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University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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I went to UMBC as an undergraduate and now I am a 5th year graduate student working toward my Ph.D. I have a very high opinion of my university, I wouldn't have put in 9 years of my life in to it if not. The school itself has not changed much over the past 9 years and actually that is one thing that I really like about the school. It is easy to get in to the swing of things and everyone is so helpful (from other students to faculty to staff). The campus is beautiful and they have been working on beautifying the campus even more. The campus is also just right in size. It is classified as a medium size campus. You can walk everywhere and you have enough time in between classes to get from one to the other even if they are on opposite sides of the campus. UMBC is actually a big circle, so it is easy to find your way around. They are also working on building more space for classrooms and labs. As for the classes, they are not easy but you really do learn the material. UMBC is known for being a school very focused on academics, definitely not a party school. You have to study and you have to go to class. As an undergrad, I got 2 degrees, biology and psychology. The science classes are difficult, I can't lie, they do try to weed out those who are not interested in science or simply will not to do well, but if you have a real interest in the subject you will love it. With that said, when I say that I have been going to UMBC, they say wow, isnt that an honors university, the classes must be difficult. I tell them yes they can be difficult and a lot of work, but they are enjoyable and interesting. As a graduate student, I am getting my doctorate in clinical psychology, and I have LOVED allllll of my psyc classes, from undergrad through grad. They have been wonderful. And now I am a teaching assistant for many undergraduate psyc classes and even that experience has been great. I enjoy interacting with the students and helping them learn. When on campus, most students spend the majority of their time in the commons or the RAC. The commons is where all the "fast-food" places are, there is also a bank, a little convenience store, and plenty of tables to sit and be social. The RAC is the gym. There are 2 pools, a track, basketball courts, group fitness classes, cardio decks, and it is all free to students. The library is also a very popular place to study. There are 7 levels to the library, it is huge. When not in class or on campus, a lot of people are out in the city. Although we do not have the feel of being a "college town", we are about 10 minutes away from the Inner Harbor and there is always things to do around town. The campus is also really safe. The Baltimore police is actually on campus as well as the baltimore courthouse. If it is late at night you can even call and get a police escort if that would make you more comfortable. As mentioned before the students are great, there are some frats and sororities but there are much more organizations and things to volunteer for. We also have many sports and club sports to participate in. There is a lot of school pride even though we do not have a football team. Most of our sports are division 1 and do very well, even the chess team! There is nothing really unusual about UMBC and the administration is great, always wanting student input to see how to make the campus better, but one thing that is complained about a lot, even from myself and the one thing I would change is the amount of parking on campus. There have been times, if I had to come in the middle of the day, where I would drive around and around for about an hour before I would find someone leaving. That can be frustrating, but they are trying to make the situation better. They started making special color tags for better assigning who can park where and building more lots. I will always remember my experience at UMBC and it will always be a part of my life.

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It's a very credible school in the Maryland system. UMBC is a medium sized school, so between and within classes you will certain spot a few people you know, but you can also run into people that you only see once. Physically, the campus is rather cozy, it's all encircled by a circular road, and the academic buildings are all clustered together in one area. As far as reputation, UMBC is not that well known to your average joe, or far away from Maryland, though it is respectable for it's engineering, computer science, and psychology programs. These are the most popular majors. It is also recognized for it's availability of various research, and cutting edge technologies such as nanotechnology. So, while an old classmate from highschool may not recognize the name, it holds some clout in those areas. Sports wise, UMBC has been standout in Basketball, both women's and men's. There is not much of a college town, just some houses that are used for university residencies and a church. Other than that it's trees and grass. The "town" that is used it Baltimore or D.C. that must be reached by car or bus or something of the like. The administration is there, nothing to special to note. Though, the police are a bit too present for my tastes. I would watch my back if I was planning to drink underage in the open or piss on the side of some building. There is rarely any big controversy around campus. Recently a student died of a diabetes related complication and there was a massive vigil for him. There is moderate school pride. It's gentle rather than hardcore. Though, the basketball cames sellout and there are those with painted faces and bodies, it's nowhere near the scale or intensity of other major universities that I've heard of. It also does not help that basketball games are less inductive to a festive outdoor scene than football games. There are a fair number of kids with various UMBC apparel, often from one of the events here. The dining hall is a very solid place to eat each day, as it provides quality all you can eat food; homestyle but with some interesting variety. However, it seems that the commons is a more popular venue. It offers a food court approach with pizza, subs, mexican, american, coffee shop, greek, sushi and a convince store. There is a bus that runs for free for students to popular stops such as the inner harbor and Arundle mills mall. However, it is flawed in that it does not run past 10PM or before 10AM. The bus can be tracked by a website, and so can the status of the washer and dryers in the dorms. Rooms have bathrooms that are shared between 2 to 4 students. There is a kitchen on each floor. There are many parking lots on the campus and parking all along the road that circles around the main campus. It is free and fairly available. There is a game room in the commons with pool tables, ping pong tables, and several HDTVs with all video game consoles available. There are weekly Magic the gathering tournaments as well as tornyies in Halo 3 and Guitar Hero.

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The best thing about UMBC would have to be the few, and there are a few but not many, teachers who care, some of the fellow students. I would change many things about UMBC. The biggest change I would make is the administration. When I tell people I go to UMBC, most people say things like, what is that? where is that? is it a community college? is it a lesser version of college park, etc. In the RAC(Retrievers Activities Center/aka the gym). What college town, there is nothing there except to go to downtown baltimore, which you can't do until you are a junior or senior depending on your age. UMBC's administration needs a big change. Until the president realizes that there are other students at the school than the Honors University Students and the special Meyerhoff Students (a special program that was set up for minority students studying the sciences). Don't get me wrong, I think it is a great program, but it is the only program that he pays any attention to or even cares about. There are other students that go to the school as well and he would not recognize that unless something amazing happened that could bring the school publicity. If it were up to him athletics would be completely gone from the school, but he doesn't realize, that athletics are what brings people, and money to the school. Many students would love to see a football team but that will never happen under his watch. However, when the womens basketball team in 2007 and men's in 2008 went to the NCAA tournament, he all of a sudden cared, because that brings in money and people, maybe after two consecutive years and possibly more publicity he will realize that he needs to care a little more about all of his students, but probably not. There is very little school pride with the exception of the recent activities with the NCAA tournament, school pride came out of no where. There was also a very small group, maybe 50 or so students, that always showed their school pride!

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The best thing abot UMBC is the Humanities Progam; it is a group of studetns with an interest in a discipline in the humanities with some living on their own living/learning community floor. We have fun, do scholarly and non-scholarly activites from poetry readings to historical hikes. I spend most of my time on this floor and after that I would have to say the library. There really isn't too much of a problem that I have with UMBC's size or location. The size is not bad because it is small enough that I see a lot of people that I know some well some not so well just walking to class, and I grew up ten minutes from the school so I know the area real well. As to the administration, it is better than AUCs. Dr. Hrabowski is great and works really hard for our school. The only problem I have with administration is freshmen advising. It is chaotic and exhausting and usually disorganized. The biggest controversy that I can remember was when a UMBC student brutally killed a woman. Thankfully this is very rare and other than that maybe it is the new smoking perimeter, which I am all for. School spirit does kind of lag at sports games but our teams did well this year so maybe next year it will be up. Other non sports related school spirit I guess is fine. For me this is my school, I am proud to be here. One of the few fun things that I can recall are playing jailbreak in Academic row, snowball fights in the middle of the night, freezing while doing Aikido in the winter after dark, getting to know my roommates, drinking coffee in the dining hall, rolling down the hill near the administration building on a perfect late summer early fall night, walking around unlocking campus at six oclock in the morning with no one else around. The most frequent complaints are about the food. Sodexho does a so so job here and thankfully it is being evaluated. (Hopefully it will either improve or be replaced).

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My overall opinion of this school is only full of positive regards except when it comes to communication. UMBC is a very student-run based school and whenever you call say the financial aid desk or residential life desk for example, after either being placed on hold for several minutes or told that all operators are busy, you'll be placed in contact with a student who will attempt to answer your question or concern with the basic information she was required to know but in the end, your problem won't be solved or you'll be told to call a different department. I wouldn't even try emailing staff though(even the head of the departments) because I guarantee you won't get an answer. Your best bet would be to come to the school directly and talk to an actual person, face-to face, that way they can't hang up on you or ignore your emails. Other than that, the school is wonderful. It's not a huge campus like it's neighboring college, University of Maryland College park, and you can usually walk to your classes in under 15 minutes (and even that time is a stretch). UMBC may not have a football team but the school events (especially the soccer and basketball games) are always quite entertaining and there really is a lot of school spirit. My only suggestion is to not go outside of campus at night (or atleast going to the actual city). One time I remember driving home from the animal shelter near by which was only at the edge of Baltimore City and i counted at least 3 clusters of homeless families while driving back to school (which is only 10 minutes away). Typically though, there's never a need to go off campus (unless it's a late night trip to McDonalds) because they always have some type of activity going on on the weekends when everyone goes home. What I personally liked the best was the "weekly movies" because they showed a film that had just been released from theaters but hasn't come out on DVD yet.

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I would say the best thing about UMBC is how easy it is to meet people from all over the world and make new friends ALL the time. The size of UMBC approx, 10,000 undergraduate with 75 percent of incoming freshman living on campus make it easy to meet people. The sad thing is though is when I say I attend UMBC most people react negatively because they are ignorant about what UMBC offers their students and what our students have become after graduation. Most people spend time between classes in the commons because its where everyone meets for lunch between classes and its where all the student organizations meet up on Wednesdays. The commons is also during free hour from 12-1pm every M-W-F. UMBC is not a college town we are The Loop. The campus is encompassed in a one large circle road and everything you need is within the circle. It's more like a little city in a circle. Administration at UMBC are a huge disappointment, this is where a majority of the schools stereotypes evolve from. Res life is the spawn of the devil and and pretty much stuck on the thought that no one should have any fun at UMBC that involves partying in music. Some of the rules applied to students are completely ignored such as the designated smoking areas one and recycling bins across campus. The biggest controversy on campus was on the last night of Spring semester a students apartment was entered by two suspects wielding a gun and knife and robbed the students. Safety on campus has become a concern now. School pride only happens when one of the sports teams makes it to a big tournament or playoff. UMBC REALLY REALLY needs a football team and an ice hockey field on campus. I love all the people I met at UMBC and thats what I miss every summer when we all go home. These are lifelong friends and it's an important factor in my staying at UMBC.

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My opinion of this school: 1. UMBC is a small community so you can have a good network of friends. The teacher to student ratio here is also good. Class sizes are small, except for freshman classes and beginning science classes. The professors here are awesome and I read a posting that said their effective teaching skills are tied with Yale at 4th place. 2. One this I would change is the registration system. The add/drop date is really early so most people do not get a good feel for how rigorous a class might be and end up having to drop it with a "W". I would extend the add/drop date. 3. UMBC size is just right. It a good amount of students here. It's location is away from outside neighborhoods and distractions. No major roads run through UMBC (except for arriving and leaving). It's a great distance from Arundel Mills (13min away driving) and other areas i.e Walmart (9min away driving). 4. Before there wasn't a noticeable reaction when you'd tell someone "I go to UMBC" but due to recent publicity (60min) of the school and our awesome President (meet with Obama and other higher education leaders). UMBC has received a large influx of student....which is why one of the residence halls was extended. 5. The school administration is VERY effective and thorough. If you do your work and meet the deadlines for registration, billing etc, there will be no problems. 6. UMBC does have school spirit and PRIDE but let's face we are all geeks on the down low and like to have quiet time. There are many things to do but the curriculum is tough. There are complaints that we do not have enough fun but hey, that is not what you are here for. Freshman year is the year to go all out, after that, books come first...until Senioritis

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To be honest, I was skeptical about UMBC at the start. About half of the school's students commute, which severely reduces the liveliness of the campus on the weekends and hinders school pride. Luckily, the administration acknowledges these problems and is doing its best in conjunction with the Student Events Board and Student Government Association to find practical solutions. This relates to the most unique, and my personal favorite, aspect of UMBC- the administration is constantly looking to form partnerships with individual students and whole organizations to enhance student life and shape UMBC to address the needs and desires of all students. The Office of Student Life is unbelievably encouraging for students who want to better the UMBC experience and the Student Government Association provides funding for concrete ideas that students develop through Prove It! and other events. Although I do feel that school pride is lacking, it's definitely getting better. I find that when I tell people that I go to UMBC they're impressed, but also a little hesitant to comment because they do not know all that much about the university. People complain about the lack of school pride and the absence of a football team, but there are a lot of redeeming qualities about the university that students overlook. There are a lot of places to simply relax and amazing opportunities to build a community with not only other students, but also with faculty and staff. Overall, I think UMBC is a great place for driven students looking to get a great education, gain experience in their field and start a career.

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The best thing about UMBC has to be the education standard along with the variety of backgrounds that can be seen coming together every single day. "Compared to Notre Dame," a current transfer student and a friend of mine always says, "UMBC is like heaven. You actually see people in the hallways and outside of classes!" Now I don't know how true that is but UMBC is definitely a relatively large sized school but nowhere near the size of UMCP. When people hear about me attending UMBC, I usually receive a congrats and an "Oh, you'll do so well; it's such a great school!" UMBC is the #1 up-and-coming university in the nation and it definitely challenges its' students to work hard but all of it is worth it in the end. Sure, our campus may not have the greatest of school spirit or the biggest football team but it really does make you feel like a part of a family. You can probably be sure to bump into President Hrabowski every once in a while too while coming out of the library. Most students could be found in the Commons during Free Hour where they hangout in the food court, game room, or Sportszone. During finals week, the library is jam packed with practically the entire campus and is not exactly quiet; that's when I like to retreat to the now quiet Commons and study from any distractions or distracted friends.

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1. The best thing about UMBC is the openness of students. People are typically friendly. 2. I would completely revamp Reslife and the administration. They kinda suck. 3. Our school is small, but I think that adds to how the students seem to all know each other. 4. "Really? Sorry man." or "Never heard of it." 5.I'd say my time is evenly split between class, on-campus job, and my on campus residence. 6. What college town? 7. The administration is whacked out. Especially that nonfucntioning section 8. For me: the smoking ban. For the campus: probably nothing. We don't really get riled up as a whole. 9. There is when we're winning. 10. We've got an underground tunnel system that we're not supposed to know about. But other than that, it's a fairly typical small state run institution. 11. How about several? Blowing up pumpkins, having revenge sex on the couch, mad parties in walker, death race 2006 around the loop, drunken full contact football everytime it snows, throwing a challenge flag at a professor, boxing outside the dorms, smoking stogies on a great spring day while ogling all the pretty ladies walking on academic row, and these are just to name a few. Note how none of these are truly academic.

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