On the Road with Betsy Woolf: Davidson College

A man was painting the admissions office, so my information session and tour of Davidson started in the well-appointed Student Union. It had been a long time since my last visit to campus, and I was happy to rediscover the college.

Davidson College has come a long way since its beginnings as a Presbyterian institution for men. Now secular, Davidson went co-ed in the ‘70s and has steadily increased its gender distribution to close to 50/50 now. The number of minority students has also increased to 26%, and the college is hoping to see those numbers rise, as well.

Davidson is a small liberal arts college with only 2000 students, but it is a Division I school with a lot of pride and spirit surrounding athletics, especially basketball, as the alma mater of Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry. So the school is a place for a student who, along with a spirited student body, desires a personal touch in education; who loves to learn; who is comfortable with a rigorous education; who places a premium on experiential learning and job shadowing; who champions the respect and collaboration that comes from a student-run Honor Code; and who wants to learn how to play flickerball! (Look it up on the school website or ask a Davidson student to explain the game.)

Forty percent of men are involved in Greek life and 75% of females participate in what the college refers to as eating houses. There isn’t rush for the houses; women just select their houses of interest in order of preference. My tour guide, a male student who did not go Greek, said that parties are open to all, and that he did not have to join a fraternity to enjoy the campus social life.

Students benefit from the proximity of Charlotte, a major banking center about 20 minutes away in which the college has partnerships with start ups and established companies, as well as the availability of outdoor pursuits. Davidson’s Lake campus, 110 acres of waterfront property on nearby Lake Norman, is a popular recreation spot and home to its sailing and crew teams. About 25 minutes away is the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

The town of Davidson is charming, with several blocks of restaurants and shops and a four-auditorium movie theater that features comfortable leather swivel chairs and bistro tables and an extensive concession menu. When I was in town, the movies were all first-run, recent releases.

Admission to Davidson is selective. Its overall acceptance rate is 20%. The middle 50% SAT range  is 650-730 for evidence-based reading and writing and 640-730 for math. The ACT middle is 30-33. The college superscores the SAT and the ACT.

My tour guide, a student from the Boston area, told me that there were plenty of students from the Northeast and Middle Atlantic States. In fact, 78% of students hail from outside North Carolina.  He especially liked the collaborative atmosphere of students on a campus where the first priority, as he noted several times, is academics.