Kalamazoo Concerns: Things that made me pause after visiting

<p>On paper, I thought that K sounded fantastic, and that it was going to be one of my daughter's top picks. After visiting, I'm not so sure, although she hasn't given up on it yet. I would love it if someone who knows about the school could address my concerns, or give more insight into the school. In no particular order . . </p>

<li><p>The tour guide said that if you missed two classes the professor would dock your grade. She said you needed to have a doctor's note, and that profs could be quite rigid about this. I had never heard of this before at other schools (maybe it happens?). I'm all for students attending class, but sometimes one just can't. And sometimes you are feeling miserable and aren't up for finding a doctor, even if it's on campus. This sounds like the school is not treating the students as adults who can make their own decisions . . or that the students in the past there were not behaving like adults and going to class, so they had to make this rule.</p></li>
<li><p>A student that we spoke to there was very upset because her professor that she was working with left, and that she had no one she felt comfortable with working on her big capstone project. She felt the school left her in the lurch, and didn't help her. She says she is in a small department, and it might not have been so bad if she were in a bigger one, but this does strike me as a real downer. We also toured the College of Wooster, which sells itself on being the school for mentored undergraduate research. Will you get a better mentor at COW?</p></li>
<li><p>Most students go abroad for a quarter or two for junior year. When they come back it sounds like they can basically get stuck rooming with just anybody, based on availability. When probed about this, our tour guide admitted this happens a lot, and is not handled all that well by the school (that wasn't her words, but the gist).</p></li>
<li><p>My daughter and I both like the idea of themed housing. Some schools have the theme already, and kids apply. In others, groups of kids decide the theme together and then compete to get a house. At Kalamazoo it is the latter, and is quite competitive as there aren't that many houses. This just doesn't seem so nice. For one, you aren't getting to know people based on theme, it sounds more like a cliquish thing based on who you already know. </p></li>
<li><p>Maybe this is completely surmountable, but I didn't like how the campus is cut off from downtown by a big highway. I guess there is some obvious place to cross it on foot, but I didn't see it.</p></li>
<li><p>My daughter is wondering about the variety of food. K only has one dining hall and one deli. I didn't hear that the food was that great. How is it? How is the variety? Can one get fresh, healthy meals, or is it more like fast food, which would be terrible?</p></li>
<li><p>Not a concern, just a question: What departments are known for having really great, enthusiastic, helpful professors?</p></li>
<li><p>Another question: It sounds like it's mostly freshman and sophomores on campus. The juniors go away, and the seniors live off campus. The other schools my daughter is looking at have more kids on campus. Does this mean there are fewer social opportunities on campus at K?</p></li>

<p>I see your post has had quite of number of views, but no responses. My daughter just finished her freshman year, so I can’t answer all your questions, but I’ll try to comment on the ones I can based on this first year. She had a wonderful experience, loved the small classes and small campus. It was the right fit for her.

  1. I never heard my daughter mention this rule across the board for all classes, but even so in the small classroom setting, the prof is going to know if you are there or not, regardless. I do know that my daughter said she could not miss a bio or chem lab without a doctors note, or she would fail the class.
  2. I have found all my interactions with the college to have great concern for the individual student, so it surprises me that others in the department did not quickly cover for the departed prof? One of the advantages of a small school is that you are not seen as just a number.
  3. Not all students go abroad, it is no longer required. My daughter plays a sport and most of her upper class teammates are going abroad spring term of sophomore year so that they don’t miss their sports season. So not all juniors are gone. Housing does seem geared towards placement for fall term, so if you are abroad for fall and winter (most typical), then you likely are placed in a vacant opening from someone going abroad spring term. It is a juggling act, but I’m not sure how else they can accommodate?
  4. Don’t know anything about themed housing.
  5. I don’t think my daughter ever went downtown for any reason. If students are looking for more nightlife, I think they tend to go more towards the WMU campus. Occasionally on the weekend she would take a city bus to a mall or Target.
  6. My daughter liked the flexibility of the cafeteria or the deli, depending on her timing and what she wanted to eat. She loved the fact she could get a custom made omelette for breakfast every morning. K has had the same cafeteria vendor for many years and they bid it out this year. A new vendor is coming in this fall, so there are likely to be changes made.
  7. My daughter is a bio major and she got to know numerous profs well. Her intro to bio class had 48 students and I believe may be the largest class taught at K, yet she still got to know the profs. My daughter got a paid internship this summer, which likely would not have happened if she had not been able to get to know professors so easily that could provide her rec letters.<br>
  8. Due to the abroad options of Junior fall/winter or Sophomore spring, I think there are more juniors on campus than assumed. Not all seniors are off campus. The upper class dorms have 5-7 person suites and there are some seniors there. There are activities at the Student Center every weekend (movies, tournaments, speakers, etc). My daughter is more of a homebody and not a partier, and she did not feel that she needed to leave campus for things to do.
    I have just had another daughter graduate from UMich, so I have seen the pros and cons for both big and small. Fortunately each daughter made the choice that was their right fit. I hope this info helps your daughter in her decision.</p>

<p>This is great. Thanks for the detailed information. Its so hard to get a good feel for the school by spending 3 hours there in the summer (!) and talking to so few students. I am grateful for any input and opinions.</p>

<p>Our daughter was admitted to Kalamazoo last year and our whole family attended the admitted student program in February. My husband and I were completely impressed with the college and both concluded that this school really flys under the radar and offers a lot more than many of the other (higher ranked) liberal arts colleges we visited. I think that the college as a whole is invested in educating their students and does an amazing job in a very supportive and nurturing environment. The Landsea program sounds wonderful. Our daughter received a full scholarship at a state school with better opportunities in her major so she won’t be going to Kalamazoo, but I have strongly recommended this college to other family members who are beginning the college search.</p>

We spent several hours touring the campus with our high school age daughter this February. It was the fifth college on our tour. We, too, came away with a very positive impression, that Kalamazoo is a gem that doesn’t show up on the radar for those who reside outside the region. They follow a very caring approach, assigning, e.g., an upperclassman to each incoming freshman to help them settle in and see to any issues. The students struck us as serious, smart, not jock-dominated nor party animals. Students with whom we spoke described the student body as rather geeky and mutually supportive. The campus is beautiful and the facilities modern and well appointed. The cafeteria is bright and comfortable. We enjoyed the food. While the student-prof ratio is somewhat higher compared to similar liberal arts schools, it’s still quite low and students remarked how they had mentoring relationships from their profs. Something like 100% of students receive some amount of financial assistance from the school. Our daughter, who is a national merit scholarship contender, and not from the Midwest, came away very impressed. She plans on applying this fall. Finally, we checked out the city and were, again, pleasantly surprised. Kalamazoo is a livable small city with a vibrant economy and nice restaurants, shops and recreational outlets.

My daughter and I are wondering if it’s worth making the trip to visit Kalamazoo College. We live in eastern Pennsylvania, but my D wants to go to a different part of the country, wants a strong study abroad program, and a smaller school. Kalamazoo seems to fit, and then I met an alumna who was talking it up! However, the school seems to have very little name recognition in the rest of the country, and I’m wondering about the diversity of students (geographic and otherwise). Also, is the weather very very cold?! And is it too much of a bubble, with little or no town interaction?

I’m an alumna from a while back (now a professor at another university). Going to K was an amazing experience–I formed friendships that I’ve retained many years out with students AND professors. I received an elite international fellowship right out of undergraduate, and I was able to enter with full funding into the top doctoral program in my field without a master’s degree. I was a reasonably strong student going in to K, but a little on the lazy side. It was transformative because I connected personally with professors who both supported and challenged me. As for the “bubble” question–I formed many friendships with people from the town and WMU also, but my main community was within the college.

We would love to hear more about the city and the neighborhood around the college - is it walkable? Lots of internship/job prospects?

D and I are visiting Kalamazoo for the Junior Saturday next weekend! We’ll post our impressions afterwards. Right now she’s thinking Reed, Bennington, Kalamazoo, New College of Florida… so much depends on merit aid.

Thanks for the info!

My D was admitted and we hadn’t visited. They held a Future Hornets program for athletes. She spent several hours with the coach and her possible future teammates, stayed overnight on campus and then they had a full day of events (tours, classes, presentations by the athletic dept). I honestly didn’t think she would like it, as it is smaller than her high school. She loved it. Her other top 3 are Michigan State, Central Michigan and Purdue. To say I was surprised is an understatement. The faculty and staff were amazing, the admissions office and financial aid officers were very helpful, and the students we met were very nice and smart without being conceited. The food was pretty good too.

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