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Archive for the tag “liberal arts school”

Marist College

MARIST COLLEGE (visited 7/25/13)

Marist chairs and riverEven driving onto campus, I was more impressed with Marist than with some other campuses. It was open, places were well marked, and the atmosphere seemed inviting to visitors. The admissions office was well-organized and people were genuinely friendly, greeting visitors and being willing to help, even though it was busy. Another person and I had trouble finding parking since the visitor’s lot was full, and the person (I later found out she was a student) immediately got on the phone to security to let them know where we parked so we wouldn’t get ticketed. All the students seemed to be like this: proactive problem-solvers.

Marist flagsmarist walkwayThe information session was one of the best I’ve ever attended. As people got settled into the room for the presentation, a slideshow played with some facts about the school. The rep, an alum, spoke beautifully about life at Marist from both sides – her love for it as a student and then as a rep who helps recruit students who will fit into Marist life and thrive there (with a 93% first-year retention rate and a 83% graduation rate – both 20-30% over the national average — they’re doing something right). She showed a short video showcased what students are involved in as well as the beauty of the Hudson (the campus sits directly on the river) and surrounding area. She talked about what made Marist unique (which is rare; too many presentations talk about the same sorts of things: study abroad, faculty accessibility, internships. All schools have those; we need to know what makes a school different!). They ended with a five-student panel, one of the few times I’ve ever seen that in a general info session. The students fielded questions for about 20 minutes before taking people out on tour so we got multiple perspectives on life on campus.

Marist 1Students raved about their experiences on campus; they’re intellectual without needing to flaunt it, they’re social, and they’re just nice. They talked about their academic experiences with enthusiasm: their favorite classes were Intro to Criminal Justice (she liked the topic and the professor who was a retired cop), Human Resources (taught by a professor with experience in HR and shared lots of stories), Creative Writing (this made her fall in love with English again), and upper level theater. Their smallest classes ranged from 7 to 12 students, and the largest class any of them took had 26 students in it.

Marist new and old

Old and new parts of campus merge together

Marist is academically impressive in the range and strength of their curriculum. It has a nationally accredited Core Curriculum and they’re offering a First Year Seminar (FYS) for the first time. There will be a common reading expected of all entering students; this year, it’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and the author is coming to campus to talk to the students about the book. Their Business School is accredited by AACSB (which only accredits only the top 25% of business schools in the world). International Business majors must study abroad and present an independent project when they come back. Additionally, all students majoring in areas falling in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences must complete internships and/or field work before graduation. Marist maintains a close relationship with the NYPD, NCIS, FBI, CBI, Homeland Security, and the Hawaii Department of Education where several Marist graduates go to teach when they graduate. They’ve had a 100% law school placement rate over the last couple years, and 100% job placement for the Medical Technology majors since 1982. Over 90% of students are admitted into graduate, medical, and health professional schools. Since 2006, 3 Marist students have been selected as Goldwater Scholars.

Marist 5Their Politics and Public Policy programs are worth noting. Last year, 4 of the 20 students nationwide selected for the Hansard Scholars Programme were from Marist. This program sends Politics or Public Affairs majors to London for 14 weeks, allowing them to take classes at the London School of Economics and providing internships and other hands-on experiences with members of British Parliament and other similar places. There are plenty of other options for studying away, as well. The Albany Internship Experience allows students interested in politics the chance to work in the state capital, and anyone can study for a semester at American University in DC.

Marist archStudents don’t have to move off campus to have amazing internship or field-experience opportunities because of Marist’s location. Student use the Hudson and the entire Valley as a lab for study (one of FYS is about environmental activism in the Hudson Valley). Poughkeepsie and the immediately surrounding towns have a lot to offer including five colleges within about 40 minutes (Vassar and the Culinary Institute of America are both less than 10 minutes away) which makes this a great college town. Poughkeepsie is located almost exactly halfway between Albany and NYC, giving students opportunities for internships in all sorts of fields. The MetroNorth commuter rail station is five minutes from campus giving students easy access into New York, and busses regularly run up to Albany. The Marist Institute for Public Opinion pairs students with NBC News for Polling purposes (the got a lot of experience during the last election cycle). The FDR Library and Museum, located nearby, provides history majors or other interested students the chance to do research and internships. The university also has close ties to IBM which is located down the street. Because of this proximity, students have access to extensive research and internship opportunities. Even the library uses IBM digital library technology as an electronic gateway for advanced storage and retrieval technology. Marist stresses technology usage; the rep said that they use “advanced technology in the pursuit of excellence” which fits into their Mission Statement: “Help students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global 21st century.”

In addition to the main campus, Marist maintains a Marist in Italy program. One of the programs they offer is the Freshman Florence Experience: approximately 20 students go together to study there their entire first year. Any student can complete a Bachelor’s in one of 8 areas, mostly in the arts (studio art, art history, conservation, fashion, and interior design); Italian Language is the only non-artsy major offered there. They also offer a 1-year Masters in Museum Studies.

One of the dorms

One of the dorms

Life on campus is vibrant, and students certainly don’t need to leave campus to have fun. Even visiting in the summer, there were students everywhere, walking across campus, studying on the grass, and in the library. Marist has 23 DI teams which are well supported with a fan base. There are over 90 clubs and organizations ranging from ice hockey and fencing to political and religious groups. Clubs, in keeping with the college’s mission, must provide some sort of community service as part of their charter if they want to continue getting funding from the school. Marist, although still named for the Marist brothers who started the college, is no longer religiously affiliated. The university went coed in 1968, and control of the college was turned over from the Marist Brothers to an independent Board of Trustees a year after that. However, there are several Marist Brothers who still live on campus and are active in Campus Ministry. However, today there is a great deal of religious diversity within the student body.

Admission is selective with about one-third of the applicants getting offered a spot. The top 10% of applicants are invited to the Honors Program which opens up additional opportunities and specialized coursework. Once in the program, they must maintain a 3.5 GPA. Marist is a test-optional school.

© 2013

Rhodes College

RHODES COLLEGE (visited 4/22/13)

Rhodes 1 Rhodes statueI was impressed with Rhodes; it lived up to all the things I’ve come to expect from a Colleges That Change Lives school. Not only is it a beautiful campus (it falls into the small group of colleges, along with places like Bryn Mawr and WashU, with lots of gothic stone buildings), but they’re also rightfully proud of their “focus on the 4-Rs: Rigorous academics in the Real world on a Residential campus showing proven Results,” as one of the admissions rep puts it. They boast a high retention rate and an impressive 91-100% acceptance rate to grad school over the last 10 years, so they’re doing something right.

Rhodes Kappa DeltaThe admissions rep gave a very enthusiastic, quick overview of the school before splitting up the group among the 3 tour guides: “It’s their job to show you their home.” There were four college counselors touring Rhodes on the day I went, so they sent us out with our own guide. Rob was a fantastic, dynamic senior from Texas majoring in International Urban Politics; he said that we’ve probably never heard of it before since “I made it up.” Before leaving the office, one of the tour guides put a large map up to show us where we would be going. This was a great idea and helped us get a sense of campus; I don’t know why more schools don’t do this.

Rhodes Star Room

The Star Room in the library.

Much of the campus has a wooded feel; I drove up to the admissions office under a canopy of trees, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that the campus is a federal arboretum. When Rhodes built the new library, they had to cut down a few trees, but they incorporated the lumber into the building. Their library is now ranked among the top 25 most beautiful libraries in the world, and is one of two earthquake-proof buildings in the state, designed to “split in half.” On the first floor is “Middle Ground,” the 24 hour section of the library. Rob told us that it’s “where people go to pretend to study. You hear all sorts of typing, but people are really on facebook.” The rest of the library is where the real work gets done, and the floors get progressively quieter on the higher levels. The Star Room on the second floor was co-designed by the art students and the astronomy students. The ceiling has as astrological chart of the way the school looked on the night the university opened.

Rhodes 2About three-quarters of the students live on campus all four years. The freshman dorm we toured was great! It even smelled good. Rob had sent pictures to his friends back home who were at the state flagship university, and they were definitely jealous, comparing his large suite with stained-glass to their little cinder-block rooms. They just finished building a Junior dorm that acts as a “bridge” between the freshman and sophomore dorms and the Senior apartments (which have 6-8 rooms connected with 2 bathrooms and a common room). The junior dorm is a little more independent, has some kitchen options, etc. For students who want to move off campus, it’s easy to find housing. Rob rents a house from a prof with six other students. There are also housing options listed online in the Marketplace section of the website. There are no Greek residences, even though about 50% of students get involved in Greek life. The groups are inclusive with most activities open to anyone. Rush happens during the second week of classes.

Rhodes 4

Statue of the Lynx, the school mascot

Newsweek ranked Rhodes as the #1 Most Service-Minded school; students are active on and off campus. Like any campus, there’s a lot to do on campus, and the city of Memphis is easily accessible (downtown is about 10 minutes away). On campus, one of Rob’s favorite traditions is Rites of Spring in which there are concerts, parties, and other events. There are several unofficial “To-Do-Before-Graduation” things including jumping in the fountain, climbing the sphere (which was created during a contest between the physics and the chemistry departments – Physics won and then placed it outside the Chem department to brag), and riding the statue of the lynx (their mascot). Rob finds it funny that the lynx is in a fighting stance since real lynxes will initially curl up and try to roll away from danger. Rhodes’ fight song includes the line “Roll Roll Roll” which is like saying “Run away!!” . . . “kind of like what our football team does, so I guess it’s appropriate!”

Rhodes 2

Honor Code

Rhodes has a completely student-run Honor Code (1 of only 17 in the country). If there are violations, students get called in front of the council which deals with the entire investigation. Students could get expelled, but he doesn’t know if that actually has happened since everything that happens is confidential.

Rhodes archesRob appreciates having such easy access to professors and other adults around campus. The president gets rave reviews by the students, and I can see why. Although we didn’t know who he was at the time, he came out of an office as we were walking by, and he stopped to say hi. He talked to us for a few minutes and bragged about Rob: “I bet he didn’t tell you he’s already got a job for right after graduation, did he?” After he walked away, Rob said, “That was President Troutt. That’s pretty much what he’s always like. He talks to everyone!”

Rhodes sci cntr

Science Center

In the presentation at the beginning of the morning, the admissions officer told us that the average class size is 14, so we asked Rob what the reality of that was. He is currently in an individual study (so a class of 1) but of the regularly scheduled classes he’s taken, the smallest has been 3 (he’s had several classes with fewer than 10 students); his largest has been in the high 20s. He said that people here who succeed are engaged in class; students can’t get away with NOT be engaged in a school this size. “We’re all big fish in a small pond.” He knew two people who transferred: one wanted a specialized medical field not offered at Rhodes, and one was disillusioned by the size; his parents had pushed him to Rhodes when he was choosing between Rhodes and LSU. He likes that the students can utilize the resources of Memphis for internships and for research as part of classes. There are nine Fortune-500 companies in the area including FedEx, Auto Zone, and International Paper. St. Jude’s Research Hospital is nearby, and Rhodes is the only undergrad institution allowed to send students to work there.

(c) 2013

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