University of Alabama (info session 12/10/18)
‘Bama has become more popular with my students over the last couple years (although groups of students wanting the larger, Southern, rah-rah feel seems to cycle through every so often) – and they are doing more outreach in the mid-Atlantic region. In mid-December, they did a one-week trip through the Baltimore/DC/VA area with counselor luncheons, info sessions for families, and other outreach. There was quite a bit of good information that came out of this!
I sat at a table with a student form Northern Virginia who was part of the Alabama team travelling through the region. She’s a sophomore who is double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Dance! “Alabama can help make that happen!” She is overloading on classes and clearly has this well planned out, but it’s doable. Her brother also attended the university which is how she learned about it; she originally was not going to even look at it, but the more time she spent there visiting him, the more it grew on her – and the other schools she visited “just didn’t compare.
Part of what she loves about the school is that she isn’t limited, even as a double major, one of which is Engineering and can be highly dictated. She’s going to study abroad next year in Dublin; they have a program with a direct transfer for ChemE. There are also engineering co-ops. Outside of the classroom, she’s on the Hip-hop Dance Crew, in Society of Women Engineers (where she’s highly involved in community service), and a member of a STEM sorority. She said that she didn’t go Greek the first year because she was sure she didn’t want that, but the more she learned about it, the more she liked the group she joined.
Greek life can be important or not there at all, said both the student and one of the reps who graduated a few years ago. There’s no shortage of other options to choose from with 650+ clubs and counting, including cloud watching. The university sponsors Get On Board Day. Recruitment/info tables for clubs are set up between the dorms and classes so students have to walk through them and see it! Athletics are, of course, a big draw here. Students are guaranteed 3 tickets (2 if they pick the package including the Auburn game) to the football games; they pay $10 a game. If they don’t use their tickets, they can transfer them to someone else. As long as the ticket gets used, the student gets “points”/credit for going and can increase their standing for picking their package for the next time around. Also, the more academic credits they have, the more tickets they’re eligible to get (currently, if they have 60+ credits, they can get a full package).
They’re doing something well there with an 87% retention rate; 68% graduate within 6 years. They’ve also vastly increased their student population over the last 15ish years from 19,000 to just over 33,000 undergraduates. With that has come 90 new buildings since 2003. Currently about 60% of students are from outside Alabama: “It was a good surprise to see how many there were.”
They’ve started several Innovative Programs, as well:
- New College allows students to create their own major.
- Several Accelerated Master’s Programs: Students apply during the junior year and must have a minimum 3.3 GPA.
- University Fellows is an Honors program offered in addition to Departmental Honors.
- Randolph Research Scholars Program is open to students in all majors.
- McCullough Medical Scholars which emphasizes the liberal arts within pre-med preparation. They add classes like anthropology, philosophy, and more to the program.
The university app goes live in July. Students just need a transcript, test scores, and the app – no essays or recs needed. The university is getting strict about the Scholarship Consideration deadline on 12/15 – students must be ADMITTED by then! Once admitted, students have a variety of housing options with different price-points. That application opens on 10/1 with a priority deadline of 2/1. All freshmen are guaranteed space, but they longer they wait to apply/deposit, the less choice they’ll have in where they live. They do offer honors housing – Honors students don’t have to live there, but you have to be an honors student to get into that space.