The University of Maryland - College Park
The University of Maryland - College Park - Comments and Student Experiences|
Pros - Tons of school spirit, ACC athletics, and a great workout facility make UMD a great place if you're into sports.
- There are some very well-respected departments, including business, engineering (I'm a bioengineer), and the sciences.
- Great social life if you're into partying, there are always a lot of parties and if you have a fake ID or are 21 the bars have a lot going on.
-The campus is diverse, not just racially but also socioeconomically and politically. The student body is more representative of the real world than most colleges. It's nice to be somewhere where everyone isnt rich, white, and liberal.
-Tuition is pretty cheap. Obviously in-state kids dont pay much, but its not bad fot out of state either. You pay a lot less at UMD than you would at a private school or another out-of-state public school. They also give good financial aid to out-of-state kids.
-The honors program is great if you get into it. The kids are pretty smart, there's a decent number of kids who got into "better" schools and went to UMD because of money. Everyone's also really chill. There's no cut-throat competition, everyone wants people to do well. Besides the fact that they're all good students, the Honors population is really diverse. You have black people, white people, Asian people, partiers, jocks, nerds, it goes on and on. No matter what your interests are, you can find people to hang out with.
Cons - Classes are pretty big, the professors will not reach out to you or even know your name. The lectures and exams are also based largely on the textbook. However, if you go to class and put in enough time outside of class, you can learn the material. In general, the professors are nice people if you make an effort to get to know them. There are some assholes, but there are going to be assholes wherever you go.
- Administration is poor. In their defense, it's not easy to manage 30,000 kids, but you have to be independent or you will not do well at all. Advising sucks, so you need to do your homework on which classes to take, etc. (Note- switching majors is a pain in the ass, you should do your best to pick your major before you come to school)
-Food is expensive (it's not all you can eat). It tastes fine, the diner's no 5 star restaurant but it's not vile like some people here have said.
-College Park is not a great place. The weather's good but it is a pretty ghetto town. They have all the necessary stores and the transportation is good, but you shouldnt walk around alone at night, it's not at all safe.Overall, I think UMD is what you make of it. They have tons of resources, and people (both students and faculty) are friendly if you are willing to take initiative. If you expect to be coddled, you should pick another school, because no one is going to go out of their way to help you or be your friend. If you want to be prepared for the real world, University of Maryland is a great place to go.
It has been easy to get involved on campus if you want to - there are many groups and if there isn't one you want to join you can make one. I have been able to join groups that satisfy my intellectual and social needs. It is also easy to do absolutely nothing - how busy you are will depend on how motivated you are to get involved and have a social life. There are house and apartment parties which I enjoy more than going downtown to the bars. They're cleaning up the area so hopefully the areas close to campus will improve quality and aesthetics-wise. People drink here and some will give you a hard time if you don't drink. Most people don't care and/or don't notice if you aren't drinking. There are special groups set up for transfers and freshman. You sign up, meet once a week, and make friends. The nightlife can get repetitive after a while, just like anywhere else. When it does, I hop on the metro and head to DC.
Never walk alone at night in College Park. There is crime going on around the University, so you have to be smart. Catch the bus, call the Campus night ride, do anything but walk alone.
There are also different types of fraternities - the typical social frat and the co-ed frat. The business school has co-ed fraternities that male and female students can join where you learn about business, do community projects, and do many social activies together. I've been told that there are also co-ed frats in the other colleges on campus, too, such as engineering. There are also co-ed service fraternities that do community service projects.
The professors have been very positive and you can tell that they enjoy what they are teaching. They have set office hours each week which they are always at, so if you need help in a class all you have to do is show up. Same with the TAs. All the teachers and TAs I've had are willing to make appointments to meet with you, too. This was surprising, because I thought that they would be focused on research. If you need help you will get it if you ask.
Some of the classes are gigantic (anywhere from 100 to 200 students in one lecture hall) while other ones I have taken have been much smaller and more intimate (18 in my Spanish class). Students work together in the classes and help each other learn concepts through group study. Don't be afraid to exchange emails with someone in your class - it will be helpful later. The majority of people that I have met are really nice people that are easy to get along with. The campus has a lot of diversity, but most people stick with what they know. UMD has about 25,000 undergrads, so things can get crowded - it can be hard to find a place to sit and eat in Stamp and the ERC always has a lot of people in it. You'd think that since there are so many students that they would have more places and areas to sit, but they don't. In Stamp on the bottom floor there is the TerpZone. It has pool tables, video games, and bowling as well as all of ESPN's channels projected on the wall. It's awesome.
Many students enjoy going to sporting events on campus. I wish the quality of football tailgating was better. Students (The Crew) will tailgate soccer games, which not many schools do. It's fun to go to the games and cheer on our student-athletes and dance with Testudo. The Comcast Center is gigantic and a wonderful facility to watch the Terps play. We have awesome athletic facilities for students, too - the Rec Center (ERC) is amazing with its indoor track, olympic size swimming pools, and the weight/cardio machines are in good shape, but, again, it can get crowded.I don't need someone to tell me what to do all the time and enjoy the independence that attending a large university gives me. Some people feel like a number, but you make your own way at a school this size.
I chose the latter to avoid being in a mountain of debt and am so glad that I did. The engineering program is top-notch. Many group projects and applicable work throughout your academic career. My friend who just transferred to MIT (also in civil engineering) said that it's all theory based over there and very minimally application-based. And to be honest, we're going to need the application-based knowledge when we get into the real world.
The engineering school is also helpful in matching students up with career and additional scholarship opportunities but ultimately it's UP TO THE STUDENT to pursue and follow through to land the opportunities. Thanks to the engineering career services and the great location of UMD, I have been able to do undergraduate research, work at the Dept. of Energy, and will soon be working at a national engineering firm, during my summers and during the school year. So by the time I graduate (which I completed in 4 years with no problem), I will have over a year of work experience in addition to my degree. I have made great connections with faculty during my research and my classes. I have also applied for and won over 10 additional scholarships, some exclusive to UMD students and some not, effectively paying for my tuition, room and board, and then some.
Okay it may seem like I'm an overachiever and maybe I am. However, I am by no means the most brilliant person you've ever met. I'm not a genius. I don't get straight A's. I didn't score over 700 on any of my SAT sections. But I have used UMD to my advantage by connecting with faculty and taking the initiative to apply for all that I can.
I've also made a lot of great friends here, most of them that I met during freshmen year. I've met a lot of genuine people here but don't get me wrong, there are a lot of snobby and arrogant people too.
Sports here are strong. Students really get into it. Tons of extracurricular activities where you can meet even more people. The Alternative Breaks program here is great.
UMD has helped to shape me into the person that I am. Sure the campus isn't in the best location, safety-wise. But it's a 20 minute ride into DC and that can't be beat (hello, internships). The staff and faculty won't hold your hand when you're here, but they will offer assistance and guidance if you need it. You've just gotta ask. So my bottom line is: It's the real world here and it is what you make of it. If you take the initiative and have the right attitude, then Maryland won't disappoint.
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