campus encounters

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

Archive for the tag “Quaker College”

William Penn University

William Penn University (visited 12/4/19)

WP quadThis is a small Quaker college in a large town in Iowa. The rep, a recent alum, said that she often gets asked, “Why come to small town Oskaloosa?” Her answer: mostly for sports. Many students come from out of state (often the Southwest and other Midwestern states with fewer DIII schools) to play. They just added lacrosse and men’s volleyball; they’ll be adding women’s wrestling and shooting next year. They do get some transfers who didn’t make it at a DI school. Because they’re NAIA, they’re allowed to give athletic scholarships. Academic and athletic scholarships are not stackable; students must choose if they qualify for both.

WP mainI’ve been to some other Quaker colleges (such as Earlham, Haverford, and Guilford) that totally impressed; this one still has some work to do – but I think they’re trying. Although affiliated with the Quakers, nothing is forced but religious life/Meetings are there for those who want it. Students do take an 8-week Quaker values class, but “by no means do you have to believe what they believe. My Catholic grandmother freaked out because she thought they’d convert me, but that’s not what this is about. The class is just an introduction to the basic tenets so you understand the underpinnings of the school’s values.”

WP solar panel

Student-built solar panel

Academically, they offer a fairly typical array of majors and minors except for a few areas. It’s unusual for a school this size to offer Industrial Technology, Engineering (including Software engineering), and Accounting (Public or General). They have a Solar Lab, Media Proeduciotn, and Communications Research Institute. Nursing is now a full program (instead of RN to BSN). They do need to grow some of their offerings (such as they only offer a chemistry minor instead of a major), and some of their facilities need work; departments are tucked into whatever spaces are available. The Education department, for example, seems to be an afterthought up some random stairs snaking through an old building.

WP engo labThe biggest classes cap at about 35 students. The rep’s smallest class had 4 (“It was Comp 2, but I took it in the fall which wasn’t the typical time.”) Her next smallest had 15. “Professors will know you whether you want them to or not.” She chose to come here because she didn’t want to be a number. “I grew up 2 blocks from the University of Northern Iowa. It wasn’t for me.”

WP dorm 1

Hallway of the new dorm

The best change that the rep has seen over her time here is that they’re getting more students (there are 1001 students on campus right now) and there are more things to do. They’ve built some new dorms that are fairly extraordinary with suites. These are located across the main street from campus (there’s a pedestrian bridge). There’s also an older dorm that had been closed but, but they’re renovating them one wing at a time. The rooms open to the outside like an old hotel (and frankly looks a little creepy!). “We try to only put juniors and seniors here because they’ve already established community and know the ropes. It’s a little less secured and there’s less “supervision” so to speak so we want the students who are more independent to live here.”

WP dorms 3

The older dorm that’s getting renovated

There are some things to do in Oskaloosa (Osky) but “It is kind of quiet. You can get bored sometimes, but Des Moines is only an hour away. The town is getting better this year about advertising things going on.” She said that it’s easy to get a job in town and they’ll work around the students’ class schedules.

WP fine arts 2They’re getting better about having things to do on campus, too. A few things she mentioned were Human Foosball games, ice cream socials, and Greek Life. None of the chapters are national and there are no Greek houses “so you don’t get the party vibe.” They do community service, keep a minimum GPA, and provide a community for students. Her chapter won the Governor’s Award last summer for doing so much community service. “It’s more a resume builder; it just gives more opportunities.” They also sponsor Greek games when people pledge in go to a sporting event to support the players.

WP sportsShe said that 80% of students are involved in at least one extracurricular activity (which seems a little low to me). Classes are built around that: all of them meet between 8:15-3:05. Sports and other extracurricular run from 3:30 to 5. Evening classes start at 6. “We don’t want them to have to pick between classes and extra-curriculars.” Sports do seem like a very big deal here. The Admission and Financial Aid offices are actually located in the PAC (Athletic Center) so I was able to see several teams practicing – the track team was on the 2nd floor track overlooking the courts where multiple teams were holding their own practices. They also have a Dance Team.

© 2019

 

Earlham College

Earlham College (visited 6/12/17)

Earlham swing“The pool here is too short for competition because …. Quakers!” said the tour guide. Earlham does, however, have an excellent club equestrian team and an Equestrian Center where students can board their horses.

Earlham rain gardenAs a CTCL school, it’s not a surprise that Earlham is known for its cutting edge integrated learning (and Money magazine has ranked them as top college in Indiana). They are vocal in their support for a liberal arts education: “You should be able to parachute into any situation and figure it out. You need to listen to others. It doesn’t mean you have to change your core values, but you need to understand what other people are talking about. They might have ideas you want to incorporate. Liberal Arts gives you the critical thinking and multi-disciplinary perspectives you need in today’s society,” said the college President.

Earlham zen garden

Zen Garden

Earlham is a Quaker-affiliated school; other than perhaps the Japanese Garden in the courtyard of the Student Center (“students like to go there to get their Zen on,” said one admissions rep), there’s no visual indication that there’s any affiliation at all. However, they do embrace Quaker values: respect for one another, integrity, social justice, simplicity, and creation of community – they work particularly hard at this. The Peace/Justice mindset was evident even on the outskirts of campus where “War is Not the Answer” signs sat on lawns of houses, many of which (we later learned) were owned by Earlham and used as an upperclassmen housing option. A professor said, “Students can learn to protest on any campus, but this is one of a few where you can learn to do it and build community, not destroy it. Students will do what they need to do, but they’ll be asking questions along the way.” One student said, “I’m not a Quaker, but it’s what I treasure about the school.” Another said, “We aren’t a quiet student body.”

Earlham quad 2This is primarily a residential campus with most students (about 95%) living on or adjacent to the 800 acre campus. “We’re unapologetic about the 4 year residency requirement.” There are 7 dorms (2 all-female, 1 all-male) including gender-neutral housing. They provide “graduated living options” where first-years are in cohorts in traditional dorms or floors. Seniors can live in one of the 20 houses on the perimeter of campus, many of which are themed housing options. About ¾ of these are consistent every year (cultural or language, faith-based, etc). The others are Friendship Houses: students petition to live with friends, and they have to explain what this group will do to contribute to campus. Applications are read without names attached by groups of other students. “Students get comfortable living in ambiguous environments. This is where self-discovery happens which can take time. We specialize in helping them do this,” said the dean of residential life.

Earlham playing fieldsThe main part of campus sits on 200 of the school’s property; the remaining 600 acres are called “Back Campus” with trails for hiking/biking/running, educational research, horseback riding, and more. Campus is never quiet: “Students tend to get over-involved. Most people here don’t know how to say no,” said a tour guide. 30% participate in NCAA DIII varsity sports. The student-athlete experience is positive here. The town of Richmond is welcoming of students with jobs and internships.

Earlham sci cntr

Science Center

Earlham provides an intellectually stimulating environment which is also close and nurturing. One of the students said, “Academics are so much better than I thought! Maybe also a little less fun …” although he said this good humor with a smile on his face! The stand-out program at Earlham is EPIC: Earlham Plan for Integrative Collaboration. It focuses on:

  • Intellectual Inquiry through Liberal Arts explorations, the major, and Integrated Pathways combining curricular and co-curricular opportunities such as
    • Medical Humanities (ethical and social aspects of medical sciences)
    • Peace Corps Prep School for international development, offering courses in 6 sectors of the PC (Agriculture, education, etc). They get a notation on their transcript.
  • Earlham stu cntr

    Student Center

    Immersion Experiences: internships, research, off-campus study

    • The Border Studies Program is a unique study-away experience; students are based in Tucson but spend time on both sides of the border. This program takes a sociological, ecological, and economical approach to immigration and migration, human rights, food, indigenous cultures, and more. This is open to students from all majors as long as they have completed at least 1 year of college level Spanish.
    • Other immersion experiences include semesters in India (Tibetan Studies), Jordan, Ecuador, and more.
  • Integrated Learning including diverse collaboration, skill and competency development, career explorations

Earlham 3There are 5 Centers for students to choose from within this program:

  • Center for Global Health (looking at things ranging from the degradation of natural habitats, food shortages, and health issues). Students have collaborated with Departments of State, School Districts, and more.
  • Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Social Justice
  • Global Education
  • Career Education and Community Engagement

Earlham 11EPIC’s purpose is to advance the schools’ commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship, innovative teaching, learning, and transformative social action by funding internships or research for all interested students. These are transformative experiences; by funding them, it addresses an equity issue. Some students are in a position to do exciting internships, but others are precluded from those opportunities due to economics. This program makes it available to everyone, not just the privileged students.

Earlham solar chargingThey’ve recently built the CoLab (CoLaboratory) which allows a physical space for interdisciplinary work to happen. Stemming from this type of work, a team of 4 Earlham students won the Hult Prize, a student competition for Social Good. This was an international competition against 25,000 teams; they were in the top 6. The four students created an interdisciplinary team (one of the requirements) representing majors in Econ, Business, and Peace & Justice. They had to create a project to double the income of 10 million people by 2017; they created an “UberBus” in Kenya and are now expanding it with the $1million in start-up money they won!

Earlham qud 4They’ve been named as a Top 10 Most Diverse Campus. International students are well taken care of here. There are 3 dedicated international advisors, and students will even get shuttled from the Dayton airport. 70% of students will study abroad.

Their Museum Studies program (run jointly by the Art, Biology, Geology, and History departments) is amazing! Students curate exhibits and run the museum tours. Many combine this with a business program for marketing and advertising.

The New Arts building has individual studios for the Fine Arts students. They offer Fibers and Weaving concentration and Photography (about half of the art majors have a photo concentration) as well as extensive metalworking and ceramics labs. “We used to be kind of invisible,” said the Chair of the program. “We had studios and offices and darkrooms scattered across campus. The new building changes that.” The theater and music departments are also well outfitted; Michael C. Hall (Dexter) is an Earlham alum.

© 2017

Post Navigation