Small School, Big Value: Speaks With a Student at SUNY Geneseo

By Megan Driscoll

SUNY Geneseo What's your major, and how did you become interested in the subject?

Dana Besmanoff: I am an anthropology major. I have always been interested in material culture, which is why I looked at that major originally. After reading about anthropology in general, as well as the specific courses offered by my school, I realized how interesting the discipline is and knew that I wanted to study it. How did you hear about Geneseo, and what attracted you to the school? Were you searching specifically for liberal arts colleges? What other factors influenced your decision to attend?

DB: My dad attended Geneseo, so I had heard about and visited the school a few times before I actually needed to consider where I wanted to go to college. However, the decision to attend Geneseo was entirely my own, and had nothing to do with my dad's alumnus status. I was impressed by the academic statistics of the current students at Geneseo, and thought that I would fit into the academic environment very well. The smaller size of the school and the fact that it has a defined campus (rather than being spread out over many blocks or campuses like large or city schools) were also attractive attributes.

I had long planned to study biology, and had a specific scientific career goal in mind, but I was not wholly confident in my decision to pursue a science. So, I definitely wanted to go to a liberal arts school in order to explore a wide range of major options across the academic spectrum. I also dance (and am a dance minor at Geneseo), so it was important to me that the school I attended had a dance program, which is more typical of a liberal arts college. I also enjoyed the social atmosphere at Geneseo; I felt like I would fit in the students, who are pretty relaxed and friendly compared to some of the other schools I visited. Of course, the value of the school is outstanding. The view of the valley is worth the cost on its own! Did consideration of sticker price and graduation debt affect your school choice?

DB: Besides Geneseo, the other two schools at the top of my list were private schools, and literally twice as expensive. They offered much more merit aid than Geneseo does, but even with the top scholarship (which is not guaranteed), they might not have been less expensive than Geneseo. After much consideration, I realized that I liked the academic and social atmosphere of Geneseo the best, and also knew it provided the best value out of my top three schools. The cost-effectiveness of Geneseo made me feel very comfortable about attending, and I am extremely happy that it exists as a great option for students like me who cannot commit $50k+ to one year of college. The out-of-state cost to attend Geneseo was also about the same as the in-state cost of The College of New Jersey (the most comparable school in New Jersey), which is a good indication of how affordable SUNY schools are. What are your favorite things about Geneseo? Least favorite?

DB: When I was first looking for schools, I was impressed by the academic integrity of the school, as well as the statistics posted by the admissions department of students' test scores, class ranks, etc. Since Geneseo is relatively small, I enjoy the individualized attention I receive from the faculty. This is especially true for me since my major is one of the smaller ones at the school, and my minor contains a very limited number of students and only two professors.

I'm a part of Hall Council and the Inter-Residence Council on campus, so I am also actively involved in residence life. Living on campus provides a generally positive experience. The one thing I am not really satisfied with is the food, although everyone I have ever eaten with has been successful at finding something to eat. Is there anything about the school that surprised you after you matriculated?

DB: I expected college to be a good experience, but I was surprised to discover how great it is! What do you think about Geneseo the town? Do you enjoy living there? Have any favorite places in town? Do you feel the need to visit Rochester or New York City often?

DB: I am not really a 'city person,' so I enjoy the small-town feel of Geneseo. Everyone goes to Main Street at some point to walk around, eat at one of the two pizza places or visit Buzzo's music store. The more commercial part of town is a few miles uphill from campus. There's a bus service called Livingston Area Transportation Service (LATS) that has about fifteen stops on and around campus that runs regularly, but it is a good idea to have a friend with a car to save some time if you have to go to the store. The LATS bus also travels to Rochester on the weekends.

I have only been to Rochester twice since matriculating at Geneseo, and I went to Buffalo once for a concert. I have never been to New York City because it takes about eight hours to travel there and I have things to do in Geneseo on the weekends anyway. It is easy to make friends at Geneseo, and you can have your own fun just sitting around. Traveling to other cities is enjoyable but not necessary. If you were 'selling' Geneseo to prospective students, what would you tell them?

DB: I would tell them that Geneseo is a community full of fun, friendly and intelligent young adults, and that students would be silly not to put it on their lists of colleges to consider. Finally, I'd like to give you the opportunity to share anything you'd like about SUNY Geneseo and your college experience.

DB: Geneseo has facilitated tremendous growth in me as a student, both socially and academically. I would not trade my experience here so far for anything.

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