West Chester University(visited 11/13/18)
I didn’t expect WCU’s main quad to be so beautiful – there are old stone buildings surrounding most of it (there is one glaring exception withfairly hideous ‘70s architecture). Many of the buildings, including Recitation Hall, date back to (or soon after) the university’s 1871 founding. With an undergrad enrollment of just under 14,500 students (total enrollment of 17,500),WCU is the 4th largest college in the Philly metro area and the largest of the 14 PA state-system schools (which doesn’t include Penn State,Temple, or Pitt).
Campus (ranked as 37th safest in the nation) is a 10-minute walk from downtown West Chester where there are lots of restaurants, shops, etc. It’s been named one of the best college towns in America and as Best Town where grads stay after college. They’re only 30 miles from Philly: “Ideally, it’s 45 minutes, but realistically an hour,” said the rep. Amtrak and SEPTA aren’t far from campus, and they provide shuttle to the Exton train station. They also now run shuttles to shopping centers even though much is walkable off campus.
All classes are taught by faculty, not TAs. They have a 67.3% 6-year graduation rate (almost 10 points above the national average). They offer 120 undergrad majors across 5 colleges plus Exploratory Studies and a School of Music.
- All Business majors are pre-business: they have to satisfy pre-reqs because of accreditation. Transferring between majors is fairly easy as long as you’ve met the GPA requirements. A new business building went up in 2017, making it the newest on campus. They have a variety of options including Urban and Environmental Planning.
- Arts and Humanities includes fine arts.
- College of Sciences and Math:
- WCU offered the nation’s first undergraduate Pharmaceutical Product Development program.
- Multiple accelerated programs are available.
- Overthe past 35 years, 95% of pre-med students who receive Pre-Medical Committee Support got placed into med schools.
- They offer extensive concentrations such as Medical Lab Sciences, Microbiology, and Marine Sciences (within Bio), Actuarial Science, Mathematical Finance, and Applied and Computational Math, Forensic and Toxicological Chemistry, and Earth-Space Science.
- They’re starting a biomedical engineering major.
- Two students each year are granted scholarships through the PA Space Grant program.
- Health Sciences:
- Nursing is probably their most popular major within this school. Currently, students do their pre-reqs on the main campus and will shuttle to Exton for classes in the major. This will be moved back onto the Main Campus by Fall 2020.
- Exercise Sciences include concentrations in pre-chiropractic, Pre-OT, and Pre-PT. They have articulation agreements with places like NY Chiropractic College and Arcadia University for the graduate programs.
- Honors College is by invitation; students are considered after acceptance to WCU. In the past, a 1350/3.5 GPA would put them in initial consideration.
- The School of Music allows for multiple concentrations including Music History, Composition, Performance, Theory, and even Elective Studies outside the School.
The university is split between North (main) and South Campuses, located about 1.5 miles apart. “It’s definitely walkable, although most people don’t want to.” South campus has all the athletic fields where the DII teams practice and play (there is a fitness center on North campus), dorms, and currently houses the Health Sciences academics. Shuttles run between campuses every 5 minutes, 20 hours a day (basically corresponding to library hours). They have a Philly campus for a few majors (Social Work, Business Management) mostly for adult students or upperclassmen who need to finish up amajor.
About 90% of freshmen are on campus, usually housed on North Campus; most students don’t want to live on campus after that. There areseveral large (8+ story) dorms on North Campus which mostly are traditional andsuite style. South Campus has traditional dorms and apartments. The food here is fairly good with several options including dining halls, a food court, PODs (like airport kiosks), and food trucks: “we take those very seriously here… Imay have had that for lunch today!”
A few traditions are worth mentioning that students talked about:
- Banana Day! “It’s like a big festival day with games around campus. There are competitions to win a Banana T-shirt.” Last year, they won “Best Campus Tradition” because of this.
- MLK Day: They pair up with the Frederick Douglass Institute (housed on campus) for events that day. Douglass gave his last public lecture on WCU’s campus in 1895.
- Black and Latino Greek Council Step Show
- Rams After Hours which happens every Friday night for food and entertainment.
There are multiple support programs at WCU. They have the well-established DUB-C Autism Program (or D-CAP) for students on the Spectrum. They provide a multitude of skill-development and social interaction supports for students needing these. They also have a Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC)