Drew University-NJ’s National Liberal Arts College
I last reported on Drew University over three years ago. . Since I live in the Garden State, and wanted to help those who might stay home, it’s an appropriate time for me to post an update.This school also has very a nice campus. Check it out on my Drew University Pinterest page. The campus has its own arboretum and is, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, set in a state forest. It’s easy to walk this campus from end to end in less than 15 minutes.
Drew University is New Jersey’s only national small private liberal arts college. This school appeals to a B+/A student, much like the more promoted Colleges That Change Lives. But one major difference between Drew and those schools is location.
With the exception of Barnard College, an extremely selective women’s college located in Manhattan, there is no National Liberal Arts College that is more accessible to New York City. The university offers six New York Semester programs to encourage students to check out career options in the city. Over 8,000 Drew alumni registered in LinkedIn.com, live and for work around the city. To my surprise, 60 percent of Drew’s recent freshman classes have come from New Jersey. But I’ve always thought that the location would appeal to students who hail from elsewhere.
Drew does a lot to engage students who are interested in the arts, business, communications and international politics. But approximately one-fifth of the students major in the sciences.
The very best science students are selected as RISE Associates. RISE, which stands for Research Institute Scientists Emeriti, pairs scientists, faculty fellows who have retired from corporate settings with promising students in the sciences on research projects of mutual interest. One RISE scientist, Dr. William Campbell, was the recipient of a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015. The RISE program has been offered at Drew for nearly four decades.
The New York Semester programs as well as RISE make it possible for Drew students to make connections that would enable them to graduate with more than one internship or career-related part-time job on their resume. So do numerous career services events and programs on campus. The university also offers funded internship awards to provide stipends for qualified credit-bearing internships.
While Drew University is cross shopped against so many colleges large and small, it is best suited to a student who truly wants a liberal arts education.
Drew offers 31 majors and 23 minors. Nearly all of them would be considered liberal arts subjects, with the possible exceptions of the Business major as well as the minors in Arts Administration, Museology, Photography and Public Health. Drew’s general education requirements are typical of most liberal arts colleges. But the school makes it relatively easy for students to double major—about a quarter of the students who have declared a major do it—or complete more than a single minor.
Like other liberal arts colleges of similar size, Drew University is very residential.
Ninety-four percent of Drew students live on campus. First-year students are grouped together in living-learning communities in three halls (Tolley, Brown and Welch) around their choice of freshman seminar, but have numerous options after that. However, Drew offers fewer independent (apartment or townhouse) living opportunities than most comparable schools. Drew maintains the same pricing for double rooms, regardless of the housing, though there is an up-charge for a single room. Upper-class students are more likely to live in traditional or suite-style housing than a townhouse, and they, like the freshmen, are required to purchase a meal plan.
Drew has no Greek life and is not a “spirit and sports” school like Franklin & Marshall or Gettysburg. Students are more likely to bond around shared interests as well as travel into New York City.
Downtown Madison, only a five-minute walk from campus on foot or by shuttle bus, is beautifully maintained, much like a downtown on a Hollywood movie set. However, it is more of a family oriented place than a college town. It’s a great place to grab lunch, a nice dinner or dessert off campus. But there are no college themed bars, clubs or movie theaters. Drew allows only juniors and seniors to have cars, though exceptions are made for students who must have one to commute to a job or internship off-campus.
Drew University is attracting more–and better—students.
This school was test mandatory when I first visited, but it is now test optional. The university’s freshman classes have grown. There were 302 freshmen in 2014. Four years later there were 420. The average SAT score has stayed about the same, around 1210. But the average ACT Composite score went up from 24 to 27. While liberal arts colleges have experienced downturns in enrollment, Drew’s undergraduate population has grown. In 2014, while I was completing my credential in college admissions counseling, Drew had fewer than 1,400 undergrads. Four years later it had 1,650.
The better students are doing better in the classroom.
Freshmen retention went from 79 percent for the class that entered in 2010 to 87 percent for the freshmen who arrived in 2014. Graduation rates rose, too. Fifty-seven percent of the freshmen who entered in 2010 finished in four years. That rose to 66 percent for the freshmen who arrived in 2014. This is quite good, better than Rutgers’ main campus. But the some of the smaller schools that are considered against Drew, like Franklin and Marshall or Gettysburg, do better at helping their students finish.
And Drew is becoming price-competitive with big state schools out of state!
It’s really good news when a school is able to grow a freshman class and add services to help them to stay and finish on time. It also helps when the school reduces tuition. Drew reduced these charges from just over $49,000 in 2017-18 to $39,800 for the current academic year. Room and board remains on the high side, at just over $14,000. The average borrower who graduated in 2018 owned $23,600, low for a private college of any size. The maximum that an undergraduate may borrow over four years through the Federal Student Loan Program is $27,000.
Drew University has many of the strengths as more selective liberal arts colleges with more famous names. While Drew is not a spirit and sports school like Franklin and Marshall or Gettysburg, it has the appeal of being close to New York City. Looking to combine the best of a small school with easy access to the Big Apple? Check out Drew.
Want to know more about me-and why Drew University and other schools are good colleges?
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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