Siena College


General – Siena College is a Catholic college of about 3100 undergraduates in Loudonville, New York, a suburb of Albany. Most of the buildings are low-rise brick buildings.

An unusual architectural feature is the Grotto (pictured below), modeled after the Lourdes shrine.


Student Body – Most students come from New York City or upstate New York.
Academics – Classes are small with the maximum class size capped at 35 students and no teaching assistants. About a dozen friars teach or advise clubs.
About 39% of students are in the AACSB-accredited business where students can become Bloomberg-certified and have an opportunity to invest a portion of the school’s endowment.
The school has a small, relatively-new nursing program with opportunities to be in a hospital setting starting in the sophomore year. 
There is a BA/MD program with Albany Medical College.
Extracurricular activities – Siena is a NCAA Division I school with men’s basketball and hockey being the most popular spectator sports.
There are over 125 organization, but if you are interested in starting a new club, you can.
While Siena does not have traditional Greek life, it does have one coed national-base business fraternity.
There are a lot of volunteer opportunities at Siena, including a Bonner Service Leaders program.

Merrimack College

Merrimack College is a private Roman Catholic college in the Augustinian tradition in North Andover, Massachusetts. It is a career-focused, personalized, success-driven college that wants to “make good students great.”
What’s New – Merrimack College has made significant changes in recent years including the following:
  1. Significant growth of undergraduate population (from 2259 in 2011 to about 3500)
  2. Hired 17 new tenured track professors this school year
  3. A successful 50 million dollar capital campaign
  4. Switched from an undergraduate institution to a Masters-granting institution
  5. New business building opened in Fall 2017
  6. Invested heavily in academic and social support for students to increase retention and improve 4-year graduation rate
  7. Addition of computer engineering major
Planned changes include:
  1. Addition of nursing, physical therapy, chemical engineering and industrial engineering majors
  2. Completion of a new building to house both the Welcome Center and the Career Development Center
  3. Growth of the undergraduate population to 4000 students
  4. Moving from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I.

Academics – The most popular majors are in Business (representing 30% of the school). Other popular majors are in Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Professions, Engineering, Education, Psychology and Security and Protective Services. There are also a number of 4+1 programs where the students can earn a Bachelors and Master’s degree in 5 years.
Some special academic activities and/or features are:
  1. All freshmen get an iPad
  2. All freshmen participate in the First Year Experience where they learn things like time management and study skills, identify their strengths, learn about the supports available at the college (e.g., tutoring, writing center, math center), and have diversity training.
  3. There are six career advisors in each school and every freshmen meets with one in their first semester
  4.  There is a 2-day professional development retreat in Boston that lets 60 students work on their soft skills with alumni in the fall and in the spring. These include things like how to eat in a high-end restaurant.
  5. There are two jobs/internship fairs a year. Forty companies recruit accounting and finance students in the fall. One hundred companies recruit students in all majors in the spring.
  6. There are semester-long and short term study abroad opportunities based on student’s major and goals. There is also a semester of study available in Washington, DC for Political Science majors. Often study abroad incorporates service learning or an internship. Students can learn more about these opportunities at the fall and spring Global Education Fairs.
  7. Business students get Bloomberg-certified as freshmen
  8. The investment club is investing some of the college’s funds.
Campus – Merrimack College has a suburban campus which is less than an hour north Boston, not far from the New Hampshire border, and 45-minutes from the beach. The campus is over 200 acres. It is relatively flat with low-rise buildings, many of which are red brick.
Housing – 85% of students live on campus for the freshman year. Housing is guaranteed for four years and all students can have cars on campus.
Cohorts – There are many different cohorts at Merrimack. The more cohorts a student belongs to, the higher their retention rate. 70 – 80% of students are in at least one cohort. The different cohorts include:
  1. Guided “undecided major” program
  2. Honors program (top 7-10% of applicant pool) – These students can live in the Honors Living/Learning Community. They take 8 Honors classes and do a capstone project or social justice project.
  3. Dean’s Forum is a program for those students who are academically just below the Honors program. They meet as a group monthly with a Dean.
  4. Promise Program is a program for 140 freshmen who enter with a 2.5 – 2.6 GPA in high school. They receive weekly coaching.
  5. Compass Program for 60 freshmen who enter with 2.0 – 2.2 GPA from high school; these students are provided with extra support in a structured program.
  6. Phoenix Program is for those on academic probation.
  7. Living/Learning Communities (LLC) – LLCs are intentional living arrangements where residents share common goals, engage in a common academic program and participate in experiential learning. There are 5 LLCs for freshmen and 2 for upper classmen.
  8. Athletes – 620 students currently.
Extra-curricular activities – There are over 70 student organizations. Over 250 students who are doing community service in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a struggling mill town about five miles from campus. There is Greek life on campus. Currently, ice hockey is an NCAA Division I sport and the other school sports are NCAA Division II.
Some clubs and activities the students I met were involved in were: the Green Team, Student/Alumni Association, the Dance Team, Ambassadors, Orientation Leaders, Cross Country Track Club, Resident Assistant, Relay for Life, and Best Buddies.
Applying/Financial Aid – Merrimack Collegge accepts the Common Application. The average high school GPA of incoming students is 3.1. The college is test optional and there is no application fee. The application deadlines in 2017-2018 were 11/15 for Early Decision and Early Action I, 1/15 for Early Action II, and 2/15 for Regular Decision. 82% of applicants were accepted (fall 2016/fall 2017).
Students need to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for need-based aid. The college is need-aware and does not meet 100% of need. The college provided some form of financial aid to 99% of students in 2017-2018. Students get their financial aid package with their acceptance. Merit scholarships range between $6K and $21K.
There are sibling discounts for families with more than one student in a family attending Merrimack at the same time.
Moving In – Upperclassmen meet freshmen on move-in day and take their belongings to their dorm room.

Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY

I visited Manhattan College, a co-ed Catholic College in the Riverdale section of the Bronx with about 3500 undergraduate students. 
Campus: Manhattan College has a campus of 22 acres, near Van Cortlandt Park (1146 acres) and near the last stop on the 1 Subway, which goes into Manhattan.  The campus is spread out over several blocks.  There are brick buildings arranged in a square around a grassy quad and a relatively new student union building which opened in 2014 across the street from the quad.  Leaving from the back door of the student union, students pass a sports field on the left and then come to two buildings on the right which include the engineering classrooms.  The campus has steps and hills.

Academics: The most popular majors are Engineering (31%), Business (22%), Communications/Journalism (11%), Education (11%), Psychology (7%) and Biology (5%).  Classes are small with only 0.1% of classes having more than 50 students. The library is open 24/7.  Internships and study abroad are available.  Three religion classes are required of all students, but they do not have to be about Catholicism.
Student body:  Most students come from NY, NJ and CT and they appear to be racially diverse.
Housing and Dining: Freshman housing includes traditional style and suite style buildings.  There are freshman living and learning communities in the suite style building.  Students in the living and learning community take three classes with the people they live with, as well as having opportunities for social activities and community service together.  There are also apartments for upper classmen.  Housing is guaranteed all 4 years. There are several dining opportunities including an all you can eat dining hall and a Starbucks.  The all you can eat dining hall had a separate frig and counter space for gluten free students, as well as a vegetarian/vegan station.
Athletics: There are 19 Division I Sports.  There is a large indoor track around the basketball courts.  There is a large outdoor sports field.  The swim team and the baseball team practice off-campus.

Applying: Manhattan College accepts the Common Application. 67% of their applicants were accepted to the college. The mid-50% SAT scores (old SAT) were CR: 490-580, MA: 500-610, and WR: 480-590.

Iona College

Iona College Main Entrance
At the end of April, I visited Iona College, a Catholic college in New Rochelle, NY with about 3300 undergraduates from 35 states and 30 countries.  Iona has a compact campus of mostly red brick buildings on about 43 acres in Westchester County, about 30 minutes by train from NYC.  A new dormitory will be opening in the Fall 2016.
New Iona dorm under construction
Popular majors at Iona include business, speech pathology, education, social work and mass communication.  Academically, Iona can support all kinds of students. It has an Honors program, as well as a comprehensive Learning Disabilities program.  91 percent of applicants are admitted.  The mid-50% of SAT scores are 450 – 550 for Critical Reading and 440-550 for Math.

In addition to studying, the students can join in Greek life, participate in or watch NCAA Division I sports in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, including Iona’s winning men’s and women’s basketball teams, join in over 80 clubs, do community service, study abroad, and have internships.  The school has performing arts opportunities, and a TV and radio station. 

Some of the April programs at Iona were “The Government Inspector” by the Iona College Theatre Ensemble, a performance by the Iona College Instrumental and Vocal Ensembles, a town hall meeting with Republican candidate John Kasich, a Relay for Life event, a panel on issues in the presidential race, a black light pool party, a Paint Party, Kid Ink in Concert, and a student Fashion Show. 

Iona offers both need-based and merit aid, with merit aid up to the full price of tuition.  98 percent of freshmen receive financial aid.

Manor College

Manor College is a  two-year Catholic college in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The total enrollment is about 800 students. The school has three buildings and has room for 100 students to live on campus. Manor College has transfer agreements with Arcadia, Temple, Drexel and some of the local Catholic colleges. Popular programs are dental hygiene, vet technology, and the paralegal program. There is a new criminal justice program.  The most competitive programs are the Expanded Function Dental Assistant and Dental Hygiene programs which have only a 10% acceptance rate and only half the students finish the program. The mid-50% SAT scores for the entire school are Critical Reading 340-430, Math 310-430, and Writing 310-510.

La Salle University

La Salle University is a Catholic collegei Philadelphia.  A new 78,000 square foot business building will be opening in January on the 133 acre campus
The top five majors at LaSalle University are accounting, nursing, communications, education, and psychology.  
The business school provides students an opportunity to get a Bachelor’s degree in four years, while having 2 co-op experiences or to get a Bachelor’s degree and an MBA in four years.
With 3400 students, La Salle is the smallest of the Big 5 Philadelphia colleges that play Division I basketball against each other.  
La Salle’s mission focuses on practical education and serving others.  Their students live that mission by providing over 50,000 hours of service every year,
The Summit Program at La Salle, admits about 130 students with good grades, who don’t test well.  The school provides these students with intrusive counseling and help to improve their study skills.
La Salle is diverse in many ways.  About half of the students are first-generation college students. Students come from 35 countries, and thirty per cent of students are from a minority group.  La Salle is accepting of students who are not Catholic.  
Tuition and room and board cost about $54K per year and the average financial aid package is $22K/year.  There is a $10K stackable service scholarship.
La Salle is more concerned with high school grades than test scores.  Typically, they look for students with a 3.3 – 3.4 GPA.  Nursing students need a higher GPA, lots of science in high school, and a score of at least 1000 on the Critical Reading and Math sections of the SAT.  With a lower SAT score, the students might be admitted to pre-nursing.
What is your experience with La Salle?

Neumann University

Here are some highlights from my visit to Neumann University.  The university has the highest acceptance rate of the ten 4-year Catholic colleges in the area, a 94% acceptance rate.  It claims to have the lowest private university tuition in the Philadelphia area. The most popular major areas among the 2100 full-time undergrads are liberal arts, health professions, business, education, psychology, and security.  New for 2015 is a pre-pharmacy major (2+4) with Duquesne University.  Generally, all of the bio-clinical lab science majors got jobs in their field and 95% of the nursing majors pass their nursing exams the first time.  An internship is required for all majors, except Psychology.  There is suite style living.  The school has a TV and radio station, school newspaper, 3 theater ensembles, and five dance groups.  Field hockey is popular at this NCAA Division III school.

Philly-area Catholic Colleges – Immaculata University

In late July, I visited 11 private co-ed Catholic colleges in or near Philadelphia: ten are 4-year colleges and one is a 2-year college with acceptance rates of between 49% and 94%. They ranged in size from about 500 to just over 7000 undergraduates. At most, business or health are the most popular majors.  I hope to share some highlights about these schools with you in my next few postings.

Immaculata University has a beautiful suburban, green campus, twenty miles west of Philly. Popular majors are nursing, psychology, exercise science, business, education and music. Two unusual majors are fashion merchandising and radiologic science. The average class size is just fourteen. The average accepted student had a GPA of 3.2 and an SAT score of 1470 (out of 2400). Nursing students need to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a minimum SAT score of 1500 (out of 2400). There are five Presidential scholarships (full tuition) and other merit aid of between $7K and $16K. For scholarship consideration, students must apply before December 1st.  

Georgetown University

Overview – In late May, I visited Georgetown University in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., an area with colonial charm.   Georgetown University is a Jesuit university and is the oldest Catholic University in the United States.  The 102-acre university about 1.5 miles from the Washington Monument was established in 1789 with the principles of “care of the whole person” and “men and women for others.”  The school is home to four undergraduate schools and four graduate schools.  The four undergraduate colleges are Georgetown College, Nursing and Health Sciences, Foreign Service, and the Business School. There are approximately 6400 undergraduates and students apply to one college in the University.  Students in all 4 schools take the same core curriculum which includes 2 English classes, 2 theology courses and 2 philosophy courses.  Government, history and economics are among the most popular majors.  Students can major in one of nine foreign languages students.  Nursing students start their nursing rotation at Georgetown Hospital at the end of the fall of their Freshman year.  The average class size is 26 students.
Sixty percent of students have at least one internship and sixty percent study abroad.  Generally, students studying abroad take classes with students of the foreign college in their language.  An exception are the students taught by Georgetown faculty in the villas in Turkey and in Italy.


Housing – Students are required to live on campus for three years: the freshman year, the sophomore year, and either the junior or senior year.

What’s New – The university is building a new residence hall and athletic center.  The student center opened in 2014. 
Extracurricular activities – There are 300 student organizations or you can start your own.  .  There are lots of opportunities in sports (NCAA Division IA, club and intramural), arts (e.g., music, theatre), and speakers (i.e., political and non-political).  Basketball is the big spectator sport.  The Center for Social Justice matches students with volunteer activities.  DC Reads is the most popular of the volunteer activities.
Religion – Georgetown has the largest campus ministry in the US.  Campus ministry supports Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Hindu and Buddhist worship services.

Applying – Georgetown is not a Common App school and not a score-choice school.  On 7/1, the first part of the application went live.  Early Action applications are due on 11/1, with a decision on 12/15.  Regular decision application are due in 1/10.  Three SAT subject tests are strongly recommended.  Students need to write a personal statement and an essay for the college to which they are applying.  Recent admission rate is 17%.  The mid 50% of SAT scores are 680 – 760 for Critical Reading and 680 – 770 for Math.

Financial Aid – Admissions is need blind and the college meets 100% of need, with no loans in the financial aid package.  Financial aid forms are due by 2/1.  

University of Scranton

The last of the four Catholic colleges that I visited this Spring in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area was the University of Scranton.  My tour guide was Sarah, from Basking Ridge, who writes for the college newspaper and runs the women’s weekend retreat.
General – The University of Scranton is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States.  The 58-acre campus is in downtown Scranton with 88% of freshmen and 86% of all students living on campus.  There are about 4000 undergraduates and an average class size of 20.  About 62% of students are from outside of Pennsylvania.  The most popular majors are business, biology and communications.  The university also has occupational therapy, physical therapy, and nursing.  About 200 students study abroad each year.  They may study abroad for a short as a break and as long as a year.  There are three honors programs.

Housing – Living on campus is required for freshman and sophomores.  Housing is guaranteed for all four years.  87% of the housing is new or renovated.  The bathrooms are in the hall for freshmen.  Upperclassmen can live in quads, houses or apartments.  I saw a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with a kitchen and living room for 4 seniors.  Here is a photo of the living room in one of the apartments.
Extracurricular activities – The school has about 80 clubs and students can start a new club.  There are two theatre groups, performance music groups, an art gallery, a radio station, a TV station and 18 NCAA Division III sports; the school dos not have a football team.  The strongest NCAA teams are basketball, soccer and swimming.  There are also many club and intramural sports, including equestrian.  There is a 2.5 year old fitness center, and an indoor pool.  The students completed 180,000 hours of community service in one year.  The school has a retreat center on Chapman Lake; some of the weekend retreats are faith-based.  There is a campus shuttle and zip cars on campus. 
Nearby – The Martz buses take students to New York and Philly.  The surrounding area boasts skiing, a water park, minor league baseball, casinos, shopping, an IMAX theatre, and minor league hockey.
Religion – About 70% of the students are Catholic.  Mass is available daily.  There are Moslem services on campus.  There are three synagogues within walking distance.
Applying – The school has a free on-line Common App application.  The middle 50% high school GPA of accepted students is 3.2 – 3.8, with a middle 50% SAT score of 1050 – 1240 (two sections).  The school is test optional under certain circumstances.  Entrance for the nursing, occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) programs is more competitive, with a minimum GPA of 3.5 and  a minimum SAT score of 1150 (2 sections).  The school likes to see evidence of shadowing for nursing, OT and PT. 
What’s new – U Scranton is building a new facility for OT, PT and exercise science.
Financial aid – The cost of attendance (i.e., tuition, room and board, book, transportation and miscellaneous expenses) is around $55K per year.  Merit aid of $8,000 to full tuition is available and given to students in the top 30% of their class with a minimum GPA of 3.2 and a minimum SAT score of 1100 (2 sections).   To get a full tuition scholarship students need to meet certain criteria, including a GPA of 4.0 and a minimum SAT score of 1400. Students who apply test optional can get merit aid of $8,000 – $10,000.  The school is considering becoming a CSS PROFILE school.