Friday, April 18, 2014

CVC Day 5 - Vermont Keeps Going!

Yesterday (Day 5) started at 6 am and ended at midnight - I'm going to stick with the bullet point summary approach as I'm here in the Burlington Airport. Without further ado, day 5!

Landmark College
  • Truly unique campus because they are exclusively for students with learning disabilities/differences. There is also a small program for students on the Autism spectrum
  • Last year added a 4-year BA to the already existing Associate's program. 
  • The original track for the majority of students is to start at Landmark, allow the student to take ownership of their education and understand truly individualized strageties to be successful in a college classroom, and then have the ability to transfer to a four year school. 
  • There are 3 entry points for students. 
    • Full Credit-- for the college ready student who just wants to start in a LD friendly environment
    • Partial Credit - for students who are close to being college ready but who take only part of their classes for college credit as they build their skills.
    • Non-Credit - for students who are not college ready but can eventually stregnthen their skills.
  • Because of the individualized program, some students stay for two years, earn and Associate's and transfer. Others earn an Associate's, but at a slower pace, and then transfer.
  • They are truly the experts in helping students with learning differences be successful in college. Runs the gamut from assistive technology, to executive functioning support, to counseling. 
  • A reality of this all inclusive support is that tuition at Landmark is very expensive. About 60% of students apply for financial aid and of those only 60% are granted some form of financial assistance. The good news is that some states do allow for vocational rehab funding to be applied to tuition. There is also a medical tax deduction that some families might qualify for, which greatly improves the financial impact of paying tuition and fees. 
  • The benefits of attending Landmark instead of a more traditional school is that, often for the first time, students can feel understood, welcomed, and empowered in regards to their learning differences. It is a great chance to build self confidence and thrive as students make the college transition.

Marlboro College
  • Only about 240 students
  • Vibe on campus is deeply intellectual in an individualized and 'out of the box' kind of way
  • HUGE emphasis on writing
  • Non-traditional curriculum where students create an individualized plan of study culminating in a final 'plan' which is akin to a thesis but can be much more than just a long paper. It can include things like art and performance and it really molded over the time on campus to be a real labor of love. (For more on this and my impressions of Marlboro, read this previous entry) I got to visit the 'Plan Room' in the library to see all the bound copies of all plans that students have done since the beginning of the school.
  • Professors and students experience one another as colleagues
  • Monthly town meetings involve the entire campus and address all issues relating to the school (from marketing materials to campus events)
  • Must be eager to think deeply
Southern Vermont College
  • 500 students on a mountaintop with a gorgeous view
  • Career focused liberal arts programs, including nursing
  • The average admitted student has a 2.8 GPA and 940 SAT on the first two sections
  • The President knows students by name and has an open door policy
  • The campus has a few different locations, with shuttles between, but all classes take place in a converted historic mansion at the top of the hill. 
  • This school seemed to have a more mainstream student body compared to the more environmental, skiier/snowboarder, activist type of students at some of the other schools that we saw.

Bennington College
  • A little under 700 students in a nice spread out campus with a variety of architectural influences (everything from barns to modern)
  • Dorms are called 'houses' and there is a clear community feel
  • Two part education:
    • Plan Process
      • Explore and discover in your first year by taking any classes you wan
      • intentional exploration to discover essential questions
      •  In the sophomore year, write a plan paper that describes what your educational goals are
      •  Spend the next two years crafting that thesis or senior project
    • Fieldwork Term
      • Mandatory 6 week internship or field placement each of the four years
  • Seeks students with intellectual vitality
  • Interview is seen as essential during the interview process because the school is so unique
  • Testing Optional
  • No core requirements
  • All classes have a narrative evaluation but can opt into being issued a traditional grade on a class by class basis for those that feel they want it.
  • Seems like a great fit for a student looking for the room to explore within their education journey, especially great for students with niche and interdisciplinary interests