College Road Trip-The Actual Event: Syracuse University

A funny thing happened on the way to planning this trip….one of the other guys made a suggestion. Seriously, I have been planning trips for so long that it is appreciated but highly unusual when one of the people coming with me actually offers not only “a” suggestion but a GREAT suggestion.

Back in phase 1 or 2 of this plan, my son Sam wanted to go to a small college with a good reputation in central New York State but when I contacted the inn on campus to arrange lodging, I was told that they would be on spring break the same week. While tours would still be given, there would be no students around and we know that we would miss the “energy” or “essence” you feel. Since one of Sam’s friends has been admitted and will be attending next fall, he can visit there later this year before application time.

That permitted one more school to be added to our itinerary.  SamE and Blake came over for a planning meeting and I listed about 10 schools between Boston and Buffalo that had good arts and science programs, as well as a school of engineering. It fell to Blake to evaluate them and select one to visit.  His decision electrified both Sams…and I made the arrangements to visit the Syracuse University.

We were joined by their friend Chandler and his parents who had been on their own college road trip and seemingly playing leapfrog with us with some college visits a day before or after us.  It made for a humorous introduction in our tour group, as 4 of the 6 students were from Huntington, West Virginia, not a typical response there

SamE immediately was happy to see interesting older architecture, including the Hogwarts-like building used by the performing arts program. Hall of Languages is the original building on campus.

Hall of Languages

Design elements also added to the interest.




It was also interesting noting that over time, two libraries had been superseded by newer construction. The first apparently was not planned well for the weight of the books and started to sink.  Repairs were made and it was used until a Carnegie library was built early in 20th Century.

Finally, a new library was built to modern standards with successively quiet floors as you rise, a typical system  used in many of the schools we visited.

In fact there were a number of older buildings on campus that no longer were in use as originally planned, such as this observatory located in front of the law school.

The quad in the center of the main campus is surrounded by the interdenominational chapel (we were told almost all religions have services, but if you need to go to a church in town, transportation will be provided),   the I School (information/computers etc), engineering and architecture attached together, and more.


A bit beyond the central quad, the Life Sciences building is huge and has a greenhouse on the roof.

I noticed that the use of space on this campus had been done carefully. Older buildings were spaced widely, with more modern structures scattered throughout. There appears to be room for additional construction as well.

There seemed to be more art around the campus, including the former mascot of the school, the Saltine Warrior.  We heard two separate versions why it was replaced, but the current mascot is a very popular Orange.

School spirit is very high. When we arrived in Syracuse the evening before our tour the guys went for a walk on campus. It was really quiet and they were wondering where everyone was when a massive roar was heard as the winning point was shot in the basketball game. People poured out of dorms and residence halls, shouting and dancing. On our tour the next morning, the woman said she had not been into sports when she started there, but she doubts anyone leaves Syracuse without being interested.

The Carrier Dome is huge, large enough for football to be played in climate control. Lacrosse and basketball also are played inside.  Built with ridges on the outside extending up to the roof line, the segments provide an acoustical chamber for the Dome Stomp. a jump that reverberates!

Guys from Huntington do the Dome Stomp well.

We could not go inside the Dome but a view through the door was enough to appreciate the size.  We were told that students sometimes camp out in the winter weather to be first in line for student seating.  Season tickets are sold at reasonable prices, but individual student tickets are available for free.

Freshmen live in dorms on Main campus but more apartment style and suite dorms are located on South campus, a 10 minute bus ride.  The South campus also has the sports facilities.  About 25% of the student population are involved in Greek Life, but the largest is the service fraternity.  The only flaw in the tour was that we did not visit a dorm. The university website provides a lot of information include room sizes and 360-degree views.

Following our tour and info session we ate lunch and chatted with some students. All seemed very pleased they had decided to attend Syracuse and believed that the education they were receiving would position them well in the work world.  We then split up, SamE heading over to the School of Business, Blake over to Engineering and Sam and I went to the Newhouse School of Communication. 

We attended a session which was very informative with the recruiter, Max Patino,  for the school.  One of the students attending is a high school senior. She had applied to Newhouse as her 1st choice and Arts and Science as her 2nd and was disappointed she had been accepted for A&S. Max gave her some advice on how to gain a transfer into Newhouse after completing her freshman year. Admission as a freshman is very competitive; Newhouse is currently ranked 3rd in the United States for communication programs. Transferring within the university is not as competitive and Max’s suggestions were helpful.

The tour covered the three parts of the building, describing the areas of study. We saw different classrooms and studios. The Resource Center was visited to show us how students can get leads for internships and jobs. Especially interesting were the walls lined with photos of Newhouse alumni with short bios indicating where they had worked since graduation. Many visit on a regular basis, providing advice and job opportunities, including NBC’s Bob Costas who regularly takes 40 students to help work at each Olympics. 

We left Syracuse very very pleased with what we heard. While SamE felt BU ranked higher, he was very excited about the opportunities he heard at the Business School. Blake’s visit to the Engineering School left him hoping that a generous financial aid package would encourage his dad to let him go out of state. My Sam believes that if he can get into Newhouse, he will definitely get a great education….and his life at Syracuse will be full of many other opportunities for a full college life.

And the adventure continues….as it always does with children.


This is the last of the series about the schools we visited. Other experiences will be posted in the days to come.

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