College of the Week: Alfred University in Alfred, NY

Each week, Mrs. Nilsen will provide insight into unique college options for learners and families. The source is the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019, an annual comprehensive catalog of diverse universities here in California and nationwide, Colleges That Change Lives, and 50 Colleges that Create Futures.

THIS WEEK: Alfred University in Alfred, NY

(CTCL and Fiske Guide)

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Enrollment: 1,600

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Strong Programs:  Ceramic Engineering, Art and Design, Psychology, Mechanical Engineering, Accounting, Marketing, Glass Engineering Science, and Renewable Energy Engineering.

DETAILS: Talk about an unusual combination: Alfred combines a nationally renowned and state-supported college of ceramics, a school of art and design, an engineering program, and a business school wrapped up in a university of 1,600 undergraduates.  

Alfred University isn’t a bustling academic factory; it’s a quiet, cloistered, self-described “educational village” in a tiny town wholly dedicated to the “industry of learning.”  The university boasts highly respected programs in art and design, as well as ceramic engineering. Innovation not only shapes the curriculum but also has a profound effect on campus life.  Small classes and friendly competition support this diversity while encouraging individuals to succeed. Along with being able to handle the academic rigors of the college, students also have to weather brutal winters that dump snow by the foot on the region.  

The university and its students share a no-nonsense approach to education.  Half of all requirements for a bachelor’s degree are earned in the liberal arts college.  Alfred, though private, is actually the “host” school for the New York State College of Ceramics, which comes with a public university price tag.  Ceramic engineering is the academic cornerstone and the program that brings Alfred international recognition. The School of Art and Design’s art department, with its programs in ceramics, glass, printmaking, sculpture, video, and teacher certification, is also highly regarded.  

Alfred students are “creative and like to be challenged,” says a business administration major.  One chief complaint of Alfred is the chilly, snowy weather. Social life is difficult due to the rural atmosphere and lack of Greek organizations, but the Student Activities Board brings many events to campus, including musicians, comedians, lecturers, and movies.  Alfred is a dry campus and students say the alcohol policy is largely respected and enforced in the dorms.

“Alfred  University will prepare you to go into the real world,” says a freshman.  Although small and somewhat secluded, Alfred University is a good choice for those students who want to concentrate on the ABCs of arts, business, and ceramic engineering – just be sure to bundle up for the long, snowy winters.