South East College Visits

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: South East College Visits
By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 09:25 am: Edit

We just finished a trek to the southeast to look at colleges with DD. We went to University of Richmond, College of Charleston, U of South Carolina, Davidson, and Elon. I'll post two schools at a time, starting here with U of Richmond and College of Charleston.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND- This was our first stop on an 11 day trip. The campus of Richmond is located in a suburban area way outside of the city of Richmond itself. The campus is quite nice. BUT DD did not even want to get out of the car. She just didn't like it. Nevertheless, we had an appointment so we went. The info session was less than inspiring. A recent grad who is working in admissions gave a presentation and requested questions. To be honest, she really didn't "sell" the school. Our tour guide was very good. He did a much better job of selling the school than did the adcom. Still, the campus is quite conservative. The tour guide said that students really don't go to Richmond (except when the eating clubs....another name for women's sororities...have parties there) and that there is action on the campus. We couldn't figure out where that action would be taking place. The dorms were so so. The student center was drab. Impression: DD hated the place. So did we.

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON- This was the second stop on our tour. Charleston is a terrific small city, very nice downtown, lots of history. The campus itself is set in the middle of the downtown and is somewhat enclosed (unlike BU for example which stretches all over Boston). This school won the "presentation" and "dorm" prizes. The presentation started with a short video of students that was shown while the group was assembling in the visitor center (an incredible OLD building). Then we went on our walking tour. This school puts a LOT of money into upgrading facilities. A new library will be opening this spring. A Jewish Studies center opened this year. Dorms (with one exception) have been renovated. The main student dining hall was undergoing renovation this summer. Our tour guide was knowledgable and made the hour long walk in sweltering heat quite good. Then there was a presentation done by an adcom. It was a VERY well done Power Point presentation that highlighted just about anything you would need or want to know about a college campus. Many folks (including students) asked questions. While this is a public university, it has a liberal arts curriculum. In fact, the presentation really explained well a liberal arts education in general, as well as how C of C provides this. Oh...the dorms...they were very nice, all suites except one dorm, bright, roomy, clean ( was summer, but not all the dorms we saw were clean), good common areas, close to everything. Impression: DD loved the school philosophy of a liberal arts education, and she loved the town. I will add that if you have never been to Charleston, you should go. It is one of the nicest towns I've seen in the country. DD will likely apply there.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 09:47 am: Edit

Next we went to

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA- I will say that we spent four days in Columbia visiting friends. The town itself "needs some work". We had driven on the outskirts of U of SC and weren't particularly impressed. We almost cancelled our tour. We are glad we didn't!! This school is NOT a driveby. The tour is a must. The tour guides were actually in charge of the information and tour. Ours knew everything there was to know including admission criteria, demographics, and numbers of majors. He was terrific. The tour took two hours (yes, it was hot!!). The campus is absolutely gorgeous, comparable to campuses we visited with DS that are more reknowned (like U of Maryland). We think this school is a rising star in southern state schools. While Columbia isn't much, the university itself has a multitude of activities and things to do all the time. The campus is large enough to support these activities. Academics look to be good, and the honors college is a realistic option. Dorms were spacious, but the one we saw had no sprinkler system in the rooms (something we thought odd, especially in light of the Seton Hall fire). On a whim, we walked down to the performing arts center which is relatively new. The music admissions head was there and took time from her lunch to see us...without an appointment. She was a TERRIFIC ambassador for the school. DD wants to continue playing her oboe in college. This music person actually encouraged her to apply and audition as they award merit aid to non-majors especially in needed instruments (oboe being one of those). She also told DD to apply for admission to the honor college. My suggestions: If you go on this campus tour, try to arrange in individual adcom discussion. We didn't, but we're glad we spoke to the music admissions head. When we got home DD emailed her quickly and got a response asking for a "resume" of sorts so she could start a file on DD (dd sent this immediately). Impressions: DD loved the university (didn't think she would like a big school, but she did), but wasn't particularly impressed with the town. She will likely apply there.

DAVIDSON- Davidson is just north of Charlotte NC. It is small, about 1600 students. We had been told that it was much like Amherst or Williams but in a warm climate. After visiting there, I would agree with that assessment. The day began with a tour. Our tour guide was very good, knew much of the information we would have asked. The campus is gorgeous, but the dorms were unimpressive...roomy, but otherwise nothing special. The school has fabulous facilities. Student classrooms, performing arts center were first rate. The pool was one of the best we've ever seen (dd is a swimmer, but Davidson is Division I so she would be looking at swimming as a club sport). They do the laundry for the kids (you hang your bag out and two days later it is returned pressed and folded)...go ahead, ask why?? The whole school is wireless...every inch. They have a strong honor code. Our guide said that students can leave their laptops sitting on the college green and be sure that it will be there when they return...not something I want MY kids to learn in the "real world". The science building was very impressive as was the art building (each student in art gets their own studio). International studies are encouraged. Following our tour, dd had an individual meeting with an adcom who was great. She can play her oboe there, and they too provide merit aid for students doing so. Impressions: All of us were impressed with the facilities. DD was surprised she liked a small school like this in such a small college town. She'll make a decision about application after taking the PSAT and SAT tests. The school has more than half of its students from private or parochial schools. When scanning their student book, it appeared that the publics represented were from very wealthy areas of our state (the only ones we really knew). DD isn't sure about those demographics, but she liked the school.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 09:59 am: Edit

And then....we went to

ELON- Elon is a medium sized liberal arts school located between Greensboro and Chapel Hill. The campus is very pretty (US News rated it the second prettiest campus...we heard that at least 10 times on our tour). The day started with an info session. First there was a movie, very well done, then a talk with an adcom who was very knowledgable and personable. Most of our questions were answered there by him (without us having to ask them). Then we started our tour. Our guide knew his stuff, but he wasn't particulary enspiring. While the campus exterior was gorgeous, the interiors left much to be desired. Classrooms were not particularly notable....just plain classrooms. The dining hall wasn't anything special. The pool was drab. The library was very nice, and well appointed. We didn't get much of an impression about what the students actually DO there, but the guide said there was plenty to do. When we returned to the visitor center (in the main student center, which was one of the few buildings that was nice both inside and out), dd asked her "can I play the oboe?" question. The response she received was a curt "no". Impressions: This school wasn't all we had heard it was and perhaps that was our problem with it. Many from the Northeast rave about this place. Don't get me was just didn't impress us as being as terrific as we had been led to believe it would be. DD didn't like it enough to keep on her list.

JUST A NOTE: We also drove through Wake Forest (DD wouldn't get out of the car...she hated it...since we didn't have an appointment we just kept on driving). We also drove through UNC Greensboro where we DID get out of the car. We all wished we had scheduled a tour there. It seemed like a very nice place. The tour person gave us some driving/walking tour information. To be honest, if we hadn't been "colleged out" by then, we would have taken their tour. Instead we drove around and found the campus to be quite nice. We would love to hear about the programs.

DD would like to visit U of San Diego, Southern Methodist University, Emory, U of Miami, Drexel, and maybe Vanderbilt. Good thing she is a rising junior!!

By Cangel (Cangel) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:01 am: Edit

Thanks Thumper. We had a different impression of Richmond, and, funny, the adcom did a better job selling the school than the tour guide did. The dorms do vary a lot, and there are still a few (?2) unairconditioned dorms left. The tour guide seemed to indicate that all would be airconditioned by fall 2005. It was unclear to me whether freshmen got better or worse dorms than sophs - I think there's been lots of shifting around of who's in which dorm.
Up until very recently (2004 or 2003) Richmond's campus was divided into women on one side of the lake and men on the other - coed classes were held on both sides, but the dorms were segregated. After much discussion of how much tradition to give up, it was decided to keep single sex dorms, just mix them up on both sides of the lake.
The importance of this is that Rich has always had separate student government structures - it provides many of the leadership opportunities of a women's college in the setting of a coed school. The separate leadership councils were retained. Lest you think it too Southern - the only Richmond grad I actually know, is one of the most matter-of-fact people, non-traditional, non-Southern person you could meet (transplanted Californian).

Richmond is larger than its (for our family) chief competitor Rhodes College. It has a business school and a small law school. They are building a new science facility - one of the school's weaknesses, and the library is relatively small, but they rely heavily on the VCU/MCV library which is convenient.

This is a school where you need a car, particularly after freshmen year. Rich doesn't have the charm of Charleston (it all burned down) but it's heaven for history buffs, really close to DC, 2 hours to ski, 2 hours to beach, 2 hours to the AT, 45 miles to Williamsburg, 2 amusement parks within 45 miles, great funky small restaurants in town (I lived there for 4 years, it's a great place, just not walkable). UR is at the edge of one of the finest mid-century neighbors in the city, it's down a windy secluded road, kind of up behind the country club, so it's not walkable to the small shops, restaurants, etc.

Thanks Thumper, keep them coming - CofC isn't on our list for the same reason Rice isn't, DD is looking for a different climate - I'm waiting for Elon and Davidson.

By Kinshasa (Kinshasa) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:44 am: Edit

Thumper1, I also noticed on our tours that colleges are becoming completely wireless. They brag that you can sit on a big grassy lawn and connect to the internet from your laptop. Our American University adcom was similar to yours at Richmond-- AU grad who really didn't sell the school, but the worst tour guide we had of all nine colleges. Davidson may do the laundry, but George Washington had maid service once a week to clean the bathrooms and "vaccuum whatever part of the floor they could see."

I posted the second part of my report (NYU and Drew). Thanks for sharing your impressions. Even if S isn't interested in your D's schools, I like to read other views.

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 06:03 pm: Edit

Thumper1-Thank you for posting My D has done 2 trips back east to see colleges and still is no closer to knowing where she wants to go. She is thinking the Northeast will be to cold. How did the political climate seem on the schools you visited? Would someone who sports a free Tibet sticker on her car feel out of place?

By Parentofteen (Parentofteen) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:33 pm: Edit

Thumper1, Out of curiosity, what was it about Wake Forest that turned your daughter off so immediately? Of course, I am somewhat biased as an alum, but of all the campuses we toured last year, Wake's tour and info program were superior to any of the others. Also, the grounds (main quad which you probably did not see by car) were the best kept and greenest of any we saw. And, too, the dorms were the cleanest and best maintained we noticed. The Davidson dorm we entered was hot, although it was air-conditioned, and the walls were in desperate need of a paint job.

My daughter did not choose to apply to Wake, but she was not turned off at all. She just felt the need to go where her mom and dad did not go for college.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 06:37 pm: Edit

To be honest, I don't know what my daughter didn't like about Wake Forest. I agree that the campus is lovely and from all reports and info we have received, the academic programs are outstanding. Go figure.

RE: the political climate...we didn't have a sense of this across the region particularly. Our sense was that U of Richmond, and perhaps Davidson (to a lesser degree) were very conservative schools. The larger schools seemed to be more diverse in their political views (even making some jokes about politics on the tours).

We tried to get DD to look at William and Mary too...her comment "I don't want to go to school in Williamsburg. It's like Disneyworld for senior citizens." Her opinion...

I will say that a kid's "feel" for a school should not be discounted. If it doesn't feel right for them, it's not the right place for them to attend, in my opinion.

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 09:38 pm: Edit

Did she consider taking a look at Furman University in Greenville, SC?

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 10:13 pm: Edit

>>Did she consider taking a look at Furman University in Greenville, SC?>>

We were just looking at the Furman website before I logged on here! It turns out her summer oboe teacher knows the oboe teacher there and recommended it. We'll see where that goes!!

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:57 pm: Edit

My daughter starts her freshman year there next month. While she is not majoring in music, we understand that the music program there is excellent, particularly for those interested in music education. Good luck in your search. She looked at 40 schools over a 2-year period...and ended up attending the very last one she visited!

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:04 am: Edit

Clarification about dd...she does not want to major in music. She wants to continue playing the oboe and take lessons as a non-major. That is one college selection criteria...the second is a warm climate (thus the trip to the south).

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:41 pm: Edit

I know that Furman offers lessons for non-majors in most instruments as well as voice. Just saw the fee schedule for such lessons for this fall. As an aside, I just met someone this past week who is studying oboe at Furman. Hope it offers another school option for you!

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:10 pm: Edit

This thread is fabulous.Thank you for the information.Furman is one of the 'new Ivy League'. How does it compare with Clemson?

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 02:18 pm: Edit

That's a tough question. Clemson is large and public, with an enthusiastic football team followship!! Furman is small and private with solid sports, football not being the strongest (an understatement there!). I believe Furman won the national rugby title a couple of years ago, and women's tennis and golf are excellent.

Clemson offers gradaute work through PhD, and I have heard good things about its pre-med program. It is "ranked" just behind Virginia Tech in a cohort with Baylor and SUNY-Binghamton. The listed SAT range is 1110-1310. I know Clemson offers academic/merit scholarships that are even available to out-of-state students (know 3 who attended on such scholarships).

Furman offers a few masters programs, mostly in eduation. It has exceptionally strong programs in music, music education, and political science. It is "ranked" in a cohort with Dickinson and Skidmore Colleges. SAT range is 1170-1380.

Comparison is difficult since we are talking about large state school versus small private school. Geographically, they are located about 40 minutes apart in upstate South Carolina. Perhaps someone else on this forum will have better and more detailed information for comparison.

By Faline (Faline) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 12:09 am: Edit

Good evening
Just a parent who is a Furman graduate. Anyone interested in Furman...It is a place where your son or daughter will have full professors teaching them every minute in warm and personal classrooms. They are really the greatest strength at Furman and quite diverse and challenging individuals.
the campus is gorgeous if somewhat set north from town and therefore quietly set apart..and there is a large student service ethic so you will get into Greenville agencies. Greenville is now a small New South boom town and no longer a tired mill city. The wonderful Asheville NC area is only a jaunt up the road for relaxation and most of the kids seem to be from Atlanta, Charlotte and other large Southern cities. I think Furman wants to diversify and admissions office is very friendly and wants to admit kids from other regions and backgrounds..and that the issues with the kids being unicultural and also naive re religious diversity are improved. They do a great job with grad school prep and yes the music department is especially good. Keith Lockhart was in the class behind me. But the chem, psych and poli sci depts are also very strong and facilities are kept up. Give it a look.

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