By Tristan Leach
Students at Rider from California get one simple question all the time, “You’re from California and you came to New Jersey? Why?” To many people, California sounds like a dream. Sunny, always warm and plenty to do. So why does Rider attract students from another coast?
The question has many answers. Some come for their major, the way the program is run.
For others, it’s about the community and connections that can be made. For students like Andrew Dysart from San Diego, who is a junior majoring in finance, these aspects came together when he was picking a college.
Dysart said, “Honestly when I was looking at college, what I knew was that I wanted a small school and to be on the east coast. I wanted to know the professors. Rider has a good finance program and good connections to big companies. I knew I could get a good job out of college and get internships.”
The decision to leave home and live 3,000 miles from family is a big one. However, people like Marianne Kollar help to make students feel at home. Kollar is the representative of students from Delaware, Pennsylvania and California and a regional recruiter for Rider. She took the job 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
Known affectionately as “Mama K” by her many students, Kollar travels to high schools in California to meet with prospective students. Her warmth and bright laughter can make any nervous student feel right at home.
Kollar said, “Something that seems to be an appeal is the fact that it’s [Rider] a smaller campus, most are used to the bigger UCs [Universities of California] and I think the community is definitely appealing. We really try to pay personal attention starting with admissions and keeping the whole pendulum going.”
This year has seen a growth in applications for several of the schools at Rider. “We are getting more and more applications for the business school which is great,” said Kollar. “Fine and performing arts is definitely the no. 1, but the other attraction is athletics. We are Division 1 and we have attracted more female athletes.”
Rider prides itself on connections. For many, it is a huge selling point. When asked what he would say to other Californian students considering Rider, Dysart made this point.
“Before COVID the community felt strong, and even now it’s picking back up,” Dysart said. “You can get to know your professors well and there are great connections for work and internships. [Rider] is an all-around school, meeting people, building connections and things for after college.”
At the end of the day though, there truly is no place like home. There may always be a California-shaped hole in the hearts of those students.
Kollar said, “When I ask students what they miss one says the weather but then another will say the weather in California is so boring. They also miss Mexican food and In-N-Out Burger. But they always find things they like and appreciate about New Jersey.”
New Jersey may not be where they are from, but the people they meet at Rider make many Californians feel right at home.