Update: Gettysburg College (PA)
Gettysburg College has been one of my most-visited schools over the past two decades. I came to campus many times on business, to do research for a novel in progress, and to learn more about the school in my role as an independent admissions advisor. I stopped by campus the day after I went to Juniata, and gathered information to write an update. I also added more photos to my Gettysburg College Pinterest page.
Gettysburg College is a place where you are as likely to run into an aspiring health care professional as you are bump up with a budding attorney, entrepreneur or educator. The college is not super-selective, and admissions are test-optional, but you should have some academic rigor in the transcript. The average high school GPA is around a 3.7 but many arrive with AP or IB courses in their academic record.
Gettysburg admitted around 45 percent of the students who applied to join the freshmen class last year. The middle 50 percent for those who submitted SAT scores scored between 1270 and 1420, and between 26 and 30 for those who submitted the ACT. The college admits 80 percent of its class need blind and fulfills, on average, 90 percent of need. It has also expanded its merit scholarship offerings since I last visited two years ago. The largest award, the Eisenhower Scholarship, covers more than half of the cost of attendance.
Gettysburg College has a very residential campus community. More than 90 percent of Gettysburg students live on campus, including those who live in the fraternity houses. This is also one of the few small colleges where you are likely to meet juniors and seniors who have a meal plan! Dining services at Servo, the dining hall, are among the best you will find at any college anywhere, especially before Thanksgiving. Faculty and staff, including the college’s president serve the students before its time to go home for the holiday!
Gettysburg is one of the more proactive liberal arts colleges the country when it comes to supporting its students and alumni through their education and life after college. There are more opportunities for experiential learning, study abroad, leadership development research and independent study offered at Gettysburg than a student would ever have time to complete over four years. Gettysburg also has some of the best career services that you will find at a liberal arts college, starting in the freshman year. I covered these in my update in more detail.
Here are a few more things that I learned since I visited two years ago:
- The college has literally doubled the size of its College Union Building. It also relocated its leadership development and career engagement programs into this building.
- The college’s Organization and Management Studies major has been replaced by a new co-major in Business, Organizations and Management starting this fall. Students who opt for this major must also choose a second liberal arts major. A business minor is also available, as in an option in Mathematical Economics, which attracts investment banks and management consulting firms to add Gettysburg to their target schools.
- About a third of Gettysburg students concentrate in Mathematics or the sciences. The college offers a BA or BS in Health Sciences. Those who opt for the BS can take more courses in human biology, specifically Anatomy, Epidemiology and Physiology, all highly desired pre-requisites for graduate and professional study, than they are likely to find at other liberal arts colleges. They also have the opportunity to use two computer-based dissection stations. Penn State’s main campus, by comparison, has only one.
- Since my last visit, the college launched X-Sig, their Cross-Disciplinary Science Institute. X-Sig offers a summer research program, interdisciplinary seminars, access to internships and academic year research opportunities and manages a college house around mathematics and the sciences.
- An Innovation Lab, also opened recently, gives students the opportunity to use computers, 3-D printers, virtual reality and other technology tools to craft and test their ideas. The lab is used not only by science majors, but also by students of art history and history to recreate the past and its artifacts, and by bundling artists.
Gettysburg College also has its downsides:
- It’s expensive, with a sticker price of nearly $70,000 for the current academic year. At least three other liberal arts colleges within Pennsylvania: Allegheny, Juniata and Ursinus start at a lower sticker price and also offer generous merit scholarships. But I was also told by the admissions office that the cost advantage has been shrinking as the aid budget has increased.
- Some might find the community to be more based on tourism and less of a college town. Home to arguably the most famous battle of the Civil War, host to more than 20 presidents, the community is justifiably “America’s Town,” and the community profits greatly from its history. The upside is that you can make a fast connection to the Baltimore-Washington Corridor or the Pennsylvania Turnpike from State Highway 15 or the Lincoln Highway (US 30).
- While you don’t need to be involved in a fraternity or sorority to succeed socially at Gettysburg, a third of the student body is involved in Greek life. If you want a school where these organizations have less influence on campus life, look at a school such as Juniata.
- This is a great school for students who want to make connections in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic states and Washington DC. But it will take time for the alumni base to broaden significantly beyond there.
However, if someone tells you that Gettysburg College is one of the best liberal arts colleges in our country, don’t argue. The aid budget is growing and the support structure around the students and alumni is getting better and better. I expect this school to get on many more lists.
Report Card: Gettysburg College
- 4 Year/6 Year Graduation Rates: A/A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Costs: B
- Curriculum: A
- Community: B+
- Comforts: A
- Connections: A (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic states and Washington DC)/C (elsewhere)
Visiting colleges? Daytripper University’s travel guides highlight the best restaurants and hotels as well as the most interesting attractions near Gettysburg College. Founded by Liora Yalof and Bonnie Klein and relying on a network of parents, locals and current students, this comprehensive website features guides to over 100 campuses and resources to help you navigate the college process.
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