (90%) complete an internship as an undergrad. High numbers also participate in one of 22 study-abroad programs which is done in conjunction with Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. Service Learning trips are also popular; students will build homes in Jamaica, renovate buildings in Montreal, etc.

© 2016

Averett University

Averett University (visited 11/2011)

I had never heard of Averett before visiting as part of a counselor tour. This is a well-maintained campus that serves students well. Students were everywhere around campus and interacting with each other; people seemed genuinely happy to be part of campus. Although there are fewer than 900 undergraduates, the campus feels busier, in large part because of the non-traditional and graduate programs. Students who want small discussion-based classes and a hands-on education will do well here. They combine the liberal arts with strong programs. It’s truly a hidden gem, and I wish more people knew about it.

Most unusual for a Liberal Arts school, particularly of this size, is their Aeronautics program, which includes an FAA-approved flight school. Their direct-entry Nursing program and the Medical Technology program are both noteworthy, as are the Equestrian, Sports Management/Physical Education, and Biomedical programs.

This is one of the few schools I’ve encountered that had severed ties with its founding church (in this case, Baptist) and then reestablished it. However, there’s little about the college that indicates that there are any ties at all. It does not permeate the culture on campus. Students who want a strong religious culture would probably not be as happy here as on some other campuses, but for those who are interested in having something around if they want it will find what they’re looking for

Danville is a small city of about 45,000 people in southern Virginia near the NC border. There is enough to do in town when students want to get off campus, and there’s an Amtrak station in town allowing for relatively easy access to Charlotte, NC and Washington, DC when students are looking for a larger city. Things are walkable, but there’s also plenty to do on campus. Students said that they didn’t feel the need to get off on a regular basis, but did appreciate the availability of other options.

Dr. Tiffany Franks, the President, is welcoming and engaging. She opened her home to the group of counselors visiting the college; she does this regularly for students, as well. She clearly cares about the success of the students and has done wonders for the college.

© 2016

Washington College

Washington College (visited 8/19/16)

WAC statue and stu cntr

Washington bust in front of the new (2009) Student Center

WAC (pronounced “whack”) is a beautiful, traditional-looking campus in the historic town of Chestertown along the Chester River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It is named for George Washington who not only agreed to having his name used, but he donated money to start the school and sat on what was essentially the Board of Trustees.

WAC sign and performing arts

WAC’s performing arts center

Because of this tie to Washington, they also have a connection to Mount Vernon where two of the big college traditions are held. During orientation, freshmen spend time out there where they also sign the Honor Code. Right before graduation, seniors return as a class to spend some final time together before they graduate and go their separate ways. During this time, people give toasts (including one by a Washington impersonator) and students leave via a boat to cruise up to the National Harbour. The college also throws an annual Birthday Ball on the weekend of Washington’s birthday. Dubbed “Prom 2.0,” students, faculty, and alum come together in a non-academic setting to have fun and just enjoy each other’s company. They turn the field house into a beautiful space: “It doesn’t seem possible, but they do it!” This is usually themed: in the last couple years, they’ve had Narnia and Harry Potter. This is decided by a vote of the students.

WAC’s 1500 undergraduates have access to some amazing resources, including waterfront property about a mile from main campus. This area houses the boathouse for the crew team (including a rowing tank for winter training), the sailboats, kayaks, and research vessels for Biology and Environmental Studies/Science classes.

WAC quad

The quad

They have 17 DIII sports competing in the Centennial Conference: “We’re the smarty pants conference,” said the admissions rep, also a WAC alum. The “student” in student-athlete really does come first here. If class and practice overlap, you’re going to class. Teams have an annual competition for which team has the highest GPA. “It usually flip flops between lax and rowing, but sometimes the women’s soccer team sneaks in there, too!” The Men’s Lax has a huge rivalry with Salisbury: the “war on the shore” game alternates campuses every year, and there’s always a giant campus tailgate. Baseball and soccer also draw big crowds.

WAC dorms

2 of the specialty dorms

Housing is guaranteed all 4 years, and 90% of students live on campus until graduation. The four dorms (2 all female, 2 coed) located across the street house mostly freshman and are fairly typical freshman dorms with bathrooms down the hall. There are 3 smaller dorms located in the middle campus that are Special Interest Housing: Middle is for the Arts (“This dorm puts on the BEST Halloween haunted house – not surprising with all the theater people there!” said our tour guide), East for International Studies and international students, and West is for math and science. Upperclassmen tend to get the suites located across campus. WAC has a partnership with local apartment complex where they rent out a block of apartments: WAC furnishes them, provides wifi and security, etc.

WAC Case bldgWAC is far from a suitcase school: 85-90% of students stay on campus any given weekend. “WAC students are busy. They join a lot of clubs, Greek life (4 frats, 3 sororities with rush happening in the spring), and sports teams. People stick around,” said the admissions rep. Clubs getting school funding must commit to completing community service, so they get involved in the Chestertown community as well.

WAC egg

The Egg


The new Student Center with the dining hall was opened in Fall 2009. The Egg, a round multi-purpose room in the middle has Open Mic nights, games, performances, etc. The first floor of the Student Center has food areas open from 11 am to 11 pm; the second floor, the more traditional all-you-can-eat, is open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Our tour guide told us that students used to rush over for mozzarella sticks when they were offered; they were so popular that they started offering them a lot more! Now students get excited about the theme nights, midnight breakfasts, and Thanksgiving dinner.

Almost all majors have some sort of experiential learning component. They offer quite a few “Tourism study” classes (this makes so much more sense than calling these short-term, 2-3 week, classes “study abroad”). They also offer research trips and the traditional semester and year-long programs. South Africa, Hong Kong, and South Korea have become popular destinations.

WAC sci cntr

Part of the Science Center

Summer research is big, and lots of students stick around campus – or go to other facilities – to complete things. The Toll Fellows Program is math, sciences, psychology, and computer science majors, but there are plenty of other internships and programs for other students including the National Security Fellows Program, Maryland General Assembly Internship, Comegys Blight Fellowship (Studying vanishing islands of the Chesapeake), the Roy Ans Fellowship (Jewish American Experience), and the Frederick Douglass Fellowship.

WAC offers most of the majors you’d expect from a quality Liberal Arts college. A few unusual ones include International Literature and Culture and excellent dual degree programs:

  • Engineering: students complete 3 or 4 years at WAC and 2 at Columbia University
  • Pharmacy: students complete 3 years at WAC majoring in biology OR psychology with a minor in behavioral neuroscience, then complete 4 years at the University of Maryland.
  • Nursing: Students complete 3 years at WAC majoring in biology or psychology, then complete 2 years at either the University of Maryland or the University of Delaware.

The minors offered at WAC are amazing, especially for a school this size. Some of the more unusual ones include:

WAC acad bldg 2Classes usually are in the 15-30 range, but my tour guide’s classes have been as small as 7 (“Friends of mine have had them as small as 3”) and as large as 35 for an intro class. His favorite class was his Freshman writing class called “Life in 140 Characters” looking at social media.

For admissions, they’ll take either the Common App or their own institutional app. It’s free to apply because “We don’t think it money should stand in the way of applying to college,” said the admissions rep doing the presentation. On the Common App, all students can choose the WAC fee waiver.

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Chatham University

Chatham University (visited 5/26/16)

~Chatham sign and chapelChatham is a hidden gem of a school located in a beautiful residential part of western Pittsburgh. Until recently, this was a women’s college; in the 2015-16 school year, they brought in their first males to the freshman class. “The upperclassmen tended to be more upset about this. I knew coming in that it was a distinct possibility that they would go coed so I was ready for it,” said our tour guide, a rising-senior nursing student staffing the front desk.

~Chatham dorm 1

One of the Residence Halls

All residence halls (they aren’t called dorms) are converted mansions. Most of them have some sort of theme such as Sustainable Living or Global Scholars. Partly in keeping with their Women’s College heritage and partly because they’re still heavily skewed in terms of gender, there are all-female dorms available. Upperclassmen have the option of living in 3-person apartments just off campus on Fifth Avenue that are open to upperclassmen. Our tour guide lives there and loves that it’s given her an added level of independence. She’s still in campus housing but gets a taste of being on her own.

~Chatham Mellon House 3

The back of the Mellon summer residence house.

There are other historical, beautiful buildings on campus in addition to the residence halls. The Mellon House was Andrew Mellon’s summer residence, complete with an indoor pool and a bowling alley in the basement (the Pool area has since been converted to the Board Room.) The first floor has all the original rooms, including fireplaces, and “is a great place to study. There are usually very few people here so it’s quiet.” The university also incorporates as much of the old into the new, when possible. The science center renovated an old academic building and the added around it in order to keep some of the history and original flavor.

~Chatham Statue 2Chatham sets students up for success, starting with providing each student with a free MacBook plus 1 free replacement while they’re at Chatham. Additionally, students all get a $1,200 study abroad voucher which can be used for anything from a 1-week study-trip associated with a class to a full year of study abroad. “It doesn’t cover everything, but at the very least, it pays for the airfare!” said the tour guide.

~Chatham pond 2Classes, of course, are small: our tour guide’s largest class has had 31 students “which is larger than normal. The professor let extra students into the class.” Her smallest class, Anatomy Lab 2, had 10 students.

~Chatham dormsSustainability is a big part of campus and mission. They’re proud of the fact that one of their most famous alumna is Rachel Carson (author of Silver Spring). Their newest addition to the school, the Eden Hall Campus, is located about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh. Housing the Falk School of Sustainability, it opened in 2010. Students can earn a BSUS or MSUS (Bachelor/ Master of Sustainability), and MA in Food Studies, or a combined MBA with either of the Master’s degrees. Many of the Sustainability undergraduates live on the Eden Hall Campus, and the food grown there is used in the dining hall of both campuses, which is pretty cool. However, it’s not just these students who work on sustainability projects. A team of 3 Chatham chemistry students just won the $5000 CleanTech University Prize at Carnegie Mellon for their work on a new compressor lubricant for HVAC systems.

~Chatham sci bldg

The science building: the old section is on the left with the new, modern portion built around it.

Health Sciences are worth noting. Most impressive is that they have a cadaver lab on campus! This is really unusual for a school this size, and it gives their undergrads a real leg-up when it comes to medical or graduate school. Two unusual majors in the health sciences are Integrative Health Studies and Interdisciplinary Health Science (with a concentration in Bio, Exercise Science, or Psychology). Nursing is particularly strong. Their Pathways to Nursing Major pairs students up with UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing. Our tour guide is in this program. She did her first year of classes on campus, spent 2 years split between the two campuses, and will finish her clinicals and classes at Chatham for her senior year. She loves the experiences she has, and she wouldn’t do this any other way. “I love Chatham and being part of the community, but I also love meeting all the other people at Shadyside. Even when I’m there, I know I am coming home to Chatham in the evenings and have all my friends here.”

~Chatham coffee shop

The student-run coffee shop

The Business program is also strong. We spoke with a business professor who was in the hall of one of the academic buildings; she was a delight to talk to – very enthusiastic and helpful. I can only imagine what she’s like in the classroom! She told us about the Center for Women Entrepreneurs on campus as well as the variety of programs. For such a small campus, there’s a wide range of business degrees including Social Services Administration, Arts Management, Management Info Systems, International Business, and Healthcare and Business Management in addition to the more common majors (general business, accounting, general management, etc).

~Chatham stairsMore importantly, students have the opportunity to participate in an Integrated Degree Program in the health sciences, business, sustainability, and the arts. The GPA requirement is higher in the health sciences (3.5) compared to the others (3.25). There are also specific ACT or SAT minimums and required prep work in high school classes. Collaborative programs with other universities allow students to complete degrees in Music Education, Teacher Training, and Physics (all with Carnegie Mellon), 3+4 law degrees with Duquesne (PA) or Stetson University (FL), and 4+1 Bachelors/Masters programs in various management programs, also at Carnegie Mellon.

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University of Tampa

University of Tampa (visited 2/8/16)

Tampa sign

Tampa plaza

The view from a minaret of the hotel showing the Tampa skyline

This is more of an urban-feeling campus than I expected it to be. The iconic building is the hotel (complete with minarets) that the university bought in 1933 and which became the first university building; now it’s used for classrooms, offices, admissions, and more. The rest of campus is filled with modern, well-maintained, tall buildings and is incorporated into the city, but with enough green space to feel like a campus. It’s the only university in downtown Tampa and they capitalize on that. Students have easy access to a multitude of things and can walk to internships and jobs: students take advantage of the Florida aquarium, professional sports, art museum, police departments, and 2 of the top 25 newspapers in the country among other things.



Tampa hotel 4

The hotel that became the original university building

Applications have doubled in the past 4 years; last year, they had almost 1700 students on the waitlist; about 7-10% of these come for the spring semester. This year, they brought in 1800 new freshmen with all states being represented: “We even had 5 kids from Idaho.” Although the gender balance is skewed slightly (about 45% male), generally this is an incredibly diverse student body with 17% of students coming from abroad (17-18% each from the Middle East and Asia, and 11% each from Europe and Central/South America).

Tampa porchThe average student travels 894 miles from home to attend UT. “The #1 reason students leave is homesickness,” said one of the reps. “We deal with this in open houses, info sessions, etc. UT students tend to be more independent. They’re metropolitan and cosmopolitan.”

Tampa dorms 3The First Year Experience, a 1-credit, full year class, has helped a great deal with retention; students are generally grouped by major. They’re starting a themed model this year, and will also to try to group international students together. The Honors Program offers special courses, and honors floor in the dorms, a research fellowship, an Oxford Semester, and more. Applicants are automatically considered for admission with a 3.5 unweighted GPA and 1150 SAT or 25 ACT.

UT is reasonably priced for a private school at $37,866 (2015-16 school year). “Usually this increases 2-2.5% increase a year,” said the rep. Only 8% of students do pay sticker-price.

Tampa entrepreneurship 1

Some of the work spaces in the Entrepreneurship building

An amazing new Entrepreneurship building opened in the fall of 2015; it’s filled with meeting rooms, work stations, white boards, etc. all meant for creative thought and innovation. Their annual Pitch Contest is open to everyone regardless of major: last year it was won by an English major. We spoke to 2 students in the elevator and asked how they liked the school and program: “We give it a 10. We’re seniors and have an office on the top floor. They really support us here.” They’re doing some amazing entrepreneurial work already as undergraduates.

Tampa chapel

The non-denominational chapel

The most popular majors are Finance, Bio, and Marketing, but they offer an extensive range. “It’s easier to talk about what we don’t have!” said a rep; that includes engineering or architecture, but “We do science incredibly well here. I used to be at Illinois Tech and have toured a lot. No one holds anything over us,” said one professor. Some areas to brag about are:


  • Tampa athletic fields

    Athletic fields, the chapel, and an academic building

    Marine Science (students can specialize in Chemistry or Biology with this). The kid who fits here won’t fit at Eckerd and vice versa.

  • Nursing: they have an amazing pass rate: “I could have said that we had a 100% pass rate over the last 6 years, but 1 kid didn’t pass 4 years ago,” said a rep.
  • UT is the only College with their own booth at the Film Fest as part of the Film and Media Arts “The professor says that we blow Madison’s program away.”
  • They have their own bronze-casting facility.
  • Mathematical Programming.
  • Dance and Musical Theater. Disney recruits here a couple times a year.

The average class size is 21; only 44 classes have more than 40 students with the largest at 60 students. Our tour guides’ classes ranged from 6 (Evolution) and 16 (Honors Oral Communication) to 60 (Chemistry). One of them said that this dropped to 35 as time went on.

Just over half the students live on campus. There’s a 2-year residency requirement, and dorms are big and comfortable. Many juniors and seniors have traditionally moved off, but the school now has a 20-year contract with the Barrymore Hotel to house upperclassmen (this includes maid service!). Freshmen are not allowed to have cars unless they have a medical need for one.

Tampa greek rocks

Greek Rocks

Almost half the students (about 40%) join one of the 22 Greek organizations. There are several rules surrounding rush (such as members can’t talk to recruits for the first week). Once they join, members have to maintain their GPA (tutoring is available) and attend study hours as well as complete a minimum amount of community service. “They’ll even monitor Facebook and instagram,” said one student.

Tampa crew 2

Some of the crew boats heading in after practice

“Greek life is active but it doesn’t drive the social scene on campus,” said a student. There are plenty of clubs and the usual school-sponsored activities (speakers, movies, etc). Their DII athletic teams participate in the Sunshine State Conference; they do have a DIII Ice Hockey team. They do have a varsity women’s crew and club level for both men and women as well as club equestrian, body building, flag football, and more. Participation in sports at some level is high, as is the fan base for the varsity sports.

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