Virtual Revisit Indiana University-Bloomington
Indiana University-Bloomington is another Big Ten school that I have visited. It’s quite popular with New Jersey high school students, especially the Kelley School of Business. Over 3,000 of the 12,500 Indiana alumni in the New York area who are registered in LinkedIn.com went to Kelley.
Indiana takes the college town atmosphere at Penn State, and puts it on a more pedestrian friendly campus. Only one hour from Indianapolis, Indiana is also much closer to a major city. I have lots of pictures from Pinterest. The university also has a nice collection of YouTubes.
Like Penn State, Indiana University-Bloomington has great spirit and sports. Indiana is the better “basketball school,” Penn State the better “football school.” Indiana draws a greater share of its students into Greek life. Penn State, being the larger school, has more Greeks. Otherwise, these schools are more similar than you might believe. For instance:
- Students at both schools run a huge spring dance marathon for a children’s health charity.
- Both schools offer similar housing options, though Indiana has high rise halls that you won’t see at Penn State.
- The daily papers at both schools are among the best I’ve read, just behind the Rutgers Daily Targum and The Daily Tarheel at UNC-Chapel Hill.
- Neither school is a good place to park or drive a car on campus. You have to live within walking distance if you move off, or be willing to ride a bus to class.
- Both have a similar mix of off-campus housing options that range from budget to posh.
So, what are some differences?
- Indiana University-Bloomington has the Little 500 Bike Race, shared with no other school. Breaking Away, a 1979 movie featuring a young Dennis Quade, gave the race national attention. It ranks eighth among the 100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time by the American Film Institute. Interestingly, the winning men’s team in the 2019 Little 500 was called The Cutters, just like the winning team in the movie. The race draws over 15,000 fans each year, though it’s been cancelled due to COVID-19.
- Penn State has no equal to the Jacobs School of Music or the Dance and Theatre programs at Indiana. The performing arts facilities at Indiana are equal to those in a much larger city like Chicago or New York. Artists and entertainers who went to Indiana include Hoagy Carmichael and actor Kevin Klein, among many others. Indiana also has its own school for public affairs. Penn State does not have one.
- Indiana University-Bloomington has a much larger honors college at a smaller school. The Hutton Honors College has around 5,000 students. Penn State’s Shreyer Honors College has fewer than 2,000. Penn State lets you apply to Schreyer. Indiana admits to Hutton by invitation. Indiana is the more generous school for non-resident merit awards. The Dean’s Award can go up to $11,000.
- Indiana has the larger student union. It’s combined with the most famous hotel in Bloomington. Adults will like the union as much as the students.
- I felt that there were more dining options in downtown Bloomington than I’ve ever seen in State College, PA. The downtown also feels less crowded. But Penn State also has more students, and larger crowds on football weekends. Daytripper University has made a nice guide to help you get around Bloomington.
- The Indiana campus has a nicer mix of “academic classic” Indiana limestone buildings blended with more modern architecture. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Within the Big Ten, the choice usually comes down to costs and where you come from. Indiana University-Bloomington is a great buy—if you come from Indiana. Tuition and fees are less than $11,000 before scholarships kick in. When money matters, it’s hard to justify spending more if your heart is set on a Big Ten experience.
Last cycle, Indiana got 40 percent of their freshman class from out of state. But non-resident tuition and fees are high, surpassing $36,500 for the current academic year. Purdue is also in Indiana, but that school asks non-residents to pay $6,000 less. Kelley is a great business school. But I’m not sure that it’s worth $24,000 more than Purdue to a family from Central New Jersey. On the other hand there’s nothing similar to Jacobs at Purdue, or at most other schools in the Big Ten.
Starting next cycle, Indiana will have test optional admissions. As of this date, the university will continue accepting applications for Early Action. Given both, it is wise to complete the application as soon as you can. Hold off on fall test scores, especially if you’re aiming for Kelley. The university might be test-optional for all applicants. But Kelley has historically maintained a higher standard for direct admission: 3.8+ GPA, 1390+SAT, 32+ ACT. The Hutton Honors College has also maintained higher standards. The admissions team at Jacobs will still expect auditions.
Historically, Indiana has not been the most selective large university. Overall, around 70 percent of all applicants get in. Test optional admissions will make it easier to apply. But it’s also likely that more applicants will be denied. However, if you want a Big Ten experience, Indiana delivers in flying colors of crimson and cream.
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