First Impressions: Syracuse University (NY)

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Syracuse University, a “target school” from my past life. Syracuse University has several excellent academic programs, most notably in Architecture, Communications, Computer and Information Science, Entrepreneurship, Public Policy and the performing arts, among others. It could be the “USC of the East” or the fallback from Cornell, depending on your sports interests and academic aspirations. I have gathered my First Impressions, made a Pinterest page for Syracuse, and also invite you to see a special page from when I attended the last Rutgers-Syracuse football game at the Carrier Dome.

Over 35,000 prospective freshmen applied to Syracuse University for the 3,600 seats in the freshman class that will arrive this coming fall. Given past data that I could find, the admissions office would have accepted just over 40 percent of the pool to get their class. But some schools such as the School of Architecture, the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and the Whitman School of Management had much lower acceptance rates as well as higher yield rates.  

Syracuse University offers more than 200 majors and over 100 minors, more than you will find at much larger schools, and more academic flexibility. The university is more accommodating to students who enter with sizable numbers of AP or IB credits than other schools that are more selective. Enter with a semester or more of approved credits and you can graduate early, complete a dual bachelors program or go on to an accelerated pathway to an advanced degree. 

Unlike the flagship state universities in New York and neighboring states, Syracuse University allows students in virtually any major to minor in virtually any business or information sciences program. This makes it easy for liberal arts majors to build a skill set to complement their interests. Also, unlike such schools, Syracuse students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science can be part of entrepreneurial teams, study abroad or carry a minor. 

This school is also more “spirit and sports” oriented than any private university in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic states, hence my moniker, the “USC of the East.” 

Syracuse is the only private university in America that has won national championships in football, men’s basketball and lacrosse, the latter being the most dominant sport, with 10 national titles. While USC is, by far, the successful “football school” for football, Syracuse has produced seven players and one owner/coach (Al Davis), who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC have sent more on to this honor. However, Syracuse is, by far, the better “men’s basketball school.” The Orange have enjoyed 47 consecutive winning seasons, ranked no worse than fourth in average home attendance since 1982, and appeared in the NCAA  tournament 32 times, including three trips to the Final Four. The Carrier Dome is not only a sports palace; it also hosts the same musical acts that you’re likely to pay more to see at Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse has three downsides: the costs, among the highest for any private university in America; the weather, which can be a huge drag if you’re not used to the cold and snow, and the surrounding city, one of the least attractive venues to host a major national university. I was a city planner in my past life. I found the public roads leading to and through campus to be some of the worst that my car has ever traveled on a college visit. Fortunately for the students, the campus bus network is extensive, and the choice of activities, clubs and organizations on campus is quite impressive. The university also appears to be quite accommodating with financial aid for the needier students who present top-tier credentials for admission. 

Syracuse offers many things that prospective students would love to see at the flagship state university in their home state, including academic flexibility, school spirit, less  competition for vast resources and a high volume of internships and jobs brought to them through a loyal alumni network.

Those who choose to enroll at Syracuse can get everything that they might have gotten had they gone to Cornell, USC or the University of Virginia, among many other places, as long as they can handle the costs, the city and the weather.

Report Card: Syracuse University

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A/A
  • Freshman Retention: A
  • Costs: C+
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B+
  • Comforts: B+
  • Connections: A

Check out my First Impressions of Syracuse University!

Check out my Syracuse University Pinterest page!

Check out a photo spread from the last Rutgers-Syracuse football game at the Carrier Dome!

Visiting colleges? Daytripper University’s travel guides highlight the best restaurants and hotels as well as the most interesting attractions near Syracuse University. 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.

Need help on your journey to college? Contact me at, or call me at 609-406-0062.

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