High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, definitely has the WOW factor. I spent a full day on campus, talking with students, professors and admissions staff. You might think you are in a corporate conference center when you take a tour – and you’ll take a very personalized tour, with just 6-8 people led by a student ambassador who will drive you around this spectacular campus in a golf cart. The dorms are furnished with high-end furniture and the academic lounge spaces are decorated with Persian rugs and African artifacts. There’s not a scrap of the typical college modular furniture on this campus, and not a scrap of litter on the ground.
It’s clear that High Point’s current president, an alumnus who took his post in 2005, has made an indelible impact on the direction the university has moved. Dr. Nido Qubein arrived in the United States at age 17, built a successful corporate education company and has authored 15 books, mostly about communication, motivation and success. Any student or parent who hears Dr. Qubein talk about modeling leadership, confidence and a positive attitude, and how High Point emphasizes the practical application of a liberal arts education, would trust their child to him, and to High Point. On the atmosphere, Qubein says, “Our students watch, they learn, they live,” and I saw this backed up by a student panelist who said, “This can be your real world if you work for it.”
All freshmen take the President’s seminar, spending 8 or 9 hours in their first semester in a lecture setting with Dr. Qubein. These are the only large lecture classes; other classes generally have a maximum of about 30 students. Professors know their students and spend time with them; students say that the personal attention from professors is one of the best parts of their High Point education.
Enrollment has increased from 1,500 undergraduates to over 4,000 since 2005, and the school aims to grow to about 5,000 undergrads, and SAT scores (ie. selectivity) have actually increased in that time frame. Eighty percent of the students are from outside of North Carolina, and about a third of the students join a fraternity or sorority. Most students live on campus in dorms and campus housing with a variety of styles – all with beautiful furniture.
Top majors include business administration, communications, biology, education, exercise science, psychology, interior design, athletic training and criminal justice. The Human Biomechanics and Physiology lab, which undergraduate exercise science, physical therapy and athletic training students use for research, is a 13,000 square foot facility with state-of-the-art equipment comparable to the lab at Nike’s headquarters. I went into the environmental chamber that can simulate air pressure and temperature up to 13,000 feet and 99% humidity, helping athletes train for high-altitude events, among other things. High Point was one of the first universities to grant a degree in sports medicine, and their new Doctor of Physical Therapy program launches in 2016.
High Point is a Methodist-affiliated college, but there are more Catholics and more Baptists here than Methodist students. There is a Hillel, and as with most issues or questions parents and prospective students ask, High Point addresses the issue head-on. Students are required to take one course on ethics and one course related to religion (many interesting choices) and the liberal arts core requires students to take history, English lit and English writing, a foreign language course (9 choices), social science, science, physical education, the first year seminar, mathematics, lab science, and theatre/music/art appreciation. Core courses can be spread out over four years.
High Point emphasizes experiential learning, and professors incorporate some experiential component into each class. For this reason, most semester-long courses at High Point are four-credits instead of three; students take four courses per semester, instead of the standard five at most other schools.
Some have said that the campus has a Disneyland feel to it; the fountains babble happily and music plays through an outdoor sound system. Statues of famous and inspirational people – Amelia Earhart, Abe Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, and many, many others – are perched on campus benches. High Point would ask you to look beneath the surface and ask “why” things are so beautiful here. This up-and-coming university strives to educate students how to be successful, both in and out of the classroom.
You can see all of my photos from my day-long visit to High Point University here. I also shot a quick little video of my tour guide, Amber: