Sacred Heart University
It was a beautiful, sunny April morning when we drove up to the Sacred Heart University campus in suburban Fairfield, CT. The compact campus has a “newer” feel with its low and mid-rise buildings. SHU was founded as a Catholic, commuter-college in 1964 and became a residential college only 20 years ago. Today it is primarily a residential university with 3,500 undergraduates.
There are four colleges that make up the university: Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Health Professions (which includes the competitive nursing and physical therapy programs). All students take a Common Core of courses their freshman year.
There is one main academic building on campus – a large, sprawling facility housing SHU academics, student union, dining facilities, theater and the student-run radio station. Most academics are taught in this building. The Cambridge Campus, just a five-minute shuttle ride away, houses the laboratory space for the College of Health Professions. Just east of the main campus is Oakview, home to the Isabelle Farmington College of Education as well as Graphic Design and Visual Arts and Fashion classes.
A large sign marks the future site of a new academic building to house the John F. Welch College of Business (named after the former GE chairman) and the department of Communication and Media Studies. This new-state-of-the-art facility will be a great addition to the campus and will also expand the feel of the school. The Business School offers many special perks for its students including etiquette dinners and free golf lessons at the neighboring golf course. SHU Business School students participate in the operations of the student run ice cream shop, gaining real life business experience.
Community service is a big focus on campus. Many students also participate in athletics, on-campus clubs and Greek life (there are 4 fraternities and 6 sororities on campus, but no Greek houses). Students are primarily from New England, NY, and NJ.
We met Eddie, a graduate student from Rockland, NY, who led the information session and spoke enthusiastically about his undergraduate and graduate experiences at Sacred Heart. Eddie, like 80% of SHU undergraduate students, took advantage of SHU’s internship and job database to land a summer internship in a NYC firm. SHU encourages, and in some cases requires, its students to gain relevant, practical work experience outside the classroom through internships (many of which are available in Fairfield County and NYC).
Our tour guide Adriana, a sophomore majoring in economics and finance from Rhode Island, plays club soccer and lacrosse. 30% of SHU students participate in athletics. SHU is a NCAA Division I school and has 31 varsity teams and 25 club teams. The football stadium is right on the campus making attendance at games very easy.
There are three mid-rise freshman dorms on campus. The dorms are coed by floor or wing. Students can expect to live in a double or triple their freshman year. The rooms are spacious and come with a micro-fridge and central air conditioning. Students told us that they met many of their friends in their freshman dorms. Juniors and seniors can live in the university owned apartments and townhouses or off-campus. Housing is guaranteed all four years. Students assured us that SHU is not a commuter school; students stay on campus or head into nearby Fairfield on the weekends.
Our last stop on the tour was the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, centrally located on the campus. Sacred Heart University is the second largest Catholic University in New England. SHU requires that all students take religion classes, however, they may fulfill this by studying various religions and philosophies. Although Mass is offered every day and popular with some students, attendance is optional.
The SHU shuttle runs frequent trips daily to downtown Fairfield, the Metro North train station, CVS, the local movie theater and other areas of interest. Students can take Metro North trains directly to NYC, about an hour ride. Students say having a car is not necessary. The town of Fairfield is very upscale with many restaurants and shops. The beach is also nearby.
SHU uses the Common Application and offers Early Decision and Regular Decision. SHU Admissions looks for students who have challenged themselves with an average GPA of 3.3. SHU is a test optional school, and of those reporting their SAT and ACT scores the average was 1100 and 24 respectively. We met with Leigh Weissman, one of SHU’s admissions counselors, who shared with us that a campus visit and interview is strongly encouraged for all students and demonstrated interest is very important. They track all interactions with prospective students and really want to get to know the applicants. All students are considered for merit aid with or without reported testing. SHU offers merit aid to a large percentage of its accepted students.
Sacred Heart is a good option for students who want small classes, are interested in the health professions or business, and desire a suburban campus that has easy access to NYC and Boston.
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825