Blog - Category: fun

Fun summer activities that can help you get into your school of choice

School is usually the last thing on a students mind once summer break begins. However, if you’re finishing your junior year, that might not apply to you. With college on the horizon, here is a list of (still) fun summer activities that might turn some heads in admissions and help you get into the school of your choice!

  • Road trip! Visit a few colleges you are interested in and make some connections at each campus. BONUS: If you visit any of our fourteen campuses and take a picture using the hashtag #WeAreTheIndependents you’ll be entered into our scholarship drawing that takes place every month. Four winners are drawn each month and get $2,000 to go to any of our member campuses! If you visit all fourteen schools you’ll be entered into the drawing fourteen times! Cha-Ching!
  • Travel abroad. Learning how to navigate outside your comfort zone shows some serious skills.
  • Make a website. This could be a website all about you and your interest and accomplishments. When applying for schools this would be a great asset to have.
  • Volunteer for an outside activity in your community. Gardening, cleaning up trash, and planting trees are all things you can do while still enjoying the nice summer weather.
  • Start a charity! Be that young entrepreneur that runs a lemonade stand and donates the proceeds.

There is already enough to stress about when it comes to preparing for college. These activities ensure that preparing for the next step can be fun!

Alma College Cheer Team Wins National Championship

Alma’s cheer program started six years ago, and to-date the Alma cheer team has placed second or better in their past 5 appearances at National Cheer Association College Nationals.  Most recently, the team has won their second consecutive national championship. Way to go Scots!

Michigan Colleges Alliance takes Second in Stryker Engineering Challenge.

Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) and its team of four engineering students finished second out of seven teams in the most recent Stryker Engineering Challenge. MCA competed against six teams from University of Notre Dame, Michigan Tech University, Western Michigan University, Miami University of Ohio, and Purdue University. Michigan Colleges Alliances beat out everyone, except for Michigan Tech University, who took first place in the competition.

Their team was a collective team of engineering students from two of their 14 schools, Andrews University and Calvin College. Levi Vande Kamp from Calvin College and Eric Anderson, Darrick Horton, and Justin Wiley from Andrews University made up the MCA team.

Gunnar Lovhoiden, a professor of engineering at Andrews University, supported the MCA team at the competition.

“I think our team worked really well together. Their design worked well and they represented MCA with honor. Second place—how about that,” says Lovhoiden.

This is the 8th year of the Stryker Engineering Challenge. The competition this year was held on March 22nd and 23rd.

 Left to right: Darrick Horton (Andrews), Eric Anderson (Andrews), Justin Wiley (Andrews), Levi Vande Kamp (Calvin). (Photo by Gunnar Lovhoiden, professor of engineering)

The Final Stretch: Tips to Finish your Winter Semester

After having a week off for Spring Break, experiencing a post Easter Sunday food coma, and with March Madness coming to an end, there’s not much left to distract you until the end of the semester. Which means you have only one choice: start studying for finals! <<Que the dramatic music “Dun-Dun-Duuuun!>>  It’s always hard to get back into a routine. At the end of your spring semester, it can be especially hard to regain focus. HELLO SUMMER! Here are a few tips to ensure you finish the semester strong and can fully enjoy your summer.

  1. Make a List

Sounds simple, but make a list of assignments and goals that are both personal and academic, and use that list to motivate you.

2. Plan

Planning your path can help you accomplish your goals strategically and manage your time efficiently. Most importantly, you won’t forget anything.

3. Reward yourself with some breaks

Celebrate your accomplishments. Treating yourself with study breaks to avoid information overload will keep you sane and motivated to work towards your goals.

4. Talk to your teachers

Its okay if you’re having trouble understanding some of your coursework or need some . Tap in to the great resource you have in your teachers.  Take the time to talk to them and ask for instruction and guidance. They are there to help you and will appreciate the effort on your end.

Follow these tips and we’re sure you’ll feel like this by the end of the semester:

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Alma College Reaches Peak Fun with Bagpipes & Nintendo

Pixels

Somewhere, in that rare, elusive air between nerd and cool is peak awesome. Call it alchemy or old-fashioned magic, but sometimes, mixing radically different mediums captures pop perfection.

It happened with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts. And it happened again at the end of football season at Alma College, when — prepare yourselves — bagpipes met old-school Nintendo.

The Alma College Pipe Band and Winter Guard joined the school’s legendary Kiltie Marching Band for their annual indoor concert. This year’s concert featured themes from Super Mario Brothers, the Legend of Zelda and other 64-bit hits. It was retro wonderful. Princess Peach even made an appearance. And bagpipes. Lots of bagpipes.

A little background: Bagpipes are a big deal at Alma. They’re played when first-year students step on campus and walk through a gauntlet of faculty members at Welcoming Convocation. They’re played at sports games and college traditions like Burns Dinners and Tartan Day.

And Nintendo? Well, duh.

“I chose this music because it was always with me growing up” says band director David Zurbe. “The more video games I played, the more that I realized what impressive music it was. This music needs to be heard by everyone, and I am excited about how fantastic the musicians are doing with it.”

Making it even better: Students performed in full costume.

Offbeat selections aren’t usual for the band. In 2014, it performed a selection of Van Halen hits.

Is it wacky? Maybe a little. More importantly: Why not? It’s pretty darn amazing and a full heart container of fun.

That’s the way they roll at Alma College and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities, where taking chances, mixing stuff up and letting ideas take wing is a way of life.

Purposefully smaller, the colleges offer a vastly different experience than big public schools. Class sizes are small. Award-winning professors actually teach classes, get to know students and help them chart their own path to rewarding careers.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Kalamazoo College Student is a Star at Rocket Contests

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By day, Emma Kristal majors in psychology and biology at Kalamazoo College.

By night, she’s a Rocket Queen.

Her super-power: Making awesome, high-powered rockets that consistently blow away the competition at national and international competitions.

Kristal’s most recent triumph was winning individual and team gold medals with the USA World Space Modeling team in the Space Modeling Championships in Lviv, Ukraine. Her hobby has taken her to Serbia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Austria and other countries.

“Most of the competitions are in Eastern Europe because that’s where most of the competitors are from other than the U.K. and China,” said the junior from Royal Oak, Michigan.

“We’re the fiercest competitors on the field, but afterward, we can still sit down and play cards together. I’m making connections with people from all over the world. Sometimes I can scroll through my newsfeed (on Facebook) and not see a single thing in English.”

She holds 10 records. One of her rockets is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. And she’s recognized as one of the best in an event called the S2P Precision Fragile Payload, in which participants launch rockets 300 meters in 60 seconds without cracking an egg inside them.

Not too shabby for someone who attends a school that’s known as a liberal arts college and doesn’t have a rocketry program. Nor does Kristal plan to make a career out of rocketry.

That’s a testament to Kalamazoo College and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities. All provide world-class educations. And all help students forge their own paths — even if it ventures into space.

“My dad is an emergency room doctor and when we asked his colleagues where I should attend college, they all said K. Honestly, we thought (Kalamazoo College) put something in the water to make them all rave about it,” she told the school.

The independents pride themselves on attracting different students. Ones unafraid of trying new things, venturing outside comfort zones and finding passions that don’t necessarily show up on transcripts.

Purposefully different than big state schools, the independents emphasize community over crowds. Classes are taught by award-winning faculty rather than TAs, allowing students to forge tight bonds with professors.

And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates that big universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Alma College Tailors Unique Activities for Students

AlmaActivities

There’s a million reasons why college is such an incredible experience. That’s partly because there’s usually a million things to do at college.

Where else, for instance, could you start your week taking in a vocal recital on a Sunday afternoon? And end it on Friday playing Kick Ball Slip & Slide?

What is Kick Ball Slip & Slide? Like the name suggests, it combines slip and slide and kickball, substituting bases for kiddie pools.

Or better yet, watch a video.

The two events are bookends of a typical week at Alma College. They’re taken randomly from the September calendar.

There’s always something going on at Alma because community is integral to everything they do – from Greeks to Geeks and Everything in Between.

To wit: Also that week are at least six fraternity mixers, chapel band concerts, a trip to an apple orchard, workshops about responsibly using credit cards, high tea, a trip to Grand Rapids’ world famous ArtPrize, visits from therapy dogs, a knockoff on the Dating Game, a dance competition, organized Magic the Gathering games, a trip to see the Detroit Tigers, organized Saturday dinner and movie night with kids.

Phew.

And those are just activities available to all students that don’t include sports games, study sessions, free seminars and — one of the best parts of college — hanging out with your friends.

And we haven’t even mentioned classes. The point is that, now more than ever, there is something for everyone at colleges like Alma and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The chock-a-block events don’t just keep students busy. They’re provided to build community. And that’s something Alma and the other independents take seriously.

Alma and other colleges don’t expect all students to take advantage of every activity. But they offer them to help students chart their path and form tight bonds with other students, as well as lifetime relationships with world-renowned faculty.

It’s one of many ways smaller schools like Alma are different than big state schools,where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.

The schools are intentionally small, so students form tight bonds with other students and lifetime relationships with world-renowned faculty who are experts in their fields.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Olivet College Marches to Own Beat on Gridiron

OlivetMarching

This football season, when the Olivet Comets hit the field, fans won’t be the only ones making noise.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the college’s marching band will as well.

Call it sweet harmony or simple good fortune, but the band was reformed as a part of a conscientious effort to increase the sense of community at the Michigan school, says director of bands Jeremy Duby.

“The marching band really is the center of student life and school spirit, and so it really adds a whole other atmosphere to the football game,” he recently told the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s a much bigger way for us to support our team and to get the entire community involved and make that game a community event every Saturday.”

The band is starting this year with 25 students and will play at all football games, campus events and a New Year’s Day parade in Paris, France. Duby predicts it grow to about 100 members within five years — and become an ingrained part of life at Olivet.

“This is a great part of the college experience,” says an Olivet College alum who was a member of the band in the 1970s.

The move is part of a trend among smaller colleges, including those at Michigan, to invest in athletic facilities, clubs and other extracurricular activities. That’s because big public universities don’t have a monopoly on sports — or fun.

Indeed, that’s one key difference between big universities and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.