For students seeking a laid-back and friendly, but intellectually challenging and content rich college experience, Elmira College (EC) is the school they are looking for. Located in a small city in the south central area of New York State, this college has a tradition of scholarship and egalitarianism that will be attractive to many students seeking a quality small private college to attend.
The school was founded in 1855 and was the first college in the U.S. to offer bachelor’s degrees to women that were equivalent to the bachelor’s degrees given to men at that time. The college began offering degree programs to men after World War II and became a co-ed institution in 1969.
The college offers about 35 majors, which allow students to earn either a B.S. or a B.A. degree. The college also offers master’s degree programs in education-related fields and business management.
The college is known for its education and business programs, and those two majors, along with psychology, are the most popular fields of study on campus. Some of the colleges other programs may suffer from lack of resources because of the school’s small size.
The school’s small size can be beneficial in other ways, however. Class sizes are typically 20 students or fewer. Students also get a lot of one-on-one interaction with faculty that they wouldn’t get at other schools and the faculty advisement program is strong.
EC is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, which has been around for 100 years and accredits schools in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The association accredits both high schools and universities.
Elmira College is unique in that it offers a special six-week term in April and May each year. The courses taken during this mini-semester are usually not required courses for the major, but instead are courses aimed at educational enrichment. Many of these courses are study-abroad programs. One study abroad program allows education students to teach in England or the Bahamas during the spring term. The educators are very well-trained and sought after by schools looking for dedicated education professionals.
Public service is a key part of the college’s ethos. Students are required to complete career-related internships and perform community service. The students have contributed more than 300,000 hours of community service over 25 years, according to some estimates.
EC has a very extensive library for a college of its size. The Gannett-Tripp Library has more than 389,000 books and 855 periodicals, along with numerous computers for research and study use.
This school is very well-regarded, being ranked the No. 6 regional college in the north by U.S. News and World Report. The publication also gives the school very high marks for the value of education it provides compared to its tuition price. The Princeton Review also has good things to say about this college, ranking it as one of the 212 best colleges and universities in the northeast.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Application deadlines are in November for early decision and in March for regular admission. There is no transfer application deadline, and applications are reviewed as slots become open.
About 80 percent of students who apply to the college are accepted by admissions officials.
Elmira is selective regarding admission. The average high school GPA of a new students is around 3.35, the average SAT ranges around 1010 to 1130.
Prospective students are highly encouraged to set up a visit to the school before applying. Overnight visits can be arranged through the university’s admissions office.
The university does charge an application fee.
This school has a small, close-knit student body of less than 1,500 students. The rural setting, emphasis on tradition and small size predictably makes EC a fairly conservative school. The student population is essentially a go-along to get-along crowd and many form lifelong friendships there.
Most students are residents of New York state or come from other northeastern states. More than 70 percent of students are female, perhaps a lingering tradition of the school’s historic status as a women’s college. Close to 90 percent of the college is white, with minority populations making up only a sliver of the college’s student body.
All undergraduate students with a few exceptions are required to live on campus. In fact, more than 90 percent of students reside in campus housing.
There are no fraternities or sororities on the campus, but there are many student activities for students to participate in, including honor societies, pre-professional societies, religious and political groups and special interest groups like the Ultimate Frisbee club. The school has a vibrant arts and theatre program as well.
This college’s area offers a lot of outdoorsy fun for students, as the area is fairly bucolic. There are many lakes and other natural settings for students to enjoy. One particular attraction is the nearby National Soaring Museum, which houses the biggest collection of sailplanes in the world. The campus has ample recreational and exercise facilities, including a gymnasium, theatre, pool, fitness center and more.
For students interested in nightlife, popular hangouts include pubs and clubs such as the Branch, Horigan’s, and Patrick’s, which are within walking distance of the school.
The campus is very safe offering great lighting, security measures and an escort service to walk students anywhere on campus after dark. These services are much appreciated by students.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
This college is an NCAA Division III college and is part of the Eastern College Athletic Conference, as well as the Empire 8 Conference and United Volleyball Conference.
EC has teams in men’s and women’s basketball, cheerleading, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s volleyball. Junior varsity teams are offered in 10 sports to widen athletic opportunities for students.
The teams make a good showing in national championships. The college’s women’s ice hockey is very popular and well-respected and recently made an appearance in the NCAA semi-finals. In 2007, the women’s cheerleading team won a national championship. The men’s soccer team recently competed in Empire 8 playoffs.
These teams are nicknamed the Soaring Eagles and the school’s colors are purple and gold.
Being more than 150 years old, this college has a solid sense of its identity and traditions. The school has a connection to famed American author Mark Twain. Twain had a farmhouse near the college (now owned by the school) where he worked on many projects, including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
College tradition is drummed into students heads from the moment they set foot on campus. Students are expected to memorize and sing the school’s alma mater song at athletic and other events.
One quirky tradition is that its president swims across the college’s pond each year for the college’s “You Gotta Regatta” race.
As mentioned before, the college has a very strong tradition of public service, and many students participate in community outreach and other programs that go above and beyond what the college requires.
For an annual Mountain Day event, a fire truck picks up students and takes them to the college president’s home, where they serenade the residence with traditional Elmira songs until the president agrees to cancel classes and allows a free day for volleyball and picnics on the school lawns.
Additional School Information
It has been claimed that EC was a stop along the route of the Underground Railroad, a route that escaped slaves took to freedom prior to the U.S. Civil War. Some believe that the basement of Cowles Hall was a safe house for runaway slaves. W. Charles Barber, who wrote a history of the school, has debunked this theory.
It’s also widely claimed that the college’s Tompkins Hall is haunted. Students and faculty have often claimed to hear someone falling down the stairs.
Carrie Petersen earned her Bachelors of Science in Education and a Masters of School leadership at Northern Illinois University. Carrie likes to travel with her husband and two sons.