campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Music Therapy”

Converse College (soon Converse University)

Converse College (visited 2/25/20)

Converse main bldg 2

The main building

Here are a few fun facts: 1) “Our pool is famous!” said the rep. “This is where Julia Robert’s character learned to swim in Sleeping with the Enemy.” 2) They have one of the largest music libraries in the south. 3) This is the only women’s college (for a little while yet!) in the nation to compete at the NCAA DII level, including an acrobatic/tumbling team. They do have an IHSA Equestrian team (which is NOT part of the NCAA).

Converse 4Converse is well worth taking a look at if you’re want a smaller school with a lot of academic, social, and athletic options located in a small city with accessible off-campus options and near an airport and other public transportation (so easy to get to for students coming from a distance!).

I knew almost nothing about Converse before arrival other than it was a small women’s college located in Spartanburg, about 5 minutes from Wofford. I expected it to be a bit overshadowed by its neighbor – but quickly learned that it’s holding its own. This is a pretty campus with plenty of green space and easy access to the wider Spartanburg community. I left impressed with the school. I was a little bit put off at first … although they had clear admissions parking spots and signs for Admissions pointing to the main building, once I walked into the main entrance, it was eerily quiet (granted, it was about 4:15 in the afternoon) and no sense of where the admissions office might be. I had gone a little too far and went in the main entrance rather than a door down the building a bit the right. I guess the couple balloons tied to the porch banister should’ve been a giveaway!

Converse quad 1

Some of the academic buildings

In February 2020, the Board voted to change their name to Converse University AND to go coed by 2021. They’ll continue to have Converse Women’s College under that umbrella as well as Converse University International. “We already have male students on campus for evening and graduate classes. It’s just broadening that.” Eight campus buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the large main building. In addition to offices, the dining hall is in there, so all students come through on a regular basis. There’s also dorm space in one wing.

Converse statue 2

Part of the quad with one of the many statues around campus

They recently slashed tuition by 43%, so that now sits at $19,500 (2020-21 school year). Scholarships are now lower since they’re already starting at a much lower price-point. Out-of-state can get an additional $1,000 scholarship. Sliding Scale is 60% GPA, 40% test scores. Went test-optional in November. If they don’t want to submit, they select that on the app. They scrutinize the transcript more and work off a different scale. They have some stackable awards: to get a named Music scholarship, you have to major or minor; for smaller ones, you only have to participate in an ensemble. For Dance, they have to be in the minor (there’s no major); for Musical Theater/theater, you don’t have to major or minor.

A few of their traditions include:

  • Converse dorms 2

    Some of the dorms

    Big Sis/Little Sis – incoming students (including transfers) gets paired with someone in junior class. They get hints and gifts during the first week, and then there’s a reveal night.

  • Every student in Even Years become Pink Panthers; Odd Years are Red Devils. The Bigs will make horns/tail or panther ears/tail for their Littles (and sometimes these get worn at graduation!). Sometimes there are competitions.
  • Opening Convocation: Faculty and Staff in are regalia, the Honor Code gets signed (And then hangs in the Main Building), and there are picnics and other frivolity.
  • Founders Day with a picnic on the lawn with fried chicken and Strawberries & cream for dessert (the founder’s favorite meal).
  • Each class has a special ceremony in the spring. Freshman pick their mentor (advisor, another student, coach, etc – whoever helped navigate the first year) and they present the pin to the student. Sophomores get a Sisterhood Bracelet. Juniors get Class Rings.

Classes are typically capped at 25 students (usually those are Gen eds); most classes are smaller. All students take a First Year Seminar which is fairly typical to what you’d find at other schools.

They have a few fairly specialized majors for a school this size (a little over 1,000 undergrads):

© 2020

 

University of Louisville

University of Louisville (visited 9/22/19)

Louisville seal

The U of L Cardinal seal. Don’t step on it!

Here are some fun facts about UofL:

  • A favorite tradition is the annual all-you-can-eat crawfish boil.
  • A graduate from the UofL headed the team of engineers that developed Astroturf!
  • The UofL marching band has performed My Old Kentucky Home prior to the Kentucky Derby since 1936.
  • They’ve been a top producer of the nation’s Fulbright Scholars with 12 winners last year, bringing the total to 133 awards since 2003.
  • They’ve been named the #1 friendliest public institution in the south for the LGBTQ+ community (and there’s a popularLGBTQ+ LLC option).
  • Louisville Thinker 1

    The Thinker statue in front of the library

    The first ever ER opened in 1911 at what today is the UofL Hospital where the first hand transplant and the first artificial heart transplant were done, and the Guardasil vaccine was developed.

  • UofL is 1 of only 13 colleges designated as a Supreme Court Repository. Justice Brandeis and his wife are buried here.
  • The have a First-cast of the First-mold statue of The Thinker in front of the library.
  • About 60% of freshmen entered with college credit. They were one of the first schools in the country to require that students get college credit for a 3+ on the APs.
  • OOS students pay about the same as in-state if they’re taking online classes.

Louisville flowersThis is a beautiful campus in an urban area (Louisville is the largest city in the Commonwealth). They’re holding steady at just under 12,000 undergrads and aren’t looking to grow; they don’t have the res halls or academic space to grow comfortably, but there are 2 new residence halls opening in 2021 and 2022. Dorm options include traditional, suites, LLCs, and apartments. There’s a 2-year residency requirement with about 70% of first-year students (and about ¼ of the entire student body) living on campus. However, all full-time students, even commuters, must have a meal plan. “It’s one way that we have been able to improve our food options and create more of a community,” said a rep.

Louisville tower aptsAbout 18% of the students join Greek life. Most organizations are purely social but there are some with housing, “usually the ones that were here first,” said the tour guide. Formal rush happens over the 2nd and 3rd weekends of the fall. They have informal “rolling” rush if specific groups want to increase their numbers. “Most groups are tight knit and active,” said one of the tour guides. “They’re very socially responsible.” They also have all Divine Nine Greek chapters (and as a side note, U of L is the nation’s top university for serving the needs of African American students, according to a study from USC’s Race and Equity Center).

Louisville interfaith

The campus interfaith center

Louisville is an interesting city. “It has a small town feel in a big city. There’s something for everyone in regards to identity and interests,” said the tour guide. “It’s a very Catholic community, but we have a lot of diversity on campus,” said the rep. About 20% of students come from outside Kentucky with the majority of those coming from Indiana – not surprising since you can literally walk there across the many bridges spanning the Ohio river to the north of the city. The city is home to many corporate headquarters such as Humana, Papa John’s International, Brown Forman, and KFC/Yum (Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) which allows for plenty of internships opportunities. The city is also a UPS hub; in-state students who work the overnight shift get their tuition paid (out-of-state students get in-state tuition applied to their bill) and $14 an hour.

Louisville 14“Even though it’s a larger school, it’s a 10-minute walk to anywhere on campus, not counting the football stadium.” The university has great sports teams with 20 team or individual national championships and 111 conference championships to their name. Students can buy into a monthly subscription plan ($10/month) that will get them into all football and basketball games. Other games are free.

Louisville 20For admissions, they’re looking for a 20 ACT (or SAT equivalent) and a 2.5 GPA except for Business and Engineering which have higher standards. Students falling under those benchmarks are put up to committee for discussion, and they may require additional materials. They’ll accept test scores directly from a counselor, but not from a student. They do not superscore for admissions or scholarships “but are ready to revisit that policy for Fall 2021.”

Louisville 4Classes aren’t as large as you might think for a school this size. The tour guides said that their smallest classes had 4 and 12 students. The largest classes for both had 200 students, both intro level. One of the guides (a senior) said that she’s only had 3 classes with more than 100 students during her time here. Their favorite classes were Psychology of Music (she loved learning about how we process sound and its effects on behavior); the other’s favorite was Ancient Greek for Translation. She’s in her 3rd year of the language and basically taking it for fun.

Louisville 19Academically, the top programs at the university include engineering, business, nursing, and natural sciences. They’re doing some interesting things with programs and academics:

  • They offer a 3+3 accelerated law program leading to their bachelors and JD in 6 years. They can apply their scholarship money to that 4th year which saves about 1 year of law school debt.
  • Engineering has 3 mandatory coops built into the program starting in the second semester of Sophomore year (except bioengineering which is on a different track). Biomedical engineering students have a 100% acceptance rate to med school and the highest percentage of women (they’re looking for 33% overall in all engo programs).
  • Louisville quad 2The Liberal Studies Program allows students to design their own degree combining 3 concentrations.
  • Music Therapy major is ranked as best in region. They offer a range of BM and BA in the School of Music including Theory, Education, Composition, History, and Performance.
  • Nursing is ranked in the top 60 in the country by USNWR.
  • They’re flipping the curriculum in classes in their newest building: lectures are sent in advance which students must watch. During class, they do homework, labs, etc.
  • A few more unusual majors include ASL Interpretation, Business Management in Equine Science (it IS Kentucky, after all!), Organizational Leadership and Learning, Atmospheric Science, and Pan-African Studies.

© 2019

 

 

Utah State University

Utah State University (visited 9/26/18)

USU A quad

The quad and the Aggie A … if you kiss an Aggie on top of the A, then you, too, are an Aggie! It’s a major tradition here.

Here are some cool facts about USU:

  • You can take a Drone Photography class!
  • USU is a NASA Space Grant University: “We send more things into space than any other institution in the US.”
  • They’ve had several Carnegie professors, more than most places!
  • They have the 2nd Oldest Undergrad Research Program in the nation after MIT.
  • They have a spider silk lab on campus. They put the silk into goats and can then extract that from the milk and have as much silk as they want! They’ve made Kevlar vests, ligaments in medical stuff, and more.
  • USU drone 1

    Students in the Drone Photography class

    They are the 7th lowest costing public university in the country: the out-of-state cost of attendance is under $28,000 total (and even lower at the regional campuses).

  • The HOWL is the largest Halloween Party in the country.
  • They have one of the largest LDS Institutes in the country.
  • Their quad is used for military training, and sometimes helicopters land there for ROTC. (Students can get commissioned through Air Force ROTC within the Aerospace Studies or Army ROTC with Military Science)

USU Old MainUSU has 3 residential campuses; the main campus in Logan (a small city north of SLC) has 18,000 undergrads; another 8,000 students study on other 2 regional campuses. There’s also a large online presence, offering 400 online classes for 88 Masters and 41 doctoral programs. All 50 states and 78 countries are represented with 30% of students from outside of Utah; 84% of students “live away from home” (which includes students living in town, not only in university housing).

USU bikes mntnsI was incredibly impressed with the campus. It was attractive and easy to navigate with lots of open space and a mountain vista around campus. This is a great place for outdoorsy types; certainly the winter sports are notable, but people clearly want to be all year with options for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and more. Students were around campus in groups, walking together or utilizing the space on the quad for studying, classes, and hanging out. Students can use Logan town busses for free; shuttles to SLC take about 90 minutes, run 3 times a day, and cost $40.

USU frat house 1

There are a few Greek Houses

The students we spoke to love the school: “there are so many opportunities to do whatever we want in or out of the classroom.” One of them mentioned the weekly campus Farmer’s market. Greek life is almost non-existent (but it’s there if you want it). Sports are a huge deal here, and the football team is doing really well nationally. “Going to games is a big deal – students even camp out for the game against Air Force. They open the gates at 3:00 am. You need to be there to get into the first rows,” said one of the tour guides.

USU engineering quadThis is Utah’s Land Grant institution so it’s not surprising that their Agriculture and Applied Sciences are particularly strong. They offer really cool majors such as Agricultural Communication and Journalism; Aviation Technology (Pilot or Maintenance Management); Landscape Architecture; Residential Landscape Design and Development; Land, Plant, and Climate Systems; Animal, Dairy, and Vet Sciences; and Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. There are further options through the College of Natural Resources such as Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Ecology and Management of Rangelands, Forests, or Wildlife.

USU Book automation

Part of the automatic retrieval system in the library for research books: “It’s like Monster’s Inc,” said the tour guide.

The Engineering Department is well regarded. There’s a Water Lab in the Civil Engineering department. Aeronautics is a concentration within Mechanical Engineering (and they offer graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering. As long as they meet the GPA, they’re in that program.)

Nursing, however, is competitive, taking 26-30 students at a time. The program just started so they are working on accreditation; they need to have a graduating class before full accreditation can happen; this is “retroactive” for current students so they aren’t hurt by this. Admission to the program works on a points system, students usually apply in sophomore year after completing pre-reqs.

Students can earn a BFA in Art or Theater; they do offer Interior Design as well (BID) and Music Therapy.

USU stu cntr intThe admissions office does a lot of national outreach to increase their out-of-state population (already just over 25%), including nationwide open houses where they’ll tell applicants on the spot if they’re eligible for scholarships as long as they apply while they’re there. Scholarships are generous, but many are contingent on students gaining residency after the first year. They recognize that much of this depends on not being claimed on the parents’ taxes. They said that often when families do the math, they could come out ahead with the student declaring Utah Residency. If a student chooses not get Utah residency, the scholarship will only pay the in-state tuition amount after the first year, and the family is responsible for the difference. If students accept the WUE scholarship, they must complete their degree within 4 years; if they go beyond that, they revert to the full out-of-state tuition starting the 9th semester.

© 2018

 

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University (Visited 6/21/17)

SPU clockSPU is Christian university affiliated with the Free Methodists. They hope people committed to faith – in whatever form that means to them – will come here. “If they are connected to their faith, great. If not, we hope they understand why other people have theirs. We want people to engage with people who are different. Our faith compels us to be a different type of institution and to be engaged: we engage the culture in order to change the world,” said one of the reps. The YouTube video Celebrating 125 Years at SPU is worth a look (as a side note, a lot of colleges in the area are celebrating their 125th year …).

SPU 1Knowing that there are plenty of liberal arts schools to choose from, the reps did a good job addressing what sets them apart. They brought up 3 points of distinction:

  • Location: “We’re in a major city but tucked into a safe neighborhood of Queen Anne Hill with connections to local business. Ten Fortune 500 companies are here. Amazon is a 10 minute walk away.”
  • SPU Blakely Island

    Classes offered at Blakely Island

    Rigorous academics and good resources: “We own half of Blakely Island in the San Juans for research.”

  • Transformational Experiences: “Christianity is at the core. Faculty and staff have to sign a faith statement, but students do not. We appreciate all the places they’re coming from.”

About 80% of the students do self-identify as Christian. There is a lifestyle expectation here, including not drinking on campus. As part of the Common Curriculum, students need to take a series of 3 religion classes including a Scriptures class. “We’re graded on how well we interact with the material, not if we believe it,” said one of the students. University Series: Formation (of the church), Scriptures, and Theology (why do we believe what we believe? What does it mean to be a Christian?).

SPU dorm

One of the dorms

The climate on campus is one of acceptance. “We even have an active LGBTQ group which some people don’t expect at a Christian college,” said a student. Like much of the Pacific Northwest, the overall atmosphere is relatively liberal, but conservatives have a home here, too. “We like having discussions.” Campus is active, and the city is even to navigate. “There’s no need for a car here. I’d recommend a bike if anything,” said the tour guide.

SPU 6Currently, SPU is granting enough PhDs in relation to the undergrad population to be classified as a National R3 university. “We train students to solve problems,” said a faculty member. “We’re small enough to be intimate but large enough to offer the same breadth and depth as a larger university.” Academics are strong across the board, but some of their particular strengths are:

  • SPU music tech

    One of the Music Tech studios

    Pre-med students get into medical schools at a 95% acceptance rate with most students scoring in the 90th percentile on the MCAT.

  • Nursing boasts a 100% employment (and most nursing students get multiple offers before graduation).
  • Theater: “This is the 3rd most important theater city in the country. The PT faculty in the arts are very strong. They’re able to offer all they do because of location.
  • Music Therapy – take 2 classes then apply. There are about 20 spots available per quarter.
  • Engineering majors participate in year long design projects.

SPU 4Unusual Majors and minors include:

© 2017

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (visited 6/13/17)

SMWC 1The students who attend SMWC love it here… but it is a self-selecting sort of place. “People who come here pretty much know what they’re in for,” said the tour guide. For the student who is looking for small and Catholic – and possibly an equestrian program – this is the school. Most of campus is pretty with attractive buildings and amazing landscaping (making parts feel very wooded – go figure!); however parts of it raise eyebrows such as the weeds on the tennis courts. “You can tell we don’t have a team,” said the tour guide.

SMWC statues

Some of the statues around campus.

This liberal arts college sits 10 minutes outside of Terra Haute which is very much a college town (Indiana State and Rose-Hulman are both here). “We’re trying hard to keep kids here on the weekends. We have a great student-life staff,” said an admissions rep. There are things to do, but it’s not a bustling campus, and nothing is walkable from campus. “I would rank the craziness factor at about a 3,” said the tour guide. “There’s definitely a social life and I’ve made lots of friends, but events end early. But that means that I can also get my work done. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.” Anyone can have cars and there are currently no shuttles offered to students to help get around town. It’s also a dry campus.

SMWC dorm room

One of the dorm rooms; many are suite-style and some even have balconies!

SMWC is growing with the largest incoming class to date entering this fall. This is also their 3rd year of being coed. “In real numbers, that’s about 40 guys out of about 380-400,” said the rep. They’re actively trying to change perceptions about the school (particularly in terms of them accepting men), and they’ve added golf last year with Cross Country and Equestrian (Western Hunt Seat) starting this fall (2017). In 2018, they’ll add soccer. Our tour guide didn’t pick the college because it was all-female, “but I ended up loving it!” However, she thinks that going coed is also a positive change for the school.

SMWC chapel ext

The chapel; the dining hall is in the building attached at the left

They can currently accommodate 400 students in the dorm (there’s only 1), but there are two floors in another building that can be renovated to re-use as dorm rooms as the need arises. About 240 will live on campus this fall. The single dorm building also houses security, the chapel, some departmental offices, mailboxes, and a place for breakfast to be served. Lunch and dinner are across campus in the building attached to the convent. “Meals are good! I’d rank food as about an 8. The community can eat brunch here on the weekends. We get that as part of our meal plan.”

SMWC shell chapel

The interior of the Shell Chapel

Campus is very clearly Catholic, although mass is never required and the only religious requirement is 1 philosophy or religion class. There are statues (including a walkway with the Stations of the Cross), a large chapel, a small chapel, a churchyard where many of the nuns are buried, a grotto, etc around campus. Campus was founded by the Sisters of Providence from France, and many still live on campus, “but it’s like a retirement home. They don’t teach, but will sometimes come in to do guest lectures on campus,” said the tour guide. This order is very liberal, and they’re often seen protesting the death penalty and other social justice issues. The nuns run an alpaca farm and use the wool in fair-trade goods. Students and community members can take spinning classes.

SMWC horses

Some of the horses on campus with the barns in the background

Classes average 11 students with an option for online classes for undergraduates. Their strongest program might revolve around the extensive equestrian center. They offer Equine Studies, Equine Training and Instruction, and Equine Business Management as majors with Equine Assisted Therapy and Equine Science as minors. Students in the equestrian programs/majors are assigned a horse which they must take care of as part of their grade. The school also gets a number of yearlings that students train as part of a class.

SMWC grotto

The campus grotto

Other notable programs include Music Therapy, Professional Writing, Human Resource Management, 3+1 Leadership Development program (pairing any major with a Masters in LD), Healthcare Administration, and Nursing. Music is coming back; it had been gone for awhile because of budget cuts.

SMWC staircase

The main stairwell in the dorm

One of the favorite traditions is the Ring Ceremony. Juniors get class rings towards the end of the year during a formal ceremony after a dinner where they’re wearing their caps and gowns. This ring is presented to them by an alum, and they can choose who gives it to them. At this point, they wear it with the letters facing towards themselves. At the end of senior year, they have the Oak Leaf Ceremony where they wear oak leaf crowns (“I’m not sure if this will change now that we’re coed,” said the tour guide) and they turn their rings around to “face the world.”

In addition to regular merit scholarships, they offer a competitive, full-tuition scholarship. Students write essays for the first round; from these, admissions will select students to interview; 4 get the scholarship.

© 2017

Queens University of Charlotte

Queens University of Charlotte (visited 3/30/17)

Queens quad 3“We get kids who might fly under the radar, but we get the stand-outs, as well,” said a rep. “Maybe they haven’t blossomed yet. Students get a lot of opportunities here.” A parent told one of the reps (who relayed the story): “my daughter will become a leader for life here. I think the reality of Queens is ahead of its reputation.”

Queens hammock 2Queens plays up the idea of ‘Yes, AND’ – students can do several things without having to choose. Students have the best of both worlds: a small school (about 1500 undergrads) located 2 miles from the heart of Charlotte, a major city. Students complete meaningful internships and community service in whatever industry or service they’re interested in, during the school year, right down the road. Queens requires students to complete internships and will give credit for 2 of them, although students can do as many as they want.

Queens fountain 3The school is deliberate in its mission and how it gets manifested into the academics. General education requirements are organized in learning communities. “This is one of the most unique aspects of Queens,” said the Dean of University Programs. They’ve been implanting it for a couple years and getting data in now. It’s interdisciplinary, giving students skills needed for the workplace and understanding who they are as learners.

  • Queens CS LCThe 4 years are organized progressively: Explore, Express, Engage, and Synthesis. Students are presented with complex problems, must integrate learning, build communication fluency, link global and local contexts, and understand the well-being of communities.
  • Students engage in a core issue from multiple perspectives, taking 2 courses from 4+ options within a theme. Assignments cross both perspectives. There’s intentional group work at every level; teachers work together to model what they want students to do. Themes might include:
    • The New South: Politics of the New South (PoliSci), Lit & Film of the New South (Languages), Intro to Stats, New South (Math), Landscape of Identity (English) — How is place and identity interwoven?
    • The Challenge of Global Migration: Fabric of a Nation: Refugees in the US (History), Politics of Responses to Global Migration (PoliSci), Economics of Immigration (Business), Creating Transcultural Identities (English)
    • Urban Jungle, Infections & Zombies, Quest for Identity, Familial Identities, Human Journey, Art of Storytelling, Challenges for Journeys, Culture & Media, Global Migration, Gender, Image-making
    • Pursuit of Happiness: The Happiness Project, The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being, Six Questions of Socrates, Peace is Every Step

Queens statueFavorite classes of students on the panel were:

  • Principles of Management (2 students chose this): “There were 25 people in it. The culture is great. It’s discussion based. People can say whatever they want without worrying about being judged. The professor, the CEO of Sun Alliance, created such a welcoming environment.”
  • Cognitive Psych: “ I love the prof. It was probably the hardest in terms of how strict she is and what she demands. It combined psych and bio which I love.”
  • Intro to Creative Writing: “The Professor was amazing! It opened my eyes to so many methods of writing that I hadn’t even heard of. Not everyone was a major, but we were a community. I was excited to go to class.”
  • Media Design and Art: “We travelled to Germany and Switzerland for 2 weeks.”

Queens stu cntr 1Some other special academic things to point out are:

  • They have a direct-entry Nursing program; applicants need a 24 ACT/1150 SAT and a 3.5 unweighted GPA across academic classes. As long as they maintain a minimum GPA in the program, they can continue. 98% pass the NCLEX on the 1st or 2nd
  • Study Abroad: They’re ranked 7th nationally for most students studying abroad through the John Belk International Program (J-BIP):
  • Faculty Led courses: students take on-campus courses with travel components.
  • Semester or year abroad
  • Summer Business and International Studies: 4 weeks in France or Shanghai
  • Language immersion programs.
  • They have 5 NC Professors of the Year (Chapel Hill has 7 and is a much larger school).
  • Queens labA few programs of note include:
  • Queens bell tower 2A couple of their majors are shifting focus:
    • Environmental Studies is becoming Sustainability Studies
    • Religion is becoming Interfaith Studies.

Queens moved to its current campus in 1914; it’s full of beautiful brick buildings and green spaces. They went coed in 1979 (and are still heavily female). Almost half of their students come from NC; 8 % are international (155 students from 50 countries). About 1/3 of students self-identify as multi-cultural. Students tend towards the liberal side, but it’s not an overly political campus.

Students have to live on campus until they earn 90 credits; 70% of students live in the dorms. Campus is fairly active, but “closer to the holidays when it’s cold, more people seem to go home on the weekends,” said one of the tour guides. The food is pretty good: there are fewer choices, maybe, but the quality is pretty high. “Parking isn’t great on campus. You have to circle a bit, but there’s a lot of street parking.” There’s good public transportation including a street car and light rail.

Queens RexFor a school this size, they have a surprisingly strong DII athletic program (the only 2 teams not on the NCAA roster are Rugby and Triathalon), and they have a “Threepeat” Swim Team National Championship team. “DII tends to be more regional as well as more personal with a community feel,” said the Athletic Director. “We have the academics of DIII and Athletics of DI.” The major sports complex is located a couple miles off campus; shuttles run back and forth all day. Field Hockey, Soccer, Softball, and tennis all practice and play here. “If you want to be nationally competitive, our facilities are top-notch.”

Queens athletic center

One student said that she would change the fan-base and school spirit: “It feels so small at the games. It’s hard to get people out to support the teams. It definitely doesn’t have that large-school DI feel.” Also, as DII teams, they’re not fully funded programs. All sports have a certain number of scholarships. They work with admissions to help spread these out with academic scholarships.

Admissions recalculates GPA of core classes and superscores both the ACT and SAT. Their most competitive scholarship is the full-tuition Presidential Award which requires an additional application. These students tend to have a 4.0 recalculated GPA and a 30 ACT. The numbers (GPA and scores) count for 40% of the decision; the rest are all the extras. Scholarship interviewers do not have access to the applicants’ grades: if they’re at the interview stage, they’ve already been vetted academically by Admissions.

© 2017

Immaculata University

Immaculata University (visited 7/22/16)

Immaculata dome 2My tour guide completely sold me on this school. She loves it and answered questions well without being insipid or gushing. She, herself, had no real interest in coming here and had assumed that she would go to her local in-state institution. As a high school senior, she came here to watch a friend play field hockey and never looked back. “The Dome is Home! We say that a lot, and I don’t think people realize how much it’s true until it’s almost gone.” As a senior, it’s starting to sink in how little time she has left!

Immaculata statue 2She feels welcomed here, and all types of diversity are important and celebrated. Although this is a Catholic institution, no one is pressured to do anything with the religion. Our tour guide was surprised about how much the nuns were involved on campus; “We’re even friends on Facebook.” There are at least 20 who are full-time faculty. Others are in the Ministry Office, theater, etc. As an IHM school, one of their tenets is hospitality. There are plenty of Catholics (50-60% of the study body), but also a lot of non-Catholics and even non-Christians.

Immaculata 3There are 600 beds on campus (And almost all rooms have sinks in them); 85% freshmen and just over 50% of all undergrads live on campus. IU just built new apartments for upperclassmen, bringing the numbers up. There are some Learning-Living Communities, but no separate Greek housing for the 5 sororities and 1 frat. I asked if this was indicative of the gender ratio, but it’s not (the university went co-ed in 2005, and the gender ratio evened out last year). “There just aren’t as many guys who want to join,” said the tour guide.

Immaculata 2“The students who won’t succeed here are the ones with an attitude or ego. Teamwork is a huge deal, and if people don’t want to work with others, they won’t last long.” This is also a dry campus; most people come in knowing this and being ok with that, but she found some who liked to complain about it and didn’t want to follow that rule. They ended transferring as well. “We provide a nurturing environment because the students here are the ones who want to interact. People need to get involved. That’s how they find their purpose and their voice. Students can be shy but they need to be proactive,” said an admissions rep.

Immaculata AT dept

Part of the Athletic Training department

There are ore than 100 degree programs offered, and the goal is to fit students into their major as soon as they’re ready. The most popular majors are Education, Psych, Music (with an emphasis on performance, music education, or music therapy), and Nursing; growing majors include Business and Exercise Science (they even have a hydrotherapy pool). The Allied Health concentrations are specialized and include such areas as Nuclear Medicine Technology, Cardiovascular Invasive Technology, Medical Dosimetry, Radiation or Respiratory Therapy, and Surgical Technology.

Immaculata acad bldg 4

One of the academic buildings

Most majors require an external experience; all recommend one. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 7 students (her Forensics class which was also her favorite). Her largest (writing) had 21 students. Students do take a religion class; our tour guide took “Exploring Yourself in God and Prayer” and found it really useful. “It was really introspective.”

They want to make sure that the 4-year graduation rate is attainable. Retention is nearly 85%, and graduation rates hover around 75%. They are taking steps to increase both, even though they’re already above the national average. Students are accountable for themselves, but everyone works as a support system. A new Center for Student Engagement should be up within 2 years.

Immaculata main

Back Campus

Immaculata rotunda

Inside the Rotunda

Back Campus, the big quad behind the main buildings, holds many of the campus-wide events such as the Block Party, Back-to-School Bash, and Movies on the Quad. Weekends are busy so students like sticking around. In addition to things on campus, trips to Baltimore Aquarium, Dooney Park, Hershey Park and more are offered regularly. Philly is about 50 minutes by car (all students can have cars on campus for $50 a year). The closest train is about 2 miles away in Malvern, but a SEPTA bus that stops on campus every hour. A favorite tradition is the Christmas tree in the rotunda. It’s decorated, people sing carols, sophomores get their pins and juniors get their class rings. It’s a huge deal.

Immaculata bball awards

The 3 National Championship awards

Immaculata sports are DIII, and the university is considered both the Birthplace of Modern Women’s Basketball and the start of NCASS divisions. The Mighty Macs movie was about the team in the ‘70s that won 3 consecutive national championships. They’re currently expanding the pool by either a centimeter or an inch (no one seems quite sure which it is!) to make it officially long enough for swim meets. Professors work with athletes to work around schedules: “they know you didn’t create your travel schedule, but it’s still on you to be responsible about it. You have to get a paper signed by you, your coach, and the teacher if you’re going to miss a class.”

Immaculata music

Setting up for a concert

Students come mostly from the mid-Atlantic, usually with between 12-15 states are represented. It’s free to apply to Immaculata online and applicants only need 1 rec (2 for nursing). Music requires an audition. There are some music scholarships ranging up to $5000, stackable with other merit scholarships.

© 2016

Duquesne University

Duquesne University (visited 5/26/16)

~Duq Power Plant and downtown

The “Power Plant” which houses the gym and other student services is connected by a walkway to the main campus. Downtown is right behind it.

I can see why students love Duquesne. School pride is high … yes, their athletic teams do well, but the school also looks after its students academically, socially, and spiritually. Although located in downtown Pittsburgh, Duq is a cohesive campus in its own right. “Duquesne feels like it’s own city,” said one student. Once on campus, you feel like you’re completely away from the city, but the views of Pittsburgh from around campus don’t let you forget where you are. “A 15 minute walk will get students almost anywhere they want to go in town,” said one of the reps, and students take advantage of all the city has to offer, from internships to Pens tames (student tickets cost $28), and using the river trails for walking, running, and biking.

~Duq statue 3Founded in 1878 by the Spiritans (Holy Ghost Fathers), Duquesne clearly holds onto its Catholic identity. Twice during the information session, people said that they “serve students so they can serve others” and they “serve God by serving students.” They also said that they are “Catholic by founding, Ecumenical in everything they do.” 50% of the students self-identify as Catholic. However, no one could give me statistics on how many of the other 50% self-identify as non-Christian. An admissions counselor said that they did have students of other faiths, but wasn’t able to quantify anything to give a sense of how many.

~Duq housing for priests

Housing for some of the priests living on campus.

The campus is attractive with some parts prettier than others; some of the larger buildings have an institutional, concrete feel, but other parts are gorgeous with green quads and brick buildings. These older parts of campus have a much stronger sense of the Catholic identity with more sculptures and a large crucifix on the lawn of one quad. Other part of the campus have almost no reminders of the Catholic heritage. Priests still live on campus, but we didn’t see any walking around as we were touring.

~Duq dorms 3

Some of the dorms on campus

Almost 2/3 of the 6,000 undergrads live on campus, including 95% of freshmen. Freshmen and sophomores who live at home with families can commute; they are assigned a Commuter Assistant, an upperclassman who acts as a mentor (sort of like an RA for those living on campus). The Commuter Center in the union offers a study room, lounge, and computer room, and they organize special events to allow the commuters feel connected to each other and the school. Students can move off after sophomore year, but the college sets aside two dorms (1 suite-style, 1 apartments) specifically for upperclassmen.

~Duq rock gardenThe retention rate from 1st to 2nd semester freshman year is well into the 90s; freshman to sophomore year retention is in the high 80s. Students want to be here. The average class size is 28; they made a very big deal about this, seemingly skirting the issue of how that translates into actual class sizes. I did learn from the tour guide that Honors classes are capped at 18. All of her non-Honors classes have been bigger than that. There are plenty of lecture classes, as well, particularly at the intro level. Her largest class had 170 students.

~Duq fountain 3Students had lots of good things to say about the college and had a hard time thinking of anything they’d like to change. One tour guide said that it’s sometimes hard to find gluten-free food options … but did say that the food tends to be great, a fact supported by the fact that the school is ranked as “1 of the best 75 college for food.” Another student said, “Sometimes public transportation can be difficult, but everything is walkable, so it’s really not that big a deal. There’s a bus stop on the corner of campus that goes right to the airport.” Also, the subway (which is limited in Pittsburgh) is free! An admissions rep said, “It goes under the river now. Prepositions are important: you pay to go OVER the river, but you don’t pay to go UNDER.”

Students can choose from 80 majors within the 9 schools, including several interdisciplinary dual degree programs.

  • Biomed Engineering is an undergraduate program.
  • They offer a 5-year Forensic and Law degree, one of the few in the country that’s accredited.
  • The 3+3 law program allows students to major in anything within the Arts & Sciences or the Business schools and then transition into the law school. In order to do this, they must score in the 60th percentile on the LSAT.
  • Students declaring an Education major automatically get a minimum of 50% off their tuition; this could go up if their GPA is good enough.
  • The Music school offers a BA in Music as well as a Bachelor of Music in Performance, Music Technology, Education, Therapy, and Music with Elective Studies in Business.

We talked to three students; they said that their favorite classes were:

  • Public Policy: It’s taught by an army 3-Star General. “He’s really well-informed, and he makes the class interesting. It feels like we’re really going work for the Government.”
  • Uncovering Ireland during study abroad. “It’s nothing I ever thought about taking and I learned a lot! It was taught by guy who wrote Irish History for Dummies.
  • Cadaver Lab: “It’s insane to see all the nerves and tendons on a real human.”
~Duq crucifix

One of the quads; this one has a large crucifix on one side.

A lot of students do Study Abroad: Duquesne runs several programs including their Italian Campus in Rome, Duquesne in Dublin, Maymester, summer programs specific to majors, and Spring Breakaway courses. Students have the option of doing other approved programs, as well.

Although technically Duquesne will accept students on a rolling basis, there are a few deadlines to keep in mind:

  • Early Decision has an 11/1 deadline.
  • Students interested in the Biomedical Engineering, OT, PharmD, PA, and PT programs must apply under the Early Action deadline of 12/1.
  • The application fee is waived for all students who apply by 12/15.

~Duq athletic fieldStudents applying for programs in the Liberal Arts, Business, or Music schools do not need to submit test scores, but if they choose to send them in, Duquesne will superscore. Although they like to see recommendation letters and essays, these are optional for most programs except for health sciences which require them. Generally, the university is looking to admit people with at least a 3.0 (although the average tends to be much higher than that), with the Health Sciences needing a higher GPA and scores. Once admitted to Duquesne, students go directly into the program of their choice. Students must audition for the music school, but the university recommends that they apply to the university first. They will get a letter that they’re academically admissible and then will be fully admitted if they pass the audition. If they don’t pass, they can reaudition or talk to the admissions people about transferring to another school.

© 2016

Nazareth College

Nazareth College (visited 10/18/15)

Naz 4

Nazareth tunnels

Nazareth tunnels

Nazareth College is wonderful: the students are active and articulate, the range of majors and the experiential learning prepare students to be snatched up by employers, and the campus is beautiful (complete with bells ringing every hour). For people worried about winters in Upstate New York – worry no more. Tunnels connect much of campus. It’s a safe, manageable-sized campus in Pittsford, a cute suburb of Rochester; the city is accessible, but the immediate area is reminiscent of a New England town (with the noticeable exception that the Erie Canal runs right through it!). Our tour guide’s favorite things to do off campus were Public Market (farmer’s market plus craft fair) and hockey.

Naz stained glassDespite the name, this is not a religiously-based school. The President told us, “We have a Catholic heritage, a Jewish President, and a Muslim faith-based leader. We have a chapel, a Hillel, and a Muslim association. We do it all.” They were founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1924 but have been religiously independent and coed since 1971 – but they’re still approximately 70% female. One of the student panelists said, “Not too many guys would say this, but I wish there were more guys.”

~Naz flowers 2“The one thing we look for with every application is evidence that this is a good citizen.” They’re test-optional except for Nursing because they saw a correlation between SAT/ACT scores (1100 SAT, 24 ACT) and the NCLEX exam, and International applicants need to submit TOEFL scores. Admissions to OT, PT, and Nursing are more selective; physics is required for these majors. DPT applicants must have a minimum of 85 in all their math and science classes.

One of the science building libraries

One of the science building walkways complete with a play area for visiting children.

As a member of New American Colleges & Universities, “we’re focused on purposeful integration of liberal arts with professional programs for service to the community,” said the President. They run an amazing OT program and a 6-year DPT program to which students can apply as freshmen. Our tour guide was in the PT program and couldn’t say enough about it and the sciences in general at Naz: “I’ve composed aspirin, decomposed bug spray… it’s pretty cool stuff.”

Study groups in the around the science buildings

Study groups in and around the science buildings

Very rarely do you find clinics at a college this size. For a $5 donation, community members can get therapy on campus, allowing students to get clinical experience (under faculty supervision, of course!) early in their training. Naz built the new building because there was such a high demand that they doubled in size. They also have a cadaver lab; students in certain majors actually can do the dissections, and other students can watch what they’re doing. Every major incorporates experiential learning, and there are collaborative work spaces everywhere we went that were actually being used, even on a Sunday afternoon.

Their new programs include: Clinical Lab Science, Dance, 3+3 BA/JD with Syracuse Law, a combined 5-year OT program and a BSW/MSW with Brockport. Other programs of note include: Music Therapy (combines music and health/human services; students can audition on any primary instrument including voice); Toxicology; Technical Production; Community Youth Development; and languages (German, French, Spanish, Chinese, or Italian – or Modern Foreign Languages to focus on 2 languages).

~Naz sculpture garden

A tucked-away courtyard

Their music program (performance, business, therapy, education, theater, or general music) is phenomenal. One of the music professors wrote to the president of Elio Cars because there wasn’t music in the commercials; she asked if the kids could compete to compose the music, and they accepted. The same professor contacted Josh Grogan’s agent when he was touring through upstate NY and asked if he needed backup singers; he did, and 20 Naz students sang backup for his Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo concerts. Talent-based music scholarships for NON-majors are available.

~Naz doorwayThe new Core requirements went into effect for students who are now juniors. A Rep called it the “The Uncommon Core: The starting point is the student, not available courses.” Students focus on a question to explore and choose classes that help them answer that question. This was designed to enhance the skills most important to employers – critical thinking, persuasive communications, and problem solving. Students complete an online portfolio in which they save one major piece per class as well as reflections. Papers are graded on the database so students don’t have a choice but to upload their work. They must be doing something right: they’re one of the largest Fulbright producers for their size category: 18 in the past 5 years.

~Naz arched walkwayDuring the student panel, these were some of the questions they answered:

What will you remember most when you leave?

  • My major. It’s been cool to see it develop since it’s so new.
  • Naz sends students to the National Chemistry conference – airfare and everything
  • Clinical experience. I spent time working in Jamaica and living in a hut.
  • Being in the orchestra. I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up with music as a PT major, but I got to perform in the Bahamas with the national choir. I’ve made some my best friends there. It was really important to keep up something I loved.
  • I was part of the first hockey team.

~Naz doorWhat surprised you/what do you wish someone had told you?

  • How it’s changed me. I was dead set on majoring in psychology. I thought I’d help little kids, but I did an internship, came home and cried. I wish someone told me that it’s ok to change my mind.
  • The community feel on campus and within some of the departments. People are really helpful. I didn’t know how nice the professors are. I was used to boarding schools where you see teachers everywhere and thought it wouldn’t have that here, but they’re everywhere.
  • How prepared I am now as a senior. At an internship, I was the only sophomore; everyone else was a year ahead of me, and I beat out 200 people for the position.
  • In Jamaica, I was surprised at how prepared I was compared to people who had done 2, 3, or 4 clinicals already.
  • I didn’t know how cold it would get so quickly.

~Naz 3What would you change?

  • Make sports DII so students could get money. I dropped lacrosse so I had time for a job and my studies.
  • I love the size from the aspect of academics. I have awesome relationships with my professors, but I wish I went somewhere bigger for the social aspect. We don’t have Greek life, so that’s something I wish I had experienced.
  • I came in knowing that diversity isn’t where I would have liked. However, there’s been a great increase with international students and other forms of diversity.
  • Adding another eatery near the clinics. It would be helpful for students and for people coming for therapy.

Almost 90% of freshmen and sophomores live on campus: there’s a two-year residential requirement if students come from more than 30 minutes away. Currently, many juniors and seniors move off, but students get a $2000 residential grant every year they stay on campus as an incentive to stay. Athletics are popular; in addition to the usual sports, Crew is making a come-back (they row right on the Canal!), and they’re about to add a Women’s hockey team.

(c) 2015

Maryville University

Maryville University (Visited 4/11/13)

Maryville 1

One of the main buildings on campus.

I didn’t even know that Maryville University existed before I got invited to the Counselor Fly-In, but over the course of this busy day-and-a-half program, I learned a lot. This university on the outskirts of St. Louis is a good choice for certain students, particularly the solid-B students looking to go into Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Nursing since these are direct entry programs.

Maryfille 4

Springtime on campus

The university is located directly off the highway among business complexes. We exited the highway and pulled quickly into campus with no stores to be seen; I asked the admissions rep if there was something on the other side of campus – cafes, bookstores, anything; there’s not. They are tucked squarely among businesses, so they a have limited area in which to grow. The campus itself, luckily, opens up once you’re on it. There are green spaces; flowers and trees were in bloom. However, even with that, the campus feels a bit industrial, for lack of a better word. Although they had some pretty buildings and the quads were nice, there was just something – plain? – about campus. Also, because there’s nothing within walking distance for students, everyone can have cars on campus, and the school offers shuttles to Target, Walmart, and other places, but only for the first few weeks of the school year since people stop using it after about a month. A city bus stops next to campus which runs to the light rail or all the way downtown. Light rail costs about $4 and takes about 15 minutes to downtown. We asked students what it was like without anything in walking distance, and mostly they shrugged: “It’s easy enough to get around because so many people commute (only 650 of the 2,000 traditional undergrads live on campus). You always know people with cars, and the shuttle is easy.” They said that there’s a lot to do off campus and that “lots of things are free.” They also tend to do things at the other schools in town (particularly WashU and SLU).Maryville quad

Some of the majors impressed me because of their uniqueness or because of particular strengths:

  • Criminal Justice and Criminology is one major. Students can spend a semester at the police academy and get 13 credits towards their BA! I don’t know of another school that does that.

    Maryville 2

    The first floor of the library

  • Their Sports Business Management program is sponsored by Rawlings, one of the businesses next to campus. Rawlings (which makes football and baseball equipment) offers several internship opportunities, as do the sports teams in St. Louis.
  • Health Sciences are generally good. They’re deliberately interdisciplinary and community-focused. “Be ready to be engaged” through simulation labs, clients from the city who come in for on-site clinicals, and even international clinical experiences such as with Healing Hands Foundation in Guatemala. Students complete 275,000 clinical hours annually.
    • They have direct-entry Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Nursing. One student panelist chose Maryville for the nursing, which she described as “rigorous. It definitely pushes me.” OT is a direct-to-Masters program (no Bachelors along the way). PT students earn a BS in Health Sciences and then do 3 more years to earn the DPT. OT students have a 94% passing rate on the boards; PT has 100%
    • Rehab Services is a bachelors program in which students complete coursework and field experiences, looking at societal needs, health care policy, legal mandates, access to resources, and how societal perspectives impact perspectives on disability.
    • Students registered in the Pre-Med track can do a Sophomore Review. They submit a resume and letter, then complete a mock interview. The panel will grill them. After, they write a letter explaining what the student did well and what to work on. 100% of those kids who are doing everything right get into med school.
    • One student panelist was taking Gross Anatomy as a sophomore and was heading there right after the panel. “We’re dissecting a human heart today. We’re actually taking it out of the cadaver. It’s a bit terrifying.”
    • The Education Department is intense; the students have more extensive and intensive school placements than many other colleges.
      • Freshmen visit seven schools (all levels, urban and suburban); Sophomores are in schools two days/week for a year and complete the Street Project as a scheduled, credit-bearing class; Juniors spend two half-days and one full day/week for a year (lots of teaching, case studies); Seniors see school begin in August, then two days/week until student teaching.
      • The Street Project: small groups are assigned a street that radiates from downtown out into the suburbs. They have to drive the street at least 3 times, noting communities, economics, cultures, etc. They have to attend a cultural event, research the history, visit a school, look at finances of schools, interview people, etc.
      • The Legal Studies major is approved by American Bar Association. Ninety-five percent of grads are employed at graduation, and 95% of those who want to go to law school are accepted.
      • The Forensic Science Professor came to talk to us in a tie-dyed lab coat. The program is three years old; he’s working on getting accreditation (but need to have a graduate first). Students have to be prepared to work from the initial crime through trial. They’re ready to teach, be police officers, do lab work, and more. “If I haven’t taught them how to think for themselves, I’ve failed.”
        • Two students said that Criminal Investigations/From Murder to Trial was their favorite class. A crime scene is set up (which is so realistic that they’ve had to tell other students that it’s not a real scene) and students do the CSI and take it to trial. Students in this class can get credit for a lab class, Criminal Justice, or Legal Studies.
        • Communications: Students can specialize in PR, Marketing, Advertising, Social Media, and more. Some of the courses include: Intro to New and Social Media, Health Communication, Writing for PR, Strategic Communications Campaigns, News Writing and Editing. The department pushes these students to complete at least 2 or 3 internships, some as early as freshmen year.
        • Music Therapy students are prepared to work in Gerontology, Physical Rehab, Special Ed, pediatrics, psychiatry, Hospice Care, and more. Students in this major often participate in “Kids Rock Cancer.”

          Maryville 3

          The Design “library”

        • They have partnered up with WashU and others for a dual-degree Engineering program.
        • Their hands-on Interior Design, Interactive Design, Graphic Design, and similar programs are well-funded and very hands-on. The Arts building has impressive studios; they can even take Metals and Jewelry classes.. We got to see an end-of-year display that students were putting together for an evening open-house/job fair that brings employers in to see final projects.
Maryville 5

The lobby of the newest dorm, a converted hotel, which houses 240 students.

Maryville bridgeMaryville pulls about 25% of their students from out of state, particularly from Illinois (right across the river) and California (it helps that they have a regional rep who lives out there). One of the students on the panel said that Maryville was more affordable than the California schools. They love the small school and small classes because they can get involved, get to know people, and get help when they need it. Most students who come from out of town can live on campus if they want to, but for those who choose to live off campus, it’s relatively easy to find housing, and the commuter students said that it’s easy to get involved with a Commuter Connection group to help them link into campus. The university would like to make this more of a residential campus. They recently added 240 beds by buying a hotel located directly across the street and converting it to a dorm; this is highly sought after because of the individual bathrooms. They would like to build more dorm space, but physical space is an issue since they can’t physically expand the campus.

Maryville picnicOne of the complaints on campus is that events aren’t always well attended. “You don’t’ get that 3000 person crowd.” The school has a ways to go to develop a vibrant, active, residential atmosphere, although they look out for students in a variety of ways, including some early intervention programs to make sure that kids don’t fall in the cracks, academically or socially. However, a lot of services seem to be “farmed out.” For example, there’s no Greek life, but it’s a “Greek friendly campus” and they’ll work with organizations from other places city-wide.

(c) 2013

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