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New England College Visits

on June 24, 2011 in College Visits

Amherst campus

Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts is a highly selective small, liberal arts college with a dynamic and interdisciplinary curriculum.  Amherst offers 36 different areas of study and an unusually open curriculum, which includes no core or distribution requirements. Amherst is part of the Five-College Consortium including Smith College, Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, and UMass Amherst. Most students live on campus all four years, building a strong sense of community at this highly academic college. Amherst is part of the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference), a student-athlete focused Division III athletic league. The mission statement of Amherst provides a clear vision for the college and exemplifies much of what I ascertained from my visit to campus.

Smith College

What stood out most on my visit to Smith College was the dynamic and innovative feel of the campus community. There is clearly a great deal of energy going into the facilities at this beautiful college. The nearby town of Northampton is walking distance and provides students with an eclectic array of restaurants and shops.

Smith College Campus Center

As I wandered to the new Brown Fine Arts Center, students were returning from athletic events late in the afternoon, and I definitely sensed the supportive atmosphere of this all-women’s college. Students may participate in The Twelve-College Exchange Program, as well as The Pickering Engineering Program including both a BA in Engineering Arts and a BS in Engineering Science.  Building leadership skills and mentoring from faculty is paramount at Smith, along with deep tradition and a long history of supportive and dynamic alumni.

Hampshire College

Students at Hampshire College design interdisciplinary concentrations and independent projects and the college has no conventional majors. Hampshire professors facilitate self-designed programs of study that are personalized and allow students to focus on what they are passionate about. Internships are encouraged and narrative evaluations rather than grades are given to students.  The Film, Video and Photography concentration is very popular, and many alumni including the director and producer Ken Burns support the college in presentations and seminars on campus.

Mt. Holyoke College

Mt. Holyoke College is a small, liberal arts women’s college with a very strong math and science program including astronomy, computer science, and biochemistry. The curriculum includes a traditional core, and the SAT/ACT is optional for students applying for admissions. The academic offerings are broad, with such unique programs as Medieval Studies and the Nexus Program, linking curriculum to careers by meaningfully connecting liberal arts education to career goals. The Nexus Program allows students to focus on opportunities ranging from Non-Profit Management to Global Business, Law and Public Policy.

Landmark College

Landmark College Performance

Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is an excellent choice for students with learning disabilities, dyslexia and ADHD. I was recently invited to a two-day intensive program including faculty presentations, tours and detailed overviews of the innovative approaches to supporting these students. This two-year college provides a comprehensive approach to supporting students eventually transferring to a traditional four-year program. All faculty are trained to work with a wide spectrum of students, in addition to teaching their respective subjects. The faculty are dedicated to working in multiple ways with students and there is an extensive system to help monitor and alert faculty to each students progress. Class sizes at Landmark are capped at seventeen. All fees paid to Landmark may be taken as a medical deduction, and Landmark suggests families speak with their tax advisers for more details.

Landmark students may participate in a January term abroad as well as a more intensive summer program prior to matriculating in the Fall. A summer program for high school students is available on the campus in Putney, Vermont and a new Landmark program is available on the campus of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. This three-week summer program is designed to help students build academic performance through specific skill and strategy development in small, personalized classes that will prepare them for the college experience. Students are also introduced to the concepts of self-advocacy in a college-like setting.

Suffolk University

Boston is a very popular destination for students, and I am always on the lookout for programs in the area that would be a good fit for all levels of students. While I have visited many of the more selective schools in the area, I decided that this trip I would explore Suffolk University, which admits 85% of applicants. The average SAT for entering freshmen at Suffolk is a 1050 using the Critical Reading and Math scores (1530 with writing) and ACT is a 23.

The campus is urban, located in the heart of downtown Boston and close to the Boston Commons. Suffolk is very international with campuses in Dakar and Madrid along with other study abroad opportunities, and I met students and faculty from all over the world while on campus. Students take one-third of their courses in each of these categories: core, major and whatever you are passionate about. Classes are capped at 40 students and professors are very focused on their students at this university of 5,000 undergraduates. There are three high-rise residence halls on campus, and the one I visited included a spectacular view of the entire city. While housing is not guaranteed all four years, students assured me that they got their choices by sending in their deposits early. For recently admitted students, Suffolk recommends sending in a deposit as soon as possible to assure housing, and a full refund is offered for students who change their mind before May 1st deposit deadlines. The Sawyer Business School is very popular, with one-third of undergraduates in the program. Another third of students study at the New England School of Art and Design, part of the university. The final third of students are studying at the College of Arts and Sciences.

Emerson College

Emerson Colllege Production Center

Emerson College is also located in the heart of Boston, close to the Boston Commons. For students who are hands-on learners and enjoy being surrounded by other creative students, Emerson is an excellent choice. Most extracurriculars at Emerson are performance-based. Professors include an executive producer who selects students through a competitive process to write sitcom pilots that are actually produced. Marketing, public relations, communications, media, theater and the arts are the focus at this urban university of 3,300 undergraduates. CNN offers students raw footage to produce on their own, and lab and media facilities are first rate. International programs include theater and marketing in London among others. Students have attended the Emmy’s and Oscars as well as the Olympic games, covering these events for various organizations. Marketing focus groups meet in the high-tech labs and companies often request use of the facilities with students participating and observing. Advertising campaigns are designed by students, often in conjunction with internships that are a key component of life at Emerson. Emerson is one of six members of the Pro-Arts Program in Boston.

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