campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Musical Theater”

St. Mary’s College (IN)

St. Mary’s College, South Bend, IN (visited 11/21/19)

St. Marys pond main bldgSt. Mary’s (South Bend, IN) is a small women’s college clustered in the neighborhood with Notre Dame (which is literally across the street) and Holy Cross (about 2 blocks to the south). Started as the sister school to Notre Dame when they were still all-men, St. Mary’s has held onto their single-gender identity. Unfortunately, they’ve been a bit lost in the shadow of ND as that grew in size and prominence which is too bad; they’re a moderately selective school holding steady with 1,600 students, good retention and decent graduation rates, fairly good geographic diversity (only about ¼ come from Indiana), and strong programs in nursing, communication science/disorders, accounting, and management among others.

St. Marys 1For students worried about attending an all-women’s college – don’t. With Notre Dame and Holy Cross so close, students get the best of both worlds – a small, nurturing, single-gender home base but with access to the large rah-rah feel of an athletic/academic powerhouse. They’ve retained a strong connection to Notre Dame; St. Mary’s students can cross-register for classes at either campus, and they can join clubs and activities (including the Marching Band) at Notre Dame. They can also attend the football (or other) games; tickets run about $330 for the season (the student thinks it might be an all-or-nothing deal unless you can find someone selling single tickets).

St. Marys 6Buildings are beautiful, as is campus. These are mostly made of the same yellow brick as Notre Dame, not surprising since they grew up at the same time. The mud for the bricks is local and was made at the foundry which is serves as Holy Cross’ chapel.

A few programs that are worth noting include:

  • BA/BFA in the Applied Arts and Design, including New Media, design, sculpture, photo media, fibers, Musical Theater, dance, and more
  • St. Marys 2Math/Computer Sciences – including Applied Math (in conjunction usually with Data Science, Computer Science, etc) and Statistical/Actuarial Math
  • Speech Language Pathology
  • Global Studies with concentrations in Anthropology, Economics, Justice and Human Rights, business administration, intercultural studies, and modern European Culture. Students must obtain intermediate proficiency in 1 language and introductory proficiency in a “less commonly taught language” (Arabic or Chinese are offered on campus) to be accepted into the major.
  • Their interdisciplinary programs including film studies, gerontology, justice education, among others.

© 2019

Emerson College

Emerson College (visited 9/15/17)

Emerson 1“We take a lot of joy and pride in our work,” said one of the students. “If you’re applying, we hope you’ll want to bring that here.”

There’s a unique vibe about the place, the students, and the faculty. “Folks are dedicated, but in a collaborative way that’s atypical of some of the industries they go into. These fields can be very competitive. The focus here is learning the skills needed to be successful but it’s about collaboration, pulling in the people to be successful: they need to work together. Filmmakers need writers and actors and tech people,” said the rep. “Students have to be proactive,” said a student running one of their Roundtables – an info session for Performing Arts applicants. “It’s up to us to take advantage of things. Sometimes opportunities fall into your hands, but you have to recognize them and surround yourself with the right people.”

Emerson 2Out of this collaboration comes a great deal of trust in the students. Students manage many things on campus such as staffing the visitor center, including supervising other students. “They let us run with things,” said one student. “We get to plan orientation, for example. It’s our task to communicate the values and expectations of the place. We have help, but it’s our job.”

Students get involved in a lot outside of the classroom, as well. About 8% of the students go Greek; timing of Rush depends on the organization. They have 14 DIII teams, “but nothing involving water, ice, horses, or a sword,” said the rep. They have the only subterranean gym in the city. Lots of freshmen came in who want to play hockey, but “we need enough people to pay for ice time. Right now, we don’t really have a critical mass,” said the rep. Students interested in particular activities not currently offered do try to fill gaps in activities when they see the need.

Emerson alleyStudents who come here must really want the big city feel. This is very much an urban campus right in the heart of Boston. There is no central campus; most of the campus buildings sit right on Boylston and Tremont Streets along Boston Common with 90% of buildings within about two blocks. Buildings have good security, and students need IDs to get in. A couple alleyways bisect the campus; there’s a res hall and the dining hall on one of the alleyways. “I’ve heard good things about the new dining,” said the rep. Many local vendors also work with the EC cash system: students can load money and use it like a debit card. Campus is walkable to the North End, the financial district, Boston Public Library, and downtown. A green line T stop is right across the street on Boston Common. There are other lines within a few blocks.

Emerson diningFreshmen and Sophomores must live on campus, and when renovations at 80 Boylston (buildings are usually referred to by their address) are complete, juniors will also be required. Finding off-campus housing “is a process and takes some looking around. The housing office will help them, do roommate speed-dating, provide tips on realtors and rentals, etc. They’re responsible, but we’ll help teach them. Housing they find isn’t necessarily downtown, but definitely in the nearby neighborhoods. It can be an adventure, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t gotten housing,” said the admissions representative. Sometimes they can accommodate older students under a lottery.

However, students are not “stuck” in Boston … Emerson runs 2 other campuses as well!

  • Kasteel Well in the Netherlands can hold 85 students at a time who are chosen at random, and applications are due a year in advance. This program is meant for sophomores since much of the coursework fulfills the GenEd requirements, but others can attend if their schedules permit. BFA Acting and Musical Theater students may only go in the summer.
  • Los Angeles: juniors and seniors can spend a semester in LA interning and taking classes.

The curriculum is highly experiential, and the degrees are oriented towards Communications and Arts. Because the academics are relatively unique, they’re worth spending some time looking into. Majors are always evolving and new majors are created because they recognize a need. Their newest programs include:

  • Comedic Arts BFA, a truly unique program (the only one in the country!) which draws from performing arts, creative writing, and visual media arts and then adds the comedy. There is an internship semester option in LA, typically for seniors. They have a partnership with Citizens Upright Brigade, but they’re allowed to do internships with anything.!
  • Business of Creative Enterprises BA, a mash-up of communication classes with the arts. This is meant for students who want to do business but in a creative environment. This is the only type of business degree Emerson offers.
  • Writing, Literature, and Publishing
  • Sports Communication: PR, journalism, sports diplomacy (engaging through sports with organizations, community, etc).

Other noteworthy programs include:

  • Political Communication, marketing,
  • Media Art Production BFA: film, sound, animation, photo, tv, writing for film and tv, etc.
  • Visual Arts: they can start right away as freshmen.
  • Stage and Scene Design/Technology, Stage and Production Management, and Theater Design/Technology.
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Theater: “We’re pretty multifaceted. We’re actors but we’re a lot more.”
    • Students must audition: Early Admission applicants audition in November. “Don’t try to confuse your auditioner! Do what YOU love, even if it’s overdone. You do it differently than anyone else.”
    • Musical Theater applicants perform 2 contrasting monologues, 2 contrasting 32-bar cuts, and dance. Because the acting portion is the same as the acting audition, they can express interest in either if they don’t make it into Musical Theater.
    • Theater and Performance
  • There are productions organized by the school and directed by professionals/ professors but are designed, stage managed, and acted by students. This provides and Artistic Training Lab. Freshmen can’t audition because they all do stage crew assignments that first year. Everyone gets the experience and interacts in a professional environment to get a feel for how things run.
  • The other productions are through the Student Theater organizations: there are 5 main ones and others that pop up occasionally. There are 7 comedy groups, 2 dance companies, 5 a capella groups, etc. “Everything is student run and we get our hands dirty. We fail sometimes and have spectacular comebacks. You’re really doing it,” said one of the students.

Students must fulfill liberal arts components, and classes involve a lot of writing/communication components regardless of what major students are in. Students can complete a BFA in some areas, but these are not considered Conservatory Style with the exception of Musical Theater and Acting (in Theater & Performance): these are only conservatory style for the 3rd and 4th years after completing the liberal arts requirements. They have learning support for students who need it.

There is an Honors College which allows students to substitute LA classes. Instead of history or science, for example, they have interdisciplinary classes that will fulfill these. This is highly writing focused and students must complete a thesis at the end as part of their program! A merit scholarship is attached to being in the program; this is the largest merit opportunity. It is a “very small and very competitive program,” said the rep. From the 900 incoming freshmen, the Honors program takes a maximum of 50 students; they only consider academics in deciding who is selected, including grades and a specific honors recommendation if not submitting test scores.

After submitting the Common App (including the Honors Supplement should they choose to do this), applicants get access to their Portal, and they absolutely have to log into this. The writing supplements get submitted separately. This is where they’ll upload their Test Optional Supplements and Financial Aid documents.

Some majors are a little more competitive. Performing Arts is “super rigid.” Students can opt to go test-optional buy submitting a portfolio piece or essay if that represents them better. The Performing Arts have to audition, Design Tech/Management submits a portfolio review/interview, and Comedic Arts submits a writing or performance piece.

© 2017

 

Catholic University of America

The Catholic University of America (visited 9/13/16)

cua-5“I assumed it was going to be really, really Catholic here, but after I enrolled I learned that it’s as Catholic as you want it to be. I was committed to another school before I came here, but it’s really friendly. It’s why I came,” said one of the students I spoke with. Religion is there if you want it. Attendance is never required at any of the daily masses, but students do have to take 3-4 theology classes.

cua-basilica-2

The Basilica

CUA is the only Papal Charter school in the US. The National Basilica borders campus (and although it gets used quite a bit by students and the university, it is not university-owned or on university property). A vast majority (80% or more) of students are Catholic. The student population is 65% white and 55% female. They have a fairly sizable Hispanic population. Other forms of diversity were harder to figure out. I couldn’t get statistics on socio-economic diversity, and when I asked about groups for LGBTQ students, I was told, “there are some unrecognized (unofficial) groups. We’re accepting but we stick close to the message and mission of the church,” the rep told me.

CUA sits in Brookland which is DC’s “Little Rome.” The neighborhood has gone through quite a bit of change in the last several years, with more stores, apartments, etc going up. The Red Line Brookland stop gives students easy access to anything in DC and beyond; they’re only 3 stops to Union Station (Amtrak).

cua-student-cntr

The student center

Freshmen are all assigned to Learning Communities for their First Year Experience; they take 2 classes each semester as a cohort in order to build camaraderie. Generally they take English and Philosophy (classical) in the first semester, then another philosophy (more contemporary) and theology in the second semester. “The theology class is more like a well-rounded view, teaching what different groups believe. It’s really cool and different from the Catholic school taught us,” said one student who was had gone to Catholic schools her whole life.

Things that surprised the students I spoke to were:

  • Every night, there’s something to do. There are so many events. Trips are offered every Saturday: this weekend we went to Annapolis. There’s ice skating, Nats games, $5 Broadway plays, pumpkin patches, they’ll rent out a movie theater so we saw Mockingjay for $5, Six Flags. Even on weekdays, they’re always catering events, clubs will run things, whatever. You can’t get bored here.
  • Campus is big enough to meet new people but I’ll still always see people I know. People are always talking to each other; it’s impossible to keep to yourself here.

cua-2The classes they’ve liked the best are:

  • Media and Rhetoric: The prof met with me on a Sunday after Odyssey day (admitted student day). Once I was here, he was always checking in on how I was transitioning, etc. It was nice that someone was looking out for me. I’m now minoring in Political Rhetoric: when and how we say things, not just what we say. He’s the connection to my internship doing digital marketing strategizing.
  • Intro to Am. Government: My prof used examples from DC and we’d go to monuments or historical places to connect what we were learning. It helped put all the pieces together.
cua-architecture-int-2

Part of the Architecture studios; all students get their own work space

Politics is the largest major with a lot of sub-categories under that (including Political Rhetoric). They also have other amazing, unusual programs including:

cua-law-school-lawn

The Law School Lawn

There’s plenty to do on campus, including 21 DIII sports. Football, basketball, women’s lax, and FH pull in the most fans. The Law School Lawn is a popular spot for concerts, other activities, and informal gatherings. There’s a parking lot under the lawn, “another way we go green and make the most of space,” said the tour guide. Juniors and Seniors can bring cars, but it’s almost prohibitively expensive to park. Between that and the metro stop on the edge of campus, there’s not really any reason to have a car. It’s easy to get off campus when they want to branch out: “There are SO many opportunities in DC!” said all the students I spoke to. Students like both the academic and social opportunities ranging from internships to free museums to concerts at Verizon Center (and plenty other places!).

cua-dorm-quad

One of the dorm quads

Freshmen and sophomores must live on campus unless they live at home within 25 miles. After that, they can stay but housing is not guaranteed. In addition to traditional RAs, all dorms have a Resident Minister, a position held by a student to facilitate spiritual and religious activities. One of the students would like the university to spend money on Upperclassman housing/apartments. There are currently 2 suite-style dorms for upperclassmen but there should be more. However, they did just put in a new 504-bed res hall on the north side of campus. There’s also a new student center and new student lounge.

cua-music

The Music School

Other expansions on campus include changes in the undergrad divisions. Theology, business, and social work had been departments but are now schools in their own rights. The school also has recently received a $27M donation to name the business school and got a grant from NASA “somewhere north of $15M” to do research.

CUA only takes the Common Application. Big cross-over schools tend to be Loyola, St. Joe’s, American, GW, College Park, Scranton, and UDel, Admissions is Test-optional but they will take them if submitted. They un-weight GPAs to a strict 4.0, and will also rank the class strength at their own high school; that gets factored into admission and scholarships. In addition to normal sorts of academic scholarships, there are special ones for Catholic and Legacy students.

© 2016

University of Tampa

University of Tampa (visited 2/8/16)

Tampa sign

Tampa plaza

The view from a minaret of the hotel showing the Tampa skyline

This is more of an urban-feeling campus than I expected it to be. The iconic building is the hotel (complete with minarets) that the university bought in 1933 and which became the first university building; now it’s used for classrooms, offices, admissions, and more. The rest of campus is filled with modern, well-maintained, tall buildings and is incorporated into the city, but with enough green space to feel like a campus. It’s the only university in downtown Tampa and they capitalize on that. Students have easy access to a multitude of things and can walk to internships and jobs: students take advantage of the Florida aquarium, professional sports, art museum, police departments, and 2 of the top 25 newspapers in the country among other things.

 

 

Tampa hotel 4

The hotel that became the original university building

Applications have doubled in the past 4 years; last year, they had almost 1700 students on the waitlist; about 7-10% of these come for the spring semester. This year, they brought in 1800 new freshmen with all states being represented: “We even had 5 kids from Idaho.” Although the gender balance is skewed slightly (about 45% male), generally this is an incredibly diverse student body with 17% of students coming from abroad (17-18% each from the Middle East and Asia, and 11% each from Europe and Central/South America).

Tampa porchThe average student travels 894 miles from home to attend UT. “The #1 reason students leave is homesickness,” said one of the reps. “We deal with this in open houses, info sessions, etc. UT students tend to be more independent. They’re metropolitan and cosmopolitan.”

Tampa dorms 3The First Year Experience, a 1-credit, full year class, has helped a great deal with retention; students are generally grouped by major. They’re starting a themed model this year, and will also to try to group international students together. The Honors Program offers special courses, and honors floor in the dorms, a research fellowship, an Oxford Semester, and more. Applicants are automatically considered for admission with a 3.5 unweighted GPA and 1150 SAT or 25 ACT.

UT is reasonably priced for a private school at $37,866 (2015-16 school year). “Usually this increases 2-2.5% increase a year,” said the rep. Only 8% of students do pay sticker-price.

Tampa entrepreneurship 1

Some of the work spaces in the Entrepreneurship building

An amazing new Entrepreneurship building opened in the fall of 2015; it’s filled with meeting rooms, work stations, white boards, etc. all meant for creative thought and innovation. Their annual Pitch Contest is open to everyone regardless of major: last year it was won by an English major. We spoke to 2 students in the elevator and asked how they liked the school and program: “We give it a 10. We’re seniors and have an office on the top floor. They really support us here.” They’re doing some amazing entrepreneurial work already as undergraduates.

Tampa chapel

The non-denominational chapel

The most popular majors are Finance, Bio, and Marketing, but they offer an extensive range. “It’s easier to talk about what we don’t have!” said a rep; that includes engineering or architecture, but “We do science incredibly well here. I used to be at Illinois Tech and have toured a lot. No one holds anything over us,” said one professor. Some areas to brag about are:

 

  • Tampa athletic fields

    Athletic fields, the chapel, and an academic building

    Marine Science (students can specialize in Chemistry or Biology with this). The kid who fits here won’t fit at Eckerd and vice versa.

  • Nursing: they have an amazing pass rate: “I could have said that we had a 100% pass rate over the last 6 years, but 1 kid didn’t pass 4 years ago,” said a rep.
  • UT is the only College with their own booth at the Film Fest as part of the Film and Media Arts “The professor says that we blow Madison’s program away.”
  • They have their own bronze-casting facility.
  • Mathematical Programming.
  • Dance and Musical Theater. Disney recruits here a couple times a year.

The average class size is 21; only 44 classes have more than 40 students with the largest at 60 students. Our tour guides’ classes ranged from 6 (Evolution) and 16 (Honors Oral Communication) to 60 (Chemistry). One of them said that this dropped to 35 as time went on.

Just over half the students live on campus. There’s a 2-year residency requirement, and dorms are big and comfortable. Many juniors and seniors have traditionally moved off, but the school now has a 20-year contract with the Barrymore Hotel to house upperclassmen (this includes maid service!). Freshmen are not allowed to have cars unless they have a medical need for one.

Tampa greek rocks

Greek Rocks

Almost half the students (about 40%) join one of the 22 Greek organizations. There are several rules surrounding rush (such as members can’t talk to recruits for the first week). Once they join, members have to maintain their GPA (tutoring is available) and attend study hours as well as complete a minimum amount of community service. “They’ll even monitor Facebook and instagram,” said one student.

Tampa crew 2

Some of the crew boats heading in after practice

“Greek life is active but it doesn’t drive the social scene on campus,” said a student. There are plenty of clubs and the usual school-sponsored activities (speakers, movies, etc). Their DII athletic teams participate in the Sunshine State Conference; they do have a DIII Ice Hockey team. They do have a varsity women’s crew and club level for both men and women as well as club equestrian, body building, flag football, and more. Participation in sports at some level is high, as is the fan base for the varsity sports.

© 2016

Messiah College

Messiah College (Visited 11/21/14)

~Messiah chairsIf you walked onto campus knowing nothing about the college (including its name), you would never guess that this was a religiously affiliated college. There are no statues, crosses, paintings – but in spirit, this is one of the most religious campuses I’ve ever visited. “If you aren’t interested in Faith, in exploring your Christian identity, you won’t be happy here. Our identity is right up front starting with our name. It doesn’t stop there,” said student panelist. Even professors sign an affirmation of Apostle’s Creed.

Stickers left on students' post office boxes

Stickers left on students’ post office boxes

The students live the school Mission: education towards maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation of church and society. What happens when seemingly opposite ideals such as faith and intellect co-exist? One outcome is a discerning spirit. For example, in a philosophy class, they look at a problem and identify the longing for meaning. “They grapple with ideas from all angles in order to see the world’s realities in a much deeper way.”

The library

The library

They have 3 main focal points:

  • Sharpening Intellect: They prepare students to make a difference in addition to preparing for the workplace.
    • They offer over 80 majors, 11 new since 2011 including Chinese Business, Digital Media, Economic Development, Public Relations, and Musical Theater.
    • About 9% study engineering, almost 8% study nursing, and about 5% each in psych, Business Admin, Education, and Applied Health Science.
    • Several students have been awarded Rhodes, Fulbrights, etc
    • 95% graduate with a job, in grad school, or doing service like the Peace Corps.
    • I spoke with a music professor about the arts; they aren’t cranking out “starving artists.” Based on information from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, 85% of graduates are employed professionally as artists.
  • Deepening Faith: They work towards a unity of faith, learning, and life seeing the importance of the person with an ethos for mutual respect. Everyone is honored in the community with high standards for student conduct.
  • Inspiring Action:
    • Messiah is in the Top 20 US undergrad institutions for sending students to study abroad (76%).
    • 98% participate in voluntary service. “Service has been part of the DNA of the college since its founding.” Students foster justice, empower the poor, reconcile adversaries, and care for the earth.
    • Washington Magazine ranked them 5th nationally for commitment to research and public service in 2014. Students solve real-world problems, partnering with organizations like World Vision.
    • An Experiential Learning Requirement starts in the fall of 2014. Students must complete at least 1 Internship/practicum, off-campus study, service learning, leadership development, or research project.

~Messiah waterStudents attend at least 24 Chapels a semester, 12 of which must be Common Chapel. These 45-minute events are held Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Elective Chapel, which could be sponsored by a variety of departments or groups, is held on Thursday morning. Alternative Chapels are held in the evenings. Students have things to say and this gives them a voice. The variety of options acknowledges the different ways to engage in worship and allows students to decide what works for them.

There are no church services on campus; students worship at the location of their choice in the community. Volunteers from churches pick up the students. Several students said that their favorite meal was chicken cordon bleu which is usually served for lunch after church (and of the nearby churches serves free dinner on Wednesday nights: “free food goes over well with college students!”).

~Messiah 5Messiah has 2800 undergraduates: 60/40 female to male, 39% from 38 states, 11% underrepresented populations, 3% international. They’ve developed partnerships with Malaysian churches and recently enrolled their first Chinese students. The president is engaged with students: “Friend me on Facebook!” She talked about the motto, “See Anew,” and showed a picture of stained glass. Each piece represents the students. The value system is the foil that holds the pieces together. They embrace diversity through curricular and co-curricular activities.

A music class in the new Arts Center

A music class in the new Arts Center

They did a good job selecting students for the panel, representing a spectrum of involvement in ministries, athletics, student government, Honors, study abroad, etc. The Student Body Chaplain puts together Elective Chapels and works with students to encourage outlets and initiatives students are interested in. He spent a semester in Uganda at a Christian university. The athlete had gone to a Christian high school and originally wanted to get out of the Christian School bubble but got recruited for basketball. She has worked on diversity committees here. The Engineering student has been working with pumps on latrines to assist people with disabilities.

Campus life is thriving (which is good since there’s not much in walking distance, and freshman can’t have cars unless they’re from more than 300 miles away). Sports are a big deal. Students go to all games, “even swim meets.” Messiah is ranked 3rd in country for soccer fans, and the soccer teams have won 16 national championships since 2000. There are several traditions that students spoke about:

  • Marshmallow Bowl is the game against E’town, the big rival.
  • Midnight Scream: During the 24-hour Quiet Hours around finals, all bets are off for 1 minute at midnight.
  • Duct Tape Wars: a “battle of epic proportions” is held during Spring Reading Day.
Cafe and lounge in the library

Cafe and lounge in the library

Accepted students have an average of 1127 SAT/24 ACT and a 3.7 GPA. 100 students with 1300+ SAT and in the top 10% of their class are invited to the Honors program; they interview on campus to compete for largest scholarships. 40-50 students are conditionally accepted each year; they tend to have under 1000 SAT and less than a 3.0 GPA.

87.5% of freshmen return for sophomore year; 71.6% graduate within 5 years. Students leave because they change their majors, because of the distance from home, or they want less of the Christian atmosphere. 86% of students live on campus; there is an expectation that students will uphold the ideals of student conduct which includes not drinking while school is in session.

© 2014

Coastal Carolina University

COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY (visited 4/5/14)

~Coastal arch~Coastal 2Coastal is a beautiful campus located 20 minutes from Myrtle Beach. Someone said that he had always perceived it as “an extension of a community college.” I think this might have been more accurate in the past; I don’t think this holds up anymore. There has been extensive growth and it’s become more selective in recent years. Started as a branch campus of USC in 1954 with only 150 students, it’s now the fastest growing comprehensive public university in SC with 9,500 students. It’s been listed as a 100 Best College Buys school, placed on Forbes America’s Top Colleges 3 years in a row, ranked in top 15% of 4-year schools, and was named as a College of Distinction (based on engaged students, performance after they leave, faculty commitment, and more) in both 2012 and 2013.

~Coastal fountainThe school has been conducting Exit Surveys for several years and have found that students love Coastal because of:

  • The 70+ Academic Programs. The most unique are: Marine Science, Musical Theater (BFA), Exercise and Sport Science, Intelligence and National Security (faculty are former CIA and FBI), Professional Golf Management or Resort Management (within the Business Program), and Nationally Accredited Teaching Degrees.
  • The Small Classes. Freshmen level classes average 30-35, and there’s no room on campus that can seat more than 125. Of the students I spoke to, the smallest classes were: 4 (Education) and 7 (Business law); the largest were 93 (Intro to Bio) and 60 (Marine Science). “Even in my biggest class, the professor got to know us. She took roll every morning and had extra office hours so we could talk to her.”
  • The Location. Great weather, great internships (especially for Resort or Golf management and Marine Science), and great access to Myrtle Beach. Students love the stuff to do around town, including the research and networking opportunities and the internships. Coast owns Waites Island (a 1000 acre barrier island with no public access) and Coastal Explorer (a research vessel).
  • On-Campus opportunities. In addition to all sorts of usual things that many campuses have, they have a recording studio accessible to anyone. Big-name acts come, including yearly performances by the Carolina ballet. They host weekly a Farmer’s Market which outgrew the small area in front of the admissions center, and has moved to a larger quad.
  • The Tuition. In-State is $17,810, Out-Of-State is $30,820. The in-state tour guide that I spoke to said, “I’m pretty happy with my tuition.” I think that’s a first! Students are automatically considered for scholarships (In-state ranges from $1,000-$6,000; out-of-state ranges from $6,000-$11,000.)

~Coastal clock towerBefore the tour, I spoke to several of the tour guides who were there to help direct the flow of students:

  • One was a Marine Science major from Ohio. He picked Coastal because of the major and proximity to the ocean. He’s getting a hands-on education and is doing an internship at the aquarium. He’s looking to get a job there and wants to do marine Veterinary work. He also scubas with sharks!
  • Library

    Library

    Another was an Elementary Education major. She loves that this is one of the top 3 programs in her field. She’s a junior and is already completing her 2nd placement. She transferred in from another school because this was closer to home, her sister was here, and she liked the program.

  • The third was a senior Business Major from DC. He learned about Coastal from a guidance counselor and like what he learned about it. He’s had a chance to get highly involved in campus life and even started a Latino fraternity.
  • Another student was a Marketing major from NJ. He came here as a back-up option. “I was on the athletic track, but busted my knee senior year. I came with the idea that I would transfer, but I fell in love with it.” The only thing he didn’t rave about was the dining hall: “It’s ok; it’s pretty typical for a college.”
  • The last student I spoke with was an Education major from SC. “Dorms are an 8. Dining hall is a 6; grab-and-go options are an 8.”

~Coastal 4Food seemed to be the one thing that students didn’t love. When I asked them if there was a meal that everyone loved, two tour guides said, “Fried Chicken Friday!” in unison. Another tour guide later also referenced this. “That’s the only day that there’s a line for food!” Other than food, no one could really think of anything to do to improve. “Anything we want, they’re doing already – 3 new academic buildings, additions to the library, new dorms, etc.” One of the reps said, “The students would say parking. We don’t really have a parking problem. We have a walking problem.”

(c) 2013

University of Northern Colorado

UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN COLORADO, Greeley (visited 10/3/12)

UNC 6Getting off the bus, another counselor turned to me and said, “Well, we’re in farm country.” There was definitely a faint odor of manure in the air (which luckily seemed to be localized to the area where we got off the bus). We asked the tour guide about that; he said that once a week, they can get that odor from a local plant, but it’s rarely strong or long-lasting. He’s a senior and only twice did he remember it being overwhelming.

UNC3

University Center

The University Center is one of the best I’ve seen. In addition to the usual things like food kiosks and the bookstore, they also had a full hair salon, a bank branch, and several other services not usually seen in student centers. Their student ID, in addition to all the usual things it does on most campuses now (food, access to dorms), also acts as an ATM to Wells Fargo. The tour guide described the campus as being like a bowtie with the University Center as the knot in the middle of campus.

UNC dormSeveral academic programs merited special mention: the Business department has won awards, Nursing ranks in the top 5, and Musical Theater is also a top program. The tour-guide’s class sizes range from 12 (Sociology) to 125 (Public Speaking). He really likes the “mentor feel” in which students work shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers who work hard to create place where students can contribute. They help students shape and design research, publish in journals, and present at conferences. Students talked about feeling stretched and challenged; even though it was scary and they were pushed out of their comfort zone, they grew from being here.

UNC2Outdoors activities are big (not a surprise); the university has an agreement with a local ski resort; students pay $70 for three full days on the slopes that includes ski or snowboard rentals, full-day lift tickets, and rides to and from campus. There’s also a lot to do on campus, including a full Frisbee-Golf field. The yearly “Undie Run” that happens in the spring tends to be a favorite tradition; students will meet in the quad, strip down to their undies, and run across campus. The clothes they leave are donated to Goodwill or other charity organizations.

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One of the newer residential units.

UNC 5UNC has 10,000 undergraduates but has the feel of a bigger school in terms of opportunities, activities, sports, off-campus options, etc. They have DI athletics which are highly participated in as well as supported by students in the stands. Club and intramural sports are also active. There are 10 fraternities and 10 sororities. Although the actual percentage of students involved in Greek life is relatively low, they do provide a lot of social activities open to the campus at large. Students said that they like the small, safe feel on campus. I asked the tour guide when the last time he knew of that the blue lights had been used, and he couldn’t think of a time. The campus is a bit sprawling but there are a lot of open spaces, and the quads were well used by the students. Even on a dreary day, people were outside. Our tour guide says that it can take 25 minutes to walk across campus, but that’s at a leisurely pace. Parking is fairly easy to find, but not necessarily close to where you need it. Everyone can have cars, and passes cost $255 a year. Most students will walk where they need to go in town; downtown is only 10 blocks away. They like having cars to get Ft. Collins (Colorado State Univ) which is only about 45 minutes away, or to go to Denver (a little over an hour).

UNC acad bldgThe admissions rep spoke very eloquently about making sure the students’ needs are met, even mentioning Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy. They are deliberate in designing campus and the buildings with this in mind, even to the extent that students can control their environment in the dorm rooms. “They come from a home where they’re used to being able to change the temperature; they should be able to do that here. If they aren’t comfortable, they can’t learn.”

(c) 2012

Baldwin Wallace University

Baldwin-Wallace College (visited 4/19/12) (now BW University)

“Ok, before we go into the lab, we have a couple rules. First, leave all food and drink outside. Second, do not lick anything in the lab. Everyone good?” Really, you can’t beat a biology professor with a good sense of humor!

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The main Conservatory building on campus.

First impressions mean a lot even though we’re told not to judge a book by its cover. BWC made an excellent first impression with its beautiful old stone buildings, immaculate grounds, and tulips and daffodils blooming everywhere. The good news is that the substance of the college did not disappoint! The people at BWC were the only ones on the seven-college counselor-tour who showed off what made them distinct from other schools instead of giving the typical spiel/song-and-dance. A couple other schools gave lip-service to the idea of “we’re not going to tell you that we have great faculty, study abroad options, and research opportunities, because every place you go is going to tell you that” . . . and then they proceeded to tell us about those things. BWC didn’t. Instead, we got to spend time in a lab to interact with students doing independent research, check out innovations in their athletic center and the majors associated with it (such as athletic training, exercise science, sports management and health promotion and management), and then tour their Music Conservatory and learn about programs there. I didn’t even know that they HAD a conservatory; neither did my sister who is a musician, so it’s clearly one of their best-kept secrets! The students go on to do impressive things including performing on Broadway. Seniors graduating with a Musical Theater major participate in a showcase every spring in New York City in front of several directors and producers. This happened about a week before our visit, and within a span of five days, all 13 graduating seniors had signed with agents. (As a comparison, I heard that Michigan had two at that same point in time). An audition is required for entrance into the Conservatory (accredited by the National Association of Music Schools) which offers emphases in performance, pedagogy, jazz, conducting, theory, composing, and sacred music in addition to the unusual major of Music Therapy. (Students also have to be proficient enough on at least one instrument to gain acceptance into the Conservatory if they want to major in Music Therapy).

BWC3Baldwin Wallace actively looks ahead to jobs that experts predict will be available for students in 5-10 years, and then creates majors and learning opportunities for students in order to prepare them. They created 14 new degree programs in the last four years or so. The Physician Assistant program is 1 of 6 in Ohio; they’re a year away from accreditation for a 3-2 program. They excel in Health Sciences and Allied Health majors. They utilize the nearby Cleveland hospitals, some of which are ranked in the top 10 nationally, and they work with industry professionals to develop the new degrees. Their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing utilizes Concept-based learning; only a couple other programs in NM and NC do this. The Health Sciences are producing impressive results; this year, two students (a junior and a senior) interned with the top pediatric neurosurgeon in the country.

Other majors of note include Digital Media and Design (combining artistry/creativity and technology), their Software engineering degree starting this fall (the only one in the state), Health Care Management, Public Health (which started this fall; 29 students are already enrolled), and Recreation Sport Sciences.

BWC4One of their major goals across all majors is to create a practice-based education. Most of the faculty members come to BW from the fields in which they teach allowing them to provide practical, real examples of how the theory and knowledge they teach translates into the real world. Almost every student completes some sort of “experiential education” experience through internships, study abroad, and other types of programs. The school has 52 articulated agreements for study abroad with options for others if students find a different program they’re interested in. Students must complete a minor here in order to broaden their educational field.

Although this is a Methodist-affiliated college, it does not feel at all religious. Although we didn’t get a full tour of the school, I’m not sure they even have a chapel; if they do, it’s not obvious in the main part of campus. However, the current president is only one of two in the history of the institution who is a non-Methodist, non-pastor president; he was also only one of two college Presidents on the tour to take the time to talk to us (Otterbein’s president was the other).

BWC is a Test Optional school; applicants have the option to turn in graded paper instead of test scores. They are also committed to affordability; there have been very small tuition increases in the last several years, the lowest in their peer-group. The entire bill comes to $35,000 a year including all the fees (tech, health, etc.), although the tuition at the conservatory is higher than the rest of campus because of the private lessons. The best thing – and the first time I’ve heard of a school doing this – has to do with the Meal Plan: students only get charged for what they use. If they don’t use it, BWC will give it back!

This incoming freshmen class (fall of 2012) can sign up for a 4-year graduation guarantee. BWC has been intentional about getting students out in four years, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is. They have a mapped-out four-year plan so students can stay on track. It is a completely voluntary program and basically requires that the students do common sense things such as meet with their advisor regularly and declare a major within two years as well as attend seminars and sign a waiver that will release information to the parents (if they drop a course, if they aren’t doing well in class, etc). If they do everything they need to do but can’t graduate within 4 years, the 5th year’s tuition is free.

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One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front.

Students must live on campus for freshmen and sophomores years unless they are within a certain radius of campus and living with family. About 80% of freshman and sophomores live on campus and about 2/3 of the total undergraduates are on campus – that’s almost 2,000 residents on campus. Freshman can have cars on campus.

I was left with the good impressions of BW that I started with and I would definitely recommend it to my students. It has the typical smallish-college feel but with a lot of options and innovative programs that allows students to take advantage of a lot. The campus is comfortable and students are friendly. A former student of one of the counselors had joined us at lunch so we got yet another student’s perspective; he loves the college and all that he can do there.

(c) 2012

Otterbein University

Otterbein University (visited 4/17/12)

Otterbein 1One of my former students had gone to Otterbein and had a great experience, so I was particularly excited about getting to see her alma mater. As a particularly big fan of small liberal arts schools, I was hoping for great things. I knew very little about the school other than they were on the quarter system, the student had good things to say about it, and a few things that I had read on the website (and let’s face it – one website starts looking a lot like every other website after a while).

The bus pulled up to the Equestrian Center for the first part of our tour; this was a good move on their part since it highlighted a unique program at the very beginning. The Center was extensive and new; after being able to meet the representatives for our regions and a brief welcome from the President of the college (and being able to help ourselves to some very tasty cookies!), we got a tour of the riding rink and the barns where we also got to play with some of the horses, many of which looked expectantly for peppermints, the new treat of choice. Students in the Equine Studies program have priority for space in the barn for their horses, but other students can board horses as space allows. The university also owns many of the horses, most of which were donated from a variety of sources – rescues, ex-race horses, etc. Equine Science is a selective program; this year, they had about 70 applications for 22 new spots.

Theater is the most selective program on campus, accepting 16 students out of the approximately 400 who apply for the BFA in acting. We talked to several students who had auditioned for a spot in the acting program but didn’t make it; however, they liked OU so much that they came anyway and are majoring in another area of theater such as Design & Technology, Musical Theater, and Theater Management, or they’ve gone into communications, another very strong program with concentrations in areas such as broadcasting and journalism. Business is the largest major; popular concentrations include accounting, economics, finance, human resource management, and international business. Education and Nursing are both strong, popular programs, and students have high levels of success on the respective Board exams. The university is instituting several new programs this year; Sustainability Studies, Zoo/Conservation Science, and Public Administration are new and unusual, and the Arts department allows students to concentrate in areas usually only found in much larger universities (Computer Art, Sculpture, and Printmaking).

Otterbein 2Several of the schools I visited in Ohio had some sort of claim to fame about being among the first to accept or educate women and/or blacks . . . Otterbein is no different. Their claim is that they opened their doors in 1847 and were the first to have equal graduation requirements for men and women. (Oberlin, on the other hand, was the first coeducational college in theory – meaning it took them several years to actually accept female students — as well as being the first to accept and graduate black students, but apparently they didn’t have the same requirements for the degree as the men did). Depending on their wording, I guess a lot of colleges can be the “first” to have done very similar things.

Otterbein continues to lead the way in several regards. The Association of American Colleges and Universities awarded a large grant to Otterbein and four other colleges (including Tufts and Georgetown) to develop an integrative curriculum which will serve as models for other institutions. Students tend to be very happy at Otterbein; the university continues to earn high marks on the National Survey of Student Engagement. As is becoming more and more popular on campuses, they have a First Year Experience; I feel like it’s more uncommon to find a school without some sort of FYE. Otterbein has revamped their curriculum to address multidisciplinary perspectives and points of intersections. They have opened a new Living-Learning Community revolving around leadership. They are big on immersive learning (ie, travel tours) and experiential learning through internships, community service, global perspectives, and original research. They have switched over this year from quarters to semesters with an added 3-week January term to allow for more time and flexibility for immersion learning.

In terms of applications, they work on a Rolling Admissions basis, providing answers in two to three weeks. They accept the Common App, and the transcript is one of the most highly weighted parts of the application. The average GPA of accepted students hovers around a 3.4-3.5 with ACT scores in the mid-20s.

I enjoyed seeing Otterbein and learning more about the programs; it’s an attractive campus and they’re clearly putting effort into making the education worthwhile for the students. I was disappointed that their tour guides were not better trained; I heard from all the counselors (we were split into about 8 tour groups) that the tours were among the worst they had encountered. Most of the guides were freshmen, and while I think most of us had had good experiences with tours led by freshmen on other campuses, most of these students didn’t really seem to know what they were doing or how to answer questions. It can be very difficult to separate the experience on the tour from the quality of the school, so I hope this is fixed before it becomes a detriment for potential students and families visiting.

(c) 2012

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