Friday, May 24, 2013

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the Indianapolis 500

Sunday marks the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. I felt it was only appropriate to blog about my campus visit to the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT). Perhaps you are puzzled at the connection between the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and this academically challenging school located one hour west of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Connection

Rose Hulman Institute of Technology was founded in 1874 as the Terre Haute School of Industrial Science. It would later be renamed Rose Polytechnic Institute after founder Chauncey Rose. In 1922, the campus moved to a 123 acre farm donated by the Hulman family. They were wealthy Terre Haute/Indianapolis businesspeople and philanthropists. The Hulman's acquired their wealth through business investments that include producing Clabber Girl baking powder, owning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League. In recognition of the Hulman family's financial contributions over the years, the school was renamed in 1971 to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

1. This number is displayed on all banners hanging throughout the campus. It is where Rose-Hulman' ranks in the U.S. News & World Report list of engineering colleges and universities. RHIT has maintained this ranking for the past 14 years. Engineering is the main focus of this highly selective school since its origins providing local engineers technical training for Chauncey Rose's railroad construction company.  In addition to the rigorous undergraduate education, the only Master's level courses at RHIT are in the engineering field.

Engineering, Math, and Science. These three fields in which a RHIT student can major. In a conversation with an admissions representative, he boosted "we do not have many majors, but we excel in those we have."  RHIT supports this claim with the U.S. News & World Report ranking as the #1 engineering school for 14 consecutive years. Yet, the curriculum at this STEM school requires more Humanities and Social Sciences courses than most engineering schools.
In order to ensure excellence in the classroom and to continue a hands on, one-on-one education, typical classes are on the smaller size. The average class size is 12:1 and is taught by leading professors with the highest degrees in their field. This is different from most colleges that use teaching or graduate assistants.

To encourage group collaboration and intellectual thinking, white boards are in all dormitory commons area. Also, all dormitories must following the "Open Door Policy." This means students are required to leave their dorm room open during the day if they are inside. This fosters socialization amongst the nations brightest academic minds. The concept is to ensure students have a balance between academics and socialization. Quite a unique policy at a rigorous college, but when you have the top engineers in the nation on your campus, you can create unique rules.
Rose-Hulman Ventures

Rose–Hulman Ventures is an engineering educational experience located  in a Certified Technology Park three miles south of the main campus. It serves as a source of internships and job opportunities for startups and established companies of all sizes for RHIT students and alumni. It is not an academic research facility run by RHIT or paid for through student tuition, but funded by the companies that pay for the student employment. Students are selected by the companies to intern part time during the school year and full time during semester breaks. All intellectual property created at RHV belongs with the company, not the student or the school. The purpose of this facility is not to commercialize RHIT, but to promote their students to local and national companies. Established in 1999 and with continual funding of nearly $55 million from the Eli Lilly Endowment, this unique concept has flourished for the past 14 years.   

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer Activities for High School Students

The school year is coming to an end and summer plans are being made. What will your son/daughter do this summer in order to prepare for college? The summer provides a great opportunity to build the student’s high school resume. Teenagers can participate in a sport or activity to better themselves or explore enrichment opportunities to discover their passion. 

Hire a Tutor
Tutors are typically thought of as a reactive measure to help a struggling student improve their grades. Perhaps parents should consider being proactive by hiring a personal tutor. This might not be the first idea that comes to mind when exploring summer opportunities, but perhaps it should. A tutor can teach a student a course over the summer. This will allow the student the opportunity to learn new material in a non-stressful environment. When the school year begins and the material is taught, the subject matter will be an in depth review rather than a new learning experience. This will allow the student to earn higher grades and improve their overall Grade Point Average; a major factor in the college admission process. 
What subjects should the parent choose? They can opt for a course in which a student tends to earn lesser marks or they can decide on a key subject in order to prepare for a rigorous course. Either way, a parent cannot go wrong stimulating a mind that has less distractions over the summer.
Volunteer/Community Service
Many colleges require students to demonstrate involvement in a volunteer activity on their application. Schools are especially attracted to students who volunteer outside of their high school. Students should choose activity they enjoy or are passionate about. Perhaps this could be something they are interested in pursuing after college. Potential ideas could be volunteering at the local zoo if are thinking of a career as a veterinarian. Perhaps they are interested in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps once they graduate college. Why not begin volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or find a local church group in which to take a mission trip? Better yet, why not take a unique family vacation and have everyone enjoy the benefits of volunteering!
Colleges are fond of students who volunteer and many schools pride themselves on their volunteerism. Take Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois for examples. They offer a Peace Corp Preparatory Program (the only one in the nation) and have their own version of KnoxCorps to provide in interactive civic engagement within their community. Schools such as Knox College would be intrigued by a student who has vast volunteering experiences listed on their high school resume. In fact, Knox College is known as one of the most generous colleges when it comes to financial assistance.
Summer Camps
If your student is participating in a high school sport, most likely there will be a summer camp or even a league. If they would like to continue playing at the next level, they should attend all optional camps and leagues. Summer athletic programs are an opportune time for a student-athlete to take initiative and earn the respect of the other players. This might even impress the coaches and earn themselves the position of captain on the varsity team. In addition, summer athletic camps will help raise their skill level and potentially help them earn college scholarships.
The same is true for the Fine Arts. If the student is involved in theatre, perhaps the high school has summer workshops for their program. If not, plenty of colleges offer these types of opportunities. Attending one of these workshops helps elevate their performance, or exposes them to additional roles in the program (set, lighting, etc...) making them more versatile and attractive to a competitive fine arts college.
Get a Job
Teenagers claim it is difficult to find a job these days, especially since many of their positions are taken by overqualified adults. But this does not mean there are not opportunities available for students. Colleges like to see students take the initiative to find a job, be able to take directions and show responsibility. If a student is very involved in school and will participate in a sport or fine art camps, colleges will not frown upon the fact that a student does not hold a job. Colleges would like to see some sort of involvement and not Captain of the Couch Potato Club on their high school resume.
Think outside the box for a job, especially involving something they enjoy. Many park districts are seeking camp counselors or even lifeguards. It is a seasonable job, but perhaps once they are hired and demonstrate responsibility, they will be asked back the following year. Perhaps a student-athlete can be a baseball/softball umpire. These jobs are great for high school students as they pay more than minimum wage (most times being paid by the game, which lasts 2 hours) and teaches students how to deal with confrontation and adversity.
Perhaps a student could caddy at a local country club. This is an excellent way of networking with adults. Similar to umpiring, the pay is higher than minimum wage and teaches skills about how to get along with demanding adults, while hustling for an extra tip. In addition, teenagers might interact with influential members in the community. This can never hurt when they are looking for a college internship or a post college graduation job. Lastly, being a caddy can lead to the Evans Scholarship. What is this? It is a full tuition and housing college scholarship for men and women. Most recipients attend one of 14 colleges where the Evans Scholars Foundation operates a scholarship house. Not a bad job where a high school student can potentially earn good money in the summer, have college paid for AND network for their post college careers.