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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! As countries around the world ring in 2012, here in the US, more than 40 percent of the population is making at least one New Year’s resolution according to the Huffington Post. Like college, the New Year inspires many to make a fresh start and tackle new challenges. However ABC News reports that in the coming months, more than half of these resolutions will be abandoned. So whether you want to shape up or ship out this year, the expert admissions counselors at IvyWise have compiled a list of schools where you can keep your resolutions.

Eat Healthy at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Salmon salad with chickpeas and tomatoes, fettuccine with butternut squash and dried cranberries, baked haddock with jalapeno vinaigrette – consistently recognized for its top-notch cuisine, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, offers students numerous options for healthful eating. The school’s 1,750 students can enjoy a diet of food made from scratch using fresh, local ingredients. This includes bread, baked fresh daily, herbs, grown in a garden on campus, meat, butchered by the school’s dining staff, and of course, Maine’s signature dish, lobster. The school shares the recipes for many of its most popular menu items, so students can enjoy the beloved fare off-campus as well. Students at the private school have even created an iPhone App so you can peruse the daily menus at the school’s dining centers, Thorne Hall and Moulton Union, and plan your well-balanced meals accordingly.

When they’re not chowing down, students can choose from an extensive menu of majors and minors (from Earth and Oceanographic Science to Romance Languages) and more than 100 student organizations (from Broken, the Bowdoin Break Dance Crew, to The Society of Lost Letters, dedicated to typography, calligraphy, and book arts). For a taste of culture, students can visit the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum (home of the former American Civil War General, college president, and Maine Governor), or the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Off-campus, students can enjoy the local flavor of this small New England town, which is home to the Harriet Beecher Stowe house (where the author penned Uncle Tom’s Cabin), as well as nearby coastal and mountain retreats.

Get Fit at University of California –Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Set in southern California, which boasts average temperatures in the mid-sixties, the University of California, Santa Barbara provides plenty of year-round fitness options to its 20,000 undergraduate students. The Recreation Department at UCSB maintains the extensive Recreation Center and Aquatics Complex (home to swimming pools, gymnasia, weight rooms, squash courts, racquetball courts, climbing walls, and a jacuzzi), tennis courts, and sand volleyball courts, among other fitness facilities. The department also sponsors programs, clinics, and classes for students, who can backpack through Yosemite National Park or utilize the school’s own beach and lagoon for SCUBA, surfing, or sea kayaking. The school also promotes biking on campus, giving the right of way to bikers and providing ample bicycle stands and lockers for student use.

Students can exercise both their bodies and their minds at this public research university. The 1,055-acre campus is home to twelve national research centers. Further, with more than 80 majors (from Feminist Studies to Zoology) and almost 450 student organizations (including Argentine Tango and the Corcovado Rainforest Conservation Alliance), students are sure to find something that gets their pulse racing. Students can shape up by joining the triathlon team, cycling team, or another of the 24 athletic clubs, or join the nearly 500 students who play for the NCAA Division I Gauchos. When it’s time to relax, the university is well integrated into the city of Santa Barbara. Nestled between the Pacific Coast and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the city is home to Gaviota State Park (and the hot springs of Gaviota Peak), the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and is less than 100 miles from the bright lights of Hollywood.

Learn Something New at Millsaps College, Jackson, MS
In Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, the author writes: “We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.” Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi embodies this principle and Gladwell’s book is even assigned as required reading for the school’s incoming freshmen. Prior to beginning classes, students complete a writing assignment explaining how they will put Gladwell’s ideas into action on campus. Apparently successful, the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement revealed that Millsaps students are notably satisfied in the areas of “Level of Academic Challenge” and “Enriching Educational Experiences.” In addition to the extensive academic offerings, the school’s 1,000 undergraduate students can pursue one of more than 60 non-creditEnrichment Courses (in addition to their academic courses) offered each semester, from Talking Your Way Through the Spanish-Speaking World to Boxers Rebellion Hybrid Kickboxing.

Despite the school’s small size, students at this private university are given ample opportunity to exercise their brainpower with more than 30 majors and 40 minors from Geology to Philosophy. More than 80 student organizations, such as the Anthropology Club and the Millsaps Quizbowl Team, further encourage students to live what they learn. Students who seek some time to reflect on the day’s lessons can head to the James Observatory, the oldest building on campus, where the celestial view offers a unique perspective of the universe. Off-campus, students can enjoy the Mississippi state capital, home to historic Farish Street (and a thriving music scene), the Mississippi State Fair held each October, and Eudora Welty’s Home and Garden.

Help Others at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio is home to the Case Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL). The Center offers both short- and long-term programs for students to serve local, national, and international interests. Further, through the CCEL Fellows program, the school’s more than 4,000 undergraduate students can pursue full-time, intensive academic and summer service opportunities. Other opportunities include Case SERVES (Students Exploring Regular Volunteer Engagement through Service), which allows students to participate in weeklong programs in collaboration with organizations such as the East End Neighborhood House, Food Not Bombs, and The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. Through Project STEP-UP (Student Tutoring Effort to Promote Utilization of Potential), students can tutor and mentor at-risk youth in the Cleveland public school system. Throughout the year, “Case” also sponsors several service days, community work-study opportunities, and alternative breaks, where students spend school breaks performing service, rather than hitting the beach (this year’s alternative break options include New Orleans, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua).

Students at this private university can do plenty for themselves as well, with more than 80 majors and minors (including Artificial Intelligence and Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism) and more than 200 student organizations (from the Table Tennis Club to the Sign Language Club). Each spring on the last weekend before finals, students partake in the Hudson Relays, where classes compete in a 26-mile relay race. The winning class is rewarded with a steak dinner with the President of the university. As testament to the school’s work hard-play hard mentality, other campus traditions include Springfest, Halloween at the Farm, and the Film Society’s Science Fiction film festival.

Cross Borders at Goucher College, Towson, MD
It’s no surprise that Goucher College, located in Towson, MD, has adopted the tagline “Transcending Boundaries.” Each of the school’s 1,500 students are required to study abroad during their undergraduate education, which made Goucher the first liberal arts school in the nation with such a requirement. The college even provides a monetary stipend to each student to facilitate this. Students can gain a global perspective through semester, yearlong, summer, and intensive course programs and internships in nearly 40 countries. For example, Goucher’s “Gophers” can travel to Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo to study Peace and Conflict Studies in The Balkans, or can explore Origins of African Identity in Ghana. Students are encouraged to share their experience via the Passport Series. Sponsored by the Office of International Studies and the Office of Communications, the series offers students a chance to publish photos and essays from their travels.

Back on campus, students can expand their horizons in courses such as Issues in International Politics or Linguistic Crossroads: Where Cultures (Con)/(Di)verge. The private university offers 31 majors and six interdisciplinary programs in a variety of areas such as Mathematics & Computer Science or Peace Studies. Further, Goucher offers 60 student organizations from the Campus Agriculture Co-op to the Yoga Club. Just 10 miles from Baltimore and within an hour of Washington, DC, students can broaden their interests off-campus as well. In addition to the numerous local culture and entertainment options, Goucher students have held internships with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the White House, and other government agencies.

There are many schools across the US that will provide excellent opportunities for you to accomplish your academic and personal goals. Whether you’re just kicking off the college admissions process or have already begun creating your preliminary college list, the start of the New Year is a great time to look at schools where you can make a positive change in yourself and the world around you.

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