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Duquesne University

Duquesne University (visited 5/26/16)

~Duq Power Plant and downtown

The “Power Plant” which houses the gym and other student services is connected by a walkway to the main campus. Downtown is right behind it.

I can see why students love Duquesne. School pride is high … yes, their athletic teams do well, but the school also looks after its students academically, socially, and spiritually. Although located in downtown Pittsburgh, Duq is a cohesive campus in its own right. “Duquesne feels like it’s own city,” said one student. Once on campus, you feel like you’re completely away from the city, but the views of Pittsburgh from around campus don’t let you forget where you are. “A 15 minute walk will get students almost anywhere they want to go in town,” said one of the reps, and students take advantage of all the city has to offer, from internships to Pens tames (student tickets cost $28), and using the river trails for walking, running, and biking.

~Duq statue 3Founded in 1878 by the Spiritans (Holy Ghost Fathers), Duquesne clearly holds onto its Catholic identity. Twice during the information session, people said that they “serve students so they can serve others” and they “serve God by serving students.” They also said that they are “Catholic by founding, Ecumenical in everything they do.” 50% of the students self-identify as Catholic. However, no one could give me statistics on how many of the other 50% self-identify as non-Christian. An admissions counselor said that they did have students of other faiths, but wasn’t able to quantify anything to give a sense of how many.

~Duq housing for priests

Housing for some of the priests living on campus.

The campus is attractive with some parts prettier than others; some of the larger buildings have an institutional, concrete feel, but other parts are gorgeous with green quads and brick buildings. These older parts of campus have a much stronger sense of the Catholic identity with more sculptures and a large crucifix on the lawn of one quad. Other part of the campus have almost no reminders of the Catholic heritage. Priests still live on campus, but we didn’t see any walking around as we were touring.

~Duq dorms 3

Some of the dorms on campus

Almost 2/3 of the 6,000 undergrads live on campus, including 95% of freshmen. Freshmen and sophomores who live at home with families can commute; they are assigned a Commuter Assistant, an upperclassman who acts as a mentor (sort of like an RA for those living on campus). The Commuter Center in the union offers a study room, lounge, and computer room, and they organize special events to allow the commuters feel connected to each other and the school. Students can move off after sophomore year, but the college sets aside two dorms (1 suite-style, 1 apartments) specifically for upperclassmen.

~Duq rock gardenThe retention rate from 1st to 2nd semester freshman year is well into the 90s; freshman to sophomore year retention is in the high 80s. Students want to be here. The average class size is 28; they made a very big deal about this, seemingly skirting the issue of how that translates into actual class sizes. I did learn from the tour guide that Honors classes are capped at 18. All of her non-Honors classes have been bigger than that. There are plenty of lecture classes, as well, particularly at the intro level. Her largest class had 170 students.

~Duq fountain 3Students had lots of good things to say about the college and had a hard time thinking of anything they’d like to change. One tour guide said that it’s sometimes hard to find gluten-free food options … but did say that the food tends to be great, a fact supported by the fact that the school is ranked as “1 of the best 75 college for food.” Another student said, “Sometimes public transportation can be difficult, but everything is walkable, so it’s really not that big a deal. There’s a bus stop on the corner of campus that goes right to the airport.” Also, the subway (which is limited in Pittsburgh) is free! An admissions rep said, “It goes under the river now. Prepositions are important: you pay to go OVER the river, but you don’t pay to go UNDER.”

Students can choose from 80 majors within the 9 schools, including several interdisciplinary dual degree programs.

  • Biomed Engineering is an undergraduate program.
  • They offer a 5-year Forensic and Law degree, one of the few in the country that’s accredited.
  • The 3+3 law program allows students to major in anything within the Arts & Sciences or the Business schools and then transition into the law school. In order to do this, they must score in the 60th percentile on the LSAT.
  • Students declaring an Education major automatically get a minimum of 50% off their tuition; this could go up if their GPA is good enough.
  • The Music school offers a BA in Music as well as a Bachelor of Music in Performance, Music Technology, Education, Therapy, and Music with Elective Studies in Business.

We talked to three students; they said that their favorite classes were:

  • Public Policy: It’s taught by an army 3-Star General. “He’s really well-informed, and he makes the class interesting. It feels like we’re really going work for the Government.”
  • Uncovering Ireland during study abroad. “It’s nothing I ever thought about taking and I learned a lot! It was taught by guy who wrote Irish History for Dummies.
  • Cadaver Lab: “It’s insane to see all the nerves and tendons on a real human.”
~Duq crucifix

One of the quads; this one has a large crucifix on one side.

A lot of students do Study Abroad: Duquesne runs several programs including their Italian Campus in Rome, Duquesne in Dublin, Maymester, summer programs specific to majors, and Spring Breakaway courses. Students have the option of doing other approved programs, as well.

Although technically Duquesne will accept students on a rolling basis, there are a few deadlines to keep in mind:

  • Early Decision has an 11/1 deadline.
  • Students interested in the Biomedical Engineering, OT, PharmD, PA, and PT programs must apply under the Early Action deadline of 12/1.
  • The application fee is waived for all students who apply by 12/15.

~Duq athletic fieldStudents applying for programs in the Liberal Arts, Business, or Music schools do not need to submit test scores, but if they choose to send them in, Duquesne will superscore. Although they like to see recommendation letters and essays, these are optional for most programs except for health sciences which require them. Generally, the university is looking to admit people with at least a 3.0 (although the average tends to be much higher than that), with the Health Sciences needing a higher GPA and scores. Once admitted to Duquesne, students go directly into the program of their choice. Students must audition for the music school, but the university recommends that they apply to the university first. They will get a letter that they’re academically admissible and then will be fully admitted if they pass the audition. If they don’t pass, they can reaudition or talk to the admissions people about transferring to another school.

© 2016

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Sage College of Albany

Sage College of Albany (visited 7/29/15)

~SCA quadWhile I was waiting to talk to the admissions rep and then go out on tour, I had the opportunity to speak with a student who transferred in from a community college, got his Bachelors at Sage, and is now doing grad work here. “I wish I had known to get involved more when I was an undergrad,“ he said.

SCA had been a 2-year college for a long time and had that feel of come, take a few classes, and go again. In WWII when there was a bigger need for medical field training, this school blossomed. It’s now a thriving 4-year college with extensive graduate programs; there are approximately 1500 students split about 50-50 between undergrad and grad.

Old armory

Old armory

I get the feeling that the campus activities program is getting more and more robust all the time. There’s definitely stuff to do on campus, there are several other colleges nearby, and Albany isn’t lacking for things to do – even so, the college is also trying to get more things on campus to bulk up the residential life. The DIII teams get a lot of support from the students, particularly the basketball, soccer, and volleyball teams. The old armory building has artificial turf for winter practices as well as for general student use. They hold things like Spring Carnival and dances there.

~SCA 1The campus is small and easy to navigate. It runs directly into the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Science campus; they even share some privately owned housing, the University Heights College Suites. While these are technically on the ACPHS campus, they act as kind of the dividing line between the two colleges. Those suites are no more than a 6 or 7 minute walk from any other point on the main SCA campus.

~SCA 2All SCA students can take classes at Russell Sage (the other Sage College located in Troy) and even major in an area offered on that campus. There are some females who choose to be an SCA student and live in Albany but who will major in areas offered at Russell Sage. “I think it’s because of the boys,” said the tour guide. “I think they like the coed environment.” Both places are warm, friendly, and highly supportive. “You feel like a celebrity because everyone is always saying hi,” said the rep. People give hugs. People know who you are, and even professors are called by their first names. It’s a bad place if you don’t want to participate or have people in your business.

~SCA Art&Design“Academics here aren’t siloed,” said the rep. It’s not just art or bio or creative writing. Students can do applied writing with bio, business with art/photo, whatever works for them. A lot of the majors are interdisciplinary by nature already. For example, Writing and Contemporary Thought combines English, Philosophy, and Humanities. Law and Society combines Criminal Justice, psych, pre-law; students pick a track to focus on (ie, L&S with a psych track) so it turns into something close to a Major-Minor pair.

Ceramics Studio

Ceramics Studio

They offer a BFA in Fine Arts, Photography, Interior Design, and Media Design. The studios are spacious and well-stocked. Students even learn to make their own clay.

Students have the option of participating in several linked and/or accelerated programs. Students in the Business department can go on to earn Masters in Health Services, Business, or Organizational Management at Sage. Students interested in a Doctor of Physical Therapy can do a 3+3 or 4+3 program, completing an Applied Biology program at Sage and then continuing on for the DPT. An accelerated JD program with Albany Law is available for qualified students. The accelerated program holds your spot – but you still need to take the LSAT.

Admissions to SCA is test-optional except for linked programs with other schools. If students want to apply when they’re here, they can apply in-house. Generally, the Law program looks for an 1100 and a 90 average.

(c) 2015

Russell Sage College

Russell Sage College (visited 7/28/15)

~RS old bldg

The inside of one dorm

I want to move into some of the upperclassmen housing on the Russell Sage campus! They have some beautiful old homes with large wood staircases, vaulted ceilings, and large common rooms. In fact, “Age of Innocence” with Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder was filmed in one of them.

~RS frosh quad

Freshman dorm quad

About 60% of the 800 Russell Sage students live on campus. “This is still a fairly regional school pulling students from the Capital Region,” said the rep. They would like out-of-area students to live on campus for their first year but do not require it. All freshmen are housed in one building in traditional doubles (and the health center is attached to building; “it’s really nice when you sick for the first time away from home,” said the tour guide). There are some triples but “they aren’t forced and they’re bigger rooms.” Upperclassmen housing provides several options including Honors housing (requiring a 3.4 GPA), French/International and Spanish houses (requiring participation in language and cultural activities), and several other options with singles or suites.

~RS old church

The old church

Campus is an eclectic mix of buildings. They have some older buildings with cinderblock halls that look like elementary schools of old – and new beautiful buildings. They own an old church that still has two original Tiffany Stained Glass windows. Sage Plaza (really the closest thing they have to a quad) sits in front of the church. The first Brueggers is across the street.

~RS dorm lounge

Lounge of one of the upperclassmen dorms

I hadn’t realized that this was still a women’s college; I thought it had gone coed several years ago. They’re one of the two Sage Colleges, the other being Sage College of Albany which is coed. Men from SCA can major here (and vice versa). Nursing and Education is housed on this campus. The Albany campus is a little more interdisciplinary (see separate blog entry for that). Shuttles run every 30 minutes between the Sage campuses.

~RS 4“We’re hardly in a convent,” said the tour guide. “RPI is up the road which is still predominantly men, and we have SCA guys in classes.” The students say that RS gives them a space to find their own voice. They’re there for school; everything revolves around them. Even the fitness center’s equipment is 20% smaller to better accommodate the females – and PT and exercise science students staff it, giving them more hands-on experience.

~RS lobby

The atrium of the science building with the school seal on the floor

The students have a great deal of ownership over their education because of the cross-registration which allows for increased flexibility. WORLD (Women Owning Responsibility for Learning and Doing) is a 3-class core that all students complete. Two of the classes are taken in freshman year and the third is completed senior year as a capstone. The tour guide’s largest class was her freshman WORLD class with 24 students. Her smallest class, Conducting, had 8. All students must complete an internship.

Unusual majors include Public Policy, Advocacy, and Civic Engagement (PACE); International and Globalization Studies; Creative Arts in Therapy; and Forensic Science.

They have more than a dozen accelerated or linked programs.

  • Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy can be done in a 3+4 or 3+3 program. If a student has a 3.25 GPA, a seat is saved for them automatically in the graduate program. Otherwise, they’ll have to apply and hope for the best. I asked what would happen if they were close like at a 3.2. “If they’re that close, the professors are going to know it and get on their case about their grades. They’ll give them the support to get the GPA up.”
  • They have a 3+2 engineering program with RPI. Students get their math degree at RS and then the engineering degree at RPI. They can apply for this program at any point.
  • They have a 3+3 program with Albany Law or Suffolk Law. Albany Law is located next to Sage College of Albany so student can share housing there with grad students.

~RS4Traditions are a big deal here.

  • “Big-Little” is a Big Sister-Little Sister option that many students elect to be part of. “It’s a great connection to an upperclassman. Some people get really into it and meet all the time; others just do coffee one a month or semester.”
  • Each class is placed in a Cohort on a 4-year cycle: Blue Angels, Purple Cows, Red Devils, and Golden Horseshoes. “This gives classes an identity and a connection to alumni who might have been in the same named cohort,” said the rep.
    • Every year they hold a Rally, a competition between classes to raise money. Alums even come back for this.
  • Ring Ceremony: this is another optional event. Student can get a class ring during Junior year; they’ll keep it turned in until graduation and then will turn it out to “Face the world.”

(c) 2015

Marquette University

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY (visited 4/14/15)

~Marquette quad 1This is the only school I’ve visited that let us into their Cadaver Lab which was much bigger than I imagined; I thought it would look more like an autopsy room with maybe 2 or 3 bodies – instead, there were probably 25 or 30 stations, most with groups of 4-6 students surrounding it working diligently.

~Marquette sim lab

One of the Nursing sim labs

Not surprisingly, Health Sciences are strong here. Students admitted into these programs average a 28.6 ACT and have a strong science background. Calculus isn’t necessarily required since programs tend more towards the statistical side.

~Marquette engo 6

An Engineering lab

When applying to Marquette, students indicate their 1st and 2nd choice COLLEGE. Students are admitted to the college, not a particular major with the exception of Nursing and Athletic Training. Generally, indicating 2 colleges allows Admissions to consider applicants for 2 places. However, since students cannot transfer into Nursing as sophomores, they’ll only be considered for that even if they list a 2nd choice college.

Colleges and special majors include:

  • Arts and Sciences
    • Unusual majors: Computational Mathematics, Social Welfare and Justice, and Physiological Sciences
    • Students an do an art minor with Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design!
  • ~Marquette edu cntr

    The Education Center

    Education

    • Elementary Ed students major in a subject area AND education. They have a full teaching area that looks like an elementary school with rugs, books, etc. Upper level students run reading labs and have clients all semester.
  • Communications
  • Health Sciences
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy: Students can do a 6-year combined degree by majoring in anything but Education or Engineering and then jumping into the graduate degree. They receive about 1400 applications for an enrollment of 62.
    • Physician Assistant: they get about 900 apps and accept 14. Students apply after their first year; if admitted, they can finish in 5 years instead of 7. Exercise Physiology or Athletic Training majors work well with the PT program but students can major in almost anything.
  • Business
    • This is the first university to offer Business Ethics
    • Applied Investment Management Program. Students invest real money and must present the outcomes to the Board of Trustees at the end of the year.
    • 75% pass the exam the first time (national average is 40%). Students must intern during the summer between Jr and Sr years.
  • ~Marquette engo 5

    One of the Material testing labs in the Engineering Building.

    Engineering: This program is 4 years old; facilities are top-notch! We talked to students who were building easily foldable/portable children’s walkers for use on playgrounds and will easily go over wood chips and grass. There was a local need for this, so students were designing, building, and donating several of these.

  • Nursing: Nursing is highly selective: 100/1800 applicants are admitted.
    • Students go on mandatory spirituality retreats, “but not JESUIT retreats!” said the Dean. They want students to grapple with larger issues starting with “Who are you?” to issues of life, death, and dying – from whatever religion (or no religion) a student is coming from.
    • Marquette statueUnlike many nursing programs, study can study abroad on a few programs include maternal health in Peru, partnership with SLU.
    • The Simulation lab like a professional area. Everyone in there is in uniform and treats it like a job.
~Marquette sculpture

One of the sculptures on campus

Milwaukee is a great college city with the country’s 6th largest student population per capita. Marquette is integrated into downtown. Students have a wealth of cultural and job opportunities at their fingertips. The Courthouse and an Art Museum are each a block away, both of which provide internships – as do places like National Mutual and other businesses. There are several theaters, and free concerts happen regularly in Cathedral Square. Milwaukee hosts a 10-day Summer Fest, the largest music festival in the country. The stadium is a few blocks away, as is River Walk, a walking/jogging path. The Old Warehouse District has been revitalized with pubs, stores, and restaurants. Students can ride city public transit for free while school is in session. When (if!) students get bored in Milwaukee, the Amtrak station is 7 blocks from campus, making it easy to get into Chicago (1.5 hours away).

~Marquette union extMarquette is one of 18 Jesuit universities in the US. Jesuit schools share a educational philosophy of using knowledge and service to make the world better. Rooted in the Liberal Arts, they stress critical thinking and teach their students HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Approximately 60% of Marquette students self-identify as Roman Catholic; others represent a range of religious diversity.

~Marquette chapel 2

Chapel of St. Joan of Arc

The Chapel of St. Joan of Arc is on campus. Built in the 1500s, it was dismantled and brought to Long Island from France in the 1920s. In the early 1960s, it was given to Marquette. Masses are still held here. Although we didn’t get to go inside to check this out for ourselves, the tour guide told us that there’s one spot near the altar that’s always a couple degrees colder than the rest of the building. Science students have done experiments to try to figure out why.

~Marquette streetStudents are serious about their education but are also active outside the classroom. People need to want to be involved. Greek life is there, but not huge (about 15% of students affiliate). There’s some Greek housing but it’s small. The theater department puts on 5 big shows a year. “Late Night Marquette” got mentioned a couple times by students where they’ll have a chocolate theme, a casino night, and other things like that.

~Marquette jarsSome University-wide special programs include:

  • ROTC: Marquette is the host institution for all 3 branches for students in Milwaukee.
  • Honors: They’re looking to grow this. They currently get about 400 apps for 100 spots; the application is due by 2/1 and requires several essays. Honors students take small core classes with other Honors students, meant to bring together as a group. After that, they can contract with professors to make any class as an Honors class.
  • Study Abroad: If Marquette doesn’t have a program a student wants, they have the option of going through Loyola in Chicago.
~Marquette dorms

Some of the dorms

Almost all freshmen and about half of all students live on campus; a new residence hall is opening in the fall. There’s a variety of housing types ranging from singles to quads; many triples and quads have their own bathrooms. Students can live in suite styles as a freshmen. One student said that dorms are “good, not great” and large. Honors Housing is in a “Tower” with lake views – some of the best housing around. “Food is good. There are options in different dining halls like Italian, 50s diner, traditional buffet.” Students can eat in any of the dozen or so spots on campus with their meal cards.

© 2015

University of the Sciences

The University of the Sciences, Philadelphia (visited 1/26/12)

This is another university which I knew almost nothing about prior to visiting. I had expected much less of a college-feel and more of a commuter school, but isn’t the case at all. Although the campus is small, covering only a few blocks, it has a comfortable feel to it and is distinctly campus-like although there is very little green – not surprising due to its location. USci is located several blocks from UPenn, and they, along with Drexel, share a police force. Unfortunately, there is no cross-registration between USci and UPenn or Drexel, but USci students can cross-register at the University of the Arts (located on Broad Street near downtown). I think this is a great opportunity, and I was told that several students take advantage of opportunities on the other campus.

The admissions representative for North Carolina went way above and beyond what I had expected. I got there late in the day and had an appointment to meet with him; I was looking forward to getting to chat with him about some programs and expected to wander around campus a bit on my own after the close of business, but he spent until about 6:15 with me walking around campus, taking me into labs, the gym, the library. He is a recent graduate of the university and has just started his Masters degree there, as well. He is clearly proud of his alma mater and spoke eloquently about his education. People around campus – students and faculty alike – knew him and they would greet each other by name. This seemed to be the prevailing atmosphere around campus: people were friendly and comfortable with each other. People used the extensive study and social areas. Books and cups of coffee were everywhere. The university is actively growing their social and study spaces. They’ve recently renovated a 2-story building on the edge of campus to add a coffee shop and spaces for students to congregate.

Academics are research-oriented, and the school is in the top 3% nationwide for PhDs and in the top 4% for professional degrees (med or vet school). They have over 100 labs, many of which are independently run. One of the programs they rightfully boast about is their 6-year Doctorate of Pharmacy program. They also offer a lot of the health-sciences such as Occupational or Physical Therapy and pre-med/pre-vet programs in addition to more of the traditional sciences. Some of the more unusual programs they offer are Medical Anthropology, Forensic Science, and Biomedical Writing.

For a small campus that focuses on the sciences, one of the surprises was the size and extensiveness of the gym and other athletic facilities. When I walked through, a full zumba class was being held on the gym floor. They are a DII school except in Rifling in which they are DI.

Enrollment is about 2,600 students. Greek life is very small: only a couple hundred students are members of a Greek organization. There are many clubs, mostly revolving around academics and ethnic associations. Housing is guaranteed and required for the first 2 years unless students commute from home; about 80% of freshmen and sophomores live on campus. Freshmen cannot have cars on campus (but they aren’t really needed – SEPTA goes directly through the middle of campus every 2-10 minutes and costs $2 a ride to downtown); for students with cars, the parking fee is $360/year. There are a couple large parking lots behind the athletic facilities, and there is a lot of street parking nearby, as well.

(c) 2012

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