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SUNY Geneseo

SUNY Geneseo (visited 3/9/20)

Geneseo quad 1If you’re looking for a medium sized school with strong academics, an active and engaged student body, and lots of things to do on and off campus – all at an affordable price-point, this is a school you want to take a closer look into. It seems to offer the best of all worlds.

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Main Street running by campus with Emmaline the Bear on the pole of the fountain – keep reading for more information on her! 

The town of Geneseo is smaller than I anticipated (but is listed as having a population of 10,000+ so not tiny!) – but that doesn’t mean there’s not stuff to do. The town caters to students. Main Street, with a myriad of restaurants, bars, and cafes, runs right along campus. Chain stores like Target are about 1.5 miles from campus and buses run out there about every 20 minutes.

Geneseo bear

Closeup of Emmaline

Outdoorsy students will not be at a loss for options: Letchworth State Park (the “Grand Canyon of the East”) is 20 minutes away, and there are plenty of trails, waterfalls, ski resorts and other things around. For students wanting more urban options, Rochester (with a million people in the greater metro area) is only 35 minutes north of campus and Buffalo/Niagara Falls is a little over an hour away. However, the frequent on-campus events (including cool sounding events like the “Insomnia Film Festival”) mean that there’s never a shortage of things to do.

Geneseo main 1

The old High School, now housing Admissions, study spaces, and more

Campus is great. The college does a great job repurposing as well as updating buildings; the old town high school and elementary schools are on campus, upgraded and used for a variety of things (like the admissions office is in the old high school). “It’s kind of cool to be in the old elementary school with the lockers in the hall!” said the tour guide. They’re currently in the middle of a massive $25m renovation of the library that’s expected to take a few years. They had to move things out of the building and got creative with how they’ve spread resources and study spaces across campus. When I arrived at Admissions, there were several students studying in lounge full of couches and windows (and a Keurig!) outside of the office; I asked the tour guide if this was normal. He said that this is one of many study new spaces popping up around campus for students to use while the library is being worked on.

Geneseo quad students

Some of the patios and other outdoor spaces, overlooking part of the valley in the distance. The Gazebo is directly to the right from this vantage point.

The rep, herself a Geneseo alumna, said, “the undergrad population [about 5,500 students] is the star of the show here.” There are only 100 grad students on campus in two programs, accounting and education. “We’re not a research institution per se, but we do the same types of research as peer institutions, and undergrads are doing it because there grad students aren’t here.”

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The Gazebo

They have a 90% FT faculty rate so there are fewer adjuncts; “it’s much easier to meet outside of the classroom,” said the tour guide. He loves the access to the professors. Upperclassmen can serve as TAs but don’t ever teach; they tutor and give extra help for recitations and exam prep. Most programs also provide Learning Centers for students. “We won’t have them for the smallest things like Biophysics, but those students will go to bio or physics for help,” he said.

Geneseo integrated sci cntr

The Integrated Science Center

Geneseo is fairly well known for its sciences and have put a lot of money into its new Integrated Science Center. They’re ranked in the top 10 for alumni who’ve gone on to get doctorates in STEM fields (and physics in particular). They’re even the only school in Western New York with a Pelletron particle accelerator!

They do offer some impressive academic offerings, particularly for a school of this size, and they have some interesting interdisciplinary majors. A few to take note of are:

  • Geneseo sci atrium

    The Science Center atrium (with a wall displaying the periodic table)

    Sociomedical Sciences: I can’t think of another school off the top of my head that offers this, although I’m sure that some of the large schools probably do. This combines biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology – all the background students will need for careers in areas like bioinformatics, public health, health admin, or health services.

  • Geophysics, Geochemistry, Biophysics, and Biochemistry
  • Black Studies
  • Theater & English (yes, a combined degree) – again, I don’t know of another school that specifically does this (although I’ve seen theater as a concentration in English).
Geneseo flags

The tour guide wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with the statues over the door, but they’re a fun addition to the room!

My tour guide was in International Relations major, and he said that he felt that the non-science majors are also very strong here. “They’re setting us up for success. We have a lot of opportunities here.” The IR students have to study abroad; my tour guide was heading to Holland for a month. “I don’t speak the language, but I imagine that I’ll pick some up. I did it because the class sounds great!” They have an extensive study abroad program – particularly since students can access the entire SUNY system to choose programs if Geneseo doesn’t offer something they’re interested in.

Geneseo Seuss tree

The Seuss Spruce

I asked the tour guide about his favorite classes:

  • He took one on Woody Guthrie (who influenced him and who he influenced). “I love music and am a big Woody Guthrie buff, so this was great.”
  • He said he also loved his Geology class that, admittedly, he took to fulfill a requirement but ended up loving it. “Every Thursday at 8am, I was out hiking in the woods right near campus. The professor got us outside a lot. We did water samples and all sorts of stuff.”

Geneseo quad 3Athletics are another bragging point, with a lot of their teams (all but 2 last year) qualifying for post-season tournaments. I wish I had more time so I could’ve checked out the stables used for the Equestrian Program. These are located less than a mile from campus so they’re easily accessible. The students do need to be there a certain number of hours a week for practice and maintenance, but students can work around their class schedule. The college will also be adding a women’s golf team in fall of 2020.

Geneseo Greek tree

The Greek Tree

A few cool traditions or interesting trivia about campus include:

  • The Seuss Spruce which has become the (unofficial?) icon of the college. “It got damaged in a storm, and the college was going to take it down, but the students protested and they left it up,” my tour guide explained.
  • The Bell tower plays every couple hours. “You hear some weird stuff coming out of there!”
  • Greek Tree: “It’s got years worth of paint on it. It used to be tradition that they’d paint as far up as they could go, but you can see that kind of fell by the wayside!”
  • Geneseo knightSigning a Knight: Seniors get to sign a suit of armor that is then displayed on campus.
  • The Gazebo: people go there to watch the sunset across the valley. They’ve been named the top 10 sunset-watching spot!
  • Emmaline the Bear: This actually isn’t on campus; it stands on a fountain on Main Street. It had been there for about 100 years without any incident; about 10 years ago, it got knocked down by a truck that ran into the fountain “and has been knocked down about 3 times since then.”

© 2020

Fairfield University

Fairfield University (visited 10/11/16)

fairfield-statueStudents who are willing to explore or who have a professional mind-set but don’t want to be stuck on a single track are going to love Fairfield. “We do a great job with the undecided students helping them to find a path,” said the admissions rep.

Fairfield is a hidden gem. They take great care of their students in all realms, true to their Jesuit roots. As 1 of the US’s 28 Jesuit universities, there are 3 core values to Fairfield’s philosophies:

  • A liberal arts education: Jesuits are known for being educators and have a commitment to social justice. All students, regardless of area of study, will engage in core classes. They engage with people who have a range of interests.
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    The bell tower by the chapel

    Cura personalis: care for the whole person. They want students to think about where they’re going in mind, body, and spirit. Obviously, students are growing intellectually in the class but also outside of it. They’re using NYC, going to lectures, etc. Body – Healthy Living Floors, classes on meditation, using the rec center.

  • Men and Women for others: They want students be asking, ‘How are they able to give back?’ … and then following through. Many students take classes with Service Learning components (such as Non-profit Accounting, developmental psych, or Non-profit grant management) where things are built in. They look at how they can engage in the community using what they learn in the classes and at other community service.

fairfield-quad-1Clearly they’re doing something right. They have an impressive 89% retention rate from freshman to sophomore year (and they’re actively working to get that into the 90s). They hold two 2 orientations programs in June and August, and the FYE class taken in the first semester is an outreach from Orientation. The 3800 undergrads are happy on campus, and Fairfield works hard to make sure they graduate: 82% within 4-years, 84% within 6 (both of which are well above the national norms).

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Sculpture in front of the chapel as seen through the bell tower.

About 2/3 of students self-report as Roman Catholic (which doesn’t necessarily mean practicing!). Things are there if you want them, including on and off campus retreats. During masses, music is often provided by students. All students must take 2 religion classes: the first, an overview, is required; the second is a choice.

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The fountain in the pond on the edge of campus

This is a beautiful partially-wooded campus in a residential area, but there are things to do within a 10 minute walk. Sunny Daes is a favorite ice cream place, Archie Moore’s has wings, and Peppi’s Pizza (5 minutes off campus) has been ranked the #1 pizza. They’re also close to local farms for apple and pumpkin picking. For those looking for more action, a MetroNorth stop is close to campus; Grand Central is an hour away by train. Shuttles run all day every 30 minutes starting at 7am on weekdays, 11am on weekends. It’s a full-sized bus so there’s always room!

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Freshmen dorms in the center of campus

Most things on campus are within a 10-minute walk, with a few more minutes to reach some of the outlying corners. Housing is guaranteed all 4 years, but about half the seniors choose to live off campus. Dorms are fairly traditional for freshmen. Many sophomores are able to move into suites, and apartments and suites are available for upperclassmen.

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Some of the upperclassman suites in a “village” on the side of campus

A couple favorite traditions include Midnight Breakfasts and the senior tradition of going to the beach to watch a final sunrise with friends before graduation; Fairfield Beach is just a couple miles from campus, also making it a favorite place to hang out during good weather.

Most intro classes are capped at 30; chem is one of the few above this number (capped at 40). Students can choose from 44 majors, 16 interdisciplinary programs, and 12 4+1 programs:

  • fairfield-business-2

    The business school

    Business: Dolan is ranked as one of Bloomberg’s Top 50 Undergrad Business Schools. All business majors all get a broad basis before specializing. It’s not unusual for students to complete 2 or 3 internships. They’re close to several Fortune 500 companies in Stanford. They run startup competitions and Elevator-pitch competitions.

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    Expansion of the Nursing and Health Sciences buildings; they’re very careful to leave the trees intact.

    Nursing: This is Fairfield’s only direct-admit program. Students can’t transition into nursing because classes start immediately in freshman year and clinicals start sophomore year. Students can study abroad for a semester in Brisbane or Ireland (where they’ll complete their surgical rotations) or in Nicaragua for a shorter experience, usually getting experience in clinics.

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    The mascot

    Engineering: incoming students can apply to a specific program or come in as undecided. Students can complete a 4+1 in Management of Technology to be ready to cross over into the business section and be ready to manage if they want.

  • Arts and Sciences: Among the many majors, students can choose: Irish Studies, Black Studies, Digital Journalism, Judaic Studies, and Behavioral Neuroscience.

Almost half (45%) of students spend at least a semester abroad; 70% graduate with some sort of international experience such as the short-term classes.

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The student-run sustainable garden

Fairfield is Common App Exclusive, and admission is test-optional. Last year, 39% of students did not submit test scores. Interviews, which tend to be informal, are available through Thanksgiving, and can be done by admissions rep OR a senior. The top 10% of applicants are named Magis (“The More,” a very Jesuit term) Scholars. Students getting this tend to be those students who enhance lives around them, who push themselves hard, and tend to have a 31+ on the ACT.

© 2016

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