College review by Lisa Bleich and Beth Cassie

Beth and I visited Villanova University last week.  As we pulled up to campus, the grey stone buildings and pretty landscapes impressed us.  Of course it was another rainy day to complete my track record of visiting colleges in the rain!

We met with two admissions counselors, Brian and Melanie.  Brian was an alumnus of Villanova for both undergraduate and graduate school, so he has a great affinity for the school and is even getting married in the chapel later this year.  (Apparently not an uncommon occurrence among alums.)

Villanova offers a very generous Presidential scholarship, which covers everythingto approximately 18-22 of the top students in its incoming class. High school guidance counselors must nominate students for consideration and each high school is allowed to nominate up to 5 candidates.   The average profile of a Presidential scholar is >1400 SATs (CR and M) and a 3.8 unweighted GPA.  Consistent with Villanova’s Augustinian background, they look for students who can ask the big questions and find answers, are leaders in their community, and are compassionate.  There are also some smaller merit awards ranging from $3,800 to $7,500 per year.

The traits of community service and compassion are consistent with the overall student body at Villanova, which focuses more on collaboration than competitiveness.  While only 65% of students declare themselves as Roman Catholic, the underlying principles of compassionate service are a big part of the campus philosophy.

Villanova has excellent programs in Business (ranked 7th by US News and World Report), Nursing, Engineering, Communications, and the Sciences.  All of these programs are rooted in the liberal arts.  Students interested in business, engineering, or nursing must apply directly to the schools and be accepted, as it is very difficult to transfer into those schools.  (It is easy to transfer out of those schools though.)  Students can, however, minor in business.  The acceptance rate into business is 38% while the overall acceptance rate is 42%.

The average profile of an accepted student has a weighted GPA between 3.8-4.2 and SAT scores between 1340-1440 or ACTs with writing between 30-33.  (They do not superscore the ACTs, but do superscore the SATs.)

Me and Oby

There are some interesting interdisciplinary programs available, for example, Villanova communications and computer science students are collaborating on creating a website for the Vatican.  It is one of the only schools allowed behind the Vatican walls.

Students were in finals mode as we toured the campus with one of our former clients.  While there was not a lot activity outside, we did see many students hanging around the buildings chatting in anticipation of their exams.  Students were clean cut, preppy, and athletic.  75% of students participate in sports as well as community service.  Villanova is a DI school with basketball bringing a lot of school spirit to the school.  There is also a Greek system, however there are not houses on campus, providing an integrated social life.

Our tour guide, Oby, found students to be very collaborative and not cutthroat.  In fact, her roommate was going to help her prepare for her upcoming physics final.  She also found Villanova a good place for her to explore her own religious beliefs. She was part of the student led mass program and was enjoying the camaraderie of that experience.

About 30% of students go abroad, but it did not seem to be a major focus on campus.  The campus itself is quite long and narrow and there are plans to complete a major renovation of the campus over the next 5-10 years, starting with beautifying the walkway between the student center and the other end of campus.  There are also plans to build a performing arts center as that is currently lacking.  Students do participate in the arts through clubs, but there is no formal space to perform.

There are two train stations adjacent to campus.  One will take students into Philadelphia in 22 minutes and the other will take them to stops along the Main Line for shopping, restaurants, and such.

Villanova is a great university for students who want strong pre-professional options rooted in the liberal arts.  It is also a good environment for students who want access to a big city in a pretty environment.  Finally students who welcome the Augustinian philosophy of service and compassion will find Villanova a great school.

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