Schenectady, NY: On January 25, I left my house and began the four-hour trek to Union College in Schen-ectady, N.Y. My journey took me the length of the Mass Turnpike and onto the N.Y. Thruway. It was a long, but police-free ride through Western Massachusetts. I had chosen to make a weekend trip to Union so I could get a true feeling of the campus. As a football recruit, I was to stay with a current football player. Union has one of the best Division III football teams in the nation, having gone to the play-offs five times in the last eight years. My sister graduated from Union in 1987. She had filled me in on the academic and social situation, but I wanted to decide for myself.
When I arrived, I met Mark, a junior football player from Swampscott, who took me for a tour around campus. Union has one unique feature: the Nott Memorial, a sixteen-sided building. A new gym, with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, was built four years ago. At the same time, the new student center was completed. Union is unique because it offers a full range of liberal arts courses as well as an engineering curriculum. Union was the first college in New York State to be sanctioned by the Board of Regents.
Housing on campus is a significant issue. All freshmen are guaranteed housing, but after freshman year, only females are certain of a room on campus. This housing shortage has led to the foundation of 18 fraternities and four sororities. Fifty percent of all males join fraternities and the Greek system is very strong at Union. Several fraternities were begun at Union in the 1800s. Although many students are forced off campus, there is an abundance of cheap housing just outside the gates of Union.
After the tour, Mark and I went to a nearby restaurant and had dinner. The next day we went to a hockey game. Union has its own rink. This year Union received an invitation to join Division I hockey. Next year the hockey team will be playing all the Ivy League schools, as well as RPI and Clarkson. After the game, we went to a party at Chi Psi, the hockey fraternity. There I got a taste of what the campus' social life was like. Everyone I met was friendly.
Union College is a self-contained campus located in the heart of Schenectady, home of the second largest General Electric plant. Albany, the state capital, is only 20 minutes away. It takes three hours to get to New York City. All students are allowed to have cars on campus. Having a car is a big advantage. It allows you to escape from the snow Schenectady receives in the winter. Union is on a trimester system. A student takes three courses each term. One drawback is that school lets out in the middle of June. n
Reviewed in 1991
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.