by Paula Wheeler
One of the oldest nondenominational liberal arts colleges in the country, Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.) is known for an interdisciplinary approach and its balance of strong programs from liberal arts to engineering. In a recent presentation from students and administrators, we learned even more about what makes Union College unique!
- Interdisciplinary and forward-thinking academics. Union takes pride in being the nation’s first liberal arts college to offer an engineering degree (in 1845). That history is reflected in the college’s commitment to providing a well-rounded education to all students. With recently revised core curriculum requirements, Union now ensures that even liberal and fine arts majors will receive coursework in engineering and develop sought-after skills in data and technology. Meanwhile, the STEM students get broad exposure to the liberal arts. The core curriculum is intentionally designed to prepare students to think through complex questions around global challenges and social justice. Interdepartmental and double majors are the norm among students, and cross-disciplinary collaboration is embraced by faculty.
Union also continues to add programs of study that are in high demand, including digital studies, environmental policy, music technology, financial and actuarial math, and soon, civil and environmental engineering (thanks to a $51 million gift from outgoing Texas Instruments CEO Rich Templeton and his wife, Mary, both 1980 alumni).
- A priority on community. Every student and faculty member belongs to one of seven Minerva Houses, each with its own student-run governance and events budget (together, the Minervas host a collective 400 student-run events and activities each year). Living and socializing with your Minerva fosters relationships among students in all grades, majors and walks of life. Most students do live on campus all four years, and even commuters stick around on weekends for the prevalent social opportunities.
- A commitment to affordability. Understanding that cost can remain an obstacle to private college attendance for families who qualify for little or no need-based financial aid, Union in 2020 introduced its Making U Possible grant program. These grants go to families who apply for financial aid and have an estimated family contribution (as measured through the CSS Profile) of up to up to $96,000) and range from $20,000 to $35,000 depending on income and other factors.
It’s not surprising that applications to Union College were up by 1,000 more applications this admissions cycle! To learn more, visit www.union.edu.