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Tempe campus - drowning in a sea of humanity?

gadadgadad Registered User Posts: 7,772 Senior Member
edited February 2011 in Arizona State University
My S is a HS junior who, like his older sisters, would ideally like to be at a medium-sized selective university. However, he is dedicated to finding a university experience with a top marching band, and our family finances have just reached the point at which our assets wouldn't qualify us for aid, but our income doesn't accommodate writing $50,000 checks.

ASU has the marching band program and has Barrett Honors College as an option - he should be competitive for Barrett. The price would also be right. But I've always seen the 50,000+ enrollment at Tempe and gagged. It strikes me as the most anonymous, most intimidating, least personal form of college that I can imagine. (I went to a university with 3,000 undergrads.)

I'd like to think that life within Barrett might be like being at a smaller institution, but I know that Barrett students take 70% of their course hours outside of BHC. Just how much is BHC like an institution of its own and just how daunting is the size of the larger campus? Does Barrett break down the apparent size of the campus socially and in terms of extracurriculars as well as in the Honors courses?
Post edited by gadad on

Replies to: Tempe campus - drowning in a sea of humanity?

  • LauraG2011LauraG2011 Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
    Barretts is extremely effective at breaking down the campus, not only because your whole living community (including dining hall, lounges, etc.) are limited to only barretts students who number 1700, but barretts has a ton of extra events, clubs, opportunities, etc. plus you get personalized attention and assistance as far as the administration is concerned, because barretts has their own set of everything and receive priority for everything. The waiting in line forever and drowning in red tape seems to be most peoples concern for going to a large university, and this is not an issue with barretts. As for the size, it's not really overwhelming when you're there at all, its not like youre in a giant room with 50,000 other nameless, faceless students; you have a certain gruop you meet with classes and in your major and things like that, and you stick with your group of friends. I dont find it to be an issue at all, mostly because I have visited campus so much and dont think its bad. Others might, but your son might love the idea of going to a big college with SO many more opportunities and things going on, like I did :)
  • bchan1bchan1 Registered User Posts: 793 Member
    I have one child living in Barrett and one going next year. From my perspective there are a lot of opportunities and relatively few drawbacks. Sometimes bigger is better. I would also say that the Barrett experience is particularly well suited to certain majors - everything in the Business College for example. Even though it is unlikely that my children will pursue law school (and definitely not medical school) following their UG years, I was very impressed by the pre-professional advising staff at our scholar orientations.

    The only negative that I see is large lecture classes for some - but with AP or transfer credit that may not be much of a problem. My older daughter had only 1 large lecture first semester and the large lecture format doesn't bother her as long as the material is presented well - which has been the case in her experience, in non-honors classes too.

    Plan a visit and see what your son thinks about the size, but plan to stay long enough so he can really experience it beyond a superficial realization that it's a school the size of a city.
  • christalena2christalena2 Registered User Posts: 1,667 Senior Member
    If I can prove myself in a school the size of a city, and be successful, then it will be easier when I have to do the same after graduation in an actual city. College doesn't have to be this sheltered, minor existence. To me, a large school was a necessity, because I can meet new people every day, explore new opportunities every day, and get the financial backing and other resources from a large research institution. Those who feel like a "number" are the ones who expect to feel special just by attending college, rather than actually contributing to the university's success or using the college experience to grow and learn through personal challenges and triumphs.

    At least that's how I see it.
  • bchan1bchan1 Registered User Posts: 793 Member
    I think for some people the smaller school holds promise for developing strong relationships because of the more intimate environment, not sheltering exactly but developing depth in relationships that help prepare one for the larger world as opposed to meeting many more people but not really knowing any of them. I believe that ASU can offer the best of both worlds, an environment small enough to nurture strong relationships and the resources of a really big research institution.

    It's important to think about the whole experience, not just how familiar the place becomes the first week of freshman year. A really small school might feel too small by year 3 or 4 unless the depth of their curriculum offers extraordinary opportunities in your field of interest (i.e. Caltech for the science researcher). On the other hand, schools that seem enormous at first glance offer smaller communities within the whole where a student can get their feet under them (i.e. Barrett Honors, Fulton School of Engineering, W.P. Carey Business etc.) and a whole world of opportunities beyond the familiar to stretch your wings as time goes by.
  • gadadgadad Registered User Posts: 7,772 Senior Member
    These are great responses! Thanks for sharing them.
  • oxolojooxolojo Registered User Posts: 460 Member
    So glad to see interest in ASU's SDMB (Sun Devil Marching Band)! I'm a member of both the SDMB and the Pep Band (plays at basketball games). If you want more information about the program, just let me know! I will say that the band program is very generous (meaning that if you join the SDMB and the pep band you are likely to get a small stipend -- for instance, I'm only a freshman and received $350 from the music department this semester, and I'm told that the amount gets larger with tenure).
    Another thing about joining the band is that it is a large family. I'm joining the band fraternity this semester (Kappa Kappa Psi) and most of my friends are also in band. Everyone is very close and many people look out for others. It definitely makes ASU much less intimidating, now that I know 450+ people with at least one of the same interests as me. It's very nice to know students that aren't freshmen because they can help with work for a class they've already taken, or can tell me what professors are good and bad. It's not an experience that everyone at ASU gets.

    Other than that, it would really depend on what major your son was planning on pursuing. I know that a lot of the colleges within ASU have much smaller environments. I'm a student in W.P. Carey and I have never felt overwhelmed by size, which is saying something, since my smallest class this semester is a math class with 70 students. However, even in my large lecture classes (I have 4 lectures at 400+ students this semester) I have been able to learn the material quite well. There are some professors that are better than others, but that's going to be the case at any school. So far I've been pretty lucky with the help of ratemyprofessors.com. I have professors that care about your success and others that couldn't really care less if you failed. But all of them put forth the effort to give you what you need. Also, large lecture classes are often fielded by multiple TAs with random office hours. This may seem weird, but it means a TA is almost ALWAYS available. It is very convenient if you ever need help with anything.
    ASU also has awesome (and free!) tutoring centers that are open forever with student tutors that are great. If you're worried about anything, ASU has you covered. I feel like all of the amenities that the school provides are reason enough to want to come to a big school. A lot of my friends describe it as a 'choice school,' as in, you really can make it whatever you want it to be.
  • asyouusasyouus Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Sun Devil Marching Band all the way! I completely agree with Oxolojo, where it is what you make it. He discussed the class load, so, I guess I will discuss the band.

    It really is top notch. I've never been so ecstatic about a marching band in my entire life. I was in it in my highschool, but it was always a "task." But this band... Lets just say I may spend half of the day after a performance listening to the recordings on Youtube. It has a wonderful sound, and a whole bunch of people in it are music majors, so it has a huge level of musicality. Wonderful uniforms too.

    Well, enough said about that. I hope your son finds his dream school, even if it is at ASU. And who knows, you never know what kind of scholarships and financial aid they're willing to give you.


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