UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: SOUND ACADEMICS, DIVERSE STUDENT BODY AND SANDY BEACHES

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UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

Coral Gables, Florida

By EDWARD B. FISKE

Author of FISKE GUIDE TO COLLEGES

Year-round sunshine and the colorful Miami culture could make even the most dedicated students forget why they are at college. But at the University of Miami, students can have their fun and get a solid education at the same time.

The university boasts a boatload of strong programs, including marine science, music and business. The preprofessional programs are red hot, too. Sound academics, a diverse and energetic student population, and sandy beaches and subtropical climate create a perfect storm that attracts talented Hurricanes from far and wide.

Ten minutes from downtown Miami, the university’s 239-acre campus is located in tranquil suburbia and boasts tall palms, wide lawns and even a butterfly garden. The campus — with its own lake in the middle — is architecturally varied, from postwar, international-style structures to modern buildings.

The Student Activities Center is on a lake in the middle of campus. (University of Miami University Communications)

UM has one of the nation’s top programs in marine biology and was the first American university to offer a four-year undergraduate degree in music engineering. With 12 schools and colleges and more than 180 majors and programs, UM offers a broad range of preprofessional options as well as those across the liberal arts.

Dual-Degree Honors Programs in medicine, marine geology, Latin American studies, exercise physiology, law and biochemistry and molecular biology receive high marks. Also valued is the University’s experiential approach to learning, which encourages undergraduates to carry out research in collaboration with faculty and peers.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ACCOUNT FOR 14 PERCENT OF UNDERGRADUATES

UM’s academic environment manages to be intense yet laid-back. Professors “are extremely accessible through office hours, and teaching assistants often reach out to students to help with workshops and extra study sessions,” says a business management major.

The Cognates Program of General Education features three areas of knowledge: arts and humanities; people and society; and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

UM is unusual due to the incredible diversity of its student body; Hispanics account for a substantial 20 percent of the total, African-Americans 7 percent, and Asian-Americans 6 percent. International students, who account for 14 percent of undergraduates, play an integral role in the life of the university.

Students say that such diversity is one of UM’s best assets. “You’re not going to see clones walking around our campus,” says a microbiology major.

UM offers a distinctive system of five co-ed residential colleges. Each is directed by a master—a senior faculty member who organizes seminars, concerts and social events.

Forty percent of undergrads live on campus; others bunk in off-campus apartments or commute.

“(Campus) housing is slightly dismal in the beginning, but you soon become so engulfed in campus life that you don’t mind the dorms at all,” says a senior.

Campus security is said to be strong. “We have Emergency Network Notification (ENN), a program that alerts us (text, call, email) if there is danger or severe weather, blue lights all around campus, safe ride (a program that will drive you across campus after 2 a.m.), closed dorms after 10 p.m. with security, a closed campus with one point of entry after midnight and our very own police force,” a junior reports.

Coral Gables is not a college town. “We are a college in a big city,” says a junior, which means access to events such as Art Basel, the Ultra Music Festival and professional sports teams. (On the weekends, UM students frequent nearby bars or the campus. Fraternities account for 14 percent of the men; sororities attract 18 percent of the women. The biggest non-sports-related event each year is Gandhi Day, which students spend doing community service.

UM students volunteered at Holtz Children's Hospital on National Gandhi Day of Service. (University of Miami University Communications)

UM students volunteered at Holtz Children’s Hospital on National Gandhi Day of Service. (University of Miami University Communications)

UM offers a plethora of other social opportunities. “We have our very own art museum, movie theater, bar and grill, and the new Student Activities Center is dedicated for on-campus programs throughout the school year,” cheers one senior.

Though public transportation and the Hurry ’Cane Shuttle service run in front of the residential colleges, most students recommend a car. The best road trips are to Key West, Key Largo, the Everglades and, of course, UM football games against the University of Florida and Florida State.

It’s hard to imagine a school in the Sunshine State without a generous allotment of fun, and UM is no exception. “Though we’re not the number one party school in the nation anymore, we still really love to have a great time,” observes a junior.

That said, UM students these days are just as likely to search long and hard for the perfect instrumental phrase or mathematical proof as they are to scope out the perfect wave.

“It is the whole college experience at U of M,” says one sophomore. “It is so fulfilling and rewarding.”

Adapted from Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016

© 2015 FGC Associates, LLC. Used by permission of Sourcebooks.

Fiske Guide to Colleges is available as an online program at www.collegecountdown.com/store.

Opening photo: Credit: Richard Patterson. Courtesy University of Miami University Communications.