Emory & Henry College is another one of the Colleges That Change Lives. It’s a very small college with just over 1,100 undergraduates and 300 health science graduate students. It’s also one of the smallest colleges to have its own schools of Business, Nursing and Health Sciences. I found a few Pinterest photos and also took a virtual tour. You can also check out the new building for the School of Business, scheduled to open in 2022.
Emory & Henry is a school where the faculty are more likely to look after you than they would at a mid-sized or large public college. You will never have a class with 50 students here, let alone a large lecture. The college also has an Honor Pledge, that all incoming students must sign as well as an Honor Code. It also enrolls 100 students in an Honors Program, where faculty engage with students more closely than they would at most other schools.
Emory & Henry has 41 majors as well as seven graduate programs. Advanced degree offerings including Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies. The programs in the health professions have already attracted more than 40 Emory & Henry alumni. The college has a set of core requirements, courses that all students must take during their first three years. There is also an emphasis on independent research, under the theme Ampersand (&) Connected Learning.
In addition to the Core and a major, Emory & Henry students must also attend 35 Lyceum Events, a series of concerts, lectures, theatre and dance performances, films, exhibits, and poetry readings. The college enforced these requirements during the pandemic, making the events virtual. Students may submit proposals for Lyseum Events that they want to attend, if they can obtain faculty sponsorship.
With an opportunity to attend over 400 events over four years, it should be easy for students to find 35 to fulfill the Lyceum requirement. But if you are someone who prefers to attend on-campus programs only when you want to, this may not be your school.
Emory & Henry is not exceptionally selective. The average GPA for students who were admitted to the Class of 2023 was a 3.5. The average SAT was 1070 and the average ACT Composite was a 22. Those numbers are about the same as students who were admitted to Longwood University, a school that I previously visited and profiled. Enrollment has risen 63 percent since last year. The academic options and the setting are likely reasons for the good news. They will likely help improve retention in the future, especially for students who are motivated towards business, education or the health professions.
From a virtual distance, the Emory & Henry campus feels similar to other Virginia colleges I have visited, including state schools like Christopher Newport, Longwood and Mary Washington. I realize that I took a virtual look at the campus. But it appears that much work has gone into interior renovations, plus new construction for the business school, career development center and health sciences buildings. And this campus has more history behind it.
Named for John Emory, a Methodist bishop, and Patrick Henry, one of America’s Founding Fathers and first governor of Virginia, the college opened its doors in 1838. Only the College of William & Mary, Hampden-Sydney College, Washington & Lee and the University of Virginia have been around longer. But Emory & Henry was the first to be co-ed. Emory & Henry is also one of the only colleges in the country whose campus is also a historic district.
About two-thirds of the undergraduate student body are Virginians. However, nearly half of the incoming freshman class hails from outside the state.Just over three quarters of the undergraduates live on campus. The college has seven local fraternities and seven local sororities. Going by the content on the college Web site, these organizations do not have their own houses. If you love outdoor recreation, and want a small college, few schools offer more opportunities than Emory & Henry. You can go hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and much more without venturing far from campus. The college is also close to the Virginia-Tennessee border near Bristol, a national music capital.
Emory & Henry competes in 22 NCAA D-3 varsity sports as well competitive dance, cheerleading and equestrian. Ferrum College, a two-hour drive from campus, is the main football rival. Randolph Macon, five hours east, is the main rival in other sports. This is one of the few schools that offers women’s wrestling as a varsity sport. There are scholarships for the marching band and color guard, which have over 100 members. Unlike larger schools, chances are quite good that you will get to know several student-athletes through the duration of your education. Equestrian is a very high profile sport at this school. Given the small number of undergraduates, chances are good that you will get to know many student-athletes. The college will be moving up to NCAA Division II scholarship varsity sports in 2022, and will be eligible for post-season tournaments two years later.
Direct charges (tuition & fees, room & board) for the coming academic year are under $50,000. The three largest merit scholarships will cover over half of tuition and fees. It’s quite possible that Emory & Henry could be cost competitive with public colleges for a Virginian or a non-resident, depending on the award received. Need-based grants are also offered by the college as are scholarships to lower costs for study abroad. Emory & Henry might also start to combine athletic and academic awards together, as many small colleges do, to attract better students who want to continue in their sport.
Graduates of this school tend to stay close by. Among the 9,400 alumni registered on LinkedIn.com, over 2,000 were based in/around Roanoke and the Johnson City (TN) metro area. There are also respectably sized communities around Richmond and Washington DC.
The first is to get to know a tight-knit campus community, the second to get to know the community better after you are accepted. I always make this recommendation to anyone who is considering a school in an isolated community with a campus-based social life. The small school experiences are quite rewarding for the students who can make friends and find outlets quickly. This is especially true for Emory & Henry, which considers Demonstrated Interest to be very important in the admissions process.
From a virtual distance I felt that someone who enjoys being physically active through recreation or sports in their free time will really like this school. It also appears to be a place to get a more personalized education, especially if you want to become a teacher or health professional, rare among liberal arts colleges. But Emory & Henry might have some new surprises in store for future students, since it has opened new schools and is about to advance in athletics.
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