It’s spring, and a young man’s fancy turns to…his first college visit.
It seems like such a long time ago when we were in this season for the first time with the oldest. (You can see my posts of previous visits here and here). Now our season is one of, “Where were you? Who’s this person, and how do you know him/her? You need how much?” And of course, there are the day-to-day prayers for favor with professors, guidance with courses and life preparation, and a host of other she’s-not-our-baby-anymore types of tasks. Here we go again, older, wiser, and much more inquisitive this time–much to our son’s chagrin. During our tour, there was a subset of students/ parents who were not as interested in the tour and/or tour guide as we were, and I made a point of telling them so. After all, we paid good money to learn more about this university, and I wanted to hear everything! Yet, the talkative bunch was too boisterous to hear me. Thankfully, they were not enough of a disruption to keep me from enjoying the beautiful campus:
Funny, I did not know any more about the University of Oklahoma except that, like many big state southern colleges, they were a football and basketball powerhouse, and on the tongues of many Texans when the discussion is sports rivalries.
So, imagine my surprise when I learned that this university also has more National Merit scholars than any public college in the country! Their study abroad program is also impressive–they can study at any one of 50 universities worldwide for the cost of tuition at OU! Forget our son, sign me up!!
The University also boasts a number of parent and student-friendly amenities, like:
- an all-you-can-eat Chick-Fil-a (even the vegetarian enjoys an occasional chicken wrap!)
- free sports attendance (except for football and men’s basketball, which are relatively reasonably priced)
- flat rate tuition payment, such that as long as you take between 12-21 credit hours, you pay for 15 credit hours
- student to teacher ratio is approximately 18:1, with only 4% of classes having 100+ student enrollment.
The dorms were satisfactory, and I thought I heard violins when the tour guide stated that you have to make a special request to reside in a co-ed dorm. This is pleasantly conservative compared to most of the colleges we have visited.
Outside of his dorm room, this would be our son’s other home, or at least one of his homes (he plans to double-major). I cannot think of a more beautiful place to dance.
I will say of both of our older two that they are willing to go wherever is needed to get the best education in their passions, and I applaud them for that. The University of Oklahoma has an outstanding reputation in the areas of ballet and modern dance. Again, who knew? I was, however, a bit disconcerted when the dance department’s administrator mentioned that students dance about 18 hours per week, and that they have little social life. Our son was undaunted.
We left feeling good overall about the opportunity, but there are a number of caution flags. The biggest concern for us is that we feel as if we have become very strategic with the dual enrollment process in Texas, which allows our children to take college courses as a high school student and receive both high school and college credit. This benefit saved us an entire year of 4-year college expenses and still allowed our daughter to enter college as a freshman (far more scholarship dollars allotted than those reserved for transfer students). However, as parents become more sophisticated with the balance of community college vs. 4-year college credit hours, so do 4-year colleges and universities. His entry into OU will be tricky, meaning that we have to monitor heavily how many credits he took and when. Would our careful selection of courses be worth it if he decided to not pursue OU?
Another concern is that freshmen, rather than going straight into their designated fields of study, enter into a centralized “University Arts College” and then have to apply to their various intended department(s) after completing their prerequisites. What happens if he does not get to study what he wants? Will he be left out in Arts College space with others who have no academic home?
Then there is the whole communication issue. This campus interview/ tour came after a number of unreturned phone calls–as in we called and the University took its time returning our calls. And though there were bright spots in our meetings with department heads, I did not have that warm, fuzzy feeling that these administrators were truly interested in our son–a very different perspective than I had when we got into the car leaving our oldest thousands of miles away. Could it be that our spring break meetings were that inconvenient, maybe even annoying? Perhaps, but I doubt that it’s that simple.
So, we press forward. This was an early start, with months and years before we have to make a decision (though later is always sooner than you think). We will get there, and I love the education we continue to gain along the journey.