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Purdue University

PURDUE UNIVERSITY (visited 9/15/14)

Twenty-three astronauts, including Neil Armstrong (for whom their engineering building is named), graduated from Purdue.

~Purdue quad 2 Purdue is Indiana’s land-grant public institution, home to 29,400 undergraduates: 57% are male, 57% are in-state, and 17% are international. We visited on a drizzly day, but the students were out in droves. The level of diversity seen in the student body impressed me.

~Purdue Boilermaker

The Boilermaker

As part of the counselor tour, some of us chose to ride the “Boilermaker,” a small “train” that goes around campus. We had about five minutes to talk to the students who ranged from sophomores to seniors. Most were in-state; 2 were from other Midwestern states. They were all thrilled with their education and excited to talk about their experiences. One student said that she was surprised at how manageable the campus felt for such a large school; the others agreed that it feels small quickly through the majors, living communities, clubs, etc. Three were involved in Greek life (about 20% of all students are, making it one of the largest Greek systems in the state). The unaffiliated ones didn’t feel left out of the social scene or pressured to rush.

Purdue sign and acad A few things the students particularly like about Purdue are:

  • The President who was a 2-term Indiana Governor. He’s making some good initiatives, including freezing tuition for 3 years.
  • The town. It’s very walkable with lots to do. They are two hours from Chicago; shuttles run all the time. (Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus because of parking limitations).
  • SPORTS! Students can buy a “Boilermaker VIP card” for $250 which gets them tickets to the games.
  • The strong ROTC program in all 4 branches.

There is no residency requirement but almost all freshmen live on campus. “It cuts in half about every year after that,” said the tour guide. A total of 11,500 students live in one of 16 dorms or a learning community (each housing 30-40 students) A new Honors College residence hall is about to be built. Greek housing is cheaper than other on-campus housing.

~Purdue walkwayStudents can be directly admitted to most of the 200 majors; undecided students enter the Exploratory Program. Many of the programs are largely hands-on with the goal of graduating marketable students. The admissions rep talked about their 4-3-2-1 “program” (although it’s not really advertised as such): they want students to graduate in 4 years, keep a 3.0 average, complete 2 hours of study for every hour of class, take 1 leadership role. The university boasts the largest student-run job fair in the country, and students do tend to transition easily into the job market. Our tour guide, an agri-business major, has a job already lined up for graduation (almost a year away!)

Purdue acad bldg 5Classes tend to be large. There are 2 lecture halls with 470ish seats and other halls that hold 120 students. Our tour guide’s smallest classes were 30 (Instructor-led) and 20 (TA-led). There’s support for people who want it, but no one will hold their hands. The OWL lab (writing center) is free. “It’s available online; I used it even as a high school student,” said the tour guide. However, other tutoring costs money.

During our visit, there were two sessions where we had options of seeing several different departments. I first went to the anthropology department and got a tour by one of the archaeologists who works in Egypt. She took us into the osteology lab where a several-thousand-year-old Sudanese skeleton was assembled on the worktable. She showed us some of the discoveries about lifestyle, and explained what type of work the students do in the class she teaches. Eventually it will go back to Sudan, but since they don’t have facilities to store human remains for study, they’re not anxious to get it back.

One of the kitchen classrooms for the Hospitality School.

One of the kitchen classrooms for the Hospitality School.

~Purdue fountain 3The second tour was the school of Health and Human Sciences. This encompasses everything from Hospitality and Tourism Management and Consumer Science to Nursing, Psychological Sciences, and Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. I talked to a Dean and a current Hospitality student. He showed off the school, including the sit-down restaurant on campus where all students must complete an internship.

Notable majors include:

  • Hospitality and Retail. Students can specialize in things like Sporting Events or get certified in Wine Tasting. Students all complete 4 concentrations including labs and internships on campus and must also complete 3 paid internships in different positions, totalling more than 300 hours. There’s one in China at the Shangri La Resorts. The student I spoke to had all his expenses paid, including travel and uniforms. He completed a research project in Employee Retention, so he spent a lot of time with HR.
  • PHASE (Purdue Hearing and Acoustics in Science and Engineering) which includes Acoustic Engineering and Biomedical Acoustics.
  • A new Brain and Behavioral Science Major, popular with the pre-med crowd (as is the Nutrition Science program).
  • Fashion Merchandising: They can spend their junior year at FIT in New York.
  • Financial Planning (one of the majors requiring an internship).
  • Aviation – complete with an airport on campus.
  • Selling and Sales Management. “They do lots of improv; they know how to deal with lots of situations,” said the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Education – they work in their first year.
  • Pharmacy is # 7 in the country. Students complete 2 years of pre-pharm then 4 years of pharmacy.
  • Film/TV and Communications is overlooked.

Purdue acad bldg 1Students must apply by November 1 to be eligible for scholarship money. They will superscore the SAT or take the highest composite ACT. They only need 1 recommendation letter which can come from the high school counselor.

© 2014

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Rutgers University – New Brunswick

RUTGERS UNIVERSITY – New Brunswick (visited 7/19/13)

Rutgers 3I heard stories from former Rutgers students that scheduling classes with enough time in between was a nightmare and that they needed to ride buses to class because of the size of campus. I’ve seen state universities with enough students to populate small cities but never one that had spread out over such a large expanse, so I was curious – and I wondered how they kept attracting students when it was so difficult to get around. Having seen it now, I get it. Students get around easily on the fleet of 60 buses that run every 5 minutes, and the university has made sure not only that scheduling works, but that students have a variety of options to suit all sorts of needs and interests. Being a Rutgers student means having access to many campuses in one.

Rutgers 2

Campus Train Station

Campus Train Station

The New Brunswick campus (Rutger’s flagship) is unusual in that they don’t have a single contiguous campus. Instead, they have five campuses with distinct feels. Each has residence halls, libraries, and recreational facilities, but students can take classes, eat, study, or work out on any campus. The Busch Campus has the stadium and lots of recreation facilities in addition to the Engineering department, most of the sciences, computer science, half of psychology, and math. The Douglass Campus was originally the NJ College for Women, and remains a residential college for women. It looks like a traditional college campus with trees and lots of green open space. Special programs for leadership development are housed here. The Cook and Douglass Campuses are contiguous; the Cook campus is the original land-grant portion of campus, and many of the Applied Science fields (biotechnology, food science, meteorology, pre-vet) are still here as well as a farm so students have experience with animals. The business and art departments are also here. The College Avenue Campus is the smallest campus and houses English, history, languages, economics, and other similar departments. The Livingston Campus is seeing quite a bit of new construction with a collection of apartment buildings; the first floor of the buildings house retail establishments such as a movie theater, a 24-hour diner, Starbucks, a Mexican restaurant, and more. The student housing above this are mostly singles. The original site of the school, Queens Campus, is not considered one of the 5 campuses because there are no classes held there anymore. Instead, there are offices, a museum, and the chapel. There are two satellite campuses: the Newark campus is 15 miles from NYC, and the Camden campus is across the river from Philadelphia.

Rutgers was founded in 1766, making it the ninth oldest university in the country (the second public university after William and Mary). Rutgers 1They got the land-grant in the mid-1800s and were officially named the State University in the mid-1900s. Currently, there are about 32,000 undergraduates (and about another 10,000 in the graduate and medical schools) at New Brunswick, representing all US states and 125 countries (with 120 languages spoken). However, they’re looking to lower freshman enrollment at New Brunswick and will increase at the other two campuses to compensate. There are 50 residence halls (including apartments) but more will be added with the $1 billion dollar expansion that the university is undertaking, which will include new dorms (including honors), academic buildings, new nursing facilities, and other programs.

New dorms with retail on the first floor

New dorms with retail on the first floor

One of the coolest things I learned during the information session was that Rutgers was instrumental in developing the first underwater self-propelled tube across the Atlantic from NJ to Spain. The tube was controlled form Rutgers, and the ship that accompanied it (called Scarlett because of Rutger’s colors) was manned by students and staff from the university. There were even freshman on the team, including English majors who accompanied a Professor who was a documentarian; some were so excited they switched to oceanography as a major! Rutgers ranks as 21st in the nation in sponsored research.

Here are some cool facts about Rutgers that the tour guides shared with us on our tour:Rutgers athletics

  • They have the largest indoor practice football “bubble” in the country, and the Giants and the Jets practice there.
  • Their intramural sports include a 5’5” and under basketball league, quidditch, and underwater basketweaving.
  • Their swimming pool has a hydraulic floor to control its depths.
  • Their Math building is shaped like Pi
  • Their Physics building looks like a cupcake with a steep underground lecture hall.
  • There are over a hundred study abroad experiences in 40 countries.
  • Some of the off-campus housing is closer to the bus-stops on campus than several of the dorms.
  • 3 different police patrols cover campus.
  • Nabisco funded their Food Science Building.
  • The River Dorms are Living Learning Communities with classrooms in the basement
  • They have a well-renowned Marine and Coastal Sciences program.
  • One-credit Freshmen Interest Groups led by upperclassmen are offered during the first semester. Some of the more unusual ones are: “Yankee Stadium: Why Did the Stadium Cross The Road?” “Harry Potter and Behavioral Genetics,” and “Graphic Novels.”

Supply Chain Management and Business Analytics Information Tech are the newest majors from over 100 to choose from. Departments are organized into schools: First year students can apply to Nursing, Pharmacy, Arts, Business, Arts & Sciences (the largest division), Engineering, or Environmental and Biological sciences. Nursing is a direct admit program, but it’s not required that they start the first year. Many students start in Arts & Sciences, take the first-year classes, and do a school-to-school transfer. Engineering students take their intro classes in A&S and then begin the Engineering program. First year engineering students have a special residential hall; students who live there have a .5 higher GPA than those who don’t. There’s a “We’re in this together” attitude. The students are told, “Look to the left; look to the right. It’s YOUR responsibility to make sure you’re all here next year.” Materials Engineering: They are working on making bridges out of used milk containers! The Arts school is a conservatory and will earn a BFA except for the music majors who have the choice of getting a BA through A&S. The theater students study abroad at the Globe Theater. Pharmacy is a 0-6 degree; they enter right out of high school and will get a DPharm (required to be a practicing pharmacist) in 6 years. This is highly competitive with 3800 applicants for 220 spots. In Business, juniors and seniors can apply to major in Planning and Public Policy, Management and Labor relations, or Communication and Info if they’d like.

Rutgers has Priority application dates, but not Early Action or Decision. December 1 is a priority deadline and is the last date that applicants will be considered for scholarships. Some of the more competitive schools will also be closed after that. After 12/1, the online application will only show what programs are still open. Students apply to up to 3 schools: students can rank their top three options (and actually could get accepted to all three). Students have to self-report their own grades; they only turn in a transcript after they deposit (the final end-of-year transcript with the graduation date is the best). They only had to rescind 2 acceptances last year because students misrepresented their grades. They will superscore both SAT and ACT. No TOEFL is needed if the international student graduates from an English-speaking school, but it can help if the CR section is low. Currently 14% of the school is from out-of-state; they’d like to get that up to 25% (which is still under the other Big Ten schools).

© 2013

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