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Archive for the tag “NROTC”

Villanova University

Villanova University (visited 7/21/16)

Villanova oreo“We tend to attract students who are bright, bright-eyed, and not too cool for the room. They wear their school gear. They’re spiritual.” Clearly Villanova is doing something right: They boast an amazing 96% retention rate (freshman to sophomore years), 88% 4-year and 90% 5-year graduation rate, and a 97% placement rate 6 months after graduation!

Villanova quadVillanova makes 5 promises to its students:

  • Academic Excellence: clearly the university has earned lots of high rankings including Phi Beta Kappa and Center for Excellence for Nursing.
  • Personal Attention: the average class has 22 students with several capped at 15.
  • Strong Community: They’re highly inclusive, a hallmark of the Augustinian tradition. That’s a big deal here.
  • Service to others: Our tour guide was surprised at how service-minded students here are. People flock to service trips, etc.
  • Foundation for Lifelong Success: The 118,000 alums “metaphorically hold the door open for current students.”
Villanova monastary

The monastery

Villanova is named for Thomas of Villanova, the “Father of those who didn’t have.” This is an Augustinian Catholic institution and houses one of the largest Augustinian Monasteries (70 monks live there, 15 of whom are active on campus). St. Augustine became a bishop under one condition: he wanted to continue living and learning in a community of his friends.

Villanova chapel inMasses are held three times each Sunday in the gorgeous on-campus chapel, but masses are not required, and Campus Ministry will take students to other places of worship as asked. Students aren’t even asked to self-report religion until their exit interviews. Students are required to take 2 theology classes, 1 of which is general history.

Villanova stu cntrSports are clearly a huge deal here, especially basketball, but they attract strong athletes across the board. They’ve had a student or alum in every Olympics since 1948. Students get free basketball tickets on a lottery system, and the more games they attend, the higher their lottery number becomes. However, they really are student-athletes, and all teams have at least a 3.0 GPA. Our tour guide is a dancer, and she performs for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Special Olympics held on campus, the largest student-run event of its kind.

Villanova 8In addition to sports (both participating and watching), there are plenty of other things to do. “Cornhole is big here,” said the tour guide. “I’m not sure what that’s about!” A couple favorite traditions include Hoopmania before Basketball games, and on Fridays, people pass out lollipops at the end of classes. 20-30% of student join Greek life with Rush delayed until 2nd semester. All 3 ROTC branches are offered here, but Navy is the biggest. They produce the 2nd highest number of flag officers after the Naval Academy. For students wanting to go off campus, it’s easy to navigate through the city. Two trains run through campus, and students can be in downtown Philly in 20 minutes. They can also get to the airport easily.

Villanova gardensHousing is guaranteed for 3 years, and they triple up a lot of freshmen. They don’t currently guarantee housing for all 4 years. However, this might change with the Lancaster Avenue Project, opening in fall of 2019: The large parking lot across the street from the university is being transformed into a Performing Arts Center (the new President had been the Head of the Theater Department and a new Res Hall with 1200 beds. This will bring the total number of students on campus to 85%. They have a new parking lot already going up to replace the parking spots they’re losing.

Villanova fountainAn admissions rep said, “We want to reward hard work, not just potential.” Test scores aren’t the end-all. “Community is a verb here. We look at what people do in their free time and are productively using their time.” For the first time this year, they’ll be denying people in the Early round. “It’s the moral and ethical thing to do.” About 9% first-gen and 13% Pell-eligible enrolled in last year’s first year class.

Students interested in the Honors Program, Villanova Scholarship, and Health Affiliation need to apply by the Early Action deadline of 11/1. Presidential Scholarship applicants must apply by 12/1.

Villanova labThe university offers majors in 4 undergraduate divisions:

  • Nursing: (last year, they got 1,046 applications for 90 spots)
  • Engineering: (last year, they got 2549 applications for 270 spots)
    • They only offer 5 undergraduate majors, but they get more specialized at the graduate level. Qualified students can do a 4+1 bachelor’s/master’s program.
    • They offer a couple interesting minors including entrepreneurship and biomed.
    • The department is ranked nationally in the top 15. Students take 1 semester of multi-disciplinary work, then declare their track during 2nd They do a lot of flipped classes: they’ll watch lectures for homework and then do projects in class.
    • They run engineering-specific trips to places like Madagascar and Cambodia.
  • Villanova 1Business: (last year, they got 4697 applications for 405 spots. “It’s hard to come in through the back door. It’s highly selective,” said the rep)
    • In addition to the fairly typical majors found in most business schools, they offer 3 “co-majors” in Real Estate, International Business, or Business Analytics
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: (last year, they got 8065 applications for 325 spots in Science and 580 in LA)

Fun fact: The sister of the Liberty Bell is on campus.

© 2016

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University (visited 2/12/16)

J'ville waterfrontSitting directly on the St. John’s River (which is one of two rivers that runs north – the other being the Nile), JU’s Marine Science Research Institute is top-notch. The city of Jacksonville is industrial, and the university does a lot to help lower the impact of the city on the local environment. It’s a “sweet water river” which flows out of the swamps. The water’s brown color has nothing to do with pollution; instead, it’s from tannins in the swamps.

J'ville Marine Sci Inst

Marine Science building

J'ville Marine lab

Tanks on the first floor of the Marine Science building.

The Marine Science building is new with amazing resources. The ground floor has tanks, flumes to simulate currents, and more. The 2nd floor has classrooms, labs, and meeting rooms. Several students were there studying; when I spoke to them, they were excited about the major and the school in general. “It’s an 8.5 on a 1-10 scale,” and “Tell your students to come here! The faculty ratio is great,” they said. They love that they can do cross-disciplinary work such as assessments of Coral Reefs: aviation majors fly the drone, engineering students run the tools, marine science majors examine the coral reef health. “There’s also an abnormally high number of people who start their own business,” said the Director of the program.


J'ville swing“Trans-disciplinary learning is nothing new here,” said one of the deans. This is the only school in Florida to require a class in economics: “Macro-economics requires a holistic view of the global economics.” The school invests in personal enrichment and community engagement. “The community today is the globe.” This leads to innovative research that students are excited about. “We are at the top 4% nationally for the number of submissions and acceptances for national undergraduate research conferences. We beat all the Ivy-league schools.” They had the highest number of accepted proposals (126) beating out even the top Ivy (Cornell had 115).

Business, Health Sciences, and Fine & Performing Arts are strong

  • Their Kinesiology program is highly hands-on and cross-disciplinary; one well-liked project is the bio-chemical assessment of athletes which lets students in that department work with biology, chemical engineering, and other students.
  • J'ville nursing lab

    Nursing department

    The Nursing department is selective; faculty interviews potential students as part of the admissions process. They have direct entry, but students can also apply during freshman year.

  • Their Emergency Nurse Practitioner program is 1 of only 7 in the country.
  • The Education department has a pre-school on campus for 2-5 year olds; students intern there all the time.
  • Business majors can specialize in International or Sport Business or Accounting.
  • The Fine Art Complex is amazing, including a glass-blowing major and minor. A
    J'ville glass 2

    The glass-blowing studio

    freshman gave us a glass-blowing demonstration and almost finished making a bowl in the 20 minutes we were there. “The oven typically runs at about 2200 degrees; it’s running cool today at 2000.”

  • In additional to the traditional types of art, students can also do sculpture, animation, illustration, and graphic design.
  • They have a Dance major in addition to Theater Arts.
J'ville flight sim 3

The Advanced CRJ simulator

The size and quality of their Aviation Management and Operations major surprised me. Of the 160 students in the program, 22% are women. When asked who attends here versus Embry-Riddle, the Director of the program said, “ERAU is more the engineering, building of aircraft, etc. You can learn to fly at either place, but if you want to learn the business end of things, this is where you want to be.” The flying aspect costs an extra $65,000 over the student’s time at school.


J'ville aviation bldg

Inside the Aviation building

NROTC has 54 students who take classes on campus; they’re ready to be commissioned right out of college. They participate in many local events including at the nearby base. They complete 4-6 week training cruises (or an equivalent: a Nursing student spent a summer at Walter Reed) all 3 summers.

J'ville outdoor work area

The outdoor working area with tables and electrical outlets

The new President, an alum, has invested a great deal of money into the university. He had been in the business world for a long time, and he’s invested in making the school better. “Our campus has never looked more beautiful. There are a number of improvements: a new residence hall for freshmen, a new outdoor leisure space (which is used extensively as a study place, and even has electrical outlets), and a new workout center. We’ve also created new scholarships to appropriately reward students.”

J'ville apts 2

Some of the apartment buildings for upperclassmen

There’s a 3-year residency requirement, but many students stay because of the new apartment buildings; the surrounding area also doesn’t get rave reviews, but all students can have cars on campus. The current president sent people up to look at UVA’s dorms and replicated them, adding study spaces, fireplaces, etc. They want to make the most of their location and their buildings. The River House had been the President’s house, but eventually was slated to be taken down for parking. When the current President came in, he nixed that: “we don’t need a parking lot with this view.” It overlooks the water, the campus pool and sand volleyball court, and more. Now it’s used for meetings, the Ratskeller, and more. Lots of students have cars on campus.

J'ville golf practice

The golf practice area

Greek life is very small, but sports are a big deal and they’re very proud of their teams. They currently have 501 student athletes, and 18/20 teams have a 3.0+ GPA. Retention rate among athletes is 94% with a good graduation rate. They’re DI “mid-major” (no PAC, Big 10, etc), including Beach Volleyball, Shooting, and Crew (“The women’s team is great! The men’s team… meh”). Campus has a practice green for golf, intramural fields, even an outdoor workout station. They just hired a Director of Ticketing, Sales, and Game Day Experience; attendance and school spirit is way up. The Athletic Director is also a full-time business professor who talked to us for a few minutes. “We win with honor and win in the classroom.”

J'ville art studio

One of the art studios

Students who have left have done so for a variety of reasons: some had bad experiences with a coach, didn’t want to go to class, wanted to hide in a bigger class, bombed their first year and lost a scholarship, etc. That being said, JU is “pretty good at second chances.” One student spoke of a friend who failed a class and was put on probation but dug her way out of the hole and is doing great now. “Send us your B+ students. We can change their lives.”

© 2016

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