Carolyn’s College Corner
COWS: Colleges of Wisconsin, or a Tale of Four Colleges
In early May, I toured four different colleges in Wisconsin as part of a Continuing Education program for educational consultants. These schools put on these tours a couple of times a year in an effort to bring students to this much-maligned state! Personally, I fell in love with Wisconsin. Granted, I was there at the beginning of spring, a time when love is in the air, the birds are chirping and flowers and trees are budding. That being said, I am sure the winters bring new meaning to the word cold, but each school chips away at that objection ably. I would not hesitate to send one of my own children to one of these schools. For those of you who know me, my oldest went to Maine for college – a fact he has not let me forget! Good news is they appreciate their home and where they came from. They realize how good they have it in sunny Colorado!
First stop – Marquette University in Milwaukee. A wonderful option in the Jesuit school consortium, Marquette is often over looked by Coloradoans in favor of Creighton or Gonzaga. Marquette University is:
- Jesuit – lifelong learning is the foundation of the Jesuit tradition. Inquiry and critical thinking is the cornerstone of the education. Service is a strong component here – 97% of students do some kind of service learning
- Diverse – 30 foreign countries are represented here encompassing all cultures and religious beliefs.
- Urban – wonderful downtown location with easy access to all many activities and cultural events city has to offer. The biggest surprise to me was how cosmopolitan and hip Milwaukee is – it is like a mini Chicago. I loved it!
- University – there is a University Core of Common Studies with requirements across 9 disciplines. They are not crippling to a schedule, in fact, I believe they help students open their minds to areas they would not have normally considered.
Marquette is comprised of 83 majors, 7 colleges, boasts a 4 year graduation rate, and 1 campus.
Colleges are as follows:
- Klingler College of Arts and sciences
- College of Business Administration
- Diederich College of Communications
- College of Education
- College of Engineering
- College of Health Sciences
- College of Nursing
Student apply directly into a specific college, usually a 1st and 2nd choice are required. It can be hard to move from a college into Engineering as it has very sequential course work.
Admissions are conducted in a holistic manner, meaning the entire application is considered, not just grades and scores. GPA is unweighted, rigor of curriculum is considered, essays are read and evaluated, and then test scores are reviewed – in that order. Mean ACT score is 27 and mean SAT is 1210.
There are multiple scholarships available as well – see the website for more particulars.
Second stop – Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. An unusual school in the higher education firmament as it is one of the only schools that offer a music conservatory side by side with a liberal arts program. Some highlights are:
- ¾ of the school is arts and sciences and ¼ the conservatory of music. About half of the students double major in a conservatory/arts and sciences major, a 5 year program
- One application for everyone. Music auditions for the conservatory or mandatory with 4 on campus auditions and 12 regional auditions
- The most competitive disciplines are voice, piano, and strings. Always looking for students with talent in more obscure instruments
- Classes in music for non-music majors
- Non-music majors can participate in music programs including chamber groups, symphony and vocal ensembles.
- All concerts are webcast
- Language requirement – 200 level
- Capstone for all students – paper, recital, and/or presentation.
- Laboratory research common with access to paid summer internships
The Lawrence Personality
- Curious students
- Collaborative (you kind of have to be in music!)
- Positive and friendly
- Academic but well balanced
Lawrence has a residential campus – all 4 years, and is located in Appleton, a medium size community along the banks of a lovely meandering river.
Third stop – Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin. South of Appleton and north of Beloit, Ripon is set in the rolling hills of central Wisconsin. Named one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America,” downtown Ripon boasts an eclectic mix of architecture, shops, restaurants and coffee shops in one little down town. Ripon College consistently shows up on lists of colleges that offer the best value, which measure value, quality and overall student satisfaction. Ripon’s rating hovers around 95%. Here are a few facts:
- 32 majors, 48 minors and pre-professional programs are available
- Pre-professional programs are customized course plans setting the student on track for competitive placement in engineering, law, and medicine, among others.
- 80% acceptance rate to medical school – twice the national average
- Committed to affordability with 98% of students receiving aid awards
- Scholarships range from $10,000 to full
- Awards from $1,000 to $5,000
- Grants college/state/federal from $600 to $19,000
- Federal loans
- 4 year graduation guarantee, assuming student is in good standing academically and does not change majors
- Median class size is 17 with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio
- Study abroad programs available
- Division III athletics with 21 varsity teams
Fourth stop – Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Beloit College has always been one of my favorites. As a Colleges That Change Lives school, it produces top notch students. A few fun facts:
- Top 20 college for producing future PhD’s
- Top 21 college for training future leaders in science, international relations and business
The town of Beloit has come a long way since I first visited it 5 years ago. A former General Motors town, it has had to pull itself up by the bootstraps to overcome the economic crash and reinvent itself. Both the town and the college have an eclectic mix of things going on:
- Believe it or not, Beloit is the home of the Beloit International Film Festival.
- Organic potato chip factory
- Organic market
- Home of The Mind Set List; a list published in August with a snap shot of how the incoming freshman class views the world
- Study abroad and international studies are strong with over 30 programs.
- One of the best museum studies program in the country with a world class Archeology department and museum. The Indiana Jones character is based on an actual professor from Beloit, complete with bullwhip and hat!
- 85% receive financial aid
Students coming to Beloit are:
- Not likely to follow the crowd
- Risk takers, out of the box thinkers
- Interested in many things – open minded
- Leaders, not followers
- No core curriculum
- Every student’s course of study or major is different