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Small School Atmosphere

meganglmegangl 3 replies4 threads New Member
edited December 2011 in Elon University
I'm a senior right now, about to submit my early action application to Elon. The next smallest school I'm applying to is Syracuse, with about 16,000, and most of my other schools are large state schools- michigan, maryland, indiana, etc.

A year ago, I would have never thought about Elon- I always thought I was a big school type of girl. I love the big sports at Maryland, Michigan, BU and Indiana, as well as the school spirit and extracurricular options.

But something about Elon keeps drawing me in. I love the idea of small classes with no big lectures or TAs. I love the college of communication, the focus on global evolvement and engaged learning, and the study abroad program.

Can someone talk about the small school atmosphere at elon? Anything about sports, greek life, parties, academics, or anything else!
edited December 2011
18 replies
Post edited by megangl on
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Replies to: Small School Atmosphere

  • PsychStudent143PsychStudent143 5 replies2 threads New Member
    Hey, I am a freshman at Elon, so I'll try and give you some insight! (:

    Academics: The small size of Elon without a doubt makes it an amazing experience academically. My professors actually do know me by my name, and I know from personal experience they will do everything they can to help you succeed. While their lectures do require A LOT of participation because of the small class sizes, they definitely allow you get a better grasp on what you're learning. That being said, because of how small the classes are, many of them do penalize you for not showing up for you class, and many will give you a quiz every class to ensure you did the readings the night before (ALL of my professors do that actually). So, if you're looking for a college where you can get by sitting in class, half-heartedly doing your homework, and/or skipping class periodically, don't come here. You literally have to be fully engaged in your studies to succeed. The small class sizes also allow you to get to know your peers better because of the amount of interaction you will have with them, which is great in helping make connections and friendships.

    Here is the bad thing about the small class sizes, though: Classes fill up REALLY quickly because they cap them at about 33 students (meaning there can only be 33 students in the class). As a consequence, freshmen hardly ever get the classes they want. I don't know what you're majoring in, but I am a psych major, and because of popular psych classes are, I have literally not been able to enroll in a single psych class for both semesters.

    Athletics: There are very few people here who are into Elon's teams. The biggest sports are definitely basketball and football, but even then, not many people really show up for games or care. If you are looking for a school with a ton of school spirit, Elon may not be a good choice. I mean, school spirit definitely exists, just not as much for its sports teams.

    Extra-curriculars: Elon definitely has a lot of extra-curricular activities, and it isn't difficult to find one that fits your interests. Just know that a good amount of them meet only once a month and some (but few) are extremely disorganized. For example, I volunteered for the "Adopt-a-Grandparent" program, and it literally just started up...half way through the semester. The good majority are fairly active, though. Especially religious organizations and most of the volunteer organizations. Even as a freshman, I am extremely involved, so I would say the extra-curricular opportunities are amazing.

    Greek: Greek life is HUGE here. It's impossible to walk around campus without seeing some mention of Greek affiliation. Rush is in the spring, and I know a lot of freshman enjoy that aspect of Greek life here, as they get to make friends outside of their future sororities. I have heard from others that a lot of the Greek organizations act like they are superior to others, which creates conflict. I don't know if that is true, though.

    Social life: I don't care what anyone else tells you, Elon is a party school. We are surrounded by Burlington, NC, which is an extremely impoverished city. While they are building malls on the outskirts of Burlington, there is really nothing else to do there but shop. There is absolutely nothing else to do in the town of Elon, which is cute, but boring. Consequently, the only thing to do here is party. There is definitely a lot of pressure to drink (I don't know why people say otherwise). Those who love to party are having a great time. I, on the other hand, do not drink and I am not the biggest on partying. Besides football games, not much goes on during the weekends, so I am usually bored out of mind and wanting to go home, which is impossible for me to do because I am from Maryland. (Go Terps! :] )

    Elon also advertises that it is near Greensboro, Chapel Hill, and Durham, which is absolutely true. However, all three are about a half an hour to an hour away, requiring a car and gas. Chapel hill and Durham are big for partying, while Greensboro has a lot of cultural events, which cost money. Most people don't go to those places on the weekend, so don't think otherwise.

    Other stuff: Most people at Elon are white, from the north, rich, and preppy. Elon is trying to push for diversity, but it is totally absent on campus right now, and probably will be for at least the rest of my college career (maybe not yours...who knows). If you are not preppy, there is a good chance you will feel out of place, but there is also a good chance you may find a group of people with similar interests to yours. So, if you're looking for a diverse campus with a TRUE global perspective (Elon inherently lacks this), don't come.

    I feel like I should end this by saying I am transferring to the University of Delaware next semester, because although I thought Elon was a truly fantastic school at first, I am really unhappy here. Elon has a specific culture (as I mentioned before), and I don't fit in it. I even spoke to my professor about this concern, and he concurred that Elon has a distinct personality, and either you fit in it or you don't. This personality or culture is in part due to the students Elon attracts and its small size, as I believe that a bigger school wouldn't possess such a suffocating, overwhelming quality. Ultimately, I am not preppy or rich, and I don't like to party, so I am left with few outlets to have fun and a terrible social life. What's the point in paying a ton of money for an education if you're not happy?

    That is just my opinion, though. A lot of people love Elon, and this may be the place for you.

    Tell me if you have anymore questions. :)
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  • rodneyrodney 9267 replies139 threads Senior Member
    "Burlington, NC, which is an extremely impoverished city"....

    Seriously? we are from Northern NJ......it is a middle class suburb; it wouldn't even qualify as a city, never mind an impoverished one.....

    to the OP: you need to get more opinions on this....my daughter who also is a freshman just registered for all of her classes and was able to sign up for every one....

    She loves it at Elon....she is not preppy, we are not rich, and I hope (haha) that she is not considered snobby by her peers......

    The above poster is correct in one aspect; Elon social life revolves around the school.; if you want to be in a place where the local community has more weekend activities, this is not the place without a car....the local area is weak; but most kids who attend know that and actually want that type of enviroment......but impoverished, um no.......

    and, she enjoys a party once in awhile, but has participated in many other activities on campus since she got there.......

    please PM me if you have any further questions.........

    edit: This just in......nobody drinks at UDel, nor are there any parties/sororities/frats there ; .......and Newark, Delaware is certainly not an impoverished city.....
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  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 7382 replies150 threads Senior Member
    I wouldn't describe Burlington as "extremely impoverished city" but it definitely does have poor areas. It's suburban, and most of what you see if you are on the Elon side of town or head toward the interstate is solidly middle class, lots of shopping, restaurants, nice homes and apartments. But if you head the other way there is definitely a poorer area, in the older part of town where the textile industry used to be. I don't see that this has a negative impact on Elon though. There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering/service if you want to do that, and if not, the campus and surrounding areas are generally very safe. (As safe as any other college campus, at any rate).

    Besides shopping, Burlington has a ton of restaurants in a variety of price ranges, at least one movie theater complex, a bowling alley with pool tables, and mini- and regular golf courses. There are several restaurants and clubs within walking distance of campus.

    Course sign-ups: My daughter is a sophomore Psych major, and she was placed into Intro Psych her first semester. Second semester she thought she would have the same problem as PsychStudent143 - all the Psych classes she was eligible to take were full before her sign-up time. BUT - she went to see her advisor and said that she was a Psych major and needed to take at least one Psych class. Her advisor sent her to the head of the Psych dept, who told her to pick any section in any of the 3 classes she needed to take as pre-reqs for all other Psych classes, and the dept head would sign a waiver to get her into the class. She did, and it worked - no problem at all. She filled the rest of her schedule with core requirements from other departments with no problem.

    For this (soph) year, she has ended up both semesters with classes she needs to take - either in her major or as general requirements. She hasn't necessarily gotten her first choice in either the subjects or the times, but she has filled a complete schedule with coursework that she needs. And in at least one case, a "second choice" class has turned out to be one of her favorites! Next year she'll be able to take the classes she didn't get into this year, since registration goes by seniority. We have absolutely no doubt that she'll easily fulfill all her degree and general requirements within 4 years, with room to spare to take other classes that interest her.
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  • PsychStudent143PsychStudent143 5 replies2 threads New Member
    I was only given my honest opinion of what I believe Elon to be. As I mentioned, Elon is a good school, it is just not a fit for me. I know that UDel is just like any other college in the aspect that there are sororities, parties, and drinking occurs. I am not stupid. I just believe I will fit in better there. Honestly, there was no need to be mean in your comment. Doing so is slightly inappropriate for an online forum, actually, and that is coming from a kid.

    Elon just was not a good fit for me, and I know there are others who feel this way. I am not saying this out of spite...I have a lot of friends here whom I am sad to leave, I am a fellow, and I have A's in all of my classes.

    And as for the advising thing, yes, you can get into classes with departmental approval. It truly depends on the department, though. I know the communications department (which the OP mentioned) in particular does not allow for people other than seniors to enroll in full classes. Trust me...I tried.

    As for Burlington being impoverished, those who say it isn't have never truly experienced it. I took a tour through Burlington and experienced poverty similar to that I saw in Baltimore. I am actually writing a research paper on the active sex trade that exists in Burlington's impoverished areas, and am enrolled in a sociology class that deals with such areas. As I mentioned, though, the outskirts of it are built up and middle class, making it a popular shopping destination. I also volunteer actively in Burlington through Elon Volunteers!, so I have experienced both sides of it. As mentioned by the poster before me (whom I believe offered some good insight (: ), it doesn't affect the social life and offers good opportunities for volunteering! I was just added that fact because I am super excited about my research paper. Sorry for being superfluous...

    As I mentioned, Elon is a good school. Don't get me wrong...I just don't fit in here. I have no doubt that I would have graduated in three years as planned, and I believe I would have received a good education. There's no need to get defensive. This is just my opinion, which I know many others possess. I am going to a state school because I want to experience greater diversity...that's all. If my post is so disconcerting, I will delete it.

    Oh, and to Rodney...I never mentioned the word snobby. The people at Elon are actually quite friendly, so I would not use that adjective. But the majority are preppy, any other website or observation could tell you that. I don't mean that offensively, either. I have never thought as preppy to be a negatively connotated word. People at Elon use it as quite the opposite, actually.

    But yeah, I am not trying to hurt anybody's feelings or cause turmoil on the Elon board. Sorry. ):
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  • PsychStudent143PsychStudent143 5 replies2 threads New Member
    Oh, and a lot of freshmen do get all the classes they want. However, many don't. Personally, I just came in with an overwhelming amount of AP credits, and therefore received credit for 3/4 freshman requirements and some intro level courses, forcing me to enroll for 200/300 level classes which filled up...fast. Many freshmen who received late registration times had to redo their schedules constantly and were frustrated with their options, too. Registration is definitely a time of anxiety here haha
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  • rockvillemomrockvillemom 6941 replies184 threads Senior Member
    PsychStudent - thank you for your posts. I do think it is valuable to hear some negatives about a college. My son has applied to Elon and hopes he will be there next fall as a freshman. It's better, IMO, to go in with an idea of pros and cons - as pretty much anything in life has some cons associated with it. Your course registration issues sound perhaps a little unique - as you were a freshman trying to sign up for upper level courses - but that issue pops up at many schools. I think it is one of the grumbles I read most often - at both small colleges and large universities. When we toured schools - I always asked students what they liked least about their school - what they would change if they could. No place is perfect - better to go in with eyes wide open.

    So - thanks for sharing - good luck at Delaware - I hope it fits you better and you are happier there.
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  • rodneyrodney 9267 replies139 threads Senior Member
    I didn't mean to insult anyone here on this forum....nor did I mean to personally attack....please accept my apologies...

    As RVM states, I think it is better to approach a question like the OP's with pros and cons ; unfortunately, it "appeared" to me when I first read the response in post # 2 that it was an attempt to dissuade the OP from even looking at Elon as a possible option.......thereby my response.....

    Every school has negatives and positives; to believe otherwise is delusional....

    Again, my apologies

    To the OP: since you are applying EA and you have a number of other options on your list, it would definitely be beneficial for you to visit prior to making any decisions. Some of the issues that have been presented here strongly exist at the other schools on your list; they are not exclusive to Elon and, actually, did not answer your original question in your post regarding a small school......

    But what great questions to ask students at your other schools:

    1) how hard is it to get the classes you need during registration?

    2) is there a part or whole of the student body who are into partying? Is it hard to find "your group" of friends if you don't?

    3) what kind of surrounding area will I encounter? Are there places I should use my talents to volunteer etc.?

    4) what relationships do you have with your professors?

    You get the idea......not exclusive to Elon per se
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  • Scoutmom9Scoutmom9 350 replies94 threads Member
    Dear PsychStudent

    Thanks for your honest opinion of Elon. You are right not everyone feels Elon is right for them. Every year 10 % do not return for various reasons. You say you are a freshman and I say though that your first semester is not always the best time to decide you made a mistake. Some students go to their dream school and feel they made a mistake the first semester if they don't find their niche. I wish you well where ever you go but I would remind others that it frequently takes students more than one semester to feel like they have found their home away from home. Hope you find what you are looking for! :)
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  • BLK616BLK616 93 replies5 threads Junior Member
    This is very interesting, and it's great to hear from a student. Unlike some of the other colleges boards, Elon's contributors are mostly parents and prospective students.

    My daughter is a sophomore at Elon and loves it! However, when I have visited, I have observed a lot of what psychstudent has. It does seem like the student body is very homogeneous; Greek life is very important, even though it doesn't seem to limit friendships in any way; partying seems to be quite popular.

    I hope you enjoy University of Delaware.
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  • peachiiepeachiie 7 replies3 threads New Member
    If students are displeased, can they transfer after the 1st semester or must they wait out the entire first year of college?

    Thanks.
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  • meganglmegangl 3 replies4 threads New Member
    Thank you SO much for all the responses!

    I am looking into the school of communication and the international relations major, so it's good to know about class registration problems for comm.

    i am from rockville too, and truthfully, i would actually actually classify myself as more jappy than preppy. although most of the schools that i am looking at are in the northeast (syracuse, bu, etc) i was thinking that it might be a neat and different experience to go south where i would encounter a different type of students.

    i do have some doubts about the student body (spirit wise, the preppy aspect, etc), whether or not i would fit in, and the lack of excitement in the general area (UMD is right outside DC, boston is in boston, michigan is in ann arbor, etc). mostly, i love the engaged learning opportunities, small class sizes, and study abroad program.

    based off of this, what are your opinions on whether i would be happier at a place like UMD, michigan, bu, indiana, or syracuse? do you guys have any other options of elon-sized places in the north or midwest where i could have a similar engaged learning experience?

    thank you!!
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  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 7382 replies150 threads Senior Member
    I don't think anyone on this board can predict whether someone they've never met will fit in at a particular school, and I can't speak to the engaged learning opportunities at UMD, BU, Indiana, Michigan or Syracuse.

    I can tell you that Elon has a lot of spirit but it's not really oriented around sports because they don't have a big-time sports program. And although not all the students at Elon are rich, it does have a preppy culture. They have an strong Greek system for those who want it, but 50 - 60% of the student body is not Greek and they also seem happy and able to find plenty to do on campus.

    And I can tell you that Elon is truly one of the best in the nation when it comes to "engaged" learning. Their administration and faculty are focused on that, surveys and rankings agree, and my daughter has experienced it herself. Kids who "fit in" and are happy at Elon tend to be kids who are do-ers. They were probably 2nd decile academically in hs while still captaining their team, leading & participating in community service groups, being in a performing art group, and possibly holding a job. They are smart kids, good students, but more hands-on active type people than theoretical thinkers.

    I don't know about Elon's IR program, although I do know they are huge on Study Abroad. I know that their Communications program is excellent and well-regarded, and offers a lot of internship opportunities (check out the summer Elon in NYC and Elon in LA programs - they are not exclusive to the Comm school but seem fairly Communications oriented.) My daughter knows several students in the Comm School.

    Like most colleges, Elon prioritizes course selection based on how many credits you have completed, so the older you get the easier it is to get the course and time you want. (As a psych major, Psychstudent143 could have gotten into a Psych course if she had asked for a waiver. I suspect his/her problems with freshman course selection are not unique to Elon, based on what I've seen people complaining about in other areas of College Confidential).

    I think that if possible you need to visit the campus when students are there (ie not over Christmas break) and see for yourself.
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  • mhc48mhc48 1221 replies74 threads Senior Member
    PsychStudent, its difficult to be honest but even handed about any school on its own board. You're to be complemented. My D was accepted at Elon and UDel last year. After two visits she thought she gleaned some of the aspects and nuances you've mentioned about the surrounding area, the campus melieu and students there. In addition some of the things which the school seemed to be saying about itself and selling itself on seemed, well, more aspirational than actual.

    We couldn't verify any of those feelings and really, even if all true, none of it is "bad", or is a put down of Elon. All schools and campuses have their own unique flavor or character and as its proponents happily have told you, many students are very happy at Elon.

    But my D is still glad she chose UDel and I think you will be too. As you probably already know, UD also has a winter term, strongly stresses engaged learning and is one of the top ranked schools in the country for study abroad. Plus, its larger size, location and greater number of international students give it some things Elon NC lacks.

    And few college towns can match Main Street, Newark.
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  • Scoutmom9Scoutmom9 350 replies94 threads Member
    Talked to my son who is home from school for the holiday about various issues discussed here. Regarding social activities- many of the extra curricular things he is involved in meets almost every week so he is kept busy. He says the student union runs non-alcoholic based activities thurs through sat nights. For Example every thurs there is bingo which he says is not as lame as it sounds, Several hundred students show up every week trying to win prizes like ipads, and bikes. there is food. He says people go with friends and make it fun. The schools runs bus trips on the weekend which are subsidized by the school and very affordable. He has gone to concerts at nearby colleges and kids do go to Greensboro for concerts when big names are in town.
    So that is his experience.
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  • rockvillemomrockvillemom 6941 replies184 threads Senior Member
    That sounds great! I'm ready to go myself!
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  • rgainesrgaines 75 replies20 threads Junior Member
    PsychStudent143 thanks SO much for your and others honest opinions. No school is for everyone but we need to get as many people's impressions and experiences to make a balanced decision. My D is currently considering transferring from Emerson College. Even though she likes the programs, she's not loving the city life (we're from a rural area), horns blaring at night when she's trying to sleep, lack of school spirit around sports and no football/homecoming experience (she didn't think she would miss this since she's not sports-oriented, but she does), the traditional campus environment, New England weather and the distance from home. She's made a lot of good friends at Emerson and has a great support system there so it's going to be a hard decision, but if she really wants the traditional campus experience, more diversity (we're black & Emerson is 3% African American), a football program and more school spirit regarding sports, and more options for heterosexual guys she may be moving on. Elon is one of the schools she's considering transferring to based on their more traditional college experience and great Communications program. Based on these responses though, she'll need to take a deeper look at Elon to make sure it has what she's looking for.
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  • Daredevil31Daredevil31 69 replies2 threads Junior Member
    My son is a college senior who began his journey at Elon as a freshman. We loved the school and it does offer fantastic programs. He decided to transfer after his sophomore year back to Mass. because of the lack of diversity and he was not the preppy type and had no interest in the party scene. PSYCHSTUDENT143 is very accurate in his assessment of the school and life at Elon. Elon played a very important role in my sons life. He was not completely ready for college but being away, meeting new people (who have all transferred out for similar reasons) and the small school atmosphere gave him the opportunity to mature confidently. He is now at a much larger school, 20K students and very happy. Good luck.
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  • Daredevil31Daredevil31 69 replies2 threads Junior Member
    rgaines, Emerson is a far better school for communication. I'm hoping my son goes to grad at Emerson. When he was at Elon he was a business major and their communications program is impressive. He did not realize at the time communications was his path. Emerson is known on a national level and I have friends who have kids who have graduated Emerson who work for Howard Stern and American Idol. Depending on what your daughters interests are, think hard. Emerson is not an easy to school to get into. Good luck.
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