Drew University (visited 3/23/17)
“We’re the #1 school for most squirrels and in the top 10 for most haunted campus. Interesting but irrelevant,” said the tour guide.
During the info session, the Director of Admissions started by differentiating Drew from other similar types of schools: “We’re different because we’re dedicated almost entirely to undergraduates. We have the academic programs combined with controlled access to NYC – location, location, location. This is the only highly selective, national, liberal arts college within such close proximity to New York.”
This feels like a small, bucolic college, and I can see why this got the “University in the Forest” nickname (there’s also an Arboretum next door). I visited in March before the leaves were in; I can only imagine what it looks like in the summer (although a colleague said that it’s SO wooded that it can almost get dreary). Despite the rural/forested appearance, things are highly accessible directly off campus: the cute downtown area of Madison is a 5-minute walk. Morristown can be reached by train “but can be expensive; you wouldn’t do it every day,” said the tour guide. Students don’t feel like they need to leave campus for things to do but like having the options off campus. Students were out in groups around campus giving it a vibrant feel.
Students looking for strong humanities (including Pan-African Studies and Chinese Studies), arts, business/economics, political science, international relations, or research with renowned scientists (including a Nobel Laureate in medicine) should take a look at the opportunities here (and students looking for majors in neuroscience or molecular biology will find those here). The facilities won’t be the shiniest you’ve ever seen, but what students are doing makes up for it. “Where’s the $10m gleaming glass and metal science building? We don’t have it … but the science building is newly renovated, and we have 12 industrial scientists and a Nobel Prize winner. The entire top floor of the science building is dedicated to sophisticated research. They brought their tchotchkes with them. They supplement our faculty who are doing their own research. We fund them; they advise 5-7 undergrads each year. Students have exposure to real world research. There’s an NSF grant for Alzheimer’s. Freshmen are working on that.”
For students interested in the arts, there is a large, relatively new arts building with wings for different disciplines (fine arts, theater, music). There’s even a “sculpture garden” courtyard showcasing student work. It’s easy to get involved in any of the disciplines even for non-majors. There’s also a separate building that houses the Shakespeare Theater of NJ which puts on 4 shows a year. They offer an arts scholarship requiring a separate application (the deadline was 4/3 in 2017) which is stackable on merit scholarships.
All students must complete an off-campus experience; most do at least 3. This is integrated into the regular academic experience so it doesn’t extend the students’ time on campus beyond the 4 years. These come in a variety of forms:
- Study Abroad/Away:
- There are 50 school-certified study abroad programs. Most are semester-long, but there are also 2-, 3-, and 4-week “short treks” (domestic and international) led by professors.
Internships, several of which are funded through outside sources.
- Semester programs on Wall Street (primarily for juniors), at the UN, in Communications and Media, in Contemporary Art at MOMA, in social entrepreneurship and community service, and NY Rep Theater.
- These are equivalent to 4 4-credit classes: students spend 3 days on campus with profs and their cohorts and 2 days in the city.
- Students commute in on public transportation. “You’re walking down the hill to the Madison train station in you Wall Street Finest and taking the 7:14am train to the financial district.”
- PoliSci students can complete a Washington Semester through GWU.
Drew was founded as a Methodist Seminary but is no longer affiliated, although the largest Methodist Archive in the country is located here. They’re nationally recognized for civic engagement, and they run a Civic Engagement Program. This requires a separate application (the deadline was 4/3 in 2017) and is stackable on merit scholarships. They look to bring in 35-40 students each year who have done a great deal of service; this comes with a scholarship. Freshmen are housed together in an LLC and take a Freshman Seminar course. The expectation is that they’ll continue to do good work, and they need to complete 100 hours of service each year, at least half of which has to be done during the school year. The program is intentional and builds developmentally over 4 years; by senior year, students complete a capstone is related to the cumulative experience; they present this at a showcase in the spring.
There are several Cooperative Degree programs with no additional admission requirements except for the MD program. Advising for the others starts freshmen year.
- 7-year accelerated med school with Rutgers.
- 2 BA-JD: 3+3 Seton Hall or NY Law.
- 3+2 with Duke envi sci/management or forestry.
- 4+1 BA/MS software engineering with Stevens.
- 3+2 Engineering with Columbia. Students interested in Biomedical can do this here.
- BA/MA with Wake Forest in Business Management.
Housing is guaranteed but not required. Dorms are fairly standard for freshman with some optional triples. Several lounges have fireplaces. The first floor of one dorm in the main circle houses a late-night store open until 2:00 am. Dining hall food gets much better reviews now: the physical space got refurbished a couple years ago and they got a new vendor when the new president came in. “Food went from a 2 to an 8,” said the tour guide.
About 50% of the 1500 undergrads come from NJ. They’re looking to grow to about 1800 over the next few years. This year, about 20% came in through ED/EDII, and they’ll start offering EA next year. They do offer an Honors Program which comes with a $25,000 yearly scholarship.