Montana State University
Montana State University - Comments and Student Experiences
You will love half of your professors and wonder how the others keep their jobs. You can get the same education at most schools, so there are very few reasons to attend MSU in Bozeman simply for academia. The only reasons I'm here, are the mountains, and the in-state tuition is fairly affordable.
Most people come here to ski and go to school on the side. There is some of the best powder in the U.S. One hill is 15 minutes from town, and is a great hill for $50 per lift ticket. Big Sky Ski resort (1 hr away) offers some of the best skiing in the U.S. (and the most vertical ft), but is almost $100 per ticket). Many of the students are coming to MSU on trust fund money and it shows in the town's attitude. People in Bozeman snub their nose to anyone they feel is beneath them. It is a very fake town with very fake people. Bozeman's priorities are a bit out of whack too. The infrastructure isn't doing so well, but you have plenty of options if you want to blow $100,000 on a Turkish rug. If you want to do you're laundry at night though, you can't. I believe there are only two laundromats open past 7:00 and none past 9:00. After all, Bozeman prefers millionaires to average people. Bozeman also has the highest cost of living in the state. There is usually less than a 2% vacancy for apartments and it is almost impossible to find a decent house in a good location. A typical 2 bedroom apartment goes for about $850+ (most places in MT would be 2/3 of that).
Also pointing to the lack of priority balance is the rampant rape problem that has sprung up in the last few years. Every month someone is reporting being sexually assaulted around campus. Half of these atrocities happen at frats, but a surprising number have happened right on the sidewalk in someone's yard. There are no quality streetlights except for Main Street and at major intersections.
The night-life is pretty dull, but if all you want is loud "music" and sorority girls trying out their latest Miley Cyrus impressions, you can find that lack of inspiration any night. The music scene is pretty supportive but lacking imagination.
BIG PLUS: The outdoor recreation around Bozeman is almost unbeatable. There is a plethora of winter amenities such as ski and snowmobile trails, ice climbing, hockey leagues, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, ect. In the summer, it only gets better, there are numerous mountain trails (hiking, biking, dirt-biking, horse-riding) and lakes well within a one hour drive. Floating and fishing the pristine rivers is a favorite. You'll smell BBQ all summer and there are downtown concert events. Yellowstone Park is a short drive through Paradise Valley or Gallatin Canyon.
This town is growing fast! Because of its location, Bozeman has been getting a lot of attention as being one the best small towns to live in, in America. The college is growing very fast (maybe too fast). The football team has an amazing stadium (23,000 occupancy) for such a small school (about 15,000 students in 2013). The school is pushing to reach 19,000 or so students within the decade. The Bozeman area will soon be the most important area in MT. As it grows, the town should develop more activities, both day and night.
Bozeman is middle-ground politically speaking. It doesn't swing too far either way but does seem to be slightly more progressive.Bottom Line: I love Bozeman (the area) not the town. It is really an amazing place to live if you like the outdoors. If you are looking for a smaller town with a well regarded engineering program, you should definitely check out Bozeman. If you're not in Engineering or Agriculture, (and maybe Business as the program grows) don't even consider Bozeman. Missoula, MT blows Bozeman out of the water in almost every way. If they had an engineering program, I would leave Bozeman in a heartbeat. Missoula is much more relaxed, comfortable, and accessible. However, if you're a die-hard Republican, you should avoid Missoula. (Bozeman = 35,000 people, Missoula = 70,000)
As a state school, the majority of students are obviously from in-state. This means most people do not move far from their highschool social groups. People are generally stuck up and difficult to approach. There is a huge lack of respect around campus and in the dorms. Litter is very, very common, and though this is by no means the faculties fault, it is still very tiring to look at. Out of state students are much easier to befriend, but they are quite the rarity.
As far as academics are concerned: they're simply a joke. This entire school runs on a cookie-cutter system. You're given information to digest and regurgitate. There is no room for creativity or independent thought. The majority of professors are not fit to teach their classes - especially in the required seminar classes, where the professors quite literally read from the syllabus throughout the entire semester. Those professor who truly are knowledgeable field are stuck teaching 100 level classes, and are very ignorant, especially in the chemistry department. I have had only one professor this semester who is competent with office hours - but by and large any help you need will have to be in the help centers of campus, or through tutors which you may hire for free. These services are great, in my opinion, although some tutors in the math learning center are literally unable to help with Calc I, and yet they will waste your time pretending they can. Most of the help centers are flooding, and some require appointments far in advance. But once more, your grades are based ENTIRELY on regurgitation of information - and being so distant from your professors results in nearly no chance of empathy.
The town is great - if you're over 21. There are numerous events throughout the year downtown, open to all ages, but they are mostly family events, not something a college student will really enjoy. And, as stated earlier, there is great skiing and other outdoor options. The bar life, however, is apparently very good, and live music can be found somewhere almost every night. I would love to live here, but learning here is a different story.
Student groups on campus are pretty pathetic. There are a few that have a lot of members and are very activity, but anything involving special interests such as politics, are pretty sparce. I've tried getting involved with multiple clubs, and every meeting was composed of ~5 people or less, all who were die-hards for their group and left you no opportunity to advance. However, people who are active on campus do tend to be much friendly, but it still leaves much to be desired if you want to gain leadership skills.
The university does a poor job staying in contact with students. It feels like there is never anything going on, and one must rely on flyers dangling from bathroom stalls if they're looking for something to attend.
If you love to party, you're not in luck. Most of the fraternities are very friendly on campus, but due to recent legal issues, a couple are on probation and people as a whole are starting to avoid them. House parties tend to be better, but get broken up almost instantaneously. The majority of students seem to stick to their rooms with a case of beer, and cause drunken havoc in the dorms.
As a whole, I am not happy here, and my only enjoyment is found when I can take a break from schoolwork and learn something on my own that is actually useful (I spend more time watching free lectures online than I do in my actual lectures). Going to class always seems like a chore and a waste of time, and you are given no credit for having proper concepts on exams: it's all or nothing.
My only enjoyable academic experience has been found in my labs, and I believe I was lucky to be assigned really relaxed TAs - I've heard horror stories from other students in different lab sections.
I was originally a mechanical engineering major, but as my professor said on the first day of class "I'm not going to teach you anything, I'm just gonna introduce you to stuff", I decided it was a waste of time and switched to Economics, with a minor in computer science. The CS department is not bad - they do try to get you involved in the field from day one, and professors are always pushing students to compete in contests and so forth. As far as economics go, it is heavily agriculture-focuses, and broadly Keynesian in nature, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your political preferences.
Anyway, although this is very unorganized, I repeat: do NOT come here if you are seeking academic fulfillment. The only appealing factor is the cost, and only if you're an in-state student. Otherwise, GO ELSEWHERE.
I am transferring next fall to the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
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