By Julia Diament – Class of 2005
Those envisioning the quintessential New England learning institution, with its stately brick buildings, leaf-strewn common areas and mom-and-pop coffee shops, will not be disappointed by the University of New Hampshire. One lap around the main campus and the visitor is immediately struck by an abundance of old-meets-new – the 150-year-old liberal arts buildings face the modernized, glass-walled student union; the equine facilities on the outskirts of campus fall only a few hundred yards from the state-of-the-art Whittemore Center, where UNH’s famed Wildcat hockey team plays to packed crowds on cold winter nights. Virtually every aspect of UNH is an example of historic vs. modern, from the dorms to the classrooms and even the student body.
Campus: The UNH campus covers 1,100 acres, and its more than 15,000 students will likely tell you that it does indeed feel that large. The rolling hills and paved pathways through wooded areas, while beautiful, are not for the out-of-shape, and while the campus is generally very safe, some students feel a level of unease walking through the densely wooded areas following night classes. An active shuttle system does exist, but is not known for its timeliness. UNH takes pride in their stunning grounds, and the Diamond Library, in particular, is a beautiful, centrally located facility just begging students to sit down, plug in and work late into the night.
Student Life: As is true for much of the state of New Hampshire, UNH does have a predominantly Caucasian population (94%.) Among the negatives some students cite is the school’s homogenous nature – The vast majority of its students are white and of the mid-to-upper class. That being said, however, there are very few incidents of racial tension or other forms of discrimination. Students have coined the tongue-in-cheek “University of No Husbands” title due to the disparity in the student body between males and females.
Durham, New Hampshire is far from an urban hotspot, however those seeking more of a “city” feel are only 20 minutes from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a hopping town with great nightlife and, at one point, more bars and restaurants per capita than any city in the nation. Additionally, the campus is home to the Amtrak Downeaster train station, which can take students into nearby Boston in only 45 minutes.
The campus does have its own nightlife, however, like much of the school, it lacks diversity. Campus officials have done a great job of listening to student ideas regarding their on-campus dining options, and have won numerous related awards as a result. The implementation of a “Cat’s Cache” debit account was met with praise by the students, where participating businesses in Durham and surrounding towns accept a swipe of the card much in the same way as the standard meal plan – but with more options.
Academics: A land, sea and space grant university, the most popular majors at UNH include Business, Psychology, English, Biology and Political Science. As is common among larger schools, many of the freshman introductory lecture classes have several hundred students in them at a time. Class sizes tend to shrink substantially once general education requirements are met. Overall, students are satisfied with the faculty, although one commonly cited complaint is that some professors seem more invested in their research than their students.
Overall Impressions: With an acceptance rate near 70 percent, most students who considered UNH their second or third choice school are ultimately very satisfied with their decision to attend. UNH, while not among the Ivy League New England schools, does indeed offer the quintessential New England college experience, from its visually stunning campus to its high-level academics. Students seeking a large school in a smaller community will thrive here.