Immaculata University (visited 7/22/16)
My tour guide completely sold me on this school. She loves it and answered questions well without being insipid or gushing. She, herself, had no real interest in coming here and had assumed that she would go to her local in-state institution. As a high school senior, she came here to watch a friend play field hockey and never looked back. “The Dome is Home! We say that a lot, and I don’t think people realize how much it’s true until it’s almost gone.” As a senior, it’s starting to sink in how little time she has left!
She feels welcomed here, and all types of diversity are important and celebrated. Although this is a Catholic institution, no one is pressured to do anything with the religion. Our tour guide was surprised about how much the nuns were involved on campus; “We’re even friends on Facebook.” There are at least 20 who are full-time faculty. Others are in the Ministry Office, theater, etc. As an IHM school, one of their tenets is hospitality. There are plenty of Catholics (50-60% of the study body), but also a lot of non-Catholics and even non-Christians.
There are 600 beds on campus (And almost all rooms have sinks in them); 85% freshmen and just over 50% of all undergrads live on campus. IU just built new apartments for upperclassmen, bringing the numbers up. There are some Learning-Living Communities, but no separate Greek housing for the 5 sororities and 1 frat. I asked if this was indicative of the gender ratio, but it’s not (the university went co-ed in 2005, and the gender ratio evened out last year). “There just aren’t as many guys who want to join,” said the tour guide.
“The students who won’t succeed here are the ones with an attitude or ego. Teamwork is a huge deal, and if people don’t want to work with others, they won’t last long.” This is also a dry campus; most people come in knowing this and being ok with that, but she found some who liked to complain about it and didn’t want to follow that rule. They ended transferring as well. “We provide a nurturing environment because the students here are the ones who want to interact. People need to get involved. That’s how they find their purpose and their voice. Students can be shy but they need to be proactive,” said an admissions rep.
There are ore than 100 degree programs offered, and the goal is to fit students into their major as soon as they’re ready. The most popular majors are Education, Psych, Music (with an emphasis on performance, music education, or music therapy), and Nursing; growing majors include Business and Exercise Science (they even have a hydrotherapy pool). The Allied Health concentrations are specialized and include such areas as Nuclear Medicine Technology, Cardiovascular Invasive Technology, Medical Dosimetry, Radiation or Respiratory Therapy, and Surgical Technology.
Most majors require an external experience; all recommend one. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 7 students (her Forensics class which was also her favorite). Her largest (writing) had 21 students. Students do take a religion class; our tour guide took “Exploring Yourself in God and Prayer” and found it really useful. “It was really introspective.”
They want to make sure that the 4-year graduation rate is attainable. Retention is nearly 85%, and graduation rates hover around 75%. They are taking steps to increase both, even though they’re already above the national average. Students are accountable for themselves, but everyone works as a support system. A new Center for Student Engagement should be up within 2 years.
Back Campus, the big quad behind the main buildings, holds many of the campus-wide events such as the Block Party, Back-to-School Bash, and Movies on the Quad. Weekends are busy so students like sticking around. In addition to things on campus, trips to Baltimore Aquarium, Dooney Park, Hershey Park and more are offered regularly. Philly is about 50 minutes by car (all students can have cars on campus for $50 a year). The closest train is about 2 miles away in Malvern, but a SEPTA bus that stops on campus every hour. A favorite tradition is the Christmas tree in the rotunda. It’s decorated, people sing carols, sophomores get their pins and juniors get their class rings. It’s a huge deal.
Immaculata sports are DIII, and the university is considered both the Birthplace of Modern Women’s Basketball and the start of NCASS divisions. The Mighty Macs movie was about the team in the ‘70s that won 3 consecutive national championships. They’re currently expanding the pool by either a centimeter or an inch (no one seems quite sure which it is!) to make it officially long enough for swim meets. Professors work with athletes to work around schedules: “they know you didn’t create your travel schedule, but it’s still on you to be responsible about it. You have to get a paper signed by you, your coach, and the teacher if you’re going to miss a class.”
Students come mostly from the mid-Atlantic, usually with between 12-15 states are represented. It’s free to apply to Immaculata online and applicants only need 1 rec (2 for nursing). Music requires an audition. There are some music scholarships ranging up to $5000, stackable with other merit scholarships.