La Salle University (visited 7/19/16)
This is a great school for students who want a real campus in an urban environment and are sports-oriented, either to watch or to participate in. Although this is in the city, it’s a safe area, and campus is well patrolled and gated; students and faculty swipe IDs to get through the gates at the entrances. A major street runs through campus, but the students seem to like it. “It actually ties the campus together,” said our tour guide. “Students hang out there.” In First Year Odyssey, students learn how to get around the city and use it as a resource. They can’t have a car as freshmen, so they really have to learn SEPTA (which stops just up the street) and the buses.
“We take the B+ student who plugs away and has potential. They thrive here,” said an admissions rep. This year, they’re bringing in 826 freshmen from 26 states and 11 countries.
“Students who are looking for a Villanova feel but maybe don’t have the grades will probably do great here,” said our tour guide. Currently, freshman to sophomore retention is at 78%, but they’re working to get it to 85%. They just hired a new person who can work with “those kids that all schools miss,” an admissions rep told us.
This is 1 of 6 Christian Brother colleges in the US. Part of the Christian Brothers’ ethos is to work with under-served students. More than 50% of La Salle’s students are First Gen and about 35% are PELL eligible. Serving people extends to the wider community, as well. A Community Service requirement is tied to the major.
About 35 Brothers live on campus, and many teach and work there, as well. (As a side note, they’re building a new retirement home on the edge of campus because “Brothers live forever. It’s a known fact,” joked our tour guide.) Our tour guide had a business class with one, and another works in Admissions and is charge of all the CB high school applicants. He talked to us and said that Community separates them from other schools. They’re part of the school, Philadelphia (“It’s our largest classroom”), and the CB community worldwide.
Students eligible for the Honors Program are pulled during the admissions process based on GPA and test scores, but students can apply separately if they want to be considered. These students take an interdisciplinary Philosophy, History, and English class for all year. After freshman year, they have honors electives. Normally 2 philosophy and 2 religion classes are required, but the honors electives fulfill that.
In addition to the typical majors you would expect at a medium sized school, a few unusual (and most interdisciplinary) ones stand out: Integrated Science, Business, and Technology; Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics; Economics and International Studies; and Business Systems and Analytics.
This is the first school I’ve heard of that does completely random lottery selections for class registration; seniors might be last to register. Class sizes are pretty typical for a school this size. There are 3 lecture halls on campus which hold about 100 people; big classes have tutors and supplemental instructors. English classes are capped at 18.
International Students can take advantage of the English Language Institute and/or additional support with the English.
- Regular Admit: Students need an 80+ score on the TOEFL can enroll without the extra support.
- Pathways: First year students with a 65-79 TOEFL will receive tutoring and extra support as they start their classes.
- ELI: This is a Conditional Admissions program for students without at least a 65 on the TOEFL. Students can enroll in ELI to gain proficiency and have to reach level 5 for undergrad or 6 for graduate work.
About 80% of freshmen live on campus. Housing is guaranteed all 4 years; some students do move off campus, but many stay. North Campus has most of the freshman dorms along with some singles usually taken by upperclassmen. La Salle just put up a new dorm with mostly suites interspersed with some doubles. There are 5 frats and 5 sororities but no Greek housing. Students like the dining options.
Their DI sports are strong here. There is no football team (except for an intramural, non-tackle team), but they have all the typical sports as well as water polo and crew for both men and women. They have lacrosse for women but not men. Rugby and softball are new. All events are free for students to attend.