Rhode Island College (visited 3/22/14)
RIC (called “rick”) is the oldest of the three public universities in RI (URI and the Community College of RI are the other two; RIC students can cross-register at either of these). It was founded 150 years ago as a College of Education, and is still known for this, although Communications and psych are also popular.
This suburban campus, located less than 10 minutes from downtown Providence, is surrounded by a residential area on one side and a golf-course on the other. A bakery and some stores are a 5 minute walk away, and buses run every 20 minutes into the city. Providence College is down the street, and many more colleges are located in Providence so there are lots of students; many stores cater to college students.
The college has an interesting mix of buildings; we parked near the Admissions office, located on the edge of campus. The Saturday info sessions were held in another part of campus, so we had to find our way over there; at first, we weren’t impressed with campus, but as is true with many universities, the edges aren’t the most flattering parts. The main part of campus redeemed it for us, and I think both of us ended up with a much more favorable opinion by the end of the tour.
They pull most of their students from RI, but they offer a “Metropolitan Tuition Policy” for people within 50 miles of RI (specified CT and MA communities). Jeff, the Assistant Director of Admissions, said there seems to be a divide in RI: students in the south tend to look at “the University” and the northerners look at RIC. Students from NY, Northern NJ, CT, and MA make up the bulk of out-of-state students (about 20% of the population).
Of the 90 majors and programs, they’re particularly known for:
- Education (including PhysEd). 100% of those who complete the Education program pass the State Licensure tests. Students apply at the end of the freshman year after completing the pre-reqs with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- Nursing. The NCLEX pass is “consistently above state and national averages; 95% ranked in the top 15% of all nursing programs in the US.” Like the Education department, students apply at the end of the freshman year after completing the pre-reqs with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- Social Work. They offer both a BSW and MSW (the 8th most selective in the country).
- School of Management. They offer a cutting-edge facility with a well-established internship program, placing interns in more than 50 local leading companies ranging from Fidelity Investments to the New England Patriots.
- Fine and performing arts. They built a new $10 milion center, and they offer technical theater, dance performance, and a new combined BFA Studio/Art Education program.
There are no mass lecture courses except for one bio and two psych classes with about 150 students. 99% of the classes are capped at 30 students. They now offer evening classes to make sure students have access to classes they need and want, and to keep class size down.
Housing is guaranteed for all freshmen and for out-of-state students for all 4 years. Currently, only about 1200 of the 7000 students live on campus, but they’ve doubled the number of students on campus and built a new dorm (336 beds) a few years ago because they had a waiting list. They’re currently doing a feasibility study for a 7th dorm. Many tend to live on campus for a year or two, but campus is so easily commutable that they end up moving off. There is some unofficial off-campus housing, and sometimes people will share houses with Providence College students.
Admission decisions are based primarily on an applicant’s academic record; they look for a 3.0-ish average. They require test scores but say that these numbers are AN indicator – not THE indicator. To be invited to the Honors College, students must be in the top 20% of the class and have a 1200 SAT. This is an automatic consideration based on admissions applications. Honors classes average 12-15 people. The Presidential Scholarship ($2,000-$4,000) is awarded to students ranking in the top 30% of the class and a minimum 1100 SAT or 24 ACT. They also have several talent awards (communications, theater, etc.) which do require a separate application.
The tour guides (we had 4!) were pleased with activities on campus, and mentioned several things like Anchor Madness (class competitions); the Wednesday “Free Hour” (12:30) with events on the quad like paint ball, a rock wall, build-a-bear, block party with a mechanical bull, and exotic animals; trips to places like Nantucket, Boston for a Buck, NYC, and Montreal (students will sleep outside the Union to get tickets for this); and more. We commented on the fact that there was NO ONE around; it was so quiet, we thought they were on spring break. They insisted it was “still early” on Saturday (it was going on noon) and things picked up later. All students can have cars on campus (with no parking fee!), so it’s easy to get off campus. The fan base for the 21 DIII teams is large. Games are held at the Murray Center, located at one end of the main quad. The new Rec Center with general work-out areas is at the other end of the campus.
We got a chance to talk a bit with one of the tour guides who was wonderfully open. He started at RIC, transferred out, and then transferred back because he realized what he had there. “People underestimate working out of class with a professor. I didn’t have that at my other university.” People who throw themselves into the community and manage time well will thrive here. The university is still working on improving retention rate which is currently at 76% (still above the national average); 6-year graduation rate “is about the national average.”