University of North Carolina – Wilmington
UNC Wilmington (visited 3/13/17)
I have sent several students here over the years, all of whom had good things to say about it. I finally had a chance to visit, but because I was not able to get into town in time for an official tour, I got in contact with a former advisee who is currently a bio major and psych/neurobiology double minor with sights on med school. I walked away from campus incredibly impressed. They seem to really take care of the students with amazing academic and social opportunities and up-to-date facilities. Their retention rate of 85% indicates that they’re doing things right!
“What surprised me is how smart people are. They study and go to class.” She said that it can be difficult to find seating in the library because it’s so well used. “Students who have the work-play balance figured out are going to do great here!” Students will spend time at the beach and still get to class and study. “You’ll see a lot of people using long boards and bikes here, and they go barefoot a lot. People wear surf shorts to class. Sometimes they’re coming right from the beach. That kind of sucks if you’re sitting in the chair after them and you end up in a damp seat.”
Long known as the place to go for Marine Biology, particularly in the UNC system, this school offers much more. Oceanography falls within the Earth and Ocean Sciences department, and there’s also a Physical Oceanography program within the Physics department (URI is the only other university in the country to offer this degree).
The Health Sciences (including Nursing, Social Work, and Allied Health) are also strong and have been growing. They’ve added a couple new buildings with talk of more in the near future. Along with majors you’d expect, they offer Recreation Therapy and Public Health Studies.
UNCW doesn’t have Engineering but offers a pre-engineering program with 2 tracks in conjunction with NC State. The 2+2 allows students to choose from 11 majors including the more unusual Agricultural, Construction, Material Science, Paper Science, Textile, and Nuclear Engineering. The 3+2 program is a little more limited: students complete a Computer Science, Environmental Science, or Physics major at UNW and then go into Computer, Electrical, or Environmental Engineering at State.
About 40% of students live on campus although there’s no residency requirement. There is a “village” of apartments that even freshman can live in. “I wish I knew that this was an option when I first got here. I ended up in a traditional hall which kind of sucked, but I did make a lot of really good friends. We definitely bonded over the experience!” Off campus housing is cheap and easy to find: “Rent is really cheap, and I’m hoping to move closer to the beach next year. We’ll see how that goes.”Students living within a mile of campus cannot park on campus.
Shuttles run frequently around and off campus, and there are monitors to show where they are on the route and time to arrival at a particular spot. Dining hall food at the main dining hall is “not so good” but there are a lot of other options. Only about 10-15% of students go Greek. “There are only 114 women in my sorority.” Something she would do to improve campus is to build Greek Housing and put in another dining hall.
This is a medium-sized public institution with about 13,000 undergraduates. Campus is fairly big but manageable. Chancellor’s Walk is the main pedestrian thoroughfare, acting kind of as the main center of campus, stretching about half a mile through the middle. “People use it to run because it’s easy to plot out distance.” On sunny days, people pour out of the academic buildings that line the walk. “Even though it’s a big school, I see people I know everywhere.” This certainly seemed to be the case; she was greeting people by name everywhere we went on campus.
It was raining when I visited; even in the increasingly heavy rainfall, it’s a beautiful campus! “I wish you could see in it the sun! It’s gorgeous!” The rain didn’t dampen the attractiveness, but students were not out in the numbers they normally are – although there were plenty of people out and about. “One of the drawbacks on campus is that it floods/puddles easily. Given the rain we get here, you’d think they would have figured it out by now and fixed it!
A lot of students stay all year to do research or other work on campus. “Plus, it’s a beach town. It’s easy to find jobs.” The Greyhound station is only a couple miles off campus making getting to campus easy (although all students can have cars).