campus encounters

"Get the first-hand scoop about colleges and universities"

Archive for the tag “oceanography”

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University (visited 1/31/19)

√P1110926

The new Education building

I can’t say that my initial impressions of the university were stellar (although I think they redeemed themselves so keep reading!). The Welcome Center (the actual admissions dept is elsewhere) was hard to find; I found out that they weren’t even offering a tour on the day I arrived despite it being listed on their website; and they had no record of me coming, even though I had confirmation from the admissions rep that I was welcome to join the (non-existent) tour/info session. The Welcome Center was a small office on the side of a large atrium in a large building off the quad … with almost no signage to get people to the right place. When I got into the right building (after calling the office to get directions which at least got me to the right building), I asked a CNU employee for help … and she had no idea that the office was even in that building. The people in the welcome center (when I finally found them!) were confused as to why I was there, although they were incredibly nice and went out of their way to help. When I went to put the parking pass in my car (visitors park on the 4th or 5th floor of the garage more than a block away), they arranged for the student intern, a senior, to give me a personal tour since there were no tours that day.

 

P1110920

The main quad (with 70s architecture)

All that being said … the student spent 90 minutes giving me an amazing tour, and he was one of the best ambassadors that ODU could have asked for. He was not at all scripted (so many tour guides can’t get off “the script” to save themselves), and I feel like I got the real scoop on what it was like to be a student. He didn’t hold back when he felt that there was room for improvement, and he didn’t sugar coat his experiences. When he got excited, that was genuine as well.

 

P1110937I think this is one of the most racially diverse campuses I’ve ever seen (and I’ve visited over 420 schools at this point). Fewer than 50% of students self-identify as Caucasian; about 1/3 self-identify as African-American and almost 10% as Hispanic. I mentioned this to the guide, and he agreed. “The mix of students you see in the classrooms aren’t staged. That’s how things are here.” In the new Student Center, there are multiple Affinity Rooms (not just for race), and students can use whichever one they identify with. I asked the tour guide about the less-visible diversity (religion, political views, socio-economic status), etc. He thinks it’s impressive; he loves that he knows all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds and views.

P1110941

This “monorail” was built to help move students around campus — but the builders never tested to see if it would run off the ground!

ODU is technically classified as a residential campus, but doesn’t seem to be the reality. My tour guide said that there are only about 2000 beds on campus; the university says that 24% of the undergraduate population (hovering around 19,500) – and 75% of freshmen — live in “university owned, operated, or affiliated housing” (aka not necessarily on campus). As a senior, he lives off campus, and says that there’s no issue finding housing. There are a lot of houses to rent as well as apartment complexes. Because of the high number of students commuting from home or living off campus, “parking is an issue.” However, it’s easy to walk and bike – in fact, it’s ranked #7 “most bike friendly campus” in the country. Campus is flat “and you’ll see a lot of people biking and skateboarding.” Students can get free weekly bike rentals or pay a fee of $35 a year to guarantee a bike.

 

P1110943

Some of the dorms

Only about 10% of the student go Greek. “I’m not affiliated and I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out.” There’s no Greek Housing – and they have a rule that no more than 5 (6?) members of a chapter can live together. I asked if they really enforced that, especially with the number of people living off campus. He said no, but in practicality, there were few rental places that would accommodate more than that anyway. Food on campus “is good! They even have a hibachi grill and a conveyer belt with fresh-sushi and other things to grab-and-go. You just wait for what you want to come around!”

P1110945

Freshly made sushi on the grab-and-go conveyor belt in the dining hall

Their 6-year graduation rate isn’t wonderful. Only about 55% of their students graduate within this time frame. “I think that commuting is a big reason for people who transfer out,” said the tour guide. “It’s just not conducive to the college experience.”

ODU started as the Norfolk division of William and Mary in 1930, and became its own school with university status in 1969: the main quad architecture definitely has a 1970s vibe! However, campus outside of that main quad has lots of new buildings and a modern feel. Academics are impressive, and the new buildings have amazing classrooms geared towards discussion and group work. The tour guide’s largest classes (intro level) had “about 75 students.” The smallest had 10.

© 2019

University of North Carolina – Wilmington

UNC Wilmington (visited 3/13/17)

UNCW seahawk 2

The main building and Seahawk (mascot) sculpture at the main entrance to campus

I have sent several students here over the years, all of whom had good things to say about it. I finally had a chance to visit, but because I was not able to get into town in time for an official tour, I got in contact with a former advisee who is currently a bio major and psych/neurobiology double minor with sights on med school. I walked away from campus incredibly impressed. They seem to really take care of the students with amazing academic and social opportunities and up-to-date facilities. Their retention rate of 85% indicates that they’re doing things right!

 

UNCW quad

bike racks are all over campus

“What surprised me is how smart people are. They study and go to class.” She said that it can be difficult to find seating in the library because it’s so well used. “Students who have the work-play balance figured out are going to do great here!” Students will spend time at the beach and still get to class and study. “You’ll see a lot of people using long boards and bikes here, and they go barefoot a lot. People wear surf shorts to class. Sometimes they’re coming right from the beach. That kind of sucks if you’re sitting in the chair after them and you end up in a damp seat.”

 

UNCW 6Long known as the place to go for Marine Biology, particularly in the UNC system, this school offers much more. Oceanography falls within the Earth and Ocean Sciences department, and there’s also a Physical Oceanography program within the Physics department (URI is the only other university in the country to offer this degree).

UNCW health sci bldgs

Two of the new health science buildings

The Health Sciences (including Nursing, Social Work, and Allied Health) are also strong and have been growing. They’ve added a couple new buildings with talk of more in the near future. Along with majors you’d expect, they offer Recreation Therapy and Public Health Studies.

 

UNCW 5UNCW doesn’t have Engineering but offers a pre-engineering program with 2 tracks in conjunction with NC State. The 2+2 allows students to choose from 11 majors including the more unusual Agricultural, Construction, Material Science, Paper Science, Textile, and Nuclear Engineering. The 3+2 program is a little more limited: students complete a Computer Science, Environmental Science, or Physics major at UNW and then go into Computer, Electrical, or Environmental Engineering at State.

UNCW apts

Some of the apartment buildings.

About 40% of students live on campus although there’s no residency requirement. There is a “village” of apartments that even freshman can live in. “I wish I knew that this was an option when I first got here. I ended up in a traditional hall which kind of sucked, but I did make a lot of really good friends. We definitely bonded over the experience!” Off campus housing is cheap and easy to find: “Rent is really cheap, and I’m hoping to move closer to the beach next year. We’ll see how that goes.”Students living within a mile of campus cannot park on campus.

UNCW greek dorms

A more traditional dorm where Greek affiliated students get room together on floors. Lettering is on the side.

Shuttles run frequently around and off campus, and there are monitors to show where they are on the route and time to arrival at a particular spot. Dining hall food at the main dining hall is “not so good” but there are a lot of other options. Only about 10-15% of students go Greek. “There are only 114 women in my sorority.” Something she would do to improve campus is to build Greek Housing and put in another dining hall.

 

UNCW Chancellors walk

Chancellor’s Walk

UNCW stu cntr

The Student Center

This is a medium-sized public institution with about 13,000 undergraduates. Campus is fairly big but manageable. Chancellor’s Walk is the main pedestrian thoroughfare, acting kind of as the main center of campus, stretching about half a mile through the middle. “People use it to run because it’s easy to plot out distance.” On sunny days, people pour out of the academic buildings that line the walk. “Even though it’s a big school, I see people I know everywhere.” This certainly seemed to be the case; she was greeting people by name everywhere we went on campus.

UNCW seahawk and clocktowerIt was raining when I visited; even in the increasingly heavy rainfall, it’s a beautiful campus! “I wish you could see in it the sun! It’s gorgeous!” The rain didn’t dampen the attractiveness, but students were not out in the numbers they normally are – although there were plenty of people out and about. “One of the drawbacks on campus is that it floods/puddles easily. Given the rain we get here, you’d think they would have figured it out by now and fixed it!

UNCW porchA lot of students stay all year to do research or other work on campus. “Plus, it’s a beach town. It’s easy to find jobs.” The Greyhound station is only a couple miles off campus making getting to campus easy (although all students can have cars).

© 2017

Colorado State University

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY, Ft. Collins (visited 10/3/12)

P1000896

One of the large quads on campus.

This was not the clichéd large state university full of concrete and large, looming buildings. We arrived on campus next to a long tree-lined quad. Kids were playing Frisbee or lounging in the sun, and it looked more like a stereotypical small college quad – until we passed by a class of about 16 students sitting on the grass with notebooks and a professor writing on a portable white-board. That was a first for me; although I’ve seen classes meeting outside, those have usually been discussion groups rather than a teacher bothering to bring a white board. It was great to see.

CSU pondCSU started in 1870 as the land-grant institution for Colorado. It’s a major research university with a medium-sized school feel. About 12% of classes are taught by TAs, but those are almost all labs and recitation sessions.

The city of Fort Collins is a big draw for students: with a population of about 144,000 people, it’s diverse and active. They just admitted their largest freshman class – and have had four record years in a row. They expect that next year, there will be more out of-state applications than in-state apps. 200 miles of hiking and biking trails are accessible from campus, and (like other places in Colorado) it has about 300 days of sunshine each year. Students get outside and do a lot; for $40 a semester, they can use rent outdoor equipment from the student center for camping, kayaking, skiing, etc. Students get free city bus passes which run by campus all day. The city and the campus are both extremely safe; the biggest crime on campus is bike theft.

CSU2They’ve done quite a bit of building and renovation on campus. They’re looking to build an on-campus football stadium to replace the one that’s currently two miles off campus. One of the projects that they’re most proud of is the recently completed new engineering building. Students can complete a dual degree in biomed and engineering which is fairly unusual. Students do two separate majors rather than a single biomedical engineering degree. The Biomed Sciences major is the only one to which students must apply to directly. There are only 100 spots so people should apply early. Last year, they filled those spots by mid-December.

CSU dormsThere are six majors (including business, computer science, art, and engineering) which require applicants to have a higher GPA because the programs are more competitive. CSU’s business program is highly ranked, and students often take advantage of internships at places like Hewlitt Packard and other big-name companies in town. Engineering is strong, and the graduates of the program pass the national test at well above the national average. Pre-vet, health, and exercise sciences are very popular and well regarded. The university also has one of the top landscape architecture degrees in the country.

CSU1

The Business Department building

CSU differentiates tuition: business and engineering have an additional tuition charge of $60/credit hour because of the increased costs associated with running those programs. They are a WUE school so students residing in one of the 15 Western states can receive this award; the WUE is considered a merit-based deduction and is renewable with a 3.0 GPA. There are also other scholarships available for students outside the WUE states, including an Honors Program scholarship. The Honors scholarship can be stacked with other merit awards, but other than that, students can only get one merit scholarship.

CSU chapel and hillAdmission to the Honors Program comes with the offer of admission to the university and is based on GPA and test scores. Students can also apply after the first year if they don’t get it coming into the school. There’s an Honors Living Learning Community. The tour guide loves the coursework because of the discussion. Other benefits include early class registration and smaller classes. Our tour guide’s smallest classes had 17 students (Honors) and 30 (non-Honors). The biggest class he took was Oceanography with 300 students. When asked if there’s a lot of need for Oceanography in Ft. Collins, CO, the tour guide laughed and said, “It’s really more theoretical.”

CSU3

Another large open space between several academic buildings and their new athletic center.

The university is committed to helping students get comfortable on campus and to adjust to campus living. Thy run orientations throughout the summer, including one for students coming in from a distance; this happens directly before Ram Welcome (the fall orientation program) in August, so students only have to travel to campus once but still can take advantage of the extra orientation time. Freshmen are required to live on campus; the housing application is due by May 1 and costs $150; $100 of that goes towards the cost of housing. Off campus housing is close, cheap, and easy to find. The university has an off-campus housing office to assist students in finding places to live. Our tour guide said that he had no problem; he’s paying $375 for his bedroom in a three-bedroom house about a five-minute walk from campus. Even people who live off campus stay engaged in on-campus activities, leading to a vibrant campus environment. Only about 10% of the student body are members of fraternities or sororities, but Greek Life is active and many activities are open to any member of the community.

(c) 2012

Post Navigation