Sometimes I think some of the most important campus visits we educational consultants can make are those to schools that are practically on our doorsteps. Sure I love the thrill of traveling across the country to check out schools outside my usual frame of reference (and I’m an expert at navigating Detroit Metro Airport), but there’s something to be said for driving just an hour or so from home and being a college tourist in my own state. (Bonus: No TSA security screening required.)
Armed with this curiosity (and the fact that it had been on my short list of schools to see in person for years!), I headed off to meet the friendly folks at Central Michigan University last week. (And as the rain and wind blew through just in time for the tour, I was glad that everyone I encountered had a sunny personality to make up for the weather!)
CMU is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan and is home to around 21,000 students in their campus community. (That only about one percent of those students are commuters says something about the strength of residential life at CMU and the sort of living and learning education the university fosters.) In addition, CMU is also frequently lauded for their online degree programs through their Global Campus, which accounts for around 6,000 additional students. (In fact, the program is consistently top-ranked by the folks at U.S. News and World Report.)
The campus itself is a mix of old and new buildings (including a newer education and human services building and a science building that is currently under construction, both of which meet LEED certification) and is divided into academic, residential, and athletic areas so that, despite its size, it’s easily navigated by students and visitors alike. In fact, having toured many very large public universities myself, I can personally attest that CMU’s campus doesn’t have the same massive and intimidating feel that some others have when as you walk around. At no point did I lose track of where I was as I sometimes do at the larger schools.
Academically, the university is widely known for its teacher education program (it was founded as a teachers’ college back in 1892) and also for programs in the health fields. Their physical therapy program is the oldest in the nation and admission to it is highly competitive and they also offer a strong program in audiology. CMU is also the only university in the state of Michigan to offer a major in meteorology and to operate an island research station on Michigan’s Beaver Island. (In fact, Great Lakes research is a big component of the non-medical sciences engaged in by university professors and students with much of the work bringing in collaboration with researchers from other major universities.)
Not a science person and don’t want to teach? Not to worry! CMU’s business school hosts an annual “New Venture” entrepreneurial competition and awards $30,000 to the winning pitch. Is a career in fashion or fashion merchandizing your future goal? There’s a program for that too. The top Michigan university television station is also found at CMU (thirteen years running!) and their broadcasting program has produced top graduates, including famed sports announcer Dick Enberg. And let’s not leave out their theatre department, which produced “little-known actor” Jeff Daniels of Dumb & Dumber and Newsroom fame. Musically, CMU boasts Andrew Dost from the group Fun. among its alumni.
If you’re an equestrian (and let’s be honest, if you’re reading this blog, you most likely are), CMU is home to both hunt seat and stock seat teams who compete in IHSA Zone 6, Region 4. The teams ride at separate barns in the greater Mount Pleasant region and host their own homepage and Facebook page if you’d like to get to know them better or connect with the captains and coaches. (The central section of Michigan is also home to other horse boarding facilities if you prefer to ride on your own and the location offers easy access to larger horse shows in Traverse City, Lansing, and even down in Indiana and Ohio if you wish to make the drive.)