Rutgers College Visit Review

Rutgers University, New Brunswick College Visit Review by Lisa Bleich

In 2012 Rutgers began a decade long movement to improve their national reputation and rankings with the appointment of Robert Barchi as President.  To that end, they joined the Big Ten football league, initiated a major fundraising campaign among its alumni base, embarked on an extensive renovation of the campus and created the Honors College inclusive of a residential honors dorm.  I’ve visited the campus several times over the last decade and seen first hand the changes since 2012.

When I visited the Rutgers New Brunswick campus several years ago, I described it as immense, sprawling, disjointed, ethnically diverse, overwhelming, filled with opportunity, excellent academics, and a place where students need to take initiative.

After my most recent counselors day visit, I found that those characteristics still hold true, but I would add top notch Honors College, upgraded facilities, and excellent opportunities and mentorship for students who seek them out.

We started our counselor tour with an update of Rutgers then we gathered on the bus and were shuttled across the five residential campuses that could not have been more diverse. We had more in-depth visits to the Rutgers Honors College and Mason Gross Conservatory.

Build it and They Will Come (or Stay)

RU expanded and updated their facilities campus wide. The Livingston Campus underwent a two billion dollar renovation with the construction of a new school of Business, Nursing, and Public Policy. The recently opened up a diner and a host of other restaurants and shops on the Livingston campus to make it more active for students.

The Busch Campus opened the new Busch Engineering, Science and Technology dorm (B.E.S.T.). Pharmacy and Engineering students also have residential halls on this campus.

In downtown New Brunswick,  the College Avenue Campus where the College of Arts and Sciences resides, was bustling with the energy of a vibrant urban setting in parts and an upscale, artsy area on the other side around the theaters. There is quad area where students congregate during the warmer months and enjoy the setting. This also houses the new Honors College and residence hall, and new upperclassmen dorms.

The Cook and Douglas Campuses are more rural and secluded.  It’s great for animal lovers with its fully functioning farm.  Large livestock animal veterinarians is an up and coming field along with equine science.  Students have 100% acceptance into veterinary school from Rutgers.  Mason Gross and Arts and Sciences also have classes here.  Of note is the Douglas Residential College for Women (DRC) where female students get excellent support and funding for research.

Student Life

Our tour guide, Ashlyn hailed from NY.  A senior biology/psychology major with a minor in education, she was energetic and self motivated.   She advised getting involved immediately and that she did.  She served as a Scarlett Ambassador (tour guide), Resident Advisor, joined a coed music fraternity, was active in Hillel, theater and sang in an a cappella group.  All while finding time to study abroad and do research through a DRC grant.  

We met several other students through the panel, some had transferred into Rutgers and some had started as freshman, but the overarching message was, the more students get involved, the better the experience.  With over 500 clubs on campus, that’s easy to do!

Rutgers students are diverse and 20% come from out of state/international. (Up from 13% in 2011).  Admissions is making a concerted effort to increase the out of state population and has made inroads, especially in neighboring states who are attracted to their new Honors College.

Rutgers University General Admissions

Academically, 25 of Rutgers’ 100 majors are in the top 20% of their field. The school of Pharmacy is the most competitive. Students enter directly into the PharmD program and receive a doctorate after 6-7 years. The school of engineering is the next most competitive. Mason Gross is also highly competitive and requires an audition for admission. Rutgers also places a lot of emphasis on undergraduate research.

It’s important to put down a first and second choice school because if you are not admitted to your first choice school, you will have another opportunity to reapply at a later date.  If you only put down one school, you risk not getting accepted to any school.

Mason Gross

Mason Gross is a conservatory within Rutgers offering BFAs in music, dance (40 students per class), theater ((40 students per class) at the Mason Gross Campus and visual arts and filmmaking at the downtown campus.

It offers small classes (5:1 student teacher ratio) and small school feel (750 undergraduate students).  Admissions is heavily weighted on artistic components and judged by faculty.  


The 3rd year actors go to London  year to study the Meisner Technique at the Globe Stage whereas design students go for a semester.  Mason Gross theater students graduate in 3.5 years which allows them to showcase students to casting directors in January to help them stand out and align with when film pilots are being cast.

Students can get a BA in theater (part of arts and sciences, no audition) or a BFA (part of Mason Gross, requires audition.)

Dance (40 students): contemporary/modern focus

  • All students take ballet and modern every day (BFA), BA (3 days per week take classes)
  • Choreography focus
  • Dancers in residency from NY

Visual Arts

  • Painting, drawing, print making

Design (80 students each year)

  • Communication design
  • Graphic design

Students participate in numerous internships at galleries or magazines.  Half of them have Guggenheim Fellowship.

Filmmaking (25 students)

  • Students interested in making films at large. Wide range.
  • Equipment and story telling provides you with tools to do all sorts of films.


Talent drives admissions, more than grades or the number of AP Classes.  Faculty look first at audition or portfolio and then academics.  Below are some tips to prepare for the audition.

  • Students who have done these competitive summer programs are more comfortable auditioning.
  • Faculty look at both experience and potential.  Where can they get them?  Will give them corrections to see how they can handle corrections.  Important to be able to take the corrections and criticisms and implement them immediately.  Are they teachable?


Rutgers’ size is both a positive and a negative. For students who are not afraid to speak up and seize opportunities, Rutgers will provide a wonderfully diverse, exciting, real-world environment. However, for students who get easily overwhelmed, they may feel lost.  However, the message is loud and clear that Rutgers is doing what they can to keep up their fine reputation as an excellent academic and research university. All over campus, you can see the signs that say NJ Roots, Global Appeal.

Contact RU-info at 732-445-info (4636)

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