In early April I participated in the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) Counselor Tour. LVAIC is a consortium of six unique colleges and universities within the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. They collaborate on various opportunities for students and faculty including class cross registration. This area of Pennsylvania was once best known for the Bethlehem Steel mill, but since it's closing, the area has reinvented itself and has much to offer. A restaurant scene, unique shops, natural beauty, and a thriving medical and health network combine to make this a great area to attend college. LVAIC is comprised of Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College. What I enjoyed most about this tour, aside from the beautiful and picturesque campuses, was that these schools were just minutes apart yet they differentiate themselves with their campus environment, academic opportunities, and success stories. Each has it's own feel and each could provide the right fit for the right student. Here are just a few of my takeaways from each, but I encourage clicking on the school links to explore them further.
Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA): Well known for it’s top-notch theatre and dance program that produces six main stage productions a year. Last year 15 seniors performed senior showcases and agents signed 11 that night. The program also boasts a very strong alumni network in NYC and Los Angeles, many of whom are successful actors and writers. Majors in the sciences are a close second in popularity with numerous research opportunities and a 94% success rate with first time applicants to med school. This is a thriving community of students who are socially aware, very active, and quite supportive of their peers. New program: After becoming the first liberal arts college to have a Public Health minor, they now have a major also.
Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA): Best known historically as an engineering school however it has much to offer beyond that. Arts & Sciences is the largest school and the Business school is quite strong. Entrepreneurial spirit is nurtured with programs in place to carry students from ideas to inception resulting in over 50 start-ups a year. Has 11 ABET accredited engineering programs. All engineers take a common freshman year then declare a major. Engineers can study abroad and be a part of the total college experience (participate in band, theatre, etc). Lehigh has a strong DI athletic culture. Unique offerings:Integrated Product Design (IPD) major that culminates in producing a product; Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) is a four-year honors program that allows students to earn a bachelor degree with concentrations in both colleges like bioengineering and international relations.
Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA): Prides itself, and rightfully so, as a school that “transforms kids.” The president is very active and present on campus hosting office hours and forging relationships with students. He even has a pet greyhound (the school’s mascot) that is well known around campus. This school is a hidden gem. It is a nurturing community with a faculty and administration who know and support each student. All students are given a MacBook and iPad and they are very generous with need-based aid (90% of students receive aid and 98% gift aid). Popular majors: Health Sciences, Public Health, Computer Science, and a robust music program (is a Steinway school).
Lafayette College (Easton, PA): A traditional liberal arts college, but with engineering, that seeks to help students find their passion and engage it in meaningful ways. Five engineering majors are offered and all share the same freshman year courses. As the smallest comprehensive Division I college in the country, Lafayette offers the full college experience with sports, a Greek system, and numerous activities. Students are engaged intellectually, involved, and see the world. Unique programs: Gateway Program in Career Services walks students through career exploration, x-ternships, and coaching to lead to significant plans after graduation; a robust internship stipend program designed to help students who have unpaid or low paying internships.
Cedar Crest College (Allentown, PA): A women’s college emphasizing leadership across all disciplines and civic engagement. They help young women harness their potential to do great things. A well-structured first year experience includes classes, a common read, weekly meetings with one’s mentor/advisor, and a monthly lecture series. Graduation in four years is guaranteed. Popular majors: Forensic Science, Nursing, and the Health Sciences.
DeSales University (Center Valley, PA): A Catholic university administered by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. A rather young institution, it is celebrating is 50th anniversary. An emphasis is put on building the whole person and graduating students who are ethical and will be a positive force in the world. Strong Criminal Justice major that includes training at the Allentown Police Academy. Graduates are immediately hirable as police officers. Popular programs: expansive business program with 11 majors with new ones in Forensic Accounting and Supply Chain Management; Nursing; and TV/Film.