Update: University of Delaware
I took advantage of surprisingly warm weather on the first day of fall to visit the University of Delaware (UDel) to attend their Blue and Gold Day. I got to know more about the Lerner School of Business and Economics and the Honors Program. I have a UDel Pinterest page if you want to see some photos of campus life. The campus green looks really nice. It will remind you of more selective flagships such as UVa and UNC-Chapel Hill.
UDel gets more visits from me than most other schools. It is quite popular with New Jersey and Pennsylvania students who want to leave their state for college. It ranks first for Jersey kids and second for those in Pennsylvania, after West Virginia University. During my visit I was told that UDel has more students from New Jersey than from anyplace else, including Delaware! UDel is also appealing to residents of Maryland, New York and Virginia, states with extremely selective flagship public universities. Visit schools such as Towson University (MD) or James Madison University (VA) and chances are you will run into someone on your tour who is also checking out UDel.
Drawing about two-thirds of its 18,000 undergraduates from outside of Delaware, UDel gets a lot of applications, but only 25% of those who get in decide to come. Non-resident tuition and fees of $36,000 might be part of the reason. A New Jersey resident will pay less to go to Maryland, Penn State or Pitt, among other schools if they have to pay the full charges, or might relent and decide to go to college in state. If this school could offer more aid, the yield would be higher.
On average, according to the university’s most recent Common Data Set, UDel met less than 60 percent of need for last year’s freshman class. Just under a quarter of the class received a merit scholarship, but the average award covered less than a quarter of non-resident tuition and fees. I had to believe this has been a trend when I also saw an average student loan debt of nearly $37,000 for students who graduated in 2018. That’s $10,000 more than they would be allowed to borrow over four years under the Federal Student Loan program. On the flip side, a non-resident will pay less in tuition and fees, room and board than s/he would pay for tuition and fees alone at the University of Virginia.
The non-resident tuition and fees as well as tight, expensive parking are the only things that I don’t like about UDel. It’s not as much of a “spirit and sport” school as those that play football in a higher profile athletic conference, even though UDel’s Fightin’ Blue Hens might give Rutgers a good game. UDel has produced a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl (Joe Flacco), another who lost one, but was an NFL MVP (Rich Gannon), and a coach who took an NFL franchise on a downturn and won a division title (Matt Nagy with the Chicago Bears). The year’s edition of the Fightin’ Blue Hens is ranked 19th in the country among D-1 teams that play in a true playoff towards a national championship.
But you’re not likely to know about the most recent football successes if you were walking around the University of Delaware campus this past weekend. There were hundreds of students willing to get up before 7 AM on a Saturday to work an open house to help hundreds of students and parents around campus while a football game was going on. That says something positive about why the students who worked the event might have chosen their school.
Here are three more good things about the UDel community.
- Downtown Newark (pronounced ‘New-ARK’ in state) looks more like a college town than College Park, Maryland or New Brunswick, New Jersey, offering plenty of pedestrian-accessible shops and over 75 restaurants to choose from. The university’s Hospitality Management program operates another nice restaurant, Vita Nova, in its main student center.
- When you want to leave campus, you can easily travel to Baltimore, Philadelphia or Wilmington by car, bus or Amtrak train. The commute is realistic for entertainment and interviews for internships and jobs, though you’re more likely to work when you’re not taking classes on campus full time.
- The university has been aggressive at improving the residence life experience, even to the point of closing, even demolishing, older halls while opening newer ones. UDel can house 40 percent of its undergraduate student body, high for a state university.
Here’s a few good things about academics at UDel:
- Over 71 percent of each class that entered from 2011 through 2014 graduated in four years, fourth best among all flagship state universities on the entire East Coast after the University of Virginia, UNC-Chapel Hill and The College of William and Mary.
- Students have a fairer chance of admissions to an honors or a more personalized learning opportunity than they might at the larger and more selective public universities in the neighboring states. The Honors College gets about 15 percent of an entering class, allowing all prospective students to apply, regardless of their grades and test scores. Admissions to similar programs at Rutgers or Maryland are by invitation only. If you like UDel and get into Honors, take the offer. The community has the programming that you will find within residential colleges at schools with more famous name, such as Harvard or Yale. There is also the World Scholars program, a blend of study abroad and advanced academic studies that you won’t find at most other state schools as well as several other Scholars and Fellows programs that are worth a look.
- The Lerner School of Business and Economics is more selective than the university as a whole. According to Poets and Quants most recent rankings, less than half who apply get in. But if you are shopping non-resident costs for a good business school, take a serious look at Lerner. Il makes it easier to enter undeclared than most and assigns each student a peer mentor as well as an executive mentor at the start. Lerner’s faculty and leadership make it easy for students to double major, tackle multiple minors or study abroad and programs such as Wealth Planning and Financial Management and minors in Advertising and Trust Management, among others, that are not easy to find anyplace else.
- There’s some other impressive programs including Fashion Design, Art Conservation, and Public Policy, among others. The 2008 elections marked a high point for the university. Former Vice President Joe Biden is a Blue Hen. But so were key advisors for the Obama and McCain campaigns: David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt. New Jersey’s former governor, Chris Christie, is an alum, and a former student body president.
- UDel was the first US college to offer study abroad. In 1923 the university led students on a one-year program to France. Today, it operates or partners on over 100 study abroad programs in 40 countries.
- Everyone gets a five-week winter break, a week longer than most other colleges, to study abroad, take a class or take on a shadowing or internship experience. It’s quite possible to graduate in most majors with more than one internship or study abroad experience, even in the sciences or engineering, and still earn a degree in four years.
- You have as good a chance of finding an internship or full-time job offer in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia or Washington DC from the University of Delaware as you would at universities that are closer to these cities. There are over 53,000 Blue Hens in and around Philadelphia, over 23,000 in the New York Area and nearly 12,000 within the Baltimore-Washington Corridor, all according to LinkedIn.com.
Despite the high non-resident tuition and fees compared to the flagships in the neighboring states, I named UDel as a Public Ivy for 2019-20. This school does very well at educating and graduating the majority of students that it attracts, many of whom turned down admission to the state university in their home state. It’s no bargain for a non-resident—Rutgers, Penn State and Maryland will charge less—but it’s more reasonably priced than other schools that have much stronger brand names. If you have interests that are likely to separate you from a crowd, such as the Honors College or the World Scholars, the University of Delaware is well worth the look.
Report Card: University of Delaware
Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A
Freshmen Retention: A
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