Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University - Comments and Student Experiences|
The GOOD: First of all, the inherent business culture of the university is apparent in all the schools, particularly in the school of Engineering. The main focus of the Lyle engineering school is to get you a job. From the first day, freshmen will be inundated with Co-op and internship talks and will learn that, generally speaking, you are on a 5 year graduation plan. It is intimidating at first, but that type of drive for success and determination will inspire you to think about the future and really plan for employment. The engineering school has seen the most renovation, innovation, and funding from the university, so all the buildings and resources are brand new. You will definitely feel inspired to apply yourself in employment and in the lab. Secondly, at it's core SMU is a liberal arts institution. You will have to take at least one class from each different school, and each school offers something great. You are encouraged to explore different courses and double major, or if you really want triple major. Third, the campus is beautiful. You won't consider aesthetics a real reason to attend a university until you visit SMU. Fourth, you don't have to be in a frat to have fun. If you don't party, that's fine, you will find a group of friends that do stuff together. Yes, the majority of very rich white kids here, but there is so much more to SMU. Walk around campus and you will here people talking in Pashtun, Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish, French, and other languages. There so many groups to explore that you will not notice or really care about "that sick party Kappa Sigma is throwing." unless you are actively seeking it out. The BAD: First, it is ridiculously expensive to attend SMU, and it is only going to get more and more expensive. On top of that, that financial plan you have will expand quite as quick as the cost, and you will end up paying around $1000-$3000 out of pocket every semester after freshmen year, if you don't get new scholarships. In fact, that is part of the reason I had to leave. Second, no doubt about it, the majority of the school is white and wealthy. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you are a minority, you will notice it. When I was there, there were two violent crimes against two different Asian students by the fraternities on campus. After that, I never walked down fraternity row at night ever, even though it's on campus. Third, Greek culture dominates the social life. You can have a blast as a GDI once you find your core group of friends, but be aware that the frats and sororities are the influential people on campus. Many students go to SMU just to rush Phi Delt or Pi Phi, and will transfer out if they don't get picked. I have met many pleasant, intelligent, and chill people who are in those organizations, but if you are looking to party in college, you have to roll with them. There is hazing and you will be doing illegal things.
However, underneath this facade, I felt the university really fell short. Yes, college is about learning to learn and preparedness for grad school or a good job. However, college is also about lifelong friendships, good memories, and a connection to the school.
I do believe SMU offers quality academic programs, but not necessarily any better than other schools. Where SMU really fell short for me is the social aspect.
You hear people tell you on tours "it's what you make of it" or try and discredit the image SMU has for being a haven for millionaires. There is a reason they are bring this up! It's because that stereotype is true!
Yes, there are minorities at SMU. Yes, there are people not in the Greek system. However, the people that truly enjoy the SMU experience are those who are in the Greek system and who fit the SMU stereotype. The other students are just...there.
The students who are in the true SMU social scene have a massive amount of money. They wear the latest designer clothes, have late model BMW's, Range Rovers, Mercedes or Lexus & went to a Catholic high school or prestigious "day school/boaring school." They most likely vacationed with their family in St. Barth's, Cabo, Barbados, Tahoe, Cape Cod, Vail/Beaver Creek, etc.
Drug usage in the SMU fraternity culture is rampant. Pretty much everyone has at least tried Coke & probably Molly. It's not weird to have this mentioned in a conversation. Everyone binge drinks & thinks they are basically "above the law" when it comes to getting away with date rape, prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.
Many of the students' parents will buy them condos in the University Park area, which are upwards of 500K.
I've been in many conversations where someone will respond to "how is so & so doing" with "oh, they just got out of rehab" or "they were at rehab" like going to rehab is as common as driving to the grocery store!
That pretty much sums up the SMU culture. It's easy to say people don't care about materialism and you can't let it bother you, but your social status at the school really is dependent on that to an extent.
I can't remember the last time I saw someone in the inner-circle of SMU greek like who was wearing wal-mart clothes or driving a POS car. It just rarely happens. Maybe if you're incredibly attractive and can at least afford to put up the front of looking like the other people, you might have a chance, but that's about the only way.
This school is honestly Episcopal School of Dallas & Highland Park High School, Round 2. If you don't fit in with that crowd, good luck. I chose to transfer to a public state school. You can get involved in the greek system if you want, but you also don't feel ostracized or inferior if you choose differently or don't have the newest BMW 3 Series.