College review by from our guest blogger, Katherine McKinley. She is a senior at Westfield High School and in the throws of making her decision about where to attend.
This past weekend I attended University of Michigan’s “Campus Day Weekend” for accepted students with my parents. We flew from Newark to Detroit, and then drove about 30 minutes to UM. All in all, the trip is relatively easy. As we pulled into the parking lot in Ann Arbor I had already fallen in love. The town of Ann Arbor has everything — literally. American Apparel, Ben and Jerry’s, Border’s, Whole Foods, Starbuck’s (just to name a few), and pretty much every type of food you can imagine is somewhere in the town (the restaurants were great). Ann Arbor is a part of the UM campus, not separate. Walking around Ann Arbor felt like a mini-city and the perfect safe environment for college students. I loved being able to see college students everywhere I turned in their blue and yellow sweatshirts.
In the afternoon, I sat in on a Physics for the Life Sciences lecture class, with about 150 students. As a TA floating around the classroom explained to me, every large class on campus has both lecture and discussion sections. While the lectures consist of anywhere between 100-300 students, discussion classes break down this large group into about 20-30 students, which discuss the previous lecture to clear up any questions and further explain what was taught. I found this to be an effective compromise to the large class lectures.
The next day my parents and I went to the “Campus Day” presentation for accepted students into the Literature, Arts, and Science School (LSA). After listening to each presentation, it really sunk in to me how impressive the education is at Michigan. Every school and program within the university is ranked within the top 20 of the country, and Michigan alumni seem to stay very connected and involved in the UM community even years after graduating. I felt a great sense of pride on the campus, especially as we walked around on the tour later in the day and people would be yelling “Go Blue!” everywhere we went.
While an exciting atmosphere, UM does not have beautiful buildings and great scenery. For the most part, the buildings were concrete and looked pretty old. However, there were some areas and buildings, like the law quad, and the Michigan Union, which were very pretty, and the renovations on residence halls and classrooms look promising.
One of my greatest fears about going to college is the size. I applied to small liberal arts schools of about 3,000, and Michigan has 40,000 including grad students. Although while on campus I did not feel like the university was exceptionally crowded, I did realize this was because everything is so spread out.
Central campus is mostly liberal arts; North Campus is where engineering, math and architecture classes are taught; South campus houses the sports facilities. For the most part upperclassman dorms are on Central Campus, which is manageable. However, most people forget that North Campus, where 50% of the freshmen live, is a bus ride away. My parents and I drove to North Campus at the end of our tour just to see what it was like, and it was a good 10-minute drive, making that about a 20-30 minute bus ride to central campus for LSA students. North Campus is very separate from Central Campus and not very attractive. There are alternatives to living on North Campus as a freshman, however, such as living learning communities or the Residential College.
After visiting this past weekend, I felt very positive about the University of Michigan. If you love the idea of having a great college town right on campus, and are not overwhelmed by the size, I highly recommend this school. As my dad put it, ‘you really can’t go wrong with an education like the University of Michigan.’