Located just a stone’s throw from the state capital of Trenton, New Jersey, TCNJ exudes the ultimate collegiate ambiance and energy. With its classic Georgian Colonial architecture, wide brick pathways, and vibrant green lawns dotted with books and blankets on warm afternoons, visitors to campus might think that they’ve accidentally wandered onto the set of a quintessential college movie.
Growing up in suburbia, I’d always imagined myself cutting ties with my small-town past and reinventing myself as a big-city college girl, but my parents encouraged me to keep an open mind about TCNJ, a mid-sized school just about an hour from home. Initially, I only agreed to take a tour of TCNJ to rule it out, but as soon as I stepped foot on the campus, I grudgingly admitted that my parents were onto something. The campus, the residence halls, the academic programs…despite what I thought I had wanted, it all just seemed to fit. A second visit sealed the deal. Ultimately, I ended up applying Early Decision—and not applying anywhere else.
Long considered the college of choice for many of New Jersey’s best and brightest students, this in-state secret is out, and the rest of the nation is taking notice: TCNJ provides a world-class education at a public school price, even garnering the label of “the hot college” from The New York Times.
The college was established in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, the state’s first teacher training institute. In its first year, the school welcomed 15 students at its one-building Trenton campus. Today, nearly 7,000 graduate and undergraduate, full- and part-time students take a range of classes offered in seven schools on the college’s 289-acre campus.
The campus itself is a quiet oasis within bustling Ewing Township, closed to outside traffic and encircled by Metzger Drive, a two-mile loop popular with joggers, walkers, and bikers. An abundance of trees and the bordering Hillwood Lakes—Lake Sylva and Lake Ceva—give the campus a natural, pristine feel, despite its location in the heart of suburban New Jersey. There’s never a shortage of geese to feed, and at dusk, it’s not uncommon to see deer darting into the woods.
More than half of TCNJ students, and nearly all freshmen, choose to live on campus in an array of residence hall arrangements. Residential life at TCNJ goes far beyond simply sharing a bathroom or living space. On-campus living is heavily focused on communitybuilding, providing new students with a supportive and hospitable home away from home. Several days before upper-class students arrive and classes begin, incoming freshmen participate in Welcome Week, a whirlwind five days of floor-bonding and community-building activities, and an integral part of the college’s award-winning First Year Experience (FYE) program. Highlights include a local community-service project, volleyball tournaments,
T-shirt decorating, and PlayFair, best described as the biggest ice-breaker you’ll ever experience. (It’s not a bad idea to have a list of fun facts about yourself on hand.)
One of the first people you’ll meet during Welcome Week is your Community Advisor, or CA, an upper-class student who oversees your area of the residence hall. Your CA is your connection to campus resources, as well as a wealth of must-know information, such as which pizzeria will offer the most prompt delivery for your 2:00 A.M. study session. Think of your CA as the cool older sibling you never had. You’ll also get to know your floor’s College Ambassadors, typically identified by their striped rugby shirts and infectious enthusiasm. Your Ambassador will be your host—and get you excited—for a number of Welcome Week activities.
TCNJ’s Welcome Week really helped me to ease comfortably into college. I had plenty of time to get to know my roommates and neighbors, and to just allaround adjust to my new surroundings. I’d never in my life met so many people in such a short period of time! Thanks to events like PlayFair, I was able to extend my social circle beyond my freshman floor—and I can safely say that I’ve high-fived every single person in the Class of 2010. By the convocation ceremony, I knew I’d made some lifelong friends. Simply put, I had a great time at Welcome Week. Yeah, some of the activities were kind of cheesy, but I’m so glad I put any apprehension aside and threw myself into the unknown. Those first few days at TCNJ were an experience that I will always remember fondly.” —Caitlin Levins, Class of 2010
What’s in a Name?
Over the past 150 years, The College of New Jersey has evolved from a specialized teachers’ college to a comprehensive institution offering more than fifty undergraduate majors, and has experienced five name changes in the process:
- 1855—New Jersey State Normal School
- 1908—New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton
- 1929—New Jersey State Teachers College and State Normal School at Trenton
- 1937—New Jersey State Teachers College at Trenton
- 1958—Trenton State College
- The College of New Jersey Regardless of its name, one thing has remained constant at TCNJ since 1855: a commitment to academic excellence.
Though TCNJ students take their studies seriously, the fun and camaraderie don’t stop when classes begin. Throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to set aside the books for a bit and participate in a variety of school activities and Residence Life programming, such as bus trips to football games, on-campus comedy shows, and concerts from popular music acts, to name just a few options. And even though freshmen aren’t permitted to keep a car on campus, the free “Loop” bus offers service to local malls, movie theaters, and grocery stores several evenings a week.
With its impressive academics, active campus community, and bargain price, it’s no wonder that more than ninety-five percent of freshmen decide to continue their education at TCNJ beyond their first year.
With its pride in its humble Jersey roots and its rise to prominence on the national stage, perhaps TCNJ is the college equivalent of Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi. If you choose to attend TCNJ, you’ll be welcomed into a community of learners and friends, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in all aspects. Don’t be dissuaded by its size or its location—just remember that at TCNJ, you’re getting world-class, Ivy-caliber education at a public school price. Take advantage of all the academic, social, and professional developments that come your way, and a successful college career is guaranteed. Come graduation, you won’t believe the doors that will open for you with a TCNJ degree in hand.