Where do I begin?
University of Cincinnati is really many diverse schools in one place. Some of the programs are mediocre and some are amazingly top notch and nationally known and even internationally well-known. You also get incredible diversity in races, ethic groups and even in geographic diversity with kids coming from every state and at least 40 different foreign countries.
In addition, you get a very diverse type of student abilities from the kids who needed some remedial work to national merit scholars to a number of other top notch of talented kids. I will try to discuss various aspects of the school here.
1. Academics and Admission: As noted above, UC has some very good programs and some which I think are mediocre. Although I don't think that any of their programs are bad, their weaker programs tend to be in the liberal arts such as philosophy, English, language , political science etc.
They have some very decent programs in engineering, business, pharmacy, law and medicine. However, the schools that are considered not only the best but are internationally known are The Criminology Department. The Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the School of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP). These latter programs are very top notch.
I am majoring in digital design. The professors are very accessible and knowledgeable. The facilities, which will be discussed below are great. Most other programs at DAAP are also well regarded by both employers and by the students as well. You really can't go wrong with any of the better programs at UC.
I have friends in musical theater at CCM, and they all have signed contracts for jobs in the summer following graduation. For what UC is good at, it is VERY good and better than many other more well known schools. I turned down Carnegie Mellon and RISD for UC,which should tell you something.
My only complaint is that many of the kids, even honors kids, outside of DAAP are not that prepared academically. I have seen some very mediocre work presented in English and other liberal arts by students who were in the Honors program,which was a bit disturbing. However, overall, I love the academics of the school and love DAAP. If you are in one of the better majors at UC, I would give them a "A." For other majors such as political science or English, I would rate them a "C."
I should note though that I liked my freshmen English class. They were very well- planned and the curriculum was very well thought out in order to improve the writing of students. Other schools simply give some kind of reader for students to write articles about. Here, we are given a variety of different tasks designed to improve various aspects of our writing. For example, one project required us to make an argument about a topic and present it as an advocate. We then had to present the same topic but from a neutral perspective, giving both sides of the issue. One topic involved research,which required us to understand proper citation and use of the library resources. I am just covering the surface of what was required,but I think the English curriculum was well- designed.
Let me note two other aspects of academics: UC has a huge plethora of majors. If you can think of it, it probably is offered. This is a large school with lots of choices from theoretical science, to applied science, to all aspects of business, music etc. It really does have the large options and choices that you would find in a big state university.
Finally, UC doesn't have grade inflation, at least in the DAAP school. An "A" usually means that the teacher couldn't have done it any better, which is a high standard. Even other non-DAAP courses didn't give out a lot of "A's."
2.Admission: Admission echoes the diversity of the students and the difference among the programs. Overall it isn't that hard to get into UC. You need about a 3.1 GPA and maybe 1500 overall on the SATs. However, this is very misleading. For example, CCM is one of the hardest schools to get admitted to in the country since it is a top notch conservatory. DAAP is VERY academically focused and requires at least a 3.5+ for most majors and some even require a 3.7 overall GPA. Thus, it really does vary from school to school.
UC is a bit funky though when it comes to admission. For example, you would think that DAAP,which is very art/design oriented would require a tough portfolio as found in other top art and design programs. Not only isn't this true,but NO portfolio is required for design or architecture. I should note that a portfolio is required for fine arts though. UC has philosophy that if you get very smart kids, you can train them in design. Frankly, they may be right from what I have seen;however, I feel that they would have a lower drop out rate if a portfolio would have been required.
3. Facilities: Here is one of the better aspects of UC. As you may have seen in prior posts, UC was always constructing a building. This has been finished, and they did a remarkable job. We get yearly visits from designers and design organizations touring our new buildings and facilities. They were designed by some of the best known architects in the country. I can't speak highly enough of how nice most of the buildings are.
Yes, there are some with leaks, as one person noted below,but they are being fixed. Overall, the maintenance on the school is pretty darn good. I have seen schools in severe disarray such as Pratt. Believe me: UC is a very well maintained campus.
Also, check out out the work out facilities. They have an enormous number of treadmills, ellipticals, strength machines and several pools with currents so that kids can get more exercise. It is an unbelievable facility.
4. Coop: This is probably what makes UC stand out. Frankly, when it comes to some majors, such as engineering and business, Ohio State usually has higher ranked programs. However, the coop is why many kids should come here over Ohio State and that of many other good schools. The coop program was the first in the country. It predated that of Northeastern and many others. It provides guaranteed, paid experience as part of the curriculum in order to fill any academic holes in the curriculum. Most kids in business, engineering, science, DAAP, and some other majors get 1.5 years of paid and varied experience. This really is unbeatable! Coop is free too, unlike that of other schools such as Drexel who charges a big fee to get one. I can't overstate the importance of having this type of experiential training not to mention the boost on one's resume that this type of experience provides.
Also, coops are found all over the country and also in many foreign countries even in Japan.
5. Dorms: Frankly dorms are dorms. UC does however, have a lot of different living arrangements. They have the honors dorm in Daniels where you will meet a lot of honors kids. You can even live on floors related to your major,such as the DAAP floor. Be advised, these dorms are quads,which isn't the greatest. Most kids leave them after their freshmen year. Turner has doubles but you don't meet as many kids as you would in Daniels.
However, starting in sophomore year, you have a lot of choices from singles, on campus apartments, off campus apartments etc. Many of the upper class choices are very nice.
6. Food: UC actually won awards for their cafeteria food. However, I frankly didn't like it. I guess this is subjective. However, there are a number of other restaurants nearby such as Chipotle, Panaras, Skyline Chills(which is a favorite among Cincinnati residents) and the mandatory pizza establishments. Thus, you won't starve.
7.City and location; Here there is a lot to be desired. Although Cincinnati really isn't a bad place since it does have some good sports teams, shopping etc. the locations of these areas are far from the campus. UC is an inner city school with a campus. The area right around the school is NOT desirable. In fact, I try to not leave the campus without having company. It can be scary. However, the campus itself seems quite safe. There is a lot of security and lots of blue phones if you want campus security to accompany you or help you.
Personally, I don't like Cincinnati and wouldn't want to live here,but I can see the attraction of the city if you get about 10 miles away from the campus.
8. Cost:UC is not cheap as state schools go. In fact, on the surface, the tuition is higher than that of other ohio state universities, which is odd. However, they are very plentiful with scholarships, such as the Cincinnatus scholarship, which provides a minimum stipend of $2,000 per year. In state tuition is about $9,000 per year ( without the scholarship) out of state is a whopping $22,000 per year.The good news is that there aren't a lot of hidden fees that you see at other schools. Frankly, for some of their better programs, even at these rates it is a steal. Carnegie Mellon is $39,000 per year. Since I am getting $5,000 in yearly scholarships, my cost for DAAP is $18,000.
I should note that UC, however, is the only school that I know of that requires community service in order to keep your scholarship or maintain honors status. You need to render 10 hours a quarter for every quarter that you aren't on coop. It is an odd requirement. They will find you all of the service jobs that you need,but you must find time to fit in these 30 hours per year.
9. Things to do: UC has an amazingly large number of activities with their DAAP school producing all kids of shows as does CCM. In fact, UC has 10 calendars of events ( as someone noted below). True, some involve things like admission,but there are a huge number of activities and shows going on. Sports is also very strong at UC. In particular, UC had a stand out football team. Going to the stadium and feeling the whole stadium rock from 35,000 folks is a treat. UC really can be a fun place if you know where to look
Sadly, as a DAAP student, I have to work incessantly. Thus, I was not able to take advantage of most of the great programs going on;however I did participate in marching band,which is a hoot. If you like playing an instrument, join the band! You will make LOTs of friends, be invited to numerous parties, and it is a hoot. UC has one of the best bands in the country led by a professor of Music. There are lots of musical opportunities at UC. In fall, we have marching band. Winter has pep band for basketball and in spring we have a concert performance. Bottom line; You will see various whiners on these boards. All schools can have great things going for them or can have problems. The glass can be seen as half full or half empty. However, I think that UC offers an unparalleled education combined with unparalleled coop experience, for a bargain basement price, especially for some majors. If you have the right attitude, you will REALLY like it here and find that your time was very well spent.