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As the son of two graduates of the University of Alabama, and as a lifelong resident of Tuscaloosa, my review of the University is from someone who knows it quite well (and it may surprise you). Positives: The education is pretty good. It's not Harvard, but it's solid. I probably learned the most in my liberal arts and elective classes outside my major. The faculty is very hit and miss, but some of them are very helpful (others, well...). The campus has SOME very nice parts to it (Quad, Lakeside, River Road Park). The school is not overwhelmingly conservative, even though that seems to be the perception. The campus is safe and I never felt even the slightest bit of danger at any time. Football season is exciting and there are always a ton of pretty girls anywhere you look. Negatives: The student body is largely unfriendly and everyone tries to dress and look the same. Greek life overshadows everything at UA and not in a positive way. The dress code seems to be (for guys) North Pace jackets, sandals, frizzy hair, and sunglasses that you hang from your neck when you're not wearing them. A handful of the Greeks are friendly, but the vast majority are mean spirited. The student body, and I'm generalizing, seem to be scared of individuality. It's a very sheepish mindset. Intellectuals exist but you have to seek them out (most are in New College or Engineering). There are some faculty who are very poor (Wendy Bruce, Leslie Dixon, come to mind). Parts of the campus are in bad shape (Gordon Palmer, Rowand Johnson). Parking is a chronic problem but there's never a shortage of people handing out tickets if you park anywhere even close to your class. Tuition only seems to be going up and if you're not from Alabama or the South, you may feel out of place both culturally and socially. The town of Tuscaloosa is small and there isn't much here to do except drink. Overall: I simply can't give a full recommendation to Alabama. Even as a second generation legacy student, I have seen too many negatives (almost all of which were of the social variety) to encourage my son or daughter to attend the school one day. Even if you wanted to pledge to a Frat or Sorority, the hazing stories I heard from relatives were absolutely horrible. The education is actually pretty good (though not elite) and the school's academic ranking has been steadily climbing (it's the fourth highest ranked school in the SEC, behind Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia). Alabama is plagued by its own sheepishness though, and even though I met some nice people during my time there, they were easily in the minority. There are simply better options out there than Alabama, especially for the intellectual crowd.
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