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dmmetler

Campus Visit Report-University of Alabama at Huntsville

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I know this one comes up a lot. 

We visited UAH today, and visited the honors college, biology, sociology, and met with admissions.

First of all, it’s pouring rain, and has been all day. So pretty awful conditions to visit a school. Despite that, DD loves it. She loves the offerings in the honors college, that the standard dorm structure allows privacy and the ability to retreat, and that the flyers on campus obviously show that folks there share her interests. The book store had plenty of geeky t-shirts (and ones on students were also suitably geeky). She felt comfortable there. The cafeteria had ample vegetarian and vegan options-indeed, many things were set up so that they were vegetarian and meat could be added. There also was a dedicated allergy-free line, with separate dishes that were the only ones used on that line-a big difference from “we’ll mark stuff as to what allergies it contains, but it’s on the line right next to food that has said allergen, so you’re hoping that the worker doesn’t accidentally cross-contaminate”. 

The biology prof/department chair who interviewed her recognized the conference her t-shirt was from-and will be presenting there this summer on reproductive ecology of a specific fish. He doesn’t work in her specializations and interest areas, but suggested others that did, and answered her concerns about animals being killed for research/education purposes. Double majoring or combining minors is possible. Most classes are taught by tenure track faculty. Lots of research opportunities. He thinks something could be worked out to let her keep her education snakes in the vivarium, possibly in exchange for lab animal husbandry.  (DD also knows the herpetologist there already, but didn’t mention that intentionally). She also did a lab tour. 

 

Sociology paired her with the environmental sociology professor, and they also got on well. Again, it’s not common to double major with bio, but could easily do so, research is included, and in fact a capstone project is required. There are a lot of classes DD is interested in. And, again, there are other faculty that he suggested she talk with. 

 

Admissioms felt there would be no problem with her age, transferring her credits from concurrent enrollment, or freshman status. 

 

There is a greek system, but it wasn’t really emphasized. There is a competitive game-day cheer team that cheers for hockey and basketball, and offers small scholarships that stack with merit aid. It’s definitely a student first, then athletics model. 

All told, it seems like a potentially very good fit. 

 

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Sounds like it checks a lot of boxes. 🙂

My dd also loved the campus environment. If the French dept hadn't told her they didn't have enough course offerings for her, it is the school she would have chosen.

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In my mind UAH is the front runner for my 2021 grad. He is interested too and friends we have that have visited have told him he will love the campus. It will probably be our first visit for him next year. Would be nice if he just falls in love and makes for an easy college search. LOL. 

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My family has lived in Huntsville for 15 yrs, and my husband graduated from UAH (computer engineering). I also worked at Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology (lots of biotech collabs with UAH), so if you have any questions, let me know! 

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We did a 2nd visit this weekend (DD was invited to an event for current juniors, and since our last trip there was in a flood, decided she wanted to go). She still really, really likes the school, even more in sun. For those planning to apply next year, it doesn’t look like the scholarship matrix or honors college app is likely to change, according to speakers yesterday. They did reinterate that they take only single seating ACT scores for scholarships, not superscores, but that they take the highest of all test dates, even if later ones go down. Scholarship applications for competitive scholarships open in August and you have to be admitted to the school to apply, so applying early is a good thing (and their application is still very quick and easy). Housing is required if you are out of area for one year. FWIW, I think the hotel we stayed in (less than a mile off campus) is serving as an unofficial dorm for upper classmen (and if two students shared a hotel room, it wouldn’t cost significantly more than campus housing, especially since breakfast is included), and I suspect there are others serving that niche as well. 
 

DD feels there is enough within an easy walk/bike/scooter distance of campus to get by without a car, but it also seems like it would be an easy place to drive. 
 

If she wants to get her teaching license, which she thinks she does, she can get her master’s/license overlapping with her bachelor’s, and use undergrad scholarship money to pay for it. With her transferred credits, that makes it a very attractive option.  It’s definitely her first choice right now. 
 

 

Edited by dmmetler
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UAH will be my ds second choice even though we (dh, Ds, and I) really liked it and think it would be great for him.

He will apply to at least four places, I think, but with UAH sitting in the #2 spot, I feel pretty good. There was really nothing, for him, not to like about it. He is also looking at the masters/overlapping the undergrad with scholarship money. 

Thanks for the report that looks like scholarships won’t change. We are operating on the premise “if things stay the same” for next year while fully aware they may not.

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There were still caveats in that, but for the most part, they are not anticipating changes/revisions for next year-the big suggestion was to take the ACT before it changes in the fall. 
 

I also think that the honors college is worth doing just because it seems to set up a social connection and grouping from the start. One thing that impresses me about UAH is that they truly seem to understand smart,  introverted, nerdy, possibly on the ASD spectrum kids, and the honors college and honors dorm freshman year seems well suited to making that social transition and providing support, even if the student doesn’t decide to do the capstone project, etc to finish the program.  
 

And you’ve got to love a school which, in their by the numbers slide, listing number of internship opportunities, study abroad, etc includes “1 Saturn V Rocket”. DD has commented on how much college marketing is “look, we have a beach!” “Look, you can ski here”, etc. UAH seems to be “Look, we’re nerds!”.  And we finally “got” the mascot/sports teams after seeing a T-Shirt design of “UAH-Get Charged Up!”-on a background of electrical circuit diagrams. Frankly, electrical charge makes a lot more sense than a horse for that school (but it’s hard to have someone dress up as an electrical charge....). 

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Ds, who embraces being a nerd in our family, homeschool group, church group, etc. turned to me on the tour and said “Mom, I am the least nerdy person here.” LOL. He was right.

UAH definitely has a different feel, that’s for sure. 🙂

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There was definitely a difference between the “nerdy, here for scholarships and NASA” kids and the “Here because it’s a relatively cheap state U that is fairly easy to get into”. Group A definitely loved the school. Group B seemed decidedly out of their element. 

We’re talking about a school where the psychology department had robots as part of their display. I think they actually managed to out-nerd Carnegie Mellon. 

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A couple of notes from the mom of a current student.

First, they said the scholarship matrix probably wouldn't change last year and it did. So take that statement with a dash of salt.

Second, housing is tight. They will guarantee on-campus housing for the first year if you live more than 30 minutes/miles (can't remember which), but not after that unless your kid has a housing scholarship. So, unless your student is NMF (and that scholarship doesn't change), you may need to plan for off-campus housing starting sophomore year. There is some upperclassmen housing, just not a lot. The housing market in the Huntsville area is hot.

Third, yes to lots of nerds. My DD loves that she has found so many kindred spirits. The Honors College housing has provided lots of opportunities for socialization if you are interested. She's no longer the geekiest person in the room.

Fourth, there is a lot of emphasis to parents of kids in the Honors College that the students need to be ready to have to work for their grades. The HC folks say that most of the incoming kids in the HC are used to getting As without studying and the kids freak out when they get a grade that is not an A. It sounded like most parents around me during this talj agreed that their kids had only ever had As & mostly didn't have to work hard for those grades. My kid does not fit this paradigm, but she has seen it since starting there. Some kids have already worked hard & find UAH classes not as hard as others they have taken elsewhere, so although there are smart kids there, the classes aren't universally difficult.

Fifth, I love that UAH evaluated all of DD's transfer credits early on and she could see exactly what each credit transferred as. It was helpful in her decision of where to attend.

Feel free to PM if you have specific questions for me or my DD. 

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We are visiting during the accepted students day on March 8. It's one of DD's top choices - she's undecided on which one makes the cut yet.

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I bumped into an old acquaintance recently and she told me she sent all three of her kids to UAH this last year as freshmen. Two twins and one they graduated a year early. I think one has a full ride as a NM scholar and the other two have full tuition. She confirmed the nerdy vibe and said there are lots of homeschoolers there and that her kids are all super happy with the experience.

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On 2/24/2020 at 8:59 AM, dmmetler said:

DD feels there is enough within an easy walk/bike/scooter distance of campus to get by without a car, but it also seems like it would be an easy place to drive. 
 

My dd went the first 3 1/2 years without a car. There are certain things on campus that are 20+ minutes to walk even at a brisk pace, but that's really only a problem in inclement weather. Lots of students do have cars, so it was generally easy enough to catch a ride for most things. She also used the Friday shuttle quite a bit, it drops off and picks up at Walmart, Target, and a few other places. Uber for other things. 

I don't completely agree that it's an 'easy' place to drive. Part of that is because the hills and curves are intimidating to flatlanders, and part of it is because you have to get on the interstate or major highways for even a lot of short trips. I find some of their on ramps to be tricky as heck. 

On 2/24/2020 at 9:19 AM, dmmetler said:

 UAH seems to be “Look, we’re nerds!”.

They say it and it's so, so true 😂

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I know it is a strong school for sciences and engineering. What is it like for humanities students? 

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We visited ds there a couple of weeks ago and one of the things he said he liked was that it is geared to geeks who aren't very social.  There are a lot of geeky things to get involved with if the student wants. He told us that even some of the students who would normally isolate themselves are encouraged to be involved in something. 

My ds has a car, but uses it only when he needs to go to the store. Parking is a problem and he's found he prefers to walk to his classes, even if it means a 30 min walk each way. He has to be prepared on some days to stay all day because it's not convenient to walk back to the dorm. There isn't enough parking and the university has changed some of the commuter and resident lots. The benefit is he doesn't need to go to the gym. 😂 The downside is the rain!

He'll be a sophomore next year and was fortunate to have housing. He's staying with 2 of his 3 roommates; the 3rd one parties too much and the others want to focus on their studies more. We'll see what happens the following year.

This is the first time ds has had anything lower than an A in his years of ps middle and high school. I love that he's being stretched and challenged for the first time in his ps life.

I don't know what it's like for humanities.

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On 3/1/2020 at 5:05 PM, wilrunner said:

There isn't enough parking and the university has changed some of the commuter and resident lots 

He'll be a sophomore next year and was fortunate to have housing. 

Yes, they are having definite growing pains! 

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6 minutes ago, katilac said:

Yes, they are having definite growing pains! 

A local to us university is going through the same pains of shifting from a commuter campus, but they're further along and housing is no longer an issue.

Turns out ds and 2 of the 3 guys who wanted to room together next year are waitlisted, so ds toured apartments today to get a feel for where he'd like to live. Unfortunately, because of the classes going on line, he's coming home this weekend and didn't have the time to look with the other guys. We'll see what happens for next year! There's always an adventure lurking!

 

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Ok, just a learning experience for us. We are trying to get our son home from Huntsville and it is a difficulty having a small airport with only Delta. We are spoiled with Alaska Airlines and we can't even figure out if Delta will even accept our bike. Yes, I read their bike policy but the problem is it's smaller local flight and they don't have specific info on their website just the "subject to location and destination" clause.  Now we are shipping his bike separately. Anyway, the main point is sometimes for long distance or international students a small airport can be a pain. 

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