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Old 08-04-2009, 03:24 PM   #1
ADKechoes73
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Paul Smith's College?

Has anyone here ever attended or know much about the college. I've been really interested in possibly transferring there in the next year and would like to talk with anyone that has any personal experience there.

Thanks in advance
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
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You might try giving the guys who manage John Dillon Park ( near Long Lake) a call at 518-524-6226. They are grads of PS. The head manager is from the Utica area as well and is a very nice young man. I had the privilege of visiting with them just last week as I camped at John Dillon Park with my brother and his wife.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:33 PM   #3
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I graduated from Paul Smith's in May of 2008, with a bachelors in Forestry and a concentration in Recreation Resource Management. The three years I spent at PSC (I transferred in myself) made for some of the best memories of my life. If you're a fan of the outdoors, you can't beat going to school there. The Forestry program is top notch, and the programs in Recreation, Biology, Ecology, and Fish and Wild Life Sciences are really good as well.

The school is pretty small (about 1000 students), so you get to make some really good friends that you become really close with. The professors are all very approachable and are all on a first-name basis with all of their students.

The campus itself is about 14,000 acres, the vast majority of which is forested and available for recreation. There are more than 20 lean-tos scattered about the campus (I'm still not sure after 3 years there if I found them all or not) and numerous hiking trails, Jenkins and St. Regis Mountains are close by, and you have the high peaks within an hour's drive.

Saranac Lake is a very nice town to have nearby, and the town is a little bit less touristy than Lake Placid, and therefore doesn't go completely dead during the winter months like Placid does.

A bit of caution though- the school isn't cheap, it's a private college and the costs are comparable to other private schools. Having a car is also a necessity. The school is 5 or 6 miles from the nearest store, and 14 miles from Saranac Lake, the nearest town. Without a car, there are very few ways to escape the college culture, which everyone needs to do from time to time. Finally, it's a school only for those who don't mind cold and darkness... winters are brutal, especially since the main part of campus is right on the shore of Lower St. Regis Lake, and the wind never stops blowing off the lake during the winter. We'd have periods of 7 days straight where the temperature never rose above minus 10... Forestry Labs still go outside on those days, we'd have to wear goggles to keep our eyes from freezing, bring pencils to write with because the ink in a pen would freeze. Of course, snowshoes are a necessity for lab as well.

For the majority of my time at PSC, my friends and I had a camping club. At the beginning of the semester, we'd chose a week night. Every week on that night, we'd go camping, rain or shine, regardless of what time you had class the next morning, or whether or not you had a test the next day, at one of the lean-tos on campus. Sometimes, we'd camp out on other nights as well, but we'd always have that one night a week that we new for sure we were camping out on. In the morning, we'd just pack up and spend 15 minutes or half an hour or longer depending on where we'd stayed hiking back to go to class. We'd also try to see how long we could go without spending a night inside.

Summer employment at JDP is a means to give forest rec students work experience while they are enrolled at PSC.

Feel free to pm me or send an email with questions.

Last edited by DSettahr; 08-04-2009 at 09:53 PM..
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:52 PM   #4
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Also, I might disagree with the labeling of the manager of JDP as a "nice young man," however, he is still a good friend of mine.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:14 PM   #5
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My son is a third year sophomore there (and he likes it so much he'll probably end up a 6th year senior.)
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:40 PM   #6
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My son is a third year sophomore there (and he likes it so much he'll probably end up a 6th year senior.)
I transfered in enough credits that I probably could've earned my bachelor's at PSC in 2 years, however I liked it so much I took my time and did it in 3.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:46 AM   #7
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I went there in the fall of 1981 when it was still a 2 year school. All of what dsetthar says applys. I would emphasize the car factor. Wish I had a dime for every time I hitchhiked to Saranac lake for a beer. The age was still 18 back then. Many time in snow storms. Ahh to be young and dumb again....

Ed
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:33 AM   #8
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I graduated in May 1981 with an A.A.S. (Forest Technician). My memories of Paul Smith's academic environment are probably outdated, but I agree with DSettahr's sentiment: "If you're a fan of the outdoors, you can't beat going to school there." While I was a student, I climbed my first winter peak (Marcy). I also had the opportunity to work at the 1980 Winter Olympics as a security guard. So many memories.

Pardon me while I continue my stroll down memory lane....
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Old 08-17-2009, 10:48 AM   #9
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If I go for Forestry does anyone know how one goes about trying to land a job in or near the park after graduation? That's really one of my goals in going to school there is prepping myself to have a life in the park someday.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:41 AM   #10
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My son was interested in becoming a DEC Ranger a few years and I spoke with a couple Rangers I saw in the Loj parking lot about the job path. They said the High Peaks/ADK jobs are the in demand jobs in the DEC and you often have to wait for a retirement for one of those jobs to open up. Coming out of school and initially employed, you're often assigned to one of the state parks on Long Island or elsewhere downstate. Once you get some seniority you can start requesting other locations.

That's the DEC Forest Ranger though, there are many other divisions and employment opportunities within the DEC.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:32 PM   #11
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I've heard about the down state locations they assign you which scares me a bit, the night shift at Central Park seemed to be a common one (not my cup of tea)
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:07 PM   #12
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Central Park is a city park, not a state park. Actually, where the US Open was played a few weeks ago(Bethpage ???) is a state park on Long Island. I wonder if DEC employees played an enforcement role during the US Open. There are several state parks on Long Island, supposed to very nice parks -- but the terrain and usage is a little different than the High Peaks and the Adirondacks.

Last edited by rdl; 08-17-2009 at 03:10 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:23 PM   #13
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Don't forget about SUNY-ESF Environmental Science and Forestry. Being a SUNY school you can't be the price. After transfering around to a few schools figuring out what I wanted ESF is by far the best I have seen. ESF also offers many opportunities to be in the Adirondacks I spent 2 weeks at our 1000 acre Cranberry Lake campus studying forest health.

Its really worth looking into, you can take a campus tour anytime.
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:57 PM   #14
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Don't forget about SUNY-ESF Environmental Science and Forestry. Being a SUNY school you can't be the price. After transfering around to a few schools figuring out what I wanted ESF is by far the best I have seen. ESF also offers many opportunities to be in the Adirondacks I spent 2 weeks at our 1000 acre Cranberry Lake campus studying forest health.

Its really worth looking into, you can take a campus tour anytime.
Being a graduate of ESF ('74) and having a son graduate from PSC ('98), I'll say that it's difficult to compare the two schools. 2 weeks at Cranberry isn't quite the same as spending your entire semester in the Paul Smiths area, regardless of the season. I believe that PSC has a more hands-on approach to learning than ESF. But then that's just been my experience.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:36 PM   #15
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ESF = Evil School of Forestry

There are basically 3 forestry schools of importance in New York State. There's Paul Smith's, and then there are the two state schools which are both part of ESF, the Ranger School, and the ESF Campus at Syracuse.

The Ranger School is a 1 year long program that requires you to have already completed a year of school at a college of your choice (usually a community college) with credits in core courses including biology, english, etc. It is a very, very intensive program with block scheduling, at the completion of which you receive an Associates in either Forest Technology or Surveying. My understanding is that the Ranger School is very hands on, like Paul Smith's. I know that all incoming students are required to own an axe and a pair of snowshoes. It's called the Ranger School because the minimum requirement to be a Forest Ranger is a 2 year degree in Forest Technology (those who went to school for anything else need a 4 year degree). With the advent of 4 year Forestry programs, however, this requirement could potentially change in the near future.

The ESF Main Campus is at Syracuse. They do offer forestry programs at Syracuse, but in general, the programs are geared much more towards research than they are towards practical field work. It is my understanding that the Silviculture Plots (tree plots where students learn about tree stand management, usually from a timber production management point of view) are an hours drive from the main campus. Ours at Paul Smith's were close enough to walk to. It is also my understanding that students at the ESF main campus are not allowed to use chainsaws. At Paul Smith's, we had several labs in chainsaw use and operation, and used them extensively during our Silviculture Labs when we implemented management plans that we had written for out plots. (Some who know more about ESF please feel free to correct me on these points if I am wrong, but this is my understanding of what you can currently expect from the main ESF campus). I know that many 4-year graduates of the main campus spend an additional year at the Ranger school to make up for this lack in field experience.

I would strongly emphasize getting a two year degree in Forest Technology from either the Ranger School or Paul Smith's before switching into a 4 year program. While Paul Smith's is still very hands on in their 4 year degree programs, you'd get even more practical experience starting out as a two-year major first at either school. At Paul Smith's, after you obtain your 2 year degree, you can choose to focus your 4 year forestry degree on Industrial Forest Operations (timber harvesting), Ecological Forest Management (sustainable forestry), Vegetation Management (urban forestry), Forest Recreation Resource Management (this is the one to focus on if you want to be a Ranger), or Forest Biology (if you want to focus your professional career on doing research). Paul Smith's also has two year programs in Forest Recreation and Urban Forestry, but I don't know how much longer the 2 year Forest Rec degree will still be offered for, as a lot fewer students are enrolling in this program than there used to be.

----------------------------------------------------------------

For the full time Ranger positions, who gets preference for moving into an open position is determined by seniority as well as your score on the civil service exam. Most of the rangers in the Adirondacks worked elsewhere in NYS for a while before they'd been employed long enough to get a spot in the park. Long Island and Western New York are both likely places for a new recruit to end up, however, if you score extremely well on the civil service exam, it's possible you could get a spot in the Catskills when you start. The Staten Island Ranger gets to live in a Light House, however I've been told it doesn't even begin to make up for having to be the Staten Island Ranger and having only about 140 acres of state land to patrol. It would definitely be a while though before you could expect to get a position in the Adirondacks.

There are other options as well, the majority of the Assistant Forest Rangers (a seasonal backcountry ranger position that focuses primarily on education rather than enforcement) are college students or recent graduates (as well as some people who have recently retired). In order to be an AFR, you need to have completed 2 years of college, or have 6 months prior experience in environmental conservation or protection, law enforcement or security work, or in a park or recreation setting.

Something to keep in mind as well is that the full time Ranger job has changed a lot from what it used to be. It's much more of a police officer job now, with patrol of state campgrounds being one of the main responsibilities. Some of them even have to do speed traps in the campgrounds. The full time rangers make it into the backcountry areas of the park a lot less these days than they used to. In fact, I believe they need to have supervisor approval to even spend a night in the woods, and that approval isn't often granted.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:38 PM   #16
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Central Park is a city park, not a state park. Actually, where the US Open was played a few weeks ago(Bethpage ???) is a state park on Long Island. I wonder if DEC employees played an enforcement role during the US Open. There are several state parks on Long Island, supposed to very nice parks -- but the terrain and usage is a little different than the High Peaks and the Adirondacks.
DEC is not usually involved in the management of State Parks other than the Adirondack and Catskill State Parks. Other State Parks are managed by the Office of State Parks and Historic Preservation, which has their own Park Rangers.

New York City also employs Urban Park Rangers who patrol parks owned by the city.

You can pretty much expect to work in the crappy areas first regardless of who you work for. If you try to get a job as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, you can expect to work at a place like Ellis Island before you work in Yosemite or Yellowstone.
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:25 PM   #17
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I can't speak for the forestry department, I am a conservation biology major. But all of my main classes have had plenty of hands on work. Yes you have to leave the main campus for some but we have many satellite campuses nearby.

From what I have heard from some alum of Paul Smith's is that there has been a shift in focus towards the hotel management aspect.

I feel ESF offers many more options in environmental majors especially for someone who isn't sure what they want. We also have all the resources of Syracuse University at a SUNY price. I have done the private university thing and its not worth the price, SUNY is the way to go.

They are both good schools and I suggest visiting both.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:34 AM   #18
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Well, PSC just recently sold the Saranac Hotel so I think some of the Hotel Management Majors might disagree with you.

I would definitely agree that ESF offers a wider range of opportunities at a cheaper price. If I had to do it all over again, I would've spent one year in community college, one year at the Ranger School to get my associates, and then several years at Paul Smith's to get my bachelors.
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Old 08-21-2009, 03:35 PM   #19
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Another important consideration that comes to mind: The male to female ratio at Paul Smith's is very much in the girls favor. Also, it's been said that Paul Smith's is "where the boys go to become men, and the girls do to." It's not uncommon to see both guys and girls at PSC walking around with axes strapped to their backpacks.
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Old 08-22-2009, 06:04 AM   #20
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Another important consideration that comes to mind: The male to female ratio at Paul Smith's is very much in the girls favor. Also, it's been said that Paul Smith's is "where the boys go to become men, and the girls do to." It's not uncommon to see both guys and girls at PSC walking around with axes strapped to their backpacks.
Not just axes on the backs but skoal cans in the pockets.

ED
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