Spelman College – a women’s college educating tomorrow’s leaders

Spelman College is a standout for so many reasons. To begin with, Spelman is one of only two surviving African-American women’s colleges. Add to that the fact that they have outstanding academics and a student body of young women seeking to become leaders in fields ranging from science to the arts and you have a college that is truly special. 

Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles, two pioneers in women’s education, founded Spelman College in 1881 because they were concerned about the lack of educational opportunities for African-American women. One of the early financial backers was John D. Rockefeller, who named the college after his wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller and her parents who were longtime activists in the antislavery movement. Spelman’s legacy includes a mission to prepare women for leadership and an emphasis in getting her graduates into courtrooms, board rooms and engineering labs.

 

Here are a few quick facts about Spelman:

Acceptance: 53%

Freshman retention: 89%

Freshmen out of state: 76%

Most popular majors: psychology, biology, political science, economics

4-year Graduation rate: 65%; 6-year: 75%

Student Community Diversity: 97% Black, 0.1% Latino, 0.75% International

 

Housing: Sixty-seven percent of Spelman students live on campus in one of eleven dorms. Some students feel that the dorms could use some renovations, but that overall, accommodations are comfortable. 

The meal plan is mandatory for anyone who lives on campus, and the food gets average reviews. Campus security does a great job of making students feel safe. 

 

Academics: Spelman offers a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum that stresses the importance of critical and analytical thinking as well as problem solving. The core education requirements, which most complete by the end of sophomore year, include coursework in English composition, wellness and health, foreign language, math, African diaspora and the world, computer literacy and international or comparative women’s studies. Freshmen participate in First Year Experience, and sophomores take Sophomore Seminar. All students complete internships or undergraduate research projects in their majors. 

The academic environment can be very competitive – after all Spelman aims to recruit the best of the best. Many of the faculty members are African American and/or female so students have many great role models. Outside of the general education courses, class sizes tend to be small with 60% having fewer than 20 students. 

Natural sciences and the humanities are the two strongest departments at Spelman, and math is a close third. Math and natural sciences have great opportunities for undergraduate research programs and many include opportunities to publish. One of Spelman’s bragging rights is that they lead the nation in the number of African American women who continue on to earn a Ph.D. in the STEM fields. Another opportunity at Spelman is the 3-2 dual degree program in engineering, offered in cooperation with Georgia Tech. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Agnes Scott, Vassar, Wellesley, Xavier University of Louisiana. 

 

Social: Students have plenty of opportunities for social interaction with nearby colleges thanks to the Atlanta University Center. Sororities are present at Spelman, but only 6% choose to go Greek. The most popular annual events are sisterhood initiation ceremonies, homecoming (with nearby Morehouse College), and the Founder’s Day celebration. And of course there’s no shortage of activities in Atlanta!

Varsity sports have been replaced with a general fitness and nutrition program. However, intramural sports like basketball, flag football, soccer and volleyball are popular. 

 

Financial: Spelman offers primarily need-based financial aid and scholarships. There are no athletic scholarships offered. The average percent of need met is 49%, with 71% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $52,700, the average financial aid package is $14,500. 90% of students receive some type of financial aid.

A tech college with a liberal arts curriculum? You must be talking about Harvey Mudd College

What makes Harvey Mudd College unique is its balance of being a school focused on science, engineering, math and technology while also delivering a liberal arts education. HMC has a welcoming attitude toward women (who make up 48% of the student population) and other groups normally underrepresented in the STEM fields. Harvey Mudd’s has the look and feel of an engineering college with its no-frills, symmetrical campus. A recent building campaign added a 131-bed residence hall and the Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning with tech-rich classrooms, a 300-seat auditorium and an art gallery. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about HMC:

Acceptance: 18% 

Freshman retention: 92%

Freshmen out of state: 48%

Most popular majors: engineering, computer science, physics, and math 

4-year Graduation rate: 84%,; 6-year: 98% 

Student Community Diversity: 4% Black, 21% Latino, 10% International

 

Housing: All freshmen live on campus, but more impressively 98% of all students live in the dorms. Each dorm has a proctor (i.e. dorm “mom” or dad”) and several mentors (think “older siblings”) which creates a dorm experience that is strong and safe. The majority of HMC students feel that the dining options are decent, and, get this – HMC students can use their meal plan at any of the other Claremont college campuses!

 

Academics: Harvey Mudd’s rigorous Common Core curriculum features coursework in math, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and engineering, and writing, as well as the humanities. Because of the heavy workload, the administration has taken great steps to relieve stress like setting up a multi-disciplinary care team to help students with any academic and/or personal issues. 

 

Small classes and no graduate students equals a lot of attention for HMC students. Faculty have an open-door policy in addition to hosting regular office hours. The Clinic Program combines real-life math, science and engineering tasks sponsored by major corporations and government agencies –  SpaceX, Amazon and Pixar are among the recent sponsors. All students must either participate in the Clinic Program or thesis-driven research to graduate. About 200 students stay on campus each summer for research experiences working directly with professors, and 16% of students participate in study abroad programs in 20 countries. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: MIT, UC Berkeley, Caltech, Stanford

 

Social: One thing you will notice when at Harvey Mudd is the presence of wheels – unicycles, skateboards, longboards, or even wheels strapped to shoes – these are the most popular modes of transportation around campus. 

 

Dorms host parties almost every weekend, but the party scene is pressure-free and students do look out for each other. The most popular event at HMC is the Wild Wild West party – complete with a mechanical bull. While students are known to travel to other Claremont campuses to socialize, Harvey Mudd has its share of strong traditions. One example is the Noisy Minutes – at the end of each semester students take a break from studying with loud music, snacks and activities. Engineering pranks are popular (welcomed, even) throughout the year, as long as they are reversible within 24 hours, per the honor code. 

 

Varsity teams compete in conjunction with Claremont McKenna and Scripps in Division III. Recent national championships include men’s and women’s golf, women’s volleyball and women’s tennis. Intramural sports, also with Claremont McKenna and Scripps, are even more popular, with inner-tube water polo drawing the largest cheering crowds. 

 

Financial: Harvey Mudd offers need-based financial aid and non-need based merit scholarships. No athletic scholarships are available. HMC is a “need blind” school, which means the average percent of need met is 100%, with 100% being fully met.  Although the tuition and fees are $81,200, the average financial aid package is $43,700. 70% of students receive some type of financial aid. 

University of Dallas – The best Roman Catholic university south of D.C.

University of Dallas is described as the best Roman Catholic university south of Washington, D.C., and while 80% of the student body is Catholic, you don’t have to be Catholic to attend. Located on 744-acres about 15 minutes from downtown Dallas, UD remains dedicated to its classic liberal arts education, focused on Western philosophy and tradition. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about UDallas:

Acceptance: 54%

Freshman retention: 81%

Freshmen out of state: 40%

Most popular majors: biology, business, English, history, psychology

4-year Graduation rate: 62%, 6-year: 69%

Student Community Diversity: 2% Black, 24% Latino, 3% International

 

Housing: University of Dallas has a small, safe campus. Eighty-five percent of freshmen and about fifty percent of all students live on campus. Students under the age of 21 who don’t live at home with parents must live on campus in single-sex dorms with strict visitation regulations. 

The sole dining hall is spacious and has great views, but most students agree that the food is too expensive for the quality. The Rathskellar offers fast food and snacks that are more popular with the student body. 

 

Academics: The foundation of academics at University of Dallas is the 4-semester Western civilization Core curriculum, which includes courses in philosophy, English, math, fine arts, science, American civilization, Western civilization, politics, economics, foreign language, and two theology courses. Seniors must complete a thesis or project, comprehensive exam, and/or senior seminar, depending on their major. Eighty percent of undergraduates complete a semester in Rome, usually during sophomore year, including rigorous coursework, as well as trips to northern Italy and Greece and time for personal travel. 

When it comes to majors, UD offers 25 majors and 33 concentrations. For students studying business, there are plenty of internship opportunities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. University of Dallas also offers combined degrees, like the 3-2 dual-degree program in nursing and electrical engineering and 4 + 1 bachelor/master’s programs in a variety of fields. 

UD does not use any teaching assistants and more than half of all classes enroll fewer than 20 students, so undergraduates get the opportunity to really get to know their professors and vice versa. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Baylor, Trinity University, Austin College, Rhodes

 

Social: University of Dallas does not have any fraternities or sororities, so the Campus Activities Board sponsors most of the on-campus entertainment, including free movies, dances and visiting speakers. In the fall, the junior class organizes fundraising events for the annual Charity Week. The most popular event on campus is Groundhog, which features a week of events celebrating Groundhog Day and culminates in a huge on-campus party at Groundhog Park. For students who want to venture off campus, Dallas offers endless opportunities, and San Antonio and Austin are also not far away. 

While football doesn’t draw as much attention as in other Texas schools, Crusaders baseball and men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams are pretty competitive in Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. UD also offers intramural sports, and about a quarter of students participate. 

 

Financial: University of Dallas offers both need-based and non need-based merit aid. UD does not offer any athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 85%, with 24% being fully met.  Although the tuition and fees are $63,400, the average financial aid package is $33,490. 97% of students receive some type of financial aid.

New York University – Where challenging academics and big-city living meet

If you are looking for challenging academics at a college where you can also enjoy a thriving city scene, you may want to consider New York University. Located primarily on Washington Square and in the heart of Greenwich Village, students will find trendy shops, galleries, bars and eateries in the surrounding blocks with SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown nearby. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about NYU:

Acceptance: 21%

Freshman retention: 90%

Freshmen out of state: 72%

Most popular majors: business, nursing, theater, individualized majors

4-year Graduation rate: 79%; 6-year: 88%

Student Community Diversity: 7.5% Black, 16% Latino, 21.7% International

 

Housing: While there was a time when NYU students had to “fend for themselves” in the outrageous New York housing market, students are now guaranteed four years of housing in one of the 22 residence halls. Most rooms have a private bath and are nicer than a lot of city apartments. Freshmen live in one of the freshman residence halls, many of which have themed floors. 43% of undergraduates live in university housing. NYU offers a free shuttle service to dorms that are farther away from academic buildings.

 

Campus dining halls offer extensive options, including a dedicated kosher eatery. Students also have plenty of inexpensive options  in the restaurants located downtown. Safety is taken very seriously at NYU. Students state that they see plenty of security officers patrolling, both on foot and in patrol cars. NYU Trolley & Escort Van Service provides door-to-door transportation until 3:00am so students (and parents) can be assured they will get back to their dorm safely.  

 

Academics: New York University’s Under the Core Curriculum prescribes freshman and sophomore to take courses in foreign language, expository writing, foundations of contemporary culture, and foundations of scientific inquiry. The foreign language options are much broader than most universities and include Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Modern Irish, Swahili, and Tagalog. 

 

Despite the large student population (27,000 undergraduates plus 25,000 graduate students), 59% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Even though many classes are taught by graduate students, most of the introductory courses are taught by a well-known, “top notch” professor. NYU students describe the faculty as being reasonably accessible. To help ensure student success, students meet with their academic advisor at least once every semester.

 

New York University boasts many noteworthy schools and programs. The Tisch School of the Arts has trained many successful actors and directors including Marcia Gay Harden and Martin Scorcese. The Stern School of Business is known for having an accounting program with a high job-placement rate. Students who are looking for more flexible schedules and the opportunity to engage in independent study can find that in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. 

 

Opportunities abound for the NYU student. The career center is very well-run and helps connect students to one of thousands of on-campus jobs, full-time jobs and internships. Also, with eleven academic sites internationally as well as exchange agreements with universities around the world, it’s no wonder 56% of NYU students take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: U of Southern California, Cornell, Boston U, Northeastern

 

Social: Understandably, the majority of social life takes place off-campus. Students can attend Broadway performances, shop in SoHo, or hang out in Greenwich Village without having to go too far. That’s not to say there is nothing to do on campus. Students can become involved with their choice of more than 600 clubs and organizations and attend on-campus concerts and movies. Fraternity and sorority events are another popular on-campus activity, although only 5% of men and 7% of women “go Greek.” 

 

In the spring, NYU hosts their Strawberry Festival, which features free berries, and many students march in the Halloween Parade that takes over Greenwich Village each October. The Violet Ball is another well-attended event, which gives students an excuse to get dressed up. 

 

Sports is not NYU’s greatest strength. However, they do have several successful programs, including men’s and women’s golf, swimming and diving, and men’s wrestling which all compete in Division III. One-third of students participate in intramural sports. 



Financial: New York University offers both need-based and merit scholarships. NYU does not offer any athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 66%, with 12% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $77,000, the average financial aid package is $37,000. Fifty-one percent of students receive financial aid.

Texas Christian University – where a quality liberal arts education and strong sense of community meet

Texas Christian University students describe the atmosphere of campus as being a part of a community, a family. Case in point: a typical Saturday afternoon for a TCU student involves painting yourself purple to cheer on your team, the Horned Frogs. Set on 277 well-maintained acres, TCU’s campus is a mix of different architectural styles, from neo-Georgian to contemporary. Most worth noting are the Walsh Center for Performing Arts, which is a vast 56,000 square foot performance hall and theatre complex, and the new Greek village. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Texas Christian University:

4-year Graduation rate: 71%, 6-year: 83%

Acceptance: 47%

Freshman retention: 91%

Freshmen out of state: 51% 

Most popular majors: nursing, communication studies, finance, accounting

Student Community Diversity: 5% Black, 14% Latino, 5% International

 

Housing: Nearly all freshmen (97%) and about 52% of undergrads overall live on campus. Dorm life is described as a good experience with up to date facilities. Fraternity and sorority members may live in their Greek houses after freshman year, but most juniors and seniors choose to live off campus. TCU has an evening transportation service and students say they feel safe on campus. 

 

While campus meals are given average reviews, one student said, “No one misses Sunday brunch.” A few of the most popular menu items for this meal include lobster macaroni and cheese, pastries and chocolate fountains.

 

Academics: Texas Christian University students can choose their major from 114 disciplines. The core curriculum has a base of a liberal arts education with an emphasis on critical thinking that is divided into three areas: essential competencies; human experience and endeavors; and heritage, mission, vision, and values. First-year students participate in freshman seminar courses, and there is a Frog Camp the summer before freshman year to help students transition to college life. 

 

The academic climate is one that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Most class sizes are small with over 40% having fewer than 20 students. For those who are looking for the opportunity to study abroad, TCU offers 250 programs in 54 countries; about one-third of undergraduates participate. 

 

TCU is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), but the atmosphere is not overtly religious. Lack of diversity is a top concern, but the university has been taking a lot more interest in diversity and inclusion efforts with recruitment and admissions, as well as in first-year experience programs.

 

Similar colleges to consider: Baylor, University of Southern California, Southern Methodist, Tulane

 

Social: Greek life is a big deal at Texas Christian, with 41% of men and 58% of women pledging. One of the most popular events is the annual fall concert which brings big-name acts to campus. Students also look forward to the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree, an event complete with carols, hot chocolate and cookies, a visit from Santa and his reindeer, and fireworks. 

 

Looking to get off campus for a bit? Surrounding Fort Worth is a cultured city with plenty of things to do, and Dallas is a short 45-minute drive to the east. Other popular road trip destinations for TCU students include Austin, San Antonio, the Gulf coast and Shreveport, Louisiana.

 

TCU boasts 21 athletic programs, which compete in the Big 12 Conference. Football, baseball and men’s tennis have all won recent conference championship titles. In the 2017-2018 season, 11 teams were nationally ranked including the equestrian and women’s rifle teams. 

 

Financial: Texas Christian University offers merit awards averaging $19,000 per person, as well as 356 athletic scholarships, in addition to need-based aid. The average percent of need met is 74%, with 37% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $73,500 (tuition for in- and out-of-state students is the same), the average financial aid package is $54,000. 75% of students receive scholarships and aid.

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University of Tampa offers students plenty of hands-on experience

University of Tampa is a private, residential college with a rich history. The central building, Plant Hall, once housed the Tampa Bay Hotel, a resort built by Henry B. Plant in 1891. The hotel closed in 1931 due to the Great Depression, and two years later became the main building for the relocated University of Tampa (formerly known as Tampa Junior College). UT now has 60 buildings on 110 landscaped acres where you can find cannons from the original harbor fort and the spot of the former Florida State Fair grounds where Babe Ruth hit his longest home run – 630 feet. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about University of Tampa:

4-year Graduation rate: 50%, 6-year: 61%

Acceptance: 56%

Freshman retention: 78%

Freshmen out of state: 80% 

Most popular majors: international business, biology, marketing, marine science

Student Community Diversity: 5% Black, 14% Latino, 9% International

 

Housing: Accommodations vary from private rooms with a shared bathroom, kitchen and common area to studio-style private suites. Nine of the twelve residence halls have been built since 1998 through a massive renovation project. The nearby Barrymore Hotel also houses students with shuttle services to and from campus. 93% of freshmen and about 49% of all undergrads live on campus. 

 

Academics: University of Tampa’s motto is “To be, rather than to seem to be” and offers the hands-on experiences to meet it. Undergraduates can choose from over 200 academic programs in four colleges: College of Arts and Letters; College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education; College of Natural and Health Sciences; and Skyes College of Business. Sykes College of Business has a stock market lab with terminals and plasma screen TVs so students can get the experience of being on a stock market exchange floor. The College of Natural and Health Sciences owns a remote marine science research lab on Tampa Bay, as well as extensive equipment to study the ecosystems of the Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. University of Tampa is also home to an ROTC unit. 

 

UT has liberal arts curriculum requirements including a first year seminar, courses in writing and inquiry, math, natural sciences, humanities and fine arts, social sciences, and global awareness. Another opportunity for UT undergrads is the study abroad program which places students in one of 70 countries; about a quarter of students participate. The Honors Program allows students to study 1:1 with faculty through enrichment and tutorials, internships, research, and classroom to community outreach. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Remington College, University of South Florida, University of Phoenix – West Florida Campus 

 

Social: The University of Tampa Spartans compete in Division II athletics and hold national titles in baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, golf, volleyball, and beach volleyball. The college’s football program folded in 1974 in order to keep the college afloat during a period of financial troubles. The Fitness and Recreation Center has two floors with 60,000 square feet of space and an on-campus aquatic center with a deep swimming section for scuba diving classes. 

 

The percentage of students who go Greek at UT is fairly small, about 6% of men and 11% of women. The most popular campus events include Global Village Simulation, Model UN debates, The MLK Day Service and Student Productions Comedy Shows. And, of course, there are plenty of things to do in surrounding Tampa, no matter what your interests are.

 

Financial: University of Tampa offers both grants and scholarships, however, they offer much more in non-need based than need-based aid.  Although the tuition and fees are $46,000 (tuition is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students), the average financial aid package is $13,400. 90% of students receive financial aid and/or scholarships.

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Vassar has an independent, interdisciplinary and creative spirit

Vassar is a highly selective, small, coeducational liberal arts college, located just 70 miles north of New York City and known for its liberal traditions. Vassar prides itself on curricular flexibility, tolerance, and diversity.vassar liberal arts college

Multidisciplinary studies have been a distinctive feature of academic life at Vassar for several decades, fostering an intellectual environment that thrives on crossing disciplinary boundaries. A great example of this academic freedom and mindset is the Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory, created by five professors in biology, psychology and computer science where students can investigate with physical robots as well as computer simulations of virtual robots.

The college’s 1,000-acre campus, just outside Poughkeepsie, New York, is decorated with architecture which is predominantly neo-Gothic and yes, the library does look like a scene out of Harry Potter.

Acceptance: 26%

Freshmen from out of state: 71%

Most popular majors: economics, English, psychology

Housing: Guaranteed housing all four years

4-year Graduation rate: 88%

Vassar College

Academics: Vassar began as a women’s college in 1861 and went coed in 1968. There is no core curriculum and no general education or distribution requirements. Academic flexibility is paramount. That said, all students must take a Freshman Course, a small seminar emphasizing oral and written expression, as well as one course that requires significant quantitative analysis (similar to Hamilton College, also in New York).

More than half the students at Vassar double-major, with the most popular majors being English, political science, psychology, economics, and biological sciences. 70% of Vassar students go to graduate school, with medical school being the largest percent. Absolutely love that all freshmen have their own librarian.

Social: Vassar doesn’t have a Greek system, so social life revolves around films, lectures, parties, concerts, and the like. With its strong theatrical department, Vassar has 50+ theatre productions per year. A senior remarked that, “There are more than 1,000 events registered on the campus every year, which is nearly 40 events a week.”  Student Association, WVKR radio station, Vassar Greens, and ultimate Frisbee are influential in student social life. Popular events include Spring Concert, Founder’s Day, and All Campus Halloween Party.

Financial: Vassar offers merit scholarships and need-based financial aid, with 100% of need fully met.  The average financial aid package is $45,000 and 60% of students receive awards. Interestingly, the family income of students who received financial aid ranged from $0 to $270,000.

What do you think of Vassar? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.