The University of the Sciences, Philadelphia (visited 1/26/12)
This is another university which I knew almost nothing about prior to visiting. I had expected much less of a college-feel and more of a commuter school, but isn’t the case at all. Although the campus is small, covering only a few blocks, it has a comfortable feel to it and is distinctly campus-like although there is very little green – not surprising due to its location. USci is located several blocks from UPenn, and they, along with Drexel, share a police force. Unfortunately, there is no cross-registration between USci and UPenn or Drexel, but USci students can cross-register at the University of the Arts (located on Broad Street near downtown). I think this is a great opportunity, and I was told that several students take advantage of opportunities on the other campus.
The admissions representative for North Carolina went way above and beyond what I had expected. I got there late in the day and had an appointment to meet with him; I was looking forward to getting to chat with him about some programs and expected to wander around campus a bit on my own after the close of business, but he spent until about 6:15 with me walking around campus, taking me into labs, the gym, the library. He is a recent graduate of the university and has just started his Masters degree there, as well. He is clearly proud of his alma mater and spoke eloquently about his education. People around campus – students and faculty alike – knew him and they would greet each other by name. This seemed to be the prevailing atmosphere around campus: people were friendly and comfortable with each other. People used the extensive study and social areas. Books and cups of coffee were everywhere. The university is actively growing their social and study spaces. They’ve recently renovated a 2-story building on the edge of campus to add a coffee shop and spaces for students to congregate.
Academics are research-oriented, and the school is in the top 3% nationwide for PhDs and in the top 4% for professional degrees (med or vet school). They have over 100 labs, many of which are independently run. One of the programs they rightfully boast about is their 6-year Doctorate of Pharmacy program. They also offer a lot of the health-sciences such as Occupational or Physical Therapy and pre-med/pre-vet programs in addition to more of the traditional sciences. Some of the more unusual programs they offer are Medical Anthropology, Forensic Science, and Biomedical Writing.
For a small campus that focuses on the sciences, one of the surprises was the size and extensiveness of the gym and other athletic facilities. When I walked through, a full zumba class was being held on the gym floor. They are a DII school except in Rifling in which they are DI.
Enrollment is about 2,600 students. Greek life is very small: only a couple hundred students are members of a Greek organization. There are many clubs, mostly revolving around academics and ethnic associations. Housing is guaranteed and required for the first 2 years unless students commute from home; about 80% of freshmen and sophomores live on campus. Freshmen cannot have cars on campus (but they aren’t really needed – SEPTA goes directly through the middle of campus every 2-10 minutes and costs $2 a ride to downtown); for students with cars, the parking fee is $360/year. There are a couple large parking lots behind the athletic facilities, and there is a lot of street parking nearby, as well.