First Impressions: Wilkes University (PA)

A counselors event in Scranton brought me an opportunity to spend half a day at Wilkes University in nearby Wilkes-Barre in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I invite you to read my First Impressions and check out a Wilkes University Pinterest page. For those who come from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, but not Pennsylvania, Wilkes is most similar to Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) and Western New England University (MA) in terms of student body size and the selection of academic programs.  

A small university with approximately 2,500 undergraduates as well as more than 3,000 graduate students, Wilkes is an attractive alternative to larger state colleges and universities that also welcomes many first-generation college students, who represented just over half of a freshman class. Those who are admitted with credentials similar to those expected at Penn State-University Park or Rutgers-New Brunswick could qualify for scholarships that make Wilkes price competitive. 

Wilkes University has a very comprehensive set of pre-professional programs in Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Nursing and Pharmacy, among others. The school also offers a unique opportunity to pursue a bachelors degree in Psychology with an MBA in Industrial Psychology, introduces pre-professional skills in policy analysis and public administration into Political Science, and technology in to theatre and the fine arts. 

This school is slightly lighter in liberal arts offerings than many small universities. But it might be the ticket for someone who wants to acquire a skill set, but is less enthusiastic about learning in large-lecture classes. Wilkes’ career development services also appear to be as extensive as those offered by larger schools, especially in aiding students who wish to do cooperative education, find an internship or work with a faculty member on research. While the university targets admissions towards a ‘B’ student, it is quite possible to graduate with a resume and job offer comparable to a graduate of a larger, more competitive university such as Penn State or the University of Pittsburgh.

While Wilkes University can do an excellent job at preparing a motivated student for work or graduate school, it is not located in a city like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Wilkes-Barre, an industrial town, is not the nicest of communities once you get a few blocks from campus, though the immediate area is quite accommodating to college students. You can live in a converted mansion, among other housing options on campus, but you might not want to live too far off campus as you go further into your education. 

Access to a car can make the experience better, especially to go to Montage Mountain, hiking in the Poconos, or nearby shopping malls. Wilkes is also a more regional school than, for example, the University of Scranton. It helps to be familiar with Northeastern Pennsylvania, because that is where the university’s many connections are. Fortunately, for those who stay, the cost of living is far more affordable than the larger cities. 

There’s much to like about Wilkes University, especially for a student who wants to pursue a demanding degree program in a high-demand field. This school will give a student a fairer shake than much larger schools, to achieve similar results. 

Report Card: Wilkes University

  • Four-Year/Six Year Graduation Rates: C/C
  • Freshman Retention: C
  • Costs: B+
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B
  • Comforts: B
  • Connections: A (Northeastern Pennsylvania)/B (New York and Philadelphia/C (elsewhere)

Check out my First Impressions of Wilkes University!

Check out my Wilkes University Pinterest page!

Need help in considering and comparing colleges? Contact me at, or call me at 609-406-0062. 

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