Monday, September 27, 2010

Thanks Marquette, Ripon, and Lawrence! (Day 1 and 2 of the COWS Tour)

milwaukee art museum

I can hardly believe that in the less than 48 hours since my last post I have done so much. Thanks to my generous hosts, I have had the chance to visit Marquette University, Ripon College, and Lawrence University. It is hard to narrow down just a few things to mention about each, but I'll do my best below.

Marquette University, a Jesuit school, clearly has a place near to my heart because of my own experience working for Jesuit institution. Of all of the schools I'm seeing on this tour, Marquette is the most urban and could potentially appeal to the Eleanor Roosevelt students that want to be in a city, just not New York City. I was also pleased to learn that Milwaukee is ranked #7 for cities with Fortune 500 companies (read: internship opportunities). As one student from California put it, college is the best time of any to live in a cold place. It is safe, affordable, and less than two hours by plane (my one way ticket was under $100). In many cases, it could be cheaper and faster to get to Milwaukee than to some SUNY campuses. Chew on that.

Ripon College this morning showed us a totally different setting. A small college of about 1100 students in a small town, I was impressed with the student panel and felt the students each had some really great insights about why they chose Ripon. There was a larger international population than I was expecting and some seriously generous Financial Aid going on (I'm talking an automatic $1,000 grant just for filing a FAFSA, regardless of income). Ripon isn't the place for everyone, but the students here seemed extremely happy and for a person looking for a small town experience with strong Division III athletics, Ripon could be a great option.

Late this afternoon we arrived at Lawrence University for our tour (our information sessions and activities will continue here tomorrow). I don't want to gush, but I going to. Loren Pope talks about this school changing lives, and from what I can see, he wasn't kidding. Lawrence is a combination of a liberal arts college and a music conservatory. It's small student body feels much larger than it is (only 300 more students than Ripon) and Appleton adds to the dynamic that Lawrence is not in the middle of nowhere (despite being in Eastern Wisconsin). The buildings and views are fantastic. The student body is diverse (and diverse in a meaningful way, where students are actually interacting with one another). Student interests are eclectic and it seems that being unique is embraced. Our tour guide, a 6'8'' senior basketball player, had to run off from our tour because he was late for Pilates. This is a school that manages to feel intellectual and stimulating but that is not highly selective. For anyone willing to get on a plane to go to school, run-don't walk-to add this one to your list.

Next up, University of Wisconsin!

*Image above is from the Milwaukee Art Museum (I visited Sunday Morning). It was AWESOME and is the first Calatrava building to be built in the United States. New York isn't the only place that can be on the cutting edge, +10 points Milwaukee.