Journal entry #4- Santa Clara University tour

Posted on July 26, 2008. Filed under: NODA Journal |

Santa Clara Mission

Santa Clara Mission

Today I took the 7 mile drive down the road to Santa Clara University, a small, private Jesuit college minutes away from San Jose State. I went on an admissions tour, asked some questions and briefly met the NODA interns stationed there. Visiting left me with more questions and things to ponder than I ever thought possible. My student affairs education has completely changed the way I view universities and I am glad to see my education at work. On the other hand, if I ever am in a position to send a child to college, my partner will be in charge of going on tours. I will ask too many innate questions and my child will undoubtedly feel “uncool”.

Santa Clara looks and feels like a Jesuit institution from the moment you drive onto campus. The visitor parking is right in front of the Mission Church and it is the first building that we walked through on the tour. Of course, this is after the student tour guide had informed everyone that only 50% of the student body are Catholic and that the core curriculum includes 3 religious studies courses. Religion is not overtly mentioned much after the tour of the Mission, however there are signs of its influence throughout the program. The only student organization on the first floor of the student union is the campus ministry. Our tour guide explains her path towards finding her calling, not her job or career. In other words, its there, its not being touted as a huge selling point, but its impact on how the university looks, feels, and operates is quite clear.

There were several things I heard on the tour that made my ears perk up. The funny thing is that 7 years ago when I was giving tours at CU-Boulder I was probably guity of similar verbal slips. I could never have picked up on the things I heard and analyzed now. With this being said, I have no doubt that our tour guide had no idea what messages she was sending when she called students “kids” or joked about incoming female students putting their names on a list to get married in the Mission and then trying to find a husband. Of course, to me the first statement shows a lack of respect for incoming students and the second comment is sexist and not inclusive. Not to mention the fact that every time financial matters were mentioned she directed the answers at parents which basically implied that students at Santa Clara do not need to take responsibility for their financial matters. Perhaps this is true for a large majority of the student body, but for those students who must pay for school on their own these statements must leave them feeling a bit “out of the loop”.

I was happy to learn that there are different admissions requirements for the three different colleges on campus (engineering, arts and science, and business) and that faculty advisors have lighter course loads in order to ensure that they have plenty of time to meet with students. Santa Clara has a number of Residence Hall Learning Communities where each student takes two classes with the rest of their hallmates, which is an excellent way to build both intellectual and social communities among new students. I was also very impressed with the Arts and Science building which had pictures of many world leaders/innovators including Mikhail Gorbachev, Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa, and Steven Spielberg to name a few. What really impressed me about these pictures was that below each one was a quote by the person and then a small biography about the work that they had done. To me this was an moving way to show how people from different backgrounds, fields, nationalities, and religions could all make a valuable contribution to the world.  

All and all I found a lot of the tour info to be similar to the stuff I have heard and said countless times before. Club sports, the recreation center, class size, colleges or departments, safety, library services, and where students can eat and live are all standard tour topics and they seem to satisfy the majority of people’s interest in a prospective college. Like I said before, I’m glad I now have a new outlook on tours, but man does it make my head spin after visiting!

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    The challenges, successes and ideas of a budding (student affairs) professional

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