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Jay Young

Ohio Colleges and the Coronavirus: Five predictions about the fall

By | Ohio Colleges and the Coronavirus | No Comments

We are now within three weeks of the start of fall semester, 2020. Soon we will learn how each college has decided to begin their fall journey – full face-to-face learning (at least for some classes), full online learning, or some hybrid approach that might include a late start, early finish, blend of online and face-to-face, or even a plan rotating students in small numbers in alternating face-to-face classes. Anyway you slice it, most colleges are one campus coronavirus outbreak away from defaulting again to full online delivery.

Other questions remain. What will campus life be like? How will residence halls respond? What happens when, inevitably, students test positive for Covid-19? Will they be isolated or sent home? What about sports? Will sports be played and, if so, under what conditions? What will the role of Covid-19 testing be and who will pay for it? The list goes on.

Equally important – will students be returning to college? We will learn how new student recruitment and existing student retention played out. This is mission critical for many Ohio colleges who rely heavily on tuition income in order to operate. The importance of enrollment and the resulting tuition income is a big deal to the many Ohio colleges with small endowments made up mostly of restricted funds – think savings account with most of the money already dedicated to a specific use.

Colleges have already cut budgets to the bone and this summer we even saw staff and faculty reductions at most Ohio institutions. Even public colleges like the University of Akron, Ohio University, and Wright State University saw significant staff and faculty reductions along with other budget cuts. What happens if enrollment drops even further?

So, against the backdrop of so many questions and uncertainties what should you be expecting? Well, in the interest of throwing something against the wall to see if it sticks, I have a few “shot in the dark” predictions for Ohio’s 4-year residential colleges for you to consider. Let’s get started.

  1. Most Ohio residential 4-year college campuses will initially re-open with an attempt at some form of face-to-face instruction and residence life. The many Ohio colleges struggling financially and will at least give opening a shot. An upfront announcement of a return to online instruction would most likely reduce enrollment, completely eliminate any chance for ancillary income sources, and precipitate a potentially debilitating financial outcome. Most won’t go there. At least some classes will actually meet and some students will be housed and fed.
  2. Covid-19 breakouts will occur and many colleges will then return to pure online instruction and close campuses. Some, however, may attempt to isolate infected students, trace, and attempt to carry on at some level…at least for awhile.
  3. Enrollment will decline for over 2/3 of Ohio’s colleges if not more. Many students will opt to stay at home and take community colleges courses or take a gap year. Selective colleges will do better but go deeper into their applicant pool. As applicant pools flatten downstream, the least selective colleges will suffer the most.
  4. Most sports will be cancelled, delayed into the spring, or played under significantly restricted conditions. Virus outbreaks will halt seasons or other wise disrupt play.
  5. A few small, private, poorly funded colleges will not make it and will close permanently by the end of the academic year.

I consider myself an optimistic person, particularly around higher education. However, I believe that the general public’s understanding of the degree of damage this unique SWAN event is reaping upon Ohio’s 4-year residential colleges is underestimated. Covid-19 has accelerated many trends already progressing albeit more slowly than now. Over the prior years, the decline of high school, college bound students in Ohio has conspired to financially pressure many Ohio colleges, particularly small, private, underfunded ones. Covid-19 has accelerated and compounded the financial devastation and some will not survive. I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Here’s to hoping our students return to their college campuses this fall and enjoy prosperity and health.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio and exploring the myriad of majors, minors, certificates, and workforce development programs in the state, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  CBA also specializes in helping students who want to explore non-traditional educational options that do not require a 4-year college degree. Finally, CBA works with students who started college, but found that, for any number of reasons, it was not for them. College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ohio Colleges and the Coronavirus – Teaching and Learning Challenges

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In the prior blog, we explored the financial challenges inflicted by the Coronavirus on Ohio colleges. In this post, we will explore the nature of the teaching and learning challenges this crisis has also deposited on the doorstep of our colleges and universities.

In the decade preceding the crisis most colleges adopted web-based course management software such as Blackboard, Canvas, or D2L . This software has broad course management functionality. Faculty can put all course materials on their “course web pages” such as syllabus and other learning materials. They can post links, send notifications to students, post lecture videos, manage grades, administer and grade quizzes, establish class “chat rooms,” and even interact directly with students through functionality similar to the “Zoom” meetings we have come to know and….well…like. This software can be used to manage an online course, or to support a face-to-face class. Faculty teaching online typically use a lot of its functionality whereas faculty teaching face-to-face typically use less as they enjoy ongoing contact with students in-person.

The comprehensive adoption of course software has been challenging for some faculty who prefer teaching face-to-face and may prefer the “old fashioned” way of running a class. Faculty who teach online classes, however have readily adopted these new web-based tools in the service of strengthening teaching and learning in their courses. As time passed, colleges either incentivized or required faculty teaching face-to-face classes to adopt the online course management software to support their courses. Trainings were offered, support was provided, and slowly faculty became comfortable with some of the functionality provided by the course software.

Enter Coronavirus. Suddenly, and without warning, students were sent home and all classes converted to a fully online format. At that point colleges employed faculty with a wide range of comfort and familiarity with the use of course management software and online teaching methods. Those who utilized little of its functionality pre-Coronavirus were faced with a significant up-hill challenge as they were forced to adapt. The outcome, as it relates to teaching and learning, fell a continuum from reasonably good to…well… God-awful. Now, while many faculty were struggling to employ new online learning tools, students accustomed to face-to-face learning were experiencing learning challenges as well. These online tools require explanation to students and practice to master. Few were really ready for this!

If you ask students, the result was “spotty” at best. Some courses went well while others fell apart. Some faculty worked to employ new tools and improve their online teaching skills while others defaulted to e-mailing assignments, posting grades, and little else. Colleges worked to provide support and training to faculty as needed, but with the lock down and ongoing student demands, even that was challenging. Many students became disillusioned and contemplated a gap year for academic year 2020-2021. Others vowed to attend a local community college until things were “back to normal.” They felt that they had paid for an on-campus experience and did not want to foot-the-bill for another round of expensive online courses while living at home.

Beyond any doubt, colleges are working to find a way to open for the fall of 2020, but uncertainty has led to a variety of scenario-based planning efforts to cover multiple possible scenarios, all while, for the most part, publicly vowing to open in the fall. What happens if we have an outbreak in the residence hall or on a sports team? How do we protect older or more vulnerable faculty, staff, and students? What protocols make best sense? The questions are endless and the challenges formidable.

While little is known for sure regarding next fall, it is fairly safe to say that most colleges will at least try to re-open their campuses in the fall – financially they have to give it “the old college try.” Protocols will be established and enforced; faculty will have improved their online teaching…just in case; students will be more flexible in terms of their teaching and learning expectations and capabilities. Depending on what happens on campus we may see campuses close again or further modify their protocols and course designs to permit greater flexibility and less time on campus. We shall see.

In our next blog, we will take a deeper look at the evolving issues facing Ohio’s colleges as they contemplate reopening in the fall.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio and exploring the myriad of majors, minors, certificates, and workforce development programs in the state, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  CBA also specializes in helping students who want to explore non-traditional educational options that do not require a 4-year college degree. Finally, CBA works with students who started college, but found that, for any number of reasons, it was not for them. College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

 

 

Ohio Colleges and the Coronavirus – Financial Challenges

By | Ohio Colleges and the Coronavirus, Uncategorized | No Comments

Recently the news has offered ongoing reporting of the challenges facing Ohio colleges and universities as a result of the recent COVID-19 outbreak. This post will begin a series exploring the effects of the pandemic on Ohio colleges and examining the choices they are making.

As you know, campuses across Ohio and the U.S. closed in March, sending students home to shelter in place while completing classes online. In the meantime, college campuses went quiet. residence halls were vacated, meal service halted, college sporting events cancelled, and bookstores closed. With little choice in the matter, colleges partially refunded residence hall and meal plan fees while retaining tuition income already paid by students in or around the beginning of the year. So, as the winds of change blew across campus, colleges were faced with budgetary as well as teaching-and-learning challenges. Additionally, they faced a set of high stakes next-step challenges and choices shrouded in uncertainty.

This post will dive a little deeper into the budgetary challenges posed by the pandemic and its fallout. The next post will explore teaching and learning challenges. Then we will look at college recruitment amid the crisis. Then we will dive into the choices colleges are trying to make as they prepare for fall.

Budgetary Challenges

One way to look at this is to consider that a college is actually multiple businesses in one. Unfortunately most of their businesses are not corona-virus friendly.

First, they are in the “hotel business.” They provide rooms, housekeeping, laundry services, and educational and social programming to large numbers of students living on campus. These enterprises employ residence hall directors, housekeepers, grounds keepers, and other service providers. Many, if not most, of these residence halls are supported by loans required to build them. Banks over the years have been particularly amenable to loaning money for residence halls as they have a captive student population and virtually guaranteed full occupancy.

Surprise! Students have just vanished, and related revenue had to be refunded. However, loan payments still must be paid, grounds and buildings still must be maintained, utilities must be paid, and staff retained as possible and/or necessary.

Next, they are in the “restaurant business.” Colleges provide ongoing food service to residence hall coffee shops, to faculty dining rooms, to special events, to large student dining halls, to concessions at sporting events – the list goes on. Many colleges contract with meal service providers but others take this on themselves. Even the majority who contract with others are still on the hook for some mix of shared costs. Of course they are fully responsible for all the bricks-and-mortar involved and, once again, many of these vast dining and meeting facilities are significantly mortgaged and require bills to be paid, spaces to be maintained, exterior grounds to be kept up and so forth. So, once again these facilities are now empty and colleges have partially refunded meal plan revenues while continuing to have to pay for all there related costs.

Are you getting the idea now?

They are also in the “athletics and fitness business.” The exorbitant cost of building and maintaining athletic facilities, stadiums, pools, tracks, gyms, and fitness facilities are also often undergirded by debt that is typically offset by ticket revenues, student fees, concessions, and donations. Large numbers of coaches, assistant coaches, fitness staff, campus life programmers, trainers, and others also must be paid. Since athletic programs are significant forms of student recruitment simply reducing staff is not without consequences.

Surely you are getting the idea now. I could go on and suggest that colleges are in the “medical and healthcare business” and discuss costs associated with their health centers and counseling centers. I could argue that they are also in the “social programming (entertainment) business” and discuss the costs associated with managing fraternities, sororities, and other student organizations. Not to mention, student activities and events. Once again we have costs associated with debt, staff, and facilities.

Wait…what about the fact that tuition was paid and the colleges got to keep that?

At last, a bright side…sort of. It’s true that most colleges were able to retain collected tuition. It was also fortunate that most colleges utilize the same sophisticated learning software to support both face-to-face classes and online classes. Thus most faculty were already using online learning software even if they weren’t teaching online. The conversation however was not without costs and challenges. Faculty had to be trained or find ways to learn how to deliver their classes online and there was little or no time to practice or explore how best to transition their content to an online format. The result was mixed – some faculty transitioned effectively and others struggled. As a result the student online experience was spotty to say the least. All-the-while colleges had salaries to pay, new training costs to absorb, and new virtual technologies to navigate.

The Result

As might be anticipated, the result was budgetarily catastrophic. Revenues plummeted while costs were only minimally changed. With revenues going through the floor colleges had to pivot to online learning. They cut costs across the board, furloughed or terminated employees where possible, and many even worked to renegotiate loans and otherwise reduce costs. Colleges with large endowments (savings accounts) initiated withdrawls while others, particularly small private colleges with small endowments and lots of debt, found themselves on the ropes. As if this wasn’t enough, they still had to find a way to recruit next year’s class against a backdrop of campus tour cancellations and campus closings.

The Worst May be Yet to Come

At this point, Ohio has already lost one private college – Urbana University, part of Franklin University, closed its doors in May and will not reopen. Valiant and creative efforts by their acting president, Christopher Washington, and tireless efforts of a game faculty and staff were simply not enough. Already Urbana University was a turn-around effort that was simply derailed by a pandemic they never expected.

I believe there will be more to come. Those institutions that have found themselves struggling mightily face an uncertain fall and, most likely, a reduced freshman class. Of course, the most daunting possibility is the possibility that they might not be able to open campus or, might have to close it again in the event of a spike in infections. Even the healthiest colleges and universities, including the public 4-year institutions are struggling as well albeit in a less life-threatening way.

Too Much Doom and Gloom?

So much for bad news. Most Ohio colleges will retrench, adapt, and respond creatively enough to survive and, at some point, thrive again. Unfortunately it is still raining and the storm clouds still surround us. So, in my next entry, we will dive a bit more deeply into the teaching and learning side of the current situation.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio and exploring the myriad of majors, minors, certificates, and workforce development programs in the state, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  CBA also specializes in helping students who want to explore non-traditional educational options that do not require a 4-year college degree. Finally, CBA works with students who started college, but found that, for any number of reasons, it was not for them. College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Attributes of a College’s Strongest Majors

By | Important things to consider as you visit colleges | No Comments

As we travel to colleges across Ohio, we always ask, “what do you consider to be your college’s strongest (signature) majors and why?” Admissions counselors are quick to list their “strongest” majors – never a problem. They know that many students visit their campus because of those majors! It’s the “why” part that can be a bit more challenging. In our experience, a “strong major” seems to be a “know it when you see it” sort of phenomenon, at least it is if you listen to admissions counselors.

Over time, and with the help of faculty in these “strong” majors, we have developed some criteria that we believe reasonably correlate well with a major that can be considered to be, “strong.” Strong majors will exhibit some combination of the following criteria:

1. Strong majors have more rather than fewer faculty and they will have sufficient faculty to cover the most significant sub-disciplines in the major. For example, a strong Chemistry major will have, at a minimum, faculty with specialized expertise in Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Analytical Chemistry. They will also be proud of their faculty and tell stories about what they are working on or interested in.

2. Strong majors exhibit adequate resourcing – that is, the institution is proud enough of them to invest in them! Look for new or well-maintained buildings, named schools, floors, or dedicated classrooms tied to specific majors. Look for well-equipped labs, “endowed chairs,” modern equipment relevant to the major, up-to-date technology and software, and/or strong support services.

3. Strong majors have a sizeable presence on campus – that is…plenty of students. Strong majors attract, retain, and graduate students and those students will be excited and proud of their major. Of course, some majors are large everywhere (e.g. Business Administration, Nursing, Psychology, etc.) so size alone is no guarantee of a strong major.

4. Strong majors will have one or more active student organizations. So a strong history major may have an active History Club. These organizations bring together students around their major area of interest and often extend that interest beyond the classroom into the community or beyond.

5. Strong majors will offer major-related study abroad opportunities to students. For example, a Finance Major may sponsor faculty led trips to major financial center cities so students can extend their learning outside of class while connecting with each other and professionals as well.

6. Strong majors measure things that are important and can tell you about their metrics. Nursing programs measure their NCLEX pass rates; Engineering Programs can tell you about their specialty accreditations; English programs may measure % of graduates admitted to graduate school or certified to teach, etc. Many majors measure job placement rates, etc.

7. Strong majors connect students beyond the college. Perhaps they have an external advisory committee that helps ensure that the curriculum is relevant and helps students acquire internships or coops. Perhaps there are active efforts to connect students to field experiences or place them after graduation. Perhaps there are resources to support students in their efforts to identify and achieve admission to graduate schools.

At CBA, we recommend that once your student has identified one or more majors of interest and a few colleges of interest that students and parent’s request to meet with a faculty member from each of those majors and ask a few questions aligned with the criteria above. Then compare what you learned across colleges. We bet that after a few of these visits you may just become a connoisseur of “strong majors” yourself!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ohio College Ghost Stories: The Legend of The Ridges

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The Athens Lunatic Asylum opened in 1874 and specialized in the treatment of criminally and mentally insane patients. The majority of the original patients were admitted by court order or by their own families. In the early years, “The Ridges,” as it came to be known, was recognized as a calm, peaceful place that benefitted the health of its patients. As the number of patients grew over the years, patient care declined and many new and more invasive therapies such as ice baths, electro-shock therapy and lobotomies began to be employed. Later, overcrowding further deteriorated care. During the mid-1900s the mix of patients changed as well, with many parents admitting rebellious teenagers and other more challenging patients.

The combination of overcrowding, employment of more invasive treatments, and change in the mix of patients led to a number of incidents including the unfortunate case of Margaret Schilling. On December 1, 1978 a patient named Margaret Schilling mysteriously disappeared. As the story goes, Margaret and several other patients were playing hide and seek with the nurses, who became distracted and forgot to look for her. The search began the next day when they realized she was missing, but was unsuccessful at first. Over a month later, a maintenance worker discovered her lifeless remains locked into a seldom used building. When they removed her body, a stain was left on the floor caused by her decomposition. That stain remains today, as do the stories of her paranormal activities.

In 1993 the Asylum closed with all land and buildings were donated to Ohio University. It was not long before renovation began and students began to attend classes at the Ridges. The Kennedy Museum of Art was established there and plans were developed to turn the property into a mixed-use university development. As students began to spend time at the Ridges there began reports of paranormal activity including disembodied screams in the middle of the night, electric anomalies, rattling door handles, and vanishing spectral images. Some of these events occurred in the area where Margaret Schilling’s remains were found and, were thus, attributed to her.

So, if you plan to visit Ohio University, you might take a few minutes to stop by The Ridges and tour the Kennedy Museum of Art or just walk the grounds. If you hear or see anything unusual or frightening, you should not fret. It’s probably only be Margaret Schilling hoping to finally be found in what has become, an endless game of hide and seek.

Well, that’s our final Ohio college ghost story for this year. Best wishes to you and a happy Halloween!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ohio College Ghost Stories: The Legend of Tiberius

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If you find yourself east of Cleveland near the small town of Painesville, Ohio you should take some time to visit and tour the campus of Lake Erie College. Founded in 1856, you will enjoy exploring historic buildings and wandering around its beautiful park-like campus.  If you pay attention, you might notice the statue of a dog named Tiberius. Legend has it that Tiberius was a chocolate lab that belonged to Harriot Young, a Dean of the college in its early days when it was an all woman’s school. Each day, Tiberius would hang out on campus enjoying the students, wandering the buildings, and even attending classes. As the years passed, Tiberius became a central figure on campus – there wasn’t a student, staff, or faculty member who didn’t know and love Tiberius. Of course, all good things must come to an end.  Ultimately Tiberius became old and died. The entire campus mourned the loss of their guardian dog and honored him with a statue in 1910. It soon became tradition to pet the statue for good luck. You see, Tiberius had become in death, as in life, a campus protector and good luck charm. Students would pat Tiberius on the head for luck before exams, presentations, auditions, and athletic events.

While many students considered the Tiberius tradition to be nostalgically heartwarming, others wondered if Tiberius had ever really abandoned his watch over the students at Lake Erie College. And rightfully so! You see, one spring night in 1957, two woman woke up in their residence hall room to the sounds of a frantic barking dog. The women rose to investigate. They followed the sound out the front door of Memorial Hall only to discover that the building was on fire. They rushed back in, and woke up the seventeen other girls who lived in the dorm at the time. All nineteen of them then stood outside in only their night clothes and light coats, watching as Memorial Hall and all their possessions burned to the ground. Of course, that’s not the end of the story. You see, no one was able to determine the source of the barking. The next day, students gathered around the nearby statue of Tiberius wondering if their dog’s spirit had once again risen to protect his beloved students.

Today, Lake Erie College is on its fourth statue of Tiberius and students still seek protection and good luck by patting him on the head. So, if you happen to visit campus, stop by Tiberius’ statue and learn a bit more about his legend. Then, as night falls, if by chance you hear the sound of a frantic barking dog, don’t worry…it’s just an old friend trying to help his beloved students stay out of trouble.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

This Years’ Ohio College Ghost Stories

By | Ghost Stories from Ohio's Colleges, Haunted Colleges in Ohio | No Comments

As the nights grow longer, shadows lengthen, and the leaves begin to change color and fall from the trees, we are reminded that it is about time to offer this year’s Ohio college ghost stories. This is the fourth season we have featured some of the most haunted colleges and chill-inducing stories for your your enjoyment and these stories have become our most popular posts of the year.

This year we offer two stories. The first is the story of the Athen’s Lunatic Asylum which is now referred to as “The Ridges.” This unique property is now owned by Ohio University. After a bit of history, we will look at the unfortunate demise of a patient, Margaret Schilling, and all that has followed since. Our second story is more heart warming but still somewhat eerie. Our story is of the dog Tiberius whose loving and dedicated commitment to the students of Lake Erie College continued after his life ended…as did their dedication to him.

So, as the wind whispers over the moor like a lost soul, we invite you to check back over the next 30 days as we publish these two seasonal tales.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

10 Mistakes You Can Make Choosing a Major

By | Picking a Major that Fits | No Comments

We work with students every day who are trying to sift through a large number of possible college majors and identify a set of good fit possibilities to explore. It’s not easy. First, students don’t really understand their options. In high school they took primarily theoretical courses like English, History, and Math. As a result they have little knowledge of college “applied” majors such as Engineering, Sport Management, Nursing, Education, Public Relations, Athletic Training, Accounting, Finance, Social Work, Criminal Justice, and many others. We have found it helpful to identify and define a set of majors aligned with the student’s aptitudes and interests. We then help them conduct a thoughtful exploration as a part of their college visits, volunteer work, internships, and remaining high school course opportunities.

We hope you will enjoy this article that takes a light hearted look at the related challenges!

https://collegeinfogeek.com/dumb-major-choice-mistakes/

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

 

College Major Trends: Weird but Cool Majors

By | Major Trends | No Comments

This article offers a look at 35 “Weird but Cool” majors, many of which, in one form or another, are available at Ohio college as well. That’s right, Ohio has everything from Planetary Science, to Evolution Studies to programs focusing on winemaking, beer brewing, or horse training. Some of these programs are 4-year bachelor’s degree and others are 2-year associates degree programs. Everything from Culinary Arts, to Ecotourism and Adventure Travel to Wildlife Resources Management to Farrier Science to Natural and Historical Interpretation. Can’t forget Museum Studies, Cyber Defense, Information Assurance or Digital Forensics or Medical Illustration. I could go on….

I believe it is important for students to identify a major they can get excited about. Once they do that, they will never settle for “settling” again. They will be more likely to be satisfied, happy, engaged, and willing to work hard. If they change majors, it will only be for something they find more exciting. “Settling,” I believe is as much of a habit as “creatively exploring possibilities until finding something exciting to chase” is a habit.

Check out this article for a few more interesting and unusual major options.

https://www.fastweb.com/career-planning/articles/the-35-weird-but-cool-college-majors

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Major Trends: Humanities are Struggling

By | Major Trends | No Comments

Much has been written recently on trends in college majors. For example, compared to 10 years ago, only engineering, health and medical sciences, and the natural sciences have seen increases in the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded. On the other side of the equation, majors in the Humanities (e.g. English, languages, etc.) have declined over 12%. Check out this article that offers some insights: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/05/analysis-finds-significant-drop-humanities-majors-gains-liberal-arts-degrees

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Colleges are slowly migrating away from offering majors in the liberal arts

By | Major Trends | No Comments

The following article will offer some insight into the current trend of colleges moving away from major offerings in the liberal arts such as Languages, History, Philosophy, and English and toward stronger applied majors such as Engineering, Nursing, Business, and Allied Health. These trends are important since many colleges are in the process of shuttering liberal arts majors and students considering those majors may be impacted depending on college choice.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/06/06/cuts-leave-concerns-liberal-arts-tulsa

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences: Academic Support Center

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In my last blog entry, we looked at The ASD Affinity Program, the only college learning support program in Ohio focusing solely on students with ASD. In this entry, we will conclude our series on Ohio’s college programs supporting students with learning differences with a visit to Notre Dame College’s nationally recognized Academic Support Center.

Notre Dame College is a Catholic institution in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame located just outside of Cleveland. The college has a vibrant mix of commuters and residential students as well a diverse, predominantly Ohioan, full-time undergraduate student population of around 1,400. NDC offers a wide set of major offerings, but are particularly well known for their Nursing and Education programs.

They also have a unique support program for students with learning differences. Students with documented learning disabilities may choose a structured, fee-based ($5,300 per academic year) package of services that go beyond basic accommodations. These services are delivered through the Academic Support Center and staffed by full-time and part-time professional learning specialists.

Available services include:

  • Weekly progress monitoring and ongoing organizational support
  • Unlimited, individualized, subject-specific tutoring by degreed professionals
  • Specialized First Year seminar enhanced by a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and other local resources
  • One on one career training and workshops to develop employability skills
  • Social and volunteer opportunities for interested students

See additional details on the Notre Dame College website at: https://learn.notredamecollege.edu

As of this writing, over 100 students were enrolled in the ASC with an average GPA of 2.80. Over the life of the program the ASC has maintained over 80% retention rate – very impressive.

To be eligible for the ASC, Notre Dame College students must be enrolled full time and submit documentation of a Learning Disability. Students who were on IEPs and 504 plans in high school commonly qualify for enrollment in the Academic Support Center. After enrolling, NDC creates an individualized profile for each student.

Thank you for joining us for this tour of Ohio college programs that support students with learning differences.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences: ASD Affinity Program

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In my last blog entry, we looked at Muskingum University’s PLUS Program, one of the two oldest programs supporting students with learning differences in Ohio and easily the largest. Their resources are substantial and their approach is time tested and effective. This week, we will turn our attention to a unique and specialized program solely serving the needs of college students on the autism spectrum (ASD).

As the number of children diagnosed with ASD increases, the need is greater than ever to provide for avenues of success into adulthood. Higher education can be an appropriate step for college age students with ASD who are academically able to succeed but may require social and living support to navigate the traditional college residential campus.

Nationally, there are very few college programs specializing in providing learning support services to students with ASD. Defiance College’s “ASD Affinity Program” was modeled after a similar program at Marshall University in West Virginia. The ASD Affinity program was launched in 2014 and builds on Defiance’s success with its Hench Autism Studies Program, which began in 2007. While ASD Affinity Program is small, they celebrated the graduation of their first 4 students last spring.

Students accepted into the program receive campus housing with live-in staff support and supervision by trained individuals, peer mentoring, course tutoring by trained tutors, and co-curricular opportunities. Students work with faculty advisors within their area of study and schedule regular meetings with trained staff members. ASD Affinity Program students have a private room but share an open area with another student (suite-style).

The ASD Affinity Program is directed by Dr. Clarissa Barnes, the director of Defiance’s Hench Autism Studies Program and an assistant professor of special education at Defiance College.

ASD Affinity Program Services cost $6,000 per semester in addition to regular tuition, room, and board. However, a special financial aid fund has been established to provide financial assistance toward the separate ASD Affinity Program Support Fee on the basis of demonstrated financial need. Additionally, students may be eligible for aid from “Autism Speaks.”

ASD Affinity program applicants typically meet the following requirements:

  • Are 18-24 at initial enrollment
  • Have a documented diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (DSM-5); autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (DSM-IV-TR) (as indicated by a psychological evaluation)
  • Have an average intellectual ability (e.g., intelligence quotient > 80 as determined by intelligence testing)
  • Meet the Defiance College academic admissions requirements: 2.25 GPA and 18 ACT
    *Please note: Consideration for admission to the ASD Affinity Program also requires completion of the separate Defiance College Application for Undergraduate Admission.
  • Are independent with self-care and hygiene skills (e.g., bathing, oral hygiene, shaving)
  • Are independent with all medication administration
  • Are able to stay overnight independently (that is, at least one night alone) and complete all necessary daily living skills
  • Have no documented incidents of aggressive behavior toward others or self-harm within the last 5 years

Application details are available online.

The ASD Affinity Program is the only college learning support program in Ohio focusing solely on students with ASD. While still small and in its early years of development, it has been modeled after the recognized and successful program housed in Marshall University’s Autism Training Center.

Next week we will look at the last of our programs supporting college students with learning differences. This one is located at a small college in the northern part of our state and enjoys an impressive record of success. You will want to join us for that one!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences – The PLUS Program

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In my last blog entry, we looked at University of Mount Saint Joseph’s impressive “Project EXCEL.” Their strong staff of experienced, professional tutors and structural supports were impressive indeed. In today’s blog, we will look at one of the oldest and easily the largest program serving students with learning differences in Ohio, Muskingum University’s “PLUS Program.”

Launched in 1983 (only one year after the University of Mount Saint Joseph’s Project EXCEL), Muskingum University’s PLUS Program has become nationally known and recognized.The PLUS Programis a comprehensive academic support service for college students with learning differences (ADD, ADHD, & Specialized Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia, etc.). Designed to empower, not rescue, the PLUS Program is staffed by an Executive Director, administrative personnel, and a full complement of adult learning consultants (10-12), learning associates, mentors, and auxiliary tutors. All professional Learning Consultants, Learning Associates and Mentors have Bachelor or Master’s degrees.

Students in the PLUS Program are supported outside of class in their state-of-the-art facility while attending classes with everyone else. Through “Embedded Learning Strategy” instruction, students are provided instruction in learning strategies that are embedded in course content. This instruction builds upon the strengths of each student while addressing levels of comprehension and mental organization that are often difficult for students with learning differences.Three levels of service are offered and additional fees are charged depending on the level of service. Many students begin at Muskingum utilizing “Full” services, but later migrate to the “Maintenance” or “Essential” levels of service as they gain confidence and skill.

Full ($8,780 per year) andMaintenance ($5,300 per year) levels of PLUS Program services includes:

  • An Average 2-4 hours per week of weekly individual consultations
  • Personalized and course-specific embedded learning strategy instruction
  • PLUS professional Learning Consultants/Associates
  • Learning Conversations with academic coaching
  • Executive Functioning support
  • Strengths-based approach
  • Focus for Success system
  • Academic oversight. For Full Services, a learning plan is included

The “Maintenance” level offers the same services as the “Full” level, however with less frequent specialized course learning strategy instruction.

Essential ($2,900 per year) level of PLUS Program services includes:

  • up to 2 hours per week of weekly individual consultation
  • Individualized general strategy instruction
  • PLUS professional mentors
  • Strengths-based approach
  • Academic oversight

Currently the PLUS Program serves approximately 180 Muskingum students (out of approximately 1400 full-time undergraduate students). This makes it the largest program of its type in Ohio. It should be noted that University admission requirements are the same for all students and the Non-PLUS student population has no knowledge or care as to who is a PLUS student.

Students may apply to Muskingum University and the PLUS Program after completing the junior year of high school, or they may transfer from other postsecondary programs. Qualified students may apply for PLUS Program services either when applying for admission to the University or following their enrollment. Each applicant is evaluated by a committee for his/her potential to complete degree requirements.Space in the PLUS Program is limited, and students are encouraged to apply early.Students should have a strong college preparatory secondary school curriculum as course and graduation requirements are not compromised for PLUS students.Based on careful evaluation of admission materials and documentation, applicants are invited to the campus for a personal interview with a member of the PLUS Program staff. At this time they can also talk with the Admission staff, members of the faculty, and other students.

The PLUS Program is one of the two oldest programs in Ohio supporting students with learning differences and easily the largest. Their resources are substantial and their approach is time tested and effective.

Next week we will take a look at a unique program specializing in providing learning/living support for students with spectrum disorder. Don’t miss it.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences: Project EXCEL

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In my last blog entry, we examined Bowling Green State University’s “FLY Program,” a fee-based academic coaching program designed to help students with learning differences who need an additional level of academic and out-of-class support. In today’s blog, we will look at our third of five special learning support programs now offered at Ohio colleges – and this one is really impressive.

Mount Saint Joseph University’s Project EXCEL is perhaps the oldest program of its type in the state and we were more than impressed with our visit. They serve students with learning differences including those with ADD, ADHD, and spectrum disorders. They also support students with accompanying mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression.

Formed in 1982 this unique, large, and successful program has stood the test of time, serving students for 37 years. Project EXCEL employs 17 professional tutors and all have been with the program for over 10 years. Each tutor focuses in areas in which they have expertise and they have access to all college course syllabi. Additionally, the tutors have access to course software supporting their student’s college courses so they can remain aware of progress and assignment completion. All tutors have earned at least a bachelor’s degree with many holding graduate degrees. The current director has been there since 1983. Current enrollment is 65 students and the program boasts a consistent 77% 6-year graduation rate – wow!

Enrolled students begin the program with a formal class taught by the Project EXCEL director. In the class they focus on time management, study skills, and how to best utilize the resources of the program. Project EXCEL is located in a large suite of offices and seems to operate more like a family than a structured service. They even offer students activities such as game night with pizza, Bingo, Halloween party, “Bread Day,” and other activities.

Services Include

  • Gateway course focusing on organization, study skills, self-advocacy, and how to best utilize the program
  • One hour of tutoring for each course each week (90 minutes for math courses)
  • Coordination with other university services including disability services (accommodations), career services, and counseling services.
  • Structured intervention to provide additional tutoring, organization, or time management support as needed
  • Pre-academic advising and advising coordination to ensure that students remain aware of their progress and make appropriate scheduling, course, and instructor selection choices.
  • Student Mail box in Project EXCEL office area
  • Mid-term progress reports
  • Representation for the student with the university “Care Committee” that works to ensure that students are connected to needed resources, programs, and activities.

 

Similar to other similar programs, Project EXCEL is a fee-based optional offering and costs an additional $1,800 per semester, which covers only 50% of actual costs.

Students apply for admission to Project EXCEL after achieving admission to the University. Most student applicants are accepted but must provide documentation related to their high school performance, a letter of recommendation, application form, ETR, and an interview.  Admitted students often have a primary diagnosis of a learning disability, ADD, ADHD, cochlear implant, or spectrum disorder. The ideal candidate is motivated to take advantage of academic support, has performed academically in the past, and can self-advocate.

Project EXCEL is impressive and should be investigated by families interested in identifying resources to support their student with learning differences. Next week we will look at one another of the oldest and most established of these unique academic support programs. Don’t miss it.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences: The FLY Program

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In my last blog entry, we examined Ohio Wesleyan University’s new “Bishop ACCESS Program,” a fee-based academic coaching program designed to help students with learning differences who need an additional level of academic and out-of-class support. In today’s blog, we will look at Bowling Green State University’s “FLY Program.”

BGSU’s FLY Program is only a few years old, but has grown rapidly. It assists students with learning differences and attention challenges while providing a supportive and structured academic environment. Students in the FLY Program work with a Learning Specialist one-on-one. The Learning Specialist provides academic coaching, accountability, and triage. The Learning Specialist may connect the student with other university services that he or she might need such as counseling or disability services. They additionally help students stay aware of grades, manage assignments, and exercise time management. They also coach students on how to activate accommodations as needed. The program is housed in the “Learning Commons” located in the University Library.

Services included:

  • 60 minutes of coaching per week with a dedicated Learning Specialist
  • One hour of focused tutoring for each enrolled course
  • Access to a writing coach, math coach, and research coach through BGSU’s “Learning Commons”
  • Bi-weekly e-mail or phone updates provided to parents with student permission
  • Ongoing workshop access on topics including test taking, motivation, organizational skills
  • Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)
  • Secondary advising support

Similar to Ohio Wesleyan University’s Bishop ACCESS Program, the FLY Program is a fee-based optional offering and costs an additional $2,500 per semester. The program is currently working to design a “Level 2” option that would provide less services and cost around $1,200 per semester. Enrollment is currently 57 students and the FLY Program is excited to graduate its first class in 2020!

Students apply for admission to the FLY Program after achieving admission to the University and providing documentation (such as IPE and ETR) to the Disability Services Office. Admitted students often have a primary diagnosis of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or autism spectrum disorder. The ideal candidate is motivated to take advantage of academic support, has performed academically in the past, and can self-advocate. The program is not designed to support social skill development.

The FLY Program is impressive and should be investigated by families interested in identifying resources to support their student with learning differences. Next week we will look at one of the oldest and most established of our unique academic support programs. Don’t miss it.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences: Bishop ACCESS Program

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Parents of college students with learning differences such as ADD, ADHD, or even light autism often find the traditional set of learning support offerings at most colleges to be insufficient to respond to their son or daughter’s needs. That is no longer the case in Ohio. Enter six unique, fee-based learning support programs that you should know about. My next six blog entries will help you better understand your options!

Let’s start with the newest offering in Ohio. Ohio Wesleyan University’s “Bishop ACCESS Program” is a fee-based academic coaching program to help students who need an additional level of academic and out-of-class support.  An assigned Academic Coach works one-on-one and in small groups with students to help them navigate university life, enhance study skills, and complete school work that requires planning, goal-setting, and managing time. Sessions begin the first week of classes and continue through the last day of classes for a total of 15 weeks a term. The program is housed in the Sagan Academic Resource Center.

Services include:

  • 60 minutes of coaching per week, as well as email and phone support
  • Individualized Success Plan (ISP)
  • Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)
  • 4 hours of supervised study table per week with academic coaching and peer tutoring support
  • Workshops and final-exam support
  • Student Success Network
  • Communication with parents
  • Secondary advising support
  • End-of-semester student progress report

Bishop ACCESS is open to students with a primary diagnosis of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or autism spectrum disorder who wish to enhance executive functioning skills.

The ideal candidate for Bishop ACCESS has

  • the ability to be academically successful in college
  • age appropriate social and emotional maturity
  • a diagnosis of learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or learning difficulties.

The fee for this program is $2,000 per semester.  Students may enroll in the program for the fall semester or both fall and spring semesters.  A fee reduction may be available based on demonstrated financial need.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: The Ghostly Confession

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The Old Motherhouse                                                      The Old Chapel that later became “Our Lady’s Dorm”

During each of the two prior Halloween seasons I have featured a ghost story from Ohio Dominican University. I have appreciated the many e-mail comments I have received regarding these stories and thought I would offer one final reprisal this year. If you have not read the two prior stories, I encourage you to peruse the archives and check them out.

ODU is a small Catholic (Dominican) comprehensive university located in Columbus. Today, they offer not only a top-notch education, but a rich history including a few stories of things that go bump in the night. According to legend the spirits at ODU are thought to have been prior Dominican Sisters and faculty at the college.

This story was described by a Dominican Sister Mary Michael and took place in the first “Motherhouse,” which was constructed in 1875. It was later attached to the west side of the college’s dining hall until it (the Motherhouse) was torn down in 1970 (see the picture above). The Motherhouse was the centerpiece of living and activity for the Sisters of Saint Many of the Springs at the time.

The story takes place in the summer of 1947 in “Our Lady’s Dorm,” as it was called then.
The room was a large dormitory, subdivided by curtains into individual spaces for each sister. Each space contained a bed, washstand, and a chair. The Sister’s space was west of a double door that provided entry into the dormitory area. On this particular evening there were only two sisters in the dormitory. All the sisters had heard rumors of ghosts in the building and while Sister Mary had heard these stories, she had never encountered anything herself.  At some time during the night Sister Mary awoke feeling very cold. She thought about getting a cloak as a cover, but then heard footsteps of someone walking the east-west corridor. This was unusual as rules prohibited walking around at night and enforced silence in the area. The pacing started at around 3:00 AM and continued until the corridor had been paced in its entire length a total of 20-30 times. Sister Mary was too scared to look out. Finally, the pacing stopped at the end of the interior hall away from the entry and near a closet. Finally, after waiting awhile and gaining courage, Sister Mary Michael rose and fled the room.

Upon reflection, Sister Mary recalled that our Lady’s Dorm had been the Motherhouse chapel before the new chapel had been built. The closet had originally been a confessional in the old chapel. Sister Mary Michael wondered if perhaps the footsteps belonged to the spirit of a Sister who felt the need for penitence and sought it in a familiar place.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: Kenyon’s Ghost Train

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Some college ghost stories emerge out of fictional accounts, but others are born out of real campus tragedies. This story is one of the latter.

Around 9:41 pm on October 28, 1905, a freshman, Stuart Lathrop Pierson, was struck by an unannounced train traveling next to the Kokosing River adjacent to the Kenyon College campus. He was killed instantly. Pierson, a Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge, was participating in a fraternity initiation at the time. Some contend that he had been bound to the tracks and blindfolded, however authorities later concluded that he had been directed to the railroad bridge by his fraternity brothers and asked to stay there until retrieved. Members claimed that the experience was intended as an opportunity for him to contemplate his impending membership. Unfortunately, the surprise of an unexpected oncoming train in the darkness caused Pearson to stumble into harm’s way. Pierson’s death launched a dark and challenging chapter in the history of Kenyon College. Administrators point out that over time the college recovered and was able to put this tragedy behind them, however many students believe Pierson is still hoping to complete his initiation.

If you visit Kenyon College today, you will find that the railroad bridge where Pierson was struck and killed has been transformed into a bike trail. The tracks were long ago covered over with asphalt. Each year the DKEs mark the anniversary of Pierson’s death with a ceremony. Reportedly, they carry a coffin filled with stones down Middle Path and gather at the fateful trestle bridge where fraternity officers read the coroner’s report by torchlight. In recent years they also read passages aloud from Fred Kluge’s Alma Mater. The ceremony ends with the burning of a wooden DKE sign, which they extinguish in the river, leaving its ashes behind on the bike trail covering the old train tracks.

Some say that on those evenings, as they hike back to campus, they still hear the whistle of a train in the distance. But that’s not all – residents of Old Kenyon residence hall claim Pierson can still be seen staring out the window on the fourth floor. Doors open and close and footsteps are heard coming from empty rooms.

So, if you ever visit Kenyon college around Halloween, be sure to enjoy the changing leaves and beautiful campus. As the sun sets listen carefully and you might hear the sound of a mournful train whistle passing over a nearby bridge. Then, as you walk by Old Kenyon, the oldest residence hall in Ohio, glance over your shoulder and check out the fourth-floor window. The spirit of a former Kenyon student may grace you with his presence.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: The Oxford Light

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The Oxford Light

If you ask students at Miami University about the “Oxford Light” or the “Phantom Motorcyclist” expect to get an earful. The legend has been around since the 40’s and continues to enthrall students to this day.

The story involves a farmer, his daughter, and her boyfriend. While there are several versions of the story, all have a bit of a “Romeo and Juliet” feel to them. You see, the farmer’s daughter was in love with her boyfriend, who was considered a bit of a rebel. He rode a loud motorcycle, was not fond of authority, and generally didn’t engender affection from any in the community save his girlfriend. In fact, the farmer did what he could to discourage the romance. The result was that the boyfriend was forced to visit his girlfriend late at night and early in the morning while others slept. Legend has it that the father discovered the late-night romance and tried to put a stop to it. The couple, determined to continue to see each other, set up a secret signal. She was to flash the porch light three times to signal her boyfriend that it is safe for him to come by and pick her up.

Finally one evening the boyfriend, determined to finally propose, awaited her signal. Upon seeing the porchlight flash three times, he got on his motorcycle and sped down the road toward her house. Unfortunately, on the way, he lost control of his bike, careened into a barbwire fence and was decapitated.

I’m sure you guessed it – that’s not the end of the story. It seems that death did not deter the cyclist and that today, he is still trying to reach his girlfriend’s house and pop the question. So, if you are visiting Oxford this time of year consider travelling past Millet Hall and Yager Stadium, out past the University property, past Beta Headquarters on the left, and up to the first four-way stop. The girlfriend’s old Earhart Road home is just around the corner. Park your car, flash your lights three times, and wait to see the Oxford Light in the distance. Happy Halloween.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

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