Upon our arrival at The University of Redlands, a small liberal arts research university, we were greeted by two adorable English Bulldogs! Thurber, the official mascot of Redlands, and his successor, who is in training! Thurber, who was named for a past university president, is beloved by the campus community and enthusiastically presides over school events throughout the year.
The city of Redlands, with a population of 70,000 (just a bit smaller than Santa Monica), affords students the opportunity to be an active part of a small and supportive community. However, at the same time, they enjoy and take complete advantage of their superior Southern California location. They boast the ability to be at the beach, in the mountains, at the lake, or in the desert, all within an hour’s drive. That said, University of Redlands offers an extensive outdoor program with adventure trips throughout the year. Redlands’ 2,600 undergraduates have backpacking, mountain climbing, kayaking, surfing, hiking, and biking at their fingertips.
Housing is guaranteed all four years, and the majority of students tend to live on campus. Founded in 1907, Redlands has a beautiful campus. The residence halls surround a grassy, tree-lined central quad where students congregate. Some of the residence halls are quite unique – unlike any I have seen. They look like old Victorian houses with wrap-around porches. Very idyllic! There are also Greek houses on campus, but they are small, with room to accommodate only six to ten members. The fraternities and sororities are local organizations; 26% of the student body participates in Greek Life.
One of Redlands’ hallmark programs is The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. Started in 1960, this program is for the “out of the box” student who has multiple interests and passions. In close collaboration with faculty advisors, Johnston students create their own majors and chart their own academic course. It is definitely for independent thinkers and self-starters, and a separate application is required. About 200 students participate; they have the option of living in a common community but are not required to do so.
Redlands is a Division III school and takes pride in its athletic teams. Our tour guide, who was from a suburb of Chicago, had been a member of the swimming and water polo teams. He will graduate with a double major, and has managed to do all of this in four years – which he said is not unusual. There are 21 competitive varsity sports teams, and the women’s softball team has won the conference title for the past 10 years.
Redlands is not an academic pressure cooker; but ironically, has produced 14 Fulbright scholars in the past six years. Students have close working relationships with professors; the largest introductory class is 32, and the student faculty ratio is 14:1. Business is the most popular major, and 90% of accounting students graduate with jobs – a pretty impressive number. There is an overall 91% retention rate. The Academic Center for Learning Differences is there for support, but mostly accommodations are easily handled directly with the professors.
Redlands has the 2nd oldest accredited music school in the country. Its conservatory approach offers a Bachelor of Music or a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Music. They also offer a Master’s degree in Music. There are over 200 performances on campus each year and all students are welcome to participate.
Following a 4-4-1 schedule, students often use the May term as an opportunity to study abroad. Because of this, 90% of the student body is able to participate in an abroad experience. Tuition and financial aid both transfer.
All in all, there was a positive vibe on campus. Students were friendly and seemed happy. A little fewer than 60% of the students hail from California; 93% receive some sort of financial aid. Merit and talent awards are given, as well as need-based aid. As an institution, Redlands is generous. In fact, our tour guide chose Redlands largely because of the financial aid he and his brother both received. There is a holistic approach to admissions and they super-score the ACT. Interviews are welcomed but not mandatory. The average accepted GPA is 3.6.
Debbie and Suzie visited Redlands in January, 2015. You can see all of the photos from our visit to Redlands here.