When I was applying for Ursinus College, I wanted to know what the students at Ursinus thought, not just what they were “told” to think. I searched through Ursinus student blogs, but the only students from Ursinus College that seemed to be blogging weren’t blogging about what I needed to know – specifically Ursinus College.
I wanted to fix that.
I’ve had a lot of future students sending me emails asking if they should go to Ursinus. I can’t make that decision… but I started listing what I liked for what I liked it one email – and somehow it became its own blog post. Huh.
For my complete “Should YOU go to Ursinus College” post, click the link.
In any case, without further ado, I present you: 20 Reasons Ursinus is an Excellent College
1. Financial aid covers study abroad. In fact, this was the deciding factor that made me choose Ursinus.
Ursinus College financial aid is unique in the fact that it covers study abroad. There was no question as to whether or not I was going to study abroad for a year in Japan, but any other school I applied to told me if I chose to study abroad, I would have to pay out of pocket.
Regardless of if you receive financial aid or not from Ursinus, I think it is incredibly mature and well-thought out to allow financial aid to cover study abroad. I have a lot of friends who were able to study abroad precisely BECAUSE financial aid covered study abroad.
And other friends at other schools who planned to study abroad freshman year, but when junior year rolled around, they opted out for financial reasons.
And that’s why I went to Ursinus College. Ursinus has a lot of great points that made me consider going there (they are in “Colleges that Change Lives” handbook and have great study abroad options) but the flexibility of their study abroad program was definitely the deciding factor.
2. Ursinus College has great financial aid. According to the website, 83% of the students who attend Ursinus College have some sort of financial aid. I believe it. Once I have a stable job, I plan on taking a small percentage of my yearly income and giving it back to Ursinus – as a sort of “Thank you” for what they gave me, as well as hoping they put that money towards some other student’s scholarship.
3. Ursinus College is in the Colleges that Change Lives Handbook. If you don’t know about that book, look it up. It’s wonderful. I’m from Texas, without that book I might not have ever heard of Ursinus (it’s not exactly a large school and it’s all the way in Pennsylvania).
4. Ursinus is a downright tiny school. As a result, you get a lot more “personalized” college experience. All of my teachers know my name. I have, in fact, on several occasions, eaten dinner at a professor’s house. That actually happens here. Just so you know.
There are only around 1,650 students, so classes are small. I know most people who are going for the same major as I am. Clubs are like mini-families. Sports teams are a great bonding experience. You can tell who the freshmen are because all of a sudden it’s a new face.
5. The teachers make the place. I was struggling my Freshman year, looking for a mention. Thankfully, I found a mentor through my teachers. 6. Ursinus College has themed “Special Interest Houses (SPINT);” I lived in Musser (the International dorm). SPINT Houses are small dorms (really, just large renovated houses) that house anywhere between 20 – 60 sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have similar interests [Freshmen are required to live in freshmen housing]. It’s basically like living with a lot of people who have the same interests.
This year they have the Music House, Modern Science and Technology House, Queer House, Wellness House, Africana Studies and American History House, International House (Musser, my dorm), Community Service House, Honors House, and Hillel House. They add and subtract themed houses each year.
Students apply separately for each house, are interviewed, and selected by each houses coordinator(s), who are usually juniors or seniors.
7. I met my husband at Ursinus College; he was a one-year exchange student from Japan.
We’re happily married and living in Japan now. I can’t even imagine where I would be if I hadn’t met him when I did. We’ve been able to work together, travel together, and learn all sorts of things as a pair. But… now that I think about it, there are a disproportionately large number of couples at Ursinus.
[For more, check out: Why Do So Many Ursinus Students Marry Each Other? Thoughts from an Ursinus graduate]
8. Ursinus college is international, they hire one-year teaching assistants (TAs) from foreign countries and have anywhere between 3-5 exchange students from Akita International University, in Akita, Japan. My freshman and sophomore year, we had TAs from Spain, Germany, France, China, Japan, and an Arab country (it changes every year).
Because of budget cuts, now we only have a Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic TA (I think). Unless they’ve cut even more positions. Which they might. So that’s kind of sad.
9. Ursinus has a LOVE Statue, just like Philadelphia. It’s a standard freshman portrait – getting your picture taken next to the statue.
10. CIE. CIE stands for Common Intellectual Experience. CIE is a two-term class that all freshmen have to take as a sort of “bonding” experience. In CIE, you and about 20 other freshmen read some of the “key” literature pieces throughout history, then discuss them in-depth. If you don’t talk, you don’t get a good grade. The thought of failing pushes most people to abandon their reserve (so it doesn’t sound awkwardly silent with “that guy” just talking, like a high school English class; everyone participates).
The downside is that you have to listen to everyone else’s opinions – which you won’t necessarily agree with. I’m not going to lie; some people have really obnoxious opinions.
11. Ursinus College has an assortment of fantastic Study Abroad Programs. They really do. You can kind of go anywhere you want and Ursinus will help pay for you. And, if you don’t find a program you like, you can always create your own.
(PS, I’m sorry that most of my reasons are International. I’m an international person, so that’s where my priorities sit.)
12. Major and Minor requirements are very straight-forward and rarely change. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting through a class you hate just to fulfill a major requirement, only to have it change the next year…
I spent five semesters on campus and two semesters in Japan (total of 3.5 years). Even studying abroad for a year, I was still able to graduate early with a double major (International Relations and East Asian Politics – with a concentration in human rights violations in East Asia). There’s probably some minor in there too, but I don’t remember.
13. The core requirements make you take classes outside of your element.
For instance, to fulfil my “Arts” requirement, I took a creative writing class. The class was “travel writing.” I didn’t expect to learn much – I never particularly liked writing.
Reading, yes. Writing, no.
But I loved the class. I learned so much. Things were laid back and students were given the freedom to write whatever they wanted. Some place of it touched some deep, deep part of me that secretly wanted to be a writer.
So here I am, not too much later, with a growing and popular blog, a spot as a writer on the Huffington Post, and several freelance writing part-time jobs that I love. Thank you Ursinus College.
14. Ursinus College put me on their website when I got the Boren Scholarship to study in Japan. And when I was featured on Huffington Post.
I was really happy about that. Urinus is proud of their students and often brags about their accomplishments.
15. I don’t hate the cafeteria, even after two years. It’s really surprising. Ursinus has two cafeterias; one is an all-you-can-eat buffet with both a changing menu and some solid staples that never change, like a salad, sandwich, pasta, French fry, hamburger, and pasta bar.
16. Ursinus College has the most beautiful campus I have ever seen, hands down. Gorgeous statues are strategically placed around campus. But there are also some pretty weird ones statues.
17. They let me graduate a semester early.
It was remarkably easy. I turned in a couple extra sheets of paper and BAM, I was a graduate.
A debt-free graduate.
18. A building, Olin, stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can always find a place to study, regardless of the hour.
19. Clubs are really fun; Student Government gets things done. I was the President of Japan club and the secretary of SASA (Southeast Asian Student Association). We put on some great events, including an Asian-styled talent show, Tour of Asia, at the end of the year.
20. Most of the students I’ve met are mature, hard-working, ambitious people that are not afraid to take the initiative or study abroad. I really like (most) of the people at Ursinus. I met my best friend (roommate) and best friend (fiancé), as well as a lot of other wonderful people.
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