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Wagner College

Wagner College (visited 3/24/17)

Wagner 1The students who thrive here are those who are curious and who want a theory-to-practice experience, said one of the professors. The claim to fame for this college is that they’re the residential liberal arts institution of New York City.

The Wagner Plan is their 3-level general education requirement in which students related theoretical lenses outside the classroom. This is broadly construed ranging from work in the local community to trips to museums, mosques, or other cultural sites.

  • All first-year students enroll in one of 19-21 First-Year Programs co-taught by 2 professors. They both teach 1 content-specific class; the 3rd is a team-taught, reflective, writing-intensive class to connect content to experience. Recent combinations included Philosophy/Psych, Spanish/Business, and Ways of Thinking/Sociology. “From a faculty perspective, it’s fun. We get creative and it teaches us about another discipline.”
  • Wagner main 1

    The iconic main building. If it looks familiar, it’s because School of Rock and an episode of The Sopranos were shot here.

    The intermediate class can be taken as early as 2nd semester freshman year, but usually is done in sophomore year. Two professors often teach discipline-specific classes (with some team-teaching) with common assignments to connect them; there isn’t a 3rd class.

  • The last is a Capstone/Senior Reflective Tutorial. Departments have leeway in how they define this; they’re best know how to prepare the students for the next level. Some will do summer research; sometimes it’s internships or a thesis.
Wagner anchor and dorm

The anchor with an upperclassman dorm in the background

“Lots of social dialogues happen here,” said one student panelist. Like many campuses, there’s an item that gets painted. “We’re pretty politically involved. The anchor got painted for Black Lives Matter with body outlines on the ground, for Pride week, etc.” Students agreed that there were a lot of very progressive students. Another student on the panel said, “We’re passionate about anything about our living situation and our food. The changes made since freshman year have been amazing.” They now have a Gender-Neutral floor. “We argued for it. Really, under the traditional rules, I [a male] could live with my boyfriend. It would be “safer” if I lived with a girl!”

Wagner city

The view of Manhattan from one of the dorms

The tour guides agreed that this is not a quiet campus. About 85% of all students live on campus: “Moving off campus is an option, but they’re still looking at NYC rents. It’s not the Upper East Side, but it’s still steep.” Greek Life only pulls in 16% of students so people are involved in lots of other things. “There maybe aren’t as many organized events as other campuses, but the flip side of that is there’s the city. You get college discounts everywhere, but here, you get discounts in NYC. We can see Broadway shows for $30.” Shuttles leave campus on the :10 and :40 to take students to the ferry. “You go for the first time during Orientation. It takes away the stress.” There are things to do near campus, as well, but “we’re on a hill. Most students don’t like having to hike back up it!” The city buses are not free but are easily accessible, and there are shuttles to the mall, the movies, etc.

All theater and sporting events (DI!) are free, but students say that school spirit isn’t too high. Football doesn’t draw crowds, but basketball does. (As a side note, the Women’s Water Polo team has the highest GPA of any polo team in the country). They use the Staten Island minor league stadium for their home baseball games.

We asked the student panelists what they would like to change:

  • Wagner dorm 2

    Harborview Dorm, one of the older dorms on campus (but with great views!)

    Update living situations. The towers were built in 1963 and haven’t been renovated.

  • The Science department has lots of potential, but it costs money. The faculty put time into getting grants to help bring students into research. Lab space is sufficient, but not huge.
  • Food is mediocre. It fluctuates. “But at least I didn’t get the Freshman 15.”
  • “Some of the codes are grandfathered in because buildings are so old. Our theater is in a gym. They’ve done a bunch, but acoustically it’s still a gym. Dance studios don’t have spring floors.”
Wagner dorms 4

More dorms

Academics are overall strong; they look to hire teachers, not researchers: “That’s fantastic if you brought in a million dollar grant or published a paper, but if you can’t teach, we don’t want you!” This isn’t to say that there isn’t research, because there is, but learning is put first and foremost. Research is easy and not hugely competitive. “You just need to be proactive. If you’re a science major, you have to have a research experience in junior year, and even psych majors have 2 experimental classes. It’s very easy to go to professors and get involved.”

Wagner 4Unusual programs include Biopsychology, Microbiology, and Behavioral Economics. Strong programs include:

  • Education: Students get at least 25 hours of experience in every Edu class.
  • Theater: “It’s competitive, but we have fun and are friendly.” They receive 500 apps for 32 spots. Admissions first clears students and invite approximately 275 to audition. About half audition in person (they try to tie this in with the spring show) and another 50 or so send in a video audition. The department puts on 4 productions a year and get a lot of community support.
  • Nursing: This is not direct entry; students complete the pre-reqs and take the T6 (basic skills – everyone takes this) As long as they pass, they’re in the program. Nursing students can do research. One did a project looking at whole/non-processed foods in Bodegas and helped provide incentives to put this type up front.
  • The Art, Art History, and Film Department is strong and active with trips and internships (Met, Morgan Library, Neue Galerie, Marvel Comics, Rachel Ray Show, Downtown Community TV, Tibetan Museum of Art, Staten Island Museum). Students are successful studio artists, grad school, entrepreneurs (including publishing), education management in museums, fashion designer
    • Film and Media Studies offers 3 tracks (civically engaged, artistic production, criticism) as well as a dual track in Art and Education.
      • They’re looking at Public Art and bringing in the social engagement.
      • Several interdisciplinary classes like “Illustration, Sleep, and Dreams (w/ psych), Connecting Families through Documentary Film (w/ Philosophy), Food and Fasting in the Old and New World (Art History/Anthro), Cities and perversities (Art History/French)
    • Wagner statueThe Chemistry Department is ACS certified (only 30% of schools get this). Gen Chem maxes out at 28 students taught by senior level professors. “Fabulous things come out of lunchroom conversations. I’m changing the world in the way that’s valued by the liberal arts community. We send a couple students per year, many women, off to become PhDs.”
    • Wagner has 1 of 3 planetariums in the city! (“It’s part of why I came here, and I haven’t even gone to it yet!” said a tour guide).
    • Physician Assistant: They invite 90 students to interview (they usually get about 200 applications) and can take 40. This 5-year program includes 3 study abroad experiences: a week in London (psych and some clinical work in a hospital, and they can go back and do psych rotation for 4 weeks); Guatamala in the 4th year (they complete clinical care in local mountain towns); and Belize in the 5th “It’s an unbelievably collaborative group and team-oriented in the classes. Older students mentor younger ones.” Tuition is a little higher for PA, but includes all study abroad trips and some of the summer costs. They complete 2 full years of clinical work (1 of 2 in the country to do this).
    • The Expanding Your Horizons program allows for short term travel abroad, usually linked to a class.

Wagner picnic areaWe asked the student panel about their favorite classes:

  • “The Education class part of my freshman LC. We talked about the law behind Special Ed. We did community service, and I was partnered with an amazing girl! I got to see a different perspective when we worked on daily living skills. It was fascinating to have those conversations.”
  • International Filmmaker: “We learned about the impact people have had. We got an inside look on European and other films.”
  • Musical Theater Performance. “The teacher was a Tony Award Winner. I have 2 teachers who are currently on Broadway. The pianist we work with plays for Hamilton sometimes!”

Students were surprised by:

  • How much professors wanted to reach out. “I studied abroad. I was home for 5 days and got a phone call wanting to know if I was back and if I wanted to get coffee.”
  • The community of people. I felt really welcomed. Even football people came up and talked. It was very different from high school.
  • I was in a philosophy class freshman year with people with diversity of views. I started out thinking “How could you think like that?” I was in a bubble from my little Catholic school but I saw other bubbles and why people believe what they believe.

© 2017

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University of Evansville

University of Evansville (visited 11/15/16)

evansville-walkway-2Evansville is a surprising school; on the surface, it appears to be a low-key school, but they have amazing programs ranging from DI athletics to a highly selective theater department. “You have all sorts of people here. We all fit in. If you want a close-knit feel, this is it.”

This is a traditional, residential liberal arts college with additional professional options offering over 80 majors. The university is organized into 4 schools: Liberal Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Education & Health Sciences (the only division with Grad programs). They are currently starting several new programs:

Health sciences and pre-med are strong: they boast a 100% placement rate at Med School for the last 10 years). Many allied health programs are Direct Entry either for the undergrad program or for a spot in the graduate school (as long as benchmarks are met along the way). They’ll require an interview from some applicants (it can be by phone).

  • evansville-lab-2Nursing: They want someone who is passionate about the subject AND has a minimum skill set. They take about 25 students a year.
  • Physician Assistant (started last fall): This year, they brought in 20 direct-entry freshman on the PA path who will have a spot in the grad program.
  • Physical Therapy: This is a little more competitive than Nursing: applicants must have a minimum test score to get invited to interview for Direct Entry. Those selected will earn a spot in the DPT program. Students not accepted into DE can still come, do the program, and apply to the graduate school. The program averages about 70 students per year.
  • Baccalaureate to MD: This is an accelerated program only open to IN residents.
evansville-acad-bldg

The theater building

More than 1000 students audition annually for 40 spots in Evansville’s Theater program; this number includes students interested in behind-the-scenes work (costumes, tech, etc), requiring a portfolio review/interview instead of audition. They put on a musical every fall (but it’s not a Musical Theater program) and Shakespeare every spring along with 3-4 other productions. Tech students do everything from making their own wigs and make-up to sets and ticket sales. There are several well-known alumni including Rami Malek, Ron Glass, Kelli Giddish, Kelly Preston, and Jack McBrayer.

evansville-main-bldg

The main building

UE now offers a 5-part Guarantee:

  • 4-year graduation: UE will pay for additional time if students can’t graduate in time as long as they’re in good standing with the university (not failing things, have met regularly with the advisor, not changing major in senior year, etc).
  • No classes are taught by TAs.
  • Scholarship guarantee: all freshmen this year receive one. Most scholarships range from $10K-20K. Some are more (ie, National Merit finalists get full tuition).
  • Internship or Co-op experience. Co-ops are mostly offered to Engineering students (Toyota is a big place for co-ops; there’s a plant about 30 minutes up the road).
evansville-engo-projects

Several engineering projects

About 2/3 of classes have 20 students or fewer; 18 is the average. The largest class (Organic Chem) has 40. Some of the students’ favorite classes have been:

  • Organic Chem (2 students chose this!): “It can be scary, but as a Pre-med, it’s applicable. The prof is one of those teachers who makes something so complicated seem so easy. He’s really personable and puts students first. He’s just awesome.”
  • Business Law: “The professor makes the class. He’s a full-time lawyer and takes real-world cases and applies them to what we’re learning. He’s also really funny.”
  • Intro to Theater and Intro to Ancient Greek Philosophy: “These are so different from my major and I get a bit of a break. I didn’t know how great the theater program was until I saw it in action. The philosophy makes me think in a way that I don’t in my math and science classes. It challenges me in a way that I’m not in math.”
  • Spanish Conversation: “We had to read, write, and speak all the time. We got to write and act out plays. We’re terrible actors, but we got to display the skills we had.”
evansville-fountain-1

The fountain commemorating the basketball team that was killed in a plane crash in the ’70s

Last year, they saw a 4% increase in the freshman class with 3 enrollment records:

  • 540 new freshman including an increase of international students (71 started this fall, bringing it up to 15% of the population).
  • Domestic Diversity is up from 10% to 15%. They’ve set a new goal of 18%.
  • Retention has gone up to 89% with the class that started in fall 2015.

UE owns Harlaxton, a “castle” (Victorian Manor) located in an hour north of London. “It’s our version of Hogwarts,” one student said. “Do you like Hogwarts? How about Downton Abbey? No? Then you can’t go.” Almost 60% of undergrads will study there, either for a 5-week summer program or a full semester, with150-160 attending per semester including 16 senior nursing students doing clinical rotations. To be eligible, students must have a 2.0 GPA after finishing 2 semesters at UE. Classes are not held on Fridays to encourage travel. Some trips are built in, and others are offered at a reasonable cost. Everyone takes a British Studies class taught by a British UE faculty member. There’s no difference in cost to study there (but students pay airfare and travel within Europe that they choose to do); all financial aid and scholarships get applied.

evansville-chapel-1We asked students what surprised them about the university. They said:

  • How friendly everyone was. People would smile and say hi, ask how you were and meant it, and asked if you needed help.
  • How challenging the academics were.
  • How different college is from high school. You don’t see the same people all the time. You can find your niche and spend time there.
  • How easy it is to get connected and meet people.
evansville-bball-game-2

The opening basketball game of the season; the stands get increasingly full as the season goes on. 

This is one of the smallest DI schools in the country. Basketball and soccer pull in a lot of fans. They’re starting Track and Field (indoor and outdoor) this coming year; the coach they have on board was asked to coach the High Jump at the Olympics.

About 30% of students go Greek, and those tend to join a lot of other activities. They plan a lot of events open to everyone including philanthropic events. “There are lots of events to raise money” such as Friday Night Live, Watermelon Bust, and cook-outs.

evansville-pep-band

The pep band at the game

Some favorite traditions include:

  • Road Trip: “I love meeting new people.”
  • Freshman orientation and being a leader: “you get close to other leaders and get to meet the freshman before other people which is cool – and going through orientation with them and helping them deal with things and seeing campus again through their eyes is great.”
  • “Basketball season!”
  • Fall Festival: This is the 2nd largest street festival in the nation after Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

evansville-4Evansville itself offers a lot; it’s a decent sized city with a population of 120,000 (300,000 in the metro area). Everything is close; students don’t need cars: There are bike-shares, buses, shuttles, and friends with cars.

© 2016

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University (visited 10/10/16)

seton-hall-chapel-int

Interior of the Chapel

Like many Catholic schools, students here agreed that SHU is “as Catholic as you make it.” This is a Diocesan university, unaffiliated with a specific branch of Catholicism. Just over 2/3 of the 5,800 undergraduates self-identify as Catholic, “but that doesn’t mean we’re practicing.” All faiths are welcomed. The mission is to create a “University of Opportunity for Deserving Students” while teaching respect and understanding based on the vision of “Home for the Mind, Heart, and Spirit.” SHU has a 44% diversity rate; students who come from all over the US and 70 foreign countries.

seton-hall-studentsStudents are engaged with each other and lots were wearing Seton Hall gear. There were so many students around that I was surprised to learn that students were actually on break. 80% of freshmen and 50% of total undergrads live on campus. Housing is not guaranteed, but they’ve never had a student denied if they’ve applied by the deadline. RAs and priests live in each of the 6 residence halls; they also provide 2 apartment buildings for upperclassmen.

The dining hall, an all-you-can-eat option, is spacious and has lots of stations and food choices. Booths have power outlets which is smart. “When they serve chicken tenders or mac & cheese, the line is out the door. Otherwise, maybe it’s a 3 minute wait for food,” said one of the students. I ate lunch there and was pleased with the food.

seton-hall-statueStudents feel that there’s enough to do on campus. As a founding member of the Big East, their 14 DI sports teams are a big draw, particularly basketball. Tickets cost $100 for the season (refunded if they go to all the games). Another student raved about the fact that Seton Hall won “Best College Christmas Tradition”: on the first Monday of December, they light the large outdoor tree, sing carols, and have hot chocolate.

seton-hall-2One student told me that campus can be quiet on the weekends. However, there’s no shortage of things to do. Many students choose Seton Hall because of its proximity to NYC. The train station is a 10-minute walk (or quick shuttle ride) from campus; from there, it’s a 30-minute ride into Penn Station. Luckily, the train station is on the “good side” of campus. I was worried as I drove in: an area close to campus was run-down with boarded-up/gated storefronts, garbage, and people literally wandering in the streets. Suddenly, within a block or two of campus, things changed. “One side of campus is shady; the other is a mega-rich neighborhood,” said students. Campus is beautiful, safe, and gated; students swipe in, and visitors check in with a guard.

Shuttles run every 30 minutes. Only seniors, commuters, and students with jobs or internships can have cars on campus. Commuters are given lots of resources and chances to integrate into the community; the university also recognizes the different needs of commuting students. For example, the Commuter Café is open 10-7 when classes are in session.

seton-hall-6Academics are student-centered, and students like the atmosphere: “We’re pretty chill here. It’s cooperative,” said the tour guide. Freshmen are assigned both an academic and a peer advisor, and they’re enrolled in a 1-credit University Life class to help transition into college. Students get a laptop when they start and a new one 2 years later (they can keep that one after graduation). They rank in the top 5 universities (keeping company with places like UPenn and Duke) for internships: over 80% of students complete at least 1. Clearly they’re doing something right: they’ve had 18 Fulbright awards since 2009.

seton-hall-signThe size of the school “offers all the advantages of a large research university but the support of a small school,” said the admissions rep. Classes average 21 students with Freshman English averaging 15 and languages capped at 15. The tour guide’s larges class was 30 (Intro to Bio) and smallest was 15 (Freshman Eng). Another student’s smallest class was 7 (Russian).

Students take 5 religious classes: the first one, and the only common one, is Journey of Transformation. “It’s mostly philosophy and introspective.” Students then choose 4 others. Students in the Honors Program (requiring a separate application to get in) take a different class in place of Freshman English and the Transformations class.

seton-hall-3There are two early deadlines to be aware of for scholarships. First, students interested in Special Scholarships need to apply by 1/5. Second, to be eligible for the Public Tuition Rate, they must apply by 12/15. For this, students must rank in the top 10% of their high school class and meet various GPA and score requirements. They do not need to be NJ residents to get this award. If the high school doesn’t rank, the school counselor should contact admissions with information.

Information about the different schools include:

  • Arts & Sciences
    • Engineering (electrical, civil, computer, mechanical, biomedical, industrial) is housed in this school
  • Health and Medical Sciences: All the programs in this school are streamlined undergrad majors combined with graduate degrees (Masters except for the DPT).
    • For PA Candidacy: students have to complete the application in junior year
    • All others: students are automatically in as long as they meet minimum GPA
  • Diplomacy and International Relations
    • Seton Hall has an exclusive alliance with the UN
    • 100% do internships or study abroad with UN, USAID, UNESCO, UNICEF, FBI, Embassies, Red Cross, Missions abroad, etc.
  • Business
    • The Leadership program was ranked #1 in the US for the 2nd year in a row
    • They boast a 95% employment rate (within 6 months) and 100% admission to grad school
    • Management Information Systems, Legal Studies, and Finance and Mathematical Finance are worth nothing.
  • Nursing
    • This is a Direct-Admit program.
  • Education and Human Services
    • Students complete more practicum placements and hours (and in a variety of schools) than at other schools.
    • A Joint Masters in speech language pathology is available.
  • Communication and the Arts
    • The student-run radio station and the college newspapers are consistently highly ranked (often in the top 5)
  • The Medical School will open in the fall of 2018; they’ll partner with Hackensack University Medical Center, listed as the #1 hospital in NJ. They’ll have a direct admit, 7-year BS/MD degree program.

© 2016

Chestnut Hill University

Chestnut Hill University (visited 7/19/16)

Chestnut HIll 2“You might have noticed that this campus is very Harry Potter-esque,” said our tour guide as we started on the tour, and it’s true. There are lots of large, impressive, stone buildings. One of the things the college is proud of is their annual Harry Potter Festival (complete with Quidditch tournaments) to which the community is invited.

Chestnut HIll 1This is a Catholic institution affiliated with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. About 50% of the students self-identify as Catholic; surprisingly, there are also lots of Buddhists on campus. Masses are held Monday to Friday morning and Sunday PM in the small chapel within the main building. Mass is never required, but students do need to take World Religions. This was the tour guide’s biggest class with 28. She also took a class called Spiritual Life Journey which was one of her favorites: rather than talking about a particular religion, it talked about spirituality and each person’s personal path.

Chestnut HIll lounge

One of the lounges

There are only about 950 traditional undergrads, 60% of whom live on campus. Housing is guaranteed for full-time students, and the dorms have the most amazing lounges I’ve seen! Apartments are reserved for students with a 3.5 GPA. They have to write an essay as part of the application to live there. Dorms are single-gender by floor except for suites.

Freshmen are required to take an orientation class during their first semester where they meet with a mentor professor and have to participate in a certain number of events such as lectures, attending a club fair, participating in a dorm event, etc. They get their “passports” stamped to show they attended. It’s designed to ensure that they are acculturating to campus and getting involved.

Chestnut HIll 8CHC sits on the city limits (the “Welcome to Philly” sign is right outside campus) and is 20 minutes from downtown. The train station down the street takes students to City Center. The school’s Sugarloaf Campus is a mile from Main campus, and shuttles run every 20 minutes. The old hotel (originally owned by Temple and sold to CH) is now a dorm. The Mansion, now used for events, used to be a Speakeasy.

In addition to offering the standard fare of majors, CHC offers some specialty majors like Social Gerontology, Jazz Studies, Forensic Bio, Forensic Chemistry, and biology with a Sports Med Concentration. Certificate Programs include Intercultural Foundations, International Studies, Montessori Specialization, Religious Studies, and Digital Forensics. CHU also runs Dual Degree programs with 2 local schools, Thomas Jefferson (Radiological Sciences or Bioscience Technologies) and Arcadia University (Physician’s Assistant Program).

Chestnut HIll 6In addition to departmental honors, they run an Interdisciplinary Honors Program which allows students to take a different approach to how they approach their work. Departmental Honors can be obtained by invitation after 2 years (60 credits) with at least a 3.6.

Their athletics are DII, which is amazing for a school this size. Baseball, basketball, softball, and lacrosse draw big fan bases. They just added a Sprint Football Team for men (bowling for women to balance it out – not nearly as exciting! The tour guide said she pushed for field hockey but it didn’t happen). There are only 8 schools (including West Point, Navy, and Penn) in the country with this sport. They played – and WON – against Princeton!

Chestnut HIll statueThis is also one of the only colleges with a direct connection to the UN. The send a group every year to address committees at the UN Headquarters in New York. The two Heads of the UN Club this year are African. They draw a lot of international students, both as degree-seeking undergraduates and exchange students. They have a direct exchange “bed to bed/give one, get one” program. Many of these students come from South America and Europe.

© 2016

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

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (10/19/15)

~RIT quad 2

~RIT fountains~RIT acad bldg 4I came away from my RIT visit well-informed and so impressed that I was already texting pictures of relevant departments to faculty at school and emailing students telling them to check things out. The campus is more attractive than expected (one of several nice surprises!); while a few buildings have a tech-school feel, most of campus has new buildings, trees, and green spaces. Quarter-Mile is the main thoroughfare, but it’s actually one-third mile long; its name came from a Greek fundraiser where people put quarters end-to-end to raise money. A large portion of campus is undeveloped giving Environmental Studies and other students an opportunity to complete surveys and other work on campus.

~RIT scupture 3~RIT art bldgWith 15,500 undergraduates, this is one of the largest private universities and one of the largest producers of STEAM (add Arts to STEM) graduates from private institutions. Students come from all 50 states (48% from NY); the 2,500 international students hail from 100 countries; there are 1,200 deaf and HH students on campus through NTID; and almost 2,900 underrepresented minority students. “RIT is diverse with people coming from all over. They’re friendly, welcoming, and don’t judge,” said one student panelist.

A student advertising the weekly activity schedule on the Student Center window

A student advertising the weekly activity schedule on the Student Center window

~RIT bleachers fountain

A fountain in the Student Center which had been the gym. These bleachers had been built into the foundation and weren’t able to be moved so they made a fountain.

This is a spirited community. Students were everywhere and engaging with people around them: walking in groups, studying or socializing in every building we went into, etc. These are not “stick-your-nose-into-a book tech nerds,” said one student. There’s a ton to do on- and off-campus including 1,300 annual on-campus events including free movies on Thursdays, Brick City Weekend, FreezeFest, SpringFest, Imagine RIT, Orange and Brown Fridays, student concerts/theater productions, sports, and performers (Macklemore, Michael J. Fox, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Al Pacino, Maroon 5, and MythBusters, to name a few). Greek life hosts lots of events. Hockey (they have a new arena) is big with lots of traditions. Students look forward to the annual Haunted Trail (they turn the fields and woods into a giant haunted house and invite the public) and the Humans vs. Zombies game (campus-wide nerf-gun tag).

~RIT hallway

Students gathering in an academic building between classes

“We’re not looking for students who are interacting only with the machine. We’re looking for students who will interact with other students. Don’t bother listing something you did for an hour. Put substantial things on your application that you did regularly and are meaningful.”

RIT practices differential Admissions: students must declare a major and list first, second, and third choices on their application; on average, 57% of applicants are accepted, but this varies by program. For example, it’s far more difficult to get into Mechanical than Industrial Engineering. (Biomedical, Computer Science, Game Design, and PA programs round out the 5 most difficult majors to get into). The Deans give numbers to the admissions staff based on space. However, students aren’t stuck in that major: it’s easy to switch majors “95% of the time,” said an admissions rep. Much of it depends if there are spots available in the new major.

Undecided students have 2 options:

  • Students interested in areas that cross 2 or more colleges should apply for University Studies. They accept about 100 students a year into this program. Students may not graduate on time (but could) depending on how soon they decide.
  • Do an Undeclared/Exploration major in any of the schools. There’s no problem graduating on time because they’re taking the first-year classes right away.
~RIT science bldg

Students studying in the science lobby. Check out the floor and walls!

The high school record (GPA, rank, rigor, pre-reqs, grades in content courses) makes up about 60% of the admissions decision. Portfolios (if required) are sent to that school’s faculty and get ranked 1-6. If the portfolio doesn’t make the cut, Admissions will work with the applicant to suggest a similar area without a portfolio requirement.

~RIT atriumRIT offers more than 90 majors, 90 minors, and 40 accelerated dual-degree programs. Technology is woven into every major, but the Liberal Arts are also important: There are about 1000 students in the College of Liberal Arts, and all students must do a LA “immersion” – 3 classes in one subject. Some of their new, well-known, or unusual programs include:

~RIT labs

One of the many labs

Experiential Learning is crucial; many students graduate with a portfolio equivalent to Master’s level work. Their Co-op Program is the country’s 4th oldest and among the largest in the world:

  • Students complete 6,100 co-op education assignments each year with 2,100 employers in 50 states and 40 countries.
  • Students generally complete 4 placements over 2 semesters and 2 summers. They can’t go back to the same company unless it’s in a different division doing completely different work.
  • Students collectively earn $26 million annually.
  • Princeton Review has consistently ranked them in the Top 10 for career services.
    • 60% get employed by one of their co-op placement companies.
    • Graduates report a 95% placement rate: 85% in FT jobs, 10% in grad programs.
  • Some programs such as Mechanical Engineering take 5 years to complete but students only pay for 4. “I have 60 weeks of work experience: I worked for a company here for 48 weeks and was a supply-chain engineer and a mechanical engineer. I worked in Sweden working for Volvo. One of the big things I like is that it shows us what we’ll be doing when we graduate. The first week was pretty nerve-wracking. I felt confident going in, but getting there and seeing all the complicated stuff … we encourage people to ask questions. I’ve gotten more confident every time I’ve done another co-op.”
~RIT engo bldg

Student built projects in an engineering building

Other on-campus or nearby facilities help students develop sought-after job skills:

  • The Center for Media Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity studio helps students launch their own companies with high-tech facilities needed to commercialize computer gaming, film and animation, graphic design, and imaging science projects.
  • Their science labs – including clean-suit labs – are top-of-the-line and made us feel like we were walking through the halls of some high-tech company
  • Rochester has lots of cottage industries, fiber-optics, high-tech companies, medical technology, pharmaceutical firms, etc. There’s no shortage of internship opportunities.
  • Students get creative when internships are difficult to find. A Photo student on the panel said that “It’s hard to get internships in photography; they aren’t looking for interns.” She was paired up with a 3rd year student; they did all the photography for a department on campus.
~RIT infinity sculpture 2

Plaza and the Infinity Sculpture (even the art is scientific!)

Despite the size, most classes are not in lecture halls: 88% of classes have fewer than 40 students so classes tend to be discussion-based. GAs and TAs help in labs but never teach classes.

Global Village

Global Village

They’ve recently opened more student housing including the RIT Inn (an old Marriott) and the newly built Global Village housing 400 sophomores in suites. “They had been getting lost in the shuffle: we have traditional dorms for freshmen and apartments for upperclassmen.” School-owned apartments are ½ a mile down the road with shuttles running to campus. One complex only houses RIT students; the other gives first crack to students, then opens it to others. Greek housing, Special Interest Houses, and Academic and Lifestyle Floors are also available. Tunnels connect most of the on-campus dorms.

~RIT art bldgStudents had few complaints except that parking is difficult. Preferred/reserved parking costs $225 a year (General parking is $50). It’s not unusual to drive around for 10 minutes looking for a spot and then walking a ways to get where they’re going. Cars aren’t necessary except for some internships. Buses running through town are free to students on weekdays and $1 on weekends.

(c) 2015

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (visited 7/29/15)

~ACPHS quadCentrally located amongst hospitals, Albany Law, and Sage College, this unassuming main building on the main street opens onto an attractive campus behind it which is much larger than it appears at first glance.

ACPHS lab

One of the Pharmacy labs

Obviously, this is a specialized school. They know who they are, and they do it very well.

  • They offer 6 Bachelor of Science programs: Biomed Tech, Chemistry, Clinical Lab Sciences, Health and Human Sciences, Microbiology, and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • They offer a PharmD program.
    • This is accelerated and is one of the few Doctoral level schools that admits international students. Graduates can get licensed in many states, and international students can do a 1-year optional practical training program on their visas.
  • They offer several Joint-Degree Programs:
    • Several BS/MS degrees (Biomed Tech/Cytotech and Molecular Cytology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physician Assistant Studies)
      • The PA program is 6 years: 3.5 at ACPHS and 2.5 and Albany Medical
    • A BS/JD degree with Albany Law
    • Healthcare Management/Clinical Management (BS or PharmD/MBA or MS)
    • a BS/MD degree with Albany Medical
      • This program is not accelerated; students still do 4+4 years, but the MCAT requirement is waived. Students must be US citizens for this program.

“We’re about getting you to the end goal,” said the admissions rep. The school provides the tools to help students do that.

~ACPHS library

Library and gym building

Students who do well here are fairly organized, type-A, focused, less Liberal Arts type of kid. Those who transfer out are split between those who change their majors and those who are not committed to the rigor. They like the community of a liberal arts school in a building crossed with specific goals.

~ACPHS student cntr

Student Center

Applicants tend to be fairly self-selecting, but they’re still a selective in admissions process, looking to bring in about 250 first-time freshmen each year. They are Common App exclusive and will superscore the SAT. They look for recs from a counselor and either a math or science teacher. International students must turn in the TOEFL unless English was the language of instruction for 4 years. For scholarships, the look at math, science, and composite scores.

Sophomore dorm

Sophomore dorm

~ACPHS track and apts

Campus Suites and the ACPHS track

Students must live in campus housing for 2 years, and upperclassmen who want housing can get it; usually seniors are off campus completing credit-bearing internships, so space is rarely an issue. They have room for 900 of the total 1300 undergraduates. Housing is spit by 1st year, 2nd year, and 3rd+ years. The tour guide really liked this system: “There are always people in the dorm taking the same classes, so when we’re stuck on something, there’s always someone to help.” The freshmen dorms were getting work done, so I saw a sophomore dorm. We went into a 7-person suite (1 double, 5 singles) that had a bath and common room. Even the freshmen dorms have bathrooms in the rooms! Campus Suites is a privately-owned apartment complex on the edge of campus. Students from all the area colleges can live here: the tour guide had people on her floor from Sage and Albany Law which she said was really cool. Students can have cars; parking is assigned by lot, but not by specific spots. The guide said she never had problems with parking.

~ACPHS dorm quad

Common room in one of the quads

Students can do some internships abroad. One requirement is a community health stint. They can do 3 weeks in Cambodia, Haiti, and others; usually they can choose from 8-10 international sites each year.

I don’t get the sense that there’s a ton of activities going on around campus. They only have 4 DIII sports and a few club sports. The gym is under the library and is shared by Albany law. There are a couple coed professional fraternities.

Although much of their coursework is geared specifically around their professional work, students have to take a 3-course history sequence and a communications course. Students can participate in the Hudson-Mohawk cross registration program and can take 1 class each semester off campus. It shows up on their ACPHS transcript as if they took it on campus. For example, they can do dance classes at Sage or languages at SUNY.

(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

Baldwin Wallace University

Baldwin-Wallace College (visited 4/19/12) (now BW University)

“Ok, before we go into the lab, we have a couple rules. First, leave all food and drink outside. Second, do not lick anything in the lab. Everyone good?” Really, you can’t beat a biology professor with a good sense of humor!

BWC 1

The main Conservatory building on campus.

First impressions mean a lot even though we’re told not to judge a book by its cover. BWC made an excellent first impression with its beautiful old stone buildings, immaculate grounds, and tulips and daffodils blooming everywhere. The good news is that the substance of the college did not disappoint! The people at BWC were the only ones on the seven-college counselor-tour who showed off what made them distinct from other schools instead of giving the typical spiel/song-and-dance. A couple other schools gave lip-service to the idea of “we’re not going to tell you that we have great faculty, study abroad options, and research opportunities, because every place you go is going to tell you that” . . . and then they proceeded to tell us about those things. BWC didn’t. Instead, we got to spend time in a lab to interact with students doing independent research, check out innovations in their athletic center and the majors associated with it (such as athletic training, exercise science, sports management and health promotion and management), and then tour their Music Conservatory and learn about programs there. I didn’t even know that they HAD a conservatory; neither did my sister who is a musician, so it’s clearly one of their best-kept secrets! The students go on to do impressive things including performing on Broadway. Seniors graduating with a Musical Theater major participate in a showcase every spring in New York City in front of several directors and producers. This happened about a week before our visit, and within a span of five days, all 13 graduating seniors had signed with agents. (As a comparison, I heard that Michigan had two at that same point in time). An audition is required for entrance into the Conservatory (accredited by the National Association of Music Schools) which offers emphases in performance, pedagogy, jazz, conducting, theory, composing, and sacred music in addition to the unusual major of Music Therapy. (Students also have to be proficient enough on at least one instrument to gain acceptance into the Conservatory if they want to major in Music Therapy).

BWC3Baldwin Wallace actively looks ahead to jobs that experts predict will be available for students in 5-10 years, and then creates majors and learning opportunities for students in order to prepare them. They created 14 new degree programs in the last four years or so. The Physician Assistant program is 1 of 6 in Ohio; they’re a year away from accreditation for a 3-2 program. They excel in Health Sciences and Allied Health majors. They utilize the nearby Cleveland hospitals, some of which are ranked in the top 10 nationally, and they work with industry professionals to develop the new degrees. Their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing utilizes Concept-based learning; only a couple other programs in NM and NC do this. The Health Sciences are producing impressive results; this year, two students (a junior and a senior) interned with the top pediatric neurosurgeon in the country.

Other majors of note include Digital Media and Design (combining artistry/creativity and technology), their Software engineering degree starting this fall (the only one in the state), Health Care Management, Public Health (which started this fall; 29 students are already enrolled), and Recreation Sport Sciences.

BWC4One of their major goals across all majors is to create a practice-based education. Most of the faculty members come to BW from the fields in which they teach allowing them to provide practical, real examples of how the theory and knowledge they teach translates into the real world. Almost every student completes some sort of “experiential education” experience through internships, study abroad, and other types of programs. The school has 52 articulated agreements for study abroad with options for others if students find a different program they’re interested in. Students must complete a minor here in order to broaden their educational field.

Although this is a Methodist-affiliated college, it does not feel at all religious. Although we didn’t get a full tour of the school, I’m not sure they even have a chapel; if they do, it’s not obvious in the main part of campus. However, the current president is only one of two in the history of the institution who is a non-Methodist, non-pastor president; he was also only one of two college Presidents on the tour to take the time to talk to us (Otterbein’s president was the other).

BWC is a Test Optional school; applicants have the option to turn in graded paper instead of test scores. They are also committed to affordability; there have been very small tuition increases in the last several years, the lowest in their peer-group. The entire bill comes to $35,000 a year including all the fees (tech, health, etc.), although the tuition at the conservatory is higher than the rest of campus because of the private lessons. The best thing – and the first time I’ve heard of a school doing this – has to do with the Meal Plan: students only get charged for what they use. If they don’t use it, BWC will give it back!

This incoming freshmen class (fall of 2012) can sign up for a 4-year graduation guarantee. BWC has been intentional about getting students out in four years, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is. They have a mapped-out four-year plan so students can stay on track. It is a completely voluntary program and basically requires that the students do common sense things such as meet with their advisor regularly and declare a major within two years as well as attend seminars and sign a waiver that will release information to the parents (if they drop a course, if they aren’t doing well in class, etc). If they do everything they need to do but can’t graduate within 4 years, the 5th year’s tuition is free.

BWC 2

One of the dorms with a sand volleyball court in front.

Students must live on campus for freshmen and sophomores years unless they are within a certain radius of campus and living with family. About 80% of freshman and sophomores live on campus and about 2/3 of the total undergraduates are on campus – that’s almost 2,000 residents on campus. Freshman can have cars on campus.

I was left with the good impressions of BW that I started with and I would definitely recommend it to my students. It has the typical smallish-college feel but with a lot of options and innovative programs that allows students to take advantage of a lot. The campus is comfortable and students are friendly. A former student of one of the counselors had joined us at lunch so we got yet another student’s perspective; he loves the college and all that he can do there.

(c) 2012

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