Elon University has made some changes in the five years since my daughter graduated from this beautiful, student-centered campus. Elon means “oak tree” in Hebrew, and important ceremonies take place under mature oak trees. At matriculation, each new Elon student is given an acorn; at commencement, each graduate leaves with an oak sapling. I love the symbolism!
Set on over 650 acres, Elon students choose from eight residential neighborhoods with 23 living-learning communities. (I will never get over my daughter’s sophomore-year dorm in the Oaks. Two girls, each with her own bedroom and bathroom, shared a living room, full kitchen, and laundry area.) There’s a two-year residential requirement, but plenty of off-campus housing is within walking distance to classes.
Speaking via webinar to over 100 IECA members, Evan Sprinkle, the new dean of undergraduate admissions, and Brittany Slaughter of admissions brought counselors up to date on what’s new and what’s important at Elon University. A major piece of construction should be completed by this fall 2022, when Elon will open its STEM-focused Innovation Quad, The IQ. Check out the “fly-over” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/rMQxzVfiBUM. According to elon.edu, it will foster “engineering and science, but also entrepreneurship, sales, design thinking, and analytics.”
After moving to the Common App, Elon saw their application volume up by 70%. There’s no worry about filling their incoming class; in fact, they’re slightly over goal. Though firmly rooted in North Carolina, of 6300 undergraduates, more than three-quarters are from outside the state. Many of those come from the Northeast, but Elon has added regional representatives for California and the Chicago area. Committed to improving diversity, Elon recently enrolled 20% from underrepresented groups.
Elon emphasizes experiential learning. To obtain a degree, students must have experiences in two of five categories: study abroad, internships, research, leadership, and service. Elon’s winter term, sandwiched between the traditional fall and spring semesters, allows students to stay on campus and engage in one in-depth course, to study abroad, or to engage in other forms of experiential learning. Generally, students take four courses each in fall and spring, one in the winter term. If a student takes advantage of it, winter term costs nothing extra, but over four years, they’ll have the equivalent of an extra semester of credits. Thirty-five percent are able to double-major.
The town of Elon is small and more suburban than rural, a short ride to Greensboro or the college-dense Raleigh-Durham area. The town of Burlington is a shopping and food mecca on Route 85, just five minutes from campus. Raleigh-Durham is popular with young professionals and may become more so; Facebook’s parent Meta is advertising to hire in Durham (https://raltoday.6amcity.com/meta-durham-nc/).
In a setting of over 650 acres of green spaces dotted by classic red brick buildings, Elon students choose from eight residential neighborhoods with 23 living-learning communities. (I will never get over my daughter’s sophomore-year dorm in the Oaks. Two girls, each with her own bedroom and bathroom, share a living room, full kitchen, and laundry area.) There’s a two-year residential requirement, but plenty of off-campus housing is within walking distance to classes.
Like many schools, Elon went test-optional in response to the pandemic. They just completed the second year of a three-year trial. Sprinkle said that in his opinion, they’ve seen no compelling reason to reinstate the testing requirement. Note, however, that for the direct-admit nursing program, you need at least 1100 on the SAT or 22 on the ACT.
Nursing, engineering, and business analytics are popular new majors. Elon University comprises five schools: Arts & Sciences, Business, Communications, Education, and Health Sciences. The majority of students are in Arts & Sciences and Business. Poets & Quants ranks Elon’s business school #35 in the nation, and communications ranks in the top 10% in numerous polls. Each school has the highest accreditation in its field.
Classes are capped at 33 but frequently remain below 20 because they are discussion based and writing intensive. Top majors are accounting, biology, psychology, and strategic communications. One interesting new major is dance science, a degree that could lead into physical therapy; another is music production. Elon also has the BFA degree for acting, music theater, and dance.
With a 4-year graduation rate of 78% and a 6-year rate of 85%, it’s surprising to me that they aren’t super-selective, with an acceptance rate of 72%. Retention rate is over 90%. (Compare those numbers to a similar-sized school, Case Western Reserve, with a 30% acceptance rate: 4-year graduation rate, 68%; 6-year, 84%; retention rate, 93%.) The national average graduation rate for all private institutions is 53% at four years and 65% at six.
When applying to Elon, you apply to the university as a whole, not to a major or college–except for nursing, which is a direct-admit program. For financial aid, you must complete both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.