This Academic Tourist took in an informational this week from the Admission Representatives from Washington University. One shouldn’t confuse this campus with the University of Washington that is located in Seattle, Washington. This campus is in the mid-west and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. The official title of the school is Washington University in St. Louis. People affectionately call it “Wash U”. You may also see it referred to online as WUSL.
My event is actually a breakfast that the university is hosting in Washington, DC. I am very familiar with WUSL because I lived in St. Louis for four years. I had a lot of exposure to this campus but must admit that I never took the official tour of campus while living in the area.
WUSL is located in one of the nicest sections of St. Louis, Missouri. The campus brings much needed diversity to the St. Louis area. I have spent time on the campus experiencing relevant guest speakers and even took my children to hear Bill Nye the Science guy.
Speaking of diversity— WUSL actually has a Diversity Initiative. The focus of the initiative is to increase racial diversity and gender balance among the University's faculty and staff. According to Director of Admissions, Julie M. Shimabukuro, WUSL students come from all 50 states, Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 65 percent of the undergraduate students come from more than 500 miles away from St. Louis. This factual nugget makes them one of the most geographically diverse campuses in the country. Last year they enrolled thirty-four students from Washington, DC, seventy-four students from Virginia and two hundred sixty-five students from Maryland.
The Private School College Counselors and School Counselors who participated in this informational breakfast shared their experiences with WUSL. “My students are very excited about being part of the Jewish Community,” said one School Counselor from Montgomery County. “My student’s that go to WASHU love it!”
“Our students find Wash U as a viable option,” said one College Counselor from a private school. “We have quite a few students enrolled currently and several have committed to attend next year.”
The audience was heavily populated with private school College Counselors on this particular day. I was glad to hear from WUSL that sixty percent of the students on campus come from a public school. A third of the graduating class most years come from early decision candidates. Director Shimabukuro says that they pull a large percentage from their early decision because the application pool is smaller.
I was excited to learn that the admission staff reads every letter of recommendation that they receive (another great reason that a student should make sure that their counselor actually knows them; I’m just saying). They use these letters to fill in the gaps of the student. Once on campus they want to make sure that they know every student’s name and story.
WUSL allows students to take classes across curriculum. They do an excellent job about making sure that students take classes that interest them. They believe in collaborative learning and students have an opportunity to work closely with professors. An undergraduate office is dedicated to aiding students regarding research. That office may assist with funding or help pair a student to a professor.
I loved hearing about the University Scholars Program in Medicine. The University Scholars Program in Medicine is an opportunity for a select group of talented students to gain admission to both undergraduate study and to the Washington University School of Medicine. Once a student gets into the program they need to keep a 3.8 grade point average. Every student in the program is given a mentor to help ensure their success. They ask for this high standard to ensure that every student is able to get into a medical school if they decide not to attend WUSL’s medical school.
This research base institution ensures that every student has an advisor for four years. This helps the students to stay on track to actually graduate in a four year time span. I believe that parents will find the university’s efforts towards graduating on time very refreshing.
Parents are encouraged to call the Office of Admissions if they have any questions. They really stressed that hearing from a potential student’s household is something that they encourage.
WUSL alum that I know speak of wonderful narratives of their college life. These numerous alum never express any negative experiences. You would not be wasting your time if you looked further into WUSL.
The Academic Tourist Visits IUP
I had the great opportunity to be an Academic Tourist this week. I got to visit the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). I explained to friends that I was visiting IUP and received a mix reaction. “Your going to Indiana? What is an IUP?” Well IUP is located in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The school is Indiana University. The “of Pennsylvania” is added in order to not have confusion with Indiana University located in Bloomington, Indiana. IUP is about a four and half hour drive from the DC Metro area. The school is located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. It is about fifty-five miles northeast of Pittsburgh. This was a very easy and scenic drive from Washington, DC.
I checked the weather earlier in the week in order to dress appropriately. It has been a pretty warm early spring here in DC. The weather report for this western Pennsylvania campus was forty-three degrees. I could deal with forty-three degrees but what I encountered was thirty degrees and SNOW! The snow was an excellent backdrop for visiting this campus.
I say excellent because it was a great way to see the campus in an adverse setting. The snow trickled down from the sky but did not seem to affect the students on campus. I noticed that a large percentage of the students on campus were wearing IUP paraphernalia. Hoodies, sweatpants, t-shirts, and ball caps with IUP or their mascot adorn students at every turn of the campus. I have never visited a campus that represented their school in such a fashion. My visit was in the middle of the week and no athletic events were scheduled that day. For me this showed that the students were very proud of their school.
IUP was founded in 1875 as a normal school. IUP Admission representative, Shannon Gironda shared that a normal school is a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. She added that the school of education is still one of the strongest programs on campus. Criminology is the most popular major on campus. Education is currently the second most popular major.
I was impressed to learn that the student-faculty ratio is 18:1. Thirty percent of the classes have fewer than twenty students in classes. The academic buildings are centrally located and allow for easy access for students to get to class. Students are given 15 minutes to arrive to class and this set up ensures that an IUP student is not late.
The standard bells and whistles are provided regarding the housing options at IUP. Students can live on a coed floor, coed wing or a dorm that has coed options door to door. Students access their dorm (and almost everything else) through their student identification card. The dorm room I visited on my tour displayed a dishwasher. This was a first for me in a dorm room that was not in a suite or apartment style. My tour guide shared that student’s need to be proactive in finding a roommate. According to my tour guide, a questionnaire regarding who a student wants as their roommate to be will not be given to students that are accepted to IUP. What the tour guide suggested is that students should find out what other students need a roommate and then research them on Facebook. The Facebook research, according to the tour guide, was common practice on the IUP campus.
IUP does an excellent job assisting students with disabilities. A student will need to schedule a meeting with the Disability Support Services Office. The Disability Support Services Office helps students with disabilities of all kinds. The Disability Support Services Office will review a student’s 504-plan or I.E.P. Based on the student’s particular needs the university will create accommodations to ensure a student will have an even academic playing field on campus.
The university also supports general education students through their free tutoring services and writing labs. The writing lab will assist students in their writing process. They will assist students but will not do the student’s work.
My tour ended at the Foster Dining Hall. It is one of three dining options on the IUP campus. Foster Dining Hall is an all-you-care-to-eat facility. It gave me an opportunity to observe the IUP students in a relaxed setting. The food was excellent. They have many different options to meet just about anyone’s dietary needs. I started my lunch by creating a very green salad from the facility salad bar. I then proceeded to enjoy a plate of roasted chicken, broiled carrots and cauliflower.
I have visited many college campuses during my many years working as a School Counselor. I must reiterate that this campus had more students wearing IUP paraphernalia than any other campus that I have ever witnessed. I do not smoke cigarettes and I noticed that there was more cigarette smoking on this campus than any other campus I have visited.
I did not notice any sense of religious affiliation by students on this campus. I did not see any flyers inviting student to any religious service in the student center nor did I notice any students wearing any religious attire. I did notice that the students in the dining hall used colorful language. A few of these students did apologize to me regarding their language (I did not ask them to apologize).
Students from the state of Virginia get discounted tuition to attend IUP. The IUP cost for a Virginia resident is $12,614. The in state tuition cost is $8,362. The most expensive in state tuition is the state of Virginia for the 2011 – 2012 academic year was the College of William & Mary at $13,132. The least expensive in state tuition in the state of Virginia for the 2011 – 2012 academic year was Norfolk State University at $6,690. The average cost for a four-year institution (at the in state rate) in the state of Virginia is $9,534.
I found no major blemishes on the IUP campus. I believe the campus is worth the visit. I really like the out of state discount that is offered to students who live in Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. This really gives students and families a really good option. This Academic Tourist enjoyed his day.
Mark Ausbrooks is the Academic Tourist. He occasionally blogs about colleges and universities that he encounters.