Getting To Know: University of Cincinnati (OH)-Again
I last visited the University of Cincinnati (UC) in the summer of 2016. But I recently attended a counselor’s briefing that led me to do some homework to write an update. Please check out my UC Pinterest page because I added new photos for this update, I also watched the UC College Tour profile, and you should, too.
Cincinnati, the Queen City, offers pretty much anything a college student could want.
A city of over 300,000 residents, Cincinnati offers more for college students to do than many college towns. The city has more than 70 distinct neighborhoods, as well as several museums and festivals. Cincinnati is also home to the NFL Bengals, the Major League Baseball Reds and FC Cincinnati soccer. Cincinnati is also far less congested than larger cities such as Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, or New York. Downtown Cincinnati is only two miles from campus. Students qualify for discounted Metro Bus fares to get around town.
Founded in 1819 the University of Cincinnati (UC) is a school with two significant academic firsts.
- The University of Cincinnati was the first university in the U.S. to establish cooperative education
- It was first university west of the Allegheny Mountains to establish a medical school and a pharmacy school
There are also many famous facts about UC.
- it is the birthplace of the steam-powered fire engine, the electric organ, the first orally administered polio vaccine, the heart-lung machine and Benadryl, the first antihistamine.
- The university’s founding pre-dates Ohio State’s by more than half a century.
- Notable alumni include former President William Howard Taft, basketball star Oscar Robertson, architect Michael Graves, actor George Clooney, and trumpeter Al Hurt.
- Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon, taught at UC after retiring from NASA.
UC has become a more national university with nearly 30,000 undergrads.
This school draws a fifth of its undergraduate student body from other states. UC has a one-year residency requirement for students who reside over 50 miles from campus. The university has also renovated virtually all on-campus halls since I last visited, with the next renovated hall to reopen this fall. Twenty-five percent of UC students live on campus, including three-quarters of the freshman.
Those who move off tend to find housing within easy walking distance. Rents near campus will be $800/month and higher but there will be no need to use mass transit to get to class. CincyRents has some useful information about where to live on a student budget. Greek social life is not overly popular at UC, attracting only four percent of the undergrads.
The UC campus has a more suburban feel than other city universities.
The campus is spread out over more than 470 acres, according to the University’s Web site. Its larger than many city universities including private co-op schools such as Drexel and Northeastern, more traditional city universities such as Boston University and NYU as well as public schools such as Georgia Tech, Temple, and the University of Pittsburgh. It also has an eclectic mix of architectural styles from 19th century college buildings such as McMicken Hall to a traditional college green to the ultra-modern Recreation Center.
UC stands out for cooperative education (co-op).
Cooperative education requires that students alternate between school and full-time work in their major over the middle three years of their education. Co-op students go to school for five years, the first and last being full-time in classes. Participation in co-op is mandatory for engineering, design, and information technology students who will work in five co-op positions starting sophomore year. It’s optional in the liberal arts, business, communications, and nursing programs. Further, students at schools such as Drexel and Northeastern face competition for positions from peers at several other schools in the same city. But UC shares Cincinnati with only one other school, Xavier University, a Jesuit school with fewer than 5,000 undergrads.
Most co-ops take place in Cincinnati,. But students may also opt to find positions closer to home, even outside Ohio. The university has nearly 9,000 alumni registered LinkedIn.com who are based in California, There over 4,700 Bearcats in and around New York City and over 3,700 in and around Chicago. . International co-ops are also available.
UC offers other experiences besides co-op.
The university’s commitment to career development is quite strong, and branded the Bearcat Promise. UC also requires every student to complete at least one experiential learning engagement. These go beyond co-op to include:
- Performance showcases (art, music, performing arts
- Research with faculty
- Clinical placements
- Student teaching
- Community service
- Study abroad.
The top seven percent of a freshman class is invited to pursue University Honors.
However, this is a campus-wide program, not a residential honors college where everyone resides in one or two buildings. But there are many academic and professional learning communities on campus and Honors students may opt to live in them.
Getting into UC depends in part on the choice of academic program.
Overall, UC accepted 86 percent of its applicants for the freshman class that entered in 2022. The SAT range for the middle 50 percent of the class was between 1160-1360 (out of 1600) while the middle range for the ACT was between 24 and 29. Direct admissions to the College—Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Nursing are exceptionally competitive. All require applications to be completed by December 1st; Musical Theatre students must apply a month earlier. Regardless of the major, students who want to be considered for merit scholarships must apply by December 1st.
Those denied admission to one of the more competitive programs are offered “second choice” admissions to the Division of Exploratory Studies
They can prepare to take on another major. And, unlike other large universities, Cincinnati does not favor or require direct admission into its business or engineering schools. Students who are interested in these subjects can enter as Exploratory students or enter business or engineering undeclared.
UC retained 87 percent of the freshmen who entered in 2022,
That’s a very good performance for a public university with a large undergraduate population. But four-year graduation rates mean little at a school where co-op extends an education for an additional year. The most recent five-year graduation rates were 69 percent for the Class of 2021 and 68 percent for the Class of 2022. Nearly three quarters of each class finished their degree in six years.
UC costs are reasonable for a co-op school.
Since Fall 2019 UC has set a first-year charge for tuition and fees and guarantees it for the duration of an undergraduate degree. While co-ops in engineering extend the education for an extra year, those students pay only four years tuition and fees. Co-op earnings are excluded from calculations used to determine eligibility for need=based aid through the Federal Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who go co-op while qualifying for need-based aid receive aid only for the semesters that they are in classes full time.
Ohio residents were assessed just under $14,000. Non-residents were assessed just over $27,000. Both charges are quite reasonable not only compared to public universities but also to larger schools that have large co-op programs including Drexel, Georgia Tech, Northeastern and Purdue. Room and board charges are over $15,000. It’s quite possible for a student on co-op in many majors to cover their housing costs, especially if they opt to work in Cincinnati.
Over 40 percent of the undergraduates who received degrees in 2022 had no student loan debt. Among those who borrowed to cover educational costs, the average debt was just under $25,000. That’s $2,000 less than the maximum that those students could have borrowed through the Federal Student Loan program. This is impressive given that co-op adds an extra year to a UC education for many students.
It helps to be the recipient of a Cincinnatus Award.
It’s a renewable scholarship that can be as much as a full ride (tuition and fees, room and board, book allowance) depending on where you rank not only in the admit pool for UC, but also for the college within UC that you choose. Those who receive the largest awards can actually graduate with a free education, plus most of their savings from co-op earnings.
Just under a quarter of the freshman class that entered UC in 2022 received merit-based awards awards that averaged over $7,400. An in-state student who is in the middle of the pool at Ohio State could qualify for one at UC. An applicant to one of the more selective Big Ten public schools, Michigan or Illinois, would also be a very competitive candidate for merit awards at UC.
UC’s athletic tradition has been as a “basketball school” for more than half a century.
Oscar Robertson is the school’s greatest basketball star. Robertson, who also did co-op, graduated with a degree in Accounting from UC, won an gold metal as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, two NCAA National Championships for UC (1961 and 1962), a NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks, and a historic victory for NBA free agents in the courts. Robertson also became a successful businessman and served for a brief time as the Bearcats head coach. The university has a statue of Robertson in a Bearcats uniform at the entrance to the Lindner Athletic Center.
While UC has not been as dominant at basketball as it was during Robertson’s day, it has still put very good teams on the court. The Bearcats also have an active cross-town rivalry, the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout, with Big East member Xavier University.
The football team has also risen in stature.
The Bearcats draw, on average, less than half of the attendance one would find at Ohio State, and they play in the third-oldest stadium in college football. But you would not know that if you watched a game on TV. Nippert Stadium is one of the loudest stadiums on game days.
While the Bearcats had their growing pains during their first season in the Big 12 conference, they have won or shared eight conference titles since 2000. They have also played in 18 bowl games since then, winning seven. UC has been the only school outside of the four major football conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10, Big 12, Southeastern Conference) to play in the National Championship playoffs, losing to Alabama 27-6 in the semi-finals in 2021.
The move to the Big 12 has raised the profile of the football program. However, traditional rivalries with Louisville, Memphis and Miami-Ohio have ended. But the Bearcats resumed their rivalry with West Virginia, which is also in the Big 12, as well their rivalry with Pitt. Travis and Jason Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles) are the most notable Bearcat football alumni, followed by Sauce Gardner of the New York Jets. But UC has also been a successful stop for head coaches who have moved on to higher-profile programs including Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame and LSU) and Luke Fickel (Wisconsin). Current U. S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R. Alabama) was also a formed head coach at UC>
I really like UC for anyone who wants to combine city life with career prep for life after college. The university dominates the local job market, which not the case with other schools that place a major emphasis on co-op. Cincinnati is a very livable place to become acquainted with city life, especially if you have not grown up in a city. UC is also one of the few large urban universities that has a true spirit and sports culture. If your heart is set on a Big Ten experience, give UC a look. You might add it to your list.
Report Card: University of Cincinnati
- 5-year Graduation Rate: B
- Freshman Retention: B+
- Costs: A
- Community: A
- Curriculum: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A
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