Information and insights gathered from visiting colleges.
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Thursday, April 26, 2018
Merrimack College is a private Roman Catholic college in the Augustinian tradition in North Andover, Massachusetts. It is a career-focused, personalized, success-driven college that wants to "make good students great."
What’s New – Merrimack College has made significant changes in recent years including the following:
Significant growth of undergraduate population (from 2259 in 2011 to about 3500)
Hired 17 new tenured track professors this school year
A successful 50 million dollar capital campaign
Switched from an undergraduate institution to a Masters-granting institution
New business building opened in Fall 2017
Invested heavily in academic and social support for students to increase retention and improve 4-year graduation rate
Addition of computer engineering major
Planned changes include:
Addition of nursing, physical therapy, chemical engineering and industrial engineering majors
Completion of a new building to house both the Welcome Center and the Career Development Center
Growth of the undergraduate population to 4000 students
Moving from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I.
Academics – The most popular majors are in Business (representing 30% of the school). Other popular majors are in Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Professions, Engineering, Education, Psychology and Security and Protective Services. There are also a number of 4+1 programs where the students can earn a Bachelors and Master’s degree in 5 years.
Some special academic activities and/or features are:
All freshmen get an iPad
All freshmen participate in the First Year Experience where they learn things like time management and study skills, identify their strengths, learn about the supports available at the college (e.g., tutoring, writing center, math center), and have diversity training.
There are six career advisors in each school and every freshmen meets with one in their first semester
There is a 2-day professional development retreat in Boston that lets 60 students work on their soft skills with alumni in the fall and in the spring. These include things like how to eat in a high-end restaurant.
There are two jobs/internship fairs a year. Forty companies recruit accounting and finance students in the fall. One hundred companies recruit students in all majors in the spring.
There are semester-long and short term study abroad opportunities based on student’s major and goals. There is also a semester of study available in Washington, DC for Political Science majors. Often study abroad incorporates service learning or an internship. Students can learn more about these opportunities at the fall and spring Global Education Fairs.
Business students get Bloomberg-certified as freshmen
The investment club is investing some of the college’s funds.
Campus – Merrimack College has a suburban campus which is less than an hour north Boston, not far from the New Hampshire border, and 45-minutes from the beach. The campus is over 200 acres. It is relatively flat with low-rise buildings, many of which are red brick.
Housing – 85% of students live on campus for the freshman year. Housing is guaranteed for four years and all students can have cars on campus.
Cohorts – There are many different cohorts at Merrimack. The more cohorts a student belongs to, the higher their retention rate. 70 – 80% of students are in at least one cohort. The different cohorts include:
Guided “undecided major” program
Honors program (top 7-10% of applicant pool) – These students can live in the Honors Living/Learning Community. They take 8 Honors classes and do a capstone project or social justice project.
Dean’s Forum is a program for those students who are academically just below the Honors program. They meet as a group monthly with a Dean.
Promise Program is a program for 140 freshmen who enter with a 2.5 – 2.6 GPA in high school. They receive weekly coaching.
Compass Program for 60 freshmen who enter with 2.0 – 2.2 GPA from high school; these students are provided with extra support in a structured program.
Phoenix Program is for those on academic probation.
Living/Learning Communities (LLC) – LLCs are intentional living arrangements where residents share common goals, engage in a common academic program and participate in experiential learning. There are 5 LLCs for freshmen and 2 for upper classmen.
Athletes – 620 students currently.
Extra-curricular activities – There are over 70 student organizations. Over 250 students who are doing community service in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a struggling mill town about five miles from campus. There is Greek life on campus. Currently, ice hockey is an NCAA Division I sport and the other school sports are NCAA Division II.
Some clubs and activities the students I met were involved in were: the Green Team, Student/Alumni Association, the Dance Team, Ambassadors, Orientation Leaders, Cross Country Track Club, Resident Assistant, Relay for Life, and Best Buddies.
Applying/Financial Aid – Merrimack Collegge accepts the Common Application. The average high school GPA of incoming students is 3.1. The college is test optional and there is no application fee. The application deadlines in 2017-2018 were 11/15 for Early Decision and Early Action I, 1/15 for Early Action II, and 2/15 for Regular Decision. 82% of applicants were accepted (fall 2016/fall 2017).
Students need to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for need-based aid. The college is need-aware and does not meet 100% of need. The college provided some form of financial aid to 99% of students in 2017-2018. Students get their financial aid package with their acceptance. Merit scholarships range between $6K and $21K.
There are sibling discounts for families with more than one student in a family attending Merrimack at the same time.
Moving In – Upperclassmen meet freshmen on move-in day and take their belongings to their dorm room.