Kean University is a mixed-bag of positives and negatives.
First off, the campus is attractive but, its surrounding location is unsuitable. Morris Ave is traffic hell (i got a red-light ticket because the traffic was so unpredictable) and the town seems a bit shady. It's definitely not ideal to commute here by car. All roads that lead to Kean are plagued with traffic issues and once you get here, parking is absolutely terrible. If you can commute by train, PLEASE do so. You'll save money in the long run and avoid having to use a car. Plus, it's EXTREMELY convenient since Union Station is literally a quarter-mile from campus. Tuition is pretty affordable, IF you commute and are in-state, that is but, just do scholarships and look into financial aid (try to avoid loans though).
Being a Graphic Design major, I had done a lot of research during my senior year of high school on the field and possible occupations. I also contacted Kean and their design department (Robert Busch School of Design) numerous times before even applying to get as much info about the school as I could. I will say that the school does focus a lot on image and the faculty will say what you want to hear in order to hook you in. My department sounded fantastic, they kinda ripped off the Rhode Island School of Design's name and named themselves the Robert Busch School of Design. Their primary faculty was composed of fairly well-known designers who had written design books and have had years of experience. However, those key faculty members are always busy and tend to not be on campus when you really need them. They're good people, just really busy (as most designers in the real world are...), leaving my department virtually, a ghost town. In terms of my personal experience, I'm not very comfortable with the prevalence of adjunct (read:part-time) professors. Some of my professors show up late and aren't as reliable a resource when it came to university matters since they aren't really tied to the school. So far, my professors are pretty great people; helpful and gave me some useful insight to the design world. They aren't really strict about anything, which can be misleading for those willing to take design seriously but, the thing is: they have to contend with varying skill levels so they aren't going to ask for too much out of their students (that's a tad unethical and plus, they're on payroll so take that for what you will) Also, don't try to take the easy way out. They provide a 4-year plan for their programs so, follow them as best as you can. You'll have to contend with 12-hour days due to long, studio classes but, don't be afraid of them. My professors usually let us out a bit earlier, they have lives too. If you already have a job, you might want to look into less hours if you want to alleviate stress during the semester OR you might want to look into a job that involves design-related knowledge/skills. Bottom line: Pull your own weight and try your best to over-do things as a design major. The career is all about connections and an understanding of good design, so do your part to develop a passion for it and stay updated on the latest design trends. Also, nobody ever actually tells you this but, save money for a MacBook Pro or a good laptop and Adobe CS or CC, and any other software you'll need. Plus, you'll need to buy various pencils, sketchpads, foamboards, etc. so SAVE UP for that stuff.
As for general education, it's been pretty simple so far. Freshman composition can be a bit demanding and spontaneous, even. But, if you're a good writer in high school and you actually like writing, you'll be fine. The Transition 2 Kean class varies for people. Some instructors take it seriously (mine does) and others don't really care. It's more of a pre-college college course; to get you to understand what to expect in college. It can be redundant if you already take school seriously but, its a nice break from the more content-focused classes.
Honestly, there is A LOT I would change about Kean if I had the power to. The Wenzhou-Kean campus (the campus in China) doesn't really benefit the school since it already has a bit of a poor reputation nor does the Kean-Ocean satellite campus. The school has to stretch its budget beyond its limits and you end up with lack of faculty or loss of classes. The school prides itself on the student-teacher ratio but, little do people know that that ratio is ungodly disproportionate. 15,000 students and a few hundred faculty members (most of which are probably part-time or constantly busy) It's a giant clusterf**k when it comes to advisement because the people you need aren't there when you need them and the student staff isn't exactly the most helpful or knowledgeable bunch. Most departments are terrible at responding to emails (i.e. student accounting, financial aid, etc.) which would be the ideal way of getting help since again, the unfavorable performance of on-campus staff. However, the school's not to blame entirely. With these kinds of conditions, you'd expect the students to adapt accordingly but, no. A lot of kids ask about parties or complain too much or don't take the initiative to better themselves so, it's really an issue on both sides. That's why Kean is what you make of it. Kean rides on the success of "unicorn" students like Manik Rathee, who worked for Obama's 2012 advertising campaign but, was a transfer student at Kean from Rutgers and most likely did more work outside of the school to get where he's at now.
- Decide on your major before you apply and don't change it, otherwise you're screwed.
- Do work related to your major, whether it's an internship or honing your craft, OUTSIDE of school; use Kean as a tool rather than a lifeline.
- DON'T DRIVE, traffic is terrible, parking is terrible; use the train if you commute and don't dorm if you want to save money, most disproportionate room and boarding fees I've ever seen compared to commuter tuition.
- Stay ahead of everything, always check your school email and KeanWISE account. Do scholarships and get a high GPA (3.0 or higher, definitely try higher) so you can get money and priority registration because class sizes are too freaking small and limited.
- School food sucks kinda, go to the coffee shop or bring food.
- Don't get absorbed by the propaganda; take Kean for what YOU will and not what they say they are.- Please, take college seriously. Please study and don't party and distract yourselves. Things can get annoying at Kean so, you're better off trying to do well in school rather than having the time of your life. The payoff is way better and the world doesn't seem to be ending too soon so, please just study.