Renewed Impressions: Drew University (NJ)

Drew University is the only National Liberal Arts College in New Jersey. The school is advancing to become more like the best of the Colleges That Change Lives, a small (1,500 undergraduate) school that is not super-selective, but offers most of the same opportunities as super-selective schools for the students who are willing to work for them. I had been to Drew three years ago. However, there are Renewed Impressions to report as well as updates to the Drew Pinterest page. The picture shared here was taken during my prior visit to the campus called “The Forest.”

With the exception of Barnard, an extremely selective, all-female school in Manhattan, there is no other liberal arts college in the US that has easier access to New York City than Drew. The university leverages access to the city as well as Northern New Jersey to provide connections to internships, eight-credit semester programs and opportunities to meet alumni and knock on doors to find a job after graduation. There are six New York semester programs offered to Drew students who attend classes in the city twice a week and visit with potential employers.

Drew offers Drew offers 31 majors and 23 minors. Nearly all of them would be considered liberal arts subjects, with the possible exceptions of the Business major as well as the minors in Arts Administration, Museology, Photography and Public Health. The university complements the majors nicely with six New York semester programs, internships and study abroad.

Approximately one-fifth of Drew students major in the sciences. The very best are selected as RISE Associates. RISE, which stands for Research Institute Scientists Emeriti, pairs scientists, faculty fellows who have retired from corporate settings with promising students in the sciences on research projects of mutual interest. One RISE scientist, Dr. William Campbell, was the recipient of a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015. Drew’s theatre program, which requires no auditions, is also impressive for a school of this size.

Recent results have been quite positive. Drew retained 87 percent of the students who entered as freshmen last year; past retention rates were consistently below 80 percent. Those who graduated in 2016 who took out loans owed less than $26,000, less than many resident students borrow to attend their home state university. Ninety-three percent of the Class of 2015 was either employed or enrolled full time in graduate school, law school or medical school. The university also concluded an $81 million fundraising campaign in 2016 in which more than half of the undergraduate alumni made a contribution.

It’s hard to call Drew an “up and coming” school when it has always been what it and where it is since 1861. It has always had a well forested campus located in a well-to-do community as well as a New York area alumni base that is a strong as many other schools with more notable names. It has offered the RISE program as well as the New York semester program at the United Nations for nearly four decades. But at the same time “up and coming” might be an appropriate label as the university attracts more students from outside the Garden State and becomes a more national school.

The Report Card: Drew University

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: C but short-term improvement is expected
  • Freshman Retention: A
  • Costs: B+
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B+
  • Comforts: B+
  • Connections: B+ New York area/C+ elsewhere

Check out my Renewed Impressions of Drew University!

Check out the Drew University Pinterest page!

Want to know more about Drew and other liberal arts colleges? Contact me at or call me at 609-406-0062.