College review by Beth Cassie
DeSales University is a Catholic university in the Lehigh Valley with a focus on hands-on learning. DeSales is relatively “new”, founded in 1964. The campus is a series of low-rise brick buildings sprinkled across a large, flat, open meadow.
They were putting the finishing touches on two sizeable statues of saints when we were visiting. 75% of students are Catholic and students are required to take one philosophy and two theology courses. Many students come from Catholic high schools.
Students come primarily from PA, NJ, NY, Maryland, and Delaware. The average GPA of admitted students is 3.2, and the average SAT is 1100 (they publish a minimum 1000, but they will take lower if recommended by interviewer).
Last year they accepted 72% of applicants. They also accept a large number of transfers and actively recruit transfers from community colleges. They award merit aid based on SAT and high school rank ranging from $4K to full tuition. Merit awards are given automatically, no separate application required.
1/3 of students study science, 1/3 performing arts, and 1/3 all other disciplines. There is a 3-2 Physicians Assistant BS/MA degree with excellent placement into local doctors’ offices. Natural sciences and nursing are popular majors as are the majors in the performing arts division (theater, dance, TV/film).
TV/film students start making movies right away so by graduation they have between 40 and 50 films under their belt. Auditions are required (after being admitted to the university) for dance and theater majors. Business majors have good opportunities to work with local businesses.
DIII athletics, 14 varsity sports (basketball and lacrosse are the strongest). DeSales competes in the Mid-Atlantic conference. 20% of students are varsity athletes and many others participate in club and intramural sports.
Students I spoke with chose DeSales for the nurturing, family environment. Many had come from Catholic high schools and wanted a small environment close to home.
One girl in particular was attracted to DeSales because she is highly religious (most of the other students discounted the religious element on campus). Many students have cars and use them to get off campus on the weekends. Dorm rooms are quite large and nicely designed as two doubles joined together by a private bath.
I visited DeSales in the morning and the campus seemed deserted. Closer to 11 am students were seen walking from the parking lot to class (our tour guide mentioned that some students drive from the dorms to the dining hall and to class).
I saw no spark of energy from the students on campus during my visit. While opportunities are available, there was not a lot of evidence that students were engaged in their academic and social activities. It seems like a very local school, with students who are interested in staying local. DeSales is a good option for local students interested in specific academic programs who do not seek a wider range of non-academic activities.
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034