The College of New Jersey (visited 11/14/15)
I had wanted to see TCNJ since a colleague’s son had gone there and thrived. I had heard great stories: not only was he incredibly happy to be there (so happy that he stayed on campus for 2 summers), but he got involved in a lot of research and before he graduated, ended up being published in a textbook that one of his professors wrote.
TCNJ didn’t disappoint.
Two students told me essentially the same thing about what surprised them: it’s small enough for the class sizes they have but large enough to meet people. “I meet new people all the time, but I see people I know all the time.” Another student was surprised at how challenging the academics were and how smart everyone is. Classes tend to be on the small size: of the students I spoke to, the smallest classes ranged from 11-16; the largest ranged from 25-40. TAs don’t teach classes, but they may help run labs or foreign language discussion sections.
Housing is guaranteed for two years (4 years for out-of-state students), “but I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble getting it if they want it.” They traditionally had been able to house a bit more than half of the 6,500 undergraduates, but now they have space for 460 juniors and seniors in the new Campus Village apartments. The spots filled up within an hour, so TCNJ is building more to meet the demand. This area is designed with retail space on street-level to increase the amount of places students can walk to.
Freshmen can’t have cars. The Loop takes kids around campus and town, including the mall, the movies, and even into Princeton. They can also take the town bus, that that’s not free. Upperclassmen can have cars; there’s “always parking in the garage.” Campus is both walkable and safe. The blue lights were pressed “12 times by accident last year,” said a rep; when I asked a junior if he had ever heard of them being used, he couldn’t think of a single time.
There really is something for everyone here. There are plenty of activities (including Bubble Soccer and Billiard Soccer tournaments) and traditions the kids like. The EPCOT Festival is a particularly popular as is jumping in the fountain before graduation. The Radio Station is well-run and DJing is popular; it is 1 of 4 radio stations nationally to get nominated for Station of the Year by College Music Journal. Approximately 1/3 of students will go Greek which has a delayed rush in the spring. Sports (DIII) are incredibly successful and well supported by fans. Students interested in service can apply to become a Bonner scholar.
The tour guide had a hard time thinking of anything she’d want to improve upon or change on campus. She finally said, “I want a bigger smoothie bar. What we have is good. I just more of it!”
Students couldn’t say enough about their classes and professors. The Arts and Interactive Media building is relatively new, and they receive a 2010 Art grant resulting in 4 large colored balls as a permanent art installation on a quad that are supposed to be pixels. Departments are well-stocked with top-notch technology for teaching such as the simulation labs in the Nursing department and the planetarium for astronomy students. The Education department offers all the usual subjects plus Deaf/HH and Urban Education. The Biomedical Engineering degree gives students an option of doing a 7-year Medical School program. The iSTEM (integrative STEM) is noteworthy.
TCNJ is one of several colleges that offers Study-Travel classes during their Maymester. Some students take a class in the spring that has a travel component; other classes are “Stand-alone” classes in students travel for 2-3 weeks. Some travel sites/topics include studying/comparing Genocide in Armenia and Eastern Europe; the Gendered History of Food in Italy; and Biology in the Galapagos and the Rain Forest.