First Impressions: University of the Sciences (USciences), Philadelphia PA
Philadelphia has one of the largest health care communities in the world, with many colleges that have launched many a career in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and more. The University of the Sciences (aka ‘USciences’) is one of the oldest schools in the nation with academic programs dedicated to the health sciences. Founded in 1821 as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, this was the first pharmacy school in the United States. I attended an Open House to gather First Impressions and found the university’s Flickr page online. That page will give you many impressions about life at the unique school.
There are two good reasons to choose USciences, aside from the Philadelphia location: academics and cost. The university offers more achievable admissions to health-related programs than many schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. USciences is also “resetting” its tuition and fees for 2018-19, down to $25,000, a decrease of approximately $15,000 from the current charges. This is going to be one of the best buys for the student who is strongly motivated towards the health professions.
This school is called USciences for good reason: virtually all of the majors are in either a health field or the sciences. Students must fulfill liberal arts requirements, as they would at a more traditional college. They can also minor in business, humanities or social sciences. Those who seek a pre-medical path, for example, have a more limited choice of majors than students who attend a traditional liberal arts college. It is quite common for these students to major outside of the sciences while completing the prerequisites for further education. For those who are sure that they want a major such as Biochemistry or Biology, but still have their sights set on becoming a doctor, the university reports that 94 percent of those who seek admission are accepted by an accredited US medical school.
But USciences might be a better school for the programs that it runs from the first year of the undergraduate curriculum through the last year of the graduate/professional phase of the education, than it is for a prospective dentist, doctor or osteopath, unless s/he can be admitted to one of the “early assurance” programs. USciences has well developed paths in areas such as Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy. The university also offers more flexibility for students who want to change health fields than a more traditional college.
USciences is very much about the academics, and less about the “creature comforts” and social scene found on campus at more traditional colleges and universities. The City of Philadelphia is the social campus; the race to the finish line for the degree becomes the bond by which students form their friendships. Students have a larger choice of clubs and organizations (more than 90)—they can even compete in scholarship varsity sports—than I expected for a school that has such rigorous academic programs.
A fifth of the 2,100 undergraduate students participate in social fraternities or sororities. This is one of the few schools that I recommend students consider them; they offer opportunities to bond for study groups as well a study breaks to explore Philadelphia. It’s easy to get around the city from campus; board the trolley line the crosses campus or the free bus at night to Drexel and Penn.
There are many college options for students who are motivated to enter the health professions. USciences allows them to experience them earlier than most other schools. Those who strongly believe that they “were meant to be” (insert health or medical profession), have the academic record, shadowing and volunteer experiences from high school to back it up, and ready for city life might prefer USciences to a more traditional college or university.
Report Card: University of the Sciences (USciences)
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: B+/B+
- Freshman Retention: B+
- Costs: A
- Curriculum: A
- Community: B+
- Comforts: B
- Connections: A
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