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Recent experiences with: University of Kentucky? University of Alabama - Huntsville? or Florida International University?


Lanny
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If anyone here has DC who are currently attending, or, recently graduated from, any of these 3 universities, I would appreciate you sharing  your comments? Pros and cons? Student happy there? Quality of education?  Honors College? Campus Safety?  Etc...         Any comments will be most appreciated!

Only one of these schools, University of Alabama - Huntsville, was on my Radar at all. That was because of comments I had read here on WTM, probably 1 or 2 years ago.  These 3 universities offer very good Merit Aid for National Hispanic Scholars and DD has that honor, so now we are looking at expanding the list of universities she will apply to.

Thank you for your time and help!

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We visited University of Kentucky. It's a solid school, nice area, nicest dorms I have seen anywhere. Education there seems excellent, and they have sports and the whole large school spirit thing going on ? In the end, for my daughter, the money there wasn't as good as other places. But I would not have hesitated to send her there for engineering.

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3 hours ago, GoodGrief1 said:

We visited University of Kentucky. It's a solid school, nice area, nicest dorms I have seen anywhere. Education there seems excellent, and they have sports and the whole large school spirit thing going on ? In the end, for my daughter, the money there wasn't as good as other places. But I would not have hesitated to send her there for engineering.

 

Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated!   I have seen several very positive comments, in a thread on CollegeConfidential and at the moment, of the 3 schools, UK has my primary interest, because of those comments and your comments.

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We visited UKY and UAH. Dd liked both schools. UKY is much larger, on rolling hills, in beautiful country. UAH is small and not as spread out. Huntsville, though, is a great little city.

UKY is a more typical state flagship size/environment. UAH is more the size of a large LAC (about 1/3 the number of students at UKY.)

Dd could have seen herself at either one. Huntsville does have connections to Cummings Research Park and NASA for internship opportunities.

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

We visited UKY and UAH. Dd liked both schools. UKY is much larger, on rolling hills, in beautiful country. UAH is small and not as spread out. Huntsville, though, is a great little city.

UKY is a more typical state flagship size/environment. UAH is more the size of a large LAC (about 1/3 the number of students at UKY.)

Dd could have seen herself at either one. Huntsville does have connections to Cummings Research Park and NASA for internship opportunities.

 

Would either work for a student who is an introvert, conservative, and is uncomfortable in a party atmosphere?  I keep looking at smaller private schools for my dd but the bigger schools seem to be the ones where we know she'll get plenty of merit money.

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26 minutes ago, Kassia said:

 

Would either work for a student who is an introvert, conservative, and is uncomfortable in a party atmosphere?  I keep looking at smaller private schools for my dd but the bigger schools seem to be the ones where we know she'll get plenty of merit money.

I don't know about the schools mentioned in this thread, but just wanted to say that my dd is all of the above and she is at a very large state flagship university and is doing fine. I was very nervous about it but the scholarship there was too good to pass up. She does have a single dorm room and I think some of the partying problems are solved by not having  a roommate. She just has her own little world within a world there, is involved with one of the campus Christian organizations, and goes about her business. She is in the honors college and I thought that that might help to provide a smaller community to be a part of but so far it really hasn't. Early days for her though.

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Thank you, to each of you, for the comments above!  Much appreciated!   I am going to be studying Florida International University for DD today, instead of Kentucky, because FIU has an application deadline of 15 October, if one is looking for Merit Aid and because they have up to a Full Ride, for 4 years, Full Tuition, Fees, and Room and Board, for National Hispanic Scholars.  Then, I think Kentucky and then UAH.  UKentucky sounds beautiful.  I would like that. I think I spent the night in Lexington once, driving back to Texas, with a detour to see friends in SC.     All of the comments above were of great interest!

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UAH did change their scholarship matrix this year, so make sure you look at the most recent info on the website. 

My oldest is in her junior year at UAH with a double major: Foreign Language & International Trade and Economics & Computational Analysis. 

Very safe campus, excellent education, known for STEM but solid in most areas. About 39% of students scored 30 or higher on the ACT. Weakest point has been her internship, they are pushing for one abroad but have not helped at all. It's not a good time for a French internship, so imo they need to be stepping up and finding things stateside that have an international component. Engineering students have part-time jobs and internships falling down on them like rain, lol. One of her friends gave a ride to someone going to an interview; while he was waiting, someone at the company asked if he was there for a job. He said no, and they said, well, do you want one, lol?  

Lots of single rooms. They were all singles when dd started, but I think the new dorm will have doubles. Dorms are co-ed with males and females on the same floor but not in the same suite. Residents can have opposite gender guests in the common area and in their own room. This has not been a big deal for her at all: there is a door to the suite, a door to each half of the suite, and then a bedroom door.

Honors students get early orientation, priority registration, some standard honors classes and some special honors seminars on special topics, I'm sure I'm forgetting things. They put a lot into some of the honors seminar classes. My dd is hoping to take one on Middle Eastern philosophy this spring; they are flying in a couple of authors who will do a private discussion with the class in addition to a talk for the campus at large. 

It's a very walkable campus and the city has a decent shuttle system plus Uber. dd does not have a car but plenty of her friends do; they use them more for driving home and doing things off campus, as the parking doesn't really allow for driving to class. 

Lots of clubs, lots of free or low-cost activities: free movie night every week, gaming clubs, all kinds of stuff. 

I don't know much about the other two schools, but my inlaws live in Kentucky and my allergies that are bad at home are absolutely horrific there, lol. You might want to see if she's allergic to Kentucky bluegrass before making that decision ?

 

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@Katilac   Thank you for taking the time to share all of your comments with us!  That sounds very good.   Today I am writing a draft email I will send to the Admissions Rep at FIU, because their deadline for Merit Scholarships is fast approaching.  After that I will compile a list of similar questions for UAH and UKY.  I don't know about an allergy to Kentucky Bluegrass.  We live in a Tropical Valley, in Colombia, where, like Kentucky, there are a lot of beautiful horses. Paso Fino is the breed here.  Much appreciated!

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6 hours ago, Kassia said:

 

Would either work for a student who is an introvert, conservative, and is uncomfortable in a party atmosphere?  I keep looking at smaller private schools for my dd but the bigger schools seem to be the ones where we know she'll get plenty of merit money.

My dd is definitely all of those.  She originally thought she wanted a small LAC but after several visits, she refused to even consider small campuses anymore. She ultimately decided that the smaller campuses made her feel claustrophobic.  She felt closed in by dominant cultures with no escape.  She found the larger campuses a better fit precisely b/c there are so many people that there is a greater variance in the populace.  It was easier to find people with similar values (even though hers are still in the minority, at least she has a rock solid group of friends.)

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45 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

My dd is definitely all of those.  She originally thought she wanted a small LAC but after several visits, she refused to even consider small campuses anymore. She ultimately decided that the smaller campuses made her feel claustrophobic.  She felt closed in by dominant cultures with no escape.  She found the larger campuses a better fit precisely b/c there are so many people that there is a greater variance in the populace.  It was easier to find people with similar values (even though hers are still in the minority, at least she has a rock solid group of friends.)

 

This is what one of my sons told dd.  He went to a huge university and told dd it's so much easier to be anonymous in a setting like that.  We visited one very small LAC and she liked it (I felt claustrophobic, though!) and said she likes the idea of being in small classes where professors know you.  

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11 minutes ago, Kassia said:

 

This is what one of my sons told dd.  He went to a huge university and told dd it's so much easier to be anonymous in a setting like that.  We visited one very small LAC and she liked it (I felt claustrophobic, though!) and said she likes the idea of being in small classes where professors know you.  

Maybe that would be a good fit for her then. We visited 2 smaller colleges and I think I liked them better than my dd lol. I was really impressed with one in particular but my dd wasn't 100% sure about it and in the end decided against it because it was farther from home and didn't offer her first choice major, although she could have done something else as an undergrad.

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10 minutes ago, Kassia said:

 

This is what one of my sons told dd.  He went to a huge university and told dd it's so much easier to be anonymous in a setting like that.  We visited one very small LAC and she liked it (I felt claustrophobic, though!) and said she likes the idea of being in small classes where professors know you.  

I think the impersonal "professors don't know you" mantra about big schools is false. If students want professors to know them, they will. My kids have all gone to big publics and every single one of them has had great relationships with their professors and their professors have stepped up to be their mentors.  My kids have also had predominantly small classes.  Honors sections are small and upper level classes are small. They have had the odd course that was large (but you will find that is true on many LAC campuses, too.)

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My father was a professor at University of KY for 20 years.  He was passionate about being a really good teacher. He worked super hard to get the best student evaluations he could by fixing what were reasonable complaints and implementing suggestions.  At the beginning of term when he set the syllabus, he would clear his calendar completely for the 2 days after the exams or papers were due, so that he could mark them and give them back next class.  So due on Monday, back on Wednesday. The students loved this. And as he got older (he retired at 78) and technology in the classroom changed, the university gave him a tech student to manage all the new tech that the students expected (online Blackboard, recorded lectures, etc), that way he focus on being an excellent teacher and was not expected as an older prof to learn all the new tech.  I thought that this was really good of the University to recognize the needs of both the students and the professors. He also loved to mentor students, and still does.  Even at 79, he has a month long list of lunch engagements with students, where he will drive into the University and meet up to mentor them with how to accomplish their career goals. At 60, he decided to go back to school at UK (while still being a professor) and earn a bachelors degree (he already had an MD and PhD but was accepted into med school with a year to go for his BS).  He went part time for 4 years, never told the administration, and studied with the students in the library for calculus and other tough classes.  He was just a lifelong learner, and enjoyed the students enough to study with 20 year olds as a 60 year old. 

I can't say what other professors are like at UK, but the culture there was such that my dad thrived as a professor.

Ruth in NZ   

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I think the impersonal "professors don't know you" mantra about big schools is false. If students want professors to know them, they will. My kids have all gone to big publics and every single one of them has had great relationships with their professors and their professors have stepped up to be their mentors.  My kids have also had predominantly small classes.  Honors sections are small and upper level classes are small. They have had the odd course that was large (but you will find that is true on many LAC campuses, too.)

I agree with 8, but I will add that it is possible to still be invisible (not anonymous, but not really noticed) in small classes. I went to a midsized state U (15,000-20,000 undergrads), and my upper level engineering classes were usually made up of 15-20 students. Depending on the topic, I was sometimes a well-known participant (spending quality time in the prof's lab and/or office hours) and sometimes just a name on a test. If you are middle-of-the-pack and don't make a point to seek out opportunities to build relationships, it is easy to blend into the woodwork.

My Thermodynamics prof wouldn't likely have remembered me despite the hours of assistance he gave me during office hours except that I was very obviously dating (PDA!) one of his favorite students from a previous year. Despite not being in the same area of engineering as DH, that prof became a close mentor and friend of DH's.

Know thy student. My dd#1 could blend in or stand out depending on the class. She is looking for someplace big enough to offer some options and choices but small enough that she's more than just a name on a test if she wants to be. So far, she likes smaller class sizes a lot more than big ones. (And the biggest she's experienced so far is 25!)

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10 hours ago, Kassia said:

 

Would either work for a student who is an introvert, conservative, and is uncomfortable in a party atmosphere?  I keep looking at smaller private schools for my dd but the bigger schools seem to be the ones where we know she'll get plenty of merit money.

Yes. In some ways, I think it might be easier to find like-minded people at a large school because there are many more people in general. I really think it's a matter of selecting suitable clubs or activities.

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My nephew and his wife both graduated from FIU with business degrees (Finance and Accounting). They both had no trouble finding jobs with big corporations that were specifically seeking fluent Spanish speakers. It's on the more suburban side of Miami near residential areas. I know my nephew had a full tuition scholarship but he lived with my bil and commuted.

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My kids aren’t college age but I do check this board from time to time and felt like I should answer your questions.

My husband earned his ME from UK 10 years ago. He has nothing but good things to say about the college of engineering. He has also hired graduates from the engineering school. They have a good program for placing students in co-ops, I can’t compare to other schools but I found that office to be very helpful in matching students with companies. I am also a graduate (not of the engineering school) and former employee.

Most of the dorms are new within the last few years. The student center is brand new. The university has put millions of dollars into upgrading facilities in the past decade. There is a party culture but I have known many recent students who have gotten involved in activities and avoided it without issue, especially those in the honors colleges or involved with campus ministries.  There is a lot of support for the various sports teams, not just the basketball and football teams.

We love the Lexington area, it has a small town feel but it has many amenities of a bigger town too and is an easy drive to both Cincinnati and Louisville.  I don’t have any direct recent experience with actual classes but I can answer questions about the area. 

 

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On 10/8/2018 at 10:41 PM, Rachel said:

My kids aren’t college age but I do check this board from time to time and felt like I should answer your questions.

My husband earned his ME from UK 10 years ago. He has nothing but good things to say about the college of engineering. He has also hired graduates from the engineering school. They have a good program for placing students in co-ops, I can’t compare to other schools but I found that office to be very helpful in matching students with companies. I am also a graduate (not of the engineering school) and former employee.

Most of the dorms are new within the last few years. The student center is brand new. The university has put millions of dollars into upgrading facilities in the past decade. There is a party culture but I have known many recent students who have gotten involved in activities and avoided it without issue, especially those in the honors colleges or involved with campus ministries.  There is a lot of support for the various sports teams, not just the basketball and football teams.

We love the Lexington area, it has a small town feel but it has many amenities of a bigger town too and is an easy drive to both Cincinnati and Louisville.  I don’t have any direct recent experience with actual classes but I can answer questions about the area. 

 

I'm also a UK grad (though not engineering).  I could have written the last two paragraphs - good description!  When I look at the improvements, I feel a little cheated at the university experience I got 25+ years ago, lol.  (eta:  it costs 5 times more now than it did then too, lol).  Also, my dh took my ds for a campus visit there in August.  Dh was really impressed by the technology - I'll ask him about it and try to post an update later.  I don't think it was the right University for me - I never really found the right small group to fit in with, but it has a lot to offer especially if you want a big school and realize you'll have to be persistent to find your place in it.  

Edited by Another Lynn
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Hello,

I live in Lexington, KY where UK is located.  I visited UK with my son in August of this year and we both were impressed.  We walked the campus with a student guide, met with a student panel, ate at the main campus cafeteria, and looked at a couple of dorms.  As a parent, I was blown away at how much technology UK has.  The Library is huge! and there are current students that can help your child in any subject.  The library also as a safety program where the ROTC cadets walk you home at night.  UK also has a police department which seems active and well funded.  The dorms ...  wow.  Not like the dorms when I went to college.  The dorms we looked at were in great shape and very clean.  There are different types of rooms you can choose from.  They even have an app to let you know when the washer and dryers are available and track your laundry progress.  crazy.  The cafeteria is the best cafeteria I have visited (we have visited several colleges).  The cafeteria is a large area that offers a variety of foods and drinks.  The only thing that could be a negative is that the campus is spread out and large, but it's a large university, so there's that.  There are tons of local businesses on and near campus in walking distance from the dorms.  UK is also loved by the surrounding community and a great place to go if you love sports.  The UK football team is doing well this year and the UK basketball team will be a top 5 team again this year.  The student panel we spoke with (all homeschoolers) loved the university.  I hope my description of the UK helped and good luck in your search.

Jim

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