School: Samford University
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Size: About 4,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate
Number of Majors offered: 60-ish.
Here’s my spin:
Academics: Samford is fairly prestigious in the way of Southern private colleges—one of my Dad's friends calls it the "Ivy League of the South." Ergo, the classes are not easy. Beer-guzzling workophobes, beware. However, if you study, show up for class, and do your homework, be prepared to succeed and thoroughly enjoy yourself. The schools of Education, Nursing (for girls) and Business (for boys) are the most popular on campus. All of these schools are very highly ranked nationally. We also have a 6-year PharmD program on-campus through the McWhorter School of Pharmacy, which means that Samford chemistry classes are insanely hard. Beeson Divinity School is on-campus, and one can take religion classes there. The core classes are fairly easy if you have taken AP classes in high school, but, again, you will get out of these classes—grade-wise and intellectually—as much as you put in.
One thing I love about Samford is the World Languages major, which lets you combine two languages into a single major so that you don't have to double major to study two languages equally. I am currently studying French and Spanish, and have been very well pleased.
Life: Samford is actually located in Homewood, Alabama, about ten minutes away from downtown Birmingham. Homewood is a wealthy, safe, adorable little community that perfectly secludes one from the hecticness of downtown B-ham without occluding one from visiting the city. I've taken class trips to art museums and downtown parks. The perks of living next to a big city are great; the diversity of restaurants and museums will keep you occupied. There aren't many on-campus events, however, other than a big beginning-of-the-year concert (this year we had Joe Nichols and Needtobreathe). Campus is small and beautiful—the walk from the football stadium to the Science Building, on the opposite side of campus, takes about ten minutes. The campus architecture is perfect Georgian-style.
Here's a caveat that has proven insignificant for me, but could be important to some—although Samford claims a 55-45 girl-boy ratio, the actuality is more like 60-40, and since many of the pre-Pharm or pre-Business boys spend their time holed up studying or in frat houses, it can often feel more like 70-30. Husband-searchers, beware. Another strange thing—in a Southern twist, most of the boys here are looking for MATES. After spending a few minutes talking with a boy the other day, I mentioned my boyfriend, and he walked away.
Dorms: Freshman dorms are roughly 11x11. TEENSY. Upperclassman dorms consist of two of these rooms connected by a "sitting room." Dorm life is fun, though—each hall has a "brother" or "sister" hallway with which it does occasional activities, and some halls have intramural teams. Sororities and fraternities have their own houses, and MANY people live in these, because Greek life is huge at Samford. There are a lot of classical Southern sorority girls here. Dorms are close to campus. Visitors of the opposite gender have to sign in at the "hub" before going past the lobby of a dorm building, and there are "visiting hours" during which they are allowed upstairs.
The worst stuff: You must be able to deal with Greeks. The very Southern-Baptist rules and flairs can be rather frustrating. There aren't many on-campus activities, and sometimes the cafeteria food is horrifying. (The grilled chicken, however, is always dependable.)
We are very bad at football. This doesn't bother me, but if you are into SoCon championships, don't come to Samford.
The best stuff: Homewood is ballin', and the campus is beautiful. Classes are stimulating, and very cool people abound. The library is AWESOME, and it's nice that so many graduate schools (Law, Pharmacy, Business, Education, Nursing, Divinity) are all on-campus. Classes are small. Professors care about you and respond to your e-mails. Samford is VERY respected in Alabama and across the South, and it's always nice to feel respectable.
Samford is, very simply, the best Alabama has to offer. One can walk the streets of Birmingham with respectability in a Samford sweatshirt. Sometimes I stand outside the Nursing building at night and marvel at the beauty of my campus. Sometimes I also watch foreign films with the French club in the language lab, but if you're into parties, we have those too. We also have coffee AND a Chick-Fil-A on-campus—what more could you ask for out of college?
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