College 101: The Insider's Guide

Put down the phony college rankings book and get the inside scoop straight from students' mouths.

There are hundreds of important choices to make when searching for the right college. Stay close to home or venture out into the great wide open? Gear up for dormitory life or search for an apartment? In-state or out-of-state? Public or private?

One essential decision, though, is often on the minds of rising high-school students before the search even begins: the age-old debate between the small college town and the big urban center. For one reason or another, students tend to automatically gravitate toward a preference; some find themselves longing for all-encompassing academic hamlets like State College or Madison, and others yearn for an NYU or a Northwestern, wanting their campuses surrounded by city lights.

Pittsburgh has emerged as a leading force in higher education for many reasons—and in many ways. But to the teenager looking for the right fit and trapped in that debate—big city or small town?—Pittsburgh can ease the burden. It is, after all, a big city with a small-town heart.

Our friends at College Prowler give a crash course of vital info on local colleges and universities. College Prowler approaches the college search with a simple idea: Why not have the information come directly from current students? Hundreds of thousands of undergrads have weighed in at collegeprowler.com on all aspects of their higher education. For our College Issue, Prowler gave us a glimpse of campus life straight from the minds of students.

For more in-depth information, click "get the full scoop" after each school listing, or customize your college search based on your own criteria right now by visiting Pittsburgh magazine’s College Search, powered by College Prowler.
—Sean Collier, PM Associate Editor

California University of Pennsylvania

250 University Avenue; California, PA 15419; calu.edu

In-State Tuition: $6,240
Out-of-State Tuition: $9,984
Room & Board: Varies; room rates range $3,071-$4,480 per semester; meal plans range $1,281-$6,223
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $9,406 Financial Aid Website: calu.edu/financial-aid Full-Time Undergrads: 6,653
Part-Time Undergrads: 766
Average SAT Score: 1028 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Score: 22
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 46.5%
Similar Schools: Penn State, Pitt, WVU
Best Things: New Facilities; Powerhouse in Division III Sports; Dating Scene
Worst Things: Food; Parking; Small-Town Blues
Quoted: “I decided to come to California University because of the strong business program and the very nice atmosphere. The campus is beautiful and the professors are incredible. This school really makes you feel welcome.”

  Get the full scoop on Cal U

Carlow University

3333 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; carlow.edu

Tuition: $23,296
Room & Board: $9,256
Full-Time Undergrads: 1,067
Part-Time Undergrads: 773
Average SAT Range: 880-1070 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 18-23
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 65%
Similar Schools: Duquesne, Chatham, Pitt
Quoted: “I am a sophomore, and I have learned so much within the past two years. I have a clear understanding of
the expectations in my field of studies. I also have become a much better writer and thinker.”

Get the full scoop on Carlow

Carnegie Mellon University

5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; cmu.edu

Tuition: $43,160
Room & Board: $11,110
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $32,747
Full-Time Undergrads: 5,910
Part-Time Undergrads: 110
Average SAT Score: 1390 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Score: 31
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: 1/1/12
Overall Acceptance Rate: 33%
Similar Schools: Brown, Cornell, Northwestern
Best Things: Carnival; Diversity; On-Campus Plays and Movies
Worst Things: Bagpipes; Parking; the Meal Plan
Quoted: “The professors are incredibly helpful and always available to meet with students to help them with assignments
and understanding course material. The workload is heavy, but incredibly helpful.”

Get the full scoop on Carnegie Mellon

Chatham University

Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15232; chatham.edu

Tuition: $29,212
Room & Board: $9,476
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $24,487
Full-Time Undergrads: 672
Part-Time Undergrads: 40
Average SAT Score: 1070 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Score: 23
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling through 4/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 66%
Similar Schools: Drexel, Duquesne, Pitt
Best Things: Women’s College; Proximity to the City; Beautiful Dorms
Worst Things: Limited Class Offerings; Difficult Administration; Parking
Quoted: “Most professors know what they are doing and they really care about teaching students … I feel all professors are willing to talk and work with you if you have any problems.”

Get the full scoop on Chatham 

 

Community College of Allegheny County

800 Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233; ccac.edu

In-State Tuition: $2,720
Out-of-State Tuition: $7,642
Full-Time Undergrads: 8,957
Part-Time Undergrads: 11,749
Similar Schools: Duquesne, Penn State, Pitt
Quoted: “The programs offered are great. The tutoring and support from the staff is wonderful. I am very satisfied with the academic programs.”

Get the full scoop on CCAC
 

Community College of Beaver County

1 Campus Drive, Monaca, PA 15061; ccbc.edu

In-State Tuition: Beaver County Residents: $95/ credit; Other PA Residents: $190/credit
Out-of-State Tuition: $285/credit
Flat-Rate Tuition: All students pay flat rate of $1,425 for 12-18 credits
Full-Time Undergrads: 1,839
Part-Time Undergrads: 2,360
Similar Schools: Duquesne, Slippery Rock, Western Michigan
Quoted: “I never really had a bad experience here. The workload was manageable. I also took online classes, which were great.”

Get the full scoop on CCBC

Duquesne University

600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282; duq.edu

Tuition: $26,413
Room & Board: $9,806
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $21,312
Full-Time Undergrads: 5,572
Part-Time Undergrads: 239
Average SAT Score: 1129 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Score: 25
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: 7/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 77%
Similar Schools: Drexel, Penn State, Temple
Best Things: Small Class Sizes; Downtown Location; Academics
Worst Things: Parking; On-Campus Housing; Price of Tuition
Quoted: “My first year at Duquesne was an easy transition to college life. My classes were reasonably demanding, but profs were helpful, understanding … My advisor was also a valuable and friendly resource.”

Get the full scoop on Duquesne
 

Edinboro University

237 McNerny Highway, Edinboro, PA 16444; webs.edinboro.edu/welcome

In-State Tuition: $6,240
Out-of-State Tuition: $9,360
Room & Board: Room rates range $5,200-$7,400 per semester with a board rate of $2,868
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $6,241 without loans
Full-Time Undergrads: 6,043
Part-Time Undergrads: 797
Average SAT Range: 900-1100 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 19-24
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 75%
Similar Schools: Slippery Rock, Cal U, Clarion
Quoted: “I came to Edinboro University because it was close to home…it was one of the best choices I have ever made. I am in the Pre-Pharmacy major, and the professors encourage students to talk to them frequently either through e-mail or during their office hours.”

Get the full scoop on Edinboro

 

Gannon University

109 University Square, Erie, PA 16541; gannon.edu

Tuition: $24,980
Room & Board: $10,230
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $20,647
Full-Time Undergrads: 2,468
Part-Time Undergrads: 524
Average SAT Range: 910-1160 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 19-26
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 80.4%
Similar Schools: Drexel, Duquesne, Mercyhurst
Best Things: Professors, Campus Atmosphere, Small Class Sizes
Worst Things: Food Prices/Hours, Strictness in Residence Halls, Location
Quoted: “I love being at Gannon University for my program. Gannon specializes in small class sizes so it’s easy for me to receive help from my professors and peers. It also lets me get to know my peers who I’m going to be graduating with and seeing for the next few years.”

Get the full scoop on Gannon

Geneva College

3200 College Avenue, Beaver Falls, PA 15010; geneva.edu

Tuition: $23,330
Room & Board: $8,560
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $9,600
Undergrads: 1,320
Part-Time Undergrads: 39
Average SAT Range: 1390-1760 (out of 2400)
Average ACT Range: 21-28
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 80%
Similar Schools: Grove City, Pitt, La Roche
Best Things: Professors; Parking; Online Registration
Worst Things: Strict Residence Life Policies; Facilities; Small Student Body
Quoted: “The class sizes are generally small and the professors take time to interact one-on-one with students. In addition, our professors are vocal about their faith and try to integrate it into the classroom setting.”

Get the full scoop on Geneva

Grove City College

100 Campus Drive, Grove City, PA 16127; gcc.edu

Tuition: $13,598
Room & Board: $7,410
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $4,200
Full-Time Undergrads: 2,474
Part-Time Undergrads: 25
Average SAT Range: 1150-1345 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 25-30
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: 2/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 75%
Similar Schools: Geneva, Penn State, Pitt
Best Things: Low Tuition; Religious Life; Ice Cream
Worst Things: Lack of Diversity; Limited Meal Plans; Gossipy Student Body
Quoted: “The campus is beautiful, and the people are really helpful. The small class sizes help provide one-on-one question-and-answer time with the professors.”

Get the full scoop on Grove City
 

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

1011 South Drive, Indiana, PA 15705; iup.edu

In-State Tuition: $3,120
Out-of-State Tuition: $7,800, or $4,680 for qualified students
Room & Board: $3,355 for room, $1,261 for board
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $10,408
Undergrads: 11,932
Part-Time Undergrads: 895
Average SAT Score: 993 (out of 1600)
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling until 5/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 60.2%
Similar Schools: Penn State, Pitt, WVU Best Things: On- and Off-Campus Hangouts; Bands and Comics; Homecoming
Worst Things: Parking; Bad Weather; Scheduling Difficulties
Quoted: “The class size is small. The professors are extremely helpful outside of the classroom setting. The courses are challenging.”

Get the full scoop on IUP

 

La Roche College

9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237; laroche.edu

Tuition: $21,776
Room & Board: $8.916
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $20,016
Full-Time Undergrads: 984
Part-Time Undergrads: N/A
Average SAT Range: 1170-1510 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 17-22
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 68%
Similar Schools: Duquesne, Penn State, Pitt
Best Things: Safety, Small-School Community, Dorms with Bathrooms, Bookstore
Worst Things: Lack of Public Transportation, High Tuition
Quoted: “The academics are excellent—nothing is watered down, everything is relevant, and while the courses can be challenging, they prepare you well for whatever you want to do”

Get the full scoop on La Roche

Miami University (Ohio)

501 East High Street, Oxford, OH 45056; muohio.edu

In-State Tuition: $12,198
Out-of-State Tuition: $26,988
Room & Board: $10,640
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $6,083
Full-Time Undergrads: 16,501
Part-Time Undergrads: 971
Average SAT Range: 1090-1260 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 24-29
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: Postmarked 2/1/12
Overall Acceptance Rate: 79%
Similar Schools: Indiana, Ohio State, Ohio U
Best Things: Close-Knit Student Body, Professors, Beautiful Campus
Worst Things: Parking, Middle-of-Nowhere Isolation, Out-of-state Tuition
Quoted: “The professors present difficult material, but are very encouraging and are willing to work with you so everyone can succeed. Miami also has a wonderful study abroad program; they try to make it possible for every student to experience another country’s culture.”

Get the full scoop on Miami

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN 46556; nd.edu

Tuition: $41,420
Room & Board: $11,390
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $25,600
Full-Time Undergrads: 8,363
Part-Time Undergrads: N/A
Average SAT Range: 1380-1500 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 32-34
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: 5/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 29%
Similar Schools: Boston College, Cornell, Duke
Best Things: Campus Community; Fighting Irish Football; Classroom Experience
Worst Things: Weather; Parietals; Lack of Diversity
Quoted: “The academics are excellent. I have liked all of my teachers and enjoyed almost every class.”

Get the full scoop on Notre Dame
 

Ohio State University

154 W 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210; osu.edu

In-State Tuition: $9,711
Out-of-State Tuition: $24,759
Room & Board: $10,215
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $8,199 (in-state, full time)
Full-Time Undergrads: 45,127
Part-Time Undergrads: 4,642
Average SAT Range: 1180-1340 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 26-31
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: 2/1/12
Overall Acceptance Rate: 68%
Similar Schools: Ohio U, Penn State, Michigan
Best Things: Football; Michigan Week; The Oval
Worst Things: Parking; Unpredictable Weather; Football Riots
Quoted: “I chose Ohio State due to its outstanding academics and research options. Everyone is extremely nice and helpful. There are a plethora of resources available to all students for academic support, which are free of charge.”

Get the full scoop on Ohio State

 

Ohio University

One Park Place, Athens, OH 45701; ohio.edu

In-State Tuition: $9,870
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,834
Room & Board: $10,704
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $7,034
Full-Time Undergrads: 17,100
Part-Time Undergrads: 3,877
Average SAT Range: 1460-1810 (out of 2400)
Average ACT Range: 21-26
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: 2/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 85%
Similar Schools: Miami of Ohio, Ohio State, Cincinnati
Best Things: Parties on Court Street; Student Community; Nightlife
Worst Things: Parking; Exhausting Walks to Class; Constant Rain
Quoted: “The students may party hard, but they work twice as hard in the classroom. The academic aspect is very challenging and competitive… There is help all over campus for any type of problem.”

Get the full scoop on Ohio U
 

Pennsylvania State University

201 Old Main, University Park, 16802; psu.edu

In-State Tuition: $15,124
Out-of-State Tuition: $27,206
Room & Board: $8,740
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: Full-time freshman: $9,529; Full-time undergraduate: $10,124
Full-Time Undergrads: 37,347
Part-Time Undergrads: 1,247
Average SAT Score: 1188 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 26-30
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: Rolling, but recommend Nov. 30
Overall Acceptance Rate: 52%
Similar Schools: Delaware, Maryland, Michigan
Best Things: Social and Academic Life Are Equals; School Spirit; Football
Worst Things: Isolated Location; Parking; Frigid Winters
Quoted: “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Penn State. Everyone knows the school and it strikes envy in those who aren’t Penn Staters.”

Get the full scoop on Penn State

University of Pittsburgh

4277 Fifth Avenue, Alumni Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; pitt.edu

In-State Tuition: $15,272
Out-of-State Tuition: $24,680
Room & Board: $9,250
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $10,140
Full-Time Undergrads: 17,083
Part-Time Undergrads: 1,288
Average SAT Range: 1770-2090 (out of 2400)
Average ACT Range: 26-31
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 57.8%
Similar Schools: Penn State, Delaware, Maryland
Best Things: Thursday Nightlife; Class-Free Fridays; Football & Basketball
Worst Things: On-Campus Meals; Parking; Walking Up “Cardiac Hill”
Quoted: “I have been extremely impressed with the the education, especially in the sciences. My professors are ex- perts in their field and have had experience in laboratory settings. There are endless opportunities for internships in settings that will prepare you for your major.”

Get the full scoop on Pitt
 

Point Park University

201 Wood Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; pointpark.edu

Tuition: $22,900
Room & Board: $9,720
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $9,438
Full-Time Undergrads: 2,666
Part-Time Undergrads: 827
Average SAT Range: 1370-1700 (out of 2400)
Average ACT Range: 20-25
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: Rolling, begins Oct. 1
Overall Acceptance Rate: 74.2%
Similar Schools: Bryn Mawr, Duquesne, Pitt
Quoted: “I really like our program for Photojournalism. The professors have experience in this field, and aren’t just teaching it blindly. If you have any questions, you are expected to ask them right away, and receive help from any number of sources.”

Get the full scoop on Point Park

 

Robert Morris University

6001 University Boulevard, Moon Township, PA 15108; rmu.edu

Tuition: $23,015
Room & Board: $9,460
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $8,377; includes institutional aid only, need-based and merit
Full-Time Undergrads: 3,334
Part-Time Undergrads: 469
Average SAT Score: 1499 (out of 2400)
Average ACT Score: 22
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 79%
Similar Schools: Duquesne, Kent State, Penn State
Best Things: Academics; Athletics; Student Community
Worst Things: Cost of Tuition; Lack of Things to Do; Parking
Quoted: “When I had first come to Robert Morris University I was undecided, and I struggled for a while trying to figure what I wanted to do. I talked with a number of faculty and staff that pointed me in the right directions. I do not think that I would have a major if it weren’t for the staff and their expertise.”

Get the full scoop on Robert Morris
 

Seton Hill University

1 Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601; setonhill.edu

In-State Tuition: $13,827 per semester
Out-of-State Tuition: $13,827 per semester
Room & Board: $4,563-$5,695 per semester
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $18,900
Full-Time Undergrads: 1,519
Part-Time Undergrads: 289
Average SAT Range: 890-1130 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 19-26
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 67%
Similar Schools: Penn State, Pitt, Immaculata
Quoted: “The registration process is always very easy, and there are always people willing to help with any problems you could have. The professors are amazing.”

Get the full scoop on Seton Hill

Saint Vincent College

300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650; stvincent.edu

Tuition: $28,624 per year
Room & Board: $9,248
Full-Time Undergrads: 1,618
Part-Time Undergrads: 75
Average SAT Range: 1410-1760 (out of 2400)
Average ACT Range: N/A
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 74.6%
Similar Schools: Duquesne, Penn State, Robert Morris
Quoted: “The added benefit at Saint Vincent is the strong multi-disciplinary focus and the sense of community. Professors are available, classrooms are small, and classroom discussion is encouraged.”

Get the full scoop on Saint Vincent

Slippery Rock University

107 Old Main, Slippery Rock, PA 16057; sru.edu

In-State Tuition: $3,120 per semester
Out-of-State Tuition: $6,240 per semester
Room & Board: $3,176-$5,476
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $8,169
Full-Time Undergrads: 7,437
Part-Time Undergrads: 589
Average SAT Score: 1018 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 18-23
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: 5/1/12
Overall Acceptance Rate: 67.5%
Similar Schools: Grove City, Pitt, Siena
Best Things: Campus Community; Parties; Low Tuition
Worst Things: Lack of School Spirit; Weather; Local Police
Quoted: “[As] a transfer student, I have been very satisfied with my educational experience here at Slippery Rock. All the professors seem to be genuinely interested in their students.”

Get the full scoop on Slippery Rock

 

Thiel College

75 College Avenue, Greenville, PA 16125; thiel.edu

Tuition: $23,076
Room & Board: $9,652
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $18,448
Full-Time Undergrads: 1,062
Part-Time Undergrads: 57
Average SAT Range: 910-1110 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 19-24
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: Rolling
Overall Acceptance Rate: 71.7%
Similar Schools: Grove City, Penn State, Slippery Rock
Quoted: “Although Thiel College is a small school, it has a broad variety of majors…[and] it is easy to get a one-on-one experience with professors. With well-balanced workloads, classes become easier over time.”

Get the full scoop on Thiel

Washington and Jefferson College

60 South Lincoln Street, Washington, PA 15301; washjeff.edu

Tuition: $35,960
Room & Board: $9,560
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $24,185
Full-Time Undergrads: 1443
Part-Time Undergrads: 17
Average SAT Range: 1080-1210 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Range: 24-25
2011-2012 Regular Decision Date: 3/1/11
Overall Acceptance Rate: 38.9%
Similar Schools: Allegheny; Dickinson; Duquesne
Best Things: Professors; Study Abroad Opportunities; Parties
Worst Things: Location; Meal Plans; Aging Buildings
Quoted: “The Professors here…do not just care about teaching you a lesson on history or English, but on the potential that your life holds. I decided to come to W&J because I realized that I would be getting more than an education here. I would be getting an insight into how to become a well-equipped individual.”

Get the full scoop on W&J

West Virginia University

P.O. Box 6201, Morgantown, WV 26506; wvu.edu

In-State Tuition: $5,674
Tuition: $17,884
Room & Board: $8,142
Average Need-Based Financial Aid Package: $6,664
Full-Time Undergrads: 20,809
Part-Time Undergrads: 1,494
Average SAT Score: 1044 (out of 1600)
Average ACT Score: 23.6
2012-2013 Regular Decision Date: Rolling, processing applications begins Sep. 15
Overall Acceptance Rate: 86%
Similar Schools: James Madison, Pitt, Virginia Tech
Best Things: Parties; Football; Student Community
Worst Things: Traffic; Hilly Terrain; Campus Food
Quoted: “Teachers at WVU are very flexible … Majority of the teachers are down to earth and [easy to talk to.] If you need help they are always there.”

 Get the full scoop on WVU

 


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