September 18, 2016

Tour Along with College Essay Whiz: Clark University

Do you want to be a Clarkie? Then you would want to “Challenge convention and change our world.”

On a beautiful sunny afternoon I entered the inviting lobby of the admissions office of Clark University, a small and unique liberal arts school in Worcester, Massachusetts. Greeted enthusiastically by students at the front desk, I received a very professional welcome packet and cordial offers of coffee or tea. I sat down on a comfy couch facing a coffee table with an assortment of recent Clark yearbooks. Just a few minutes later, one of the student leaders sat down, introduced herself, and gave us the opportunity to ask questions before the information session started. I could see the relief in the eyes of parents and potential applicants alike as she engaged them in cheerful and charming conversation.

The information session was conducted by admissions officer Tristan Deveney and Clark admissions officerAnthony, a rising senior.  Although the wealth of information was presented at a pace that was a bit of a challenge to follow, the accompanying PowerPoint was very helpful.  The engaging presentation was followed by a panel of students of diverse background and interests.  The combination of earnestness and humor among these well-informed students was impressive.

Clark’s ambience is supportive, down to earth, and decidedly liberal, and the panel members agreed that cliques are at a minimum. It is clearly meant for students who are somewhat independent, seeking new dimensions in their interests, and hoping to graduate with a passion combined with knowledge, skills and a career or future study direction.

The school is relatively small, with approximately 2200 students, 1000 of whom are graduate students.  Also, 15-20 percent of the students are international.  Students must live on campus for the first two years.  It’s important to know that Worcester’s winters are very snowy – It even gets more snow than Boston.

ClarkClark is most definitely a liberal arts school that offers some unique advantages. The FYI (First Year Intensive and Advising) arranges groups of 15 students in a program that combines writing and an orientation.  Each group has a professor who becomes the students’ adviser.  That is very comforting as students ease into their freshman year.  Clark professors are also well known for being accessible and encouraging.

The Program of Liberal Studies offers a balance between structure and flexibility with diverse courses that focus on content plus critical thinking and analysis.  Students do not declare a major until sophomore year.  Psychology is by far the most popular major.

Clark also features its LEEP program (Liberal Education and Effective Practice).  It is an interesting combination of self-management skills and creativity blended with the coursework. The LEEP Culminating Capstone allows students to choose a project to study with a $4500 stipend.

The emphasis on practical learning is fascinating. Clarkies can partner with community members in their field so that they can put what they learn into practice. Community engagement is very much a part of their lives.

It also offers the option of taking classes in a dozen local colleges and universities in a Consortium that allows one class per semester in another school along with access to libraries and clubs in all the schools. Clarkies may take classes at Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Becker College, College of the Holy Cross, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Nichols College, Quinsigamond Community College, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Worcester State University. Clark sign

Many students find the appeal of the master’s program to be a strong draw:  If you maintain a 3.4 GPA or higher from sophomore to senior year, you may be able to attend a master’s program from May of your senior year until the end of the fifth year free of charge. According to Clark’s statistics, 97% of its graduates are employed or in grad school within 6 months of graduation.

Located at 950 Main Street, Worcester MA 01610, Clark offers Early Decision and Early Action and is test-optional.

Next stop: Johnson and Wales!

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