Rider University (visited 11/14/15)
During my tour, I had a hard time figuring out what makes Rider different from other smallish liberal arts schools. It’s a lovely campus with just over 4000 undergrads on the main campus in Lawrenceville. I visited on a partly-sunny day in November; although it was a bit windy, it wasn’t all that chilly, but only a few people seemed to be around campus. I don’t know how much of that was because it was a Saturday afternoon and classes were not in session, because students maybe go home on the weekend, or because there was an open house and several students were giving tours and helping to staff some Student Life Booths (although those students only represented a tiny fraction of the total population).
The students I talked to were earnest and pleasant enough but most had trouble answering questions with any substance. Everyone I talked to said that they liked the community feel on campus, but there was little talk of how that manifested itself. I had to go to the website to learn about student life on campus; there appear to be a lot of great-sounding traditions, but none of the students talked about them, even when asked. The two students who were staffing the Hillel booth at the Open House Activities Fair were the exception to this. They were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and interesting to talk to. They said they were “small but mighty” – there is a decent Jewish population on campus, but not a huge regular group at Hillel. However, those who came were very active, and they would often do things with The College of New Jersey which is only a few miles down the road.
This seems like a good university for students looking for a solid, basic liberal-arts education with some options for career-oriented majors. I caught a bit of the Business Department’s presentation to prospective students. They were up-front about the fact that many careers that students prepare for don’t even exist yet. They have a wide range of options to choose from within the business program including Management and Leadership, Global Supply Chain Management, Information Systems, Business Economics, and Sport Management. Organizational Psychology will begin in Fall 2016.
Rider merged with the Westminster Choir College in the 1990s; that campus now houses the Arts College. They have robust range of offerings in this division including a BA in Popular Music Culture, Musical Theater, and Arts Administration.
Classes are kept small: the tour guide’s largest class had 40 students in her Intro to Geology class and 16 in her Cognitive Psych lab. Her favorite class was Theories of Psychotherapy.
Freshmen must live on campus; two years of housing are guaranteed, but the tour guide said that she had never heard of anyone being denied housing if they wanted it. Some housing is geared towards specific majors, and there’s 1 all-female dorm but no single-sex housing for males. Premium housing includes the suites and apartments (with a kitchen). Health Services gets rave reviews: “I love the health services here better than my own doctor.”
Centennial Pond is a nice feature on campus; there’s a bridge across and 2 fountains. The Lake House is a dorm on the far side for Musical Theater Majors. There are 2 frats (also housed by the lake) and 4 sororities. The Chapel has all sorts of religious services, including Shabbat services.