Getting To Know: Salem College (NC)
Salem College is the oldest operating women’s college in the US. Founded by Moravian missionaries six years after the founding of Salem, North Carolina, Salem operates an academy for grades 9 through 12 as well as a women’s college. Like other women’s colleges that I have visited, Salem offers graduate degrees for men and women and educates adult women who are returning to school. Salem’s current freshman class has 47 percent first-generation students and is 52 percent women of color.
What set Salem apart from other women’s colleges?
Salem is a much smaller school.
There are just over 500 traditional, non-traditional and graduate students-total. The academy actually has 600 students at this time. But the college’s enrollment is likely to surpass it within a year or two. One downside to a small school is a small selection of majors. However, art/design, business, education and the health fields are well covered.
Costs might work out well for many traditional students.
Direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) will be just over $45,000 for the next academic year. But prospective students should add between $5,000 and $7,000 for extra expenses like travel home, computer, books, entertainment, clothing and incidentals. Merit scholarships range from $14,000/year to the Salem Scholars program which awards full tuition and fees to 25 students. The Salem Promise program also awards full tuition and fees for North Carolina residents.
Salem feels like a living history museum with a modern welcome center, in this case the college’s student center.
Located next to Old Salem Village, a “must visit” stop for North Carolina school children as Williamsburg is for young Virginians. It is tough to know where the campus ends and the historic village begins. That’s why I included photos of the village when I made a Salem College Pinterest page. Ghost stories are part of the college lore, hence the name Spirits for the school’s six D-3 athletic teams. I dropped two photos of a mural of the college’s history below.
But the living history is in a city near a national research university.
Unlike Wake Forest, which is really on the outskirts of Winston-Salem, the Salem College campus is right in the heart of downtown, close to the city’s arts district and business center. There’s really no need for a car. Students can walk anywhere from campus. They can also ride shuttles to Wake Forest to take courses, attend events and participate in extracurricular activities, including color guard and marching band.
There is an academic direction tied to health leadership in line with the college’s 250th anniversary.
This included four new health-related majors . These new majors have helped to dramatically increase the size of the post-pandemic freshman classes and raise more than $15 million in its 250th anniversary fundraising campaign. There has also been a record number of applications for the incoming freshman class. Last year, the college inaugurated a new president, Dr. Summer McGee. She holds a doctorate in Public Health and previously served as the founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven.
I feel silly giving Salem College a report card when it is at the beginnings of a new enrollment strategy. The focus on health leadership is different–no other college has chosen such a direction–but I understood it. Women’s health care is at the forefront in national issues. Many necessary components to health policy and health care delivery are either outdated or non-existent. Women are well represented in nursing and care support, but under-represented as physicians, scientists and administrators. If Salem can help more women to enter these fields, and develop partnerships for further education, the college’s enrollment will only grow.
My major concerns were the physical campus and housing. Salem is as much a historic place as it is a college and high school academy. I don’t know how or where this school can expand to house more students or make room for larger lab spaces. It does partner with Wake Forest downtown. But I don’t know how many more students such partnerships will accommodate. It can be quite uplifting to go to a school with such a strong sense of sisterhood and history. But it’s tough to know how long future students will want to live in the housing from the past.
Want to know more about me?
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!
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