College of the Week

Each week, Mrs. Nilsen will provide insight into unique college options for learners and families. The source is the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019, an annual comprehensive catalog of diverse universities here in California and nationwide, Colleges That Change Lives, and 50 Colleges that Create Futures.

THIS WEEK: Birmingham–Southern College

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Enrollment: 1,337

Acceptance Rate: 54%

DETAILS: BSC is now striving to prepare learners for all aspects of the modern world, with high-tech facilities and a more global curriculum. More than half the student body participates in community service through the Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action, and attentive faculty add to a sense of commitment to both personal and community growth. A junior says BSC is a good choice for those learners who, “want to spend four years preparing, maturing, and challenging their minds so that they can make a difference in the world.”

The Explorations general education curriculum is designed to help learners develop effective communication and problem-solving skills, connect with their social and political world, and direct their own learning. It comprises 32 units across several disciplines, including fine and performing arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities, as well as three global and local citizenship courses. All freshmen take an introductory first-year seminar, and all seniors complete a capstone experience and a public presentation of their work. The Explorations term, a four-week term between the fall and spring semesters, allows learners to explore new areas of study, from cooking lessons to travel in China.

The courses at BSC are, “somewhat competitive” and “challenging but not impossible,” according to one senior. Each learner is assigned a faculty member who serves as his or her academic advisor from freshman convocation to graduation, an arrangement that learners praise for its effectiveness. Equal praise goes out to faculty in the classrooms, where 65 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students. An education major says professors, “love to challenge our beliefs and ideas by making us defend what we think.” The honors program allows 25 exceptional first-year students to take small seminars with one or more professors. The Krulak Institute coordinates opportunities for experiential learning, such as service-learning projects, study abroad programs, and an entrepreneurial scholars program.