University of Maryland, College Park: 12 Perks of Attending a Large Public University
In a Maryland suburb not quite 10 miles from the White House lies the University of Maryland’s lush, green College Park campus. Covering 1300 acres, the campus is surprisingly walkable – and maintains a college feel. With a 45 percent acceptance rate, this “public Ivy” offers rigor, prestige, and affordability. Due to the endowment that comes with such a large public institution, students gain access to vast academic resources and a robust alumni network.
- It is a highly-ranked school. Ranked 20th nationally and 43rd internationally as a public research institute, Maryland allows its students to take advantage of its readily available resources and opportunities.
- The academic options are rigorous – and seemingly endless. With over a hundred majors offered, you will find the right course of study for you. Incoming undergraduates are admitted to one of the university’s 12 ‘colleges’ which will host their major. Undecided students are admitted to the College of Letters and Sciences and are assigned a dedicated advisor who will help them decide what to study and “figure out a life plan,” says Admissions Officer Christine Lukban.
- Its limited enrollments programs are prestigious – but challenging. Students applying to certain fields – including Business, Journalism, Criminology, Engineering, and Bio Sciences, among others – face a selective application process, which includes two rounds of admission. The first is through the admissions counselors; once students pass that stage, their application is sent to the actual program for their screening process. Students not accepted into the limited enrollment college of their choice enter the College of Letters and Sciences and have the option to reapply in their second year after having taken the required courses.
- And for Med, Vet, and Law-School Bound students? These students do not designate a “pre-med” or “pre-law” track; instead, they major in an area of interest that may or may not be related to their further study and enroll in their “track.” Students are assigned two advisors: one ensures that they are on the right track to apply to medical, veterinarian or law school and the other keeps them in the right direction to complete their major. Students therefore “have a lot of people watching their back,” notes Lukban. Although students must complete the required courses to be able to apply to graduate school, they will also graduate with a well-rounded academic background. It is not uncommon to see law school-bound students majoring in history or dance.
- Students can tailor the General Education courses to their interests. All graduating students must have completed 40 credits of general education courses; at UMD, though, because of the sheer number of available courses, students can hone in on their interests while meeting their requirements. For example, many students will enroll in “I Series” courses which focus on current events surrounding a breadth of topics from artificial intelligence to the human-animal relationship.
- Students are heavily encouraged to engage in a “special experience.” These include opportunities for research, internship, education abroad, and service learning; 80 percent of graduating students will have participated in at least one “special experience.” The university hopes to exceed that number. Students are encouraged to build relationships with faculty – perhaps through the weekly four to six office hours that all professors must offer – because these can lead to research opportunities. Students seeking internships are encouraged to take advantage of UMD’s proximity to Washington DC’s many organizations and agencies. Also, each year, UMD hosts 335 employers who come to campus seeking interns. And for those students interested in study abroad, with 447 possible locations to study, there is a place and program for everyone.
- Students are supported in the job search. Ideally, students’ internship and networking experiences while on campus will lead to a job offer upon graduation. If not, though, the career center offers a plethora of supportive services including resume and cover letter help, career fairs, interview tips, and even advice about how to evaluate an offer. Students have the opportunity to participate in and review a taped mock interview.
- And outside the classroom? With over 27,000 undergraduates from 115 countries, students can expect to find their social niche. There is always something happening on campus, thanks to the 901 student-run clubs ranging from Quidditch (UMD has a world-ranked team) and political clubs to anyone who shares the name “Bob” (or Robert, Rob, or Bobby).
- What about housing? Most freshmen (75 percent) live in double-occupancy rooms in one of several high rise buildings on campus. Each of these is staffed 24/7 by a “community assistant” in charge of the building’s safety. Student access cards only provide access to their floor, in their building. Floors are usually co-ed and include a student lounge, a shared kitchen, men and women’s bathrooms, and are staffed by a Resident Advisor. Students interested in “Living and Learning Communities” in which students with similar interests live together, have 19 options in the realms of research, service, and language-based communities.
- And for the sports-lovers? For those looking to play sports at UMD, there are three options: Division I sports, for which a student would likely be recruited as a high schooler; intramural sports which still involve a competitive spirit; and club sports, which can be likened to a pick-up game among friends. For spectators: tickets to UMD games are free, assigned through a lottery system that favors frequent attenders.
- Will I be able to afford UMD? UMD is ranked 7th Best Value among public schools. Seventy-five percent of students receive some kind of financial aid from the university.
- What should I know about the application? UMD does not use the Common Application. This year, applicants submitted UMD’s own application which utilized the new Coalition application essay questions. Fall Priority deadlines – which offer the best consideration for admission, merit scholarships, and special programs – is November 1. In fact, 90 percent of the class is selected from applicants who adhere to this deadline. The decision is not binding; students have until May to make their decision. UMD also superscores standardized results, but does not consider the writing section of either the SAT or ACT. The university also does not consider the scores from any SAT Subject Tests.
Notable alumni include Google Founder Sergey Brin, Seinfeld creator Larry David, Muppet creator Jim Henson, morning-show host Gayle King, and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.
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