There are some things you can’t find out from a college’s website, and some things you won’t learn even on the official tour. Some things you learn when you spend a full day or more on campus, talking in-depth with deans, professors, students and residential life staff. This is just one of the reasons why we recommend quality college visits, rather than “drive-by” visits that don’t tell you much more than you learned from website photos.
During my 2-day visit to the University of New Hampshire, I learned that this is a place where the students, faculty and support staff come together in a community. Given that 60% of the 12,500 undergraduates here come from out of state, it’s not surprising that you can hear the importance of community in the stories they tell. Unlike many large public universities, 96% of first year students live on campus.
While school spirit is high at UNH, only about 5% of students are varsity athletes; this is not a Big 10 or SEC sports-type school experience. Instead, through the efforts of faculty and administrators, UNH focuses on both academic and student engagement in non-academic affairs. In a panel discussion with the Vice Provost for Student Life, I learned that these administrators are truly invested in student wellness and success. There’s an intense and intentional effort to link academic and non-academic life here; career counselors work with dormitory RAs to keep residential and academic units connected. This means that professors and residence life staff exchange information; if a student falls behind or stops coming to class, his/her RA is notified. No one falls through the cracks as UNH strives for high engagement, retention and graduation. The level of connection and concern is unique for a large flagship university.
At the same time, the Vice Provost told my counselor group, “we are providing them with resilience and accountability. We’re reality therapists. We attract students who want this type of approach.”
UNH Academic Highlights
Within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, all four engineering departments are ABET-accredited. Mechanical engineering is the most popular so UNH admits a limited number of students to this program. Ocean engineering is relatively new, but the program is incredibly strong, with 60-70% of students getting an internship in their sophomore year. Engineers can travel abroad and not get out of sync on their requirements. Most students do summer co-op or internships. The department of computer science has a maker space and an entrepreneurship lab.
The Paul College of Business is the only accredited business program in the state. Paul’s very strong first year program (check out the video on this page) gets students working in teams their first year, pushing them to work on presence and communication skills.
Within the College of Health and Human Services, 80% of students are required to do internships for accreditation purposes, but everyone as the opportunity to do them, and most do. With fully-functional health care simulation labs, students have a very high pass rate on the national exams for nursing and occupational therapy. There are several five year masters programs, including OT and social work.
There are 33 majors and four divisions within the College of Liberal Arts (humanities, social sciences, visual and performing arts). UNH encourages students to dual/double major.
UNH’s Honors program is for students who are looking for a more challenging academic program. It’s highly competitive – students had average SAT scores of 1390 (or ACT 29) AND they were in top 10% of their class. When here, honors students fulfill the same requirements as everyone else but at a higher level. Honors classes are primarily discussion-based, interactive and capped in size. Everyone has to do an honors thesis that involves research, producing an original contribution to their specific field of study. There is a priority dorm for honors students, but they are not required to live there. All honors students receive a Presidential scholarship of $10k per year, for four years.
All majors (not just honors) require a capstone project, which could be a thesis paper, team project, presentation or performance depending on the student’s major. Students on the panel that presented to my group said that UNH gave them flexibility, connection with peers and faculty and personalized attention that led to their academic success. The California student I encountered enjoyed studying history here, and told me he really enjoyed meeting Presidential candidates as they came through this first primary state.
A few interesting tidbits about UNH
UNH is a good place for students on the autism spectrum. With a student body that is generally more mature and more accepting, UNH provides an opportunity for students on the spectrum to get out of the box they have been placed in by peers in high school. They have had student body presidents and RAs who are autistic.
UNH students are very nice. “There’s aggressive door-holding on this campus,” according to faculty who have been there for decades. Students aren’t looking down at their phones. The combination of strong academics with the focus on learning real-life lessons makes UNH a wonderfully down-to-earth place to spend four years.
Admission is fairly straightforward at UNH; this is not a college that looks for reasons to reject students. Their simple approach is to identify students who have the capacity for success in the classroom. Most of the emphasis on a student’s high school record, paying attention to the rigor of courses; they do consider test scores but they are not a major part of the process.
The average GPA is an unweighted 3.5 for admitted students. The nursing program is more competitive, and GPAs are higher. If the admissions office thinks you aren’t quite prepared for the major you declare, they may offer you a different one. About a third of students enter officially undeclared but many more change majors and migrate between college divisions when they are here. It is entirely possible to not be admitted initially to the College of Engineering, but to enter after successfully completing your first year at UNH.
The University of New Hampshire is need-blind, which means they do not consider whether or not you apply for need-based financial aid in your admission decision, but the university does not meet full demonstrated need. Most aid is need-based but there are some merit scholarships for out of state students.
Evelyn visited UNH in April, 2017. You can scroll through the photos from her two-day visit below.