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Point Park University

POINT PARK UNIVERSITY (visited 5/24/16)

point park signs

Signs lining the streets around the campus

Point Park is a small, very urban university set right in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. The modern, well-maintained buildings are clustered mostly within about 4 blocks, although there are a couple outliers located another block or two away from the main part of campus. There are several plazas (including one with a “water-wall,” a fountain running down the side of the building) that were well utilized by students. Students and people from town were using the areas to socialize, read, and study. Security is good; all buildings require a swiped ID card or signing in with a security guard.

Point Park mascot

The school mascot

This is still a regional school; about ¾ of the 2500 undergrads are from Pennsylvania. Just over 1000 live on campus in 5 dorms and an apartment building (reserved for upperclassmen). We spoke with 5 grad students who were sitting on one of the patios during a break from class. Two had done their undergrad work here, as well. When we asked them if we should send students here, they enthusiastically said, “YES!!” Students are happy on campus: “there are tons of activities, and of course, Pittsburgh has lots to do, too.”

point park COPA

The performance center

Students who do well here are quirky and artsy, even those not in COPA. Students really must want an urban environment. One of the students we talked to was from “really rural Western New York.” I asked her about her transition to PPU: “My first year was tough. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. There are lots of parties here, but I got it figured out. I had to adjust to the urban environment, too, but I made that choice. I wanted to come here. I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I grew up here.”

Point Park bridge

A walkway connecting 2 academic buildings.

Graduation rates hover around the national average. “A lot of people leave because it’s TOO urban. They thought they wanted a city campus, but they don’t quite get what it’s really like until they get here. There’s no traditional campus, and they want that AND a city.”

Point Park fountain wall

A plaza with a “water wall”

I had always pictured Point Park as a performing arts school, and it is best known for these programs, but it is so much more than that! It has a surprising number of “academic” majors (in the students’ words). “A lot of the professors are have worked for a long time in the field they’re teaching. They really know what they’re talking about. They make it real.”

Point Park acad bldg

One of the Academic Buildings

A few non-performing arts majors worth noting include several in their School of Communication: Broadcast Production and Media Management, Photojournalism, Environmental Journalism, and Public Relations and Advertising. “They’re putting in new media outlets. I didn’t even know that they had a School of Business, but it’s going strong with Economics and Finance, Human Resource Technology, and Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management among other more traditional programs. The College of Arts and Sciences is robust. Psychology may be the one of the strongest programs, but they offer some really unusual programs such as Funeral Service, Global Cultural Studies, Engineering Technology (specializing in Civil, Electrical, or Mechanical), and Intelligence and National Security.

Point Park courtyard 1

One of the plazas on campus

COPA, the Conservatory of Performing Arts, does remain the “flagship” college of Point Park, offering majors within 3 main areas: Dance, Theater, and Cinema Arts. Some of the more unusual programs include Dance Pedagogy, Theater Production (with concentrations in Technical Design/Management, Stage Management, or Design), Screenwriting (they also offer an MFA in this), Animation and Visual Effects, and Cinema Production.

Point Park courtyard

Another plaza

Applicants to COPA have to be admitted to Point Park AND to COPA. Students must have a complete application on file before scheduling an interview, but should not wait have their acceptance or that could also delay the audition and admission process to COPA.

One of the students summed up Point Park this way: “It’s completely worth it!”

© 2016

Ohio University

Ohio University (visited 4/17/12)

Ohio Univ 1Ohio Univ 6It’s a little unfortunate that my first impression of the university came from the largest frat and sorority houses I’ve ever seen. I had already heard of Ohio’s reputation of being one of the country’s biggest party schools but had always brushed that off because of the size. More people = more partiers; it stood to reason. However, after a couple minutes of Greek houses and reminding myself that Greek life didn’t always mean parties and that this was just the outskirts of campus, we arrived at the main part of campus and two of the biggest arches I’ve seen on a college campus . . . it seems like “Go Big or Go Home” is almost the unspoken motto of the college. We took a quick detour through town as we looked for the place to meet the admissions people, and clearly the town caters to the students – there are a ton of cafes, book stores, restaurants, etc. Students were all over the place; it’s clearly an active campus. Driving through campus, the buildings were clean, up-to date, and attractive. Everything seemed to be brick, and there was a large bridge crossing over the “valley” in the middle of campus, providing easy access to both sides of campus. The campus makes good use of this slope in the middle of campus with several buildings having entrances on multiple levels. As we entered the atrium of the new student center, we learned that the building has the only escalators in the county. Many students will cut through the student center to avoid the 99 steps up the hill.

Ohio Univ 3

One of the dorm groupings on campus

Ohio Univ 5As we were walking up from lunch with one of the admissions representatives, he made a comment about it being a walking campus, and it dawned on me why this campus seemed so different from other larger campuses, particularly Ohio State which we had visited the day before: although there were kids around at Ohio State, there were so many more here at Ohio University. The big difference was the lack of buses and shuttles at Ohio U. There was less traffic in general; without major roads running through all parts of campus, Ohio felt more like a traditional campus even though there were distinct portions of it. For example, the residential units were on three Greens spaced around campus. There are 42 dorms on campus which can house about half of the 17,500 undergrads (freshmen and sophomores must live on campus). Despite the size, you can walk across campus in 15-20 minutes. I asked the tour guide about Greek Life; she is a member of a sorority. There are 30 frats and sororities on campus with just over 10% of the school involved. She rushed when she first got onto campus, and she said she liked that because it was something to do and gave her a great way to meet a lot of different people. However, she doesn’t live in the Greek Houses, and she likes being able to interact with people in Greek and non-Greek life.

Ohio Univ 2Ohio has a lot of unique majors including Animation and Gaming, Long-Term Health Care Administration, Playwriting, Meteorology, and Photojournalism. Certain majors (business, journalism, and dance/music among others) have additional application requirements when applying to the university. Ohio is not a Common App school; applications are available on their website. Admissions is Rolling but with priority dates: 2/1 for regular fall admission, 12/1 for the Honors Program, 12/15 for Visual Communication. To be eligible for scholarships, students must apply by the mid-December deadline and be accepted by February 1, although there are scholarships that are available to upperclassmen who miss the deadline for first-year scholarships. There are many scholarship opportunities that can make the school cheaper than a lot of in-state tuitions so it’s worth it to get the application in early.

Ohio Univ 7There are four dining halls around campus in the Residential Greens and other places. There are also lots of food choices in the “downtown” area adjacent to campus, and there are a variety of food carts around reminiscent of Philadelphia or New York. I particularly liked the Burrito and the Greek food carts just across the road from the main gate.

Students seem to be very active: there are running/biking trail behind campus which I saw a lot of students using. The gym is large and was well used, even in the middle of the day. ROTC also appears to be popular – I don’t have statistics, but there were quite a few people walking around in uniforms, and the program is housed in an imposing 4-story structure that looks vaguely like an old school building; they do rappelling drills down the side which anyone can join if they want to learn to rappel.

Ohio Univ 4Not only has Ohio University and its students earned many prestigious accolades, but students seem genuinely happy there. Students gushed about their classes, their professors, and opportunities. They even liked the town. The Honors Tutorial College, modeled after Oxford and Cambridge, got particularly good reviews. Students and faculty were winning big awards including Pulitzers, Playwriting awards, and others.

(c) 2012

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