College Match Plus visits colleges across the country to talk to senior admissions officers and to investigate, first-hand, the campuses, facilities, and programs that are of interest to students selecting colleges. These college profiles summarize our findings.
Davidson College is a selective liberal arts college that I visited in May on my tour of colleges in the southeastern US.
Davidson College, in Davidson, North Carolina is 20 minutes from Charlotte, the largest city in the state and the “second largest banking center in the country.” Davidson has an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,000 students.
Strengths and Distinctions
- Students choose from 27 majors and 15 interdisciplinary minors that allow students to take a set of courses that address a specific area of study and complement a major. Among some of the interdisciplinary programs offered: East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, Communications Studies, Film and Media Studies, Health and Human Values, and Middle East Studies.
- A new 149,000 square foot Academic Center opened in August 2016 (see photo above). The Academic Center promotes transdisciplinary collaboration, research, original work, and teaching. The center houses space for public forums, classrooms, research labs, and offices for faculty in the departments of biology, chemistry, psychology, neurosciences, and environmental science.
- The Dean Rusk International Studies Program is named after the former US Secretary of State during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who was an alumnus of Davidson College.
- Students take advantage of the best of two worlds — an outstanding liberal arts education on a beautiful 665-acre tree-lined campus and participate in the professional and other opportunities available in Charlotte, North Carolina, only 20 minutes away. This close proximity provides students easy access to internships, networking, and other professional development opportunities as well as the entertainment, sports, and cultural events this major city offers. Some 70% of students participate in at least one internship before they graduate.
- Student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1
- More than 80% of students study, travel, work, or perform community service abroad
- Davidson fields 21 NCAA Division I sports — highly unusual for a college its size — and 25% of students participate.
- 50% of students participate in Greek life. Rush is held second semester of the freshman year to ensure students have time to adjust to college, focus on academics, and explore clubs and other activities on campus. Unlike other colleges, “There are no rush winners or losers. If you want to be in a sorority or fraternity you can be.”
- 95% of students live in campus housing all four years
- Average class size of 15 students
- Through the Davidson Trust, students have 100% of their demonstrated need met through a combination of grants and student employment. Davidson also offers merit-based scholarships to 10% of an incoming class — those students “whose accomplishments mark them as having extraordinary potential for impact.”
- Offers Early Decision I and II (deadlines November 15 and January 2 respectively). Regular decision application is due January 5
- Nearly 50% of the class of 2021 were admitted through Early Decision I or II
- Last year, Davidson received 5,620 applications and 20% of students admitted
After my son’s wedding in Atlanta in late May, I decided to visit colleges on my way home to Baltimore. Traveling along highway I-75 N and I-81N, there are many colleges on or near these major highways. Since I’d planned three days for travel, I carefully chose my route to include Georgia Tech, Furman University, Davidson College, and the University of Virginia.
While I often recommend students visit two schools a day, my southern college swing made me realize that visiting one institution a day is probably the best strategy for campus visits (unless you’re in Boston where the close proximity of a number of universities and colleges makes it much easier to visit two schools in a day).
My advice for juniors and sophomores hitting the road for college visits this summer is to schedule a tour and information session ahead of time. If possible, talk to the admissions person for your region of the country (each has an assigned territory) and come armed with a few good questions. And, equally important since you will living in that city or community for four years, get to know the place: walk around the city; see a local show or concert; have coffee, lunch or dinner at a cool place near the college. Take the time to see the entire campus, explore the college’s varied and signature programs, learn about special research, internships, and other opportunities available — in other words, truly experience the college or university with all your senses. Here’s the first college profile from my travels through the southeast.
Furman University is located in Greenville, South Carolina. Despite pouring rain the day I visited, it was readily apparent that Furman’s 750 acre campus is one of the most beautiful I have ever visited.
Strengths and Distinctions
- With its new initiative, The Furman Advantage, the college has redefined and reimagined its approach to a liberal arts and science education.
- Campus is about 15-20 minutes from the city center of Greenville — ranked one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Small Cities in the U.S.; 3rd Strongest Job Market, 2010; and the 13th Best City for Young Professionals. The greater Greenville area has a population of more than 500,000 and is home to many national and international companies including 200 that are internship partners with Furman. More than 70% of majors at Furman have internships built into the major.
- Signature program in business offers students either a BA in accounting or a BA in Business Administration. Through its study abroad programs, Furman provides students majoring in business the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs that include internships with organizations and businesses in cities such as Brussels and Edinburgh.
- The University provides $450,000 in funding through its Furman Fellows Program every summer to enable students to pursue projects, internships and other experiences outside the classroom that are aligned with their interests and passions.
- Ranked 4th in the nation for resources committed, funding received, number of publications, and number of students involved in research.
- May Experience, an optional three-week term following the spring semester allows students to explore topics often outside their majors in courses not offered during the academic year including shorter study abroad experiences.
- Student-to faculty ratio 11:1
- About 50% of students participate in Greek life. Rush is held second semester of the freshman year to ensure students have time to adjust to college, focus on academics, and explore clubs and other activities on campus
- 100% residential campus (all students live on campus all four years). This contributes to a close-knit, inclusive community where students across classes develop strong connections and friendships
- Average class size of 19 with all classes capped at 32 students
- 86% of students receive financial aid including 50 million in grants and scholarships
- Early Decision I and Early Action deadlines are November 1. Regular decision deadline is January 15
- 6,000 applications received in the last admissions cycle and 50% admitted
- Campus tour and information session extremely professional and informative — and the campus speaks for itself
Last summer I spent a week on the campus of Swarthmore College attending the IECA’s professional Summer Institute for educational consultants. Beyond the beauty of the College’s 425-acre arboretum campus (the College claims 4,000 varieties of distinct plant specimens), Swarthmore has a lot to offer students who are highly accomplished and intellectually inclined.
Swarthmore College is a small liberal arts college located 11 miles from Philadelphia. Admission is extremely competitive (a notch under the Ivies).
Strengths and Distinctions
- Nearly 100-year-old Honors program modeled on Oxford’s tutorial system and the only one of its kind in the nation. One-third of students participate through small classes and seminars, heightened engagement with faculty, and opportunities for independent learning, special research and projects, and a constant sharing and discussion of ideas.
- Tri-college consortium enables students to take courses at Bryn Mawr and Haverford. Cross registration with the University of Pennsylvania also is available.
- Close access to the Philadelphia (only a 25-minute train ride from campus) and the internship, cultural, and other activities and opportunities available in the nation’s fourth largest city.
- Quaker heritage tends to attract student activists who have an unusually strong interest in civic engagement and community service
- More than 40 majors and programs including one in engineering — not typically offered at a small liberal arts college
- College’s pass/fail grading policy in the first semester encourages freshmen to explore a variety of classes without worrying about their GPA and adjust to college life.
- Generous need-based financial aid program — 50% of students receive some financial aid on the basis of demonstrated need
- Offers Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and regular decision application options
- Swarthmore still offers no-loan, need-based awards for all students receiving grant aid (money students do not have to repay after they graduate)
The University of Maryland is the crown jewel of the state’s public universities (now one of the best flagship public universities on the east coast). Admission is very competitive.
Strengths and Distinctions
- Among the top 20 public research universities nationwide
- Top 10 best entrepreneurial programs (Smith School of Business)
- Close access to internship opportunities in DC, Annapolis, and Baltimore (metro stop on campus — 10 minutes to DC)
- Over 90 undergraduate majors
- Beautifully maintained and updated campus in a suburban setting (University has experienced the largest building boom in its 160-year history over the last 10 years).
- Student-to-faculty ratio is, surprisingly, 16:1
- Emphasis on smaller living and learning communities — students feel part of a close-knit community typically found at smaller colleges yet have access to the extensive resources of a research university.
- Priority application deadline is November 1. Honors scholars automatically selected from this pool of students
- No personal or Skype interviews offered to prospective students
- Highly informative and professional information session and good campus tour