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Archive for the tag “Theater major”

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

Hope College

Hope College (visited 11/11/16)

hope-signI always ask students who attend one of the “Colleges That Change Lives” just how that college changed their lives. Here’s what Hope students said:

  • It’s helped me grow in ways I can’t even describe. I joined The Pull [description later]. We practice 3 hours a day and longer on weekends. I’ve met my best friends because of it. I’ve become so much more confident in my faith, my friends, and who I am here.
  • In Basketball, I’ve been challenged and pushed to be my best. Same in the classroom. Along the way, so many people encouraged me and pushed me. To look back to where I was a freshman, there’s been so much growth and people to help along the way.
  • hope-7Professors constantly push us even when we’re struggling. They believe in us. They know we’re capable of doing more. Friends do that, too. People want the best for others.
  • The faith aspect. I grew up Catholic but wasn’t close to my faith. It’s not shoved down your throat, but it’s present and I was able to grow in that area.
  • I’ve met amazing people. It’s an interesting culture – genuine and open. The community was attractive to me; I didn’t have that at my previous college. I have coffee with the chair of department and dinner at professors’ houses all the time. That’s how invested they are. I feel 100% prepared for whatever comes next.
hope-student-circl

Part of the student circle in the Pine Grove

Hope is ranked as the friendliest college in the US: “every person feels welcome, fully included, and will flourish in the way that they’re gifted by God to flourish,” said Hope’s President. On the day I visited, days after the election, there was a student-run silent demonstration in the pine grove to make a statement: No matter your background, your beliefs, your politics: you’re supported and welcome here.

It seems like students actually walk the walk here: they’re inclusive and support each other in whatever endeavors they choose to undertake. Some examples:

  • hope-music-bldg

    The Music Building

    The basketball teams (women’s and men’s) led the nation in DIII attendance last year.

  • I saw Jane Eyre: The Musical on opening night. Although well-supported by the community (and, I assume, parents/families), a huge part of the audience was comprised of students. Beyond that, I was highly impressed at the talent and the theater They bring in guest artists (actors and back-stage techies) to expose students to experts and benefit from their experience and talent. For this musical, the guest artist played Rochester, but all the others were students, including the musicians.
  • hope-archThe Pull, the oldest campus tradition in the US, is a massive tug-of-war across the Black River between freshmen and sophomores and coached by juniors and seniors. They dig trenches and build barricades so they can’t see the other team; the 18 pullers are helped by “cheerers” who can tell them what’s going on.

Hope makes the Top 10 of “Colleges where Students are Most Satisfied with College Choice,” tying with Stanford! Students come and persist until graduation. In fact, they have one of the highest in retention and graduation rates in the state, competing with UMich.

hope-chapel-service

Friday morning Chapel Service

Although affiliated with the Reform Church, the largest self-identifying group is Catholic (20%). An optional 20-minute Chapel is held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. The building fits about 1/3 of the study body, and these events tend to be standing-room only. “It’s a fun atmosphere because the people who are there have chosen to be there. No one is ever forced – but no one is made to feel bad for not coming, either.”

hope-quadThe President said, “We encourage all students to explore Christianity and figure out their own faith. We don’t expect you to fit a mold, but we want you to seriously consider what it might offer you.” The two required religion classes don’t even need to be Christian based. There are “tons of opportunities to grow in your faith if you want it” such as mission trips and Bible studies. Several students on the panel mentioned that they liked the Christian aspect on campus.

The town of Holland is a wonderful bike- and pedestrian-friendly community. Several blocks of locally run stores and restaurants sit right off campus, and students can get some discounts in town. Hope owns about 30% of the apartments in town as housing for students (with the same expectations as dorm living such as being a “dry campus”). The white sand lakeshore beaches are a couple miles away; shuttles run there as well as to stores. The train station is 2 blocks from campus running to Chicago and Grand Rapids.

hope-cottage

An off-campus cottage about a block from campus

Students were out and about on campus, including on Saturday morning. Freshmen and most sophomores live on campus. Juniors and many seniors often move to one of the 80ish off-campus, Hope-owned houses (mostly upperclassmen live in these, but sometimes sophomores get in). “It’s a nice transitional period.”

About 20% of student join Greek Life. Rush is in the spring; “No one feels left out if they aren’t in it – it’s just another club,” said one student. Another said, “Our chapters don’t have the negative connotations that come with some of the bigger schools.”

hope-academic-1

Some of the academic buildings

“You get a personal hand-crafted education here. We’re focused on helping you discern what’s important. We want to make sure that your time here will help you consider all the options available to you and help you prepare for them.” Students’ favorite classes have been:

  • Religion and Atrocity: “it explores hard issues that would be easy to sweep under the rug. It focused a lot on Holocaust. They talk about where god fits in: did he let it happen? Did he not? It was a deep thinking class and changed how I looked at things.”
  • Social Work Interviewing: “I was so nervous for the class. Once I got into it, I loved it. We worked through scenarios, got strategies, etc. It was difficult but in a real situation, you know how you need to prepare.”
  • hope-leavesFrench 3: “I took this freshman year, and once a week, a native speaker came in. It was cool to speak with her, learn about France. We did group projects, recite poems, etc. I didn’t get any of that in high school.”
  • PE and Health for Elementary School teachers: “as a math person, that was different. I learned how to integrate movement in the classroom. Lots of speakers talking about dance in the classroom, and I can apply a lot of things I learned.”
  • Marketing Management: “I love business and marketing. I’m involved in analytics and creative thinking, thinking outside the box. The director of the program talked to companies who want to hire the class. We have to dissect everything – branding, logo, everything. It was a real hands-on experience.”
hope-engo-lab

One of the Engineering labs, complete with a Maker-bot and 3D printer

Management is the biggest major (175/800 graduates this year were in the major). Nursing and Education are next in size. Engineering requires a comprehensive core before students specialize. “It’s hard to find a job that’s strictly in 1 discipline; you’re going to work with a lot of other types of engineers,” said the head of the department. “This isn’t the typical engineering department: people are engaged in other things. They’re athletes, in student government. People minor in languages, dance, etc. It’s a tight major. You have to plan carefully but it’s doable!” Seniors in the department complete a 2-semester design project from a needs statement all the way through to building the design.

hope-dorm-2

One of the dorms

Hope runs an off-site center in Philly with more than 800 options for internships and experiential education. There’s a New York City internship for theater: on- and off-stage (including the business side). Summer terms allow students to spend 3-4 weeks abroad (I spoke with 3 students who did this. They studied: Spanish in Avila; Northern Ireland and Scotland: Peace and Reconciliation; and Mental Health issues in Liverpool: “I want to do international social work, so this was a great opportunity.”) Some scholarships are available.

“Hope is not the most diverse campus, but they look it in the face and deal with it. At a Christian school, it’s easy to sweep things under the rug. Here, they want to talk and deal with it. I have a lot of respect for them not shying away from tough problems,” said one student. Another student said she was helping to get more people involved in the Latino Student Union: “It’s open to everyone, not just Latinos. It’s a great way to learn the cultures.” Other groups put on cultural talent shows or International Food Fair: “Eat all you want for $5. I never had African food until I came here. Best thing ever!”

© 2016

New England College

New England College (visited 10/19/16)

nec-bell-tower

The bell tower set among the rocks and trees of campus

“Show up. Be prepared. Engage. Take responsibility. Be a self-advocate. Come with an open mind. We can give you the skills; what you do with it is your choice.”

A few things make NEC stand out from other small liberal arts schools:

  • nec-dining-hall

    The dining hall with flags of international students

    It’s amazingly diverse (the most diverse in NH). “We celebrate it; it’s part of our core environment.” The diversity comes in all forms: gender, sexual orientation, race, veteran status, socio-economic status, whatever. More than 40% of the undergraduates self-report as underrepresented students and more than ¾ of the students come from outside New Hampshire.

  • For students interested in politics, this is the place to be. “We’re the Super Bowl of Politics. Our kids meet the next President of the US. All the candidates come through here. There are town hall meetings, kids introduce them, meet them, end up working for them.”
  • nec-sign-2The have a pedagogy of engaged learning. “Our way is to roll our sleeves up and do it; let’s get out there and apply it!” Wednesday afternoons there are no classes so kids can get out and do things. They go all over NH.
  • NEC’s core values center on civics and the natural environment. How do we develop new citizens to make a difference in their local, national, world environments? They ask people to weave in civics and natural environment.
nec-1

Some of the dorms

This residential, beautiful campus is home to about 1500 undergrads from 29 states and 19 countries, including 5 new Americans from the refugee centers in Concord and Manchester. Applying is free, and admissions is rolling and test-optional. Admissions wants to see what they’ve done and what they want to achieve. “We’re small; we know the kids we’re working with.” Academically, students fall within a wide range, coming in with 2.0-4.0 GPAs, although average is a 2.8. “NEC is a special place; we’re willing to take a chance and work with the students from ‘less than stellar’ backgrounds.”

 

nec-student-painting

A student painting along the river as leaves fall from the trees

The small, caring community provides opportunities for students who are willing to work for it and take advantage of them; those who want to engage in the community will do well here. “It’s hard to describe the typical NEC kid,” said a faculty member. “It’s perfect for the place for students who may need encouragement and for those ready to fly.” In addition to tutoring and advising, they have a fee-for-service ($4500 yearly) mentoring program, a 1-on-1 service for time management, skill-building, organization, etc. Students do not need a documented need for this; anyone can sign up; they get about 40 freshman, dropping to about half that for sophomore year.

 

nec-new-acad-bldg

The new academic building

There are 4 Academic Divisions offering 32 majors all grounded in the liberal arts tradition. New business and performing arts buildings will open in 2018. A few programs worth noting are:

 

  • Outdoor Education: Students in this program take education classes and academic classes to back up the outdoor educations: for example, for rock climbing, they’ll learn physics and geology. One graduate is running a program in Norway, and got her Masters (after learning Norwegian) there. Another is an Asst. Dir. of a wilderness program in Montana.
  • Computer Information Science: “this is as experiential as you can be with a CIS degree”
  • nec-stage

    Building the set for FortinbrasTheater Education: one of the few in NH, and they have to also take all the Special Ed classes to be dual certified.

    Theater Education: one of the few in NH, and they have to also take all the Special Ed classes to be dual certified.

  • Theatre: phenomenal.
    • They’ve sent a large number of graduates to Inside the Actor’s Studio.
    • While I was there, they were preparing to put on “Fortinbras” (tagline: “I’m not here to finish their story. They were here to start mine.”)
    • Theater students put on a Haunted Trail for the community
  • Integrated Studies in Philosophy and Literature: One of the tour guides took “Humanity of the Inhumane” looking at philosophy, ethics, read Clockwork Orange, etc.
  • The study-away program (Amazon rainforest, Belize, New Orleans, Rome, Cairo, Costa Rica, Ireland) is free of charge: “This isn’t just for people with resources.”
  • Juniors with 3.0 or higher can apply to be in an accelerated program to take 3 classes that count for both undergrad and the Master’s.
nec-town

View of the main street from campus

Henniker is very small (population 2500-3000); there’s a very small main street with a pizza place, a bank, and a pharmacy. The owner of the local Chinese restaurant will cook traditional food for students. “What we do really well now is to embrace that we’re in the country. We used to try to say that we were close to Boston – and certainly we’re close enough for a Red Sox game or whatever – but you aren’t going to do it every day.” Concord is only 20 minutes away, and shuttles run on the weekend. There are miles of trails right here where students can run, hike, bike. A local farmer lets them use an area for bonfires. Students get a free ski pass (rentals are $10): Sunapee is 20 minutes away, Loon is 1.5 hours, and Pat’s Peak is 2 miles away. A popular annual event is night skiing there when the school rents out Pat’s Peak for 4 hours. Kids will often come to class with ski boots on, either coming directly from skiing or heading out right after class.

 

nec-reading-room

The library reading room

As an unwritten rule: if students represent NEC in athletics, at conferences or programs at schools, etc, it’s an excused absence from class. Their students run ropes courses for orientations, including local public schools and Keene State. 40-50% of students play on one of the 17 DIII team including a championship rugby team. Men’s wrestling is new this year; women’s volleyball will start fall of 2017. Lots of Swedes come here for hockey, and Indian students play cricket on the little league baseball field. The men’s soccer team hosts the local Age 8-9 league; the kids got to line up and walk in with the team.

 

© 2016

Southern Oregon University

SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY (visited 7/16-17/13)

~SOU facts

Facts about SOU

Southern Oregon is a cute, medium sized school located within miles of the California border. There’s a lot of great things to be said about this interesting school. Unfortunately, the first impression our group got was from the worst dorms on campus (which were old and rundown) where we were staying for the night. Later, we were told that these dorms were being torn down to make room for new ones (so I’m not sure why we there, but it was what it was). Not a fabulous first impression but easily overcome by the other things about the school.

SOU starbucks

The Starbucks on the edge of campus with a mountain view!

~SOU Ashland facts

Facts about Ashland

Ashland, located halfway between San Francisco and Portland, hosts the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Although fairly small, this is a touristy town with lots of things to do (including a lake that’s ten minutes away). Downtown is about a mile away from campus. There are several restaurants right off campus (Mexican, Chinese, Subway, etc) on the way towards downtown, which has several blocks of restaurants, cafes, stores, and other things to do. Downtown was hopping, even on a Tuesday night. Ashland is accessible via the Bedford airport (15-minutes away), and a ski resort is 15 miles (about 30 minutes) away. Ashland’s climate is good: there’s lots of sun, and snow usually melts off the same day, but there’s a 5000 foot climb in elevation starting almost immediately off campus. Outdoorsy kids would love it here. The campus Outdoors Program is active and popular. Surfing, kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking, skiing, and other trips are offered all the time. EPIC (Event Planning Involvement Committee) gets students involved on campus; in addition to the usual advertising outlets you see on any campus, they publicize events by printing a calendars on bookmarks for students to take with them. On the weekends, students take advantage of the off-campus trips, play in pickup games, go to the parks, or take advantage of downtown. Several students bring cars to campus which makes it easy to do things around the area; parking costs $180 a year.

SOU Library

SOU Library

~SOU library 2Students who want strong hands-on learning experiences would find SOU to be a good fit; theoretical, self-teachers should go to a school like OSU or Texas A&M. As you can imagine because of the Shakespeare Festival, the Theater program is particularly strong, as are the other arts programs. They put on at least six plays a year, mostly casting theater students because this acts as their senior thesis. Others can do tech/behind the scenes stuff or will take on smaller roles. This is just one illustration of what sets SOU apart from some other universities: there is plenty of access to hands-on opportunities. SOAR (Southern Oregon Arts and Research) is a program designed to showcase what students and faculty have done over the year, and is open to everyone. Students can opt to do this as part of their capstone. The Chemistry department has recently added $10 million in equipment. Sophomore chemistry majors are already running equipment worth three-quarters of a million dollars. The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics lab is on campus; this is the only one dedicated to crimes against animals. SOU also is the school in Oregon with an open cadaver lab. The Communication department has a Journalism focus, providing students with plenty of opportunities for real-life experience. There’s a myth that the Criminal Justice building looks like a prison to get students used to working in that environment. Business and Education are also strong, popular majors that provide a lot of real-world experience. The Nursing program gives priority to Oregon students. Only 5% get accepted into this program as a sophomore; many more get in as incoming juniors.

SUO 1One of the admissions reps was an SOU alum. Part of the reason she chose to come here was that they let her study abroad in her first year. Our tour guide transferred from UC Davis which was too big for her and not a good fit. She finds the academics here perfect. Faculty members teach every class on campus and know the students’ names; there are no TAs. Classes average 25 students; our guide has been in classes ranging in size from 13 to 120 students; the large classes are Intro to Bio or Chem which break out into smaller labs once a week. Even though freshmen do get some bigger classes, they also have small ones like their Freshman lit class which has a specific theme, and the professor is their advisor. SOU provides a lot of support for students through a variety of programs. Trio provides support for low-income, first gen, and LD students. They have 5 Resource centers (including multicultural, GLBTQ, and commuter) that anyone can use; students don’t have to be a member of a particular group. The rooms are comfortable, safe spaces for people who want to strike up a conversation, hang out, or eat. Most have couches and fridges; students can even fall asleep and people will wake them up.

~SOU sculptureI had a few minutes as I was waiting for the rest of the counselors to check into their rooms, so I picked the brains of the student workers responsible for helping us check in. Two of them were criminal Justice/criminology majors and one was in the business department. Two were from Oregon and one was from northern California. They said that this is very much a regional university, but they love it. They couldn’t tell me what people complain about at the dinner table which is a good sign. When asked what they’d like to change, they said that they wished there were more sports and better gym facilities. The work-out facilities are small and located under the football stadium, but there’s rock climbing, racquetball, and a pool. The school is building a new athletic center for general use; the old one will be used only for athletes who participate in one of the eleven varsity sports at the NAI DII level. Club and intramural sports are available, and athletes are highly involved on campus. There are about 80 clubs and organizations encompassing a range of academic, social, ethnic, and athletic interests including one of the more unusual ones I’ve seen: SOUPS (SOU paranormal society). One of the most popular events is the annual luau thrown by the Hawaii Club. There is no Greek life on campus.

SUO art museum

The Art Museum courtyard with a view of the mountains in the distance

The campus is small and walkable with several nice buildings; the older ones are slowly being renovated or replaced. The library is a gorgeous new three-story building with an intricate tiled floor in the lobby; across from this is a stucco building across from the library was THE school at the beginning. The campus has the largest Art Museum on the I-5 between Portland and San Francisco, and directly across from this is a dorm reserved for students who are 21 and older. They are building the North Campus Village, a new $15 million dorm complex which includes a new dining commons. Currently, SOU is considered a suitcase school, “but we hope that with the new dorms, more students will stay,” said one admissions representative. One of their initiatives revolves around creating “Houses,” which is a project/cohort based approach to education for the entire time on campus.

SOU sci bldg

Science Building

Last year’s entering freshmen class averaged a 3.24 high school GPA. Upon admission, students from WUE states automatically get awarded the WUE tuition. Nursing students only get WUE for two years; once they’re in the nursing program, they lose it, but can get other specific Nursing scholarships. It’s common for students to have jobs on campus. If they want one and don’t have one, they aren’t trying very hard. Students who are admitted into the Honors Program have their full tuition, room, board, fees, and books covered. They have an advisor dedicated to the program, and students are also given a Major Advisor and a community mentor who works in their field.

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