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Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Mercy University (visited 7/19/16)

Gwynedd Mercy 1Here’s a fun fact about Gwynedd Mercy: Ian Fleming got the name for his protagonist, a real-life James Bond, who was the son of the owner of the land the university now sits on. James Bond (the real one) published a book on the birds of the West Indies; Fleming, living in Jamaica, saw the name on the cover and thought it sounded perfect.

Gwynedd Mercy bells

The bell tower

The Bond family mansion was eventually deeded to the Sisters of Mercy who founded the institution; with that comes the heritage of serving community. First-Year Experience classes require 20 hours of community service. Many students do this anyway, so it becomes part of the culture on campus, including Alternative Spring Breaks. About 38% self-identify as Catholic; another 30% don’t self-identify as any religion. The only religious obligation students must fulfill is 1 religion OR philosophy class.

Several years ago, Gwynedd Mercy created an institutional imperative to increase learning in different ways. One hallmark is their study abroad program since this has been shown to be beneficial for college students as an exploration of cultures, building life experiences, and considering various worldviews. GMU makes sure it’s intentional, getting students to think about the essential questions: Who are we, who are they, and how does it all fit together?

Gwynedd Mercy libraryThe Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences spoke to us about their program; I can see why students would be excited to take classes with her. She’s been at the school for 20+ years and is passionate about teaching and providing quality experiences for the students. “This place feels like home. It may be cliché, but I think students experience this, and faculty and staff do, too.”

Study trips travel all over for intensive 2-3 week experiences such as History and Culture of New Orleans; Irish History, Lit, and Culture; Business and Lit in Rome; and Healthcare in the Bateyes (Dominican Republic). The Ireland group visits Mercy International. “They’re immersed in Mercy from the day they get here, but it really hits home here.” GMU waives tuition for summer study abroad to encourage students to go on the trips. Students interested in the traditional study abroad (semester or year-long) get connected to nearby Arcadia University for their programs.

Gwynedd Mercy library intAnother distinctive program is “E-STEM” funded by an NSF grant. This research project (primarily through the Bio and Math departments) looks at whether they can increase students’ ethical awareness in science. Eligible students (academically talented with financial need) apply by writing an essay about ethical issues, a potential ethical solution, and short- and long-term outcomes. Recipients get either $3,000 or $8000 (most get 8) and become part of a LLC and the Honors College. Monthly activities include co-curricular and social events.

Gwynedd Mercy 3The college is suburban; they have access to the city without being in the middle of it. The Griffin Link Shuttle Service runs Thursday through Sunday; this gets them to Target, restaurants, theaters. They also have bike share and car share, and the train station is 2 minutes away. There are 4 malls within 15 minutes as well as lots of stores, eateries, theaters, etc.

Students are happy with the variety of things to do on campus. The 19 DIII teams draw high numbers of participants and fans. There are also a fair number of clubs including an equestrian team. The late-night lounge is a popular place to hang out. Students like the food, especially seafood night, the fried chicken, and mac-n-cheese. A couple favorite traditions are:

  • Finals breakfast at the end of Fall Semester. Professors serve breakfast from 9-12 and prizes are given out.
  • Griffin Madness (the Griffin is the mascot), a basketball pep rally. There are student-faculty games, wing eating contests, and more.

Gwynedd Mercy nursingRight now, the gender balance is skewed with males making up only 1/3 of the 2000 undergrads, primarily because the Nursing program is well-known, highly regarded, and popular (about 40% of students are in this major). However, they have some other amazing programs:

Gwynedd Mercy 8Our tour guide’s classes have ranged in size from 3-25. His favorite was Civil War History taken over the summer with a professor who did reenactments. They went to Gettysburg, and the guy would point out where “his” regiments were.

GMU’s rolling admissions will provide an answer in about 2 weeks. Most decisions are made in the admissions office, but some programs like nursing require the file to go to committee if a student is borderline. Now with Prior-Prior Year financial aid, they’re bumping up some of their deadlines, so check the website for information as this happens over the coming year.

Gwynedd Mercy statue 2The small community allows for hand-on, personalized attention. “This is a good place for shy students who want to blossom,” said the tour guide. “That was me. I’m totally different from who I was in high school.” As another example, students who have learning differences are easily accommodated. An admissions rep said, “we’re small and can be flexible. We’ll do anything we can for students to accommodate needs.” The same goes for students with allergies.

Only about 600 students live on campus; there’s been a big push to keep kids on campus on the weekend. Housing is guaranteed but students can move off. Three of the four dorms are interconnected with one centralized entranceway to all 3 buildings. The Health Center and mailboxes are in this building which is really smart! Cable is provided in dorms. The 4th dorm has apartments housing 4 or 5 people per unit. This has kept more of the upperclassmen on campus.

© 2016

 

 

Monmouth University

Monmouth University (visited 7/29/13)

~Monmouth wilson hall stairsMonmouth is a private university with about 4400 undergraduates. The main hall on campus is Wilson Hall built in the early 1900s and named for President Wilson who had stayed there during his 1916 campaign for president. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it is surrounded by the Shadow Lawn Estate, modeled after the Gardens of Versailles. Many people will recognized it as Dr. Warbuck’s mansion from Annie. The Guggenheim family “cottage” (mansion) is also on campus and now houses the library and cafe.

~Monmouth fountainMonmouth stresses Experiential Education, required of all students. This can be fulfilled through study abroad, internships, or other similar experiences. Classes are caped at 35 with an average size of 22. The tour guide’s largest classes were 35 in her Gen Ed classes; the smallest had 8. She had transferred from Ramapo (a larger public school) for the hands-on experience and to take advantage of the 5-year BA/MBA program; she’s planning on doing her MBA in Health Care Management. “I like that they make sure we succeed. It’s not survival of the fittest here.”

~Monmouth businessThere are several notable academic areas to point out:

  • There are multiple 5-year Bachelor/Masters programs. Their Social Work (concentrations in International and Community Development or Families and Children) and Software Engineering programs are top ranked.
  • They have a student-run record label!
  • Marine Biology is well-regarded with research opportunities in the Bahamas.
  • The Center for Entrepreneurship. One student started a natural pet treat company and donates 10% of profits to animals for military
  • Their Clinical Lab Science major is unusual. Students can complete concentrations in Cytotechnology or Medical Lab Sciences.
  • Other unusual majors include: Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy, Chemistry: Chemical Physics, Homeland Security, and Fine Arts with concentrations in Creative Writing, Animation, or Graphic Design.
  • They’re starting their nursing program in the fall of 2014 with 25 spots anticipated. Students will need about a 1600 SAT and 3.25 GPA and must write an essay addressing interest.
  • They offer 3 free rides to law school.
  • The art museum has exhibits and studio space.

~Monmouth 4~Monmouth flowersHousing is guaranteed for freshmen, and starting this year, for sophomores as well (a new sophomore residential hall just opened up). A tunnel under the road leads to the residential oval where there’s a 50/50 split between traditional housing and suites, although freshmen tend to be in more standard cinderblock set-ups. Dorms are wired for wifi, but rooms have backup Ethernet hookups. Each room has cable access for students wanting to buy into that system. There is no official Greek housing, but groups can live together on a hall as long as they don’t exceed 15% of space. Most students will opt to live on campus, but there’s plenty of off-campus housing should they choose to move off. Most students living in non-campus housing will need cars or will ride the shuttle into school. Parking costs $300 a year in the assigned lot; it’s first come, first serve.

~Monmouth stud cntrThe Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC) was completely built with donations. They have TV and radio stations inside, student activity offices, and plenty of meeting spaces. There are even special recycling bins; by using them, students win points for iPods and more. Monmouth has a world-class debate team which won a national competition last year. Students are given a calendar of activities when they arrive on campus. “There’s a ton to do on and off campus,” said the tour guide. Big campus traditions include Battle of the Buildings (inter-dorms competition in the fall, Winter Ball (prom-like dance), and Spring Fling. Off-campus trips, include weekend shuttles to the beach, require a $5 reservation to hold a the spot, but they get it back when they get on the bus.

~Monmouth mascot~Monmouth hawkAdmitted students tend to have a B+ average and have about a 1600 SAT or 24 ACT. Crossover colleges are often Scranton, Charleston, Iona, TCNJ, Rowan, and Drew. About 65 students are admitted to the Honors program during the application process. They are housed together and have access to specially designed classes that are often thematic and emphasize creativity. Students need to keep a 3.5 in the major and 3.4 overall to stay in the program. The Honors Program has about a 94% retention rate.

© 2014

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