Elon features experiential learning, long-honored traditions

Vanessa Infanzon

Photo courtesy of Elon University

Facts and stats:

Elon University is a residential campus in the Piedmont region of North Carolina on 630 acres. It is 20 miles east of downtown Greensboro and 60 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh.

Elon College opened in 1889, as a private liberal arts school with no religious affiliations and changed its name to Elon University in 2001.

The campus population is 6,045 students, with a 2017 freshmen class of 1,573 students. Tuition, room, board and fees are $46,142 per year.

Admission acceptance rates vary year to year with a low of 41 percent to a high of 66 percent. The average SAT score is 1223, and the average ACT score is 27.

The school has 60 programs with finance and strategic communications being the most popular majors. Management, biology, psychology and exercise science follow close behind.

What’s new on campus?

In 2018, the Schar Center, a 160,000-square foot venue, will serve as a community gathering space for convocations, sporting events and other formal campus activities. Richard W. Sankey Hall will be a 30,000-square foot building and will be part of the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business.

The Schar Center, under construction. Photo courtesy of Elon University

What’s life like on campus?

Student Government Association President Morgan Bodenarain, a native Charlottean, graduates from Elon in May 2018. In her experience at Elon, students are encouraged to be engaged in campus life.

“Student voices are always at the table,” said Bodenarain, 21.

There are more than 200 student organizations on campus with an active Greek life community. Homecoming, Festival of Holiday Lights, movie nights, concerts and other activities provide entertainment throughout the academic year.

Elon has 17 men’s and women’s athletic teams including football, baseball, tennis, basketball, golf and lacrosse. The Phoenix play in the Colonial Athletic Association of NCAA Division 1.

Fun traditions:

Traditions play a key role in campus life. Elon means “oak” in Hebrew, and the campus was built in an oak grove.

“When you arrive, every student receives an acorn,” Zaiser said. “And when you graduate, the day of commencement, you walk off the stage and pick up your oak sapling. That represents your four years of growth at the university.”

College Coffee on Tuesdays is a 30-year-old tradition that is important to the Elon community. Faculty, staff and students gather together for 40 minutes, enjoying coffee and breakfast foods.

Photo courtesy of Elon University

What do students like best?

The campus is a close-knit community. Bodenarain said: “Everyone is accessible, including senior staff. Somehow we’re all connected.”

What do students like least?

Lack of diversity was Bodenarain’s response to what is liked least about the campus. Zaiser and other staff and faculty are aware of these student concerns and are working for ways to make Elon more diverse.

“We recognize that the value of an education is when you put people who are different from each other together in a classroom and give them opportunities to learn from one another,” Zaiser said. “We have a very large commitment to growing the scholarship opportunities for students to make an Elon education accessible to more students.”

Best advice from current students:

Bodenarain recommended that new students understand that there is an adjustment from high school to college.

“It was a very hard transition for me,” Bodenarain said. “I wished there was someone to tell me that you don’t have to have it all together when you get to campus.”

What surprises people most about the school: 

The Elon Experiences is an experiential learning program built into the curriculum. Elon graduates must complete at least two of these areas: study abroad, service, internships, leadership and undergraduate research.

“We are squarely focused on experiential learning,” Zaiser said. “We have the largest study-abroad program in the country. Seventy-nine percent of students spend at least one term abroad.”

Photo by Kim Walker, courtesy of Elon University


Vanessa Infanzon is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. In her former life, she worked in Student Life at Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @morethanVMI