CASTLETON — At Castleton University, your higher education experience is all about you.
Instead of being just another face in the crowd, person-to-person interactions between university students and teachers are the norm.
“Our success is built on the relationships between our students, faculty and staff,” says James Lambert, associate dean of advancement at the university.
Personalized higher-ed experience
Students can expect a personalized higher education experience, which begins with small class sizes and a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, says Lambert.
“The relationships between our faculty and students really take a Castleton education beyond classroom learning and job preparation,” says Lambert. “You’re going to get to interact with your professors rather than sit in a giant lecture hall.”
The university, on 165 acres in Rutland County, offers many of the programs and amenities of a midsize institution, including more than 75 career-focused associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Castleton also has grant-funded undergraduate research, 80 clubs and intramurals, and 28 varsity sports, says Lambert.
Financial aid and paid, credit-earning work
More than 80 percent of Castleton students receive financial aid, and the university also boasts high numbers of students who secure employment after graduation, thanks in part to a cooperative work and internship program. The university is ranked at 95 percent for alumni employed, which makes it the best in Vermont and third in the nation for public higher education institutions, according to Zippia.com, a career resources website.
Moreover, the atmosphere at the university is incredible, says Lambert, not only because of the welcoming community, but also the natural environment.
“We expect more people to be eager to live on campus in the spring semester,” says Lambert, as the surroundings make for a wide-open, beautiful place to learn and live during the pandemic.
$85 million in upgrades
Every building on campus has been renovated in the past 15 years — representing more than $85 million in upgrades — and there are 11 residence halls, including gender-inclusive housing, honors housing and wellness housing.
Most students who live on-campus can expect to have a roommate, in either a suite, pod or traditional corridor residence hall, says Lambert. There are also singles available if students require them. All traditional-age students except commuters living with parents or guardians live on campus during their freshman and sophomore years.
Because of the coronavirus, all courses have been remote since March, with students given the option to live on campus in the fall; about 30 percent lived on campus this past semester, with many choosing to study at home, says Lambert. Even with the lockdowns, learning continued at its steady pace since March, he says.
In-person, hybrid and remote this spring
For the coming semester, Castleton expects to resume in-person learning, while also offering remote and hybrid courses.
For those who do choose to live on campus, recreational opportunities abound in the Green Mountains: Killington and Pico ski areas are nearby, as is Lake Bomoseen, the Long and Appalachian Trails, the Green Mountain National Forest and the Adirondacks and Lake George in New York.
Many of the university’s clubs align directly with the outdoors, including skiing, rock climbing and hunting. The university is now part of the Little East athletics conference and has national championships in Nordic and Alpine skiing, Lambert notes.
The university even has a special arrangement with Killington, such that full-time, undergraduate students get a free season pass to Pico for the season and also discounted rates for Killington.
For those students who are looking for a boost or get their careers started, Castleton has plenty of support services, such as its Academic Support Center, Wellness Center and Career Services.
In addition to traditional academics and related services, one of Castleton’s hallmarks is experiential learning.
“You get rigorous classroom learning, and we also have an internship program. Students are able to build their resumes while in undergrad,” notes Lambert.
Some hands-on experiences are directly built into academic programs, like nursing and hospitality management, and there are hundreds of community partners who team up with the university to put students in real, modern workplaces.
Additionally, the university staff and students donate thousands of volunteer hours annually to the local community.
“It’s important to us to be a good community member, in Castleton, Rutland County, and all of the communities we touch,” says Lambert.
Nursing and hospitality
Students in the nursing and resort and hospitality management programs at Castleton complete hundreds of hours of practical experience while earning their degrees. The university’s nursing program is partnered with health care facilities throughout the region, and resort and hospitality management is delivered in partnership with Killington Resort.
At Killington, students work in front- and back-end operations, learning how to run the business. There’s also an academic component, with classes built around it, says Lambert.
“They get different experiences to see where they fit in and to understand the business,” says Lambert.
In the partnership with Southwestern Vermont Health Care, the medical center has committed to offering employment to Castleton students who satisfactorily complete its BSN program, obtain licensure and meet pre-employment requirements. Additionally, SVHC will pay back tuition debt to those accepted employees who work six consecutive years within the health system.
The expectation at Castleton is for all students to have the safest and healthiest educational experience possible.
The school is served by a 24/7 Public Safety Department, which conducts continuous patrols.
The university also is equipped with a traditional Blue Light System for reporting crime, and back in January, it introduced the Castleton Safety App by Everbridge, which provides a direct line to Public Safety for any registered member of the Castleton community.
“Using an app is another easy way for students to connect with Public Safety,” said Lambert.
With the app, students, faculty and staff can create a record of their location, send an emergency alert to an officer on duty, receive a virtual escort or place an emergency call.
What it costs
The listed annual undergraduate tuition for full-time in-state students (and bordering counties out of state) is $11,832 and $28,800 for full-time nonresidents. About 1,100 students live on campus, and over 80 percent of all students receive need or merit-based financial aid through scholarships, grants and other sources. That means most students pay far less than the listed price.
The Castleton area
The town of Castleton itself is a country gem of about 4,100 people; it sits about 13 miles from Rutland, close to the border of New York state. The university’s Spartan Arena is in Rutland, one of the largest cities in Vermont, with a population of 16,000.
Being a student at Castleton offers the raw beauty of Vermont, while being close enough to shopping, department stores and restaurants to get a taste of the state’s cultural life.