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Weber State University

Weber State University (visited 9/26/18)

Weber quadWeber (pronounced “wee-ber” … “We’re not the grill!” said the Director of Admissions) is a dual-mission university offering 2- and 4-year degrees. “We pride ourselves in taking kids from where they are to where they want to be. We know how to challenge you, and we care enough to do it. You cannot avoid professors. They’re going to know who you are.” There are no TAs; all classes are taught by professors, half of whom are adjuncts because they work in their field and bring pragmatic experiences to the classroom.

Weber 3There is something here for all students from the high-flyers who know exactly what they want to those who may never have though that college was for them. Because there’s no community college north of Salt Lake City, Weber has an open-enrollment mission for the 2-year programs imbedded in who they are. Students who complete the AA degree in good standing and who want to continue on may do so. Many students are first-gen because of the community college aspect; they’re on the cusp of being named a Hispanic-serving institution because of the large community in Ogden.

Weber moutainsThey have six campuses in two counties; the main campus is in Odgen. “We’re where metro meets the mountains,” said an admissions rep. Many industries (“from the IRS to ski resorts”) are headquartered here. Downtown – about 1.5 miles north of campus – is “one of the most fun, eclectic areas you’ll see.” They sit directly on the side of Mount Ogden which students hike during homecoming. A ski resort sits on the other side. “Not that I recommend this, but if you wanted to hike it up and ski down the other side, I guess you could skip the lift fee…”

Weber tablesA lot of students come to Utah because of the accessibility to outdoor sports, particularly skiing. Students who live in Res Hall 3 (Yes, that’s really the name; there’s also Res Hall 1. The 2nd one got named. Go figure) get a free ski pass. “The point is to group those students together. A lot of skiers and outdoors people live there,” said the tour guide. Other places give discounts to students.

Weber W rockStudents are involved here, on and off campus. Apparently, Paddleboard Yoga is a big deal. Outdoor trips are plentiful and cheap: weekend trips cost around $35; a 5-day rafting trip cost $50. They offer 15 DI sports: Football is big and women’s soccer “is a lot of fun to watch.” Parking isn’t much of an issue: there’s plenty of space at the basketball stadium. Shuttles run every 5 minutes, and local buses also stop on campus.

Weber 2About 1100 students live on campus, many from outside Utah. Cost of housing depends on if they live in Wildcat Village (traditional style) or University Village (apartment) and if they’re in singles or doubles. Out-of-state students get a $1000 scholarship if they live on campus. Every student gets a Wildcard pass, getting them free travel on Light Rail from the SLC airport to downtown Ogden (about 45 minutes). From there, they get an express shuttle (also free) to campus. They can also take free Express Buses into Provo and SLC. Because SLC is a Delta Hub, it’s easy to get into.

Weber performing artsClasses are small; our tour guide’s largest class had 50 students (Intro to Anthropology); the smallest had 7. “That was Intro to Outdoor Pursuits. We talked about risk management and leading groups.” The 7 academic colleges offer amazing options:

Weber quad 2Applications are straight-forward and on the website (they aren’t on Common App); they do not need an essay. Test scores can come from the testing agency or the transcript. They have a 12/1 priority deadlines for scholarships. They start awarding scholarships on 12/2 and will award until they run out of money. In-state tuition is under $6,000; out-of-state is under $16,000; WUE is under $9000. They have solid scholarships (the top one brings the out-of-state cost to in-state). All tuition scholarships are guaranteed for 4 years if they maintain a 2.5GPA with 12 credit hours per semester. They award these based on an index score (ACT/SAT + unweighted GPA). Becoming a Utah resident for tuition purposes is relatively easy as long as no one claims the student on another state’s taxes, they spend 1 full year in the state, and get driver’s license/register to vote; this does not apply if they are on WUE.

© 2018

 

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Wagner College

Wagner College (visited 3/24/17)

Wagner 1The students who thrive here are those who are curious and who want a theory-to-practice experience, said one of the professors. The claim to fame for this college is that they’re the residential liberal arts institution of New York City.

The Wagner Plan is their 3-level general education requirement in which students related theoretical lenses outside the classroom. This is broadly construed ranging from work in the local community to trips to museums, mosques, or other cultural sites.

  • All first-year students enroll in one of 19-21 First-Year Programs co-taught by 2 professors. They both teach 1 content-specific class; the 3rd is a team-taught, reflective, writing-intensive class to connect content to experience. Recent combinations included Philosophy/Psych, Spanish/Business, and Ways of Thinking/Sociology. “From a faculty perspective, it’s fun. We get creative and it teaches us about another discipline.”
  • Wagner main 1

    The iconic main building. If it looks familiar, it’s because School of Rock and an episode of The Sopranos were shot here.

    The intermediate class can be taken as early as 2nd semester freshman year, but usually is done in sophomore year. Two professors often teach discipline-specific classes (with some team-teaching) with common assignments to connect them; there isn’t a 3rd class.

  • The last is a Capstone/Senior Reflective Tutorial. Departments have leeway in how they define this; they’re best know how to prepare the students for the next level. Some will do summer research; sometimes it’s internships or a thesis.
Wagner anchor and dorm

The anchor with an upperclassman dorm in the background

“Lots of social dialogues happen here,” said one student panelist. Like many campuses, there’s an item that gets painted. “We’re pretty politically involved. The anchor got painted for Black Lives Matter with body outlines on the ground, for Pride week, etc.” Students agreed that there were a lot of very progressive students. Another student on the panel said, “We’re passionate about anything about our living situation and our food. The changes made since freshman year have been amazing.” They now have a Gender-Neutral floor. “We argued for it. Really, under the traditional rules, I [a male] could live with my boyfriend. It would be “safer” if I lived with a girl!”

Wagner city

The view of Manhattan from one of the dorms

The tour guides agreed that this is not a quiet campus. About 85% of all students live on campus: “Moving off campus is an option, but they’re still looking at NYC rents. It’s not the Upper East Side, but it’s still steep.” Greek Life only pulls in 16% of students so people are involved in lots of other things. “There maybe aren’t as many organized events as other campuses, but the flip side of that is there’s the city. You get college discounts everywhere, but here, you get discounts in NYC. We can see Broadway shows for $30.” Shuttles leave campus on the :10 and :40 to take students to the ferry. “You go for the first time during Orientation. It takes away the stress.” There are things to do near campus, as well, but “we’re on a hill. Most students don’t like having to hike back up it!” The city buses are not free but are easily accessible, and there are shuttles to the mall, the movies, etc.

All theater and sporting events (DI!) are free, but students say that school spirit isn’t too high. Football doesn’t draw crowds, but basketball does. (As a side note, the Women’s Water Polo team has the highest GPA of any polo team in the country). They use the Staten Island minor league stadium for their home baseball games.

We asked the student panelists what they would like to change:

  • Wagner dorm 2

    Harborview Dorm, one of the older dorms on campus (but with great views!)

    Update living situations. The towers were built in 1963 and haven’t been renovated.

  • The Science department has lots of potential, but it costs money. The faculty put time into getting grants to help bring students into research. Lab space is sufficient, but not huge.
  • Food is mediocre. It fluctuates. “But at least I didn’t get the Freshman 15.”
  • “Some of the codes are grandfathered in because buildings are so old. Our theater is in a gym. They’ve done a bunch, but acoustically it’s still a gym. Dance studios don’t have spring floors.”
Wagner dorms 4

More dorms

Academics are overall strong; they look to hire teachers, not researchers: “That’s fantastic if you brought in a million dollar grant or published a paper, but if you can’t teach, we don’t want you!” This isn’t to say that there isn’t research, because there is, but learning is put first and foremost. Research is easy and not hugely competitive. “You just need to be proactive. If you’re a science major, you have to have a research experience in junior year, and even psych majors have 2 experimental classes. It’s very easy to go to professors and get involved.”

Wagner 4Unusual programs include Biopsychology, Microbiology, and Behavioral Economics. Strong programs include:

  • Education: Students get at least 25 hours of experience in every Edu class.
  • Theater: “It’s competitive, but we have fun and are friendly.” They receive 500 apps for 32 spots. Admissions first clears students and invite approximately 275 to audition. About half audition in person (they try to tie this in with the spring show) and another 50 or so send in a video audition. The department puts on 4 productions a year and get a lot of community support.
  • Nursing: This is not direct entry; students complete the pre-reqs and take the T6 (basic skills – everyone takes this) As long as they pass, they’re in the program. Nursing students can do research. One did a project looking at whole/non-processed foods in Bodegas and helped provide incentives to put this type up front.
  • The Art, Art History, and Film Department is strong and active with trips and internships (Met, Morgan Library, Neue Galerie, Marvel Comics, Rachel Ray Show, Downtown Community TV, Tibetan Museum of Art, Staten Island Museum). Students are successful studio artists, grad school, entrepreneurs (including publishing), education management in museums, fashion designer
    • Film and Media Studies offers 3 tracks (civically engaged, artistic production, criticism) as well as a dual track in Art and Education.
      • They’re looking at Public Art and bringing in the social engagement.
      • Several interdisciplinary classes like “Illustration, Sleep, and Dreams (w/ psych), Connecting Families through Documentary Film (w/ Philosophy), Food and Fasting in the Old and New World (Art History/Anthro), Cities and perversities (Art History/French)
    • Wagner statueThe Chemistry Department is ACS certified (only 30% of schools get this). Gen Chem maxes out at 28 students taught by senior level professors. “Fabulous things come out of lunchroom conversations. I’m changing the world in the way that’s valued by the liberal arts community. We send a couple students per year, many women, off to become PhDs.”
    • Wagner has 1 of 3 planetariums in the city! (“It’s part of why I came here, and I haven’t even gone to it yet!” said a tour guide).
    • Physician Assistant: They invite 90 students to interview (they usually get about 200 applications) and can take 40. This 5-year program includes 3 study abroad experiences: a week in London (psych and some clinical work in a hospital, and they can go back and do psych rotation for 4 weeks); Guatamala in the 4th year (they complete clinical care in local mountain towns); and Belize in the 5th “It’s an unbelievably collaborative group and team-oriented in the classes. Older students mentor younger ones.” Tuition is a little higher for PA, but includes all study abroad trips and some of the summer costs. They complete 2 full years of clinical work (1 of 2 in the country to do this).
    • The Expanding Your Horizons program allows for short term travel abroad, usually linked to a class.

Wagner picnic areaWe asked the student panel about their favorite classes:

  • “The Education class part of my freshman LC. We talked about the law behind Special Ed. We did community service, and I was partnered with an amazing girl! I got to see a different perspective when we worked on daily living skills. It was fascinating to have those conversations.”
  • International Filmmaker: “We learned about the impact people have had. We got an inside look on European and other films.”
  • Musical Theater Performance. “The teacher was a Tony Award Winner. I have 2 teachers who are currently on Broadway. The pianist we work with plays for Hamilton sometimes!”

Students were surprised by:

  • How much professors wanted to reach out. “I studied abroad. I was home for 5 days and got a phone call wanting to know if I was back and if I wanted to get coffee.”
  • The community of people. I felt really welcomed. Even football people came up and talked. It was very different from high school.
  • I was in a philosophy class freshman year with people with diversity of views. I started out thinking “How could you think like that?” I was in a bubble from my little Catholic school but I saw other bubbles and why people believe what they believe.

© 2017

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (visited 7/29/15)

~ACPHS quadCentrally located amongst hospitals, Albany Law, and Sage College, this unassuming main building on the main street opens onto an attractive campus behind it which is much larger than it appears at first glance.

ACPHS lab

One of the Pharmacy labs

Obviously, this is a specialized school. They know who they are, and they do it very well.

  • They offer 6 Bachelor of Science programs: Biomed Tech, Chemistry, Clinical Lab Sciences, Health and Human Sciences, Microbiology, and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • They offer a PharmD program.
    • This is accelerated and is one of the few Doctoral level schools that admits international students. Graduates can get licensed in many states, and international students can do a 1-year optional practical training program on their visas.
  • They offer several Joint-Degree Programs:
    • Several BS/MS degrees (Biomed Tech/Cytotech and Molecular Cytology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physician Assistant Studies)
      • The PA program is 6 years: 3.5 at ACPHS and 2.5 and Albany Medical
    • A BS/JD degree with Albany Law
    • Healthcare Management/Clinical Management (BS or PharmD/MBA or MS)
    • a BS/MD degree with Albany Medical
      • This program is not accelerated; students still do 4+4 years, but the MCAT requirement is waived. Students must be US citizens for this program.

“We’re about getting you to the end goal,” said the admissions rep. The school provides the tools to help students do that.

~ACPHS library

Library and gym building

Students who do well here are fairly organized, type-A, focused, less Liberal Arts type of kid. Those who transfer out are split between those who change their majors and those who are not committed to the rigor. They like the community of a liberal arts school in a building crossed with specific goals.

~ACPHS student cntr

Student Center

Applicants tend to be fairly self-selecting, but they’re still a selective in admissions process, looking to bring in about 250 first-time freshmen each year. They are Common App exclusive and will superscore the SAT. They look for recs from a counselor and either a math or science teacher. International students must turn in the TOEFL unless English was the language of instruction for 4 years. For scholarships, the look at math, science, and composite scores.

Sophomore dorm

Sophomore dorm

~ACPHS track and apts

Campus Suites and the ACPHS track

Students must live in campus housing for 2 years, and upperclassmen who want housing can get it; usually seniors are off campus completing credit-bearing internships, so space is rarely an issue. They have room for 900 of the total 1300 undergraduates. Housing is spit by 1st year, 2nd year, and 3rd+ years. The tour guide really liked this system: “There are always people in the dorm taking the same classes, so when we’re stuck on something, there’s always someone to help.” The freshmen dorms were getting work done, so I saw a sophomore dorm. We went into a 7-person suite (1 double, 5 singles) that had a bath and common room. Even the freshmen dorms have bathrooms in the rooms! Campus Suites is a privately-owned apartment complex on the edge of campus. Students from all the area colleges can live here: the tour guide had people on her floor from Sage and Albany Law which she said was really cool. Students can have cars; parking is assigned by lot, but not by specific spots. The guide said she never had problems with parking.

~ACPHS dorm quad

Common room in one of the quads

Students can do some internships abroad. One requirement is a community health stint. They can do 3 weeks in Cambodia, Haiti, and others; usually they can choose from 8-10 international sites each year.

I don’t get the sense that there’s a ton of activities going on around campus. They only have 4 DIII sports and a few club sports. The gym is under the library and is shared by Albany law. There are a couple coed professional fraternities.

Although much of their coursework is geared specifically around their professional work, students have to take a 3-course history sequence and a communications course. Students can participate in the Hudson-Mohawk cross registration program and can take 1 class each semester off campus. It shows up on their ACPHS transcript as if they took it on campus. For example, they can do dance classes at Sage or languages at SUNY.

(c) 2015

University of Michigan

University of Michigan (visited 1/31/15)

Archaeology Museum

Archaeology Museum

~Michigan bldg and tower 2I did not get a conventional tour at Michigan because their admission office is not open on Saturday (except for a few rare dates scattered throughout the year). I’m a little shocked at this. It’s a major university; people want to visit and tour. I got the feeling from talking to their admissions office that it just didn’t matter; they assumed people would conform to whatever schedule they put forth, and really, they’re mostly right. They’ve got the name and reputation. Therefore, they clearly don’t have to try. However, this also seems to be indicative of how the university runs as a whole. They’ll give you a world class education, but you’re on your own to seek it out, meet them on their terms, and do what you need to do by yourself.

One of the streets surrounding the university

One of the streets surrounding the university

The "Diag"

The “Diag”

Because I couldn’t rearrange my schedule in order to arrive on a weekday for a conventional tour, I reached out to a friend doing a graduate program at the university. She spent a few hours walking around with me. Although I didn’t get the “party line” and couldn’t ask the tour guide about his/her experiences, I think that I ended up getting much more than I would have on a school-based tour. We walked through much of the area surrounding campus, walked through a lot of the university buildings, had lunch at a local restaurant, and I got the uncensored impressions of the students and school from someone not working for admissions.

The lobby of the Business Buiding

The lobby of the Business Buiding

The Business school

The Business school

“The classes are great, but they’re big.” She said that it’s hard to get advising sometimes, hard to make sure you’re taking the classes you need, hard to get access to some classes. She’s a TA and knows that a lot of the undergrads’ educations were coming from people like her. I asked her what she thought of the university in relation to Berkeley where she did her undergraduate work. “They’re a lot alike. You need the sharp elbows here, too.” However, she said that the students are very different at Michigan. “Maybe I’m jaded after Berkeley, but Michigan is supposed to be this bastion of liberalism. It just isn’t.” She described the overall student body as “rich and conforming.” There are a lot of girls with the stick-straight hair and the “right clothes and right bags.” That’s not to say that there’s not diversity. Clearly there is. It’s a huge school (about 28,000 undergrads); you’ll find some of everyone here. However, there seems to be an overarching culture of conformity. The students I saw as I walked around campus backed up that assessment.

The "fishbowl" - one of the computer labs on campus

The “fishbowl” – one of the computer labs on campus

~Michigan bldg 5Students who will do well here are those who want to study on Saturday afternoons and those who are hyper-independent with “sharp elbows” (aka who will fight classes, housing, etc) and who can figure out what they need and then know which questions to ask in order to get what they need – academically and socially – without help. “It’s the type of school where you can easily fall through the cracks, especially the first year. You don’t know what you need until it’s too late and you’ve missed an opportunity or a deadline.”

~Michigan bikes~Michigan treeAs we walked through the library and then the union, students packed every available space and were studying. There was some socialization going on, but very little. Books were open, papers were being written, areas were relatively quiet. It’s the sort of scene I would have expected more on a Sunday afternoon than on a Saturday. Students here clearly take their learning seriously. However, there were also a lot of students out on the “Diag” (diagonal path cutting across the quad) and heading in and out of buildings. Even on a cold, dreary day, there was plenty going on around campus. The blocks surrounding campus are clearly geared towards meeting students’ needs. There’s a vague sense of “counterculture” but most of the stores were typical college-student places: cafes, restaurants, book stores. There’s no shortage of things to do on or around campus.

Law School quad

Law School quad

Most students study in the Liberal Arts College (LSA: Literature, Science, and the Arts). Freshmen can also apply to Architecture, Engineering, Performing Arts, Kinesiology, and Nursing. Students interested in Education, Business, Social Work, Pharmacy, Public Policy, and some other programs must apply and be accepted into the program during freshman or sophomore years (although some give Freshman Preferred Admissions, aka guaranteed placement, when they’re accepted to the university).

Unusual majors include: Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic Studies; Interarts Performance; Microbiology; Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering; and Screen Arts and Culture.

(c) 2015

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