Introduction: Meredith College (NC)

Two weeks ago I was invited to take a counselor’s visit to Meredith College, a woman’s college located in Raleigh, North Carolina that has extended its outreach into the Northeast and further west. This college of 2,000 undergraduates has no plans to go co-ed for its undergraduate experience, and probably no reason to consider them. I gathered information about the college and also collected photos to make a Pinterest page. 

There’s much to like about Meredith College, as I learned from my visit.

Meredith admits students to the college, not a specific major. 

The first two years of the Meredith College  experience are about helping students to find their strengths and succeed inside and outside of the classroom. The theme StrongPoints covers a blend of courses, programs and services based around academic advising, career and leadership development, community service and financial literacy. The approach may sound obvious. But you will rarely hear it as well explained at other colleges. 

Meredith College’s selection of academic offerings is equal to a small or mid-sized university. 

Virtually any major including Exercise Science, Fashion Design and Merchandising and Interior Design can also be a minor. Meredith also offers a five-year pathway to dual bachelors degrees in either Chemistry or Mathematics with an Engineering degree from nearby North Carolina State University. It is also one of only two women’s colleges that has an AACSB accredited business school, and offers a 3+3 program for admission to Campbell University Law School in downtown Raleigh. 

Meredith’s academic programs and support have helped its students to become competitive with their peers at Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, among other schools.

It is quite common for Meredith students to graduate with three or more internships as well as similar experiences in community service, research or student teaching. The college’s alumni base in North Carolina’s Research Triangle–Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill–is strong enough to support the varied academic and professional interests within the student body.

Meredith is price competitive through merit scholarships. 

A student who comes from outside of North Carolina could earn awards that help to reduce their tuition and fees below the non-resident charges for many public colleges and universities. The smaller awards require a student to remain in good academic standing versus maintain a high GPA. The college recently concluded a $90 million fundraising campaign that helps to endow scholarships and more. This campaign nearly doubled the college’s endowment from $67 million to $116 million. 

The college has preserved traditions but also added programs that encouraged academics. 

Traditions include Ring Week, where juniors receive onyx class rings (picture above) a unique symbol of the school, Tea for Two, Cornhuskin,’ and more to help bond the campus community. Meredith was also one of the first colleges in the Southeast to have its own student government. The college also hosts a fall undergraduate research conference and a spring celebration of student achievement in which just over half of the student body presents research or creative works to a greater college community. 

Meredith’s campus has easy access to public bus services as well as those operated by North Carolina State. 

I have been to Raleigh and Atlanta and find Raleigh to be the more navigable city. For those who don’t like to ride buses, Meredith makes it easy for all students, including the newest, to have a car on campus. 

But no college is perfect, including Meredith.

  • The four-year graduation rate for the class that arrived in 2012 was 55 percent, about the same as it was at North Carolina State. But at Agnes Scott, a smaller woman’s college in the Southeast, the four-year graduate rate was 64 percent. Agnes Scott has approximately half as many students as Meredith, though it shares some advantages such as close proximity to a major city.  However, it is more of a liberal arts school, offering fewer pre-professional programs than Meredith. Women who are considering a liberal arts education and are interested in going to college in the South might want to consider both schools. 
  • The alumni base gets really thin after you leave the Research Triangle. Among the more than 13,000 alumni registered on I found that over 7,700 remained in the Triangle, and over 9,400 total remained in North Carolina. The largest cluster outside of North Carolina is in Washington DC, where there are fewer than 300 alumni. A commitment to the college is likely to be a commitment to life after college in the Triangle. That’s not a bad thing, given the job market and quality of life in the area. But its best to know where you’re going to. It could be your home for more than four years.
  • While the Meredith campus is easy to navigate, and the signature buildings are quite attractive, furnishings for student spaces (the library, common areas in the student center, lounges in residence halls) seemed dated. This is a minor point, but the college competes with public institutions in North Carolina that charge much less. Parents and students are likely to expect a more expensive school to have a more expensive feel.
  • You cannot do a Finance major within the undergraduate business program, although you can complete a minor. The college does not have a simulated trading floor for investment analysis courses as you will find at other business schools. This too, seems like a minor point. But the college went to the effort to receive proper accreditation for its business school and added an MBA program.

Meredith College’s approaches to community building and student success are better than I’ve found at colleges of similar size and higher profile.  This school has a very promising future, especially within the Triangle. But it will take time for its recognition to spread further from there. 

Report Card: Meredith College

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: C+/C+
  • Freshman Retention: C+
  • Costs: B
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: A
  • Comforts: B+
  • Connections: A (Raleigh-Durham and the Research Triangle)/C (elsewhere)

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