Texas A & M University - College Station
Texas A & M University - College Station - Comments and Student Experiences|
This is the only part of A&M where I have anything bad to say. There are 66,000 students in College Station and there are literally hundreds of ways to get involved. Unfortunately, many of the students hang out with their high school friends and are standoffish about letting new friends in, especially older ones like me (I'm 25). I didn't go Greek so I cannot speak to that aspect. I did join multiple organizations and I met a lot of people, but again, no one who really was interested in "admitting new members" to their social group. Many students are close-minded in this respect and can be condescending, standoffish, and arrogant. The only people who I reached any kind of sustaining relationship with were a few other veterans, a recent graduate, and one other person (who later decided they didn't want me hanging around their friends from high school with them and dropped me from their friend circle). So while I put myself out there a lot, and was outgoing and friendly and kind, I found myself extremely, extremely lonely in a crowd of 66,000 students. If you are from Texas, white, and conservative you will have no problem fitting in and making friends. Especially if you already come to the university with a hundred people you know from high school. Unfortunately, there may be an "age cap" for some people. If not for my personal experience in this area, I would say that I think A&M is the greatest school in the world. Unfortunately, it isn't for me personally. The social aspect is important to me after years of traveling in the military and people constantly passing in and out of my life with no real permanence. But again, if you are white and conservative and 18-22, you will fit in absolutely fine. Even if you are out of state. People are generally friendly and approachable and have that Texas courtesy (at least at first). Girls all dress identically in oversized shirts and either shorts or yoga pants. Guys usually wear shorts or jeans and a t shirt.
The education that A&M offers is world class. Especially if you are an engineering major, you will be pushed and you will learn a lot. Virtually every major imaginable is offered. Professors are generally excellent and great at teaching. Many are infectiouslly enthusiastic about their subject. TAs are hit or miss, like most schools. They usually teach labs or recitation. You may get a TA for a lecture in summers, but I've never seen one for spring or fall. Class sizes are as expected for a university this size. In entry level courses, there's a ton of students (maybe 250+), but as you progress, class sizes get smaller and smaller. Grading has always been fair, sometimes there is a curve for the harder classes. Go to office hours!!!! Put in the effort! And not just so the professor knows your face. I found that if I spend 10-15 minutes on a problem and I can't solve it, the absolute best thing to do is mark it and take it to the professor during the next office hours. Saves a massive amount of time and you'll get the right answer (or be directed to the right answer). I knew a lot of people who were intimidated to go to professor's office hours. They're just people, just like you. They were in your shoes once. Highly recommend going to them all! Overall, the education at A&M is incredible. US News ranks A&M #74 nationally, #44 best colleges for veterans (I'd say top 5 in that category personally), #27 top public schools, and #16 best undergraduate engineering programs. A&M is an engineering school and it does it amazingly.
FACILITIES & CAMPUS
A&M is huge, gorgeous, and well-maintained. You can tell this university has millions poured into it by the state and alumni and other donors. There are parks, fancy statues and lawns, big buildings of every design (it's not a homogenous architectural style like other schools), and overall, it feels like a privilege to go to school in such a nice place. The rec is awesome. They just finished the new weight room area and it's great. Plenty of equipment, even though it is often packed. Avoid 4pm. Actually, avoid anything after 4pm as well. And lunch time. Those are peak hours. Outdoor and indoor swimming pools. Massive, beautiful dive well. Classrooms are classrooms. Never was in one and thought "wow this is nasty." Everything on campus is clean and well-maintained. The George Bush library is pretty cool over on west campus. There's a pond garden, lots of trees for climbing or hanging hammocks from, fountains, benches everywhere, etc. No complaints about the campus or facilities.
FINANCIALS & VETERANS SERVICES
As a veteran, the veterans service office worked with me on numerous occasions to get my set up and taken care of. They were able to get me in-state tuition and I was approved for several grants and scholarships in addition. At virtually every point, they were immeasurably helpful. There are multiple veteran-only study areas with free snacks and drinks where you can quietly work. Veterans are A&M's bread and butter. They take care of you at every opportunity.
CORPS OF CADETS / ROTC
The Corps is one large, pretty lame and stupid, fraternity. People who join are either intent on joining the military afterwards or don't fit in anywhere else (the majority). As such, you end up with a huge organization of many really motivated idiots who think they're cool cause they dress up in old WWII uniforms. If you want to be an officer, I suggest you do it. It's a great experience for those actually wanting to go into the military. If you're looking to go Navy, join H-1 or K-2. If you're not wanting to go into the military and just want to find somewhere you can get some automatic social points, then hey, the Corps is your place too. The majority of the student body thinks the Corps is the coolest thing since pepperoni pizza, which is laughable since they're on the outside looking in and just hear about the pretentious cadets humblebragging about how hard they got PT'd that morning. Other than the surplus of annoying, Joe-navy/army/whatever cadets, the Corps can be a good experience. Be prepared for lots of games, BS, and a really, really, really stupid things you have to do, but you can come out of it with a lot of good experience if you're a ROTC contract. Those summer cruises are invaluable experience prior to actual commissioning.
Southern, Texan, country. School spirit is in overdrive. Game days are packed and the town virtually shuts down for everyone tailgating and going to cheer on the Aggies in Kyle Field. It's also an opportunity for all the girls who wear XXXXL shirts to dress up in maroon, shorty shorts, and cowboy boots. Overall, the school spirit is crazy high and all the traditions that A&M has make it a very unique and fun experience. Buy a sports pass.
College Station is small, but it never felt like it to me. There's plenty to do. Restaurants, bars, dancing, shopping, ice skating, shooting range, parks, trails, and more. Bryan is a nearby town and while it's somewhat impoverished, there are also plenty of things to do there as well eg Lake Bryan which is pretty cool. North Gate (where the bars are) may be small, but it's got plenty to offer. There are several churches at North Gate as well, if that's your thing. Houston is about an hour away, Dallas is about 3 hrs, and Austin is about 2 hrs. So you've got some opportunities to explore on weekends, if you have time.
Ok, traffic is horrendous. Parking is awful. My advice is either carpool and live close enough to campus to walk. But this is to be expected at most universities.
OVERALLI've researched many universities from east coast to west coast. I can't speak for anything too far north, but when it comes to the bottom half of the U.S., A&M is the best school in existence, in my opinion. I quantitatively ranked many schools in the region I just described over 25ish factors and Texas A&M University is easily the winner. It's huge, it's beautiful, the academics are great, the weather is awesome, there is every opportunity to get involved and participate (whether in clubs or intramurals or service or whatever), and it has something for everyone. If you're a veteran only trying to get an education, then you'll do amazingly. You'll be the school's royalty. However, for myself, I want more to my college experience than just a diploma and the extreme isolation I felt at A&M severely detracts from my personal experience. But I feel that I am the minority in this area and that most people looking for a college will have zero problem making friends and having an amazing time. I think A&M is the greatest school in the world! It's just not for me.
The Texas A&M accounting research is great and I've cited professors in my masters program from another University, but the undergraduate accounting program is not good at getting resources to the wide range of sub disciplines of accounting. Okay, I'm not in the PPA. What do I do if I want to go into tax, information systems, audit? Well, they don't advise you. You are not even allowed to go to recruiting events for the PPA or masters program. Those elitist policies are not conductive to education. I can't even talk to professionals in my own industry.
So, yes. Even though I have a masters from another university and got free school from Texas A&M, I'm still suffering from all the anxiety, depression, and regrets, dealing with this accounting program. It was a traumatic and enraging experience to see classmates graduate with jobs lined up knowing you had to get an extra degree, take the GMAT, apply to grad school at a less recruited school. It pains me that all the effort I took during my sophomore and freshman year to get into the accounting program was all for nothing.
I would recommend getting into the business program upfront so you can get coddled with all the resources , not have to take hard sciences or maths, and get early professional tips and tricks. If not, you are stuck in general studies contemplating should I limit my options by taking easy math and sciences that only apply to easy majors or do I take the weed out engineering courses where the maths and sciences apply to all majors? I honestly hope all my accounting classmates in the PPA divorce, get their CPAs taken away from them, fall into depression, get blacklisted against practicing accounting.