Alternative colleges: Cut your own path

By Dan Khuu on August 21, 2013
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Art and design colleges

 For students with a creative flair, you can create to your heart’s content at art and design schools. Art and design schools will give you all of the tools you need to create your future, while helping you get a good liberal arts education.

 Many specialty art schools prepare students for careers in interior design, architecture, photography, ceramics, graphic design, fashion and many other artistic jobs. Technology-related careers include animation, video production, digital design, desktop publishing and video game design.

 “An art school provides you with a very focused education in your field of interest and many [instructors] have real-world experience and can be great contacts for networking,” said Dan Garza, who attended the Art Institute of Phoenix.

 Frequently, freshman have a passion for art and design, but aren’t sure what path to choose. Art schools are renowned for allowing students to try a variety of art forms.  “To high school students thinking about going to art school, I’d like to say that anything is possible,” Garza said.

Historically black colleges

 Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) are higher learning institutions established as early as 1837 with the intention of exclusively serving the African-American community during a time of racial segregation. With more than 100 schools in the country, a vast majority of HBCUs are located in eastern and southern states.

 Notable graduates of HBCUs include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Sean “Diddy” Combs, MTV’s Ananda Lewis, Spike Lee and American Idol Ruben Studdard.

 “Going to an all-black college allows me to leave my footprint at my school,” said Gilbert Gwandiku, who attended Grambling State University in Grambling, La. “The professors remember you, and they communicate with you better because they speak your language.”

 Today’s HBCUs are not always predominantly black. West Virginia State University, established in 1891 as the West Virginia Colored Institute, is over 80 percent white. “HBCUs offer supportive environments that stress friendliness and openness,” said Patricia Sloan, assistant dean at Chicago State University. “We are open to the whole public.”

Single-sex colleges
The National Association for Single Sex Education created education for girls with expanded educational opportunities, custom-tailored learning and greater autonomy. Academically, single-sex colleges offer intense studies without the distraction of members of the opposite sex.

“It is easier to focus in class, and class discussions are fantastically brilliant,” Katie Van Thomme said, describing her experience  at the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in St. Paul, Minn.

“I have a boyfriend of three years, so I am not concerned about dating. But even single girls at St. Kate’s are finding guys to hang out with,” Van Thomme said.

Of the approximately 300 single-sex private colleges in the United States, only five are recognized as all-men colleges. Typically all-male and all-female schools are within close proximity and have open enrollment between the two, giving students the opportunity for a co-ed experience if they choose.

Religious colleges
Attending a religious institution is an option for students who want a faith-based education. All religious colleges are private, and the amount of religious instruction varies with each school. Most affiliated schools have religion course requirements as well as church services.

 Many, such as Huntington University in Huntington, Ind., require faculty to subscribe to a statement of faith, which outlines their school’s ideals about their religion.

 Many religious schools have rules about drug use, alcohol consumption and dorm room visitation by members of the opposite sex. At Heritage Halls residential hall at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, visitors of the opposite sex are permitted in the lobbies and apartment kitchens, but not in the bedrooms or bathrooms, and are not allowed to stay overnight.

 Students at Brigham Young also must adhere to the dress code that strives for students to always be “modest, neat, and clean.”

Other colleges affiliated with a religion may have lifestyle regulations as well as religious studies requirements.

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