On the Road with Betsy Woolf: Furman University

Wow! What a tour. The purpose, we were told, was to experience Furman University through two different tour guides, and we did. The first guide took us – just me and a mother and her son – on a walking tour of the main part of campus. The second tour guide chauffeured us to the outer reaches of the campus to see where students live, courtesy of a motorized cart. I spent a lot of time at Furman that day.

First of all, when Furman says it is only about 15 minutes outside of Greenville, South Carolina, that is true, although it feels like the spread-out campus is miles away from the city, nestled on a lake with forested lands on the other side. Greenville really is a city that has undergone a Renaissance, with a very scenic downtown that hosts new apartment buildings, a park with a waterfall, a minor league baseball stadium for a team affiliated with the Red Sox, and lots of stores and restaurants…some chains you’d know and others local to the area or to the Carolinas. There is also a minor league hockey team and a number of museums (a new one for music is scheduled to open this spring). There is a trail that runs past campus between Greenville and another town called Travelers Rest. Really! That’s the name. Students can bike or hike between the two – or take a shuttle on the weekends.

Although the student population is only 2800, Furman is a Division I school that also features a golf course. The campus is 100% residential and there is a sustainability area where students live that lifestyle. Around half the student population are involved in Greek life, and there even are two secret societies, one for women and one for men, and an actual Buddhist Temple from Japan. Around two-thirds of students participate in community service, and 81% engage in student research. Internships are vetted by the administration to be project-based.  The university was originally affiliated with the Baptist movement, but no longer. However one of my tour guides said that the Catholic Sunday night mass is popular but noted that there is also a non-denominational service.  When I asked her to tell me how she would rate the student body on a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most liberal, her answer was 4/5 coming in but 6/7 by the time they graduate. Southern, to be sure, which also means friendly and polite, as a large number of students hail from the Southeast.

Furman is test optional, and about 20% of students do not submit scores. A Common Application school, Furman offers Early Decision, Early Action and Regular Decision deadlines. The middle 50% ACT is 26-31, and the SAT is 1220-1440.