Rich educational opportunities support student learning and development at college according to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) at Indiana University for Postsecondary Research. NSSE suggests that students ask colleges the following questions to learn about the college’s rich educational opportunities:
“How many courses include community-based service-learning projects?
What types of honors courses, learning communities, and other distinctive programs are offered?
How many students get practical, real-world experience through internships or off-campus field experiences?
How many students study in other countries?
What co-curricular activities are most common (performing arts, athletics, fraternities and sororities, guest speakers, etc.)?”
Here are examples of rich educational opportunities at colleges and universities:
More than seventy courses combine academics with service work in the community (George Washington University).
As an alternative to a major and a minor, students can do the Nexus program which builds opportunities for internships, off-campus research, and public presentations in addition to coursework. Participating students can select from one of nine pre-professional tracks (Mount Holyoke College).
Community service organization arranges for students to volunteer in about 600 placements (Smith College).
Students dorm their freshman year with those in their first year seminar class (The College of New Jersey).
Students complete an independent study project in the last two years of college (College of Wooster).
Students staff and manage nine campus businesses (University of Massachusetts – Amherst).
The Outside the Classroom curriculum is an optional co-curricular program that rounds out the college experience with activities in leadership development, sense of self, service to others, and art appreciation (University of Pittsburgh).
Students can spend a semester getting hands-on conservation education from the Smithsonian Institution, George Mason University, and wildlife protection agencies (George Mason University).
All students do independent research for three years in the January term and all complete a senior project or write a thesis that they defend before a faculty committee (New College of Florida).
Last week I attended a NJACAC panel discussion with admissions representatives from six colleges: Rutgers, Villanova, NYU, Yale, TCNJ and Rider. Each representative shared news from their campus.
Rutgers had a record-breaking class of 7033 freshmen this fall with an average SAT score of 1300 and an average GPA of 3.7.The top 100 students in the freshman class had an SAT score above 1440.
This spring marks the first graduating class of the Rutgers Honors College. The average SAT score in the Honors College was 1480.
In 2020, Rutgers will open a one-stop building to house the registrar, bursar and financial aid offices.
A new engineering building and a new chemical/chemical biology building opened this year. A new arts building will open on 2019.
There will be $10 million dollars in new engineering scholarships.
Villanova has six new residence halls and they have upgraded the gymnasium.
In January 2020 a new performing arts building will open.
Fifteen students in the graduating class were awarded Fulbright scholarships.
The college has a 96% retention rate (freshman to sophomore year).
Villanova will host the largest student-run Special Olympics.
The school’s Carnegie classification was changed to Doctoral Universities: Moderate Research Activity.
NYU is adding residence hall space.
They are focusing on improving student retention by adding a new early warning system.
They just opened a one-stop building to house the registrar, bursar and financial aid offices.
NYU is adding more Saturday programs and summer programs for high school students.
Yale had 35507 applicants for a class of 1578 students.
They admitted 110 students from New Jersey from 1200 applicants.
A new student center and a new science building will open in 2020.
Neuroscience and data science are new majors. Neuroscience is the third most popular major.
Yale does not require the optional essay on the SAT or ACT. The SAT Subject test is not required.
The college president retired.
TCNJ is opening a new STEM buildingand renovated the Student Center.
They have added a BA in Biology in addition to the current BS in Biology. They also added a Health major, are starting an Audiology major and will be adding an MBA soon.
Rider has renovated the Bart Luedeke Center, upgraded two residence halls, made improvements to the Business Building, and upgraded the Science and Technology Center. A $20 million addition to the Science and Technology Center will start in 18 months.
There is a new dining service partner and the dining facility will be renovated next year.
Rider has 920 freshmen with an average high school GPA of 3.35 and average test score of 1120 on the SAT or 23 on the ACT. The school offers test optional admissions for all except homeschooled students, and students who want to be considered for the Honors programs or full-tuition scholarships. To qualify for a full-tuition scholarship, students must apply Early Action, submit the scholarship essay, have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an SAT score of 1310 or an ACT score of 28 or higher, complete an audition if one is needed for their major, and participate in an on-campus interview.
A new Business Analytics major started in January 2018. The Actuarial Science major has been restarted. There is a new Technical Theatre concentration. The school added a BA in Musical Theatre; this is in addition to the very popular BFA program in Musical Theatre.
The college admissions personnel on the panel spoke about the admissions trends at their colleges. This post focuses on the comments from Rider University, Fordham University and TCNJ admissions personnel.
Susan Christian, Dean of Enrollment at Rider University commented that there was growth in interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), education, and fine and performing arts programs at Rider. There was an increase in the percentage of Hispanic students. The school had a new academic building, a new residential hall, and had improved their theatres. Rider looked at the strength of the high school student’s academic program and transcript. They had 8500 applications for 950 freshman seats. For the Westminster Choir College, the audition is a critical factor.
John Buckley, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Fordham University, noted that 40% of students are undeclared majors to start. At Fordham the biggest majors are biology and communications. When he started working at Fordham, the school received about 4000 applications a year; now they receive about 36000 applications, including 2500 international applications. Fordham admits students with an average 3.7 Grade Point Average (GPA) and an SAT score between 1830 and 2050 (3 sections). They look for an upward trend in grades, students who are leaders, and students who give service to their school/community. It is difficult to do an internal transfer into the business school.
Grecia Montero, Director of Admissions at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) saw a 7% increase in freshman applications this year, with an 11% increase in applications for biology majors. There is a new Education building, as well as a new Arts & Communication building. There was an increase in applicants from Massachusetts and Connecticut. The SAT was optional this year, for the first time. Acceptance is based on the department you are interested in. There were 11,000 applications with 4,000 acceptances. Students are typically from the top 10-15% of their class with SAT scores between 1250 and 1360 (for Critical Reading and Math). High school rank and test scores needed for admissions are more difficult for certain majors including Chemistry, Biology and Nursing. The school keeps track of student visits and communications with the school. TCNJ has no cap on out-of-state or international students.
The next post on college admissions trends will focus on the comments from admissions personnel at the remaining three colleges: Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Manhattanville College.
If you want to go to a state college in New Jersey, but Rutgers feels way too big to you, there are plenty of other choices. The most academically challenging of your alternatives is The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), a school with an undergraduate enrollment of about 6000. TCNJ has a beautiful 289-acre campus in the suburbs with brick buildings, mostly in the Georgian style. The school has liberal arts, business, and education. The classes are small with the biggest class being 40 students and there are plenty of opportunities for research, internships, projects, and study abroad.
Everyone on your floor in the freshman dorm is in the same freshman seminar and there are 2 roommate switch dates just in case your freshman roommate doesn’t work out. Ninety-five percent of freshmen return for their sophomore year, while the average retention for state colleges is only sixty-seven percent. Popular activities include two big concerts per year; dances, concerts, movies, and parties; and free and low cost day trips to NY, Philly and Princeton. There are few classes on Wednesdays so clubs and sports meet then. It is easy to get involved but you need to be proactive about it. TCNJers are friendly, but it gets harder to meet people after freshman year.
I have one caveat for all NJ state colleges. With the NJ economy in the doldrums, state budget cuts may impact school quality, tuition, or a student’s ability to finish in four years.
For additional photos of TCNJ, check out the Slosberg College Solutions Facebook page. If you have attended or visited TCNJ recently, share your impressions.