HARTWICK COLLEGE (visited 7/24/13)
Hartwick is a small liberal arts college with its traditional-looking brick buildings built onto a hillside in Oneonta, NY. A student in the admissions office said that she wishes she had known about the stairs before she came: “They kind of suck, but at least I have good legs now!” Oneonta is a very small city (large town?) with a relatively active downtown main street that caters to the college students (the economy seems to very much depend on them). Our guide said that “The walk to town is 5-10 minutes. The walk back to campus is 15-20 because of the hill.” However, Hartwick and SUNY-Oneonta (about a mile away) share shuttles into town (and can be used to get between campuses). Hartwick has 7 stops on campus and will stop at 4 locations downtown including a movie theater and Walmart. From the downtown bus stop, students can get to Albany and Binghamton, both about an hour away.
Neither student I spoke to was unhappy with the variety of activities to choose from on and around campus or around town: “I have to decide between events sometimes.” There are a ton of things to do on campus, and it’s easy to do things around town. Every semester, 2 trips to NY and 1 trip to Boston are offered for $30. The weekend-long OH (Oneonta-Hartwick) Fest in the Spring is a big deal; the campuses come together to put it on. Main Street gets closed down (the public is welcome to join in the fun) and filled with venders and activities, including concerts. Sports on campus are DIII EXCEPT for Women’s Water Polo and Men’s Soccer which are DI.
Classes are typically small with only a handful of introductory classes like Psych and Biology that are capped at 100 students. My tour guide’s classes ranged from 3 (Spanish) to 25 in her Freshman Seminar. Classes are very hands-on and interdisciplinary, requiring a lot of group work. One of the newer academic buildings has break-out rooms with a table that seats 6 and a tv that can hook up to a computer so that students can work together. My tour guide’s favorite classes have been in the Education department because they’ve been thought provoking and make her question how she sees things. She’s also taken Glass Blowing which was creative and a great break from academics. Hartwick offers a wonderful variety of classes that aren’t often seen at smaller schools such as geochemistry and oceanography in the Bahamas. If Hartwick doesn’t offer something they’re interested in, students can take 1 class per semester at SUNY-Oneonta; the tour guide specifically mentioned that classes like ASL, Italian, and scuba diving were classes on Hartwick students’ radars.
Students have to complete 2 January Term (J-Term) activities which can be a class on campus, study abroad, or internships. They have a large Art and Culture Museum in which students can work as curators and interns. Every major requires an Experiential Learning component; art and anthropology students can complete this in the museum on campus. Hartwick offers MetroLink, a 10-day trip in January in which students travel to NY and Boston to shadow alum in a variety of professions. They offer a similar program in DC during Spring Break.
Dorms are kind of old, but not horrible. Lounges are well used, and the kitchens are good. There are townhouses for seniors, who are also allowed to live off campus if they choose to (but 80-85% of students stay on all four years). Greek life is small with 5 total chapters; they have off-campus housing options, each holding about 20 students. Juniors involved in Greek life can live in Greek housing off-campus if they choose to do so. Housing is chosen based on a system of earned points: the higher the GPA and the more activities that students are involved in, the more likely they are to get the housing they want. The Dining Hall is small and offers limited options. The tour guide said that they “learn to get creative.” Freshmen have an unlimited meal plan; after that year, students can choose 19 or 14 meals a week if they way. They get some flex dollars for use in smaller places around campus, and even some places downtown will accept WICKID (Harwick ID). They do have a totally vegetarian station so vegetarians know that meat has never been cooked there, and soy milk is always an option for people with lactose intolerance or for vegans.
Almost half of the 1,500 undergraduates are from outside of NY. Admissions is test-optional which is great. They won’t use the scores if it’ll hurt the student. Scholarship aid is generous with up to $23,000 in aid that can be stacked with an additional leadership scholarship (worth up to $4,000). Aid at Hartwick makes their costs comparable to the SUNY schools. The scholarships are theirs to keep with a 2.0 GPA. A merit-aid calculator on their website can help students figure out what they might be eligible for.
The only thing the students said they would like to change about the school is that it’s not really very handicapped accessible. “People are always breaking something in sports; it’s kind of painful to watch them try to get around on crutches or worse.” She also mentioned that several dorms don’t have elevators, which means that if elderly relatives with mobility issues come to visit, they may not be able to access the dorm rooms.