Last Saturday I made the short trip to the University of Delaware for one of their fall visitation days. This was my second trip to the school, my last being in summer 2015. I absolutely loved it the first time around, but things have changed since then and we wanted to test the waters one more time before deciding to apply. This would be my first college visit I would spend in a wheelchair, and while I recalled the campus being flat, accessibility remained a question.
For this visit I was looking for a few things:
Was the campus easy to negotiate in a wheelchair?
Was the energy of the school the same as I remembered?
What was the business program like? (last time I visited my heart was set on engineering, and I spent my time focused on that)
How accommodating was the disability department?
We started out the day being greeted by about a dozen students scream/singing Stacy’s Mom as we pulled into the parking lot. At check in there was a breakfast buffet with coffee, water, juice, apples, bananas, and assorted muffins. They even had paper bags to carry your little meal around in! I grabbed a muffin even though I couldn’t eat it for my sister, and she grabbed me an apple when she went through the line. Two apples for me, two muffins for her! (We’ve got this whole sister thing worked out pretty well). With that we headed off to the business presentation.
Here are my main notes from that:
- If you want to apply for the University Honors Program, then you have to complete an additional essay AND make note of it in your application. It is not something for which you are automatically considered.
- Delaware innovation fellows – this resource is EXTREMELY helpful in launching start ups and putting your ideas out there according to the student panel; one guy even started a nonprofit that he’s hoping to turn into a full time job after graduation.
- Apply now – UD has rolling admissions and you’ll hear from them within 8-12 weeks
- Use the Net Price Calculator on their website to see if this school is a financially viable interest
- Do the FAFSA
- Business is one of the most popular majors at the University
- Do the UD specific essays, they can only help you and are short answer
- Quality over quantity for involvement in school activities
- Your transcript is the most important part of your application
Following the presentation and panel, we did a walking tour of the campus – or in my case wheeling! At the end of the presentation a student came to where we were sitting in the back of the auditorium and took the three of us and the two people next to us out on our own little tour. Not only did we have one student guiding us around, we had three! She was training two new student ambassadors and they just so happened to end up with our little group. I loved that I was able to ask any questions I had as soon as I thought of them and that the tour was more personalized to what I and the other prospective student were interested in. I suppose that’s just a perk of being in a wheelchair!
We went all over campus and while Delaware is a medium sized school with only 17,000 undergraduates, it felt larger from my chair. Was the campus easy to negotiate? I decided to ask my sister, who was the one pushing me all day. She said no, because the sidewalks were all tilted (and brick) so she had to angle herself to push me. All of the doorways had ledges a half inch to an inch high, which meant that getting me into the buildings took some effort and precise steering. While the paths were relatively smooth, some seemed designed more for their aesthetic then for actual use, such as ramps that were winding and curved instead of straight. There were also some buildings that we had trouble fitting the chair through that required us to use an alternative entrance, and it didn’t fit through the doorway of the dorm rooms. Not all buildings were fully accessible.
The energy of the school was not the same as I remembered, but all of the honors college students were very enthusiastic and came off as happy to be there. The gloomy weather may also have effected this. Collaboration and teamwork was a big focus on my last visit, and wasn’t something that was mentioned this time around. I found this unfortunate because it had been one of the main selling points for me, a huge reason why I wanted to attend the university.
The business program didn’t have the most impressive stats compared to some of the other schools I am looking at, but did have a very impressive trading center and some fantastic mentor and internship opportunities right on campus. They have a JP Morgan Chase building where students can intern and get real hands on experience just a ten minute walk from their dorm, and our guide said that it takes her ten to fifteen minutes walking to get to class or anywhere she needs to go.
I did not get the opportunity to speak with a representative from the disability department, but am planning on scheduling a call with them later this week. The campus is very green, there are lots trees and multiple lawns. The buildings are mainly brick, and have a colonial feel. My sister loves the creamery, and they even have sorbet for anyone with a dairy restriction. I spoke to the students about dietary restrictions and they said there are multiple dining halls with a variety of food stations like vegan, vegetarian, pizza, etc. There seem to be options for everyone. One said that his friend is allergic to almost everything, and that the workers gave him a giant box of quinoa to make sure he was eating enough.
We ended our day with a stop at a panel of honors program students, but didn’t really gain anything from it because we had attended something similar on our previous visit. After finding a parking spot on main street, my mother, sister, and I had a late lunch at Iron Hill Brewery. It’s a cute little brewery and restaurant that got major bonus points for having a gluten free menu and the best gluten free bun I have ever eaten (the search for decent gluten free hamburger buns is ongoing in my household; my mom got some last week and I was like “this isn’t the greatest” but ate my sandwich, and when my mom took a bite of one later that day she promptly went “EW these are disgusting!” and threw the bag in the trash).
I hope you found this helpful if you’re in your college search! Feel free to share this, and if you have a good brand for gluten free hamburger or hot dog rolls (bonus if it’s also dairy free) please let me know!