Universities/Colleges with great Recreational skating cultures?

bethy135

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Our daughter skates for the joy of it. She has done local shows and low level comps and has passed PrePre moves. Regrettably her options have always been extremely limited due to our geographical location.

She would like to go to university in an area of the USA or maybe Canada where skating is a dominant part of the local community and culture - all levels of skating. She plans to skate a lot in college and also hopes it will be one way for her to meet people and make friends.

We are planning a trip to the eastern Great Lakes to explore schools there - would love some specific recommendations. Public or private schools. Would also love recommendations for other areas of the country. She plans to study in a STEM field and loves cold weather.

THANK YOU so much in advance for any ideas!
 

Sylvia

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clairecloutier

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Our daughter skates for the joy of it. She has done local shows and low level comps and has passed PrePre moves. Regrettably her options have always been extremely limited due to our geographical location.

She would like to go to university in an area of the USA or maybe Canada where skating is a dominant part of the local community and culture - all levels of skating. She plans to skate a lot in college and also hopes it will be one way for her to meet people and make friends.

We are planning a trip to the eastern Great Lakes to explore schools there - would love some specific recommendations. Public or private schools. Would also love recommendations for other areas of the country. She plans to study in a STEM field and loves cold weather.

THANK YOU so much in advance for any ideas!


I obviously don't have firsthand experience with this, but national competitor Heidi Munger enjoyed her years of collegiate skating at Boston University. She said it kind of reinvigorated her love of skating. https://www.instagram.com/p/CORRijBrpfF/

I wouldn't say that skating dominates the culture in Boston, but there is a fair amount of it. And if she could afford it/were interested, there is quite a bit of opportunity to join Theatre on Ice groups in Boston, both at Skating Club of Boston and North Shore Skating Club out of Reading.
 

Willin

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What're her stats as far as GPA/SATs? Is she looking for a T-25, a big public school, or a small private school, etc.? What kind of skating is she looking to do - non-competitive, intercollegiate team, collegiate solo, synchro, etc?

I skated in collegiate competitions and have lots of friends that did so both on recreational/fun tracks and more competitive tracks so I know quite a few programs and their culture.
 

overedge

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There is intercollegiate skating in Ontario, or at least there was in the Before Times.


McGill University in Montreal also has a figure skating team/club, which IIRC in the past has participated in intercollegiate competitions in Ontario.

A lot of other universities in Canada, especially those that have an ice rink on campus, have a varsity/recreational skating club. Those clubs usually don't have intercollegiate competitions to be part of, but they are a lot of fun and a good way to meet other skaters.
 

bethy135

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What're her stats as far as GPA/SATs? Is she looking for a T-25, a big public school, or a small private school, etc.? What kind of skating is she looking to do - non-competitive, intercollegiate team, collegiate solo, synchro, etc?

I skated in collegiate competitions and have lots of friends that did so both on recreational/fun tracks and more competitive tracks so I know quite a few programs and their culture.

She is a great student with perfect grades in higher level classes. She's taking AP classes, jr and sr years etc. However her small town public high school is not super competitive as far as prepping kids for college and so she is wanting a solid school but not a prestigious one. Also she doesn't do well be super pressured and stressed out all the time. And she's on a budget.

She's open to a big public school or a smaller school in a large city. Boston is also a place she will look due to the clear skating opportunities there and obvious excellent college culture there. It might not be affordable for her though - not sure.

For skating she envisions: skating daily, volunteering to teach learn to skate, doing fun local shows/fundraisers and maybe adult competition. We don't think she's skilled enough for synchro yet but that could depend. She loves performing and being on a team and in a group.
 

GarrAargHrumph

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A place to start might be with colleges that have rinks on campus (although she'd need to check to make sure they aren't 100% hockey). Which schools she might look at depends on things like her GPA, SAT scores, etc. Similarly, she might look for colleges that have skating clubs on campus. So for STEM, some examples I know of might be UMass Amherst, Columbia U, any college in Boston including BU, Colgate, Cornell, Hamilton, NYU, UNH, U Vermont... this link may help.
 

bethy135

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A lot of other universities in Canada, especially those that have an ice rink on campus, have a varsity/recreational skating club. Those clubs usually don't have intercollegiate competitions to be part of, but they are a lot of fun and a good way to meet other skaters.
Yes this is a huge reason we are looking at schools in Canada! We have visited the University of British Columbia already but wonder if the Great Lakes area and Ontario would be even better.

We are also wondering if there might be some hidden gems out there - smaller private schools with large endowments looking to draw excellent out of state students. Schools with solid math programs especially (she will almost surely move on to grad school after). And that have onsite rinks and clubs and maybe surrounding community rinks and clubs as well :)
 

GarrAargHrumph

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If she's over age 18, she doesn't need to volunteer to teach LTS - she should get paid to teach the lower levels. She can probably teach Tot 1, 2, and likely also 3, 4 and Basic 1 and perhaps Basic 2, and that's the brunt of LTS at any program. Different LTS programs require different things of their coaches - one of the rinks where I teach LTS is so desperate that they'll take you if you can breathe (sort of, but you catch my meaning), so if one rink won't take her due to her lacking certain MITF tests, another will take her.

For adult synchro, there are teams at nearly all levels. If she can do inside and outside Mohawks, and inside and outside three turns, she could do synchro for lower level teams, if she's interested. Regardless, the college skating clubs that I know of compete students at all levels, from Basic 1 on up, so she could look for college teams that welcome skaters of all levels. Columbia's does that, for example, although I know she's not looking for a school at that level.
 

GarrAargHrumph

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Yes this is a huge reason we are looking at schools in Canada! We have visited the University of British Columbia already but wonder if the Great Lakes area and Ontario would be even better.

Many US universities have skating clubs as well. You don't have to compete if you don't want to, and many (all those I know of, but I'm not familiar with them all, so YMMV) take skaters of all levels.
 

Willin

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She is a great student with perfect grades in higher level classes. She's taking AP classes, jr and sr years etc. However her small town public high school is not super competitive as far as prepping kids for college and so she is wanting a solid school but not a prestigious one. Also she doesn't do well be super pressured and stressed out all the time. And she's on a budget.

She's open to a big public school or a smaller school in a large city. Boston is also a place she will look due to the clear skating opportunities there and obvious excellent college culture there. It might not be affordable for her though - not sure.

For skating she envisions: skating daily, volunteering to teach learn to skate, doing fun local shows/fundraisers and maybe adult competition. We don't think she's skilled enough for synchro yet but that could depend. She loves performing and being on a team and in a group.
I'd hold off on Boston, if only because I know quite a few skaters who went to skate there and found it overly competitive and not as friendly. They ended up feeling a little disillusioned with their choice. BU or BC has less competitive skating, but the draw for high level skating in the area is strong. If she really wants to it can be a great place to go to college - just not somewhere as friendly or fun as she'd like on the skating side. I'd avoid schools with a varsity or pre-varsity/club varsity program for the same reason.

I'll leave out synchro since she's below the skill level needed for college competition. Intercollegiate sounds perfect: skating as often as you want, more chill competition with other college aged adults, categories for all skill levels, and team dynamics. Most teams also have performance opportunities during fundraisers and competition send offs. There's even team skills challenges during those competitions.

Cal's team is very friendly, fun, and could easily accommodate and welcome her skill level, but it sounds she more wants midwest. Some of the other West Coast schools have teams, but they're small and made up of more high level competitive people than Cal's - which ranges from fresh beginner to (inter)national level. As far as midwest schools, most Big Ten schools have teams and on campus rinks. Illinois, Minnesota, MSU, Wisconsin, and Ohio State all have more chill intercollegiate teams. Michigan's intercollegiate team may be chill, but I've also heard negatives about it being more internally competitive than the others. Synchro schools like MSU and Wisconsin have intense synchro teams, but friendly intercollegiate teams for the burned out synchro skaters and normal singles skaters. Notre Dame and Northwestern tend to attract less high level skaters than places like MSU and Michigan, so their teams may be more welcoming to newer skaters. There's a number of teams in Colorado and a number of IVY league/east coast teams, but I don't know as much about them.

As for volunteering to teach, most rinks nationwide will be wanting a much higher skill level - usually only intermediate/novice tests and above. So she may want to find a school/coach that will help her pass tests.
 

Debbie S

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Regardless, the college skating clubs that I know of compete students at all levels, from Basic 1 on up, so she could look for college teams that welcome skaters of all levels. Columbia's does that, for example, although I know she's not looking for a school at that level.
Columbia U has a skating team? They aren't listed on the USFS page that Sylvia linked above, but it would be great if they did. A clubmate is going to Barnard next year and she would love to compete on a team.

Bethy, in addition to the excellent advice others here have given, I'll add that you and your daughter should definitely to talk to skaters as well as the coach on each team, to get a sense of the climate and how things are run. That should tell you a lot about whether they welcome skaters at all levels and how much internal competition there is. With some large (and successful) teams, there is often competition just to get a start at the intercollegiate comps and if a skater doesn't medal, they get pulled from the event for the rest of the season (i.e. only skaters that can medal will get put out) and skaters are discouraged from testing up b/c they've been slotted in for a particular level. And other teams that are smaller will encourage skaters to compete in as many events as they can in order to increase their starts and point totals. Most schools fall somewhere in between. Definitely talk to the coach to understand their philosophy.
 

GarrAargHrumph

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Columbia U has a skating team? They aren't listed on the USFS page that Sylvia linked above, but it would be great if they did. A clubmate is going to Barnard next year and she would love to compete on a team.
They do. They purchase ice time at Chelsea Piers (as I recall, the school either buys this or subsidizes it), and the school pays for your Columbia FSC uniform and any entry fees you need for competitions or tests.
 

Willin

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Columbia U has a skating team? They aren't listed on the USFS page that Sylvia linked above, but it would be great if they did. A clubmate is going to Barnard next year and she would love to compete on a team.

Bethy, in addition to the excellent advice others here have given, I'll add that you and your daughter should definitely to talk to skaters as well as the coach on each team, to get a sense of the climate and how things are run. That should tell you a lot about whether they welcome skaters at all levels and how much internal competition there is. With some large (and successful) teams, there is often competition just to get a start at the intercollegiate comps and if a skater doesn't medal, they get pulled from the event for the rest of the season (i.e. only skaters that can medal will get put out) and skaters are discouraged from testing up b/c they've been slotted in for a particular level. And other teams that are smaller will encourage skaters to compete in as many events as they can in order to increase their starts and point totals. Most schools fall somewhere in between. Definitely talk to the coach to understand their philosophy.
This is definitely why staying away from places like Boston and varsity schools is good. At my alma mater and the other team I know most about, they would never pull anyone from competition and actively scout lower level skaters (since there's fewer people at pre-pre/prelim in collegiate competitions and they want more categories competed).

You bring up another good point - the coaching. At my alma mater the skaters coached each other. Some had coaches on the side, but there was no team head coach or even requirement for skaters to have a coach. That's not to say they won't help you find a coach if you want one. I think they had a skater registered as their team's coach. When recruiting me they told me they even choreograph and costume each other through dress lending. They trained as a team once a month but otherwise trained alone or in small groups on freestyles. The situation is similar at Cal, UCLA, and UCSD. Meanwhile other programs have coaches and a much stricter set of requirements, monitoring, and practices from it - especially in the varsity programs.
 

overedge

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I could hug you all!! Thank you for the thoughtful replies! My daughter and I will carefully review all your wonderful insight today. Thank you again!!

One other suggestion: if you are looking at a university with an ice rink on campus or nearby, look carefully at how much ice time the figure skaters get. I have heard, but I don't know if this is true, that because UBC has varsity hockey teams for men and for women, that it can be difficult for figure skaters to get ice time there.
 

barbk

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They do. They purchase ice time at Chelsea Piers (as I recall, the school either buys this or subsidizes it), and the school pays for your Columbia FSC uniform and any entry fees you need for competitions or tests.
That's quite the hike from Columbia U!

OP: what state do you live in? What kind of budget are you considering for college? BU & BC are rather expensive schools and their financial aid is not usually great. Berkeley doesn't do a whole lot for OOS students on the financial aid front, and it is also expensive. Columbia has a good net price calculator you can use to see whether the aid provided would make it workable for your family.

Bowling Green State University has a lowish cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room & board, books & supplies) of $34K/year and rec figure skating. They give some decent merit scholarships.

Lehigh University is a lot more expensive but has given great financial aid/scholarships to some of our students. There is an ice rink in Bethlehem - one of my former students skates there.
 

purple skates

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I believe Grand Valley State (western Michigan) does as well.
 

Yazmeen

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I know a young skater who is on one of the synchro teams at Adrian, and she absolutely loves the school.
 

Willin

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@Yazmeen They are welcoming and have a good culture - but probably not for skaters of this skill level. Same goes for Western Michigan.

@purple skates U of M would likely be a poor choice given how internal politics plays on their skating teams. I actually competed with a triple gold test medalist who couldn't make their synchro team because she wasn't Senior enough. She did compete freestyle for them, but was generally turned off enough of their culture that she transferred. The people in the know there seem very happy. They also may not be friendly to lower level skaters given they're not even friendly to a lot of high level competitors. Grand Valley would be a much better choice.

@concorde Delaware could be very overwhelming to someone from a smaller rink. I know it was for the person I know who competed there. She also mentioned that like U of M they're a lot more friendly to people they know well (who grew up at that rink/team or have been there a few years) and leave those not from their rink out of a lot at the collegiate level unless they're extremely good. My friend had senior moves, juv freestyle, and silver dances and couldn't make their normal team for synchro or freestyle.
 

el henry

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Lehigh University is a lot more expensive but has given great financial aid/scholarships to some of our students. There is an ice rink in Bethlehem - one of my former students skates there.

Really? :eek: As I, I don't doubt it, but I think in 40 years on the faculty at Lehigh spousal unit had one skater (that he knew of) and I never knew Steel Ice attracted that many "real skaters". Even with Penguins FSC. So color me impressed.

This of course doesn't help the OP, but @bethy135 if you and her daughter decide to tour Lehigh and/or the Lehigh Valley, PM me. I can't help at all with skating, but generally, maybe. :D (As iin general knowledge, Spousal Unit is emeritus and has zippity doo dah to do with admissions, so not there ;) )
 
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barbk

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Really? :eek: As I, I don't doubt it, but I think in 40 years on the faculty at Lehigh spousal unit had one skater (that he knew of) and I never knew Steel Ice attracted that many "real skaters". Even with Penguins FSC. So color me impressed.

This of course doesn't help the OP, but @bethy135 if you and her daughter decide to tour Lehigh and/or the Lehigh Valley, PM me. I can't help at all with skating, but generally, maybe. :D (As iin general knowledge, Spousal Unit is emeritus and has zippity doo dah to do with admissions, so not there ;) )
The OP's daughter "has done local shows and low level comps and has passed PrePre moves." -- so not a super high level of competitive skating. My student had passed Intermediate and seems happy enough with the opportunities there. I don't think she is focused on competition.
 

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