Abigail and I drove down on Thursday after lunch to avoid the traffic in Birmingham at rush hour. We stayed at a hotel in Opelika and headed into town for dinner. After eating at Applebees, we 'had' to make a trip across the street to Plato's Closet and then it was back to the hotel to crash after filling the gas tank.
We were up bright and early on Friday as War Eagle Day begins at 8am. We got there early as I knew from going with James two years ago that it got crowded. We were able to get into Starbucks before the lines began for both coffee and danishes. There were then multiple short sessions from which to choose - we went to Scholarships, Study Abroad and Learning Communities.
We learned that if one is a National Merit Finalist, they must choose Auburn as their number one school to qualify for that scholarship and that they might not be giving as many as they did this year (which was as many qualified as wanted to attend) as they are going to make them competitive (but they didn't explain, probably because they don't know yet).
Learning Abroad gave general information about the programs. We were told that if you want to study there, they can probably make it happen UNLESS there is a state department warning. The price varies depending on the program and Auburn has a campus in Italy. A senior also spoke to us about her two experiences in South America as an Anthropology major with a minor in Spanish.
Learning Communities is a favorite of mine as both my older students have been in a similar program at their colleges and it was a great experience. There is a Nursing Learning Community - the small group of students take 3 courses together in the Fall semester - Nursing seminar, Biology and Composition (which Abigail has already completed) and in the Spring 2 courses - Nutrition/Health and Composition II (which Abigail is exempt from based on ACT scores).
The large opening welcome session is actually next (maybe to allow for latecomers?) along with information about admissions. Then we had a walking tour of campus - not all of it as it's large although it feels like a small town. During the tour the guide tells you not only about the campus but also traditions. We went to see the trees on Toomer's Corner - one is looking pretty good, the other has two large branches that have no green budding leaves. They are still hoping the trees can be saved.
There were then an academic browse sessions - different colleges and schools had tables set up to ask questions. We discovered that about 200 students apply in the spring of sophomore year for admission to the Nursing program and they only select 63. The average GPA of recent admissions was 3.75 so it's extremely competitive. Preference (or maybe it's bonus points) is given to Auburn students and having volunteering/shadowing (even in high school) is beneficial. Thankfully Abigail knows a few nurses and will be setting something up this summer and maybe throughout her senior year of high school. There is also a college Honors program but not sure that Abigail would pursue that as Nursing is already a demanding program. We wished that during this session, they'd also had some of the 300 student organizations available with to speak
Then it was back to the ballroom for lunch, a student panel and information from housing. It's my 'problem' with Auburn. They do not guarantee housing for Freshman. If you want to live on campus, the best chance to secure a bed is to decide they are your first choice by January (this past year their waiting list began in Feb) - pay $200 nonrefundable to admissions, pay $50 for the housing application and then $250 (refundable) prepayment to housing. We did go to see a standard dorm room which is two 2-person rooms connected by a bathroom. The laundry rooms are in another building which I found a bit odd. They also have suites and will soon open up super suites which I wouldn't pay for - queen size beds in single rooms w/single bathrooms, connected to living area and kitchen, flat screen tv, stackable W/D and a block of the rooms are for football players. Definitely not a dorm for my little girl.
Positives: In-state, excellent scholarship program, top-notch program, Learning Communities, FOCUS program, small town, pretty campus
Negatives: housing not guaranteed, university doesn't assist in any way w/off campus housing, some clinicals are 2 hrs from campus, big football school, meal plan required both on/off campus, no standard cafeteria, only accept 63 students of 200 applicants, National Scholars - on campus housing is not guaranteed after freshman yr; scholarship only pays for on-campus housing.
Questions to Ask/Things to Consider:
Clinicals - location/distance from campus
Would any clinicals require one to compromise Faith? (abortion, sterilization, etc?)
Summer Classes between Jr/Sr year - is there away to take them during the regular school year? Is there on-campus housing available in the summer? Are there extra scholarships available for summer classes?
National Scholars Presidential Scholarships are limited and awarded competitively for non-residents. Is the same true for AL residents?
So we have now toured 2 colleges and Abigail likes both; we are going to look at our calendar for visit #3 - a trek to Mississippi.