Union College

Union College in Schnectady, NY is unusual in many ways, including:
  1. Being a small college with majors in the liberal arts, sciences and engineering.
  2. Having three 10-week semesters each year as well as two 3-week semesters during the winter break. Students generally take 3 classes during each 10-week semester; engineering students need to take 4 classes during some 10-week semesters. Students can relax, take a class, work, have an internship or study abroad during the two three-week semesters, which is also the winter break.
  3. Having interdisciplinary majors. This is like a double major, but it focuses on the relationship of the two majors and the senior thesis/project combines the two majors.
  4. Seniors do a thesis or project which is presented/displayed at the Steinmetz symposium in late May.
  5. Everyone (i.e., students and staff) is assigned randomly to a Minerva house. Each Minerva house offers events open to the entire student body and is run by its own elected student board. The first floor of the building has a full kitchen which students use and places to hang out. Upperclassmen can choose to live in their assigned Minerva house.
  6. First years (aka freshmen) have separate housing and dining.
  7. Students can join a fraternity or sorority in their sophomore year and can live in Greek housing starting in their junior year.
  8. Some classes are jointly taught by professors in two departments. For example, we saw a class jointly taught by a biology professor and an art professor on drawing organisms.
  9. Students in the Scholars program (Union College’s Honors program), do research in their sophomore year, in addition to in their senior year.
  10. A new Integrated Science and Engineering Complex is being built to foster collaboration and to integrate teaching, research, labs and offices. A new addition is scheduled to be complete in the Summer of 2018 and renovations to existing facilities are scheduled to be complete in the Summer of 2019.
  11. Eight students have a post-graduation opportunity to be a Minerva fellow. They receive an all-expenses paid fellowship for a “Peace Corps-like activity” for 9 months, and then they return to campus to mentor the next group of Minerva fellows. Minerva fellows create an entrepreneurial project to improve an international community in a sustainable way.

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