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Texas College Visits

on March 31, 2014 in College Visits

Texas Visits

Bill and Melinda Gate Computer Science Center at UT Austin

Bill and Melinda Gate Computer Science Center at UT Austin

Several excellent college and university counselor tours were offered prior to the IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Dallas, Texas.


Trinity University

Our first stop was San Antonio, where we spent the day touring Trinity University, meeting faculty, and interacting with a student panel. My recent summary of our regional representative’s visit to Seattle provides more valuable insight into this popular liberal arts university.

Trinity is a small school in a big city and has a strong liberal arts curriculum, along with a unique emphasis on pre-professional programs including business, education, communications, engineering, and computer science. The programs are very interdisciplinary, and languages are often chosen as a second major. Languages Across the Curriculum offers courses taught in a foreign language (i.e. art in Italian, economics in French and Spanish, and business in Mandarin).

Athletics are popular at this Division III university, and Trinity prides itself on high grades and retention for athletes. The learning support program is strong, and resident mentors provide more than standard support for students in dorms. All students must complete a manifesto for their goals upon graduation.


UT Austin32-texas-longhorns-football

The University of Texas at Austin has an enormous vibrant campus. The energy was obvious as students rushed to classes and enjoyed the sunny weather. Admissions representatives provided an excellent summary of recommendations for the applications process:

  • Be creative, not safe, with the essay and keep it to two pages.
  • Provide a resume that expands on a student’s activities and paints a thorough picture, but keep it to a maximum of seven pages.
  • No super scoring of tests is offered.
  • Recommendations are optional, but are considered.
  • No interviews are offered, and any meeting on campus is informational, not official.
  • 90% of the enrollment is Texan, but 40% admitted from out of state.
  • Competitive majors for freshmen include business, nursing, all engineering disciplines, and communications.

The Honors Program and Plan II Honors Program (piecing together your own major) are very competitive.

Many companies have opened offices in Austin, including Facebook, and it is the live music capital of the world. Austin is now known as Silicon Valley 2.0, and South by Southwest in March is very popular.  Fourteen percent of the undergraduate student body participates in the Greek program. Students who are liberal arts majors can get their teaching certificate in four years through the special UTeach program.



Pirate Bike at Southwestern University

Southwestern University

Southwestern University, a member of the Colleges That Change Lives consortium, is located close to Austin in the cozy and safe town of Georgetown, Texas. Science is popular on campus, with many research opportunities offered through faculty. Thirty to forty percent of students are involved in the Greek system at this campus of 1300 students (40 percent male and 60 percent female). “Pirate bikes” dot this pristine campus and can be used freely by anyone on campus. Southwestern is on a push to expand their admissions pool geographically with students from other parts of the US and the world.

The General Studies curriculum fills the first four semesters at Southwestern, after which students focus on their majors (and possible minors) and take electives. Dorms are single-sex, and many students belong to religious groups on campus. The application review is very holistic, and students are required to submit portfolios or auditions for their scholarships. Standardized tests are not as important in the review process if the essay and/or interview is strong.


Baylor University


Baylor University is located in Waco, Texas, and the campus includes 12,500 undergraduates. This private Christian university is set on a dry campus, where relationships with peers and professors are strong. Twenty-five percent of students are in the Greek system, and housing also includes living-learning communities. New suite-style dorms are very popular, and students may stay for two years in these units. A new program in sports management and sales is offered and includes a guaranteed internship with a major sports franchise. Music and performance programs are strong, and computer science and engineering are offered as well.

The application to Baylor is free, and students are not required to submit an essay, resume, or recommendations but are encouraged to do so. Two-thirds of the class is filled during the Early Admissions round in the fall. Merit aid is based on super-scoring the standardized tests, and admissions will adjust aid offers until June if students choose to take the test an additional time after initial application submission. Baylor does track a student’s interest during the admissions process.

TCU logo


Texas Christian University is set on a beautiful campus located in Fort, Worth Texas, allowing students to take advantage of internships in the metropolitan area. TCU’s religious affiliation has little impact on campus—students are required to take only one religion class during their four years. One-third of admitted students are offered a spot in the Honors College, and demonstrated interest is important for all students during the application process. While visits are encouraged, many will not be able to visit campus and are encouraged to contact the admissions representative for their area.

Musical theater, business, and fashion design (offering programs in NYC and Paris) are all popular majors on campus. TCU is very strong in the fine and performing arts and was the first university in the nation to offer a ballet major. They offer competitive scholarships for all those auditioning for performing arts.

There is a lot of school spirit at this Division I university of 8,500 students, and the strong alumni network supports students for both internships and later careers. The optional 8.5” x 11” creative work is recommended if a student is “on the bubble” for admissions. Shuttles to downtown are offered for students.


SMU Campus


Southern Methodist University is located in a beautiful area of Dallas, Texas, where 6,000 undergraduates and students can take advantage of the many opportunities offered in the local community.  SMU offers a new innovative and demanding curriculum that offers more flexibility while fulfilling distinct requirements. SMU offers funding for overseas and summer research, and many students take advantage of these opportunities.

SMU has five colleges: Business, Engineering, Arts (the only one with direct admission as a freshman), Humanities and Arts, and the School of Education and Human Development. We heard from faculty and deans of all of these schools and learned a great deal about the various majors and research opportunities.

Engineering students are working on a geothermal project with Google, and most courses are hands-on and project-based. They offer an engineering overview course to help future engineers test out various fields and options. The goal for the engineering program is to be one of the first with a 1:1 male/female ratio.

The business school offers eight concentrations, and 70 percent of students in the business school have a second major in another school. Finance offers internships at hedge funds in both Dallas and New York, and the real estate concentration is popular and also offers internships.

The arts school is unique because it is the only school at SMU that requires a separate approach and application process. Advertising and film are popular concentrations.

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