Part II will follow in the next post below due to a 10,000 word limit.
We just had a tour of Syracuse University,where my daughter attended a pre-college program in art. After reading some mixed reviews in the Students Review web site, I wanted to evaluate the school myself. I should note that this review was based mostly on our looking at their visual arts program,but I will attempt to discuss other programs as well.
1. Academics: One of the unique selling propositions of Syracuse is its huge array of majors. Certainly, it has enough different types of majors to equal that of a large state university. You will find programs as diverse as Drama, Visual Arts, Engineering, Business, Linguistics, Judaic Studies even woman studies ( although when I was growing up, woman studies had a completely different connotation), just to name a few. In fact, you can even minor in logic; I didn't even know that such as minor existed! They also have a huge amount of interdisciplinary majors as well.The bottom line is that I do believe that if you are looking for a major, you will probably find it here.
Average SATs are 1210 according to Princeton Review, Math 620 and Verbal 590; however, if you check out the naviance site for my high school, you will see kids getting accepted with lower scores:
Overall, I think you can get into most schools there with about a weighted 3.5 and 1100-1200 SATs.
I should note that they have two very competitive and well known schools. The first is their school of communication, which had a number of top notch professionals graduate from there. (Think of Ted Koppel et al.) Their communication school is considered one of the top programs of its kind in the nation for aspiring broadcast journalists, TV camera work, magazine graphic design, and for journalism in general. Average SATs for that schools are about 1300.
The second top program is their visual arts program. This is a plethora of majors such as fiber, communication design, advertising design, computer art and much more. Again, Syracuse has a lot of choices. This is a very competitive, well- known program as well. Most art school deans that I interviewed, spoke highly of the art program at Syracuse. In fact, if you check out faculty at most top art schools, you will usually find Syracuse University grads among them.
However, it surprised me to know that their most popular majors are in business. Frankly, I didn't feel that their business program was that terrific to warrant the high tuition,which will be discussed.
Although Syracuse was rated in the top 50 national schools that offer PHDs, their "peer review" rating wasn't that high overall. Thus, most university deans and university presidents don't think of Syracuse as an academic powerhouse. If I remember, it had a rating of 3.6 out of a possible 5.0. This is certainly better than many other schools,but still not as good as many others.
I asked a number of kids about their feelings about Syracuse and got mixed reviews, just as the comments in students review web site noted. Many really liked the school and loved the school spirit. However, many also complained about the general academics and liberal arts. There were above average complaints about the number of TAs used in classes, and there were complaints about the large number of teachers with accents that were not understandable especially in the sciences. In addition, there were a lot of kids driving top notch cars, having Gucci bags and expensive looking jewelry. This school has a lot of "well to do" kids. This is not to say that everyone is from rich parents, but the majority of the kids seem to be that way.
The school seemed very well wired for computers with lots of computer labs and with fast Internet in all dorms that we saw.
We did see the art school, which was well equipped with lots of studios and computer labs. It obviously seemed quite good and contained some very good student work. Sadly, some of the artistic majors are moving to new facilities,which will be discussed.
My bottom line: If you are interested in Communications or Visual Arts then Syracuse might be a good choice. Also, if you are interested in having a huge array of choices for majors or looking for some of the more esoteric majors, Syracuse would also be a good choice. However, I felt the remaining programs were just mediocre at best and could be found elsewhere for cheaper tuition. I would give their visual arts and communication programs a B+ to an A- and the rest of their majors a "B" or even B-.
2. Campus: Syracuse is a very self contained campus. It does seem to be sort of a combination of a campus and city school in some ways because it is so open to the city of Syracuse. There is a LOT of construction going on. they do have a very nice endowment of about 770 million, which means that they had the 65th highest endowment in the nation.
I also found much of the campus to be very nice. They had some well designed buildings and nice grassy areas. However, this was offset with all the construction. In addition, the campus was very open and accessible to the public. The downside is that my daughter had a run in with some undesirable types during summer session. I do wonder about the crime rate there. My daughter didn't feel particularly safe. Moreover, if you wonder a few blocks away from the campus, the city does seem a bit seedy and run down.
I should note that Syracuse is a very self contained campus with a number of restaurants having the usual student fare such as pizza and shops, such as T shirt shops. Thus, students don't need to leave campus.
Overall I would rate the campus a C+ .
3. Parking: We had no problem finding parking; however, all parking either had meters, or we had to park in the nearby parking garage for a fee as a guest. Parking is readily available for all those nice BMWs in large student parking lots. I would give parking a sold "B" and maybe even a "B+."
4.Dorms: I only saw one dorm, which is the one that my daughter was in. Overall,it was clean, and well maintained. In fact, all buildings seemed well maintained. The dorm rooms consisted of doubles, separated by partially by a wall. Thus, you at least get semi- private quarters. Be advised that the rooms were small and had no air-conditioning. However, I would imagine that during the year, they don't need air-conditioning. Since I only saw one set of dorms, I won't give them a rating.
5. Food: We ate in the cafeteria. I liked the food. It was varied and tasty. They had soft ice cream dispensers, nice desserts, vegan dishes, nice salad bar and both chicken and hamburgers and the required student fare: pizza. However, I couldn't believe the prices. As a visiting parent during an open house, I was charged $14.95 per person for lunch and $16.95 per person for dinner. It seems that Syracuse uses an outside vendor to handle all of this; however, I felt that this was a tremendous rip off compared to that of other colleges that I have seen. One would think that during an open house, Syracuse would be more accomodating and even offer lunch for free. This was not the case.
6. Tuition:Interestingly, if you go on the Syracuse University web site, you will have a hard time figuring out what the tuition is. There seems to be no "button" for this. The reason is that their full time, undergraduate tuition and fees for 2005-2006 is a whopping $28,285 per year, plus an additional $10,710 for room and board ( for 19 meals per week). Although there are more expensive schools such as ivys and Carnegie Mellon et al., this isn't a cheap school.
I should note that one of the reasons for this high tuition is that Syracuse is big on scholarships for the needy and does give some merit awards. Most schools are liberal,but Syracuse takes the word liberal to a new high. For example, they have just instituted scholarships for one of the following six Haudenosaunee nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca or Tuscarora. Moreover, Syracuse is BIG on diversity in both faculty hiring, and student admissions. There are constant program dealing with diversity in their news. Interestingly however, Syracuse was ranked by Princeton Review as being in the bottom 8 schools when it comes to the races actually mixing well. I am not quite sure what this ranking means.
I guess in order to offset the fact that most kids come from wealthy parents, Syracuse tries to bring in many others who aren't as fortunate. Thus, if you are paying mostly full freight, you can have the pleasure of knowing that a fair amount of your tuition is benefiting those less fortunate.
I saw this at work during the summer pre-college program where a whopping 25% of the kids were on some form of need scholarship! I am not kidding about this percentage either.
Syracuse, however, did respond nicely to those unfortunate kids in New Orleans by offering free tuition for a semester and even free room and board for 15 kids. They are currently working with 300 kids from New Orleans, according to the web news at Syracuse. I do give them points for this.
End of Part I