Monday, February 28, 2011

Non-traditional in Business Casual or Traditional in Flip Flops

After much deliberation, day-dreaming and occasional angst. Cody has narrowed his college choices down to two.  Cody is choosing between:

Schreiner University. A small , fairly traditional, liberal arts college in Kerrville, Texas.  The upside being that it is close to home and he can come home when he wants. The downside being that it is close to home and he would like us not to be-so-close.

and then there is...

 Kettering University. A small, non-traditional/hands-on/co-operative ed. science/engineering/tech school in Flint, Michigan. The upside being he is far from home. The downside being..he is            far-  f a r - f  a   r        from home.

Both schools are small. Like really, really small -(Think 1000ish total student body) Both have extremely small student-teacher ratios. Both offer Business degrees with a major or concentration in management information systems. Both offer free-tutoring (A BIG PLUS in Odio's financially oriented head) and although we originally had a bit of sticker shock at price of one of these institutions of higher the end, it turns out that both will be financially doable.

And that? Is where the similarities end. So we visit the campuses. We start with Schreiner because it is so-close.

 It is a nice, Texas Spring day when we arrive. Cody is asked to come an hour early to visit/interview with an admissions rep. They spend a lot of time discussing dorm options, work-study options, soccer;), test-anxiety and the differences (not good or bad) between the type of learning Cody will encounter at Kettering versus the more traditional Schreiner.

Here is a pic of an MIS class taken outside is a nice day. Cody is invited to come back and sit in on an MIS class (if he is still interested) after his visit to Kettering.

We join 4 other students for the campus tour.

The president of the campus comes out to greet each student individually. We visit the turtle sanctuary. We discover that one of the exercise bikes in the gym has a game where you chase a dragon. Cody's eyes twinkle at the possibilities... We pass kids playing Ultimate Frisbee and in true South Texas fashion are treated to a ghost-story about one of the buildings on campus.

Cody leaves saying the campus was much nicer than he expected.

Next we are off to Michigan for a Prep for Success Conference. All Kettering students participate in a minimum of 5 semesters of a co-op. Cody is placed in Section B. Meaning? He would work July-Sept. Go to classes Oct.-Dec. work Jan.-March and return to classes April- June for the next 4 1/2 years. At the end of which he would graduate with not just his BA but 2 1/2 years of professional work experience.

But first Kettering is hosting a dinner in San Antonio. At dinner,Cody gets the opportunity to meet a few students who have co-op jobs here in Texas. The students are very impressive. Cody also meets both his admissions rep and his co-op rep. Cody's co-op rep hands him a booklet on  resume building and encourages him to create and upload his resume before the upcoming conference so that they have time to look at it and edit as needed.

Also? Cody and I go shopping, because unlike Schreiner where Cody and other prospective students showed up in jeans and t-shirts, Dress for Success kids? Are instructed to wear business casual..and a very specific description of business casual is included. So Cody and I are off to find a jacket that will keep him warm enough for the weekend..and look okay with his dress pants, shoes and nice shirt. We realize that the coat he fixes cars in..isn't going to cut it.

As we spend the day shopping..Cody and I discuss some of the different purchases each school will require.

We realize that if he goes to Kettering he will need a much more energy efficient car than the gas-guzzling Blazer he currently drives. Also? More than one or two business outfits seem to be in the future.

As for Schreiner..well...Big B and I had agreed that if he stays nearby he can purchase a scooter. (Cody is shooting for a motorcycle but Big B is saying no way) and Cody adds..could I have a nice pair of flip-flops?I still have my old ones for after soccer games.

So we agree. Schreiner-flip flops. Kettering -clothing for business and business casual.

And then we are truly off to Michigan.

Kettering informs us over the phone that there is another prospective Kettering family on our flight (from our transfer in Atlanta, Ga.) and that they will be returning with us as well. We are encouraged to locate them and take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel together.

We find them immediately. Alex and his mom..Eva..are from Southern California. Both boys and moms hit it off, so we hang out quite a bit over the weekend. (Most of the Kettering pics have been taken from Eva..because..well..we all know I take lousy pics.)

Flint has snow!  For us snow-deprived folks..this snow is magical.

We arrive in Flint on Friday night. Cody and I play in the snow before heading for lunch at Applebees. We return to the hotel to watch movies on HBO (we don't have HBO at home!) then meet Eva and Alex for dinner. Along the way we meet another Kettering family from Colorado. Johnathan and his dad join us for dinner.

We arrive on campus early Sat. morning.. Here are Cody and Alex before the day gets going. We moms promise them we will limit our picture taking of them (except of the snow!!) if they will pose for us now.

The boys agree to humor us.

and I only cheat on my non-photo promise once(during the day..that is)!

We start with tours of the dorms. Everyone at Kettering has a single room in a suite. Murals are allowed to be painted on the walls in the hallways.

Then...we are off to the classrooms. There are a handful of traditional looking classrooms. Most..not so much. We couldn't really take many pics of the classes. For those of you who have participated in Odyssey of the Mind, worked in Think Tanks, or any government understand the need to keep works in progress quiet. There are works-in-progress everywhere. But we were allowed a few pics. These we can share.

Here the prospective students discuss a car in progress with a current Kettering student. At this moment they are discussing what operating systems are being used to run a certain program as part of this project.

Here are pictures of the names of some of the classrooms which I found particularly amusing.


After the tour we catch the end of a session on affordability. This session is followed by an expo of various opportunity to have your resume edited. Cody spends almost 20 minutes with a faculty member as they work together on his resume.  Lunch with faculty. Visiting classes. Applied math and a business class for Cody.

Cody meets and visits with his potential academic advisor. They spend some time discussing the most-likely direction for his co-op. It is a fascinating opportunity...very tempting...a tad intimidating at this point in time. Also? He probably will only have the opportunity to visit family and friends (and girlfriend!)4- 6 weeks out of the year for the next several years. That 4-6 weeks is including summer and Christmas break.

Then we are back for more sessions on resumes and interviews. More sessions on student life..a student panel. Things start to become a blur..and just when you know you can't absorb one more thing...

The parents and students are separated. Our kids spend the evening eating pizza and playing games with current Kettering students. Parents are bussed to a local museum. Here is a picture of me and Eva in front of museum..because we wanted a picture to prove to our family and friends that we were in snow!!!! The parents have an evening of amazing food (see pic below) and lots of conversation with other parents and Kettering faculty.

 We are bussed back to Kettering to pick up the kids. Here is one last shot of Cody, Alex and Johnathan before returning to the hotel for the evening.(and yes..they were allowed to change into jeans for the evening)

We are now back in Texas. Trying to finish processing all that we saw and heard over the weekend. Kettering is truly a unique and incredible opportunity. And Cody is the first to admit that he feels extremely comfortable with the other students. Cody is not so sure he will have as much in common with the students on the other campus....but he also realizes that he would like to know more of what a traditional education is like.

Cody is a boy who has spent most of his life as a very hands-on, self-directed learner..and he is drawn to the idea of being just a regular college student in a traditional setting.

So after a bit of late-night research and soul searching, Cody decides that  business casual can wait until grad school..for now?

Flip flops it is.


Michele said...

Wow, what a great experience, Nicole. Sounds like a hard decision, but I trust he will be happy.

I know for Jul, when she visited a school in Philadelphia that she really liked, she is also thinking of grad school.

Didn't you just love the snow??!!!

grillledcheesechic said...

It is tough! But as my cousin often do you get to choose between great and great?

I think either's a good choice for Cody.

I absolutely loved the snow!!!

Carrie said...

I vote (as if I get a vote :D ) for Kettering. Otherwise, I think Cody will quickly discover that traditional education is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Although, having a college student relatively close to home is very nice for us moms.

grillledcheesechic said...

You said exactly what one of the current Kettering students said to him. But the boy wants to try traditional ed.

And actually? Schreiner is making it VERY financially feasible for him.

..AND you are right..close is nice for us moms;)