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Your One-Stop, College Admissions Connection: Virtual College Fair

We’ve said it before.  The best way to choose your own path is to visit a college campus… or three.  Breathe the air.  Wander the student center.  Sit in on a lecture.  Chat up a few professors.  Grab a meal in the dining hall.  Stroll through the quad.

But the college search doesn’t usually start with a visit to campus.  You might begin by looking at websites or admissions booklets, or attending a college fair to learn more.  Pixels and pages are a start, but nothing beats talking to a person, and college fairs can be time consuming to attend.  Now, there’s a solution!

Enter the Virtual College Fair.  It’s never been easier to connect with a college admissions office and get your big questions answered.

The Virtual College Fair offers free access to video recordings and live streams from Michigan’s top private colleges and universities.  Watch the recordings, pick your favorites (or pick them all!), and then register – individually or with your family – to attend a live and interactive web-based Q&A session with admissions and other college representatives.  Learn more here.

Like what you hear?  Reach out to the college to continue the conversation and maybe even schedule a visit!

Upcoming Live Q&A Sessions

November 14, 2018 at 7 PM:  University of Detroit Mercy
November 15, 2018 at 7 PM:  Hillsdale College
November 27, 2018 at 7 PM:  Alma College
November 27, 2018 at 8 PM:  Aquinas College
November 28, 2018 at 7 PM:  Madonna University
November 29, 2018 at 7 PM:  Albion College
November 29, 2018 at 8 PM:  Calvin College
December 6, 2018 at 7 PM:  Spring Arbor University

Irish Dance and Culture at Aquinas College

Aquinas College loves Irish culture!  Since the early ’70s, Aquinas has embraced Ireland. As the only college in Michigan to offer an Irish Studies minor, Aquinas’ interdisciplinary program offers a comprehensive understanding of Irish culture in both historical and contemporary contexts. For more than 40 years, students and faculty have studied in Tully Cross, Ireland, to gain a unique perspective of Irish history and culture.  And new in fall 2018, Aquinas students can now join the only Michigan collegiate Irish Dance Club to offer scholarships to dance athletes!

Trained Irish dancers enrolling with previous experience will have the opportunity to continue their love and study of Irish dance, music and culture. Eligible students can earn annual scholarships to join the club team. Dancers will collaborate and choreograph dances under the direction of Liz Heinzman, TCRG, and showcase these dances at performances and competitions against other teams.

The club will also offer workshops to non-experienced students who would like to learn the basics of Irish dance.

“ Aquinas has embraced Ireland, providing three signature programs that allow students to immerse themselves in the culture through study, experience and dance.”
– President Kevin G. Quinn

Learn more at aquinas.edu/irish-dance.
For information about Aquinas’ Irish Studies program, visit aquinas.edu/irish.

Major Gift to Albion College Will Transform U.S. Pre-Medical Education

The Wilson Institute for Medicine, created through a $5.1 million gift from Lisa and James Wilson, ’79 ’77, will empower faculty across disciplines to meet head-on the rapidly evolving medical-school landscape.

Through updates and enhancements to the curriculum, Albion will be at the vanguard of American pre-med programs.

 

With medical education’s significant changes in the 21st century—recalibrating to give increased emphasis to the discipline’s universal human and social aspects—there is growing concern in the field that the core pre-medical curriculum, virtually unchanged for decades, must similarly adapt.

Some say the need is urgent. And a major gift to Albion College will put the liberal arts institution out in front nationally, leading the way in closing the undergraduate preparation gap.

In what amounts to a $5.1 million statement, Dr. James Wilson, ’77, and Lisa Wilson, ’79, have established the Lisa and James Wilson Institute for Medicine at Albion College. It’s the largest gift by an individual or couple in the history of the College, which quickly has seen a distinct goal emerge on campus as it forms plans and action steps for the months and years ahead.

“It’s time for us to once again take the lead in innovating pre-medical education,” said Dr. Mauri Ditzler, president of Albion College. “Medical schools have changed dramatically in the last decade. We need to make certain that pre-medical education keeps up with that. We’ve always been a leader in this field; it’s time for us to be a role model.”

An evolution from the former Institute for Healthcare Professions, the Wilson Institute for Medicine will rethink and advance undergraduate teaching and preparation so that all Albion students who aspire to become physicians can realize their dreams in a fast changing medical-education environment. Through updated and more pertinent pre-med and pre-health coursework, Albion students will have a competitive advantage in gaining entrance to top-tier medical schools and in their overall career paths.

“People have been thinking about this idea for a while, but no one has really tackled it yet,” said Dr. Bradley Rabquer, associate professor of biology and director of the Wilson Institute for Medicine. “As the MCAT has changed, as medical schools have revamped their curricula, there is this large gap at the pre-med side, in the undergraduate curriculum. So we’re really striking while the iron is hot. The opportunity now is great.”

Increasingly, medical schools are incorporating patient care and interaction—traditionally the focus of the later clinical years—into the curriculum’s first two years, which previously had been dominated by “heavy, hard sciences” according to Rabquer. Today, he said, “there is more exposure to patients earlier, an emphasis on caring for people right at the start.”

This fall, a group of 10 faculty from the departments of Anthropology and Sociology, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics and Psychological Science will review changes in medical school curricula, read current literature on some of the resulting outcomes, and begin to merge those findings with current best practices in undergraduate teaching. Following that pedagogical groundwork, the professors will move into course development in the winter and spring, Rabquer said, “so that we can roll out some new integrated, novel courses in time for the fall 2019 semester.”

The Institute, and Albion’s intentions, are already being noticed at the medical-school level.

“The practice of clinical medicine has changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years,” said Dr. James Woolliscroft, professor of medicine and former dean of the University of Michigan Medical School. “And yet when you think about the whole preparation that students go through in their undergraduate years, it hasn’t changed that much. Prerequisites to most medical schools have remained essentially constant for over a hundred years despite dramatic changes in the practice of medicine and the scientific basis thereof.

“It’s very timely that this is being looked at and readdressed,” Woolliscroft continued. “I see Albion leading what will hopefully be a national movement of liberal arts colleges who are intent on preparing their students not for the past, but for the future.”

The gift follows several years of conversation between Albion faculty and the Wilsons, acknowledging a gap that appeared to be widening in the discipline and tapping into their passions and expertise to do something about it.

“We’re at a time in the whole ecosystem of medical schools and colleges and residency programs where this kind of change would be welcome,” said Dr. Wilson, Rose H. Weiss Orphan Disease Center director’s professor and director of the gene therapy program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan after graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in chemistry from Albion. “I’m confident that the Albion College community will have the resolve and the agility to be able to move in this very different and transformative direction.”

“Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many of the students Jim has taught who have worked in his lab, and I saw their struggles and I saw how difficult it was for them,” said Lisa Wilson, who after receiving her B.A. in economics and management from Albion worked in hospital administration for a number of years. “What I hope the Institute accomplishes is that every pre-med student at Albion College who qualifies and works really hard reaches their dream to become a doctor.”“Our hope,” Jim added, “is that with the kind of resources we can bring and leverage to bring in other resources, we can enable this to happen.”

And Albion College, its president added, is the ideal place to fulfill the vision.

“A liberal arts college like Albion is nimble. We can make changes in a year or two that a bigger institution might take a decade to accomplish,” said Ditzler, himself a chemist by training. “The innovative work we’re doing in pre-medical education through the Wilson Institute should not be underestimated. This is a fundamental change in the way we and others will think about preparing students to become doctors. But it’s something that we’re well prepared for. The faculty and staff from all over the institution, as well as our alumni, are committed to making this work.”

Alma College Alternative Fall Breaks Include Local Service Options

Students learn about the impact of genocide, interact with special needs youth, remove invasive shrubs and participate in wildlife rehabilitation during Alma College’s Alternative Fall Break.

Alma College’s mission is to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.  Students of Alma College strive to take this mission statement and transform it into a way of living. One example of these efforts is the nearly 200 students who participate in the Alma College Alternative Break Program.

This program began in 2003 as a single service trip with 20 participants. Students now participate in 10 or more volunteer opportunities throughout the course of the academic year.

Alma College had the third highest percentage of alternative breakers last year according to the Break Away national survey. A total of 193 schools responded to this survey hosted by the national organization supporting the development of alternative break experiences.

Alternative Fall Breaks offer several one- or two-day trips across the State of Michigan. Meanwhile, the holiday and spring service options allow students to serve throughout the nation for an entire week. More information on fall service and upcoming trip options can be found at https://www.alma.edu/academics/experiential-learning/leadership-programs/alternative-breaks.php.

“I went on my first Alternative Break in the spring of 2017. The destination was Mammoth Caves National Park and the experience was wonderful,” says program student co-leader Erin Goggins of Hastings. “Learning about the environment, making new friends and serving others have made this program extremely important to me.”

“Helping others become active citizens in the community is something else that I find especially great about organizing these trips,” says Goggins. “I am thankful that Alma College has provided me with the opportunity to do this.”

Adrian College Welcomes 1,500 Visitors to Campus for Annual Sneak Peek Day

Adrian College hosted its annual Sneak Peek Day in July, welcoming over 1,500 attendees to campus.  As in the past, the event offers visiting freshmen a glimpse of campus accommodations, student life and the opportunity to meet with their roommates to plan for the fall semester. Students and their families perused the Adrian College Bookstore, dined at Ritchie Marketplace and toured around the Mall to meet fellow incoming Bulldogs.

Corinne Fereshetian, a freshman from Farmington Hills, Michigan, attended Sneak Peek Day despite previously touring campus on recruitment visits. “I am so excited to start school at AC this fall. The campus is beautiful and everyone is always friendly,” she said. “I am most looking forward to spending time in all of the new facilities and cheering on other teams in Arrington.”

Staff and faculty were available throughout the event to answer questions, discuss the upcoming fall semester and provide a first-hand tour to incoming students, family and friends.  Sneak Peek Day also provided full access academic buildings and dorms, as well as offered drawings with prizes such as mini-fridges and an iPad. Many students also pre-registered for their fall classes in anticipation of Welcome Week in August.

“It was really helpful to have so many professors and students on campus during Sneak Peek Day, but I also liked that we had our own time to explore campus,” said Elizabeth Hume from Wheaton, IL. “Being on this kind of campus is so unique because you’re able to get to know all of your classmates, and there are ample opportunities for every single person to excel both in and outside the classroom.”

Experience the magic of Sneak Peek Day, check out the recap video!

Ready to visit a campus for yourself?  Check out our listing of on campus events and visit days.

How Michigan colleges and Google are Reinventing Classroom Learning

When Alma College Professor Anthony Collamati sat down with all the students in his winter semester Media Theory and Culture class for the first time, the course was almost over.

You read that right.

Collamati was part of a revolutionary pilot program led by the Michigan Colleges Alliance that allowed students at Alma, Albion and Calvin colleges to take courses at member campuses using video conferencing technology from Google and interactive 55-inch “jamboards” to communicate.

That means Collamati had seven students in a classroom at Alma, six Albion undergraduates dialed in from their campus and three from Calvin attending from Grand Rapids.

The collaboration between the Michigan Colleges Alliance — a group of 14 of Michigan’s best private colleges and universities working together to provide opportunities for students in and outside of the classrooms — Google, which donated technology, and Steelcase, which outfitted learning environments for optimal communication, is the first-of-its-kind nationally.

The idea behind the interactive multi-campus class sharing is to maximize limited resources and provide students wider learning opportunities, said Michigan Colleges Alliance President Dr. Bob Bartlett.

“Nothing like this is happening in the country other than right here,” Bartlett said recently to students and instructors involved in the pilot. “It’s cutting edge. You’re a part of something brand new and it’s happening right here in Michigan and with Michigan Colleges Alliance.”

“We’re on to something that is going to have a national scope. I think that’s pretty exciting.”

Students agreed with Bartlett’s assessment.

Nichole Brown, an Albion junior studying math, was part of Collamati’s class. She registered for the section specifically to experience and learn the technology. Brown said any initial skepticism ended with the interactive nature and excitement of being part of something new.

“This is opening up opportunity for students to take classes we’ve never had access to and to be a part of something that’s never been done,” Nichole said. “Technology has such a wide range of applications in other fields that learning it now will benefit me later.”

The pilot was structured around three classes that are unique to the school or typically have lower student registrations. Bartlett said the courses, “Earth, Art and the Environment” offered through Albion, “Visual Sociology” through Calvin, and Collamati’s, were chosen to highlight that the program could tackle demanding topics.

Collamati described building a close connection to and between the students despite the distance between the campuses. He and the students had to lean-in and engage each other, developing seminar-style robust discussions. Each class session felt like an event, Collamati said.

“It supports the type of personalized teaching that we value and know is most valuable,” Collamati said.

Collamati reflected on the recent lunch at which he physically met two-thirds of his students, saying it didn’t feel like their first encounter.

“I knew their personalities just like I would if they had been sitting in front of me the entire semester,” he said.

The colleges are studying how to improve the experience while planning to expand the partnership in Fall 2018 to include seven classes. Roman Williams, a Calvin College sociology professor who taught one of the three pilot classes, said the evaluation will help all parties understand the program’s strengths and how it can develop.

“We have a hunch that there are two entirely different experiences when you’re in class and when you’re video-conferenced in,” he said. “What are those differences?  How did the student react and how did the professor adapt? I know, for me, the technology forced me to reinvent some of the ways I taught and I think it challenged everyone for the better.”

The second edition of the collaboration will focus on more traditional math and science courses to explore how the technology works in those arenas.

Bartlett praised the institutions for being innovative.

“Our presidents are really visionary and wanted to create something different, something exciting for students,” he said. “I’m amazed at the degree of collaboration that I’ve seen in this process. The way work gets done now is what our students are experiencing in the classroom. Everyone is working together to lay the tracks for our future.”

 

Questions to Ask on your Next College Visit

Colleges offer open houses and campus tours all year long. But summer can be a great, low stress time to schedule a campus roadtrip. Nothing beats getting your feet on the ground to decide if a college is the right fit for you, so don’t wait to schedule one (or three). Absorb the tours but wander off the beaten path. Talk to students in the bookstore. Go to the campus coffee shop.

Is this a place you can picture yourself? So much of campus tours are about feel but it can be an overwhelming process. There’s a lot to absorb. Take lots of notes and snapshots to refresh your memory in a few months.

If you need a kick starter on things to ask, here are some questions to pose to yourself and your tour guide:

College and Campus

  • Is the size and location of the campus appealing to you?
  • Is the character of the campus appealing to you?
  • Do the programs and majors offered fit your potential career interests?
  • What type of orientation introduces a new student to campus life?
  • Are there stimulating social and intellectual opportunities — lectures, debates, concerts? Are they well attended by faculty and students?
  • Where do most students live — on or off campus?
  • What percentage of students return the following year?
  • What is the graduation rate after 4 years? 6 years?

Teaching and Advising

  • What is the average class size?
  • Who teaches first-year classes — professors or teaching assistants?
  • How much exposure to top faculty will students have in their first two years?
  • How extensively does the college rely on part-time or adjunct faculty?
  • Are faculty members available to talk to first-year students about their academic disciplines and provide career guidance?
  • What kind of email availability and office hours do professors offer?
  • How many students are assigned to an academic advisor? Will the advisor be a professor?
  • Is good teaching valued and used as a criterion for tenure and promotion?
  • Does teaching include more than lecturing? Are students encouraged to work together, to discuss topics in class, to do self-directed independent projects?
  • Can students work with a faculty member doing academic or scientific research while they are undergraduates?
  • Do students participate in a senior seminar or design a senior project to demonstrate mastery of their major field of study?
  • How is technology used in teaching and learning?

Support Services

  • Does the college have a program to identify students having academic or personal issues, and programs to help them?
  • Are tutors, skill centers, writing assistance, counselors provided?
  • What kind of tools, resources and training does the library provide?
  • What kind of technology (Wi-Fi, laptops, computer labs, etc.) is available?

Beyond the Classroom

  • What happens after class and on weekends?
  • Do students take advantage of athletic, cultural, religious or other campus events?
  • What kind of off-campus or study abroad programs does the college offer? What percentage of students participate?
  • What internship or career exploration opportunities are available?
  • What kinds of student organizations are on campus?

Values

  • How does the college demonstrate a commitment to diversity?
  • What opportunities are there for community service and/or religious activities?
  • How do students treat each other?

Careers

  • What services does the career development office provide?
  • What kind of careers do alumni have?
  • Do alumni help identify opportunities for recent grads?
  • What kinds of networking opportunities exist for alumni?

As you map your college roadtrip, include a few of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities on your list. The colleges are purposefully smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often comparable in cost to Michigan’s public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates, outstanding faculty who help students forge their own paths, and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Alma College Cheer Team Wins National Championship

The Alma College Cheerleading team won its second consecutive National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) championship this April.  Being at the top is a way of life for the Alma Scots cheerleaders.  Alma’s cheer program is in its sixth year of existence and has finished second or better in each of its last five appearances at the NCA College Nationals.  Way to go Scots!