I took a potential transfer student to visit Clark University yesterday.
The student in question is transferring from Boston College, where she was unhappy socially.
The rain was coming down in TORRENTS on arrival. I missed the parking lot and ended up parking on the street in front of the college (parking was free, no meters).
We started out in the Admissions Office, where the visiting students filled out forms. Some current students were there to answer questions while we waited for the tour.
The information session was held in a small classroom in the Science Center, just a few steps away. We started with a short video and talk from the head of admissions (I think). He focused on what was different about Clark in the categories of size, liberal arts, research and university. This was followed by a Q & A session with two current Clark students. The session closed with an overview of application timelines and financial information. This was actually valuable, as it provided some information not available on the web site, namely that they will go to Early Action next year (rather than the current Early Decision) and that transfer applications are considered on a rolling basis.
From the info session, I came away with a school which differentiates itself by providing research opportunities for undergrads. This seems to be real, not just talk. Some of the research projects mentioned by students (ie, they had personally done this work) included a trip to Siberia and tree inventory, also urban planning work.
One self-created major was mentioned, a recent grad who combined political science and studio art to make up a political cartooning major. Apparently he has been successful finding work in this field.
I asked the students to rate the party scene at Clark on a 1 - 10 scale (ten being the partying-est). The two students agreed on a score of 6. An alcohol-free event mentioned was a Family Feud evening, complete with small cash prizes and attendance of about 150 (note: not specifically designated alcohol-free in the session, but I am assuming...)
I also spoke briefly with the assistant admissions rep. He is a recent UMass grad, and was willing to give me his views on the differences between the students at UMass, BC and Clark.
The group was split in two (three prospies in each) for the tour. Clark used the info provided by the students to create the groups (ie, our tour guide knew my propsie was interested in dance). We then went out in the POURING rain (umbrellas both provided and necessary!) for a campus tour. The campus is small, but the interiors of the buildings are uniformly pleasant. We saw the dining hall (contrary to the Princeton Review reports, the food looked totally fine to me), classroom building (beautiful traditional building with wood etc - the prof of the class we looked in on came out to greet us), library (new, with a beautiful study commons), freshman dorm (utilitarian but large windows and the rooms weren't tiny). The dorm had quiet hours posted. On my inquiry, the dorm inhabitants told me these hours were indeed enforced by the RAs.
We bowed out on the tour at this point as we had commitments and needed to hit the road.
Overall, I was favorably impressed with the school. The students seemed mature individuals who were pursuing their interests rather than going to school by rote for "the college experience." Students appeared friendly, greeting each other and one passing by commented to me about the weather. -- only saw one girl with straightened hair....