Private Colleges of Greater Springfield

Springfield, Mass

Not only is Springfield, Massachusetts home to the game of basketball and now the world-renowned Basketball Hall of Fame, but there are a cluster of small liberal arts colleges and universities which I recently had the opportunity to visit.

Basketball Hall of FameOver the course of 2 ½ days, I experienced American International, Bay Path, Elms, Springfield and Western New England.

I got the feeling from students, faculty and deans that if you were a bold female student who was interested in the allied health fields, Bay Path might be just the place for you! The school has 2,191 students on three campuses, including 1,600 on their main suburban Longmeadow campus and is known as the “New American Women’s College.” Bay Path is home of the WELL (Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders) Program that meets yearly. New majors include neuroscience, a physician’s assistant program, biochemistry and a minor in creative and performing arts. Bay Path proudly points out that 75% of their student body are first generation college students. The school has a large endowment that comes from the Breck Shampoo family.

Next, we traveled to Springfield College, where the game of basketball was discovered by James Naismith in 1891. The school has a strong connection to the YMCA so their triangular logo that bears the words, “Mind, Body and Spirit” is very reminiscent of today’s YMCA logo.

The school has undergone tremendous building in the last ten years and true to its ties to the YMCA, the focus is on its School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation that includes Spa and Wellness Management, Personal Training, and Sport Performance. There will be a new program in Nutritional Sciences in the fall of 2013. I was surprised to see the strength in their School of Arts and Sciences that include gaming, web design, and education. Springfield College has 2400 undergraduates.

Elms College is located nearby in Chicopee, MA and is the only Catholic college in Western Massachusetts. Their buildings are charming and full of gorgeous stained glass, and some of them are still dorms for their 851 students. The Freshman retention rate is 85%, due to their very personal attention. The spirit of community service is tangible and social justice is the real deal here. To them selective means “they select us.” Students who want that “Cheers” feeling of everyone knowing your name will choose Elms. Criminal Justice is a new major joining the other most popular majors of Nursing, Social Work, and Education. It’s impressive for a student body this size to capture the men’s basketball and golf 2010 ECAC and NECC Championships. The women’s soccer team captured the 2011 NECC Championships.

The Yellow Jackets of American International College boast 22 Division II sports with Division I ice hockey. It is very unusual for a school of this size to have such a strong athletic program – 1,755 undergrads and 1,825 grad students totaling 3,600 students. American International is especially strong in the Health Sciences with programs in Nursing, OT and PT, and in Education with Masters in many aspects of Counseling and Educational Leadership. I had no idea it has the second longest running learning disability program in the country called “Supportive Learning Services.” The school participates in a “Smart Thinking” program that is 24-hour on-line tutoring. There is a large commuter population at this school to be aware of.

I was also pleased to see the growth in buildings and programs at Western New England University since I had last visited in 2001. Their 2,550 undergraduates are split 61% male to 39% female, very unusual numbers to be seen in recent years! You don’t normally see a school of this size have a College of Arts and Sciences, an AACSB-accredited Business School, and a School of Engineering. They have just welcomed their first professional class to the College of Pharmacy, with a new $40 million Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy. Each College has its own Career Center focused on graduates of the individual school. Worth taking a look at!