In early February, I was invited to visit Chapel Haven West in Tucson, Arizona and also visited Arizona State University and the University of Arizona with my colleague, Linda Kay. We had the opportunity to stop by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, an annual event that is comprised of 4,500 vendors for the world’s largest natural history showcase.
Linda Kay ( Guest Blogger )
ASU is the largest university in the country with 72,000 students, 55,000 of them are on the Tempe campus. The other 3 campuses include The Polytechnic Campus located in Mesa for students exploring interdisciplinary science, engineering tech, management, and education, the West Campus, based on the University of Oxford’s architecture and offering a closer-knit community for students studying business, education, and interdisciplinary arts and sciences, and the downtown Phoenix campus which offers strong academic and career opportunities for students with media, health care, corporate and government organizations. Freshmen are required to live on campus and are organized into living-learning communities by area of study. Tutoring is provided in the residence halls. The campus has five libraries for students.
ASU offers the first College of Sustainability program in the country. Students learn about factors that determine the sustainability of human institutions, organizations, cultures, and technologies in different environments and work on real-world challenges using various approaches. There is also an Exploratory Program for undecided students, and the Barrett Honors College, which offers talented students special opportunities for research, internships, community service, and study abroad, plus a residential community.
Admission is based purely on academics, and those who meet criteria (3.0 GPA, 24 ACT, or 1100 SAT will be admitted.) Merit scholarships ranging from 5k to 15k are awarded to qualified applicants. Total cost for non-resident students is about 38k / year. About 32.5% of freshmen are from out-of-state, but most hail from the Western and Mid-Western states.
The student body is extremely diverse with students of all cultures, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds represented. Students sporting tattoos, blue hair and punk haircuts were found along with those in shorts and tees shirts. The campus was full of bicycles, a main form of transportation, and also the number one item stolen on campus. Skateboarders were noted everywhere, as this is also a popular form of transportation. The campus was well kept with many newer buildings and the Cady Mall, which is pedestrian only, running through the main part of campus. Orange trees predominated the landscaping, along with cactus, palm trees, and flowers. The weather in Arizona ranges from over 100 in the summer to 60′s in the winter, with cooler temperatures at night. The academic area of campus is separated from the residential area by a bridge that arches over University Avenue and was designed by a chiropractor. It is said that when you cross it, your back will be put back in alignment. A mountain with a giant “A” is seen from the bridge and residential areas, and it is a tradition to whitewash the letter “A” during Fall Welcome, then paint it gold for the first football game. Students are encouraged to buy a pass to football and basketball games, as sports are a big part of campus culture. ASU’s biggest rival is the University of Arizona, it’s neighbor two hours to the south.
Students appeared happy (perhaps the great weather contributes to the good moods) and were noted traversing the campus in great numbers late into the afternoon. University Avenue is the main thoroughfare, and there are off-campus eateries and shops within walking distance. Although there are many commuters, Greek Life and a multitude of extra-curricular activities (over 800 clubs), keep residential students busy. There are also many opportunities for recreational activities in the area, with the campus within proximity of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona, and a two-hour drive from Tucson.
Special Addendum: disabilities program
Disability Resource Center
Level of Support: Coordinated Services
The Disability Resource Center is a strong coordinated service located in the heart of the campus in the Matthews Center. The department occupies a huge office space with different work areas and offices to meet with the students. There are seven Disability Access Consultants who are available to work with the students. Approximately1600 students are registered and about 25% of those students have documented learning disabilities. In addition they serve students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, medical disabilities, and students with ASD. The campus is very accessible for students with physical disabilities and visual impairments. They have a transportation system using golf carts and will pick up students all over the campus. This system is also offered to students with temporary disabilities (such as a broken ankle).
Some of the services and accommodations available are:
Informal Coaching- only if requested and the goal would be for this to be short term. If a student needs more coaching they might be referred to the TriO Program which offers mentoring.
Sign Language Interpreting services
Alternative format service- staff helps convert text books to audio books
Assistive technology lab equipped with Kurzweil, Jaws, Magic, Braille, large print, e-text, large monitors, adaptive keyboards, computer with an adjustable table, Style writer, Livescribe Smart pens
Two of the access consultants work with students on the spectrum and will meet with the students regularly for informal coaching. They assist the students with choosing classes with professors that will be a good fit. There is a semester long class the students are encouraged to sign up for to help teach socialization.