University of Connecticut
UConn (visited 10/13/16)
UConn provides everything you would expect from a top-notch research institution with great academics and well-known athletics. Students here are taken care of under a multiple advisor system, but also will need to be good advocates for themselves. That being said, it’s not so large that they will get lost in the shuffle. Upperclassmen are a great resource for younger students; “they take people under their wings. The underclassmen are going to be the ones to carry on traditions, take over leadership roles,” said a tour guide. They’re clearly doing something right: 93% of freshman return for sophomore year.
I was impressed that students gave the info session without an admissions representative. The school recommends applying by December 1 in order to be automatically reviewed for Honors and have first access to Merit-based aid. January 15 is the hard deadline. Regardless of when students apply, UConn won’t release decisions until first week in March. The students recommend focusing on the essay: “that’s the only way to speak for yourself,” said a student; they don’t offer interviews.
Last year, about half of the applicants were for the STEM fields. Connecticut recently gave UConn a $1.2billion grant for STEM development, and there’s quite a bit of work being done on campus. They even have a new Next Gen Dorm, housing students in the STEM fields.
About 30% of students come in as Undecided. These students are placed in the Academic Center for Exploratory Students program with an advisor to make sure they graduate in 4 years. These advisors are trained to work with Undeclared Majors and know how the different core requirements work at the 12 academic colleges.
Housing is guaranteed; 90% of freshmen and 73% overall live on campus including LLCs and Greek housing (13% of students go Greek, but not all live in housing). 86% of students who live off-campus are within a 3-mile radius, and an off-campus housing office helps them find rentals. Students easily get around campus and town on the 8 bus lines, running every 15 minutes along 4 routes.
Students get unlimited swipes on the meal plan which they can use in any of the 8 dining halls, most with themes (International, All-American, Comfort Food). They also have one of the best Gluten-Free programs in the country; the Children’s Hospital modeled their program after UConn’s.
Storrs itself is small, “about 4 blocks long. Everyone asks, ‘Where’s the city?’” However, the town caters to students, and certainly there’s plenty to do on campus. “There are more activities than we know what to do with.” High-end performers come here regularly: academic speakers are free; others cost $20. A favorite yearly event is Oozeball where they turn the South Quad into a giant mud pit and have a volleyball tournament.
Athletics, of course, are a big deal. They have 24 D1 teams with 21 national championships. Football and basketball tickets cost $49 for the season – if they’re a lottery winner to buy them at that price. The number of entries into the lottery depends on the students’ year: seniors get 4, freshmen get 1. If they don’t get this, they can buy regular tickets as available. Soccer also draws a lot of fans.
Community service is not a requirement, but students contribute 1.5 million hours annually, placing them as one of the top 5 schools in the country for service. Huskython is an annual Dance Marathon for Children’s Miracle Network. Another group, the Global Brigade, focuses health and welfare. They travel domestically and abroad (most recently to Panama to open a clinic). UConn offers IDEA Grants for student-designed projects to encourage entrepreneurial, service, and research projects. Grants can be up to several thousand dollars and are open to all majors. One nursing student created a mobile clinic for Korean-Americans and Korean immigrants.
There are 6400 classes offered every semester. Eighty-two percent have fewer than 50 students; “.01% have more than 300.” Writing classes are capped at 19, math at 30. The students’ largest classes all hovered around 225 students (Intro to MicroEcon, Intro to Psych, and Communications 1000, “The most taken class for Gen Ed.”) Most of these had discussion sections of 30-32 students. The Smallest classes ranged from 10 (Spanish) to Economic Inventive Design with about 30.
Most academic buildings are in the Academic Quad, “kind of the first ring or center of college with 2 more rings outside it.”
- As the Land-Grant institution, it’s no surprise that the Agriculture School is strong. There are 2 AA degrees (including one in Ornamental Horticulture & Turfgrass Management!); students with a 2.7 can roll into a Bachelor’s program.
- The School of Fine Arts requires a portfolio/audition for acceptance.
- The Conn Repertory Theater works with the fine arts students.
- There are several art galleries (offering a range of artistic styles) as well as a puppetry institute available for internships and gallery showings.
- The Engineering program is doing great things.
- Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM), combines Business Management and Mechanical Engineering. Students in the program can graduate in 4 years if they start right away; it’s very structured. There are lots of engineering projects like creating the dissolvable screw for ACL surgery.
- Education and Pharmacy programs accept applicants as “pre-“ students: they take pre-reqs as freshman and apply into the program to start as sophomores.
- FYE is not required but taken by 70-75% of freshman (and it’s open to sophomores, too)
- The Business School is ranked #1 in New England and top 25 in the country. GE donated 75% of the capital for the new building and remains one of the top recruiters for both Engineering and Business students. They recommend applying directly into the business school as a freshman; current students need a 3.5 GPA to get in.