Update: Syracuse University (NY)
The last school that I visited on my recent trip to Central New York was Syracuse University, a “target school” from my past life. Only this time, I was there to see a football game. I was not disappointed by the outcome. Rutgers, my alma mater, got by the Orange 17-7 after a totally scoreless first half.
Syracuse fans might counter and say that their school ranks higher than Rutgers in the recent US News rankings. Syracuse is 59th and Rutgers is.63rd. However, Syracuse has less than half the undergraduate population, more than twice the costs for a New Jersey resident, and I believe it has the heartier partiers. I have made a Pinterest page for Syracuse. I also invite you to see a special page from when I attended a previous Rutgers-Syracuse football game at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse University has a nice hilltop campus.
I’ve been to this school three times. To me it reminds me of USC, urban with a nice, eclectic mix of old and new buildings. Only Syracuse built on a hill at first and developed its newest buildings further down. Like USC, the football stadium is closer to the heart of the community, only the Carrier Dome has fewer than half of the seats in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Not to mention that Syracuse plays basketball in the same facility.
I saw a true fraternity row on my bus ride from the Skytop parking lot to the Carrier Dome. Greek life is popular here, attracting a quarter of the men and over 40 percent of the women. One major advantage of going Greek and living on the Greek row: you can have a car and live closer to campus. Downtown parking is really tight. Marshall Street is a social center with college-focused shopping and dining. But it does not offer as many dining, shopping and entertainment options as I have found in college towns such as Chapel Hill or Charlottesville, even Newark, Delaware.
Syracuse University has several excellent academic programs.
Syracuse University offers more than 200 majors and over 100 minors, more than you will find at much larger schools. The programs in communications, visual and performing arts and public policy rank among the nation’s best. The Whitman School of Management has carved out a strong niche in Entrepreneurship in partnership with other colleges within in the university, especially with the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Options in computer and information science are quite diverse through partnerships with other colleges in this school. However, it is very difficult to transfer into Newhouse or Whitman from another school within the university. You might need to back-track into the introductory courses, presuming that you had the grades to be considered for an internal transfer.
Syracuse offers considerable academic flexibility for a large university.
Unlike flagship state universities in New York and neighboring states, and a bit like USC, Syracuse University allows students in virtually any major to minor in virtually any business or information sciences program. This makes it easy for liberal arts majors to build a skill set to complement their interests. Syracuse students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science can also join entrepreneurial teams, study abroad or carry a minor. The university, like most others, offers an extensive choice of study abroad programs. However, Syracuse also offers study-away options in New York City, Los Angeles or Washington DC.
Some academic programs are more competitive than others.
Across all of the schools within the university, Syracuse is not ultra-selective. Sixty-nine percent of all applicants for the Class of 2024 were accepted. The early decision acceptance rate was actually lower at 56 percent. Test scores are less important than they might be at a school like Boston University or USC. The average SAT score for the Class of 2024 was a 1260 and the average ACT Composite was a 28. Those numbers get a New Jersey resident into the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-New Brunswick. The average high school GPA was a 3.7. Admissions are test optional. Test scores are considered. However, demonstrated interest is very important. It really helps to visit and have an interview, especially if you are interested in the signature programs.
While Syracuse does not publish admissions data by school, some programs and schools within the university are difficult to get into. Architecture is a small program compared to others at the university, so admissions will be more difficult. Newhouse gets cross-shopped against Northwestern for aspiring journalists. Admissions to the sport management and sports analytics programs at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics are more competitive than comparable programs at other public and private universities. The high quality programs in the visual and performing arts require auditions.
The university is more accommodating to students who enter with sizable numbers of AP or IB credits than more selective schools.
Enter Syracuse with a semester or more of approved AP or IB credits and you can graduate early, move into a dual bachelors program or an accelerated path to an advanced degree. The dual enrollment programs award two bachelors degrees, usually over four years, possibly including summer or ‘May-mester’ courses. The major advantages, aside for access to academic programs and two degrees, is that students may use the career services offices within both schools to network and find internships and full-time employment opportunities.
People who come to Syracuse tend to stay and graduate.
Retention rates at Syracuse have been around 90 percent for several years. But students in Architecture and Bachelors/Masters programs need five years to complete their education. Aside from these programs, 70 percent of a class finishes in four years. The retention and graduation rates are better than those of many public universities Syracuse students might have considered such as Maryland, Penn State, Pitt and Rutgers.
Syracuse is more “spirit and sports” oriented than any private university in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic states.
It is the only private university in America that has won national championships in football, men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse, the latter being the most dominant sport, with 10 national titles. Syracuse has also produced seven players and one owner/coach (Al Davis) who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If you go to a football game you’ll see fans proudly wear number 44. The number was worn by Jim Brown, considered by many football experts to be the greatest running back in NFL history. It was also worn by running back Ernie Davis, Heisman Trophy winner in 1962, and Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little. Today the Orange are one of the less formidable teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, though they upset fourth-ranked Clemson four years ago at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse is one of the best basketball schools in the nation. The Orange men’s basketball program has enjoyed an astounding 51 consecutive winning seasons. They rank sixth in wins and seventh in winning percentage during that time. The Orange have ranked no worse than fourth in the nation in average home attendance since 1980, and have ranked first 14 times. Coach Jim Boeheim is already enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame along with his teammate from his playing days at Syracuse, Dave Bing. The number 44 also has meaning for Orange basketball fans. It was worn by Danny Schayes, Derrick Coleman and John Wallace, who all played in the NBA.
In addition to sports, the Carrier Dome also hosts musical acts that you’ll pay a lot more to see at Madison Square Garden. Billy Joel has performed there as have U2, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, among many others.
Syracuse has a huge national alumni base.
More than 37,000 Syracuse alumni registered in LinkedIn.com are based in or around New York City. There are more than 10,000 in the Boston area and huge communities in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta. You will have no problem finding a watch party for the Orange in any one of these metro areas as well as opportunities to make connections. This is one advantage Syracuse shares with other private universities such as Boston University.
But Syracuse University has three serious downsides.
- Costs. They are among the highest for any private university in America. The estimated total cost of attendance is just north of $80,000 this year. Average student loan debt for 2020 grads who took out loans exceeded $39,000. The average merit-based award for freshmen who entered in 2020 was just under $12,000. However, this school does a good job at helping its neediest students cover their costs.
- Weather. It can be a huge drag if you’re not used to the cold and snow. You’ll be glad for the Dome during the later part of the football season.
- The surrounding city, one of the least attractive venues to host a major national university. The public roads leading to and through campus on my previous trip to campus were some of the worst that my car has ever traveled on a college visit. Rough winter conditions, including snow storms, cause some of the problem, but so does neglect. However, I must add that I came to campus in a different direction on my latest trip where I did not come downtown. The roads through neighboring towns and residential neighborhoods were much cleaner and safer.
Syracuse has a blend of academics, spirit and sports that appeals to many students from many places as long as they can deal with the downsides. The education and experience is much like going to USC. Only the weather is much colder and basketball will be the dominant sport.
Report Card: Syracuse University
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A/A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Costs: C+
- Curriculum: A
- Community: B+
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A
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