On the Road with Betsy Woolf: By Land and By Sea

Boston colleges and universities

Massachusetts is lovely in September, especially when the thermometer reaches into the high 80s! That was the unusual weather earlier this month on a trip to Boston to attend the annual convention of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, popularly known in the industry as NACAC.

I took some time while at the conference to revisit a few area schools, and also to see a new one from the water, quite an unexpected way to tour a college or university but quite appropriate for Massachusetts. “One if by land, two, if by sea,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his ode, Paul Revere’s Ride.

At Tufts University, my first stop, in Medford, Massachusetts, right outside of Boston, I found a university looking to expand its enrollment and excited by its new Science and Engineering Complex. Tufts has also recently acquired the School of the Museum of Fine Arts located on the Fenway in Boston and now students can obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree or a five-year combined BFA and BA/BS degree.

A skedaddle through Boston traffic landed me at Northeastern University later that same afternoon. What had once been a brick and concrete campus was suddenly filled with green spaces and public art. Northeastern is also becoming a much more selective university than in the past, with most students applying via early action and regular decision, and most choosing to do the five year co-op plan rather than four.

The next day, it was the charter bus driver who had to wend his way from the Boston Convention Center at the city’s seaport to the suburbs of Waltham to visit Brandeis University and Bentley University. Although a school of only 3600 undergraduates, Brandeis is a major research institution, albeit one of the smallest, that attracts a student population that is predominately from outside New England and is also 21% international. There is a strong emphasis on this residential campus on social justice and creating positive change in the world.

The visit to Bentley University followed. Bentley is an institution that focuses on business but combines that study with a background in the arts and sciences. The campus is high tech, and hockey fans will be happy to hear that the school is renovating its hockey rink. Business ethics are important and the school is very proud that it houses seven Bloomberg terminals. The university has just launched a women’s leadership program.

Back in Boston, I boarded a boat in Boston Harbor, courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Boston. That’s the school that you see in the picture accompanying this blog. Traditionally a commuter school, UMass Boston boasts a waterfront location with a running path at the seawall, just next to the John F. Kennedy Library Presidential Library and Museum, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. An Integrated Sciences Complex opened in 2015; University Hall with classrooms, a café and lounge, and space for art, chemistry and the performing arts opened in 2016; and a new residence hall development is under construction with a planned opening in 2018.