Finding your HOME: a visit to Siena College (NY)
On a recent trip to upstate New York to see my family, I decided to visit Siena College in Loudonville (just 5 miles north of the state capitol, Albany). My sister-in-law and one of my close friends from high school both attended Siena and while I grew up less than an hour away, I had never been on the campus. Founded in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the college is rooted in the traditions of faith, community, service and a belief in the power of human potential. During my time on campus, it became clear how those themes are woven into the education. Since our work at GEC is all about student potential, it seemed fitting to highlight a college with this fine tradition.
When we make visits to colleges, we use a simple acronym to help sift through all of the information that gets thrown at you during a college visit. Before I dive into how Siena might feel like HOME to you, I thought a few basic stats might be helpful.
Location: Loudonville, NY, a suburb 5 miles north of the state capitol, Albany.
Student population: 3,000 undergraduates living primarily on campus. Siena also offers 3 graduate degrees (MBA, M.S. in Accounting and Advanced Certificate in Data and Analytics).
Academics: 39 majors and 80 minors across 3 schools: Liberal Arts, Business and Science
Athletics: NCAA Division 1 (yep, that’s right. D1 sports at a small, highly personalized college!)
Siena Guarantee: at least $57K in scholarships over 4 years, graduate in 4 years and have a customized career experience.
Finding the campus was easy, but once there I remembered the confirmation letter indicated the admissions office was closed due to a burst pipe (the joys of winter in a northern climate) and I’d need to check-in elsewhere. After a few minutes of searching for the right building and the tour time approaching, I pulled over and called the admissions office. The person who answered was super helpful and put me at ease while calmly directing me to a residence hall on the far edge of campus. While not an ideal place to welcome guests, once I entered I found lots of helpful, friendly staff, convenient restrooms (important!) and a nicely appointed room for our information session. We had a brief overview of the college led by an admissions staff member who is also head of the rugby programs at Siena. We then headed off on our tour led by Anthony, a senior (graduating in 3 years) from Long Island and majoring in business.
Open & Welcoming
I felt a deep sense of community on campus and there were several spaces that stood out in that regard, including the dining hall and the student center. Upon entering the dining hall, there were the typical array of visually pleasing food choices one expects, but there was also music playing and the feel was very homey with traditional tables as well as booth seating divided in ways that made it feel more intimate and less like an institutional dining facility. I got that same vibe in the student center boasting a beautiful outside patio with a fire pit and alternate dining options including Casey’s (pub-style food) and a Starbucks. There were also lots of welcoming posters about upcoming campus events and comfortable seating options and students seemed confident and at ease. While you can’t easily walk to restaurants and shops, there are many just a few miles down the road. If you don’t have a vehicle, the campus runs buses to local malls, shopping and dining on Fridays and Saturdays.
Students also showed a lot of pride in the athletics teams. It’s rare for a school this small to have Division 1 athletics and it adds a lot to the student experience, including some great facilities! You can watch the women’s basketball team competing at the UHY center or catch a baseball game from the Million Dollar View seats in Standish Library (seriously, they overlook centerfield - so cool!).
The physical campus is large in comparison to the student body and buildings and grounds were overall in excellent condition. There is a ton of green space on this campus and I imagine a lot of students hanging out there in the fall and spring when the weather is nicer. There were small touches everywhere that showed a lot of pride in place, including branded mats at every building entrance and nice banners on the walkways. There are a LOT of housing options including beautiful townhouse style homes for upperclass students. Community living is at the heart of the Siena experience!
From the Siena Guarantee where a career experience is promised through to commencement, it’s clear Siena students are engaged on many levels. Having a global learning experience through one of the short or long-term options through Siena Abroad is very popular among students. Some even visit the college’s sister city on the Siena, Italy semester abroad. Students can also engage in service learning through the Center for Academic Community Engagement. One of the coolest things on the tour was the Maddalone Entrepreneur Wall of Success in the Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship which displays the logos of businesses founded by Siena graduates. What a wonderful symbol of how Siena alumni take the skills they build as undergrads and apply them to open businesses that advance people’s lives and communities.
Overall, Siena is a wonderful small college with students primarily from the northeast. With a focus on service, innovation and global awareness, the campus has a great energy about it and students, faculty and staff seemed quite happy. Bonus: if you’re a D1 sports fan but also want a small, liberal arts college, Siena might be a great place to add to your college list!
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