The University of Central Arkansas
The University of Central Arkansas - Comments and Student Experiences|
I took several years off from school and eventually enrolled at UCA. It definitely doesn't have the reputation of academic prestige, but it has every avenue with which to learn and develop academically. Sure, there are plenty of people who graduate from the University that probably don't deserve to, but never think just because you attend UCA you will be unable to attend a top-flight graduate program or get your dream job. The opportunity and support are both there for anyone seeking to take advantage of it.
Also, it is the only college/university in the state offering a specialized degree in my field, and that is a big plus to me. I was worried about the generic nature or lack of writing degrees in other places.
The campus atmosphere can be very "high schooly" at times simply because of the large number of students from nearby towns simply going for a year due to expectation then dropping out. I don't have the figures, but I would imagine the freshman retention rate is not what it is at many or most establishments in the state. Overall, I recommend UCA. It's a decision I wish I'd made the first time around, but I consider it better late than never. If you're interested in UCA Honors I also highly recommend it, as well. It is an amazing experience.
I didn't really like UCA at first. No one from my high school attended with me besides my boyfriend at the time, so I was on my own. It was intimidating and I was torn in many different directions; Honors, Greek life, and my boyfriend all pulled me toward different social groups. I broke up with my boyfriend, joined a sorority, and immersed myself in my studies. I became MUCH happier after joining Greek life, even if I don't enjoy it nearly as much now that I am older. I believe it was good for me as a freshman.
UCA has a decent social life and decent people. You can definitely find your place, whether you are more liberal or conservative. I've found the people relatively friendly, if not a bit close-minded. Freshman year, I regretted not attending Hendrix to which I also had a full scholarship, but as I've spent more time around Hendrix folks, I've realized that school was NOT for me. I love my Hendrix friends (my current boyfriend attended Hendrix as well), but they are so far from being diverse that they are often caught in a cycle of their own beliefs and thinking. I'm happy at UCA where I'm able to make my own decisions. I'm not religious, so the extremely religious population of Conway can get a bit tiring, but I've found (both in Greek life and Honors) people that share the way I think.
The History, Spanish, and Honors staff and faculty are absolutely fantastic. I can't imagine having more knowledgable or helpful professors at another school. I admit that the classes probably aren't as challenging as they could be- I see many people pass that are absolute morons- but if you engage yourself you will learn a lot and really grow as a researcher and citizen. The Honors program in particular is the best thing about UCA. UCA doesn't realize what a gem they have in this program. Its founders and staff changed my life.
All in all, I enjoy UCA because you can truly make your own experience. At Hendrix (nothing against Hendrix, it's just the one school I know a lot about to make comparisons with), students are given an exact "Odyssey" they must complete and seem to be babied until they graduate. UCA has a ton of nontraditional students and don't hold your hand-- you are expected to make yourself succeed. They will help if you ask, but they will not force you to become successful. The tools are there, but you must utilize them. There are just too many people at UCA for the administration to hold your hand. It's just small enough that I can become a leader of several different organizations and truly make a difference on campus.
Also, take into account the money you will save by going to UCA. I have had excess money to travel every summer and received a grant from Honors to go abroad for 2 months this summer. It's definitely a good deal.
Some students are total morons, but you learn to deal with them. The professors are great for the most part (avoid the Education department), and will really help you out if you've worked hard. I love UCA and I really think this school has turned me into a more confident, successful person.