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Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University (visited 3/3/15)

~TCU main sign~TCU flowersOne of the big question a lot of us on the Counselor tour had was, how Christian is TCU? The general consensus was: as much as you want it to be. The school is insistent that students figure it out for themselves and be respectful of others. “We have really interesting conversations about God,” said one of the tour guides. Students are required to complete 1 theology class as part of their distribution requirements, but the choices range from Religion in the Arts to The Afterlife in Roman/Greek Traditions (taught by a German professor). One student on the panel wishes that the university were more Christian. “It’s in the name; no one is hiding that it’s part of who we are, but there’s 1 cross on campus. I’ve actively looked.”

~TCU main quad~TCU fountainThe campus is attractive with nice architecture and wonderful landscaping; daffodils were already popping up in early March, despite the chilly weather and dreary skies. Many of the buildings are made of yellow brick, and they’re making an effort to keep consistent to the general feeling as new construction goes up. The campus is located in Fort Worth, a city described by a student as a “booming suburbia.” It has a definite residential, family feel; students and younger professionals tend to like living here. “Dallas feels more business-like than here,” said one professors. Students can take easy advantage of the city with free bus rides with their TCU ID; they also have access to bike shares. However, there’s lots to do directly off campus, as well. Students get discounts at many places in town including free lunches at some places on Fridays. 35 places off-campus will take Flex Bucks.

~TCU dorm hallway

A dorm hallway

TCU has a two-year residency requirement but currently can’t meet demand for juniors and seniors. However, they’re committed to rectifying that and are building a new res hall per year for a decade; 4 new ones are up already. Students are happy that they’re working on the residential issues.

~TCU plaza 2Greek life is a huge part of campus life with almost half of students affiliating (it’s a higher percentage of women than men affiliating – about 55% and 40% respectively – which almost matches up with the general gender mix on campus). One student wishes that she knew how much Greek life was part of campus before she came here. She said that sometimes it feels like much more than half of the students belong to one of the Greek organizations. There is a bit of Greek housing, but many end up living together in regular dorms.

~TCU studentsStudents love the academics here, but “you need to want to learn. They can facilitate the learning, but can’t do it for you.” Favorite classes include:

  • Literature and Civilization: they spoke with a woman from Rwanda
  • Speech Pathology (she’s had her own clients for 2 years now).

~TCU main bldgAs with any university, there are a number of colleges to choose from including:

  • Business
  • Liberal Arts (notable programs: Geography, Criminal Justice, and Hispanic Studies). Students wanting to take classes in Aerospace Studies or Military Science can do so through the Air Force or Army ROTC (respectively).
  • Communications including Communication Studies, Film-TV-Digital Media, and Journalism.
  • Fine Arts: Art, Dance, Music, Theater, Interior Design and Merchandising, and Arts Administration
  • Education
  • Science and Engineering including Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, Computer Science, and the School of Geology, Energy, and the Environment.
  • TCU Honors volleyball

    Sand Volleyball Court

    The Honors College provides small classes and specialized housing (complete with a sand volleyball court!). Honors students have the opportunity to attend a special orientation and have access to Honors Study Abroad trips.~TCU mascot

~TCU mascot statue

Football stadium

Football stadium

Sports are a big deal here. Super Frog the Horned Frog is the beloved mascot (and listed in the top-10 weirdest mascots!); students rub the nose of the Horned Frog statue for luck before exams, and the university even owns a real horned frog. It’s housed at the FW Zoo because it’s an endangered species. TCU’s teams are DI; in addition to the common teams, there are women’s Equestrian and Rifle teams, and men’s DIA football. TCU ranks #1 in the country for attendance at women’s soccer and men’s baseball games. Their big rival is Baylor. Intramurals and club sports are a big part of life on campus, as well. They offer bowling, ice hockey, gymnastics, rugby, and water polo in addition to many other sports. There’s even an outdoor pool with kayaks and canoes available for students.

© 2015

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Pepperdine University

PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY (visited January 17, 2014)

Deer on the lawn heading into campus

Deer on the lawn heading into campus

~Pepperdine panormaI’ve never been to a campus before with deer grazing on the lawns leading into campus! Pepperdine is a beautiful campus with a stunning view of the Pacific coast in Malibu. It is built on a hill, so there’s a lot of climbing involved, but the school took care with the architecture to make the best use of their buildings and to highlight the beauty of the area. Windows and balconies overlook the water. Obviously, the climate there is wonderful, and students spend a lot of time outside so it was easy to see students interacting with each other. People seemed happy and engaged, greeting each other as they walked around campus.

~Pepperdine treesOur tour guide, Joan, was a freshman business and communications major from New Jersey. Pepperdine 1Although she came a long way from home, she said she felt comfortable immediately. The week long orientation went a long way in helping. She said one of her favorite parts was the My Tie Dance. The boys’ ties are put into a box and the girls pick one out; the owner becomes their date for the night. She’s also impressed with the President’s level of involvement with the student body; he walks around campus and talks to people regularly. He hosts parties and makes attempts to get to know people around campus. (As a side note, he’s also in a band called Mid-Life Crisis).

~Pepperdine bowerSeaver College is the undergraduate unit of the university; there are four graduate schools in Law, Education, Business, and Public Policy. There are about 3,500 undergraduates and about that number again of graduate students.

Dining Hall

Dining Hall

Only about 60% of students live on campus. Freshmen dorms have suites comprised of 8-10 people with two showers and a main room. Triples are cheaper and have an ocean view as a trade-off for having 3 people in the room. All dorms are single-sex. Coed hours are 10am to 1am in the rooms, 7am to 2am in the main area. It’s also a dry campus, but they do have the HAWC which is a 24/7 hangout. Both the single-sex dorms and the lack of alcohol reflect the religious identity (Church of Christ affiliation) of the campus. Their Gen Ed requirements include 3 semesters of religion classes (interestingly, one of the classes is on the history and religions of Israel; as someone who works at a Hebrew academy, that caught my attention, and I would be interested to see a syllabus for the class!). Students must also complete 14 credits of Convocation each term. There are over 100 opportunities each semester that they can attend. Each one is meant to help students dig into their faith by presenting speakers or other presentations. This is considered a class, and if they attend 14 events, they earn an A.

The Chapel

The Chapel

Student life does not all revolve around religion. There are a lot of special activities throughout the year (including one day when they actually bring in truckloads of snow and dump it in the parking lot so students can play with it!). 30% of students are involved in Greek Life; they pledge the 3rd or 4th week of school. There are 8 men’s sports (including Water Polo and Volleyball!) and 9 women’s sports (including both Indoor and Sand Volleyball). Study abroad is a big deal, and their study abroad is highly ranked. They have 7 “Pepperdine Abroad” programs lead by Pepperdine professors. Students can complete the same gen eds there as they would on campus, and the tuition/R&B is the same; students do pay for flights and a one-week field trip

Pepperdine 5 Students can choose form 40 majors (Nutritional Science, Integrated Marketing Communication, Creative Writing, and Media Production are the most unusual). They offer a 3/2 engineering program in which they spend 3 years at Pepperdine earning a BA in Natural Sciences and then transfer to Southern California School of Engineering or Wash U in St. Louis for 2 years. Sciences are fairly strong at Pepperdine, and they even have a cadaver lab. They boast an 82-85% acceptance rate into “medical schools of the student’s choice.” They also offer several languages (our tour guide pointed out the Language Building which was ways up the hill: “The language majors get quite the workout!”)

(c) 2014

Hartwick College

HARTWICK COLLEGE (visited 7/24/13)

HartwickHartwick mainHartwick is a small liberal arts college with its traditional-looking brick buildings built onto a hillside in Oneonta, NY. A student in the admissions office said that she wishes she had known about the stairs before she came: “They kind of suck, but at least I have good legs now!” Oneonta is a very small city (large town?) with a relatively active downtown main street that caters to the college students (the economy seems to very much depend on them). Our guide said that “The walk to town is 5-10 minutes. The walk back to campus is 15-20 because of the hill.” However, Hartwick and SUNY-Oneonta (about a mile away) share shuttles into town (and can be used to get between campuses). Hartwick has 7 stops on campus and will stop at 4 locations downtown including a movie theater and Walmart. From the downtown bus stop, students can get to Albany and Binghamton, both about an hour away.

Hartwick ValleyNeither student I spoke to was unhappy with the variety of activities to choose from on and around campus or around town: “I have to decide between events sometimes.” There are a ton of things to do on campus, and it’s easy to do things around town. Every semester, 2 trips to NY and 1 trip to Boston are offered for $30. The weekend-long OH (Oneonta-Hartwick) Fest in the Spring is a big deal; the campuses come together to put it on. Main Street gets closed down (the public is welcome to join in the fun) and filled with venders and activities, including concerts. Sports on campus are DIII EXCEPT for Women’s Water Polo and Men’s Soccer which are DI.

Conference rooms

Conference rooms

Hartwick statueClasses are typically small with only a handful of introductory classes like Psych and Biology that are capped at 100 students. My tour guide’s classes ranged from 3 (Spanish) to 25 in her Freshman Seminar. Classes are very hands-on and interdisciplinary, requiring a lot of group work. One of the newer academic buildings has break-out rooms with a table that seats 6 and a tv that can hook up to a computer so that students can work together. My tour guide’s favorite classes have been in the Education department because they’ve been thought provoking and make her question how she sees things. She’s also taken Glass Blowing which was creative and a great break from academics. Hartwick offers a wonderful variety of classes that aren’t often seen at smaller schools such as geochemistry and oceanography in the Bahamas. If Hartwick doesn’t offer something they’re interested in, students can take 1 class per semester at SUNY-Oneonta; the tour guide specifically mentioned that classes like ASL, Italian, and scuba diving were classes on Hartwick students’ radars.

Hartwick Science

The inside of the new science building

Students have to complete 2 January Term (J-Term) activities which can be a class on campus, study abroad, or internships. They have a large Art and Culture Museum in which students can work as curators and interns. Every major requires an Experiential Learning component; art and anthropology students can complete this in the museum on campus. Hartwick offers MetroLink, a 10-day trip in January in which students travel to NY and Boston to shadow alum in a variety of professions. They offer a similar program in DC during Spring Break.

Hartwick new dorms

New dorms

Dorms are kind of old, but not horrible. Lounges are well used, and the kitchens are good. There are townhouses for seniors, who are also allowed to live off campus if they choose to (but 80-85% of students stay on all four years). Greek life is small with 5 total chapters; they have off-campus housing options, each holding about 20 students. Juniors involved in Greek life can live in Greek housing off-campus if they choose to do so. Housing is chosen based on a system of earned points: the higher the GPA and the more activities that students are involved in, the more likely they are to get the housing they want. The Dining Hall is small and offers limited options. The tour guide said that they “learn to get creative.” Freshmen have an unlimited meal plan; after that year, students can choose 19 or 14 meals a week if they way. They get some flex dollars for use in smaller places around campus, and even some places downtown will accept WICKID (Harwick ID). They do have a totally vegetarian station so vegetarians know that meat has never been cooked there, and soy milk is always an option for people with lactose intolerance or for vegans.

Hartwick dining hallAlmost half of the 1,500 undergraduates are from outside of NY. Admissions is test-optional which is great. They won’t use the scores if it’ll hurt the student. Scholarship aid is generous with up to $23,000 in aid that can be stacked with an additional leadership scholarship (worth up to $4,000). Aid at Hartwick makes their costs comparable to the SUNY schools. The scholarships are theirs to keep with a 2.0 GPA. A merit-aid calculator on their website can help students figure out what they might be eligible for.

Hartwick hill 2The only thing the students said they would like to change about the school is that it’s not really very handicapped accessible. “People are always breaking something in sports; it’s kind of painful to watch them try to get around on crutches or worse.” She also mentioned that several dorms don’t have elevators, which means that if elderly relatives with mobility issues come to visit, they may not be able to access the dorm rooms.

© 2013

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