Update: Ramapo College of New Jersey
No state can have enough good public colleges. Fortunately for New Jersey residents, the Garden State has not only Rutgers, but also three smaller public colleges that graduate at least 60 percent of their freshmen within four years: Stockton University, in the southern part of the state; The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in the center, and Ramapo College of New Jersey to the North. I paid a visit to Ramapo’s April Open House to gather information for an update. I have also added new pictures to my Ramapo College Pinterest Page.
Founded as “New Jersey’s Public Liberal Arts College” in 1971, Ramapo is a mid-sized (5,600 undergraduates) residential college with an attractive hilltop campus. This college has a more flexible curriculum than much larger schools, and makes it easy for students, with few exceptions, to double major. Unlike larger public schools, it is relatively easy to enter Ramapo undecided on a major, outside of a popular, but highly competitive Nursing program.
It is also relatively easy to build a resume while a student through Career Pathways and either internships or cooperative education. This college offers more personalized career and academic advising as well as instruction for its students than they would find at TCNJ as well as the larger public colleges in the state. Ramapo also has some of the nicest residence halls, apartments and student oriented facilities that you will find at any public college of this size as well as many mid-sized private schools. It makes no sense to lease an apartment or house off campus. The surrounding community is quite well-to-do, and rentals are quite expensive.
However, over half of Ramapo’s incoming students come from a three-county region of Northern New Jersey. Between 25 and 30 percent of the freshmen, and about half of the full undergraduate student body, when transfer students are included, will opt to commute. Ramapo is also less of a “spirit and sports” school than other colleges that its New Jersey applicants consider such as Monmouth, Seton Hall, Rutgers and TCNJ. Greek social organizations live on campus. Members of different organizations are likely to share apartments or suites, as opposed to having their own houses at other colleges.
Unlike Rutgers-New Brunswick, Seton Hall and TCNJ, Ramapo does not border on a college-oriented downtown. Access to a car is necessary to take advantage of the many shopping and entertainment options on State Highway 17, except on Sunday, when blue laws, closing the stores, are in force. However, the college is also served by shuttles that take students to trains to New York City, and arranges for discounted fares.
There is much to like about Ramapo College of New Jersey: achievable admissions for students with B+ or better grades, affordability, academics and career development, the campus setting, residence life and access to New York City. All of these strengths combine, in my opinion, to make this school the best public college value in New Jersey, unless you are seeking geographic diversity or a spirit and sports culture among your classmates.
Report Card: Ramapo College of New Jersey
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A/B+
- Freshman Retention: B+
- Costs: A
- Curriculum: A
- Community: B+
- Comforts: A
- Connections: B+ (New Jersey/New York Metro Area)/C (Elsewhere)
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