FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Academics

  • What's the classroom environment like?

    It depends on the class! Right away, you'll find yourself in a seminar-style class with your First Year Preceptorial, and this style of class encourages discussion and conversation in a different way than more traditional lecture-style classes do. That being said, even traditional lectures are interactive - between "clicker question" check-ins mid-lecture, discussion breakout groups, and an emphasis on learning by doing, professors have all sorts of ways to make lecture participation-heavy.

    - Casey '21

  • What's your favorite class you've taken?

    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.

    - Eliza '23

    My favorite class at Union is Comparative Animal Physiology with Professor Kirton. This is an upper level biology course. I really enjoyed this course because I enjoy learning about different animals, and through taking this class I was able to gain a summer research opportunity with Professor Kirkton, who is now my senior thesis advisor.

    - Sarah '21

  • Are professors accessible?

    Professors at Union College are absolutely accessible! All professors have weekly office hours that they often include in their syllabus, and they will shape the meetings around your preferences as much as they are able. When I was a first-year at Union, I showed up to a professor's office who I had only ever heard about from my friends, panicking about my major, and he was super welcoming and helpful - I would say that that experience reflects the general accessibility of all of the professors at Union.

    - Evan '23

  • Who is your favorite professor and why?

    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!

    - Alexis '23

    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

  • What are your thoughts on the trimester system?

    I absolutely love the trimester system because it allows me to focus on only three classes at a time and form close relationships, both with my professors and my classmates. Although the 10-week terms are fast-paced, I find the work manageable, since we only take a few classes at a time. Also, we have a long winter break, which allows students the opportunity to get jobs, internships, and even study abroad during the month of December.

    - Sarah '21

  • What’s it like to balance athletics and academics?

    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

General

  • How would you describe the ‘average’ Union student?

    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

  • What advice would you give to an incoming student?

    Get to know everyone in the community. Union's community includes more than just your classmates. There are students in other class years who want to help you get involved with clubs and organizations, professors who want to get to know you in and out of the classroom, and faculty and staff you'll see every day and get to know their interests and smiles. Union's community goes beyond just the classroom or one or two clubs - don't forget that!

    - Casey '21

    Don't be afraid to branch out! Sign up for a ton of different clubs, organizations, and intramural sports. Take classes outside of your usual academic interests. You never know where you'll find what you're truly passionate about!

    - Sarah '21

  • What do you think is unique about Union?

    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

  • What's diversity like at Union?

    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

  • What health and wellness resources are available to me?

    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

  • How politically active is campus?

    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.

    - Tatyana '22

Student Life

  • How’s the food (regarding dining restrictions)?

    Speaking from a dietary restriction perspective, I would say that Union Hospitality is very accommodating. There are tons of different gluten free options in all of the dining areas and dining workers do everything they can to ensure that I have enough food to eat. If you are coming to Union and have a dietary restriction, definitely meet with Chef Patrick and he will help make sure you can find options that work for you!

    - Sarah '21

  • What's Greek Life like?

    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

  • What's the most meaningful thing you're involved in?

    The most meaningful thing I am involved in on campus is the COVID Program Task Force. Through Student Forum, I chair the task force that is in charge of providing students with engaging programs and events while we are in a mostly virtual world. Different events I've helped host/plan include bringing Trevor Noah virtually to Union for a live Q&A.

    - Sarah '21

  • What’s first-year housing like?

    There's an incredible sense of community in the first-year residence halls! Students on my floor during my first-year kept their doors open which caused us all to get to know each other, starting from the very beginning of the school year. Also, the Residential Advisors in my building held events for us all to attend, which further established the sense of community. There are three first-year residence halls: Richmond, West, and Fox. As an incoming student, you can choose from suite-style housing or doubles.

    - Sarah '21

  • What's upper-class housing like?

    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!

    - Alexis '23

  • What's your favorite Union event?

    One of my favorite events at Union is Lobsterfest! Every spring, Union provides lobsters for any student who wants one as well as cookout food for students to enjoy in Jackson's Garden. The first 600 students who arrive at Lobsterfest receive a free t-shirt, which is a driving force behind the very high attendance of the event.

    - Sarah '21

  • What's your favorite Union tradition?

    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.

    - Eliza '23

Campus and Location

  • What is your favorite place on campus?

    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

  • Can first-year students have a car on campus?

    First-year students, with the exception of some cases (e.g. transportation for religious services), cannot have cars on campus. You can have a car on campus starting your sophomore year with a parking pass, which is $15 for the calendar year. All students also have free access to public transit in the capital region (the CDTA) with their student IDs.

    - Casey '21

  • What’s the town like? Is Schenectady accessible?

    Schenectady is a fantastic town to get to know! Coming from a small town, I love being able to get to explore all the small city has to offer. Downtown Schenectady is easily walkable from campus, and I walk down there still every weekend to head to the Green Market (a local farmer's market). You also have free access to the CDTA busses with your Union ID, so even if you don't want to walk, Schenectady is very accessible!

    - Casey '21

  • What's your favorite thing to do in Schenectady?

    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.

    - Alexis '23

  • What do students do on the weekends?

    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!

    - Tatyana '22