Wittenberg – a liberal arts gem in the Midwest

Wittenberg offers a solid honors program, an active Greek scene, and competitive Division III athletics. Founded in 1845 by German Lutherans and set on a beautiful 100-acre campus in the Midwest, you will find a college that emphasizes strong student-faculty relationships, a dedication to community service (students give 30+ hours of their time each year) and an academic environment that is “challenging, but friendly.” Students will be awe-struck by a mixture of 1800s and Gothic-inspired buildings, as well by the brand-new Health, Wellness and Athletics complex with full-size indoor turf field surrounded by a running track. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Wittenberg:

Acceptance: 97%

Freshman retention: 76%

Freshmen out of state: 21%

Most popular majors: education, biology, marketing, psychology

4-year Graduation rate: 58%; 6-year: 63%

Student Community Diversity: 10% Black, 3.7% Latino, 0.8% International

 

Housing: Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, where 85% of all undergraduates live. Many upperclassmen choose to live in houses and apartments nearby. The dorms are described as spacious and air-conditioned. The dining halls offer a variety of options, including vegetarian selections; most students say that food isn’t the best, but it is acceptable. 

 

Academics: General education requirements at Wittenberg emphasize a liberal arts background with learning goals including writing and research, exercising social and moral responsibility and participating in physical education. First-year students participate in a leadership development program, a service-learning course and First-Year Seminar, which helps with the transition from high school to college. 

 

Wittenberg students can expect to find their professors to be accessible and also plenty of opportunities to participate in undergraduate research. In fact, 92% of students participate in said research and 20% of students take advantage of the opportunity to spend a semester or a year of study off campus. For those looking for smaller class sizes, 52% of Wittenberg’s undergraduate courses have fewer than 20 students. 

 

What else can Wittenberg students expect? The engineering department offers a 3-2 bachelor’s/master’s program in conjunction with Columbia and Case Western Reserve University. Also, for students who declare their major on time and complete all courses with a C or better, Wittenberg guarantees a degree in 4 years, and will pay for any additional necessary courses.

 

Similar colleges to consider: Denison, The College of Wooster, Miami University (OH), The Ohio State University

 

Social: Wittenberg students have more than 120 student organizations, performing arts groups and intramurals to choose from to get involved. Greek life has a larger presence than many other college campuses, with 29% of men and 32% of women choosing to “go Greek.” Weekend social life largely centers on parties held in houses, dorms, and apartments near campus. The various Greek groups, the Union Board and Residence Hall Association all work to bring events to campus including guest speakers, movies, comedians and concerts. Favorite annual events include Greek Week, W Day, Homecoming and Wittfest (a festival and concert with games, food and socializing held before finals).

 

The surrounding city of Springfield offers access to movie theaters, restaurants and a performing arts center. Nearby state parks offer swimming, camping, biking trails and spots for picnicking. Popular road trips include going to nearby Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati. 

 

The Wittenberg Tigers are competitive in Division III sports, with their biggest rivalries being against Wabash, Allegheny and The College of Wooster. The most recent North Coast Athletic Conference championship titles have been in men’s basketball, football and golf, as well as women’s volleyball, softball and golf. Intramural sports are also very popular, especially crew, ice hockey and rugby. 

 

Financial: Wittenberg offers both need-based aid as well as non-need based merit aid. WU does not offer any athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 84%, with 29% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $55,600, the average financial aid package is $28,200. 98% of students some type of financial aid.

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.

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.

DePaul University – a politically liberal Roman Catholic university devoted to experiential learning

DePaul university offers a unique environment to learn and grow, one focused on students gaining field experience before graduation. Though it is the largest Roman Catholic university in the nation, DePaul has a reputation for being politically liberal and diverse. DePaul has two campuses: Lincoln Park is set in a fashionable Chicago neighborhood and houses the colleges of liberal arts and social sciences, science and health, education, and theater and music, while the Loop campus (20 minutes away by “the El”), is home to the colleges of business and communications, digital media, computing, and law, as well as the School for New Learning.

Here are a few quick facts about DePaul:

4-year Graduation rate:58%, 6-year: 71%

Acceptance: 70%

Freshman retention: 83%

Freshmen out of state: 36% 

Most popular majors: accounting, public relations/advertising, finance, psychology

Student Community Diversity: 8% Black, 19% Latino, 3% International

 

Housing: DePaul has traditionally been a commuter school, with only 18% of students living in university housing. Lincoln Park’s campus has 6 co-ed dorms and 6 townhouse and apartment buildings, while the Loop campus boasts a 1,700-student residence hall that includes a rooftop garden, fitness center, as well as music, art, and study rooms. Food choices on campus are limited, especially for students who eat a strictly vegan diet.

DePaul takes safety very seriously. Campus security is visible, patrolling both in cars and on foot. All dorms are accessible only by the swipe of a student ID at two doors (and in some dorms, three).

 

Academics: All freshmen are required to take either Discover Chicago or Explore Chicago to learn more about the city, as well as completing courses in composition and quantitative reasoning. Sophomores all take a course on multiculturalism in the United States, and every DePaul undergraduate participates in an experiential learning program which requires an internship, research, study abroad, or a service-learning experience. The School of Cinematic Arts has a partnership with Cinespace Chicago, the city’s premier movie studio to give students in those programs film and television production experience. Game design and animation are two other popular programs. DePaul offers a 6-year bachelor’s/law degree, as well as a number of other 5-year bachelor’s/master’s programs. 

 

Class sizes are often small; 41% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Professors teach at all levels and clerics teach some courses and celebrate Mass everyday. Mass is optional for students,  and students have the opportunity to join student organizations that represent all different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, University of Indiana at Urbana-Champaign

 

Social: It should come as no surprise that with the number of concert venues, sporting events, clubs, restaurants and bars in Chicago (and such a small percentage of students living on campus), that most of the social scene happens away from campus. Fraternities and sororities attract only 5% of men, and 11% of women, respectively. In the warmer months, Lake Michigan is a popular spot, and the annual outdoor Fest concert draws large crowds from both DePaul campuses. 

 

DePaul’s Blue Demons compete in the Big East Conference in 15 Division I sports, with men’s basketball being the biggest headliner. Men’s track and field, and women’s basketball, tennis, and softball have all won Big East tournaments recently. While Loyola is DePaul’s oldest rival, the games against Notre Dame draw the largest crowds. 

 

Financial: DePaul offers both need-based, as well as non-need based merit scholarships, and a small number of athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 71%, with 14% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $61,000, the average financial aid package is $21,100. 91% of students receive scholarships.

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(The) Ohio State University – where they do everything in a big way

The Ohio State University (yes, “The”) does everything in a big way – from campus size to sports to one-of-a-kind degree programs. The biggest of the Big Ten and boasting the third largest campus in the nation (with a larger operating budget than that of the state of Delaware), you can find your niche among the 52,000 students pursuing one of over 200 undergraduate majors. Despite the daunting 1,777-acre size of the campus, the grounds are nicely landscaped and a centrally located lake provides a place for students to find a little solitude. If the hike across campus isn’t enough to keep you in shape, you can always stop in at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center, which is the nation’s largest facility dedicated to student fitness, wellness and recreation.

 

Here are a few quick facts about Ohio State:

4-year Graduation rate: 62%, 6-year: 86%

Acceptance: 54%

Freshman retention: 94%

Freshmen out of state: 25% 

Most popular majors: psychology, communication, finance, biology

Student Community Diversity: 6% Black, 4% Latino, 9% International

 

Housing: Freshman and sophomores are required to live in one of the 42 residence halls unless they are commuting from home. Dorms are in three areas – North, South and Olentangy (those closest to the Olentangy River) and are home to 33% of the overall undergraduate population. Ohio State has a system of variable room rates, which are based on the type of accommodations, such as air conditioning, private bathroom, and number of roommates. 

 

Academics: In keeping with their commitment to liberal arts education, Ohio State has rigorous general education requirements in math, writing, foreign language, social science, natural science, and arts and humanities. Class sizes vary and tend to whittle down as students continue in their fields of study. The OSU honors program offers smaller class sizes (around 25 students), honors classes, priority scheduling, honors housing and co-curricular activities. 

The most celebrated departments are business, engineering, neuroscience, dance and design. Ohio State also has strong African-American and African studies programs and has the most extensive offering of African languages of any university in the United States. OSU also has the only programs in the nation in welding engineering and geodetic science, and was the first university in the country to offer an undergraduate program in data analytics. 

For those looking for experience outside of the classroom, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquire arranges research opportunities, which about 20% of students participate in. Internships in the state government, Fortune 500 companies and major tech and research organizations such as IBM Analytics Solution Lab and Battelle, are also available. Five percent of students engage in one of 200 study abroad programs, in more than 70 countries. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: University of Michigan, University of Indiana at Urbana-Champaign, Penn State, University of Wisconsin – Madison

 

Social: There is no shortage of opportunities for an active social life at Ohio State. On-campus housing groups plan various social events and the student union runs eateries, a tavern, movies and other activities. 13% of men and 14% of women go Greek, and while they may isolate themselves a bit with fraternity and sorority activities, there are over 1,400 student organizations for those who decide not to pledge. 

The metropolitan location of Ohio State means there is also a lot to do off-campus as well. Columbus has plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, golf courses and movie theaters nearby, and is also home to a symphony orchestra, ballet, and professional hockey and soccer teams. Students who want to go a little further out will find that they can easily get to Cleveland or Cincinnati, spend some time skiing in Mansfield, or enjoy reconnecting with nature at one of 19 area metro parks, or scenic Hocking Hills. 

One of OSU’s crown jewels is its lavish and successful college sports programs, offering 16 men’s, 17 women’s and 3 co-ed varsity teams. Ohio State takes home its fair share of conference titles (18 in the past couple years), and one student remarked that, “Football is somewhat like religion.” 

Popular on-campus events include the Homecoming Parade, BuckeyeThon (a philanthropy/dance marathon), Taste of OSU (international food festival), as well as a variety of other heritage festivals. 

 

Financial: Ohio State offers both need-based and non need-based merit aid. The average percent of need met is 74%, with 29% being fully met. 

Although the tuition and fees are $30,000 for in-state and $54,000 for out-of-state, the average financial aid package is $18,000. 70% of students receive financial aid and scholarships.

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Randolph College may be coed now, but many traditions still continue

Named #9 of “Top 50 Green Colleges” and receiving many other accolades, Randolph College is situated on a picturesque 100-acre campus in an historic residential area of Lynchburg, Virginia. Students have close access to shopping and entertainment, as well as public transportation, and Washington, D.C. and Virginia Beach are just a short drive away. Founded in 1891 as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Randolph became co-ed in 2007 and men currently make up one-third of undergraduates. 

 

Here are a few quick facts about Randolph:

4-year Graduation rate: 52%, 6-year: 56%

Acceptance: 90%

Freshman retention: 71%

Freshmen out of state: 24% 

Most popular majors: biology, sport/exercise studies, history, psychology

Student Community Diversity: 16% Black, 6% Latino, 3% International

 

Housing: Seventy-six percent of Randolph students live in the dorms where the main drawback is that many of the buildings lack air conditioning. Main Hall is known on campus as “The Hilton” due to being the largest dorm and because of its central location on campus. After the first year, housing is selected by a lottery with the college-owned apartments across the street being the most popular option. 

 

Academics: Randolph offers 33 majors and 43 minors and boasts pre-professional programs in engineering, nursing, law, medicine and veterinary studies. The teacher licensure program is enhanced by two graduate degree programs. The two pillars of the general education requirements are core competencies (writing, quantitative reasoning, and language) and ways of knowing (artistic expression, human experience, culture and identity, social and natural science, and physical education). This matrix allows students to explore different areas and take classes in almost every department.  

Eighty-six percent of classes enroll fewer than 20 students and there are no TAs so students get to know their professors and vice versa. All students are eligible to apply for the RISE grant, which provides students with funding for research, international travel and other academic pursuits. Students who are interested in participating in original and innovative research will find the opportunity to do so through the Center for Student Research and the Summer Research Program – an intensive 8-week program that gives undergraduates the opportunity to present findings at professional conferences and/or publish in professional journals. 

Finals week looks a lot different on Randolph campus – students may pick up their final exam when they are ready and take it in the room they choose. This is possible because of the Randolph Honor Code, which is “the backbone of a tight-knit community that gives our students the respect and dignity they deserve as scholars and human beings.” 

 

Similar colleges to consider: Hendrix, Millsapp, Wells, Eckerd

 

Social: There is no Greek life on Randolph campus, so the real social scene is inside The Red Brick Wall, with a number of secret societies, clubs and other social organizations. Macon Activities Council hosts comedians, bands and other entertainers, talent shows and outdoor parties to keep the student populace from getting bored. Popular Randolph traditions include the Even/Odd class rivalry, Never Ending Weekend and the Pumpkin Parade, just to name a few. 

Randolph Wildcats compete in Division III sports. While there is no football team, their equestrian and women’s teams have been most competitive, along with men’s soccer, basketball, tennis, and track and field.

 

Financial: Randolph offers need-based aid, as well as non-need based merit aid. They do not offer any athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 79%, with 21% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $41,750, the average financial aid package is $35,873. 90% of students receive scholarships.

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University of Florida offers strong engineering programs and nationally ranked athletic teams

Where can you find great weather, nationally ranked athletic teams, 20 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and a college that is a world leader in…citrus science? Look no further than University of Florida, which is located on 2,000 acres (you may want to bring your bike) of forested terrain in northern central Florida. There you and about 30,000 other undergraduates will also find nationally recognized programs in engineering and business, as well as strong pre-professional programs in accounting and pharmacy, and extensive facilities for agriculture education (and not just for citrus fruits).

 

Here are a few quick facts about University of Florida:

4-year Graduation rate: 68%, 6-year: 90%

Acceptance: 39%

Freshman retention: 97%

Freshmen out of state: 12% 

Most popular majors: psychology, biology, mechanical engineering

Student Community Diversity: 6% Black, 22% Latino, 2% International

 

Housing: About 22% of students reside on campus in dorms that can be described as comfortable. UF’s Cypress Hall is one of only five in the nation that is recognized for being designed specifically to be accessible to students with severe physical impairments. Most undergraduates live on campus during freshman year to get the residential life experience, but then move after that. While the campus dining halls get a mixed review, there are a suitable number of vegetarian and vegan options available. 

 

Academics: University of Florida’s general education program includes courses in liberal arts, including classes that focus on themes of internationalism or diversity and multi-disciplinary courses on current topics. A couple of UF’s gems include the College of Journalism and Communications, with its impressive Innovation News Center, and the Graham Center for Public Service, which prepares students for careers in public service with courses in languages, cultures and other fundamental skills.

Even though there is a large campus population, nearly half of undergrad classes have fewer than 20 students. Professors are said to have deep professional experience, but for the introductory-level classes, you are more likely to find a graduate teaching assistant behind the lectern. For those who are looking for enrichment opportunities, it should be noted that half of UF’s undergrads are involved in research and about six percent study abroad in over 70 countries. 

 

Similar colleges to consider: UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Virginia, University of Michigan

 

Social: University of Florida, and surrounding Gainesville, has a social scene for every type of student. Greek rush, which claims 18% of men and 23% of women, happens right before classes start in the fall and again in the spring. 

University of Florida boasts one of the top intercollegiate athletics programs in the country, making Division I sports a year-round obsession. Florida State and University of Georgia remain the Gators’ biggest rivals and homecoming festivities, known as the “Gator Growl” is the largest student-run pep rally in the nation. If you aren’t involved in varsity sports, you can still get active through 50 club sports, 40 intramural leagues and tournaments and 1,100 student organizations. Another perk to being a student at UF is being able to utilize the 60,000 square-foot fitness park. 

Gainesville, which is between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, is very much a college town. There you will find a plethora of stores, restaurants, bars, a sports arena and a performing arts center which puts on a variety of productions, including Broadway plays. For the student who likes to get outdoors, UF owns a nearby lake, and there are plenty of parks, forests, rivers and streams nearby for backpacking, camping and canoeing as well. Orlando, St. Augustine and Jacksonville are some of the most popular getaway destinations. 

 

Financial: University of Florida offers mostly need-based financial aid and grants, and a small percentage of non-need based merit and athletic scholarships. The average percent of need met is 99%, with 29% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state students are  $21,430 and $45,898, respectively, the average financial aid package is $16,655. 96% of incoming students receive scholarships and financial aid.

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