Bucknell vs Union

Can anyone compare experiences at Bucknell vs Union College (NY)?

DS looked at both and had friends at both. He strongly preferred Union, but here are some differences.

Union feels more NY/NE and Bucknell feels for PA, so maybe a little more buttoned up.

Union abuts a not delightful city (which gives it rail service to NYC and there are interesting internship opportunities in Albany) whereas Bucknell has a cute town associated with it in the middle of the state.

Neither is super diverse, but Union is a bit more so.

Sports at Bucknell are D1 whereas Union is D3. (Althouse as I write this, I am trying to recall is hockey might have been D1). In any case, less sports "influence " on culture at Union.

Bucknell is bigger by more than a bit and a bit more selective.

Union has a 3 term, 3 class per term schedule.

Both offer engineering. Bucknell has seperate schools for liberal arts, engineers, and business school and movement between is not easy or a given. (Friend’s kid struggled with this. ) Union has no business school. Union seems to encourage crossover between disciplines. Bucknell felt a bit more pre-professional, but I am wary of making a general statement-- that just being who we met

Both are very “social” and have drinking cultures. This isn’t to say kids who don’t party won’t be happy at these schools – we’ve known some at each – but the dominant culture includes this. Both have Greek life. I know Union’s is non-residential (much to the unhappinessof alums), but I don’t recall the details at Bucknell. With that said, every wedding I have attended of a Bucknell grad has had many guests who were frat brothers or sorority sisters of the bride and groom, suggesting that for many, this plays a role in friendships.

Both have excellent academics. Because we got further down the road with Union, we sensed that they are really student centric. I suspect that many students who really like one would like the other even though that wasn’t the case for us.


Thanks so much for the information and your perspective. What college did your son eventually attend?

He attended Colby.

He had 3 visits at Union, and it was a front-runner.

Compared with Union, Bucknell has more of and “old-boys-network” feel to it and is seemingly more conservative-leaning. The location of Union is not great, being in Schenectady, a run-down old upstate city. Also, if this matters to you (one way or the other), Union is a lot more comfortable for Jewish students. Bucknell is 7% Jewish (which was the percentage of Jewish students at Union in the 1940s). Union is now 25% Jewish.

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@brantly 100%. I think you did a better job than I did with “buttoned up”!

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In terms of what’s new and exciting at Union, its science building appears to be one of the most appealing around. This image represents an interior view:



Viaited with my D (who, for full disclosure, ended up at another LAC). She felt Bucknell was too remote and too frat based for her but that is totally personal taste. Union was a strong contender in the end --but we all felt the school’s strength was its science/engineering programming and D was not 100% sure what she wanted to study in college.

I know many who have been happy and successful at both schools.

If there is any meaningful price difference that should be considered. I would try to re-visit both and see if one feels right. Congrats on the acceptances!

Thank you.

Yes, the Jewish enrollment does matter to me. Thank you.

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OK, now that I know that, I can tell you one data point for further information. A dear friend’s child (culturally/ethnically Jewish, typical reform Hebrew school as a child, not religiously observant), spent four years at Bucknell (graduated 2020) and found it very uncomfortable being in a tiny minority. According to this article, Jewish life there is on the upswing with average 50 Jewish students out of about 1,000 per class-year lol.