Drew University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Drew was the perfect school for me. The intimate, (mostly) non-commuter campus gave me lots of friends to spend time with. The fact that it's a competetive academic school meant that most of my friends were academically supportive (no partying till morning if there was a mid term the next day!), and the majority of my classes (after the required freshman surveys, anyway :) were challenging and provoking. I met two really inspiring teachers on the campus, and they both happened to be in the English department, which is how I ended up an English major. I was worried about having the generic "English" major, but one professor, Robert Ready, (don't know if he's still there) encouraged me to apply for a graduate program in Creative Writing. I not only got into the program (which accepted six new students each year), but I received an Assistantship that covered my tuition and paid me a stipend to teach courses at my grad school. Since my goal was to get into education, I was very excited! Of my fellow students, I felt that I was one of the best prepared for the graduate school program - even though I was the youngest there.
The extracurricular activities at Drew were plentiful and it was fairly easy to start a new group if needed. I was able to do everything from bowl to take photographs for the newspaper to play chess and backgammon to take part in That Medieval Thing every spring. I was NEVER bored. And when I was applying for jobs that included writing, editing, and proposal-creating, it was often the skills I learned in my extracurriculars that gave me the edge.
I also remember being impressed by the staff my very first month at Drew. The administrative building (Mead Hall) burned to the ground something like two days before school started, and the staff somehow pulled everything together to have a successful Freshman Registration. It was pretty amazing, considering that all of the records had been housed in that building!
I used the career center both to get internships while I was in school (I got one at a literary agent's office in NYC that was absolutely my dream internship - Drew has a bus that leaves from the front gate and hits the city 45 minutes or so later, and there are a LOT of great opportunities - work-wise, learning-wise, and socially, if you're so inclined - in NYC!) and to learn how to write resumes. And let me tell you - I wrote very few resumes that did *not* get me interviews, even when I was only marginally qualified for the jobs! Those ladies really knew what they were doing. The center is small and it was never crowded when I was there, so the ladies in charge always gave me their full attention.
The school has a good reputation among those who have heard of it - which, at the time I went, was pretty regional. But Gov. Kean took over as President in my last year or two, and I've been amazed to see how prominent Drew is becoming. Just a couple of weeks ago, I heard on the news about a national (was it security council?) meeting held on the campus. They have preeminent people speaking there all the time now, thanks of course to President Kean's reputation and standing in the national arena. And the money that he's brought into the school, to contribute the new arts center, athletic center - I wish I could go to school there NOW, too.
Drew is an expensive school. But my other favored school was Princeton, whose tuition was similar, and Drew was definitely the scholarship choice (they gave me a scholarship for over half of my tuition cost, based solely on my SAT scores.) Plus, of course, they gave me my first laptop when I got there - it's included in the tuition. They've always been a school committed to technology. In fact, that's another way I was much better versed than my fellows when competing for jobs after school - I was completely comfortable with any and all software applications I encountered, with the internet (such that it was at the time), and computers in general. I was competing (again, this was 12 years ago - there have been gains on both sides now :) - against people who had used typewriters or word processors all through college. Drew's technology edge gave me a distinct advantage over darned near everybody.
Do I think a comparable academic education could be received elsewhere, for cheaper? Absolutely. My graduate school education was top-drawer, and that school's tuition measured in four digits, not five. Good teachers are everywhere, if you can find them. But I could never replace my total Drew experience anywhere else, I wouldn't want to. I have a seven month old son now, and I'm doing the frightening calculations to figure out how much I have to save to send HIM to Drew eighteen years from now, if he should choose to go there. (That was the internet search I was working on that led me to this site in the first place.)
FYI, I spent several years after graduate school working in corporate marketing, owned my own specialty retail business for two years, and taught full time for the past three years (a return to my original plan :). I am now home with my son full time, working as a teacher in one school and as a specialist in gifted education in another - on my own schedule.
One thing I wish I'd known? DON'T make working for someone else your goal - find a way to own your own business. Be a consultant, build a company, go for the gold - for money, for satisfaction, for being able to do what you love - it's the best way. Make friends with entrepreneurs, learn from their examples, find a niche, and fill it. While you're a student is the best time - SO many people will be willing to have an 'informational interview' with you - and those interviews are priceless.
Also - if going to Drew will put you up to your ears in debt, and you have another option that won't be nearly as taxing...DON'T go there. I couldn't tell you enough good things about this school, but avoid student debt AT ALL COSTS. IT WILL FOLLOW YOU FOR YEARS! You almost never make the money you think you will the first few years after college - and deferments and forebearances and all those loan things really build up your debt big time. A *little* debt to help - okay. Financing an entire tuition the size of Drew's - bad! Use judgment when making financial decisions like that. I didn't have to use financial aid for Drew, thanks to big scholarships and my parents - but I did use them for a few grad school classes later on, which were MUCH cheaper than Drew - and they're still following me around.
If you're considering Drew and have questions about it, I can answer any questions you have about my experience. Just email me. Thanks.