Campus Spotlight: Clark University
Students who are interested in a strong liberal arts education and also want options such as business, data science or game design should check out Clark University in Worcester, MA. Prospective Clark students apply to the university overall and can enter any one of the four undergraduate schools—Arts and Sciences, the Becker School of Design and Technology, the School of Management, and International Development, Community, and Environment. It’s easy for students to change their minds and switch majors at Clark, making undecided students feel very supported. Students are eligible to take courses in any of the undergraduate schools. With an undergraduate enrollment of 3,200, Clark provides plenty of opportunities without feeling overwhelming.
To help students navigate their options, each student is assigned a professional advisor. Once they declare a major, students are assigned faculty advisors. There is a first-year intensive class, the Navigator, which helps orient students to campus both socially and academically and teaches them how to use the many available resources. There is also a first-year intensive seminar, an academic class that can take a topic, research, or major focus and where the faculty member is also an advisor.
Clark acquired the game design program from Becker College when it closed in 2021. In August 2023, a new Center for Media Arts, Computing and Design will open, housing the game design program along with the computer science, data science and computational science programs. The college is anticipating increased demand for all these programs and are preparing by adding faculty.
Also noteworthy is the School of Management’s recently added finance program. Students can earn an MBA in five years, and the MBA is tuition-free. Clark is also part of a Worcester consortium of colleges that includes the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Assumption College. This partnership opens a wealth of cross-registration options for students. The most popular majors at Clark are psychology, biology, management, and game design. There are plans for a creative writing major in the works.
Clark received 10,700 application this year—an increase of 2,000 applications over the previous year; 44 percent of applicants were admitted. Only 30 percent of applicants submitted the SAT or ACT. Clark does not look at AP scores during the admission process (but students may still be eligible for AP credit). Successful Clark applicants are students who have been on an upward trend grade-wise and and have tried a few harder classes along the way. They tend to have strong teacher recommendations and to have been engaged in activities during high school. Applications are reviewed by committee and, according to an admission officer, the committee does not recalculate the GPA or get too hung up on the numbers. The student’s story is what matters.
At Clark, community engagement also matters. “Clarkies,” as the students are affectionately known, are encouraged to get involved in the neighborhood; they tutor in local schools, work at the Worcester Art Museum, and assist the city in environmental studies of trees and the effect of pollution and climate change in the community. The city is part of their education.
Clark is need blind meaning they do not consider ability to pay when making the admission decision. They meet full financial need of Early Decision applicants. Housing is guaranteed for first- and second-year students. About half of juniors and seniors live on campus. There are plans for adding more beds in the years ahead.
During a recent visit to campus with a group of New England consultants, we had the pleasure of eating lunch with a student who played on the lacrosse team and was a business major. He told us about the many entrepreneurship opportunities available, such as the ability to create pop-up businesses and borrow campus food trucks to develop a culinary business. He has had great success connecting with Clark alumni for internships. He saw himself as in the middle of the pack at his independent high school, but is excelling at Clark because he has figured out how to ask for support when needed.
“I enjoy learning here, especially when I see how excited my professors are when we’re engaged in class,” he said. As a tour guide, he tells prospective students, “Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors any time.”
Clark also acquired Strategic Learning Services (SLS) from Becker, which provides executive function coaching twice a week for 30 minutes to help students set personal and academic goals, or to address social issues. This program is open to all students, including those not registered with disability services. The current fee is $1,400 per semester.
There is also academic support (no additional fee) where students are paired with a “peer success” mentor who can assist with study skills and be an accountability buddy. There are also peer tutors available for academic content areas.
Clark students are politically active and lean more liberal. There are a wide range of personalities and interests represented on campus, so most everyone could find like-minded peers. Clark University has a lot to offer to any motivated, engaged student who is seeking a hands-on learning experience for college.