State University of New York: Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York
By EDWARD B. FISKE
Binghamton University offers a private-school experience at a public-school price, even for out-of-staters. With more than 250 clubs, over 600 study-abroad opportunities and an emphasis on small classes, it’s no wonder that students who apply here are also considering schools such as Cornell and New York University.
Binghamton offers an intellectually challenging environment with an emphasis on global experiences, including, area studies programs that focus on specific regions of the world and the unique Languages Across the Curriculum program.
Binghamton’s campus sits on 930 acres of open grassy space and includes a nature preserve, trails, fountains and a pond. The oldest buildings date from 1958, so the prevailing architectural style is modern and “functional.”. Four additional residence halls were completed in 2013. A new science building and renovated labs offer state-of-the-art facilities.
Binghamton students apply to one of the university’s five schools with undergraduate programs: the Decker School of Nursing, the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Community and Public Affairs, the School of Management and the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, named for the founder of IBM. A sixth unit, the Graduate School of Education, offers only graduate-level degrees. Regardless of the school they choose, students face the same general education requirements, which span five thematic areas: language and communication, creating a global vision, sciences and mathematics, aesthetics and humanities, and physical activity and wellness.
The School of Management is one of the university's five schools with undergraduate programs.
All undergraduates must complete one of the global interdependence courses offered in all departments as part of the effort to equip students with “a basic understanding of the complex dimensions of contemporary global issues.” Individual schools have developed their own international programs, such as a global-studies minor and a global-management concentration in the School of Management. Management is a popular major, and qualified students may submatriculate into Binghamton’s M.B.A. program to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years.
“Binghamton has an extraordinary school of management. Students that are accepted into the program are almost always guaranteed a job upon graduation,” says one student. Other popular choices include psychology, English, biology and engineering.
Professors receive high marks for classroom presentations and accessibility. “I’ve never taken a class with a professor that didn’t truly care about my progress as a student,” a student says.
Though only 10 percent of students come from outside New York. Binghamton’s student body is rather diverse by other measures: African-Americans make up 5 percent of the total, while Hispanics add 10 percent and Asian-Americans 14 percent.
Fifty-nine percent of Binghamton’s students live on campus.
“We have a community-style dorm system, where there are five neighborhoods or communities, each with four to six buildings,” one student says. “This makes connecting with others easy, and much more intimate.”
Students report feeling safe on university grounds. “We are staffed with university police officers that are actually New York state troopers. In addition, we use the blue light system and our campus gates close at midnight,” says one student.
When the weekend comes, Binghamton students know how to let off steam. “The social life at Binghamton is pretty evenly divided on and off campus,” notes a senior. “On campus offers student events sponsored by student clubs and organizations, as well as the Undergrounds, which hosts music groups, comedians, etc. Off campus, there is the downtown scene with the restaurants, art galleries and bars.”
Frat parties also occur off campus; 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women go Greek.
Binghamton itself is “far from the most exciting place on earth, but the community is still alive and has its own distinct pulse,” according to a bioengineering major. The downtown area offers some restaurants and bars, and “many students volunteer with local groups, such as food drives and mentoring children,” says a nursing major.
Popular road trips include Ithaca, for parties at Ithaca College and Cornell, as well as Syracuse, Cortland and Oneonta. Among annual campus traditions are the Passing of the Vegetables, to welcome winter, and Stepping on the Coat during the Spring Fling carnival, to celebrate the arrival of warm weather.
Binghamton teams compete in Division I, but the school doesn’t field a football squad. Intramurals attract more than 80 percent of the student body.
With a four-year graduation rate that is among the highest of any public university, Binghamton has a reputation for an excellent education at a reasonable price.
“Binghamton helps students meet the two ultimate goals that anyone should have when they graduate: relatively little debt and strong job or grad school prospects,” says a sophomore.
Adapted from Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016, © 2015 FGC Associates, LLC. Used by permission of Sourcebooks.
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