College review by Lisa Bleich
As I sat in the gorgeous chapel with vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, a music student practiced on the organ. Spiritual music wafted throughout the building as Melody, our tour guide, described her journey to selecting a major. She came in as biology major, but feared it would be too hard so switched to psychology then to Spanish only to come full circle back to biology. She realized her passion for the body and how it works and knew that she loved biology and could succeed at PC in her quest to become a physician. She also described her experience participating in alternative spring breaks building homes with Habitat for Humanity and volunteering in orphanages in Ecuador. This type of journey epitomizes the PC experience.
Providence College is a pretty, self-contained campus about 10 minutes outside of downtown Providence. The Dominican Catholic tradition and liberal arts informs the curriculum and overall feel of the school. All students take 3 semesters of Western Civilization, a combination of philosophy, literature, theology, arts coupled with a fourth semester of a colloquium style class more tailored to their academic interests. The core sets the foundation for critical thinking that carries students through their four years at PC.
Students are clean cut, athletic, predominantly white and Catholic with a work hard/play hard mentality. Parietals restrict members of the opposite sex from visiting dorms past midnight during the week and 2 am on the weekend. There is no Greek life and they do enforce drinking laws among under age students.
Service also plays a big role in the social life. PC was the first college to offer a public and community service major which includes a very large experiential learning component. Students who choose this major often work for not-for-profits or go into public policy.
Providence competes in Division 1 sports and the athletic facilities are impressive. Athletes have their own facilities along with excellent academic support. Tutors travel with the teams. However, playing a sport is like having a double major, especially in season. Most athletes to not study abroad, but it is easier for students who play a fall sport to go in the spring.
Approximately 50% of students come from Catholic high schools. Students said that the Catholic influence on campus is as strong as a student wants it to be. There is mass every day, but the most popular are Sunday mass and the priest tailors the sermons to topics relevant to students. Campus ministry is also a very popular club on campus. Students are required to take two theology courses.
The Board of Planning (BOP) plans numerous activities for students. This month the following activities were available: movies, spring concert with the band, Avici, LGBT lecture on sports, trip to see the Pawsox, (Providence minor league baseball), a LGBT production of the Larimy Project, a play about Matthew Shepard, Feminist poetry reading, and Clam Jam party. Students also hang out in Providence and Thayer Street (around Brown) is only 5 minutes away. The area right around campus, however, is not very safe.
Top programs include business, science, pre-med, public and community service, and religion.
The students on the student panel were united by their intellectual curiosity and strong sense of community. Many said it just “felt” right when they came to Providence.
One student was a history major and business studies, music performance minor who wrote his senior thesis on the Iranian Revolution in 1979. He was headed to law school next year. Another student spoke about her growth as a person through her involvement in a variety of service learning opportunities that were integrated into her Public and Community Service major (one of the first of its kind.) She talked about how this major helped her figure out her strength as a systems thinker and solidified her desire to go into public policy work. She also learned how to think through the questions about what is community and what is service and how can they work together. The final student on the panel was majoring in English and Biology and he spoke about the excellent advising that he got to help him on his way to medical school.
Admissions read by territory. PC recalculates all GPAs looking at the 5 major academics as well as theology for students from Catholic high schools. Rigor and PC GPA are the most important factors for admission. They want to see students take Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and preferable a fourth science. They are test optional, so the personal statement essay and the most meaningful activity essay are critical. They want to see a match for PC. Leadership and letters of recommendation are also highly considered.
They do offer several merit aid awards at 80%, 60%, and 40% of tuition as well as a smaller $12,000 award and athletic scholarships.
Crossover schools include: Boston College, Villanova, Fairfield, Loyola, and Holy Cross.
Providence is a great school for students looking for a strong sense of community and want to combine faith with a good liberal arts education and D1 sports.