Finally today we get to four very good colleges where the student with A's and B's can get into! Do not confuse ease of acceptance with weakness of education. These are schools where the teaching faculty have their PhD's from the top programs in the country. Their top graduates go on to professional and graduate schools. They are great schools for the student focused on earning an undergraduate degree in four years.
Chapman University Chapman is a medium sized school, located in the city of Orange in Orange County. It has the largest endowment of today's schools at $188 million, and it shows. The campus might remind you of a small Southern Cal. Noted for its undergraduate business school, the College of Performing Arts and the Dodge College of Film and Media arts seem to set the tone on campus. Non theater majors are welcome to try out for theater productions. We spent a good deal of our tour at the Dodge College. The production facilities are modern, state of the art, and everything looks brand new. This is a film school that will admit students with no prior experience, but you will need top grades to get in. The school does not review creative work, but it does ask for a creative resume listing your creative projects. The production costs of your final senior project are not included in your tuition and some students use online crowd sourcing to raise the money. Our tour guide knew of a one project which cost $80,000. Look at Chapman if you want to be in front of the camera, behind the camera or raising money in the studio's front office.
University of La Verne Another medium sized school, this was my favorite college on the tour. Located in La Verne, this is a school that knows its mission and knows its students. They continually reinforce that they will admit students who might need support transitioning to college and graduating on time. This includes first generation students, and transfer students who may have taken the several year "scenic route" through community colleges but are now focused and ready to study. They also take care of their honors students. Freshmen in this program spend the one month January semester studying in the Galapagos Islands. A veteran business school professor summed up the Laverne experience by telling us about one parent who said to him, "Thank you for saving our son." If your high school grades are average, but you feel deep down you're Stanford material, you can come to Laverne, get A's and then head to Stanford. I meet an admissions officer at USC who did exactly that! La Verne isn't for everyone, but if you need a fresh academic start in a very supportive atmosphere, check out La Verne.
University of Redlands Located in Redlands, this school changes lives, but was unfortunately not named in the latest edition of the famous book, "Colleges That Change Lives." It should have been in the book. A quick look though the Biology Department, shows students are taught by PhD's from Cornell, Purdue, Johns Hopkins, Berkeley and Stanford. The unique Johnson Center for Integrative Studies is an honors college where students live together and take their first classes together, then take classes with other students across campus as they design their own major. The campus is the size of USC and the huge lawns are kept green because the school has their own water supply on campus! Redlands is not a religious school, but this is the only school where we met the chaplain! John Walsh holds a divinity degree from Harvard and teaches religion and ethics classes as he did at Middlebury and Princeton. Like the rest of the faculty, he literally could be anywhere, but he chooses to be at Redlands. Head to Redlands if you are a solid student looking for a big version of a small liberal arts college. While Redlands is a little off the beaten path, the faculty are big time and that's where you'll head if you take advantages of the wealth of opportunities here.
Whittier Whittier is small residential college in, guess where, Whittier! Occidental plays up its role in President Obama's life. At Whittier President Nixon, class of 1934, is relegated to being one brick among hundreds on the alumni sidewalk! There is a lot of construction going on at Whittier, which made it hard to get a good campus vibe. It appeared there hadn't been any new construction in a quite a while, so l am hoping this is sign of great things to come. The admissions director told us of students who had wanted to go to Stanford, but didn't get in. They work hard at Whittier, and get into Stanford or similar grad school. For students looking to combine sports with a hands on job, the school has a Kinesiology and Nutrition major. These students go on to careers ranging from physical therapy to sports management. Jim Skipper '73 went on the become the current running backs coach of the Tennessee Titans. Whittier accepts student with GPA's below 3.0. so if you are looking for a small residential experience instead of a commuter CSU or a community college, Whittier may be for you. As the only DIII lacrosse program in California, lacrosse players should definitely check it out.
The next blog in this series will focus on faith based schools.