Current students have answered some of the most frequently asked questions they receive on tours about Union College! Want to discuss these questions in more detail? You can message with each student by clicking on their name below, or by finding them on our ambassador page.
It depends on the class! Class sizes are kept very small at Union, allowing for great student-professor ratios, relationships, and a collaborative classroom environment. Students get to know one another by working on projects and assignments together while also having many opportunities to connect with faculty. Skills learned in the classroom such as communication and collaboration skills prove to be very useful outside of the classroom as well.
My first-year preceptorial class on dreaming explored dreams from the anthropological, philosophical, and neuroscience perspectives, and it was the most fascinating class I have ever taken! I am a biomedical engineering major, but this class opened my eyes to interests in sociology and anthropology that I didn't know I had.
My favorite class at Union is Biochemistry: Membranes and Nucleic Acids with Professor Cohen. I really enjoyed seeing how all these puzzle pieces within biology and chemistry fit together, and learning about the mechanisms that cause many diseases to learn how to target them. Throughout the term we worked on writing a research summary of a recent research paper, and it was interesting to be able to apply what we learned in class to a recent study in the field.
Professors are absolutely accessible! You will never just see them during class! All professors have weekly office hours which will either be included in the syllabus or decided by the professor and students together at the beginning of the term. They are always welcoming you to make individual appointments with them if the normal officer hours do not work for you. I love to stop by during their office hours not just for asking questions, but also to chat with them about school life and the future. They listen to you and give you helpful advice and support.
My favorite professor is William Keat in the Mechanical Engineering department. He is always willing to meet with and help his students, even if that means meeting at 8pm on Zoom. He really cares for his students and wants them to succeed in and out of the classroom!
My favorite professor is Erika Nelson Mukherjee, in the Modern Languages and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies departments. She is so down to earth and honest with her students, and really tries to connect in a way that is genuine. She knows that we are all human and gives her students the grace that humans deserve!
- Ella '23
I really love the trimester system. It provides more flexibility in scheduling in general, for example, f you want to study abroad. Because most students take only three courses during each term, we have more independent time to balance commitments.
The three-term approach is wonderful because it allows students a significant amount of freedom with their schedule and plenty of time to do activities outside of classes, since our students only take three classes at a time. This makes it easier to study abroad, get a job, or do an internship or research during the academic year. Since our trimesters are shorter than your typical semester (10 weeks vs 15), our classes do tend to be faster paced, and our students are set up for success with a large amount of support from their professors.
One of the biggest shocks when I came to college was how much time you actually have during the day. When I played sports in high school, I would leave my seven hour school day to go to practice, but in college you often have much less actual class time during the day. I found that having practice scheduled in the day actually helped me organize my study time better. It's also great to have the support of the team, where you can usually find someone who has taken the class you're in and can help answer questions you might have. My varsity crew coaches have always been very understanding if I've had to leave practice to get to an important review session or if I'm a couple minutes late because a lab ran over. They understand that we are students and that school comes first.
- Alice '21
The average Union student is extremely hardworking, driven, and passionate. Students work hard in the classroom, but they are also extremely involved in clubs and organizations, athletics, and community service. Union students collaborate together to bring out the best in one another.
- Ella '23
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to try new things. You never know what will turn into a new interest or passion, and you'll be sure to meet so many wonderful people along the way!
Don’t be afraid to ask your professors for help, and make sure that you go to office hours for your classes! The professors are more than happy to help with homework or go over something that you didn’t understand in class, and they really like to see that you are putting the effort in to get a better understanding of their course. They’re a fantastic resource that will really benefit you during your time here.
To me, the most unique thing about Union is the community. The students and faculty are always there to support one another which is shown through the clubs, organizations, and the faculty-student relationships.
- Gigi '22
I think Union is unique because of the opportunities it provides for students to have a voice in every aspect of our campus community. From being student trustees to planning campus-wide events to speaking directly with the president about ways to improve our community, it's very easy to get involved and make a tangible impact during your time at Union. So many clubs and organizations are fully student-led, and are able to accomplish amazing events because of the commitment and drive of the students who run them.
As a member of the LGBT+ community and an Asian-American, campus diversity was something I was concerned with before attending. However, after being here for two years, I am happy to say that where Union lacks in diversity, we take serious strides to improve. I have had positive experiences with student-run clubs and organizations, administrative committees, and even with documentation: since arriving, the LGBT Committee created, edited, and implemented a name-change form for anyone with a preferred or chosen name over their legal one. More info about Campus Diversity & Inclusion here.
- Evan '23
The Wicker Wellness Center is open to students, both for physical and mental health resources. There are licensed psychologists that are completely free to students, whether they just need a quick check in or want a more regular appointment. There are also registered nurses and nurse practitioners that can run various tests and help with minor illness or injury! Ellis hospital is also a two minute drive from campus, and Union will provide transport if needed.
- Ella '23
The Union community has cultivated an environment for constructive engagement. For example, during the 2020 election season, the library hosted a poster-writing event that allowed students to display why they believed voting is important. Students chose to write things like "I vote because my vote counts" or "I vote because I can be the voice for my parents." I tried to read all of these thought-provoking responses as I walked to class each day. Union also has a variety of clubs and organizations focused on political discourse that put on events throughout the year.
The food is great! We have a wide variety of dining options so you will never get bored of the food! We have two traditional dining halls on campus that serve different foods every day, and four “grab-and-go” options that serve specific categories of food. For example, we have the Garlic Nott, our own pizzeria on campus, and we have Fresh Market, which is a fresh food market on campus that has fresh fruits and vegetables for students, as well as things that students can cook in their Minerva houses or apartments. We have allergen free areas as well to ensure that students have access to whatever they need!
I knew I wanted to join a sorority when I started college. Ever since I joined a sorority my sophomore year, I have enjoyed meeting new people through it as well as the different events and philanthropic opportunities. While I have formed many close friendships through my sorority, two of my closest friends are in the other two sororities and a third friend isn't involved in Greek Life. I think this is a great example of how being involved in Greek Life is an experience that has added to my college experience, but also hasn't kept me from forming other close relationships or being involved in other activities.
- Alice '21
I knew coming to Union that I did not want to be involved in Greek Life, and I haven't joined. I do have friends who are involved, either with cultural, service, or social groups, but I also have friends who are not. Because of delayed recruitment (students cannot join Greek Life until sophomore year if they want to), I was able to become friends with both, and I still have great friendships with them. There are so many options on weekends for what to do (such as UProgram, Minervas, or other clubs) and Greek Life just adds to those options!
- Ella '23
Every single student at Union is automatically placed into a Minerva upon their arrival at Union, so everyone belongs. There are seven Minerva houses where upperclassmen can choose to live, and they put on hundreds of events every school year, a majority of which are open to the entire student body. Greek life is opt-in; in your sophomore year, you can choose to apply to be a part of a fraternity or a sorority. Many students are involved in both Greek life and their Minerva House. We have both systems in place to ensure that we have multiple exciting campus involvement options open to our student body so that there is something for everyone here at Union!
The most meaningful thing I'm involved in on campus is being a tour guide! I love having the opportunity to share my Union experiences and explain all the reasons why I chose Union. It is really rewarding to see students walking around campus who you gave a tour to and ended up making the choice to attend Union.
There are several options for first-year housing which include West, Fox, and Richmond. West is co-ed floors consisting of mainly doubles and a few singles. Richmond is single-gendered floors consisting of mainly doubles and a few singles. Fox is a different layout with suite-style living. Each suite contains a shared common room and two double rooms extending off of it. Overall, the differing living options ensure that there is a living style for everyone!
There are many options for housing! Upperclassmen have the opportunities to live in their Minerva houses, theme houses, greek houses, College Park Hall (CPH), and apartments. Theme houses are Union-owned houses that each have a specific theme such as art, technology, entrepreneurship, sustainability, etc. where like-minded people can live together and promote these common themes. CPH is an on campus residence hall that was transformed from an old hotel which means that each room has their own bathroom! There’s an option for everyone!
My favorite Union event is the club fair, which happens at the beginning of every school year. Every club on campus sets up a table on the lawn outside of the Nott and students walk around and see everything that they can be involved in. It is a great opportunity to see everything that is happening on campus and to get involved in new things that you might not have known existed!
My favorite tradition is during first year orientation when all of the students receive a T-shirt with the lyrics to the song Ode to Union, and we are all crammed into the bottom floor of the Nott to practice singing it, and at the end we get a picture of our entire class that is hung up in the dining hall for years. The Nott is where we start our Union journey, but it is also where we end our Union journey as we walk out of the Nott through the westward facing door on graduation day.
Students can provide feedback to the college through student representatives on student forum and many different committees, to ensure that our campus environment is exactly what students want it to be. For example, we have a dining committee that meets to discuss food options as well as systems that are in place to make sure that we have allergy-free food and similar things. Students can communicate with these committees to provide feedback, and have the opportunity to join the committees themselves!
My favorite place on campus is the Nott Memorial! I love using it as a study space and admiring the artwork that is displayed inside. It also serves as a symbol for Union, and is frequently photographed by the community #NottShot
- Gigi '22
First-year students are not allowed to have a car on campus. However, there are many opportunities for students to get off campus if needed such as weekly shuttles to a local Walmart. Downtown Schenectady is only a short 10-15 minute walk away where there are many stores and restaurants. There is also convenience store located on campus for anything a student may need!
Schenectady is very accessible to Union students. Downtown is only a 10 -15 minute walk from campus, and has many restaurants, stores, and activities, such as Proctors Theater, which is the “mini-Broadway” of Schenectady and hosts many Broadway-touring theater productions each year. There is also a movie theater, a pedestrian street called Jay Street that has a number of interesting shops, and a weekly farmers market that students can go to. All students have free access to the local public transportation system, the CDTA!
I love to visit the Schenectady Green Market on Sunday mornings in downtown Schenectady! They have fresh flowers, fresh produce to bring back to my residence hall room, and it's a really great way to get off campus with friends!
- Ella '23
My favorite thing to do in Schenectady is to walk downtown and visit all of the amazing restaurants! There are so many options ranging from breakfast, smoothies, coffee, and bakeries to burgers, pizza, pasta and anything else you can think of. It’s great to get off campus to support local businesses in the community.
There's always something to do on the weekends! There's plenty to discover in Schenectady; for example, I recently went to Faddegon's Nursery to purchase some new additions to my plant family! I also love supporting local eateries or going to the Schenectady Green Market on Sunday. On-campus, Union clubs, Minerva's, and other organizations also put on events ranging from Sitcom trivia (featuring New Girl, The Office, and Parks and Rec) to virtual yoga sessions!
There's a ton of options for things to do on the weekends, both on and off campus! We have a club called U program that's dedicated specifically to putting on late-night weekend events that are open to all students and super fun, such as bingo or arcade nights. Many clubs, however, have activities throughout the weekend. Whether it's volunteering in the community, going off campus for a hike, or spending an afternoon playing games with friends in a Minerva House common room, there's always options for things to do on the weekends.