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Affordability, Diversity, and Variety: Bright Horizons College Coach Visits 3 SUNY Campuses

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Written by College Coach Guest Authoron May 18th, 2023

Bright Horizons College Coach occasionally features blog posts written by guest authors. You’ll find more information about each guest author in the About the Author section on the blog post.

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by Ryan Creps, former admissions officer at Brown University The State University of New York (SUNY) system is a network of public colleges and universities in New York state offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. With 64 campuses, SUNY is one of the largest university systems in the country. Its institutions are known for affordability, diversity, and strong academic programs, with many ranked among the best public colleges. In addition to maintaining low tuition prices, the SUNY system offers these other ways to help students and families save money:
  • During a two-week period in the fall, usually at the end of October, SUNY waives the application fees across its colleges and universities. Students can apply to up to five campuses for free—that’s a $250 savings for every applicant.
  • New York residents with household incomes of $125,000 or lower qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers the remaining costs of tuition after other state and federal grants, ensuring low- and moderate-income families can attend college tuition-free.
  • In 2022, SUNY announced that 22 of its campuses would match the flagship university in-state tuition prices for students from eight states: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Illinois, and California.
The diversity of institutions across the SUNY system makes it easy for students to find a college that fits their unique interests and needs. This spring, I ventured out to see three campuses that reflect institutional diversity and strength. My first stop was SUNY Geneseo, a small, residential liberal arts college located in the Finger Lakes region. Geneseo is renowned for its undergraduate teaching and engaged student body. With 51 academic programs to choose from, its 4,500 undergraduates don’t take a single class taught by a teaching assistant, and a median class size of 24 makes it easy for students to build relationships with faculty. Geneseo has built-in structures to help students apply their learning in real world situations. The Career Design Center helps students earn academic credit for internships related to their major and nearly a third of undergraduates study abroad, either through traditional semester programs or course-embedded travel during the winter intersession and spring break. My tour guide bragged that he was getting a private school education at a public school price. My next stop was Syracuse, New York, to visit SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), one of the only colleges in the country dedicated entirely to the study of the environment. ESF offers several environmental degrees, including Aquatic and Fisheries Science, Paper Engineering, and Wildlife Science. The college operates a second campus in the heart of Adirondack State Park, the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, offering students a seemingly unlimited number of opportunities to learn about the environment. If you have any interest in an environmental career, you must see this college. Some students may worry this experience could be too limiting, but I was impressed to hear about ESF’s long-standing partnership with Syracuse University, where students can take classes, participate in any of the 350+ SU clubs, and join the rabid student section to cheer on the Syracuse Orange football, basketball, and lacrosse teams. My final stop this spring was at the largest university in the SUNY system, and one of the state’s flagship institutions, the University of Buffalo (UB). UB has approximately 20,000 undergraduates yet maintains a low 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Its undergraduate and graduate programs stretch across three campuses, but underclassmen spend most of their time on North campus in the safe and quiet suburb of Amherst. With over 140 undergraduate degree options, including several dual degree options, there is truly something for everyone at UB. While the size of the university may intimidate some, nestled within this large university is an outstanding Honors College, which has graduated recent Marshall, Fulbright, and Goldwater scholars. Upon my visit, it was easy to see why UB continues to be a popular choice among prospective students. Geneseo, ESF, and Buffalo are examples of the strength and diversity of the SUNY system. Whether a New York resident or resident of one of the eight states where SUNY will match in-state tuition rates, you should consider adding a SUNY to your college list.

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