Thank you for sharing your impressions of the LC campus! I really do think this is one of those times an in-person visit will be vital if Fordham ends up in his top 5. I’m sure both campuses have pros and cons so each student will need to assess the best vibe and fit for them (if their major is offered on both campuses.) This is very helpful.
We have a friend at Marist who loves it. Side note: Clark apparently has a very well regarded game design program.
Clark is building a brand new game design building. I’m local to the area.
Long post alert! I figured I’d chime in here with my impressions of WVU - my kid is graduating there this May, so I’ve had 4-plus years of visits to provide a pretty thorough review.
We are in PA, so we were looking for cheaper alternatives, and WVU fit that bill perfectly. Kid will be graduating with one $5,500 student loan (which may get forgiven, who-hoo), and we cash-flowed the rest. There’s an auto-merit chart on their website that is just the start; there are departmental scholarships to be had and the school is phenomenal to work with, especially considering it’s a big public flagship. I can’t say enough about my kid’s department and the individual attention/service she received.
The financial aid office is called the Mountaineer Hub, and its phones are usually staffed by students (in finance? work-study? unsure). I have been impressed every single year with their dedication and attention to detail and willingness to help.
On to the campus! Two main campuses (campii) and they’re only about a mile apart as the crow flies, but the whole state is one steep holler after another and if you laid it out on a flat line, it’d be, like 15,000 miles. I might be exaggerating. A bit.
Evansdale is where the main freshman dorms are - Towers. Four buildings, each 9 stories, pretty standard concrete-block industrial 70s look. But big enough rooms (communal bathrooms), functional, and my kid had a decent first year in the Creative Arts LLC there. Made good friends. There’s a dining hall on the ground floor; she worked there and hated it; I would think that’s pretty normal also.
There are lots of other dorms elsewhere, including spiffy suites and apartment-type complexes like Oakland and Seneca, and an Honors dorm and also some more rundown ones. The rates change depending on the accommodations you choose; Towers is the base-level charge, and it was quite cheap. It is around $6300 for the year. Meal plan required for on-campus living; different levels up to unlimited.
Near Towers on Evansdale is the rec center, a beautiful newish complex, with all the expected features – no lazy river but everything else, like a big pool, climbing wall, track, workout stuff, etc. Also here is the outdoor adventure center, offering frequent day trips, weekend and spring break trips, and all the equipment you could imagine available to rent.
One of WVU’s pluses is the outdoor trips they offer. Part of that is a first-year program. It’s called Adventure WVU, a weeklong camping orientation session offered to all freshmen right before their first year. You can pick from volunteer-centric, or hiking, camping, rafting - as backcountry or as glamping as you want. It’s subsidized by the school and only costs, I think, $90 total. Great bonding experience; you can choose a trip with others in your major and that worked so well for my kid; she had made good friends before school even started.
More info here: First-Year Trips | Adventure WV | West Virginia University
Also on Evansdale or near it: engineering and agricultural sciences, the Creative Arts Center - arts/theater/music complex, where all the performances are held - the health center, with the huge Ruby Memorial Hospital, the law school, the Coliseum basketball arena and the football stadium.
Most of the rest of the academic concentrations are housed in buildings at the downtown campus. Your kid would take most Gen. Ed. classes there, even if they majored in an Evansdale-specific concentration.
The downtown campus has the Mountainlair student union, which includes bowling, pool tables, TV, ping pong, you-name-it – and where the Up All Night events are held (no-alcohol fun stuff on Friday nights; my kid is still going to those events in her senior year, so obv. they’re considered worthwhile by the students).
Transportation. OK, so WVU has the Personal Rapid Transit system, the PRT, which is the only monorail system at a college anywhere in the US.
More info here: About the PRT | PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) | West Virginia University
It’s an outgrowth of a US DOT experiment from the 1970s and it’s as dated as you can imagine. They’re basically holding it together with electrical tape and string at this point. But it is very cool, when it runs. I think the engineering department runs it, students mostly, but there is a dedicated staff.
It often breaks down, however, and professors are used to half their class not getting there on time for a test, e.g. There is also a campus bus system. My kid is not impressed with any of it; says she could not rely on the PRT or the bus to get her someplace in time (I’m not really sure whether she actually gave the bus a real chance, and I’m also not sure she was trying very hard).
So take that into consideration. She brought her car after her first year, when she moved off campus. You can get anywhere within 10 minutes, so it’s not that it’s difficult to drive to campus. But the roads weren’t built to handle 30k students and traffic can be a nightmare if you don’t know the back roads (which I only recommend if you’re adept at driving on vertical cow paths).
Parking is as difficult at WVU as it would be at any huge flagship. Off-campus students can park at the Coliseum for $1 a day (a new & controversial charge; it was free before this year). The Coliseum is on Evansdale, so that doesn’t really help unless you have a class there. You’d still have to rely on a bus or the PRT to get to downtown campus, where there is pretty much zero parking.
There is as much drinking/drugs as you want. There is also none, if that’s what you want. My kid has gone to her share of frat parties over her years there, mostly to people-watch, and always with friends she can rely on. It’s accessible. There’s plenty of rowdiness. The greek houses are near the downtown campus and there’s quite a bit of notoriety with some of their traditions and events. I honestly don’t think it’s worse than any other school (and I went to UF so I do relate )
Morgantown itself is the county seat. The hospital is probably the biggest in the state. The state is dirt-poor, but I think Morgantown gets a lot of government money that doesn’t seem to have done anything in terms of beautifying the city. There’s a walking/biking trail along the Monongahela River that runs along the city. The Wharf District, where the Marriott is (nicest hotel in town), is quite nice. There’s some cool shops and such on High Street, which is adjacent to the downtown campus. And there is a huge big-box complex across the river, at University Town Center.
But generally speaking, much of the area is, as @scritch said, “gritty.” There is a homeless population that appears to be growing. There is a lot of downtrodden housing stock that looks like it could fall over in a stiff breeze. The roads are horrific and there are huge potholes everywhere. Much of downtown looks like it was thrown up out of someone’s urban nightmare and pasted willly-nilly onto hills. My kid, however, has grown up near the Slate Belt of PA, and the area’s look is familiar to her; it reminded her of home. If you grew up in an upscale, well-manicured suburb or bustling big city, you’d quite likely have a different reaction.
The terrain is crazy-steep. I’ve never seen such steep hills and narrow roads and I’m from the mountains in PA. My heart is in my mouth when I drive some of the roads, and my kid blew a tire a couple years back when she was forced off the road by a big truck. There’s also indifferent clearing of snow/ice, especially out of the city limits, so if your kid moves off campus, he might not get to class some days.
There are many apartment complexes off campus and they’re pretty cheap. You’ll pay $450-600 a month for your kid to live with 2 or 3 others in a decent apartment; usually electric/heat is extra but WiFi is included. By decent, I mean newer. I don’t necessarily mean “quality.”
My kid has lived in 2 of these complexes, and both had issues, but she’s generally been pleased. She’s now in her 2nd year in a 3-story townhouse with two others, really nice space + deck, in-apt. laundry, parking, each bedroom has private bath, workout equipment in a complex gym, etc etc, and she pays $500. You can pay less and live in a slumlord’s building, but I recommend sticking with the big apartment complexes; at least there’s management on site.
All that said, the area is drop-dead gorgeous. There’s Coopers Rock State Park, an interstate exit away. The newest national park, New River Gorge. A bunch of mountain biking trails nearby. Rock climbing at Seneca Rocks. There are great rivers for white-water rafting; Cheat Lake for kayaking and canoeing, a lovely botanical garden, an arboretum on campus (on the side of a steep hill, ofc). You could, without, question, spend every weekend on a different outdoor adventure less than an hour or so from campus, many within 10 minutes.
The big question - what does your kid graduate with? Well, my kid is in theater tech and even with Covid ruining over a year’s worth of in-person theater, she’ll graduate with a full complement of skills and accomplishments on her resume, plus some quality networking. Will it get her to the top of her profession? That’s up to her, but WVU most definitely has prepared her. I don’t know what else we could have asked for. I have been really impressed, overall.
Oh, one thing to add that is theater-specific: We toured several colleges with my kid when she was in high school, specifically to check out their theater programs. Many had, like, “a” black-box theater. Or “a” performance space. Or “a” shop. WVU has four theaters, five separate shops and I think it has the only puppetry major in the US.
Great post @Gatormama ! It’d be great if you could copy and post in the WVU forum.
I love the detail and context.
Will do, @gardenstategal - thanks for the idea!
Just back from Boston trip with D (HS senior) - who is primarily interested in MechE. Thoughts below a mixture of my views and my D’s.
Harvard - moved down, somewhat. Was not all that pretty. New engineering building far from main campus. Hordes of tourists and others around main campus. Harvard Square itself, adjacent to campus, was nice but a bit grunge-y at the edges. Student tour guide didn’t seem all that happy there. Some green space, but not a ton. Museums (natural history, archaeology, art) were nice, though.
MIT - moved down, somewhat. It wasn’t especially pretty (though arguably a bit above our low expectations on that front). Setting was kinda meh. Lots of construction and just kind of junk and noisy stuff around.
In general, D’s reaction to both schools was “far, cold, not very pretty”. Has her appreciating hometown Wash U more - ED application to Wash U more likely now.
7 posts were merged into an existing topic: Off-Topic Discussion from “Colleges Crossed Off List or Moved Up After Visiting”
Reminder that if people would like to discuss further, please use this thread: Off-Topic Discussion from “Colleges Crossed Off List or Moved Up After Visiting”. I’ve moved the Harvard discussion posts over to that discussion. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing your impressions. My kid is also interested in engineering, but hesitated to rank Harvard high on his list because of the location of the engineering complex and general impressions that Harvard just isn’t as strong in engineering as some of the other schools he likes. For those reasons, we didn’t prioritize a visit. Your impressions and @TiggerDad’s makes me less anxious about our decision to delay visiting.
Correction on this, UConn has a puppetry major too. I know a kid who is going there specifically for it.
Thanks for sharing your impressions of WVU. You painted a very vivid picture!
DD23 and I toured last year. We tried to go when the students are there if possible. In addition, we tried to get in touch with a current or former student if possible.
Haverford: Stayed on the list. Loved the Quaker vibe, campius was ok, food not so great which was an issue with my DD23. After talking to a student, she decided it’s a good option.
Bryn Mawr: Went up. Loved the drop dead goreous campus and the energy. it was a sunny day also which helped. She wasn’t sold on women’s college but loved this one because Haverford was so close. Also food was better:)
Swarthmore: Stayed on the list. Amazing beautiful campus, loved the tour guide. She was intitally completely sold. After talking to a student she decided that she’s not exactly sold on the workload but would like to apply.
MIT: Stayed on the list. Loved the campus and the vibe. She’s concerned about the workload here as well but will apply.
Harvard: no tour, we mostly just walked around, she loves the food options, dorm can be great, cambridge is a fun college town. It was not on the list. it’s a bit too intense (her words)
Tufts: stayed on the list. great size, good location.
Brown: stayed on the list. great size, great location, love providence.
Wellesley: off the list. Too subrban, too much like a summer camp. She really disliked this school for some reason. We also had AO give an info session- i thought she did an incredible job but my DD said it was so boring(!)
Smith: stayed on the list. Great campus, cute town. Great tour guide also!
Amherst: off the list. too small(?), doesnt like the town at all. We toured UMass Amherst a few years ago and she didn’t like it as all so that might be part of it.
Williams: off the list. Love the school and the tour, but way too remote.
Wesleyan: off the list. She did not like the architectural style mix at all. Plus middletown is meh. For some reason she was fine with MIT architectural style mix and not here, not sure why? It was a sunny day at MIT.
Yale: off the list. The school was too close to town, doesnt like all the busy roads that cuts into the school ground. New Haven doesn’t feel inviting. This was a last minute addition so that might be why?
Even though my alma mater got dinged, these Goldilocks reports can’t be beat!
I recently did a tour at Wheaton and they never mentioned any of that stuff. I’ll bet if my daughter had heard it, she might have seen it as a quirky plus. But the more I think of it, the more it seems to make sense to never allow first-years on the library steps. Who would allow such a thing? (jk)
Some colleges really sell their traditions (do they all have a giant rock students paint? A gate you can’t walk through if you want to graduate?) and I agree kids’ reactions are very mixed. I know my D18 (now a college grad) was very freaked out by the UVA tour and their numerous “weird” traditions and “creepy obsession with and uncritical admiration of” the Founders. I am sure for some kids that would have been a big part of the charm!
Update for anyone considering UW. Our impressions last Fall on the trajectory seemed corrrect.
When we toured MHC last year they kept talking about all the quirky traditions, which is typical for a historically women’s college. I looked over at my daughter expecting to see her eyes rolled back inside of her head. Instead she was eating it up.
She is my number four and sometimes I am still amazed at how often they all surprise me with their reactions. I wasn’t really in touch with what was “cool” when I was her age, and I’m even less in touch with what is cool today!
Also I agree with @circuitrider at how fun to read and helpful posts like @shishamo’s are. Tentatively we have a spring break trip scheduled for Boston and Maine, so I can contribute information again in March!
My husband was up at UW for a work seminar last spring and we decided based on his experience that we would not encourage our daughter to apply there. We live in Washington.
I completely agree with the traditions in women’s colleges- I also thought my daughter would roll her eyes but unexpectedly she loved Bryn Mawr with its special lanterns, etc. Kids are so funny!