First Impressions: Christopher Newport University (VA)

I had the privilege to visit Christopher Newport University, located in Newport News, Virginia, at the beginning of February. Last year, the university’s admissions office held events for counselors and prospective students in the Princeton (NJ) in conjunction with a football game where their Captains faced the Lions of The College of New Jersey. I was intrigued by the university’s approach to academics, and accepted their invitation to visit. I’ve gathered enough information to offer thorough First Impressions, and collected photos of a beautiful campus to make a Pinterest page.

A public school with around 5,100 undergraduates, and very few graduate students, Christopher Newport University tries to balance a rigorous liberal arts education with some of the pre-professional programs, specifically Business, Computer Science and Engineering that are offered by a much larger school. The academic demands of the Core and Honors curricula, especially in combination with the Presidential Leadership Program, are greater than most students face at other colleges, even more selective ones. Christopher Newport may be a better school for an undecided student than most others, especially larger universities. The curriculum is designed to encourage exploration, but also to use the first two years wisely before committing to a major.

Christopher Newport has two other pluses that virtually every college-bound high school student likes to see when they and their parents take a campus tour: an attractive and impeccably maintained campus and very livable residence halls. However, the campus culture is more supportive of Greek social life than some bright students might like, and Newport News is more of a tourist community than a college town.

The Christopher Newport administration and faculty have done an impressive job at recruiting, retaining and graduating progressively stronger freshman classes. It is quite possible that the university will become an addition to many personal and published ‘Public Ivy’ lists in the not too distant future, especially because of the focus on a rigorous undergraduate education. However, unlike many Public Ivy schools, even most that I have reported about on this site, Christopher Newport is a very regional university. Approximately 90 percent of the undergraduate student body comes from Virginia, mainly around the Norfolk (aka Hampton Roads), Washington DC and Richmond metro areas.

A bright student, especially a Virginian, who is admitted to Christopher Newport under the Honors Program and the Presidential Leadership Program—this is ten percent of an entering class—as well as a school such as the College of William and Mary has a difficult decision to make. Do you go to a school that has a long history behind it, or choose one where you can help add to the history ahead of it, and take more responsibility for carrying on its name?

If you are curious to learn more about Christopher Newport University after reading this post, checking out my First Impressions and viewing the Pinterest page, I encourage you to take a visit. Their admissions team really works hard to welcome its visitors and leave them with positive impressions.

Report Card: Christopher Newport University 

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A/A
  • Freshman Retention: B+
  • Costs: B+
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B+
  • Comforts: A
  • Connections: A (Virginia and Washington DC)/C elsewhere

Check out my First Impressions of Christopher Newport University!

Check out my Christopher Newport University Pinterest Page!

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