University of Delaware, Newark DE (visited 1/25/12)
For a larger state school (with about 16,000 undergraduates), UDel was surprisingly easy to navigate. The campus is long and kind of narrow so it seemed less daunting than some other larger campuses I’ve been to. A beautiful brick-building-lined main quad runs through the middle, giving the campus a traditional, smaller-school feel. However, the extensive resources that radiate out from the quad provide all the resources you’d expect at a bigger school. Even on a slightly drizzly day in January, the campus was bustling. Kids were taking advantage of all the open spaces, buses were coming through campus regularly with kids piling on and off, and there was a vibrant feel to campus. I can only imagine what it must feel like on warm, sunny day when the Frisbees come out!
As expected, there is a ton to do on campus. Students can start clubs with about 5 people and an advisor, and recently, students have started things like the Chocolate Club and Grilling Club. An active main street runs through the northern part of campus. The street has all the typical things you’d expect around a college campus: pizza and sandwich joints, pubs, book stores, etc. Buses and shuttles were always running around campus. There is an Amtrak and SEPTA station on campus: Philly and Baltimore are both about an hour away; New York City and DC are about 2 hours.
95% of freshmen live on campus, and although the percentage lowers as students get older, UDel guarantees housing for all four years (which I definitely did not expect at a larger state school!). Their retention rate is good: 90% of freshman return for sophomore year.
Some of the unusual academic programs include their Earth, Ocean, and Environment school, extensive engineering programs, and health services programs. They include service learning into their curriculum, involve over 700 students in research every year, and have an Honor Program which includes an Honors living community. They also enroll students into a First Year Seminar.
In terms of admissions, 12/1 is the priority deadline if students are interested in the Honors Program or Merit Scholarships. However, they consider senior-year grades to be the most important part of the application, and they will not make decisions until mid-terms! If students submit the ACT, they have to include the writing section. They also encourage students to send in a resume.