Jul 22, 2013

On the Road to Michigan with the Illinois Association of College Admissions Counselors (IACAC)

Michigan State University
Facing weather conditions more typical of Louisiana than Michigan, the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) hit the road last week for its biannual “Bus O’Fun” tour of colleges.

Starting at the University of Illinois Springfield, the tour took 40 school-based and independent counselors on a week-long tour of 11 colleges, all of which opened their doors for up-close and personal reviews of facilities and programs.

While the campuses seemed relatively quiet, admissions offices were working behind the scenes to put finishing touches on student recruitment programs scheduled for the fall.  Many were finalizing admissions policies reflecting changes in the Common Application, which is due to be launched in a few short weeks.

Here is a little more of what the 40 counselors learned about each school:

The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a strong liberal arts core that emphasizes engagement in public affairs (supported by its location in the state capital) and dedication to community involvement.  In what might be a first in the nation, UIS has established an academic program called Liberty Studies, as one of many minors offered for the fall 2013.  Fun fact:  a set of stairs in Brookens Library leads directly to a brick wall--it's a stairway to nowhere!

As an independent Lutheran institution, Valparaiso University currently enrolls about 4,300 students (both undergrad and graduate) and plans to grow to about 6,000 in the coming years.  “Valpo” offers more than 70 areas of study across five colleges, including Engineering, which has experienced “spectacular growth” in recent years.  Part of the attraction of Valpo’s engineering program is the ability to study and work in France, Germany, Spain or China through the Valparaiso International Engineering Program.

Founded in 1819, the University of Michigan has a long and rich academic tradition based on a strong German model of education emphasizing math and science research.  One of the first in the country to admit women and minorities, Michigan looks for very accomplished students who are committed to learning and to the University—about 60% of the class is admitted through early action.  Fun fact:  Michigan has the largest living alumni population in the world.

Central Michigan University is proud to announce the opening of a new medical school in the fall of 2013.  Over 2000 students applied for 75 seats in the CMU College of Medicine, which was founded for the purpose of producing physicians for underserved rural and urban communities in the U.S. For prospective out-of-state undergrads, CMU generously offers in-state tuition to any applicant with a GPA of 2.75 or above.  And proud of its strong relationship with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, CMU is the only university in the country to offer courses in Ojibwa, the Chippewa language.

As a land grant institution, Michigan State University takes enormous pride in its ability to bring a small school experience to one of the largest campuses in the country.  In addition to a strong and well-established residential college system, MSU is pioneering campus “neighborhoods” based on student support services and living learning communities.  Each of the 5 neighborhoods has an Engagement Center where students find a variety of resources including tutors, academic advisors, and health services. For students with AP or other advance-standing credit, MSU subscribes to the “admit when ready” practice of admitting to specific colleges such as engineering.  This saves students both time and money and avoids needless repetition of coursework.  

“Unashamedly Christian,” Calvin College looks for students who “think deeply, act justly, and live widely.” One of Calvin’s signature programs, the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department offers a five-year Bachelor’s-to-Master’s Degree with a concentration in speech pathology.  Students may also enter the 4-year bachelor’s only degree program with the goal of attending a graduate program in audiology. Calvin also offers an ABET accredited BS in Engineering, a nursing program, and three specialties within the kinesiology major (exercise science, sports management, and physical/health education).

One of the Colleges That Change Lives, Hope College is a “small school with a big research program.”  Historically affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, Hope offers 87 majors and minors in liberal arts and pre-professional fields.  Home to the nation’s oldest college tradition, the Pull, Hope takes pride in collaborative faculty/student research and creative activity.  In fact, Hope is consistently awarded more National Science Foundation grants for undergraduate research than any other liberal arts college in the country.

With several locations around Michigan, Ferris State University offers the only BS in Nuclear Medicine as well as the only Forensics Biology program in the state.  But one of the more interesting programs offered at Ferris is the University’s nationally-recognized Welding Engineering Technology Program—the largest of its kind in the U.S.  In fact, there’s a two-year wait for entry into welding.  To lower costs for out-of-state students, Ferris offers the Great Lakes Scholarship to residents of 20 states (including Maryland and Virginia) and Ontario, Canada.  This program allows eligible out-of-state students to save about $5370 on the cost of tuition and is awarded automatically—no application required.  Ferris also offers a PGA-endorsed professional golf course management program as well as a comprehensive arts program through its affiliation with the Kendall College of Art and Design.

Grand Valley State University celebrated its 50th year by opening an amazing $65 million library. With seating for 1,500 students, shelf space for 150,000 books and an automated storage and retrieval system designed to handle an additional 600,000 volumes, the Mary Idema Pew Library was funded entirely by donations (no state money) and represents the best in state-of-the-art library science in an inspirational facility—worth the visit alone.  For undergrads, GVSU offers a number of generous scholarships including the Grand Finish which is an extra grant designed to ensure on-time completion made to juniors who have completed 90 credit hours. Students with a 3.5 GPA and an ACT score of 28, may apply for the GVSU Honors College and become eligible for the Niemeyer Learning and Living Center featuring private rooms in a lovely suite arrangement.

For more than 30 years, Kalamazoo College has offered a nationally-recognized curriculum nicknamed the K-Plan, which emphasizes an undergraduate experience of rigorous liberal arts combined with opportunities for “experiential” education in both domestic and international settings. At Kalamazoo, about 80 percent of all undergrads study abroad in a program that emphasizes immersion and requires at least a 3-month commitment. And very aware of its role in supporting work force development, Kalamaz 
oo has 3-full time career counselors who follow undergrads throughout their four years and after graduation. Prospective students should be aware that as of this visit, Kalamazoo had enrolled 463 students for the Class of 2017—far above its goal of 390 undergrads.

Western Michigan University boasts that the WMU College of Education and Human Development is among the nation’s top 10 producers of professional educators. Other popular WMU programs include Integrated Supply Management, Paper Engineering, Aviation Flight Science, and Food and Consumer Package Goods Marketing And to make it affordable for out-of-state students, WMU has established an easy road to Michigan residency after freshman year, which is a far better deal than any of the out-of-state scholarship programs offered.  Be aware, however, that WMU has a fairly aggressive “differential” tuition plan which kicks in after sophomore year for many of the most popular programs.

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