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Central Washington University

Central Washington University (visited 6/21/17)

CWU 2CWU was a surprise in the best possible way. I walked away knowing that I’d be comfortable recommending this school to students: it’s a welcoming, modern, attractive campus with a lot of unusual majors that would appeal even to students coming from across the country. Check out this YouTube video put together by the Arts and Humanities Departments – made entirely (including the music) by faculty and students in that school!

CWU mascot 2

The mascot in front of the student center which also houses their Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals office

All first-year students are required to live on campus and therefore get priority for housing. Many live in 4-person “pods” (like suites). There are about a dozen LLCs available; our tour guide lived in the Aviation LLC his first year even though he ended up not majoring in it. There are some university-owned apartments available for upperclassmen. Off-campus housing is relatively easy to find and not expensive. Ellensburg is a small, easily manageable city with things to do and with lots of access to outdoor activities. Students can fly into Sea-Tac airport and get school shuttles for the 2-ish hour trip to campus.

CWU sculpture

One of many such sculptures on campus

Despite being a medium-sized university of about 11,000 students, they take excellent care of students and work hard to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks. Students get both a Major and a Support Advisor so there are plenty of people checking in on them. They are dedicated to providing accessible education for students, particularly those who historically have not had easy access to higher education. Their first-gen students graduate well above the national average, for example. One student spoke to us at dinner; he was extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities and support he received at the college, saying that his success came due to the support he got from faculty and the institution as a whole.

CWU sci 1

One of 2 new science buildings

The evening we were on campus, one of the physics students gave us a mini-lecture on Dark Matter… we couldn’t believe he wasn’t a professor! The Astronomy Club gives monthly presentation, so this was something they would have available to students and the community at large. A physics professor then let us crawl into their portable planetarium (who knew that was even a thing!?); it looked a bit like an igloo and easily fit 25 people. (We also got to go into their permanent planetarium but the equipment was being upgraded so we were unable to see it in action). He gave us a great presentation followed by an extensive tour of the geology and physics labs and ending at the telescope and observatory on the roof.

They offer a number of interesting and/or unique majors such as:

  • CWU museumMuseum Studies
    • They’ve excavated a mammoth about 30 minutes from here and will most likely keep the bones on campus since students did a lot of the work.
  • Law & Justice
  • Para-medicine
  • Aviation/Aerospace/Aviation Management
    • Aviation has been going on for about 40 years; there’s a pilot shortage and they’ll get jobs, but it’s a lot of money up front for the training.
    • There are additional admissions requirements such as a physical for flying.
    • There are 60 incoming freshman bringing it up to 160 total. They’re hoping to bring even more in next year.
  • CWU mammoth

    The first mammoth bone excavated

    Music

  • Sciences (College of Sciences combines Computational, Natural, and Social Sciences)
    • They have a Cadaver Lab!
    • The geology department is the largest in the state
    • A physics professor has a grant to discover exoplanets.
  • Primate Behavior and Ecology: Washoe, one of the original chimps that was taught ASL lived here.
  • Integrated Energy Management
  • CWU japanese garden

    Part of the campus Japanese Garden

    The Business School is AACSB accredited (less than 5% of more than16,000 schools get this). Admission is not competitive but must keep a 2.5 GPA to stay in the program; students can declare after 30 credits.

    • There are 8 concentrations including HR, Economic Forecasting, Supply Chain, and Managerial Economics
  • Safety and Health Management: they have the top program in west. Two professors got awarded National Educators of the Year awards.
  • Apparels, Textiles, and Merchandising: graduates can work as designers or buyers.
  • Global Wine Studies: This is not meant to teach students how to make wine (although they do learn how) but focus on the marketing.
  • Craft Brewing: Students do learn how to make beer in this major! “They get a lot of science.” They can also get a certificate in this if they don’t want the whole major.
  • They’re starting Hospitality Program and will incorporate the beer and wine programs into the event management. This will be an international program where they can work in Spain, too. Getting a dual degree from each institution will be a possibly.
  • Their Army and AF ROTC programs win awards across the country.
CWU creek 1

This stream runs through campus. “You could swim in it, but I’m not sure you want to,” said the tour guide. “However, it is tradition for seniors to float down it in tubes right before graduation.”

Admission to the university is automatic – without the test scores – if a student has a 3.4 and will have completed all the College Academic Requirements by graduation (but they still need to submit test scores; they just aren’t used for admissions, but are looked at for scholarships and for placement). All others go through the comprehensive review process. This is already one of the most affordable institutions in the Pacific Northwest. On top of that, they offer WUE to qualifying students who then pay in-state tuition x 1.5. The average incoming GPAs for WUE students was a 3.31; overall was a 3.1.

© 2017

Earlham College

Earlham College (visited 6/12/17)

Earlham swing“The pool here is too short for competition because …. Quakers!” said the tour guide. Earlham does, however, have an excellent club equestrian team and an Equestrian Center where students can board their horses.

Earlham rain gardenAs a CTCL school, it’s not a surprise that Earlham is known for its cutting edge integrated learning (and Money magazine has ranked them as top college in Indiana). They are vocal in their support for a liberal arts education: “You should be able to parachute into any situation and figure it out. You need to listen to others. It doesn’t mean you have to change your core values, but you need to understand what other people are talking about. They might have ideas you want to incorporate. Liberal Arts gives you the critical thinking and multi-disciplinary perspectives you need in today’s society,” said the college President.

Earlham zen garden

Zen Garden

Earlham is a Quaker-affiliated school; other than perhaps the Japanese Garden in the courtyard of the Student Center (“students like to go there to get their Zen on,” said one admissions rep), there’s no visual indication that there’s any affiliation at all. However, they do embrace Quaker values: respect for one another, integrity, social justice, simplicity, and creation of community – they work particularly hard at this. The Peace/Justice mindset was evident even on the outskirts of campus where “War is Not the Answer” signs sat on lawns of houses, many of which (we later learned) were owned by Earlham and used as an upperclassmen housing option. A professor said, “Students can learn to protest on any campus, but this is one of a few where you can learn to do it and build community, not destroy it. Students will do what they need to do, but they’ll be asking questions along the way.” One student said, “I’m not a Quaker, but it’s what I treasure about the school.” Another said, “We aren’t a quiet student body.”

Earlham quad 2This is primarily a residential campus with most students (about 95%) living on or adjacent to the 800 acre campus. “We’re unapologetic about the 4 year residency requirement.” There are 7 dorms (2 all-female, 1 all-male) including gender-neutral housing. They provide “graduated living options” where first-years are in cohorts in traditional dorms or floors. Seniors can live in one of the 20 houses on the perimeter of campus, many of which are themed housing options. About ¾ of these are consistent every year (cultural or language, faith-based, etc). The others are Friendship Houses: students petition to live with friends, and they have to explain what this group will do to contribute to campus. Applications are read without names attached by groups of other students. “Students get comfortable living in ambiguous environments. This is where self-discovery happens which can take time. We specialize in helping them do this,” said the dean of residential life.

Earlham playing fieldsThe main part of campus sits on 200 of the school’s property; the remaining 600 acres are called “Back Campus” with trails for hiking/biking/running, educational research, horseback riding, and more. Campus is never quiet: “Students tend to get over-involved. Most people here don’t know how to say no,” said a tour guide. 30% participate in NCAA DIII varsity sports. The student-athlete experience is positive here. The town of Richmond is welcoming of students with jobs and internships.

Earlham sci cntr

Science Center

Earlham provides an intellectually stimulating environment which is also close and nurturing. One of the students said, “Academics are so much better than I thought! Maybe also a little less fun …” although he said this good humor with a smile on his face! The stand-out program at Earlham is EPIC: Earlham Plan for Integrative Collaboration. It focuses on:

  • Intellectual Inquiry through Liberal Arts explorations, the major, and Integrated Pathways combining curricular and co-curricular opportunities such as
    • Medical Humanities (ethical and social aspects of medical sciences)
    • Peace Corps Prep School for international development, offering courses in 6 sectors of the PC (Agriculture, education, etc). They get a notation on their transcript.
  • Earlham stu cntr

    Student Center

    Immersion Experiences: internships, research, off-campus study

    • The Border Studies Program is a unique study-away experience; students are based in Tucson but spend time on both sides of the border. This program takes a sociological, ecological, and economical approach to immigration and migration, human rights, food, indigenous cultures, and more. This is open to students from all majors as long as they have completed at least 1 year of college level Spanish.
    • Other immersion experiences include semesters in India (Tibetan Studies), Jordan, Ecuador, and more.
  • Integrated Learning including diverse collaboration, skill and competency development, career explorations

Earlham 3There are 5 Centers for students to choose from within this program:

  • Center for Global Health (looking at things ranging from the degradation of natural habitats, food shortages, and health issues). Students have collaborated with Departments of State, School Districts, and more.
  • Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Social Justice
  • Global Education
  • Career Education and Community Engagement

Earlham 11EPIC’s purpose is to advance the schools’ commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship, innovative teaching, learning, and transformative social action by funding internships or research for all interested students. These are transformative experiences; by funding them, it addresses an equity issue. Some students are in a position to do exciting internships, but others are precluded from those opportunities due to economics. This program makes it available to everyone, not just the privileged students.

Earlham solar chargingThey’ve recently built the CoLab (CoLaboratory) which allows a physical space for interdisciplinary work to happen. Stemming from this type of work, a team of 4 Earlham students won the Hult Prize, a student competition for Social Good. This was an international competition against 25,000 teams; they were in the top 6. The four students created an interdisciplinary team (one of the requirements) representing majors in Econ, Business, and Peace & Justice. They had to create a project to double the income of 10 million people by 2017; they created an “UberBus” in Kenya and are now expanding it with the $1million in start-up money they won!

Earlham qud 4They’ve been named as a Top 10 Most Diverse Campus. International students are well taken care of here. There are 3 dedicated international advisors, and students will even get shuttled from the Dayton airport. 70% of students will study abroad.

Their Museum Studies program (run jointly by the Art, Biology, Geology, and History departments) is amazing! Students curate exhibits and run the museum tours. Many combine this with a business program for marketing and advertising.

The New Arts building has individual studios for the Fine Arts students. They offer Fibers and Weaving concentration and Photography (about half of the art majors have a photo concentration) as well as extensive metalworking and ceramics labs. “We used to be kind of invisible,” said the Chair of the program. “We had studios and offices and darkrooms scattered across campus. The new building changes that.” The theater and music departments are also well outfitted; Michael C. Hall (Dexter) is an Earlham alum.

© 2017

Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry College (visited 11/4/16)

eh-quad-1This is the only college I know of that has a “retirement home” for horses – and the only I’ve heard of that enable students to earn a semester’s worth of work for through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (or another of similar scope).

eh-barn-1

The Equestrian Center barn

When E&H bought Virginia Intermont University in 2014, they took over their barn and equestrian program. One student rider we spoke to told us, “I’m glad they bought it because I wouldn’t have achieved this success without it.” About 50 horses live at the Equestrian Center, 16 miles from the main campus (3 shuttles a day run back and forth). All the horses are donated, including “some famous ones” like a horse from the Beijing Olympics. An alum, concerned about what would happen when they got too old for the 60-ish riders in the Equine Studies program, donated $250,000 for a retirement barn for the older horses. That barn, currently with 5 residents (and room for 6 more per year after this) sits adjacent to the main campus.

eh-studentE&H is another CTCL school that did not disappoint. Students we spoke to – ranging from tour guides to random kids in the café to the singers performing for us over dinner – couldn’t say enough about the school. One said, “People are so nice, it’s almost creepy!” Another one had this to say about academics: “Classes are challenging but not so much that you get down on yourself.”

It’s no wonder kids rave about their classes: E&H has more Virginia Professors of the Year than UVA and VTech combined!

eh-quad-and-chapelAt any CTCL school, I ask students how the institution has changed their lives. Here’s what I got:

  • “I can be myself here.”
  • “The music program is amazing and I’ve learned so much. It’s pushed me well beyond my comfort zone.”
  • “Individual attention I get here is outstanding. I really didn’t expect that from college.”
  • “People are really accepting. We’re not labeled here. We can spend hours in rehearsals or in a practice room. People don’t see that as weird. They just say that we’re hard working.”
  • “We go to a lot of auditions. We met people from schools where the students there didn’t even know each other. Here we do, and we support and help each other all the time.”
eh-statue-henry

The Patrick Henry statue

E&H is named for Patrick Henry (yes, of “Give me liberty or give me death!” fame – also the 1st Governor of Virginia) and John Emory (a Bishop of the Methodist Church); statues of the 2 men stand prominently in the middle of campus facing each other (and will often get dressed up

eh-statue-emory

The John Emory statue

by students for special occasions). A third statue of Ephraim Wiley (the longest standing college president) sits on top of one of the main buildings. This statue and the Chapel are the same height to show Wiley’s belief of their equal importance in the students’ education. E&H is associated with the Methodist church, and students must take 1 religion course. However, that’s where the religious requirements end.

There are a few academic programs worth highlighting:

  • eh-tech-workshop

    The theater tech workshop

    The music and theater programs are great, with BFAs offered in Acting, Directing, Musical Theater, and Production & Design. They put on 4-6 productions a year. They were putting on Rocky Horror Picture Show right after we visited (including a midnight performance!), so the students performed several numbers for us during dinner. There are several scholarship for music based on audition. The Chorale competes internationally (they went to South Africa last year). Students tend to get involved cross-disciplines (ie, the marching band Drum Major is in chorale).

  • eh-art-displayThe Art program is developing a Museum Studies Track. Students curate shows from the college’s permanent collection. They bring in visiting artists who give talks to the students (the community is invited as well). When we visited, the art on display in the main gallery was fresh from Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian). 30-35 students from all disciplines including EnviSci helped to install it. The insects are all real, mostly from SE Asia and the Pacific Rim. The exhibit is meant to make a positive out of negative; the Skull symbolizes what could happen and the eye is meant to represent the Evil Eye.
  • Lyceum Program: students must attend a certain number of lectures and cultural events. All arts count towards this.
  • Along with standard majors, they offer unique programs like Civil Innovation; Politics, Law, and International Relations; and a 5-year, BA/MA program in Community and Organizational Leadership. Students can build their own major if they choose to do so.
eh-debate-room

The Hermesian Literary Society room

Something unique are the debate rooms set aside for the 2 main Literary Societies/Debate clubs on campus. The Hermesian Literary Society (Lincoln-Douglass style debating) was founded when the school was founded; it stopped for awhile and was restarted 4 years ago; students interested in joining must take part in an introductory debate in which they can decide the topic. The Calliopean Room is across the hall; they debate in Parliamentary Style. There’s a friendly rivalry between them, and they’ll have intersocietal debates.

eh-dorm-1

One of the new dorm buildings

Most freshmen and 80% of all students live on campus. Two new apartment-style dorms have been built recently, both having about 250 beds. About 35% of the students join one of the 15 Greek organizations. While there’s no Greek Housing, members can choose to live together on a floor (although the college limits the number of students from any particular organization who can live on a single floor). This used to be a dry campus but that’s been rescinded, although a clear alcohol policy remains in effect.

eh-outdoor-arena

One of the outdoor riding areas

This has been named a Best Small School for Outdoor Activities. The Outdoor Program is well utilized by students. They’re located near the 2 highest peaks in Virginia, and they have a 9-hole golf course on campus. One of the most amazing programs is the Semester A.T.rail which lets students hike the length of the Appalachian Trail for a semester. They plan their program with the Director, but Nature Writing (an English Course) is required of all hikers.

eh-chapelStudents admit that there’s not much going on in the town of Emory, but “There’s a good farmer’s market in town.” On campus, however, there’s plenty to do. Football brings out big crowds. Homecoming is a big deal; lots of alumni come back for it. Tailgating becomes a networking event in addition to just being fun.

© 2016

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