Southern New Hampshire University Review 2020

When it comes to academic institutions with an enormous online curriculum, Southern New Hampshire University is on the fast track to becoming a major provider in online programs. As a private, nonprofit college, SNHU is pretty well-known, as it’s up against popular public universities such as Plymouth State University and University of New Hampshire. With a high acceptance rate, SNHU doesn’t shy away from offering accessible and affordable higher education for both college-aged students and working adults.

If you’re a prospective student, you’ll want to determine if SNHU is really the school for you. There are a total of 44 New Hampshire colleges, so you might be wondering what exactly makes SNHU a standout. In this review, we’ll be covering the pros and cons of SNHU, along with a comparison of other New Hampshire universities. The following key points are what you need to know about SNHU before submitting an application.

Background

As a private, nonprofit, accredited institution, SNHU boasts more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 135,000 online students — that’s what they claim on their website anyway. SNHU has been around since 1932, but it was formerly known by many names: New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science, New Hampshire College of Accounting and Commerce, and New Hampshire College. SNHU’s Business program is highly praised because the founder developed a program that focused on accounting, bookkeeping, and secretarial tasks. Even back then, the flexible day and evening courses were accessible to both young and older adults.

The current president of SNHU is Paul LeBlanc who’s been in charge of growing the student population from 2,800 students to the current number since 2003. Thanks to him, SNHU has become one of the fastest-growing and largest nonprofit institutions for online students.

Rankings

Numbers speak for themselves, especially with rankings. For us, SNHU ranks 21st on our list of the most affordable New Hampshire colleges. The school is pretty far down the list, but our numbers are based on out-of-state tuition costs, which tends to be more expensive than in-state and online. SNHU has also been named one of the “Most Innovative Companies of 2012” by Fast Company, beating out Tesla Motors and the NFL that year. Fast Company reasoned SNHU’s honoree status “for relentlessly reinventing higher ed[ucation], on and off.” Washington Monthly recognized SNHU as one of the “Best Colleges for Adult Learners” in 2019 with a 12th rank. Other publications have named SNHU as one of the most innovative colleges in the U.S., which, if we’re looking strictly at numbers, is a proven fact given their rapid campus expansion and student population growth.

Pros and Cons

Here’s where we lay out the truth about SNHU on the table — the good and bad. We pored over many reviews from previous and current SNHU students and picked out common praises as well as complaints. Paired with thorough research on SNHU, our findings are outlined in the following pros and cons:

Pros

  • Huge online curriculum: With more than 300 programs under their belt, SNHU doesn’t play around when it comes to online classes. They offer over 200 career-focused online college degree programs and more than 100 online Bachelor’s degree programs and concentrations.
  • Lots of Business programs: As we mentioned earlier, SNHU’s Business programs shine the brightest. There are a ton of majors to choose from and the professors are some of the best at SNHU.
  • Sort of diverse: Diversity at SNHU doesn’t mean ethnic diversity. The student population is predominantly white. SNHU is more diverse in age groups and geographics. In fall 2019, 26% of undergraduate students were under 24 years old while 74% were older than 25. Nine percent were from in-state while 89% were from out-of-state. The out-of-state numbers most likely come from online students from across the country.
  • High acceptance rate: SNHU is one of the academic institutions that are the least selective in admitting new students. With an acceptance rate of 88%, prospective students have a higher chance of being admitted to SNHU. This comes with the fact that SAT/ACT scores are optional.

Cons

  • Semester academic calendar: This may or may not be your cup of tea — it depends on whether you can handle the coursework within an eight-week period with few breaks in between each semester as an undergraduate. For graduates, they have a 10-week term.
  • Less-than-enthusiastic professors: Sometimes there’s a rotten apple in the bunch, and for SNHU’s faculty, the phrase rings true. There’s a lot of praise for professors in SNHU’s Business programs, but outside of that, you might end up with a professor who ruins the class experience for you. This is especially the case if you’re an online tech student — you’ll be thrown in the pool and expected to learn how to swim.
  • On-Campus and online binary: As much as SNHU receives accolades for how fast they’re growing as a private, nonprofit college, on-campus and online programs are very much separate. Students can’t mix on-campus courses with online courses — it’s one or the other. This can be a hurdle if one of the majors you want to study isn’t offered as an on-campus option or an online option.
  • Overcrowded classrooms: Because of the high acceptance rate, SNHU’s on-campus classrooms have one too many students. Overcrowding in physical classrooms will always be detrimental to students’ relationships with professors. There’s less focus on the student as an individual and more priority on lecturing a full classroom.

SNHU seems to bank on their online programs to compensate for small-sized on-campus classrooms. With an eight or 10-week term, it puts pressure on both students and professors to teach and learn the coursework in a short period of time. SNHU may be easy to get into, but your experience varies greatly depending on your major and the professors you end up with.

SNHU in the News

In the years since LeBlanc stepped up as SNHU’s fifth president, the school has received a major advertising push for SNHU’s enrollment numbers. LeBlanc hopes to reach 300,000 enrolled students by 2023. There’s more emphasis on their online programs, which is why the online student population significantly outweighs the on-campus student population.

During a recent interview with PBS, the host revealed that LeBlanc has plans to keep lowering tuition even after the pandemic. LeBlanc openly advocated for online learning rather than face-to-face. He also clarified that cutting expenses isn’t going to be easy, but that changes within the school’s structure and systems would be much faster to achieve.

Another news site detailed LeBlanc’s new on-campus model of a $10,000 tuition rate. While this was originally intended for the 2020-2021 academic year, with the pandemic still underway, it’s safe to say that LeBlanc’s plans to have the same tuition rate for on-campus and online students have been delayed.

Campus Life

There are more than 75 recognized clubs and organizations at SNHU. From Greek organizations to special interest clubs, SNHU’s campus life remains lively for on campus students who want more interactions with each other outside of the classroom. Their residence halls are varied, whether it’s apartment-style living or larger suites. In 2018, SNHU opened up their very own athletic stadium, Penmen Stadium, which seats 1,500 spectators. This bodes well for the school’s 20 NCAA Division II teams.

As far as campus safety goes, SNHU stays traditional with Public Safety officers who follow a set of standards during suspicious activities or emergency events. SNHU is located near two police stations, so they have an extra security blanket for when things go awry. In the event that an emergency occurs, students and faculty can sign up for SNHU Alerts to receive instant texts and emails.

Campus life at SNHU is a mixed bag — it solely depends on the individual who either actively seeks or avoids the school’s on-campus facilities, clubs, and organizations. Students tend to feel safe, maybe a little bored, but that’s what happens when the priority is online enrollment.

Online Experience

As much praise as SNHU gets for their online programs, students still struggle with juggling coursework completed over discussion boards and submission portals while virtually reaching out to professors for support. There’s room for improvement, but as it stands, students either love or hate SNHU’s online curriculum. The main goal of online learning at SNHU is based on the Three A’s: Affordability, Accessibility, and Achievability.

There are plenty of online resources, including a writing center, tutoring services, career services, academic advising, technical support, an online accessibility center, an online library, a wellness center, and an online bookstore. Many of these resources are also accessible on campus — the only difference is the “online” part.

The same can be said for clubs and organizations. Through SNHUconnect, an online student union, online students are meeting in a digital lounge to discuss interests, discover upcoming events, and network with other students. Some students fully engage in the lounge and others lose interest quickly.

SNHU vs. Other New Hampshire Institutions

Applying for colleges means there’s going to be more than one that you’re interested in. The best way to weigh your options is by comparison. For SNHU, we picked out the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and Plymouth State University to compare. The chart below offers a glimpse of what each college offers.

Southern New Hampshire UniversityUniversity of New Hampshire at ManchesterPlymouth State University
School TypePrivate, nonprofitPublicPublic
Accredited?YesYesYes
Year Founded193219851871
Academic CalendarSemesterQuarterlySemester
Estimated Annual Tuition (undergrad, in-state, on-campus)$30,756$30,788$29,430
Student Population3,000+ on campus, 135,000+ online7534,648
Acceptance Rate88%68%82%
Online Classes Offered?YesNoYes
# of Programs300+33100+

The University of New Hampshire at Manchester and Plymouth State University are both four-year, public universities. The latter is cheaper than SNHU for undergraduate, in-state, on-campus tuition and has a larger population. SNHU and Plymouth State University are similar in a lot of aspects, including the high acceptance rate and number of programs offered. The University of New Hampshire at Manchester, on the other hand, is on a smaller scale with no online classes offered and a lower acceptance rate. Given the fact that it’s the urban and satellite campus of University of New Hampshire, the Manchester-based college’s student population is significantly smaller than the other two colleges.

For a strict “no partying” scene, University of New Hampshire at Manchester is the place to be. Plymouth State University has won over students with their beautiful and scenic campus while also allowing social gatherings. If you’re looking for a bit of both, SNHU has got you covered — if you’re an on-campus student, that is. Despite SNHU being a private university, it shares a lot of similarities with Plymouth State University, a public university. The University of New Hampshire at Manchester looks like an outlier, but considering that it’s in the same city as SNHU and has similar undergraduate tuition rates, it’s comparable. Overall, SNHU seems to offer the best of both public universities while racing ahead with their online programs.

Closing Thoughts

As one of the fastest-growing universities in the U.S., SNHU seems to focus a lot more on their online programs than their on-campus counterpart. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the school is trying so hard to bump up their enrollment numbers via their online programs that on-campus students are left in the dust. If you’re eyeing their Business program, then you’ll get the most value out of your time at SNHU. Although their programs are varied, the professors can either make or break your learning experience. When it comes to higher education, we think it’s vital that professors are on the same page about providing challenging yet engaging courses while supporting students. All in all, SNHU does have its perks, like flexible and affordable courses, but if you’re not an online student, a business student, or both, you won’t have as much of an enriching experience.

Scoreboard

  • Admissions: 8/10
  • Cost: 8/10
  • On-Campus Programs: 8/10
  • Online Programs: 8/10
  • Faculty: 7/10
  • Campus Life: 8/10
  • Clubs and Organizations: 8/10
  • On-Campus and Online Resources: 9/10
  • Final Score: 7/10