Widener University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Widener boasts about their 'online graduate program' they started in 2012 but in reality they use adobe connect to record and live stream the lectures. In practice the adjunct professors rarely knew how to utilize the technology and for the most part recorded lectures were hard to hear (due to instructors not recording sound, charging microphones, or just having the mic out of range of their mouth) or the lectures weren't recorded at all, again due to instructor error (not sharing screen, not pressing record, pausing recording and not unpausing) - for me this occurred more often than not, and most students I spoke to regarded this 'technology' as a disadvantage. In many of my classes the professors would take up at least the first 10-15 mins just to figure out the bugs in order to start the recording. On top of that the 2 hour and 40 min (once a week) lectures usually only lasted around 1 hour, with the exception of one professor who just preferred to keep talking, so you may pay for 2.5 hrs a week for 15ish weeks totaling 37.5 hrs but you'll only get about half that. Not to complain, but it tends to get old fast when you drive an hour to get to class, only to have it last 45 mins, just to turn around and do it again.
About the class material itself - I only had two classes where I actually learned material that required actual effort. Most of the time my graduate level classes (600 level courses) were combined with undergraduate senior classes (400 level courses) where I relearned things I was taught in undergrad. Widener only recently started doing this around about 2014 where they would combine graduate level and undergrad courses and say the graduate students would do extra work (such as a project/report) in order to differentiate the courses, but in the 5 courses I had which were combined I never did any extra work. In fact in 6 courses I didn't have a first assignment (homework, midterm, quiz, etc.) until about week 9 or 10 (not graded by week 9 or 10, given out by week 9 or 10, and typically given out because "the computer was asking me for midterm grades"). I only had one class where there was an in class midterm and/or final, all others were take home tests. In several classes I would half-ass a report/project because I knew the teacher didn't read it, I even called her an idiot in the report repeatedly and she never saw it. In another class (this one combined with undergrads) I had a disagreement with the teacher about my final grade because he never gave us our grades for anything (5 homeworks, 1 midterm, 1 project, 1 final, and class participation). When I asked to see the number value grade he gave me for each category he suddenly got dodgey and wouldn't respond to calls/emails until I cc'd the Dean, at which point he told me I would've had an A if not for my lack of class participation, (due to the fact that he couldn't put a face to my name, even though I sat right in front of him everyday). After much debate, he agreed to change my grade from a C+ to a A-, (he was also completely oblivious to the fact that as a grad student anything below a B- had to be repeated due to the fact that he had never taught grad students before).In conclusion, if you'd like to simply pay for a piece of paper and not have to do any work, go to Widener - it's a great place to waste your time, money, and brain cells. The teachers are glaringly incompetent (one teacher taught using a modeling program from 1995 and said it was the most up-to-date, when I personally knew from professional experience it was not), they couldn't care less if you actually do the assignments they give out, and if you're lucky they'll offer more than 2 graduate level courses each semester that are actually in your area of study. Oh and by the way, there aren't any advisers for grad students, so make sure the classes you take are for the correct program you're in and not what the degree audit in campus cruiser says, because that system hasn't been updated in 10 years! Of all the courses they list in their degree catalog very few are ever offered over the course of your graduate career, let alone each semester.
Academic rigor varies by department and professor, but overall I would rate the academic rigor as being on par with most colleges. There are exceptions to the rule of course, and these include professors on both extremes of the spectrum, from the undemanding to the "impossible to pass just drop the class now" type.
Freshmen dorms are awful. Tiny, dated, and cramped, most of the freshmen rooms would probably the violate the Geneva Convention standards for treatment of POWs. There's no air in them except for the Honors dorms. Other residence halls are mediocre, but by no means a nice place to live. Metropolitan Hall is the best you can get, if you are able to find enough roommates to occupy a suite. Can't speak for Greek housing, except to say that it exists. Dealing with Residence Life is a hassle, and it's my firm belief that this school's high acceptance rate contributes to the organizational problems plaguing Res Life. A new residence hall is being built within the next year, and believe me we need it. As for the actual dorm life, there isn't much going on. It's pretty boring to be honest.
If you want variety, healthy and balanced meals, and a staff that (at least pretends to) care, you won't find them at the dining hall on most days. Selection is very limited, especially for vegetarians and those on diets or otherwise committed to healthy eating. With rare exceptions, the food is either average or just plain awful. There is an effort in progress to negotiate with Aramark for better service, but I don't see that going anywhere. Other options include the Burger Studio for all your artery-clogging needs and Subway. Java City is spread throughout campus. There's talk of adding another franchise, but the question remains what and when.
Fun? What's fun? We don't have that here. Popular events are homecoming, Widener Relays, Greek Week, etc. Other than that, weekend offerings are few and far between. I'm not sure if it's the terrible planning that causes the pervasive climate of apathy I detect at this school, or vice versa. Want to have fun? Get a car, or a friend with a car. Go to Philly; it's a nice, active city, all things considered.
If you consider yourself heavily introverted, socially anxious, or otherwise find it difficult to make friends, I would strongly recommend you go somewhere else. The lack of diversity, low variety of engaging extracurriculars, and near total absence of fulfilling social life will only worsen these tendencies. Despite meeting plenty of kind and interesting people, I still feel unwelcome and isolated here. Some people, including myself, go home on most weekends if we live nearby. I would not even bother considering this university if you interests do not revolve around things such as sports and/or drinking, because honestly, that is what social life here revolves around. It is almost like an enlarged version of high school, complete with many of the same cliques and exclusive groupings. I cannot speak much about Greek Life, except to say that I have met some amazing people who are Greeks, and some not so amazing. Widener is not a school you go to if you are committed to being Greek. I'd argue that most small colleges are that way.
Ultimately, I can only recommend Widener if you are 1) local, 2) short on cash and have a good head on your shoulders, or 3) are interested in specialized programs such as nursing. You will get a decent (and in some fields, excellent) education here, and the university is generous in both financial aid and admissions standards, and is convenient if you are within commuting distance. I cannot in good faith recommend Widener University otherwise. Your money and time is better spent elsewhere.