Great classes, the great outdoors at Havasu

Thursday, January 7, 2016

There’s little surprise that a love of the great outdoors is a common trait among the student body at Arizona State University’s Colleges at Lake Havasu City.

After all, the colleges sit near the edge of a large lake and at the foot of several mountains. And with easy access to volleyball, picturesque hiking and mountain biking, ASU’s Havasu students are an active bunch — on and off campus.

“It’s such a beautiful area that it’s hard not to want to go outside and be active,” said Christopher Millett, a sophomore from Redondo Beach, California. “The LA area can be pretty intense. Here you don’t have to deal with traffic or major crowds, and the weather is ideal for most of the year.”

The 19-year-old business communications major said he likes the slower pace and more intimate experience the location offers, which has a student body of about 200 and a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Millett is using that intimacy to network within the community, which he finds easy to do in a friendly place like this city on the western edge of Arizona.

“I have volunteer, internship and business opportunities I wouldn’t get anywhere else,” Millett said, who volunteers for the Lake Havasu City London Bridge Lions Club and is an assistant project coordinator for the city’s annual London Bridge Renaissance Faire. Millett somehow finds the time to chair the school’s new Outdoor Pursuits program, which organizes student activities and day trips to actively learn about the environment.

The colleges opened in fall 2012 and is located about a mile from Lake Havasu — which is technically a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River. ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City are aimed at giving students lower-priced alternatives to higher education. The colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in sociology, political science, communication, life sciences, environmental sciences, organizational leadership, criminal justice, business communication and general studies. It also offers exploratory majors in humanities, health science and social and behavioral sciences.

While the price is nice, the outdoor amenities are world-class and what helped attract business communications major Cortez Croney to the area. The Los Angeles native was originally going to attend ASU’s Tempe campus until he heard about the Colleges at Lake Havasu City through a friend. He usually starts his day with a one-hour morning run near the lake and rides Jet Skis and plays volleyball at nearby SARA Park in his spare time.

“It’s easy to be active here because we do this as a campus,” Croney said. “It’s a very tight-knit community here.”

Croney is also finding it easy to get access to his instructors.

“Your professors become your mentors,” Croney said. “They’re very helpful but at the same time give you the push you need.”

And though students play hard in Lake Havasu City, they also study hard — and come from such far-away places as Wisconsin, Florida, Connecticut, New York, Canada and Sweden. Courtney Easton, who hails from Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, visited the colleges with her parents in 2013 and said she “fell in love with the place” for several reasons.

“I love the small class sizes and get lots of personal attention from my professors,” said Easton, a 21-year-old senior communications major. “Businesses are also asking for student workers and have been very welcoming of the college, which is also a benefit.”

Easton, like many of her fellow students, shares that common love for the outdoors. She hikes, kayaks, plays volleyball and participates in tube floats with classmates.

“If we’re not in the water, then we’re heading toward it,” Easton said. “Once people become more active, they start to realize what a really cool place this is.”