The College Workout

College Spotlight: University of Arizona

Amy Jasper Thursday, January 21, 2016

The University of Arizona, in the charming city of Tucson, is a flagship public university that definitely does "big" well. 32,000 undergraduates call this palm tree-lined campus home. It is a distinct one square mile biker friendly campus that does not feel large and impersonal. Arizona boasts a transformative environment for its students that produces employable, innovative, and creative adults ready for the world. The University of Arizona does many things (beyond its numerous NCAA accomplishments) quite well. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Its highly regarded Department of Astronomy has the largest undergraduate and PhD programs in the country.
  • The College of Engineering offers 14 undergraduate majors.
  • The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program is one of the highest ranked entrepreneurial programs of public universities.
  • Most unique major: the Race Track Industry program in the School of Agriculture.
  • Offers the nation's only BA in Law. This undergraduate degree is for careers that do not require a law degree.
  • The School of Dance is one of the top five dance programs in the country.
  • The SALT Center (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) is designed to assist students with learning and attention challenges. It is nationally renowned and serves as a model of success for other institutions.
  • Most unique residential offering: Navajo-Pinal Hall which is four floors of dorm rooms under the scoreboard at the football stadium.
  • Wins the Best Weather Award: the campus enjoys 350 days of sunshine a year. 

A Taste of VA Private Colleges

Amy Jasper Monday, February 24, 2014

Southwest Virginia is a beautiful corner of the state that boasts several private colleges. They represent a diverse collection of small colleges, each having a great deal to offer.  I was fortunate to experience them first hand as I toured several in that area. Here's a snapshot of my visits...

 An excellent mass communications program at Emory & Henry gives students a rich media experience not found at many larger programs. Washington and Lee is the only top tier liberal arts college to have a nationally accredited commerce school, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. They also have a speaking (as in saying hello to everyone you pass) tradition on campus. The Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins University prepares young women to deeply explore their own leadership potential. Hollins also has a national powerhouse riding program. Roanoke College has a unique and dynamic core curriculum and close faculty student relationships that all students speak of proudly. Ferrum College is a close-knit family like community with several opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and is one of only two schools in Virginia with a horticulture major (the other is VA Tech). The Jefferson College of Health Sciences offers a BS in Emergency Services with two possible degree tracks: the Paramedic/Firefighter Track and the Paramedic/Critical Care Track. Of course these schools have more many attributes then I have mentioned. Click on their websites for more information. 

 As this small sampling proves, there are colleges to meet the various interests, priorities and goals of college bound students. This year I will continue to visit colleges across the nation. Look for College Spotlights in future newsletters and here in The College Workout. 

SCAD - The University for Creative Ideas

Amy Jasper Monday, September 02, 2013

What happens when you mix modern aspiring creative professionals with one of the South’s most historic and beautiful cities? That would be Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD offers a full university experience (numerous student organizations and championship intercollegiate and intramural sports program including a world class equestrian facility) in a charming and renowned historic district abundant with parks. Savannah is also nicely situated near the beaches of Georgia and South Carolina.

When I approached the admissions office (above picture) the beauty of the building itself was stunning and a clear introduction to the schools commitment to historic preservation  - nearly 70 SCAD facilities, encompassing more than 2 million square feet, are woven into the fabric of Savannah's National Historic Landmark districts, one of our nation’s largest.  When I entered, I was surrounded by interesting artwork, eye-catching fashions, unique furniture, and movie quality animations. Not your typical college admissions office décor and SCAD is far from your typical college. Offering more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university, SCAD successfully prepares talented students for creative careers through programs and signature events such as shopSCAD, Working Class Studio, the Sidewalk Arts Festival, SCAD Style, the annual SCAD Fashion Show, the Savannah Film Festival, and the award winning SCAD Museum of Art.

Founded in 1978, the school set out “to prepare talented students for professional careers, emphasizing learning through individual attention in a positively oriented university environment. The goal of the university is to nurture and cultivate the unique qualities of each student through an interesting curriculum, in an inspiring environment, under the leadership of involved professors.” (SCAD Mission Statement). Thirty-five years later, SCAD is the largest, most comprehensive nonprofit arts university in the nation, awarding degrees (BA, BFA, MA, MFA) in more than 40 areas of study. Examples of majors and minors include animation, accessory design, equestrian studies,  fashion marketing, photography, and urban design. Campuses are located in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste. SCAD prides itself not only in giving students an excellent arts education, but also effective career preparation. Yes, one can create and also pay the bills.

Curious if the art school experience is a fit for you or your student? SCAD Summer Seminars are weeklong workshops for high school students giving them the opportunity to gain a valuable educational experience while developing their creative vision. For the more focused art student, they offer a five-week summer program for rising seniors to enroll in two college-level classes and have the opportunity to build or enhance their visual arts portfolios.

SCAD helps students master the fundamentals of their field through a core curriculum of foundation studies and general education courses that teach skills necessary for success at SCAD and beyond. Undergraduate portfolios, auditions, writing and riding submissions are not required for admission but are accepted from applicants who wish to be considered for achievement scholarships.

Goucher College - Creating Global Citizens

Amy Jasper Monday, January 14, 2013

Location. Location. Location. Goucher College definitely has a location that is appealing to a variety of people. It sits on 300 beautiful sprawling acres yet is only 8 miles from downtown Baltimore. It is walking distance from Trader Joes, Barnes and Noble, and a mall that Macy’s, Apple, and many other stores call home. 

Though not Quaker, Goucher values the Quaker ideals of equity, and justice; and students and professors are all on a first name basis.  Goucher has an innovative multidisciplinary approach to the liberal arts tradition. In 2006 it became the first college in the nation to make study abroad a requirement for all undergraduate degrees. Classroom learning is discussion based with International Studies, Psychology, and Education among its most popular majors. The college also has non-traditional majors such as Peace Studies as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Symbolic of the very essence of Goucher is the landmark Athenaeum. It crosses boundaries, creates harmony, and is LEED Gold certified. This striking building takes mixed used space to a new level. It houses the library, computer commons, amphitheater, art gallery, a cardio-fitness loft (what better way to break-up a late night of studying then hopping on the treadmill), a gourmet café, and the Community Service and Multicultural Affairs Center. It is in the center of the very residential walking campus and serves as its hub. Goucher’s 1,500 students are involved, happy global citizens.
FOr a change of pace they can take courses at Johns Hopkins, UMBC, Loyola, or Towson. All of which are within 15 minutes and a free shuttle ride away. Students speak of how good the food is and how vast the options are. There is a kosher dining hall, a coffee house, and all night dining options as well a more traditional cafeteria.

Goucher has 18 Division III intercollegiate sports and a highly successful Division I indoor and outdoor equestrian program that finished 7th in the country last year.

Goucher admissions process is test-optional. Of admitted students who submitted their scores, the average SAT range was 1030-1270 and the average ACT range was 23-28. The average GPA was a 3.1. It is one of the schools featured in Loren Pope's "Colleges That Change Lives" (CTCL). Find out more about Goucher at and

Campus Spotlight: The College of William & Mary

Amy Jasper Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When Sean, a junior from Long Island, began talking about his major in Neuroscience and his Biology/Chemistry minor, it was clear that he fit a stereotype of the William & Mary student. When he passionately spoke about his neuro-degenerative lab research on Huntington's Disease, there was no doubt that this was a brainy (no pun intended) kid who loved to learn. However it was when he began talking about his non-academic passions: collecting food from local restaurants at night to be used to feed the hungry, cheering on the Tribe football team with a painted face, or playing a mean game of ultimate Frisbee with his hall mates, it became evident that his experience reached far beyond the classroom and included a great deal of fun.

Self-described as being "Smart, Fun, and Diverse," William & Mary seems to live up to all three descriptors. There is an intellectual culture that not only promotes classroom learning but also the application of thoughts, ideas, and passions to other dimensions of the college experience. Hundreds of student clubs and organizations (including an alive and well Greek system) offer a multitude of options for social and/or active fun, service, and activism. This is a place where students that represent a variety of life experiences and ideas are celebrated and contribute to the diverse fabric of the school.

As a college that prides itself in being the second oldest in the country, the alma mater of four US presidents dating back to Thomas Jefferson, and the home of numerous firsts, William and Mary is very much a part of the here and now. They value a worldview, so much so that among Virginia state schools it has the highest percent of students who study abroad. Students are involved in cutting edge research and learning opportunities, faculty accessibility is a reality, and a passion for learning is a must. Students are encouraged to explore the curriculum, and in true liberal arts fashion, writing exist regardless of the subject.

William and Mary is a state school, in Williamsburg, Virginia. It accepts the Common Application with two supplemental essays. Admission is competitive. 80% of admitted students with a class rank are in the top 10% of their class. The middle 50% range for the SAT (CR+M) is 1240-1450. The middle range for the ACT is 28-32.


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