have recently graduated from ASU, and upon reflection, my four
years there were overall pretty decent, especially considering that this
is a state school in a state that doesn't exactly
support public education with any significant money. I'll try to
cover everything I can think of in this review.
I went on a partial scholarship which paid my tuition
and a thousand dollars every year for four years, renewable.
This saved me from going into debt while I was
there. The truth is that there are tons of scholarships,
from simple tuition waivers to full scholarships, that are readily
available for both in- and out-of-state students (I knew a
healthy mix of both, and I'd say that at least
80% of my acquaintances had at least a tuition waiver,
regardless of where they came from). ASU, at least when
I got there, was very focused on changing its “party
school” reputation, and was willing to shell out money to
do so. In truth, it still is, and thus is
easily a better choice than Tucson's U of A (if
you're staying in-state for sure), because the stingy bastards in
Tucson don't hand out tuition waivers and give generally less
aid (I have friends there that I compare aid with;
it's true). Now, I do admit that I was apprehensive
at first, since I figured that the only reason that
the school dished out so much money is that the
level of education was so bad that they were forced
to financially entice people to come. That isn't so true,
at least in my particular department. I got a very
good education in English Lit.
As for General Education...well, it's
like gen ed anywhere else; it sucks and you'll wonder
if you're wasting your time as you sit in a
Biology 100 course at two-hundred deep, sleeping through the same
lectures you got in high school. That being said, I
did have professors and TAs who were readily enthusiastic about
the material even in those courses, and who were more
than willing to work with students outside of class. They
also attempted to present the material in a fresh manner.
This is particularly true of the remedial science courses; the
university has some honestly hard-working and caring professors who figure
that if they can interest one out of a hundred
in further pursuing biology/geography/geology (or in at least appreciating the
subject), then their job is successful. I also had a
couple of decent TAs in the lab sections who were
equally as enthusiastic, and who were no slouches in terms
of their knowledge.
Math gen ed is math gen
ed: relatively painless and somewhat forgettable, especially since (unless you
tanked math both in high school AND on the SATs)
English majors only have to take one math course to
fulfill outside requirements.
In terms of the English department...well, you've
got your hits and your misses. ENG 200 is useless
except for Education majors specializing in English; I don't need
to learn the art of the five-paragraph essay or the
poetry explication all over again. As well, the survey courses
(two sections of general Brit. Lit, two sections of general
American Lit) are frustrating for the most part; I had
a couple of poor TAs who didn't seem to know
which way was up, and in one case, I took
a survey course with a PhD professor who seemed like
she didn't want to be there (I later found out
that she actually cared about her grad courses, and even
her 400-level theory course, but couldn't stand teaching a 200-level
survey; trust me when I say that lack of enthusiasm
transferred to the class). I would like to say, though,
that I had one survey course which was engaging and
interesting—as good as some of the 400-levels I took, in
fact. It was the second section of survey British Literature.
I don't know if it's okay to name names, but
the professor, Dr. Mark Lussier, and the TA, Kate Frost,
were both excellent. Dr. Lussier is someone you'll especially want
to get to know, as he is super-helpful with everything
from letters of rec to clarifying a point after class;
it's refreshing to have professors who aren't solely concerned with
publishing. In truth, most of the professors (who are largely
PhD profs) in the English program are like this, and
I am still more than grateful for them, for they
actually taught me as opposed to using me for their
The 300- and 400- level courses are varied and
interesting, covering everything from African-American Short Stories to Victorian Literature
to surveys on the life and work of Virginia Woolf.
It's not too hard to get into the classes you
need, either, particularly if you register at the proper times.
I only had maybe one drastically unsatisfying upper-level course, and
while I won't name courses or names, I will say
that when memorization and “spitting out info” trumps true analysis
in a course that advanced, it's more than disappointing. The
good news is that I can honestly say that it
only occurred once. Furthermore, the professors I met in these
courses were quite helpful in preparing me for graduate school
(which I'm guessing most English Lit. majors will move on
to, themselves). So that's probably an important point.
minored in History, and while the history department doesn't seem
as overall solid (the advising in the English department trumps
that of the History department BY FAR; the advisors in
English are far more available, helpful, and friendly), there are
many excellent professors in the history department, and a wide
variety of courses offered therein. I will point out, though,
that many courses—even upper-level ones—were taught by doctoral candidates as
opposed to tenured PhD profs. That being said, I was
lucky, because I was graced with two or three EXCELLENT
student-teachers. You may not be so lucky by the time
you get there. Proceed with caution.
I was also in
the Barrett Honors College, and I have to say that
it was a near-total waste of time...and now that they're
charging to join, it's even more worthless than it was
when it was free. Yes, they do have a cohesive
community over there, with dormitories and classrooms, but there are
—The dorm rooms suck horribly. This isn't helped
by RHA's (the Res Hall) general ineptitude. As a matter
of fact, I'll say it now: spend Freshman year in
a dorm, but after that, move to one of the
many nearby apartment complexes.
—There is a very small selection
of courses that are specifically for Honors students. You can
get the rest of your Honors credits by contracting with
the profs in your “normal” courses and doing an extra
project (sometimes, you'll get credit just for getting an “A”
in the course...depends on the prof). That being said, it
doesn't feel like a true Honors education, and I admittedly
did some lame-ass projects to get the necessary Honors credit.
Heck, even if they charge every kid in the BHC
a thousand dollars a semester (or whatever the student body
bargained the Dean down to), they still won't have the
money to form an adequate catalog of Honors-specific courses for
the next few years.
—Though I had to write
a Senior thesis in order to graduate from the BHC,
it's almost like you have minimal help from the advising
staff in getting in touch with professors that have the
time and standing to sit on your committee. I was
lucky; I contacted a very willing and hard-working prof who
had a knowledge of my subject area, and I was
as easily able to secure second and third readers, too.
Many of my friends in the BHC, on the other
hand, had serious problems with finding professors who could help
them (many were already backlogged with other grad student and
BHC projects). The advisors in the BHC are friendly and
all, but they didn't help enough in this crucial part
of the Honors experience, and oftentimes I felt like I
was doing things on my own without any anchoring to
the BHC. I feel that their job is to help
undergrads ease into the sort of projects one will undertake
in graduate school, and they didn't sufficiently do that for
me. That being said, there are only a couple of
advisors for a couple thousand students, and they ARE hiring
more advisors, so maybe that'll get turned around soon. Just
—I didn't include anything about my affiliation with the
BHC or my Senior Thesis in my grad school apps,
all to good-to-very good schools: yet, I got accepted into
all four schools. It won't help you in the long-run,
except for giving you thesis writing experience, and even that
isn't so well put together by the BHC.
in essence, whether or not to join is your choice.
They do have good classes, if you can get into
one (you have to take HON 171 and 172, both
of which are sections of the same excellent course; it
will make you want more, and you won't be able
to readily get it). You may want to think and
re-think joining the BHC, especially if you have to end
up paying for it.
As for the facilities...well, there are
many old buildings and busted toilets, though the school is
building more and more new stuff at a quick rate.
What they don't build anew, they refurbish. Because the school
prez is a hack with no educational vision, however, the
Language and Lit and Art buildings sit and rot while
the Business College gets a Starbucks and new equipment. In
fact, if it weren't for the money-grubbing president and the
completely inept bureaucracy, ASU would be a damn good school
for the money. The truth is, however, that President Crow
is more concerned about making money than giving students a
quality education, which means that a) he's packing more and
more students onto a campus that ain't getting any bigger,
b) he's raising tuition as much as he can, as
often as he can, and c) he's neglecting the parts
of the school that can't make him any immediate money,
and pouring student money into various projects that may or
may not fail.
The administration, meanwhile, simply does not
deal with 50,000 plus students in an adequate manner. I've
had numerous issues with the people in Financial Aid, and
they have processed my money late, really late, and way
too damn late in various years, even though all my
paperwork was in by the summer. RHA, as stated, imposes
nonsensical rules (no flags, pictures, or anything in dorm room
windows) on its' residents, then sticks them in run-down dorms
at high prices. Sure, I met some cool people in
the dorms, but I was more than glad to (finally)
get into my own apartment. As a freshman, it's a
good idea, since it gives you some stability (especially if
you're coming from out-of-town), but after that, gather up a
couple of friends and hit up an apartment. You'll probably
have to anyway, since there's almost no housing for non-Freshmen
(the BHC has housing for all, but it sucks, and
you can't have alcohol in your room even if you're
21). Finally, there's Parking Services, which will ticket you at
will for minor infractions, overcharge you for a parking space,
and then NOT GUARANTEE YOU THAT SPACE AT ALL TIMES.
This is particularly true of Parking Structure 1, near the
BHC, where you might not have a spot if something
is going on at Gammage Auditorium nearby. This happens often.
Too often. Just live nearby and bike there. Trust me
on this one. In general, things take too long to
be processed, recognized, changed, whatever. It's annoying at best, infuriating
As for the students, well, it's a mixed
bag as with anywhere else. The issue is that I've
lived in a few places, and native Arizonans are the
most selfish, unfriendly people I've ever met in my life.
Mix them with the frat/sorority Orange County peeps who flock
in from California, and it's easy to be annoyed by
people on campus. However, I did meet a few great
people, a couple of who will probably end up being
lifelong friends. I always had people to do stuff with,
and I didn't ever have problems meeting/dating women (there are
a friggin' ton, and whatever you're attracted to, you'll find).
As a rule, just stay away from making friends with
people born and/or primarily raised in Arizona, and avoid the
Valley girls and such, and you'll do fine.
town is great. Downtown Tempe is (of course) right there,
and there's tons of stuff to do even if you're
not yet 21. Restaurants, clubs, bars, movie theaters, music and
sporting events down at Tempe Beach Park, the manmade river,
Octoberfest...it's all cool in Tempe. There are also tons of
malls, museums, and funparks all around Tempe, so if you
have a car (or friends that drive), then you'll never
be bored on a Friday or Saturday night. Plus, Scottsdale
is a short drive away, and while it is more
upscale and expensive there, there's an excellent nightlife there, too.
Plus, you've got the Phoenix Zoo nearby, as well as
downtown Phoenix to explore. Essentially, you'll never, ever be bored.
It's a great place to live out your undergraduate life.
The weather does suck hardcore (it's far too hot, you
can barely move in the summer since it's 110+ outside,
and that only changes for three months in the winter),
but some people like the scorching heat, so it might
be for you after all.
One last thing: if you're
looking for an on-campus job, there are tons of opportunities.
There are particularly a few good opportunities for people interested
in working with English composition (ASU's Writing Center, the BHC
Human Event Writing Center, so on), so check into those
opportunities if you're interested. They'll help immensely on a grad
school application, especially if you want to get a TA-ship
when you go.
Anyway, hope all that info helped.
I personally think that overall, my experience was positive, and
that I got a solid education. Just beware of President
Crow—he might destroy the university just as it begins to
turn the corner.