Archive for February 2015

Alma College’s Model UN Team: A Dynasty that Should Make the Yankees Jealous

If society celebrated smarts like it does sports, kids would collect trading cards of Alma College’s Model United Nations teams.

They’re truly the New York Yankees of the competition, winning the highest awards at the National Model UN Conference for an incredible 18 straight years.

If anything, the Yankees should be considered the Alma College of baseball. That’s because the independent college has won a mind-boggling 34 top prizes overall, 13 more than the Yankees.

The event has surged in popularity because it celebrates team work, diplomacy, public speaking and general knowledge — and is a knock-down, drag-out competition. Teams meet in New York, represent various nations and simulate the work of the real UN by ironing out agreements on hot-button issues like the environment.

The key to success is preparation, mastery of the issues and tons of practice. Alma has become a juggernaut under coach Derick “Sandy” Hulme, a political science professor who continually guides his teams to victory over far larger colleges and universities.

“They are just an incredible group,” the director of the group that sponsors the National Conference said.

Alma’s success has led to a $2 million gift to an alumnus to support the program and fellowship that has sent its members to summer projects in nations including Sierra Leone and the Philippines. Alma’s team has produced at least four Truman Scholars, nine Fulbright Scholars and two Gates-Cambridge Scholars.

It may never be as popular as baseball, but its participants value it more. That’s because they follow their own path, an attitude nurtured and cherished at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. 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.

“And the Scholarship goes to…”


While you’re watching the stars on the Red Carpet and at the Academy Awards tonight, you could be winning a major award yourself.

Every month, the good folks at the Michigan Colleges Alliance give away thousands in additional scholarship as part of the We Are The Independents campaign. It’s just about the easiest scholarship to enter and win. It takes under two minutes to enter. Click over to the enter form here:

Who knows? You may be strolling down the Red Carpet as our next big winner of a world class college education that’s affordable at one of Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

How to survive Michigan’s switch to the SAT

If you heard a thud in January, don’t be alarmed. It was just the sound of jaws hitting for floor when Michigan officials announced the state was switching to the SAT from the ACT as the college admission test.

Michigan has been an ACT state for as long as most can remember. And it’s been offered as part of the Michigan Merit Exam to all public school juniors since 2007.

The SAT has long been the college admissions standard in other states. Originally an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test, today, SAT just means SAT. It has a reputation for being tough. Some think SAT is an abbreviation for Scary Aggravating Trouble or Sick And Twisted.

So the announcement caught many off guard. But don’t panic just yet. The switch isn’t happening until 2016, so it means nothing to high school juniors and seniors.

Freshmen and sophomores? That’s another story: The change coincides with a major overhaul to the SAT that rolls out in 2016. That makes it harder to prepare, but not impossible. Here’s some tips for navigating the change and making your SAT a Super Awesome Triumph:

Take the PSAT this fall.
The practice test likely is the first glimpse to the new SAT. Many schools offer it for free. If yours doesn’t, start saving. It’s worth the investment.

Bone up on your studies.
The new test is expected to better gauge classroom comprehension. So the more you understand, the better you’ll do.

Review the changes.
The College Board, the company that operates the SAT, says the new test will be a better measure of college readiness. Essays will more closely resemble high school writing assignments. Students will be asked to interpret evidence and read a passage, then expound on it. Math will be focused on “real world” applications that involve graphs and charts. And students’ knowledge of “founding documents” — the Constitution and the like — will be tested.

Practice the changes.
Sample questions and a detailed description of the changes are already available online. Take a look at the redesigned SAT here and even try your hand at a few sample questions.

Guess away.
The new SAT will include no penalty for wrong answers. That’s a big change and should change strategies of test-takers.

Take both tests this spring.
If you can afford it. If not, ask school counselors if you qualify for a fee waiver.

Pay attention to details.
But don’t overly worry. Do your work, prepare accordingly and trust your diligence. Things have a way of working out.

It’s an approach that will serve you well at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities, where students forge success by following their own path.

The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. 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.

Milk Jugs & Mascots: Siena Heights and Adrian Create Unique Cross Town Rivalry


One is Catholic. The other is Methodist. One dominates at basketball. The other has a football legacy rich in championships.

Separated by three miles, Siena Heights University and Adrian College have coexisted in Adrian for nearly 100 years. Tradition, faith and academic excellence run deep at both schools in south-central Michigan. Both are fiercely small and proud, so a long and colorful rivalry was inevitable.

Consider: In 2009, Siena Heights decided it needed a mascot. The school is known as the Saints. But that didn’t seem so fierce. So students voted on an alternative and came up with Halo the Husky, in part to thumb their nose at the Bulldogs of Adrian College.

“It’s kind of a shot at Adrian College, the bulldogs, because huskies are stronger and faster,” the student who submitted the winning suggestion said.

Lo and behold, Adrian got a new mascot the next year. A live bulldog named Bruiser.

Since the 1970s, the two schools have squared off every year in basketball for “The Battle of the Milk Jug.” The trophy is exactly what it sounds like — a giant, clunky, hand-painted milk jug featuring a basketball trophy with more than a few dents that the winner keeps for a year.

The Saints have dominated, winning 28 of 36 matchups since 1977, including all games from 1988 to 2002.

Adrian has built its sports tradition on football, forming a team in 1892. Along the way, it’s won 16 conference championships, most recently in 2012.

Siena Heights waited a couple years to form a football team. More than 100, in fact. The school fielded its first team in 2012, becoming the first Catholic college in Michigan to offer football scholarships.

Both schools pride themselves on strong academics, small class sizes and molding students. Siena was founded in 1919 by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and became co-ed in 1969. Priding itself as the first wireless campus in Michigan, the university has a world-renowned creative writing program and has satellite campuses in Southfield, Benton Harbor, Monroe, Lansing, Jackson and online.

Adrian was founded by Methodists in 1859. Its campus served as a base for Union soldiers during the Civil War. Its campus is a charming mix of new and old buildings and the school prides itself on strong academics, from accounting and business to mathematics and physics.

Both embody the unique experience offered at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. 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.

Steven Yeun: From Kalamazoo College to The Walking Dead

Steven Yeun will have his hands full Sunday night. The Kalamazoo College grad plays zombie slayer/heartthrob and all around good guy Glenn Rhee on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead.

You might be surprised to know Steven never dreamed of being an actor.

Steven was born in South Korea and raised in Troy, Michigan. His parents hoped he’d become a doctor. He enrolled at K College to study psychology with a concentration in neuroscience.

During his freshman year, he attended a performance of the Kalamazoo College student improv troop Monkapult.

“It blew my face off. I was like, ‘Holy smokes, I want to do this so bad,” Steven remembers.

He tried out for the troop, but was rejected. “I was terrible,” Steven says. He took an improv class. He practiced his craft. He set his sights on studying theatre in instead of med school. His sophomore year, it finally paid off. He became a member of Monkapult.

Following graduation, Steven moved to Chicago to continue performing. He earned a spot on the famed Second City stage. He did some voice over work for the Crysis video game series. He acted in a few independent films.

Steven moved to Los Angeles, in 2009 and his career took off. He appeared on Big Bang Theory and Law & Order before landing his breakout role on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“I’ve just been incredibly fortunate in every risk I took,” says Steven.

Steven continues to do acting and voice work. You’ve heard him on The Legend of Korra, American Dad and the upcoming film Chew alongside Felicia Day.

Steven still finds inspiration from his K College experience. His latest book suggestion? A collection of short stories by Andy Mozina entitled “The Women Were Leaving the Men.” Andy was one of Steven’s professors at Kalamazoo College. “He really pushes the boundaries of storytelling.”

Ten Tips to Make the Most of Senior Year

Senior year can be so crazy busy that it’s easy to forget these are times to remember.

College essays and applications. Campus visits. SATs. Scholarships. Financial aid forms. No doubt: Preparing for college is a whirlwind.

It happens so quickly that sometimes you can lose perspective: These are fun times. Honestly. We’re not going to be that annoying uncle and assure you these are the best years of your life. Maybe they will be. Maybe not. But one thing’s for sure: You’ll remember them all your life, whether they’re lame or great.

So make ‘em great. Here are 10 tips to make the most of senior year and get ready for college.

Go to prom
Even if you don’t want to. Even if it violates every principle in every fiber of your body. What do you have to lose? If it’s lame, it’s probably not the first lame night of your life. If it’s wonderful, you may be surprised. One thing: You probably won’t regret it. Unless your name is Carrie and you can start fires with your thoughts. Then skip it for sure.

Expand your comfort zone
There’s a lot going on at your school. The debate team? Yeah, it exists. Choir? They sing songs! Attend an event or two that you haven’t so far in high school. Break your routine. Who knows? You may make some new pals or like the new experience.

Take pictures
You probably have tons of photos of your friends. Do you have photos of them together? Ones without one of them picking their nose? Take a video of yourself walking to class. Take one of the cafeteria and your locker. Put them in Dropbox. It sounds crazy, but you’ll want to look at them again one day.

Learn some basic skills
If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with exotic products such as “laundry detergent,” “dryer sheets” and “microwave ovens.” Washing and folding laundry and heating food without starting a fire will come in handy at college.

Record your friends
Sure, it’s a little goofy. But use your iPhone to record your friends’ voices. Have them tell you a story. Ask where they see themselves in 10 years. Make them describe their lunch. You won’t regret it.

Establish a routine
Until now, life has been planned for you: Wake up. Eat. Get dressed. Go on bus. School. Practice. Home. Eat. Homework. TV. Sleep.

One of the awesome things about college is there is more free time. You have 3-4 classes per day. If you’re lucky, they don’t start until 10. That’s a lot of time to use as you wish, but it can create bad habits. Best now to get into the habits such as working out, regular study time and the like.

Say your peace but hold your tongue
Thank your favorite teacher. Tell them what they meant to you. Go beyond the obvious: What about that school secretary that let you slide when you were tardy? Or the janitor who helped open your locker as a freshman? Thank them too. But resist the temptation of telling teachers you don’t like what you really thought of their class. Any satisfaction from doing so is fleeting.

Write your future self a letter
Take a tip from Matthew McConaughey. Be a hero to your future self. Write yourself a letter. Mail it to your future self through websites such as and Your 10 years-in-the-future self would love to hear from you.

Make memories with your pals
Go on a senior trip. Visit a museum with them. Pull an all-nighter. Sleep in a car. Write a senior year bucket list of 10 items. Accomplish five of them.

Chart your own path
Be yourself. Do what you want. Be mindful of others but don’t be consumed about what they think. It’s an attitude that’s cherished at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. 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.