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Aquinas College

Aquinas College (visited 11/18/19)

Aquinas path 4

One of the well used paths on campus

Aquinas is a solid school on the outskirts of the 2nd largest city in Michigan; if you want the best of all worlds – a beautiful wooded campus with easy access to a city; strong academics (including some unusual areas of study) and vibrant social life; access to all sorts of sports and arts, a community concerned with sustainability, and a faith community if you’d like to take advantage of that – this could be the school for you!

 

 

Aquinas chapel 2

The chapel at dusk

Campus feels very much like a forest or a park. There are lots of walking paths, a stream running through campus, and trees all over the place. Campus is highly sustainable: they have bins in every building to separate out compost, recycling, and trash. Even dorm rooms often have them; the tour guide said, “They’re encouraged but not required.” Ratings Signs get posted in lobbies to show how they did this month compared to last, as well as how much waste was created, recycled, etc. We talked briefly to the Sustainability Coordinator; she said that they’re working on getting goats on campus to take care of the grass and invasive species. They run Saint Swap – students can donate 2 articles of clothing or other items they don’t want and pick up 1 that they do. Leftovers go to community members who need it. They’re also the first college in the country to have a Sustainable Business degree!

 

Aquinas library

The library is one of the newer buildings; it’s a great space! 

The rep said that she’s often asked, “What’s the worth here?” Like many places, the first thing she said was “Community,” but this seems to include on and off campus. “You’re in a city – but you get to be in a nature bubble within that city. Students have so many resources in Grand Rapids but also because of easy access to Detroit and Chicago. Students can get around town on the city buses for 25 cents a trip. “Downtown is great! There’s ice skating, museums, and restaurants.”

 

Aquinas eSportsThe admissions rep we spoke to graduated in 2012; she’s seen a lot of great new buildings put up since she arrived including the athletic center and a beautiful science center (they invested $32m in that!) “The growth in athletics is also great to see. It brings in a new group of students.” Aquinas started men’s volleyball about 3 years ago; there has been a huge influx of players. “ESports has been fascinating to see in new and exciting ways.” Basketball and soccer get the most fans. “Saint Slam is the introduction of the basketball team.”

Aquinas grottoThere’s also been a change in students. She’s seen more kids willing to reach out and help. “I think students here have always been nice, but there’s more outreach and community service now. It seems like it’s more part of the culture.” This is still very much a region institution, but that’s slowly changing, as well. They’ll help first-time visitors from out-of-state (and the Upper Peninsula) with travel reimbursement IF they’ve been admitted before the visit: they’ll pay for flight and gas, but not meals, hotel, or the rental car. Of the 1400 undergrads, about 250 come from outside Michigan. Approximately 50 of those are Global Students (I like that they’re called this instead of International!). Global Food Fest is a popular new event where students will cook food from their nation/culture for others. All students and staff are welcome to participate, even domestic students who have spent time abroad or want to celebrate a family tradition.

Aquinas AcThere are multiple global offerings and opportunities to get involved:

Classes, of course, are small because of the school size. The tour guide’s classes ranged from 8-20 students. They have more majors and opportunities than many other places this size.

  • Aquinas sci ceiling stars

    The ceiling in the atrium of the science building – the lights are set up as constellations

    This is one of the few schools I’ve ever seen to offer Translation and Interpretation as a major (and our tour guide was double majoring in this and Spanish).

  • Students who’ve declared an education major take their first education class in 2nd semester; during this, they spend at least 40 hours in a school and must have an exit interview with a member of the Edu dept to make sure they want to continue in the major.
  • Nursing is direct entry for students with a 2.5 GPA overall AND in all their math and science classes and a 1080SAT/21ACT. Technically, they’re doing their nursing through University of Detroit-Mercy: “on paper, they’re UD-M students but with all the benefits of being an AQ student. All their classes are on campus, and clinicals are here.” They have a 100% placement rate; 95% pass the NCLEX on the first try. They’re only allowed to graduate 60 a year by the state of Michigan.
  • Aquinas arts 2

    The art and music center

    Fine and performing arts are huge here:

  • Aquinas Moose 1

    The Moose (called that because of the moose head – look on the far side!) … one of the great dining options that serves as a cafe/late night option. This used to be the old carriage house.

    They’ve done a lot with dual business degrees. Students can pair Visual Arts, Chemistry, Communications, music, sports management, Computer Info Systems. Recently, they added a dual Business-Econ

  • They’ve partnered with Western Michigan for engineering: “It’s constantly changing since we’re learning and growing with it.” Students get an AA from Aquinas before completing their Bachelors at WMU in Civil or Industrial/Entrepreneurial Engineering.
  • Accounting is excellent: they’re in the top 5% for CPA pass-rates.
  • Community Leadership is also uncommon.
Aquinas athletic and dorm

Some of the newer upperclassmen dorms and the athletic fields.

This is a fairly residential campus, but students are allowed to move off; this is in a residential neighborhood so it’s relatively easy to find housing in the area. The dining hall is great about food allergies. Everything is well marked, and they’ll send emails if there’s ever an issue so students can make decisions about where they want to eat for a particular meal – so if there’s an inhalation allergies, for example, they may choose to eat at a different place. The dining hall is open longer hours, and students can come in for soup and salad all afternoon. The popular meals are sweet and sour chicken and popcorn chicken bowl. We ate dinner there; lots of students were there, but there wasn’t any real wait to get food.

 

They start offering merit scholarships for applicants at a 2.7GPA and 980 SAT/18ACT. These are good up for 5 years. The AQ commitment says that they’ll meet 100% need for a student if they have a 3.4 GPA or higher. They will try to meet need under that but do not guarantee it.

© 2019

Winthrop University

WINTHROP UNIVERSITY (visited 4/4/14)

~Winthrop sign ~Winthrop flowersWinthrop is a Comprehensive Liberal Arts Public University located on a 100-acre campus in Rock Hill, SC, a small city with 65,000 residents, which is considered an “outskirt” of Charlotte (the 2nd largest financial district in the US after NYC). Without traffic, students can be in Charlotte in about 20 minutes. In fact, they’re so close that they have a loose affiliate with UNC-Charlotte; any student doing AF ROTC goes there for the classes. Army ROTC can be done at Winthrop.

They currently have just over 5000 undergrads (plus about 1,100 grad students) and are growing by 3-4% a year. They have a warm and welcoming Admissions Office. The visitor coordinator was outgoing and friendly, greeting and chatting easily with visitors. Coffee and water were available in the large room used for the info session. They made a very good first impression!

Winthrop Business tickerSome unusual majors include Finance (either Corporate or Financial Planning); Health Care Management; Sustainable Business; Digital Commerce; Human Nutrition; Integrated Marketing Communication; Science Communication; BFA offerings in 11 areas including Photography (either Commercial or Fine Arts), Jewelry/Metals, Sculpture, Interior Design, and Illustration, and Bachelor of Music or Music Education. Art students can showcase work both on and off campus, and theater students can write and direct their own work.

~Winthrop swingsThe average class size is 24, but “that seems inflated by freshmen classes which are capped at 29,” said the admissions rep. Intro to Biology and Intro to Chem tend to be the largest classes with up to 40 per class. Their 3 most popular majors are pretty typical: Business, bio, and psych. Fine arts and Early Childhood Education round out their top five. They are known for fine and performing arts, and they are the Flagship School of the SE Region for Education. They maintain a satellite campus consisting of Wetlands, used primarily as a lab for bio classes.

~Winthrop ampitheaterAdmitted students have an average 3.8 GPA, a mid-50% SAT range of 960-1150 or average ACT of 23, and almost 50% in the top 20% of their class. In addition to other merit scholarships, they do offer an IB scholarship and Talent Scholarships which require a portfolio or audition (and are judged by the faculty).

In order to help students thrive and persist towards graduation, freshmen and sophomores must live on campus unless they live within a 50 mile radius. In addition to regular style dorms, they have several themed residence halls such as Math and Science, Honors, Leadership, Helping Hands, Historical Perspectives, Creative Habitat, Around the World, Environmental Issues, Healthy U, and more.

~Winthrop little chapel

Little Chapel

Robert Mills, who designed the Washington Monument, also designed Little Chapel on campus. This tiny building (it looks like it might hold 30-40 people) is tucked into a small garden in the middle of campus near the amphitheater (next to which stands a statue of an Amphibian Quartet, donated by an alum).

~Winthrop harry potter hallStudents definitely don’t lack for fun on campus. There is a multitude of cultural events (speakers, concerts, etc) on campus; students must attend 18 cultural events to graduate. The tour guide got most of hers done the first year. About 50% of students are involved in Greek life. “It’s a big deal,” said the tour guide, “but you don’t have to affiliate to be included in events or have fun on campus.” There is a full movie theater in the student center; movies are shown on Wednesdays and Saturdays and cost $2 per movie or $10 for a semester pass. The school maintains an18-hole Disc Golf Course. Athletic events are in the Rec Center a mile away, and the school provides shuttles. Their DI sports play in the Big South Conference with Baseball ranked #1 in the division and #3 in the state after USC and Clemson. The Women’s Basketball team was in March Madness.

© 2014

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