Binghamton University

New York State does not have a flagship university. Instead, it has four University Centers. Last week, I visited one of these University Centers, Binghamton University. Binghamton University is a research university that boasts “excellence and value.” It has about 13,600 undergraduate students.
Location – Binghamton University is in upstate New York. The main campus is located on Vestal Parkway in Binghamton. Vestal Parkway has lots of chain stores and restaurants.
In addition to the main campus, there is a building in downtown Binghamton that houses the College of Community and Public Affairs. There has been a resurgence in downtown Binghamton in the last five years.
A new pharmacy building will be finished this summer in nearby Johnson City. The School of Nursing will be moving to Johnson City in about two years.
Both downtown Binghamton and Johnson City are about a 7 or 8 minute drive from the main campus.
Housing, Transportation and Food – Binghamton has residential communities on campus, with a faculty member living in each residential community. Each residential community has its own culture, traditions, student government, and quad. Students can live in a learning community. Each learning community has a theme (e.g.,health and wellness, nursing).
There are different styles of housing and there is no freshmen-only housing. Housing is available all four years although many students move off-campus for their junior and senior years.
The meal plan is a pay-for-what-you-eat plan. There are no all-you-can-eat offerings.
There are blue buses, driven by Binghamton students that take students around campus and nearby, including the other two campuses, off-campus housing, and shopping areas. There is a bike-share available on campus. Freshmen cannot have a car on campus. 
Education – Binghamton offers 130 academic programs in six schools. The six schools are:
  1. College of Community and Public Affairs
  2. Decker School of Nursing
  3. Harpur College of Art and Sciences
  4. School of Management
  5. School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  6. Thomas J Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Students can double and sometimes triple major and still graduate in four years. The majors can be in different schools. There are over 50 accelerated bachelor/masters degrees available.
There are honors programs including the Freshman Research Immersion Program, two Scholars Program, and the Summer Scholars and Artists Fellowships.
The Freshman Research Immersion Program has 300 freshmen. In the Fall of the Freshman year they take a research methods seminar; in the Spring of the Freshman year they take a Research Stream Lab Course where they develop a research proposal; and in the Fall of the Sophomore year they conduct research.
Close to a third of students will be involved in research with faculty before they graduate.
There is an effective career and professional development center on campus. There are job and internship fairs in the Fall and Spring. There are also employer visits hosted in New York City, Washington, DC and other cities. 73% of students will have an internship.
About a quarter of students study abroad.
We did a deep dive into the School of Management and learned that the school focused on experiential learning. There were case competitions where students pitched to major companies, hands-on courses where students worked with faculty and client companies, 22 business student organizations, an entrepreneurship living community, an opportunity to invest some of the university’s money, as well as many internship opportunities.
Extra-curricular – Binghamton is a NCAA Division I school with 21 athletic teams, but it does not have NCAA Division I Football.
There are over 300 student organizations. There were several theaters and an art museum.
When I visited, the campus was setting up for Spring Fling. Spring Fling includes a great band, amusement park rides and carnival-type food.
There is even a bowling alley.
Admissions – Admission is by school. Currently the Engineering and Nursing schools are the hardest undergraduate schools to get into and the Management school is the next hardest. You can only select one school on your application.
Students need a minimum SAT Math score of 670 to get accepted into an engineering or computer science major. The hardest undergraduate major to get accepted to is Computer Science
Binghamton accepts the Common App. They are trying to increase enrollment of out-of-state students. The mid-50% of accepted students have rigorous high school classes, an unweighted high school GPA of 3-4 – 3.9, and an ACT score of 29-31 (not superscored) or an SAT Math score between 650 – 720 and an SAT EBRW score of 630-710. About 75% of students apply Early Action.
The school offers credit for AP classes taken in high school, if the student received a score of 3, 4 or 5.
Cost – The price for an out-of-state student is similar to the price for Rutgers University. Merit aid of up to $12K per year is available for out-of-state students.

Special food needs at college

Food sustains us and provides us a social outlet.  I typically suggest that all students visiting a college try the food and watch the interaction among students in the college dining facilities.  For some students, food is more important.  Eating can be a life and death decision for a student with a severe food allergy.  Gluten can make a student with celiac disease become ill.  There are also many students who have a diet based on religious and/or moral principles.  They may only eat vegetarian, vegan, Kosher or Halal food.  So what is a student to do?
Food allergies or celiac disease.  If you are a student with a food allergy or celiac disease, consider the guidance on Choosing a School, Dorm Living, Alcohol and Epinephrine, and The Kiss Study provided by Food Allergy Research & Education.  Make sure to ask questions of the dining hall staff and to speak to students with your health problem and see how well or poorly they are doing with the college’s food services.
The food service provider Sodexho has recently started the Simple Servings station, a station containing food prepared without milk, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten.  This should be a good match for students with a gluten-sensitivity, like those with celiac disease, as well as the most common food allergies. 
According to the Department of Justice, food allergies may constitute a disability under the ADA. That doesn’t mean I haven’t heard of cases where a student transfers after a year at a college because they have ended up in the hospital emergency room several times because of a severe allergic reaction to food from the college dining hall. 
Vegetarians and vegans.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan student, check out what food choices will you have on campus.  Check if vegetarian and vegan foods are clearly marked in the dining facilities.  There are often vegetarian or vegan food stations and occasionally, a vegetarian or vegan dining hall, like State University of New York Purchase’s all-vegetarian eating facility, Terra Ve.
Terra Ve, Vegetarian Dining Hall at SUNY Purchase
Kosher or Halal food.  If you are looking for Kosher or Halal food, here are some questions you might have.
  • Is the food available and acceptable to you?
  • Is it fresh food or just “frozen” dinners, which you can reheat? 
  • Is the food part of the normal meal plan or will you have to spend extra for a special meal plan?
  • Where on campus is the food available?
  • Is there special food available during Passover or Ramadan? 
The Hillel College guide and the Heart to Heart’s Map of Kosher Food on Campus are great starting places for students looking for Kosher dining on campus.  Since Kosher dining on campus is often both Kosher and Halal certified, this may also be a good starting place for Muslim students wanting Halal food.  Muslim students may also want to check with the Muslim student organizations on campus.  
What is your experience with special food needs at college?

State University of New York – Purchase

State University of New York – Purchase might be especially interesting for you if you are interested in the fine or performing arts. It is one of the few public universities, which is an arts specialty school. There are four theatres on campus, a relatively new Dance Building with 12 dance studios, and the Neuberger Museum.  The movie “Black Swan” was shot here.

Twenty-five percent of students are from outside of New York State.  Politically, the student body is liberal. 35% of the students are vegetarian and the school has a vegetarian eatery, Terra-Ve on campus. There are 70 clubs and Division III Athletic teams. The largest student group on campus is the LGBT group. The Cheese Club is a also very popular group. One of the social highlights of the year is the Zombie Prom. There are no fraternities or sororities at SUNY Purchase.

The school is located in a wealthy, suburban residential area. A short bus ride will take you to White Plains. From White Plains, you can get to Manhattan by train in 45 minutes.

For additional SUNY Purchase photos, check out the Slosberg College Solutions LLC Facebook page.

If you attended or visited SUNY Purchase recently, what were your impressions?