NC’s Best College Experience May Surprise You

Posted on March 20, 2024

Four college students laugh together on a blanket on campus lawn with books and laptops.

As young people finish high school and move away from home, they spread their wings for independent living, open their minds to new experiences, and align their passions and talents with a career path. Choosing the right environment to launch into adulthood may seem like a tedious task, but some colleges make it easy. UNC Greensboro is one of them. 

In 2023, “The Wall Street Journal” named UNCG the top university in North Carolina, and 21st nationwide, for student experience. The ranking was based on “one of the largest ever independent surveys of verified college students and recent graduates in the US.” 

2 students stand back to back smiling at each other in their dorm room.

Measuring College Life 

Over 60,000 students nationwide were surveyed, but the real question remains: How do students measure their college experience?  

According to “The Wall Street Journal’s” survey, campus facilities, community and social life, and diversity are equally important to students. In addition, average net price of tuition and graduates’ median salaries (compared to that of high school grads in the college’s state) also make a difference.  

What makes student life great at the G? Let’s find out! 

Facilities and Campus Beauty 

According to the survey’s methodology, 33% was attributed to “student satisfaction with the facilities available on campus, including those relating to food, housing and extracurricular activities.” 

At UNCG, the housing is plentiful and residence halls come in all shapes and sizes – suite style, apartment style, and traditional rooms for single and double occupancy. Residence halls are conveniently located to academic buildings, the cafeteria and student union, and the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness

Current students often remember being struck by the facilities and UNCG’s beauty on campus tours before they applied.  

“I literally fell in love with the campus on my first tour,” says Trinity Shealey, a fourth-year biology major who was recently accepted to veterinary school. “The trees and the grass on the quad – everything was so beautiful. I remember visiting the campus on a sunny day. We got lost, and people were so willing to help us. I just loved the environment and the vibe of the campus. UNCG is so warm and welcoming.” 

Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Joel Lee agrees that exceptional facilities are only a piece of UNCG’s student experience: “We’ve got 17 Division I sports teams, an esports arena, and an award-winning dining hall, but UNCG has a personalized feel. As students walk across the campus, it’s easy for them to find a community and feel like they’re part of something.”  

Community and Social Life 

The “personalized feeling” that Lee speaks of contributes to the next criteria of the survey. Community and social life also made up 33% of the total rank. UNCG students surveyed expressed “satisfaction with the sense of community, emotional-health and mental-health support, sustainability, safety on campus, and party scene.” 

At UNCG, social opportunities can be found in student affairs and in academic departments, and resources for students are readily accessible. UNCG has over 300 clubs and social groups where students can exercise their skills for leadership and passion for service.  Undergraduates conduct research alongside graduate students and faculty in all academic departments.  

“There’s a collaborative community rather than a competitive one here,” Shealey adds. “We have programs with enough space for students who want to be in them, and we share leads with each other that enable so many of us to take advantage of opportunities.” 

Coren O’Brien, a freshman biology major, was accepted into a research lab before he even completed his first biology class. He attributes this opportunity to the size of the university and its tight-knit community. “The difference at UNCG is that there’s a lot more space to show initiative,” he says. “And a lot more appreciation for students that show the initiative.”  

Students feel that they are not only a part of the campus community, but also part of the Greensboro community. “Greensboro is not only an awesome location with many things to do nearby,” says student Briana Easterly. “The people you meet are always a huge support system, on and off campus.” 

Belonging is a buzzword on the UNCG campus. Students feel a sense that they belong at UNCG and work hard to offer that welcome to fellow students.  

Diversity and Belonging

Fostering a sense of belonging comes easy on a campus as diverse as UNCG, which brings us to the criteria making up the final third of the Wall Street Journal’s student experience survey. Diversity was measured “in terms of ethnicity, inclusion of students with lower family incomes, inclusion of students with disabilities, and international diversity” and students were also asked about the “quality and frequency of opportunities to interact with students from different backgrounds.” 

College experiences broaden horizons when students find opportunities to meet people with different backgrounds. At UNCG that includes ethnic, gender identity, and socioeconomic differences. Alyssa Odom, a public health education major, says it best. “One of the main reasons I chose UNCG was because of its diversity. I wanted to go to a school that looks like the real world.” 

Traditionally underserved populations are improving their social mobility with a UNCG degree. Fifty percent self-identify as first-generation college students, 53% are people of color, 46% receive Pell grants and UNCG has the highest total percentage of Hispanic/Latino students in the UNC System. And if the diversity on campus isn’t enough to broaden a student’s horizons, the International Programs Center helped over 350 students to study abroad in 28 different countries.   

Prestige Without the Price Tag 

Although beautiful facilities, community warmth, and diversity work together to provide an exceptional student experience, students place utmost importance in the value of their education, and this is where a UNCG degree really shines.  

In addition to the student experience ranking, UNCG also claimed the New York Times’ most affordable, for net cost, in North Carolina. The low cost of earning one’s degree coupled with graduates’ substantial median salary elevates the Spartan student experience.  

In a time when Americans have come to doubt the value of a college degree, UNCG is proud to offer academics and enhanced student experiences affordably. It’s an investment that builds well-rounded individuals that employers want to hire. 

Choose wisely, prospective college students. Spartans are making investments in their futures that pay dividends.   

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications.
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications.

Students march down a street at dusk holding a UNCG banner and cheering.

Invest in the Best Student Experience in NC


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