Colgate University (visited 7/24/15)
The first thing that I noticed (other than the hilly campus!) was the very consistent campus architecture. It’s beautiful and well maintained. At the base of the hill sits Taylor Lake, a man-made pond supposedly in the shape of a 4-leaf clover (although we couldn’t see it). Campus is safe: our tour guide never heard of anyone using the Blue Light system for actual security issues. One student fell on it accidentally, and one got scared when a deer popped out of the woods.
The student body seems very preppy – and also book smart. One of the tour guide’s favorite traditions involves a symbolic “transfer of knowledge”: professors walk up the hill with torches at the beginning of each year; at graduation, the seniors carry the torches down the hill. Colgate students grab opportunities. Our tour guide got a free trip to Oxford in his freshman year for a debate tournament.
Classes, not surprisingly, are small. The average class size is 19. Our tour guide had about 30 in some of his intro classes. His smallest class (Intro to Philosophy) had 7 students. Unusual majors include: Astrogeophysics, Native American Studies, Greek, and several Environmental Studies concentrations including: E. Biology, E. Economics, E. Geography, and E. Geology. Unusual minors include Applied Math, LGBTQ Studies, Jewish Studies, and Mathematical Systems Biology. The science department has a Visualization Lab “which is like a hybrid between a planetarium and IMAX.” They can show the night sky anytime in history, anywhere in the world. The sciences tend to be relatively strong here: 70-80% get into med school on the first application, almost twice the national average.
Dorms are coed, some by floor, some by room. The Freshman Quad has 6 dorms; West Hall was actually built by students back in the 1800s when there was a physical labor requirement. Almost 1/3 of students are involved in Greek Life (rush doesn’t happen until sophomore year). Roughly 60% of affiliated students live in Greek housing located down on Broad Street. “They’re owned by the university so they’re bound by all the rules on campus.” The dining hall is open 24/7. Freshman and sophomore meal plans are unlimited so they can get coffee or a snack without wasting a meal.
There’s plenty to do on campus. They bring in lots of big-name speakers like the Clintons or the Prime Minister of Israel (the tour guide didn’t know if it was the current PM or not . . .). Dancefest, a twice-yearly event, showcases the 30+ dance and music groups including the all-whistling a cappella group. Sports are popular, and there are also a lot of club teams dedicated to the less popular sports that don’t necessarily have an outlet otherwise such as Fencing, Curling, Western or English/Hunt Equestrian, Rugby, and Figure Skating.
The town of Hamilton is a small, cute town with a few things to do. “We’re not going to go hungry,” said the tour guide, but if you’re looking for hopping city night-life, this isn’t the place. Shuttles run around campus and town four times an hour from 7am – 1am (3am on weekends). Syracuse is less than an hour away, and there are plenty of outdoor events like skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and kayaking available, many of which are free to students through the Outdoor Club and other college organizations. There’s a long-distance bus stop on campus so it’s easy to get to other cities (including 2 buses a day to NYC). They also run shuttles to the Amtrak and the Syracuse airport (a round-trip shuttle to the airport costs $20).
Multiculturalism and diversity is big here. The ALANA cultural center has a full kitchen, offices, and meeting/class spaces; they hold brown bag lunches almost every week. There are multiple groups dedicated to a variety of religious, political, and cultural identities.