campus encounters

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Moravian College

Moravian College (visited 4/23/18)

Moravian 2I had no idea that Moravian is the nation’s 6th oldest college! Founded in 1742, it beats out several Ivies. The Moravians who settled in the Lehigh Valley started it as a school “for all things women” because they believed that you couldn’t have a society without educating the women. It was also the first to educate Native Americans in their own language. The college’s first President rejected Harvard when they said they wouldn’t educate women and the poor. “We have more 18th century buildings than Williamsburg and ours are real!” said Moravian’s current President. They have one of George Washington’s end tables and desks “because he was trying to get his grand-nieces into the school. It worked.”

Moravian chapel

Interior of the Chapel

Although still associated with the Moravian Church, the college does not have an overtly religious feel to it; there is a beautiful chapel, but other than that, if you walked on campus without knowing anything, you’d never know it was affiliated. There are no religious requirements placed on students. This is a fairly diverse campus: 27% self-identify as students of color; 42% are Pell-eligible. However, it’s still very much a regional university with many students coming from a 100-mile radius (and only ¾ of freshmen live on campus). They work hard to connect with and engage students to help make sure they’re getting support to persist through graduation. Their retention rate is close to 85%.

Moravian 4

One of the newer academic buildings

Moravians are big believers in practical education. Small classes and personal experiences start in freshmen year. There are a few big classes: “A&P and Intro to Chem might have 60-70 students.” They have a robust education program, and are ranked #4 in the state for nursing (with a 97% NCLEX pass rate). It’s one of the few places that put education and nursing students into their fields in their freshman year. They also offer good Rehabilitation Sciences (OT, PT, SP); students in most of these areas will shadow physicians or other specialists for 100+ hours over the course of a semester. They provide almost $40,000 in internship stipends, particularly for non-profit work. Local corporate sponsors or alumni will help pay for this. Non-profit and service work is part of the ethos here; Moravian even offers a Peace Corps Preparation Program.

Moravian sculpture patioAll students get a MacBook Pro which they can keep once they graduate. They give everyone the same platform to even the playing field and help build cooperation. Students don’t just hear about technology in their discipline; they produce things using it. “Just because they’ve been doing something doesn’t mean that they know how to do it really well,” said the President. “They are consumers of technology but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. They’ve been writing since kindergarten, but we still teach writing. Can they communicate with tech? Make spreadsheets? Publish an app?”

Moravian shuttleThis is a bifurcated campus; they had separate men’s and women’s campuses that merged in 1953. There are several buildings still in downtown Bethlehem; it’s walkable (less than a mile), but there are shuttles that run every few minutes throughout the day. Students can live on either campus. “I might have to leave about 10 minutes earlier than I would otherwise,” said the tour guide. He loves living there. Freshmen can’t have cars on campus, and some often say they don’t want to live over on the downtown campus at first – but they see how cool it is. For students wanting to venture further afield outside of Bethlehem, the school runs a lot of weekend trips: Dorney Park, snow tubing, water parks, baseball games, etc.

Moravian dorms and hammock 2The Gen Ed (LINC: Learning In Common) curriculum is designed to be meaningful and many are interdisciplinary such as Math and Origami or Walking in Peace and Justice (cross of sociology and religion). Since Moravian is part of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges, students can cross-register at any of the other 5 schools. Our tour guide had a few friends who took classes at other LVAIC schools, but no transportation is provided. “I haven’t taken any because the classes I need have been here.” I asked the student panelists about their favorite classes:

  • Refugee Crisis: This is a special-topics class (not offered every year). “We focused mostly on Syria. She brought in people from the counseling center because she was worried about the students processing things. There were also speakers from the area who had worked with refugees in Greece.”
  • Anatomy & Physiology 2: “the professor is the smartest person I’ve ever met and was really cool to learn from her. It’s hard and a lot of work but worth it when the teacher is so excited about the subject.”
  • Zoology: “The Prof worked at the Smithsonian and does a lot a research.”
  • Microbiology: “We did research on e coli on kosher and conventional chicken.”
Moravian greyhound

Mo, one of the 2 greyhound mascots who live with the President. Walking them is a work-study position

I asked a couple students to sum up Moravian – who would fit in/arrive and thrive. One said, “This is the place that people say hello and good morning; people hold doors. We have a saying, ‘When you call one hound, the entire pack comes running.’ It’s true here. It sounds stupid, it’s true.” Another one said, “I feel like they’re aware of issues around campus and they do their best to fix things.” This aligns with what the President said when he spoke to us when we first arrived on campus: “My door is open. Students come in with suggestions all the time. I have to say that I appreciate their candor and their thoughtfulness in what they tell me. They aren’t asking for frivolous things; they aren’t whining or asking for Jacuzzis in dorm rooms. They come with ideas and suggestions. We can work with that.”

© 2018

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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

Jefferson College of Health Sciences

Jefferson College of Health Sciences (visited 11/3/16)

jefferson-classroom

One of the classrooms

Jefferson is an Allied Health Science College, offering degrees from associates (PTA and OTA are the most competitive) up to doctoral programs (2 offered in nursing and health services). However, they do have a Core component in the Humanities and Social Sciences, offering a minor in Healthcare Humanities. Because the programs here are so specific, students need to know that this is what they focus on, but they do have some options to transfer programs if they don’t like or aren’t doing well in their first program.

 

jefferson-iv-dummies

Practice “dummies” for IVs

One of the benefits of Jefferson is its size. “We’re small. We have just over 1000 students.” A huge benefit of this is that the professors are helpful and invested. “We can call and text them all the time,” said one student. All academics are housed in one building so students don’t have to track them down. The professors are here to make sure students are successful and ready to go out into the workforce: “Give me someone with common sense and I can train them,” said one.

 

jefferson-signThe college president was a hospital administrator when this building was a full-service hospital. During the switch, in-patient services were moved to another hospital, and the 5th and 6th floors were gutted and converted to the school, now the largest occupant of the building. The 1st floor is a quasi-urgent care center; the 2nd has pediatric rehab, and the 7th floor houses inpatient rehab services (people transitioning to home or other facilities). Students have access to lots of clinical rotations without even leaving the building. Other clinicals are often done at Roanoke Memorial or Carillon Hospital, the 2nd largest in the state. Carillon is a 20 minute walk or 5 minute drive; trolleys run over there and parking is free.

jefferson-hospital

A view of the hospital from the school

In addition to the basic academic skills within their field, students are taught to work in groups across disciplines. Students participate in an annual Disaster Event, an inter-professionalism event coming out of McMillan in Canada. They get evaluated on how well they work together as a team, on ethics, etc (they aren’t being critiqued clinically on skills for this).

 

During our visit, we got split into 2 groups to talk with the Heads of 2 departments and tour the facilities:

  • jefferson-ambulance-2

    A model ambulance used for training, mostly by the EMS students

    Students can get an AAS in Surgical Tech (this technically falls under Nursing) and become nationally Board Certified (students have a 100% pass rate on the exam). Surgical Techs help prep patients and then monitor and keep things sterile in ORs. Students get more than 200 clinical hours in before graduation and are almost always hired before graduation.

  • jefferson-xrays

    Some of the Respiratory Tech training

    Respiratory Therapy is one of the Bachelor’s programs. This was the most amazing program! The Head is dynamic and passionate about what he’s doing. I was ready to sign up for the program right then. We got to look at x-rays to see how a diagnosis might be done, machines that help Cystic Fibrosis patients, and even 2 sets of real lungs that he inflated for us!

    • 75% of RT students are employed before graduation, and everyone has a job within a month of graduation. This isn’t unusual. A nursing student said that she has gotten job offers on the floor as she did clinicals: “You can come back and work for me.”
jefferson-table-2

The Anatomage; the student demonstrated how it can show different layers of the body

Resources are “top notch. Often they’re one generation out of date – we get a lot of things donated – but they’re free and similar to what they use in hospitals,” said one of the teachers. An exception to this is the Anatomage which is table with a top that works like a giant ipad. They can pull up a picture of full-sized body that students can rotate, “dissect,” and use to learn skeletal, muscular, and other structures. Not many schools have it.

Additionally, they had a Cadaver lab which gets used by many programs including Occupational Therapy. OT also has labs that include a play room for kids and a mock house so they can learn to work with patients in that environment.

jefferson-dorm

A view of the dorm (the tall brick building) from the school. It’s a quick walk across the park. 

Students we spoke to chose Jefferson for the direct entry programs, the 4-year EMS, and the nice dorms. Dorms are a 4 minute walk from the school. Even though there’s no traditional campus, students feel like they get a full college experience. There are extra-curricular options and events just like any other college. A couple they mentioned were:

  • Taste of Jefferson: Departments have different foods, students get a passport to be stamped, they get a t-shirt when they fill it up.
  • Chocolate Day: “the best part is the chocolate fountain!”
jefferson-ot-lab

One of the OT labs

All students can have cars on campus, and parking is easy in the garage. It’s helpful to have one for clinicals and just getting around; the closest grocery store is a mile. However, it’s not needed.

© 2016

Towson University

TOWSON UNIVERSITY (visited 9/30/16) (Click HERE for updates and more information from my visit on 4/16/19)

towson-bball-field

Baseball Field and campus buildings

As the second largest university in the Maryland system, I expected more of a state-school feel with large somewhat sterile buildings. I should know better. There are definitely parts of campus that fit this description: parking garages, plain (even outdated, not attractive) concrete buildings. The worst of these, an imposing concrete tower, had been a dorm until they closed it with the intent to knock it down, making way for an updated building.

towson-cola

College of Liberal Arts building

That being said, there are gorgeous parts of campus with historic and new buildings. Some of the newest buildings are in West Village, new residential units with Hotel-Style (bathrooms in each room; these rooms cost $600 more per semester), apartments, suites, and more. West Village Commons has a buffet-style dining hall, grab-and-go eateries, meeting rooms, and a group exercise room. There’s also a new union under construction in the middle of campus. In addition to the 2nd of 3 buffet-style dining halls and more meeting space, this will house an American Ninja Warrior Course. The new, LEED-certified Liberal Arts Building might look familiar to House of Cards fans; an episode was filmed inside.

towson-towersI went on tour with several families and 2 tour guides, 1 of whom was training. Because of this, I overheard things that they’re supposed to include on tours: the already-trained tour guide said (either not knowing or not caring that he was saying this within earshot), “I don’t usually bother telling people about that place down there because how many people care? But if you don’t say it on your evaluation, you’ll fail.” He was incredibly hard to get “off script” during the tour; sometimes he would give perfunctory answers and/or say, “We’ll get to that later.” They’re clearly trained to only talk about certain things at certain times. For example, I asked when the last time he heard of anyone using the blue lights. His answer: “We’re 5 years crime free. We’ll talk about security later.” That’s great but didn’t answer the question.

towson-4The guide-in-training was more personable, willing to answer questions, and give insight into what it was like to be a student. She walked some of us across campus to where we had parked (the tour ends at the bookstore – go figure! – nowhere near where we parked and started the tour!). During those 10 minutes, I learned more about the student experience than during the entire 2-hour tour. She picked Towson over another Maryland school because of its diversity. “I see a lot more people like me here, and I have friends from all over, of many different races, different religions. It feels more like the real world.” She is thrilled with the academic offerings, the social life, the location, and pretty much everything here. She didn’t have much she’d want to change other than the parking situation. Freshman are no longer allowed to have cars on campus; parking on campus costs “$300-something per semester. It’s a lot.”

towson-stevens-hall

Stevens Hall, the iconic building that shows up on several of the marketing materials for the university.

Admission is selective but not overwhelmingly so: mid-range ACT scores are 21-26 (average of 23), and with the new SAT, they’re expecting at least a 1000 (CR&M). They use their own online application with a personal statement. “We want to know your story: Who are you, and what can you contribute to the Towson community?” said the admissions rep. “Make it as close to 500 words as you can get.” Applicants can expect an answer within 3-6 weeks. They will start releasing decisions in November and keep going until the class is full. However, students who want a guaranteed review for scholarships should apply by December 1.

towson-mascot

Towson’s  mascot

The Honors College application is built into the regular application, needing a 3.6 to be considered. If you indicate that you’re interested, an additional writing prompt pops up. The HC operates like its own college. Students must earn 24 Honors credits, including 9 seminar and 6 thesis credits. Honors students are guaranteed premium housing without the additional cost, $1000-3000 additional scholarship, and priority registration (right after the athletes and students with accommodations).

towson-dorms-2

West Commons dorm buildings

Housing is guaranteed for Freshmen. There are a couple dorms without AC that apparently have the highest retention rate at the university. The tour guide suggested it was because there was a real community feel because “everyone leaves their doors open for the breeze.” Residential freshmen must get a weekly meal plan and “use it or lose it” (it doesn’t roll over). Upperclassmen and commuters can choose a Block Plan with a set number of meals per semester.

towson-psych-bldg

Part of the academic side of campus

Towson requires 14 core classes. No classes are taught by GAs or TAs which is wonderful for a school this size. All freshmen get a FYE advisor (in their major if they’ve declared one, otherwise they’re assigned at random); they get a new permanent advisor as a sophomore. Average classes sizes over around 24-30. The tour guide said that “classes are maxed at 35” but this is clearly not the case. The tour guides said that they’ve had classes of about 100 students (Microbiology and Intro to Psych); their smallest ranged from 7 (a seminar class) and 20 (ASL).

towson-enviro-cntr

Part of the Environmental Center

They have a great, albeit small Environmental Center on campus with 121 indigenous plant species. There’s a pedestrian walkway over part of this as well as outdoor classrooms, picnic tables, benches, etc. Freedom Square, surrounded by academic buildings, is a favorite hangout for many students. There are 2 chalkboards for students to write comments, put up ads for campus events, etc. There are plenty of benches and other places for students to congregate.

There are several “Screened” majors. Students interested in these come in as “pre-____”, take preliminary classes, and apply to the major once they’re here. Some of these include:

towson-cafe-enactus

Cafe Enactus was a “senior thesis” by a business Honors student in the class of 2015.

Other programs of note include:

Students in all programs can study abroad for 2 weeks to 2 years, or they can participate in the US Exchange program to study at another university for a period of time.

© 2016

 

Nazareth College

Nazareth College (visited 10/18/15)

Naz 4

Nazareth tunnels

Nazareth tunnels

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

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

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

One of the science building libraries

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

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

Study groups in the around the science buildings

Study groups in and around the science buildings

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

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

~Naz sculpture garden

A tucked-away courtyard

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

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

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

What will you remember most when you leave?

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

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

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

~Naz 3What would you change?

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

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

(c) 2015

Richard Stockton University

RICHARD STOCKTON UNIVERSITY OF NJ (visited 7/30/13)

RS academics

One of the main academic complexes

John Iacovelli, the Dean of Enrollment Management, welcomed us to campus and spoke extensively about the growth the college, both the physical plant and enrollment. The freshman class is now about 200 students larger than even a few years ago. They have a new “Academic Spine” building (a long building with wings coming off of it which house different departments) and a new Unified Science Center which was getting the finishing touches put on it when we toured; although there was still a lot of last-minute construction, painting, and set-up to finish, the place was beautiful with 9 labs, 12 research spaces, offices, and conference rooms. They place a big emphasis on the sciences here; 25% of science majors from the 8 public colleges in NJ graduate from here. The Health Sciences are strong with competitive PT and OT programs, and they’re a year away from Physician’s Assistant program (the first class will come in next year) in conjunction with Philadelphia University. They also have strong Marine Science, Environmental Science, and a field station. However, they are a comprehensive institution; since 2/3 of students nationwide change their major at least once before getting a Bachelor’s, Stockton is ready and able to help guide students and to provide options in finding an appropriate major.

RS student center

The main lobby of the student center

Their new Campus Center opened in 2010. The first floor is spacious and open with fireplaces, artwork, and comfortable seating areas and charging stations everywhere. The Student Center side, aka the “Fun Side,” has lounges, a game room (where all the games are free, including old-school style game tables with pac-man and other games) and more. A fast-food court with Johnny Rockets-to-go, Chik-fil-A, subs, pizza, and more has seating for 400 students in the basement. The second floor has all the Student Activities offices, including lockers and small offices for each club. Large-scale programing doesn’t just run evening or weekend activities because they want the commuter students to be included.

Stockton brought in 1000 first-year students last year, 255 of whom self-reported as minority. However, they have almost NO out-of-state students! I heard different people say they had anywhere from 1-4% of their students come from outside of NJ. They are one of two schools in the state that froze tuition last year, and it also has one of the best merit-based scholarship systems in the state. The website lists very clear criteria for 3 of the 4 scholarships: if students hit the criteria, they get the scholarship. The last scholarship, the Stockton Scholar, has some wiggle-room in awarding it and is based on a more holistic review.

RS lake

The lake in the middle of the Stockton campus. Dorms are on the far side.

Much of the campus and surrounding areas is wooded and there is a lot of room for growth. The campus sits on about 1600 acres which includes two lakes and two hospitals. One of the lakes, Lake Fred, has a 1 mile trail around it linking the main campus to 3 housing units on the far side. Housing 1 has suites for sophomores. Housing 4 is also comprised of suites which are “more homey” according to the tour guide (and students do not need to be on a meal plan if they live here). Housing 5 has the newest buildings with single rooms and a kitchenette. There’s not a full kitchen so students need a meal plan. Housing is guaranteed for the first 2 years, and most buildings are coed by floor. 60% of freshmen live on campus. I was NOT impressed with the dorm they took us into: it smelled moldy and did not feel clean. The rooms were so small that the beds had to be bunked; there was not room to have them separated.

RS lake and path

The path around the lake to the dorms.

However, they’ve recently added 200 beds to their housing options with the purchase of the Seaview Hotel and Resort a couple miles away from the main campus. Partly because of this addition, their Hospitality and Tourism Management program is huge. The resort includes a golf course, and students get hands-on experience with several aspects of the tourism sector, including gambling because of their proximity to Atlantic City. Cornell University has partnered with Stockton since the Cornell students don’t have access to the gambling industry in NY. Cornell students can spend a semester studying at Stockton; Stockton students, in exchange, can earn direct entry into the Masters Program at Cornell if they meet certain standards. Students can also opt to live in the Living Learning Community housed in one wing of the hotel; they eat at the hotel, have access to the pool, and have other perks related to being there; the down-side is that they are removed from the convenience of all the activities on the main campus (although they certainly take advantage of these things; they just have to commute over).

RS academics 2Despite the wooded feel, this is not an isolated community. The town has a lot to do, and they’re right near the ocean (and also have some campus-owned, off-campus housing right on the beach!). They do the NSSE and CLE “Cultural Assessment” to get feedback from students and have earned high marks on both. There’s a NJ transit stop on campus with buses to Atlantic City, NY, and Philadelphia. Students can have cars on campus. Parking is free, and they’re planning a new parking garage. There are solar panels over the parking spots. There are 18 DIII sports including a new women’s lacrosse program, and they have a hockey rink on campus. Several teams have won championships.

© 2013

Maryville University

Maryville University (Visited 4/11/13)

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One of the main buildings on campus.

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

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Springtime on campus

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

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

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

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    The first floor of the library

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

          Maryville 3

          The Design “library”

        • They have partnered up with WashU and others for a dual-degree Engineering program.
        • Their hands-on Interior Design, Interactive Design, Graphic Design, and similar programs are well-funded and very hands-on. The Arts building has impressive studios; they can even take Metals and Jewelry classes.. We got to see an end-of-year display that students were putting together for an evening open-house/job fair that brings employers in to see final projects.
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The lobby of the newest dorm, a converted hotel, which houses 240 students.

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

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

(c) 2013

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