University of Maryland

The quad at the University of Maryland is beautiful and mirrors the quintessential American university campus portrayed in Hollywood movies. Brick academic buildings line the perimeter, an elegant fountain serves as is its focal point and the majestic library crowns the hilltop.  During my visit to Maryland, students were enjoying the beautiful fall day hanging out with friends, sunbathing and riding bikes through the gentle, rolling hills. This suburban campus is located in College Park, Maryland, just 15 minutes from downtown Washington, D.C. Shuttle buses transport students to many campus locations, downtown and the metro station. However, our tour guide, like many UMD students, opts to ride a bike to help navigate the sprawling 1,200  acre campus.

Maryland is a large state university with 26,000 undergraduate students. Approximately 75 percent of students hail from Maryland. However, the student population is diverse.  Students come from all 50 states, and more than 20 percent of the student body is comprised of students of color. UMD students appear laid back and down-to-earth. Most students were dressed in jeans and t-shirts, while others were wearing red Maryland t-shirts showing their school spirit.

marylandCognizant of its size, the University offers opportunities for its students to make a large university smaller.  Freshmen can take advantage of one of the Living and Learning Communities. This program assigns groups of freshmen enrolled in the same core academic classes to a common dorm.  The goal of the program is to provide a living and learning environment that fosters the opportunity to make close relationships. Our tour guide Leah told us that this was a fantastic experience. As a junior, she still considers the classmates she met freshman year to be among her closest friends.

Admissions encourages all students to apply by the November 1 priority deadline. Students who apply by November 1 will automatically be considered for the Honors College, College Park Scholars Program and merit aid.  No additional application or supplemental essay is required to be considered for these programs. However, students applying after the November deadline will not be considered.  Historically, 85 percent of the student body is selected through the priority deadline. UMD is not a Common Application school. Admissions takes a holistic approach; the most important criteria are GPA and test scores. Admissions cautions students not to exceed the 300 words limit on the two essays.

A prospective student must apply directly to one of the 10 colleges within the University. Engineering and business, which are considered the most competitive, have limited enrollment.  It is not surprising that political science is popular with the UMD’s close proximity to D.C. Journalism and media studies is strong as well and is housed in the new state of the art journalism building.

maryland2Students take advantage of research, leadership and internships on and off campus.  Many students find off campus internships in nearby D.C. in government, cultural centers, museums, and businesses. Study abroad is popular and encouraged.

Students at UMD are active outside the classroom as well. There are more than 800 clubs and organizations on campus to join. While I was there the marching band was practicing for the upcoming game.  Greek Life is strong, with 42% of the student body affiliated with sororities or fraternities. Frat Row is located across from the main quad and appeared to be full of activity.

School spirit is strong at the UMD, and students are proud of their Div. I sports teams.  Attending Terrapin games are easy, with on-campus football and basketball stadiums. Other athletic fields and facilities are well appointed and easily accessible, including a nationally recognized state of the art gym open to all students complete with cardio machines, weights and exercise classes.

The town of College Park is within easy walking distance to the University and has everything a college student could want or need.  Fast food, coffee shops, yogurt shops and bars line the streets. Students who live on campus say there is no need for a car.

The University of Maryland is a great choice for the student who wants a large university with a big sports culture, strong Greek life, close proximity to D.C., and vast internship opportunities. While on campus, be sure to participate in a long-standing Maryland tradition of rubbing the nose of Testudo, the large bronze terrapin mascot; it is said to bring good luck!

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 20742,

Phone 301.405.1000


University of Maryland
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