campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “nursing”

Brigham Young University (Provo)

Brigham Young University (visited 9/25/18)

BYU quad mountains studentThe admissions rep started our info session (I was with a group of counselors) by addressing several myths about BYU. One he address was about admissions quotas: there are none. However, they are sponsored by LDS so tuition is different depending on membership in the LDS church. “We don’t recruit. We don’t have to.”

BYU bell towerThere have three sister schools: BYU Idaho, BYU Hawaii, LDS Business College. They are different schools! Each one makes their own admission decisions based on their missions and what they’re mandated to look for. The application to the main campus is straightforward. They do NOT want any extra materials for the app. The application asks the applicants to pick TWO activities. “It’s an exercise in critical thinking,” said the rep. “The strongest applications reflect the values of the college.”

BYU honors 2

The Honors College

It’s important to know that their application submission process is very different from most other places. Students cannot even hit the submit button until everything is done, including having their recs uploaded! EVERYTHING has to be in (including recommendations and scores) by the 12/15 final/hard deadline, so the October ACT and the November SAT are the last dates they will consider. Nothing can be changed/added after submission, even by emailing the rep. When students hit the submit button, whatever is sent is what the admissions office will consider. If students want to update information – new/updated test scores, for example – they have to withdraw their application and resubmit. They also have to fill out the BYU scholarship application in addition to the admissions application!

BYU 4Students here are held to high academic standards, and the students we spoke to told us that the academics are rigorous. The Business department is perhaps the best known and best ranked at the school. They offer a range of options including a few specialized majors at the undergrad level: Therapeutic Recreation and Management, Experience Design and Management, and Strategic Management. The departments of Education, Nursing, and Religious Education (with majors in Ancient Scriptures and Church History and Doctrine) are also excellent. The Fine Arts and Communications department will be adding Animation Illustration soon.

BYU 5They have started a new initiative called Inspiring Learning. “We have increased our investment by putting several million dollars into getting students more sponsored mentorship/internships.” They want students to get out of the classroom which is part of their “Learn and go forth to serve” ethos. There’s an Origami Solar Array. Get kids outside of the classroom. Service Organization.

BYU quad mountains studentAs an LDS school, it’s not a surprise that “this is a Stone-cold sober school,” as the tour guide say several times. There is an intense honor code and a dress code. They even have a Testing building; students go there to take exams on their own time. Core Classes here include 4 specific required religion classes and several more that students have some choice over. Devotionals are held every Tuesday but are not required. They’ll stream them for students who can’t attend.

BYU dorms

Some of the dorms

The students were happy with social life on campus. They can get an ROC Pass for access to the athletic games; football is very popular. The Ballroom Dance Team has competed internationally. The creamery gets high reviews “especially the chocolate milk.” Students obviously are not going out drinking off campus, but they said there’s a lot of fun to be had on and off campus. Public transportation is accessible and cheap or free for students.

© 2018

 

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UC – Irvine

UC Irvine (visited 2/1-2/2)

UCI studentsUCI has a different physical and social feel from the other UCs I’ve visited so far. The 52-year old institution is becoming another flagship, ranked as the country’s 9th best public school, Best Value, and the 3rd highest in number of applications. “People in California know what a special, great opportunity this is! People abroad recognize UCI. We have more than enough international applicants to create a diverse population in terms of countries. We’re working on creating a national presence now,” said a Dean.

UCI fountain

Sadly, no ducks in the fountain right now!

Academic buildings are centrally located around a 1-mile loop in the middle of campus. This also creates beautiful park (they like to brag about their 1120 trees and shrubs!). Students play Hide-and-seek in the park during finals, and every year, they try to break new records in areas like dodgeball, pillow fights, or squirt-guns fights. On one side of the circle is the fountain with resident ducks named Harold and Maude.

 

UCI drumming 5

A traditional Japanese drumming group

When asked to describe UCI in one word, many said nerdy/geeky. A rep said, “I can tell which kids are ours because they laugh at the nerdy jokes…” Another said, “That’s not a bad description, but not the only one! ‘Passionate’ is also good.” Students are curious and motivated: “We don’t have to beg students to get involved.” A student said, “We do stuff on a daily basis. We find people interested in the same things and run with that!”

 

UCI eSports center

The eSports arena

 

The gaming club is one of the largest clubs; almost 2/3 of students self-identify as gamers. They opened an ESports arena in 2016 which is open noon-midnight, Monday-Saturday. It’s a cost neutral program: computers are rented at $4 an hour and there are multiple sponsorships. The program has 4 major pillars:

 

  • Competition: Students participate at a national level on a varsity level (and club teams, too). They have multiple top-4 teams and top-30 ranked players. Their Overwatch team is undefeated. The very top students (internationally ranked) get scholarships.

    UCI eSports broadcasting

    eSports broadcast center

  • Research, game design, and programming: Professors do neuroscience, psych, and other research here.
  • Community: provide a home for gamers instead of gaming in lecture halls or dorms.
  • Entertainment: They have a broadcast and mini-production center to teach students how to communicate about eSports.

UCI 17There’s no football team (“I wish we had one!” said a student), but basketball and water polo are great. “There is a great deal of school spirit, and no football means we have a budget to do other things. We aren’t fighting traffic on weekends.” It’s easy to get around Irvine, a planned city about 40 minutes from LA and an hour from San Diego. That means that there are also plenty of internships: “They’re out there and are well advertised.” UCI also supports students in going abroad, making it accessible with Financial Aid.

UCI Mesa tower 1

The towers at Mesa Court

Residential units must offer at least 15 programs during every 10-week quarter. For a campus this size, there’s a lot of housing available; just over 60% of undergrads live on campus with 480 more beds available in 2019. Housing is guaranteed for 2 years, and almost 80% of freshmen live on campus in 1 of 2 areas:

 

  • Mesa Court: most buildings have no more than about 84 kids; a couple have about 120. The new towers have 300+.
  • Middle Earth: “If y’all don’t know there
    UCI Mesa 3

    Another view of Mesa Court

    are 2 towers in Middle Earth, you need to go do some reading!” Smaller communities are developed on the floors within the Towers, including theme-housing, both academic and outside interests. Some rotate as interests change; some like Outdoor Adventures tend to be consistent. Housing:

  • Off-campus housing is often posted on FB or Craig’s List, and people will sublet their places when they go abroad or move into Greek Housing.
UCI plaza

The plaza by the student union

UCI is recognized for “serving an amazingly diverse student body – and we graduate them” (as an interesting fact, only 27% of their students self-report as Caucasian) and are ranked #1 for promoting social mobility. Info pulled from the Grad Rate and Labor Market Outcomes shows that 12.5% of the students come from bottom quartile of family income in the US ($25-30,000) which is more than the entire Ivy League combined!! By the time alumni are 30, 85% are in the top quartile!

 

UCI 11The institution deliberately helps students succeed with multiple faculty and peer advisors (academic, mental health, sexual health, etc). “Big universities have lots of resources, but the students need to reach out to take advantage of them.” This is a major Research-1 institution focusing on undergraduates. The graduate programs are strong but smaller than what you’ll see elsewhere. Who do faculty spend time with? Undergrads! Over 90% graduate with research experience.
The academics are top-notch and prepare students for internships and jobs. One of the deans said, “If you’re still teaching facts/surface knowledge when I can pull out my phone and find it in 10 seconds, it’s malpractice. You have to shift to active learning. What are the learning outcomes for the field?” They’re deliberate in what they do, and they offer amazing programs including:

  • Nursing: they just got a $20m donation to double the size of the program).
  • This is 1 of 3 undergraduate business UC programs (with Berkeley and Riverside).
  • They have a top-10, conservatory style Dance program with a NY Satellite program for performing arts; Broadway scouts come to campus.
  • Education is ranked #25 nationally.
  • Interdisciplinary studies: This can be difficult in larger school with distinct College boundaries. Irvine, however, is new and was designed explicitly not to do that. Disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they are committed to bring them together. Professors meet at least twice a month to plan interdisciplinary work.
  • Engineering: all students take the same Gen Ed track for the same foundation. It’s possible to double major – or more! It will take a little extra time (she knew of one who did 4 majors – 2 in Engineering, 2 outside – finished in 5 years).
  • Information and Computer Sciences are housed in a separate school from engineering so they don’t compete for money.

The students on the panel listed the following as their favorite classes:

  • My Research class: we coded a lot of things from the Bush presidency, and we got credit on the book.
  • Prison Gangs: the teacher was cool and had tons of life experiences. He was a cop. I learned things I didn’t know anything about.
  • War and Public Health: the professor is a War Photographer and is great to talk to.
  • Diversity and Student Empowerment: social justice, issues affecting different minority groups. Lots of speakers. Critical race theory – what I want to go into and how it relates to international affairs. How do we apply it in global contexts, particularly law.

UCI 15UC applicants get ranked by 2 readers; if ranked differently, a 3rd person reads the file. An applicant might get highly ranked but not admitted if there’s no room in the major. Students need to advocate for themselves and quantify accomplishments. Students MUST take essay/writing portion of the SAT/ACT and must send all scores: they look at the highest single seating. Students only need to send to 1 UC campus because they share! Subject tests are not required but recommended for some programs. International Students do not need a 3rd language but should take the AP/Subject Test in their native language if possible. Many campuses will waive language requirements if they’ve spent 3+ years in the US. The minimum TOEFL is 80, but need 90+ to be competitive (some departments want higher!).

© 2018

University of Indianapolis

University of Indianapolis (visited 6/12/17)

UInday 10“What happens in the buildings is way more important than the buildings (which are still phenomenal),” said the school’s President. UIndy is a comprehensive liberal arts school with about 4000 undergraduates. “Some kids come in with a laser focus, but many don’t, and we kind of like that! The first year is meant to expose them to the range of options so they can start to articulate passions. We draw an involved faculty who are interested in helping students see the relevance in what they’re studying and to help them articulate what they’re passionate about.”

UIndy 12This fall (2017), they’ll bring in 1,150 freshmen with 52 nations represented (China is the most highly represented with 250 students followed by 175 from the Middle East). Incoming freshmen had an average of a 3.52 GPA. Because UIndy is so focused on engagement, they’ve hired more staff and added more programs. Even with the enrollment growth, the student-faculty ratio dropped from 15:1 to 12:1.

UInday expressions wallThey’re committed to keeping prices down and providing robust financial aid. They feel that this is one way to demonstrate an ethos of “Education for Service,” their motto and something they want the students to learn to apply as well. Even their sports teams have won awards for being first in their conference for community service. The athletics tend to be strong here with 600+ students in 23 DII sports, 15 of which have gone on to post-season play.

UInday ampitheaterStudents are smart and interested in their educations. “We’ve redone the library, It’s is no longer a book depository. It’s an idea factory. There’s a line at the door at 8am and we’re kicking people out at midnight,” said the President. That doesn’t mean that academics are all they do OR that they have a single focus. Students tend to have multiple interests in and out of their majors. Francesca Zappia is one of their recent alums; she was a computer science major who also loved to write. Now she’s a published author with her second novel coming out this spring: John Greene said she’s the next big thing in that genre!

UInday 1

The new Health Pavilion

Health Sciences are strong here. They even have a cadaver lab for undergraduates! The new Health Pavilion is a gorgeous building with intentional architecture to give students a taste of what the professional life will be; it’s also a place for the community to come together. One of the community hospitals has space there providing clinics (PT, OT, and psychological) for students and the surrounding community. More than 96 clinical placements for students are available on site. This is the first school I’ve visited that combines a PT or OT program with Psychology, Anthropology, and Public Health Education & Promotion.

UInday 6They offer an accelerated 3-year BSN: acceptance depends on how they do the first year and then go year-round after that. Nursing itself is not direct-entry; students complete their first year and apply. The minimum GPA is 2.82; the GPA for a fall entry tends to be higher than that. There are 80 spots in the fall semester and 64 for a spring start; “there’s rarely not a spot for students who qualify and want to be in nursing,” said the Dean of Health Sciences. “Some may have to wait until spring to start, however.” If this is the case, they’ll graduate a semester late since there is no way to catch up over the summer with the clinical rotations.

UInday 3They added 6 Engineering programs 2 years ago, and they’re phasing out the 3+2 program because it’s no longer needed. The design aspect, project-based learning, and unique curriculum makes UIndy’s engineering stand out. They complete 10-week intensive courses followed by a 5-week design experience. The university built a new maker-space supporting collaboration in a realistic setting, and they are able to utilize engineering concepts on projects with real clients.

UInday stu cntrThe new living communities has driven engagement and increased retention. There are 7 dorms, 3 of which are predominantly for first-year students. They’re coed by wing with keys only for that wing. Food is “pretty good” according to the students, “especially Wing Fridays.” The tour guide said that he had 2 traditions he would miss after graduation: Homecoming and the Celebration of Flags, an event held at the beginning of every year where students from different countries hang their flags in the student center. He also said that “President Bob” is well liked by the students and holds highly-anticipated and well-attended events at his house every year such as Super Bowl and Election Result parties.

© 2017

Wagner College

Wagner College (visited 3/24/17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The anchor with an upperclassman dorm in the background

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

Wagner city

The view of Manhattan from one of the dorms

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

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

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

  • Wagner dorm 2

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

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

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

More dorms

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

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

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

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

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

Students were surprised by:

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

© 2017

University of New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire (visited 10/17/16)

unh-sign

Students stretch out in the grass in front of the UNH sign and main building

unh-foodtruck

Food trucks get tucked around campus

UNH should be on far more people’s radars. This is just an amazing school. I liked the vibe here; students were friendly, outgoing, outdoorsy (including just wanting to be out and about on campus), and smart. For a state school, it is not an overwhelming size, either physically or in population numbers. It’s beautiful with a mix of historic and new buildings, with facilities that offer a great deal to the students in the academic and social realms.

 

unh-2There’s something to be said for the liberal arts within a comprehensive research university. Students who are most successful here want to be challenged and stretch themselves in and out of the classroom. Students who like UVM should also seriously consider UNH. It won’t disappoint; they take care of students, and students want to stay. Freshman-to-sophomore retention (86%) and graduation rates (67% in 4 years, 79% 6-year) are above average.

unh-students-4

Not an uncommon scene on campus: students were everywhere!

Last year, applications topped 20,000 for the first time with the out-of-state population growing. Part of this is demographic (there are fewer college-aged students in NH); the other part is reputation. In the admission process, they focus mainly on the transcript: have students taken the minimum (at least!) and done well (looking for mostly Bs or better)? The SAT/ACT is not crucial for admission, but comes more into play for merit awards. They only require 1 letter, preferably from the counselor. In terms of admissions, Nursing and OT are the most competitive to get into.

 

unh-shuttles

Shuttles get students around campus, but it’s also very walkable

A major distinction for UNH is its location and size. The physical campus size is manageable, but more than that, there are so many options accessible to campus. They’re only 30 minutes from the ocean and beaches, and the mountains and urban areas aren’t much further. Portsmouth, a medium-sized city, is 20 minutes away, and students can use UNH transportation to get there. There’s even an Amtrak stop on campus; students can be in Boston in an hour, or head up the coast into Maine to Portland or Freeport (home of LLBean!).

 

unh-dorm

One of the dorms

Housing is guaranteed for 2 years. Of course there are lots of social options, as at any school of this size (13,000 undergrads at the Durham campus; there are about 1,000 more at the non-residential Manchester campus). Something the students appreciate is that “One thing doesn’t dominate campus: we have Greek life, we have football and hockey, etc – but none of those dominate the others. You don’t have to belong to a certain group or do a certain thing to belong here.” Only 10% of students go Greek. Hockey is one of the most popular sports.

 

unh-engo-lab-2

One of the engineering labs

This is a great option for students who want engineering at a medium school. However, their excellent academic choices and resources go far beyond that. Started in 1866 as New Hampshire’s Land Grant institution, UNH has now also earned Sea and Space Grant designations and offers over 100 majors. It’s not surprising that the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture options are strong and varied, including EcoGastronomy, Sustainable agriculture and food systems, and Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology.

 

unh-hammockTheir sustainability efforts are amazing: they get almost ¼ of their food from local and/or organic sources, and they’re the first land-grant school to have an organic dairy farm, and they make their own ice cream on campus. They gave us scoops for dessert; not only did they have great flavor options, but it tasted better than most I’ve tried!

Discovery is their Core curriculum, comprised of 11 disciplines they need to take classes in, including a World Cultures class (which can be fulfilled with study abroad – they offer over 600 options) and a Capstone or “Integrative Understanding.” Research is defined broadly here: they call original projects (musical compositions or a business proposal) as “research.”

unh-loungeResources are strong across the board, but Ocean Engineering and Marine Biology have some unique resources at students’ disposal. UNH co-runs the Isle of Shoals Marine Lab with Cornell University. Students spend a great deal of time researching out there, particularly in the summer (they can live on the island!). The Ocean Engineering labs have 2 wave pools; the military even asks to use this for research. Computer Science students have labs to try to break into a variety of systems as part of CyberSecurity training.

© 2016

Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University (visited 10/11/16)

sacred-heart-dorms

One of the walkways; the brick buildings are dorms

If you’re looking to study at a campus in Ireland or Luxembourg, Sacred Heart might be your school! SHU (pronounced like “shoe”) owns and operates campuses in both places, and they’re well-utilized by a variety of students. Business students even get a tuition waiver for class abroad!

sacred-heart-quad-2

The quad with the chapel on one side

Sacred Heart is another one of those schools that I wish more people knew about. In addition to being a beautiful campus, students are friendly, happy, and engaged in academics and campus social life. The university is student-centered and welcoming to visitors. There are several new buildings with more on the way. They recently celebrated their 50th university; even so new, they’re the 2nd largest Catholic college in New England (after BC).

sacred-heart-chapel-int

The chapel interior

The chapel is beautiful in a non-traditional sort of way. The large mural dominating the front of the building was done by a Vatican artist who had done work for Pope John Paul II; this is the only American work of his not housed in a museum. Surprisingly, it only took him 3 weeks to complete. A fun fact is that he never signs his name; instead, he adds a squirrel somewhere in the work.

sacred-heart-squirrel-in-mural

The squirrel “signature” on the mural

All students take 8 classes in the Core including 1 religion class, The Art of Thinking, and a First-Year Seminar (these last two are taken in freshman year, 1 per semester). My tour guide took Self, Society, and Technology for her FYS, but there are plenty of options (The Seven Deadly Sins was another that popped into her head). Students can only choose their topic if they take it in 2nd semester; otherwise, it’s chosen for them coming in.

Because SHU was hosting a college fair on the day I was visiting, they were not offering the normal 2pm tour, but the admissions rep, who knew I was visiting, had a student give me a personal tour. She was absolutely wonderful – both enthusiastic and genuine. I was sold on the school. “I love giving tours! I want people to love this place as much as I do!”

sacred-heart-dorm-lounge

The lounge in a new dorm

Dorms are spacious, and they’re working on upgrading the oldest buildings while also building more. The newest dorm has a video game room and a cross-fit studio. The pods are “gigantic – they could be triples. It’s like a hotel.” LLC offerings include business, community connections, healthy living, and more. The Honors LLC has 12-person suites. Alcohol is not allowed in the res halls, but they do have a campus pub where of-age students can get beer and wine (no hard liquor is served); “the pub food is great for late night options!” There are 2 buffet-style dining halls, one of which is smartly located in main academic quad. Mac & Cheese is what everyone runs to get.

sacred-heart-peace-fountain

The foutain

Greek life is one of the fastest growing groups on campus. Football is probably the most popular of the sports, drawing a lot of fans. For students wanting to get off campus, there are shuttles that run to the mall, the transit center and the ferry, and off-campus housing. The tour guide’s favorite tradition is the Penny Parade: during orientation, freshmen march through campus, throw pennies into the fountain, make a wish, and then take a group picture in the shape of their graduation year.

sacred-heart-motion-capture

The motion-capture lab

The arts, including Art and Design, dance, music, and theater are popular and strong. The Music department offers concentrations in performance, theory and history, and literature and theory. The Contemporary Art Gallery includes community, student, and staff. They have a few big name alumni, including John Ratzenberger (of Cheers and Pixar fame) and Kevin Nealon.

sacred-heart-int-new-acad-bldg

The new academic building

Business and communications are particularly strong here. They just opened a new building with state of the art equipment for both of these departments; the building has lots of natural light and plenty of seating and meeting areas. It’s so popular with the students as a study area that they school has started putting FYE classes in there so more students have the opportunity to use it. A new health science building is in the planning stages and will look similar to the new building. Colleges of Nursing and Health Professions will be housed in here.

sacred-heart-3The Business department has a Human Subject Lab (used a lot for psychology), a room with an X-box to record and grade presentations, and Stock-Ticker room completely wired for Skype and microphones. The microphones can be turned on to pick up questions and conversation when the Skyping with outsiders; they also can be used to translate spoken words into text for to assist hearing impaired students. The Communications department has all sorts of sets, including a news set donated by Nickelodeon. Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s degrees are available (MA in Comm, Sports Comm and Media, and Media Literacy and Digital Culture).

© 2016

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

Washington College

Washington College (visited 8/19/16)

WAC statue and stu cntr

Washington bust in front of the new (2009) Student Center

WAC (pronounced “whack”) is a beautiful, traditional-looking campus in the historic town of Chestertown along the Chester River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It is named for George Washington who not only agreed to having his name used, but he donated money to start the school and sat on what was essentially the Board of Trustees.

WAC sign and performing arts

WAC’s performing arts center

Because of this tie to Washington, they also have a connection to Mount Vernon where two of the big college traditions are held. During orientation, freshmen spend time out there where they also sign the Honor Code. Right before graduation, seniors return as a class to spend some final time together before they graduate and go their separate ways. During this time, people give toasts (including one by a Washington impersonator) and students leave via a boat to cruise up to the National Harbour. The college also throws an annual Birthday Ball on the weekend of Washington’s birthday. Dubbed “Prom 2.0,” students, faculty, and alum come together in a non-academic setting to have fun and just enjoy each other’s company. They turn the field house into a beautiful space: “It doesn’t seem possible, but they do it!” This is usually themed: in the last couple years, they’ve had Narnia and Harry Potter. This is decided by a vote of the students.

WAC’s 1500 undergraduates have access to some amazing resources, including waterfront property about a mile from main campus. This area houses the boathouse for the crew team (including a rowing tank for winter training), the sailboats, kayaks, and research vessels for Biology and Environmental Studies/Science classes.

WAC quad

The quad

They have 17 DIII sports competing in the Centennial Conference: “We’re the smarty pants conference,” said the admissions rep, also a WAC alum. The “student” in student-athlete really does come first here. If class and practice overlap, you’re going to class. Teams have an annual competition for which team has the highest GPA. “It usually flip flops between lax and rowing, but sometimes the women’s soccer team sneaks in there, too!” The Men’s Lax has a huge rivalry with Salisbury: the “war on the shore” game alternates campuses every year, and there’s always a giant campus tailgate. Baseball and soccer also draw big crowds.

WAC dorms

2 of the specialty dorms

Housing is guaranteed all 4 years, and 90% of students live on campus until graduation. The four dorms (2 all female, 2 coed) located across the street house mostly freshman and are fairly typical freshman dorms with bathrooms down the hall. There are 3 smaller dorms located in the middle campus that are Special Interest Housing: Middle is for the Arts (“This dorm puts on the BEST Halloween haunted house – not surprising with all the theater people there!” said our tour guide), East for International Studies and international students, and West is for math and science. Upperclassmen tend to get the suites located across campus. WAC has a partnership with local apartment complex where they rent out a block of apartments: WAC furnishes them, provides wifi and security, etc.

WAC Case bldgWAC is far from a suitcase school: 85-90% of students stay on campus any given weekend. “WAC students are busy. They join a lot of clubs, Greek life (4 frats, 3 sororities with rush happening in the spring), and sports teams. People stick around,” said the admissions rep. Clubs getting school funding must commit to completing community service, so they get involved in the Chestertown community as well.

WAC egg

The Egg

 

The new Student Center with the dining hall was opened in Fall 2009. The Egg, a round multi-purpose room in the middle has Open Mic nights, games, performances, etc. The first floor of the Student Center has food areas open from 11 am to 11 pm; the second floor, the more traditional all-you-can-eat, is open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Our tour guide told us that students used to rush over for mozzarella sticks when they were offered; they were so popular that they started offering them a lot more! Now students get excited about the theme nights, midnight breakfasts, and Thanksgiving dinner.

Almost all majors have some sort of experiential learning component. They offer quite a few “Tourism study” classes (this makes so much more sense than calling these short-term, 2-3 week, classes “study abroad”). They also offer research trips and the traditional semester and year-long programs. South Africa, Hong Kong, and South Korea have become popular destinations.

WAC sci cntr

Part of the Science Center

Summer research is big, and lots of students stick around campus – or go to other facilities – to complete things. The Toll Fellows Program is math, sciences, psychology, and computer science majors, but there are plenty of other internships and programs for other students including the National Security Fellows Program, Maryland General Assembly Internship, Comegys Blight Fellowship (Studying vanishing islands of the Chesapeake), the Roy Ans Fellowship (Jewish American Experience), and the Frederick Douglass Fellowship.

WAC offers most of the majors you’d expect from a quality Liberal Arts college. A few unusual ones include International Literature and Culture and excellent dual degree programs:

  • Engineering: students complete 3 or 4 years at WAC and 2 at Columbia University
  • Pharmacy: students complete 3 years at WAC majoring in biology OR psychology with a minor in behavioral neuroscience, then complete 4 years at the University of Maryland.
  • Nursing: Students complete 3 years at WAC majoring in biology or psychology, then complete 2 years at either the University of Maryland or the University of Delaware.

The minors offered at WAC are amazing, especially for a school this size. Some of the more unusual ones include:

WAC acad bldg 2Classes usually are in the 15-30 range, but my tour guide’s classes have been as small as 7 (“Friends of mine have had them as small as 3”) and as large as 35 for an intro class. His favorite class was his Freshman writing class called “Life in 140 Characters” looking at social media.

For admissions, they’ll take either the Common App or their own institutional app. It’s free to apply because “We don’t think it money should stand in the way of applying to college,” said the admissions rep doing the presentation. On the Common App, all students can choose the WAC fee waiver.

© 2016

Chatham University

Chatham University (visited 5/26/16)

~Chatham sign and chapelChatham is a hidden gem of a school located in a beautiful residential part of western Pittsburgh. Until recently, this was a women’s college; in the 2015-16 school year, they brought in their first males to the freshman class. “The upperclassmen tended to be more upset about this. I knew coming in that it was a distinct possibility that they would go coed so I was ready for it,” said our tour guide, a rising-senior nursing student staffing the front desk.

~Chatham dorm 1

One of the Residence Halls

All residence halls (they aren’t called dorms) are converted mansions. Most of them have some sort of theme such as Sustainable Living or Global Scholars. Partly in keeping with their Women’s College heritage and partly because they’re still heavily skewed in terms of gender, there are all-female dorms available. Upperclassmen have the option of living in 3-person apartments just off campus on Fifth Avenue that are open to upperclassmen. Our tour guide lives there and loves that it’s given her an added level of independence. She’s still in campus housing but gets a taste of being on her own.

~Chatham Mellon House 3

The back of the Mellon summer residence house.

There are other historical, beautiful buildings on campus in addition to the residence halls. The Mellon House was Andrew Mellon’s summer residence, complete with an indoor pool and a bowling alley in the basement (the Pool area has since been converted to the Board Room.) The first floor has all the original rooms, including fireplaces, and “is a great place to study. There are usually very few people here so it’s quiet.” The university also incorporates as much of the old into the new, when possible. The science center renovated an old academic building and the added around it in order to keep some of the history and original flavor.

~Chatham Statue 2Chatham sets students up for success, starting with providing each student with a free MacBook plus 1 free replacement while they’re at Chatham. Additionally, students all get a $1,200 study abroad voucher which can be used for anything from a 1-week study-trip associated with a class to a full year of study abroad. “It doesn’t cover everything, but at the very least, it pays for the airfare!” said the tour guide.

~Chatham pond 2Classes, of course, are small: our tour guide’s largest class has had 31 students “which is larger than normal. The professor let extra students into the class.” Her smallest class, Anatomy Lab 2, had 10 students.

~Chatham dormsSustainability is a big part of campus and mission. They’re proud of the fact that one of their most famous alumna is Rachel Carson (author of Silver Spring). Their newest addition to the school, the Eden Hall Campus, is located about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh. Housing the Falk School of Sustainability, it opened in 2010. Students can earn a BSUS or MSUS (Bachelor/ Master of Sustainability), and MA in Food Studies, or a combined MBA with either of the Master’s degrees. Many of the Sustainability undergraduates live on the Eden Hall Campus, and the food grown there is used in the dining hall of both campuses, which is pretty cool. However, it’s not just these students who work on sustainability projects. A team of 3 Chatham chemistry students just won the $5000 CleanTech University Prize at Carnegie Mellon for their work on a new compressor lubricant for HVAC systems.

~Chatham sci bldg

The science building: the old section is on the left with the new, modern portion built around it.

Health Sciences are worth noting. Most impressive is that they have a cadaver lab on campus! This is really unusual for a school this size, and it gives their undergrads a real leg-up when it comes to medical or graduate school. Two unusual majors in the health sciences are Integrative Health Studies and Interdisciplinary Health Science (with a concentration in Bio, Exercise Science, or Psychology). Nursing is particularly strong. Their Pathways to Nursing Major pairs students up with UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing. Our tour guide is in this program. She did her first year of classes on campus, spent 2 years split between the two campuses, and will finish her clinicals and classes at Chatham for her senior year. She loves the experiences she has, and she wouldn’t do this any other way. “I love Chatham and being part of the community, but I also love meeting all the other people at Shadyside. Even when I’m there, I know I am coming home to Chatham in the evenings and have all my friends here.”

~Chatham coffee shop

The student-run coffee shop

The Business program is also strong. We spoke with a business professor who was in the hall of one of the academic buildings; she was a delight to talk to – very enthusiastic and helpful. I can only imagine what she’s like in the classroom! She told us about the Center for Women Entrepreneurs on campus as well as the variety of programs. For such a small campus, there’s a wide range of business degrees including Social Services Administration, Arts Management, Management Info Systems, International Business, and Healthcare and Business Management in addition to the more common majors (general business, accounting, general management, etc).

~Chatham stairsMore importantly, students have the opportunity to participate in an Integrated Degree Program in the health sciences, business, sustainability, and the arts. The GPA requirement is higher in the health sciences (3.5) compared to the others (3.25). There are also specific ACT or SAT minimums and required prep work in high school classes. Collaborative programs with other universities allow students to complete degrees in Music Education, Teacher Training, and Physics (all with Carnegie Mellon), 3+4 law degrees with Duquesne (PA) or Stetson University (FL), and 4+1 Bachelors/Masters programs in various management programs, also at Carnegie Mellon.

© 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

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