Rhode Island colleges

Providence, RI is less than 3 hours from Portland, ME, and home to several popular colleges. I visited all 10 of Rhode Island's colleges and universities during April break (2007). I returned to visit Providence and Salve Regina in March 2009, and to Salve Regina in June 2010.

Brown University (Ivy League). Brown is unique because they do not have gen ed or core required classes. You design your own major and take the classes you deem appropriate. The tone on campus was not snobby or cold (like some other Ivies I've visited). Students were serious, silly, driven, happy, and everything in between! Cheverus connection: Bill F '08 graduated. Samantha S '13 and Peter D '14. Some Cheverus students choose Tufts instead.

Admissions Info: Dean Jim Miller gave a report. He used to be the Admissions person at Bowdoin. 41% of the accepted students this year are minority, the highest percent in their history. They actively recruit overseas. They received 25% more applications than just 3 years ago, making it the most selective year ever. Their admit rate is in the single digits. Gulp. He reports that a population boom of high school seniors is 'to blame' for the high number of applicants. He noted that there is also an increase in students who are 'heavily credentialed', scoring perfect 800s on one or more SAT tests. That makes his job harder, since applicants had high gpas, 9 AP courses, lots of interesting extracurriculars, and perfect sats. How do they decide who to accept? He works hard to 'get beyond the stats' to see the applicant by reading and re-reading the essay, which should tell a story about you and what you are passionate about. How do you spend your free time? Why? They read and re-read the recommendations. They are looking for the 'intellectual entrepreneur', a person who is interested in other things outside of school and may take a class or teach him/herself just for the fun of it. An interview can also help them choose students for whom Brown would be a good match. 95% of the applicants interview, and you should. It's more like a conversation than a job interview, and the alumni interviewer is selling Brown as much as you are selling yourself! Are you a musician? Make that clear on your application: each year they are looking for students who play certain instruments. The Music Department sent notes to Admissions about 110 top-rated musicians that they would like to see admitted. Same with athletics: coaches send lists of students to Admissions, hoping their favorites are admitted.
Wait lists: they did not take ONE person off the wait list last year. Ouch. Their advice: write a letter and drop them a line or call (once) with updated information on yourself that took place after you applied. It is impossible to tell from year to year if anyone gets off the wait list.

Bryant University (a business school). I ran into Kelsey Mann in the fitness center! She loves it here. Mostly a business school, and business majors must minor in something else like Spanish, government, history, sociology, math, French. I did not know you could major in a non-business program at Bryant. You can major in actuarial math, communication, econ, English, global studies, history, psych and soc.

Cheverus connections: Luisa F, Kyle T '09 attend. (Kyle transferred to Northeastern). Spencer C '12.

The campus used to be located next to Brown Univ in Providence, but moved to rural Smithfield in 1970. They 'graduated' from a college to a university in 2004. 84% of students live on campus. Their teams play on the Northeast 10 conference (D2). Nice pool. There are 70 clubs, a tv and radio production studio, students receive a laptop at enrollment and junior year, and it's voted one of the most connected (totally wireless) campuses.

Admissions Info: Their admit rate is down to 50%. They say they are looking for a 3.4 but we have students accepted with a lower gpa than that, more like a 3.2. 1130 on the sats would be nice.
Bryant students seem happy: 88% return after freshman year. 85% are from out of state. 3200 students total.

The campus is flat and sprawling, lots of grass and ponds. Buildings are low profile, mostly 3 floors or less, and it looks very 'corporate'; appropriate for a business school. Sophomore study abroad is new and popular, during winter break or in May. The Honors Program  provides smaller classes to those who qualify: 3.5 and 1200 sats.

Johnson & Wales (70 majors in addition to its well-known culinary school: business, computers are popular) The Director of Admissions spoke to us about this university for the C average student. If you have better grades than that, there is merit money coming your way. It is located in downtown Providence, so you'd have to have some street smarts! Almost half the students are in the well-known and highly respected culinary major, and half in business. It's a medium sized college in a medium sized city. Hospitality management is one of their most popular business degrees. Lots of opportunity for hands-on experiences like internships. They are a co-op college. Cheverus connections: Anthony N went here, and Allie M '08, Dante R '09 attend.

New England Institute of Technology (associates and bachelors degrees in less time than usual: 18 months and 3 years) This place is for the hands-on learner who would not do well in a typical college setting with lectures, lots of reading and writing. Game development is their newest and most popular degree. NEIT is open enrollment, so you only need your high school diploma to enroll. You are required to interview in admissions, with a parent, to help determine your major. You are required to take their Accuplacer exam if you do not have SAT results. Their exam will determine which math and English classes you'll be placed in. Admissions said "tech doesn't mean you aren't bright." I liked that. Lots of high school students are interested in computers, automotive, surgical tech, and don't want the traditional college experience. This is the place for them! Fully accredited, you earn a degree just like any other college, but in less time. You can lock in your tuition for 3 years at the same rate-no increases. Students like that you start with classes in your major from the first day. We visited the Operating Room Lab, the auto lab that can service 40 cars, the TV and radio studios. Students live in apartments in the neighborhood. Size: 3,000 students, mostly from New England and within 100 miles of campus. "Learn by Doing."

Providence College (many Cheverus seniors apply here).

I learned a new vocab word at PC: parietals. To quote the dictionary: "the regulations governing the visiting privileges of members of the opposite sex in campus dormitories". Confused? This means that you cannot be in an opposite gender's dorm room after midnight (weekdays) or 2am (weekends). Before you roll your eyes that your freedom is being impinged, consider that parietals preserve roommate harmony: if you are trying to sleep at midnight but your roommate has their boyfriend/girlfriend visiting, they have to be *gone* soon!

Cheverus connections: Taylor L '08, Jordan M '09, Connor S '09 attend. Jon D '09 transferred to PC from Citadel. Charles R '12, C Walsh '14.
Stats: 92% retention rate (terrific!) and 85% graduate in 4 years (great!)

Honors Program: the only way to get merit money is to be invited into the Honors Program, open to 125 students each year. Some of your classes are smaller but there is not separate housing. Typically you'd have to have an A average with all honors and AP courses to get invited, and Calc senior year. If you are close, but not invited you may find you receive an attractive financial aid offer to entice you to Providence college, in what is called 'preferential packaging'. Usually consists of less loans and more grants.

Interesting Course: all freshmen and sophomores take Western Civ I and II but it does not sound like the usual history course! 80 students meet 5 days/week with 5 teachers (English, history, philosophy) and on Fridays students break up into smaller seminars of 20 each. Another interesting course: professors often lead one-week trips to Rome, New Orleans, Paris.

Campus: the neighborhood surrounding PC is much like Cheverus: residential homes like Ocean Ave, 3 story multi-family homes like Washington Ave. The campus is made up of 5-story brick buildings, lots of grassy quads, and a very walkable campus. No frats. Cleanest campus we saw all week. Students walking to classes appeared happy, fit, mostly white. 80% are Catholic. There are 50 Dominican Friars on campus; the Dominican order has its origins in Thomas Aquinas. The "Friar's Club" are an elite student group that give tours, assist at hockey games. They wear a notable white wool blazer; very classy.

I would consider PC to be medium-sized at 4,000 students. Popular majors are business (25%), education, bio, political science, English. I was struck by how friendly and happy the students appear on campus, walking to class, in the library, in the dorms.

Athletics: D1 athletics garner lots of support and school spirit. One great thing about attending a D1 school is that even if you're not on varsity, often the intramural program is popular, fun and competitive. Intramurals has a turf field on campus. The mens basketball team plays at the Dunkin Donuts center downtown. Students  pay $7 per ticket.

Admissions: Dean of Admissions Christopher Lydon made a stunning revelation: some students do not fill out the PC Supplement to the Common App, or they may partially fill it out! Specifically, he notes students don't write a compelling answer to "Why Providence?" He notes those apps are easy to send to the reject pile right away. This year's 50% admit rate was their lowest in history. Have friends at PC? The admit rate just 3 years ago was 71%! They look carefully at "strength of curriculum" which means did you take challenging classes if they were available at your school?(honors, AP) This year's accepted students had a 3.6 (A-), and a fourth year of science, foreign language, and math. Bio majors need math beyond pre-calc. They DO NOT count contacts; this is not a demonstrated interest college. They do appreciate when you write the optional essay, which he describes as something applicants should always seize upon to demonstrate who you are. About half answered it. Take the time to do so!  Extra-curriculars? Providence is interested in your depth of involvement, not how many clubs you join. The admit rates for Early Action are higher. Class rank is not very important, as less than half of the high schools report it.

Cross Apps: students who apply to PC usually apply to Trinity, Bucknell, Richmond, Lafayette, Lehigh, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, UMass, UNH, UCONN, BC and Marquette, Fordham, Stonehill, Villanova, Loyola MD, Holy Cross, Fairfield.

Finances: $57,000. They transferred some merit money to need-based money. They do not meet 100% of need, except for students of color. SATs are not needed for merit money.

Student Panel Discussion:
  • Political science/Spanish major from Ohio. Conducted research sophomore year that her professor suggested she present at a national conference.
  • Political Science/Theology major from Toronto who spoke about his internship as a public defender in a court. He was also a Congressional affairs intern on Capitol Hill for a paid internship.
  • Spanish major who went to Spain to study abroad one summer. He said 'students regret it if they don't take the chance to do study abroad'.
  • A student who designed her own major: social work/elementary education/community service. She is from Washington state and noted the first month of freshman year was so hard to get used to, but she stuck it out, got involved in one club, and grew to love college life.
  • a senior finance major from NJ who has a job with UBS Wealth Management. She begins her job in July and rotates around UBS to learn lots of different roles. Alumni helped her get the job, and she says reading the Wall Street Journal as required by several courses at Providence really helped: you had to be ready to discuss issues and events in class. She grades the food B+. (her story was remarkable considering the 2009 global economic crisis)
  • A boy from NJ who is in the Honors program, a humanities and theology major. He described the Western Civ class: 90 students with 4 professors (philosophy, theology, literature and history) in the year-long course. They met in the lecture hall and then broke up into smaller seminars of 25 students for an hour. One major topic was the relationship between T.S. Eliot an WWI.
Rhode Island College (90% of students are from RI) Bottom Line: $30,000 for out-of-state tuition, room & board. The down side is that only 10% of the students come from out of state, so they are the only ones in the dorms. Mainly a commuter school. They do have a strong music, theatre and dance department. The Chamber Singers performed for our group, as did a flute player.

Rhode Island School of Design (degrees in industrial design, architecture, photography, furniture design, film/animation/video) I spent a few hours in their museum and was thrilled to see Monet, Jackson Pollock, Renoir, and Mamet! You'll need a portfolio of 12-20 original pieces of your best artwork to apply to RISD. Admissions says they are looking for a B+ student with 600 on each SAT.

Roger Williams University (welcomes B- Cheverus applicants; most are from out-of-state; medium-sized at 4,400 students).

I did not know RWU had the following majors: architecture, marine science, historic preservation. We toured the 'wet lab' where bay water is piped in for research purposes. RWU students breed clownfish - the cute red and white stripped fish like Nemo. We toured the campus with a political science major who also applied to Suffolk, Syracuse, Hartwick & Quinnipiac. Most students are from Mass and CT, then NY and NJ. Students answered questions and reported they also applied to Stonehill, Merrimack, Western New England College, Wheaton, Northeastern, UMass, UNH, URI. Students came to RWU because they wanted small classes and received good financial aid awards.

The campus is in a neighborhood a lot like Cheverus: suburban, lots of grassy areas, right on the bay. Students like the small classes, 65 clubs, D3 sports, their pool and fitness center. It is a 25 minute drive to Providence. Some dorms are dry (no alcohol). One student attended the summer architecture academy before she applied to RWU and loved it. The tricky part of the architecture major is preparing a portfolio for admission: 8-10 original pieces of art that show your creativity.

For admission into architecture, business and engineering, you'll need a 3.5 and 1170 on 2 SATs. For all other programs, you'll need a 3.0 and 1090 SATs.

Cheverus connections: Darby R '13, Alex L and MK S '14.

Salve Regina University (lots of Cheverus applicants; small population of 2,200 students; good for B+ student and higher; Catholic). What a location! Right on the water, SRU converted Newport mansions into classrooms, offices and dorms. I thought the students on campus were a lot like Cheverus students: friendly, positive, athletic, preppy. Newport is a fun coastal town, just a short walk from campus. The Sisters of Mercy run the school.

Admissions reports a 50% acceptance rate, mostly for B+ students and 1120 on 2 SATs. A campus improv group performed for over an hour and they were great!

I spoke with an admissions staffer who also has athletic recruiting experience. Best advice: contact a coach if you think you may be interested in trying out for their college team. Their sailing team is D1 and I saw them 'practicing' on the water as we drove into Newport.

Faculty Panel:
  • French Professor who spoke about the increasing service work and cooperation with area Episcopals, a predominant religion in the area.
  • Cultural & Historic Preservation professor: a unique major that's hard to find. He combines history and archaeology to move beyond just studying mansions. There is 300 years of African American history in one neighborhood nearby that he is mapping with students in hopes of getting it on the Historic Register. The department has 2 full time professors and a new facility.
  • The Outreach Office spoke about improving relations between the town and the college. Freshmen are required to perform 10 hours of service in the town, organized by the college. The Outreach Office also organizes service trips to New orleans, and 25 students went during spring break 2009.
  • A biology/environ science professor who is an ecologist. Students are required to take 2 natural science classes and his goal is to connect Salve students to the local environment. Examples: beach and water research partnering with a local non profit; an enviro quality course is an upper level bio course with 14 students in the class who work on independent projects like duck habitat and stream quality. He love curious students.
08 Chevererians at Salve: Noelle L is a nursing major. Sophia M '09 and Alex R '09 attend. Alexander H '12.

University of Rhode Island (new 'forensic science' minor for Chem majors; large school at 12,000 students; NCAA D1 sports).
I ate lunch with a professor in the College of Environment & Life Sciences. That college alone has 20 majors like aquaculture & fishery technology, chemical oceanography, coastal & marine policy & management, environmental economics, ocean engineering, physics & physical oceanography. Interesting options! URI has 80 majors and 7 colleges.

Campus: matching limestone/gray brick buildings with green slate roofs surround a huge quad. Lots of open grassy areas, on a hill, with 4 story buildings (no highrises).  Dorms are standard issue: triples for freshman. New library, wireless campus, walkable.

Again, I saw students very similar to Cheverus students: friendly, positive, smiling. Half the students are from RI. Many live off campus at the nearby beach, making some guidebooks call it a "commuter school" but that is not true.

Admissions: Solid B student with 1112 on 2 sections of the sats. Four years of math preferred, and required for admission into business and engineering majors. Algebra II required of all applicants. Engineering applicants need chem and physics. Nursing is super competitive due to limited space, so apply early as it fills up quickly. Students also apply to UNH, Roger Williams, Salve, Bryant, Arizona State, Coastal Carolina, Merrimack, Quinnipiac, Marist.

Cheverian Ben G graduated from their Landscape Architecture program, and since it is not offered anywhere in the Maine state system, he qualified for the New England Tuition Break program, where he pays a little  more than in-state tuition, but nowhere near the $42,000 an out-of-state student spends. Very good program, if you are thinking of majoring in a unique program that Maine does not offer. Take advantage of it! I spoke with a URI pharmacy student from Windham,  ME. Another way to reduce your costs at URI is to apply well before the Dec 1 deadline for the Centennial Scholarship. That scholarship amount varies, up to full tuition. No separate application needed, but make sure to apply for admission well before the 12/1 deadline!

Cheverus connections: Tucker F '09 attends URI as an engineering student. Louis D, Lars M '11, Chris T '14, Jack F '16.

I also spoke with the following students:
  1. a political science major who transferred from Fordham to get out of the city.
  2. an economics major who will graduate on time (4 years) despite changing his major twice: history and business!
  3. a RI sophomore majoring in pharmacy was the recipient of a full tuition Centennial Scholarship.
links verified 4/2016