Agriculture/Animal Science Universities

I read an article a few years back about large, “land-grant” universities. The article talked about how the Agriculture and Animal Science departments at these universities are such an integral part of their original mission and how much these universities treasured their Agriculture and Animal Science students. The point of the article was to illustrate how so few students choose to study in these areas and how these universities balance expansion into offering majors in business, liberal arts, etc., but still strive to preserve their traditional, agriculture identities.

My DD22 is interested in Agribusiness, Ag Economics, or Ag Journalism/Communications. Pre-COVID we visited a smaller, state university in Texas and were very welcomed by the whole Agriculture Department. We heard about all of the ways to be involved with the university, and it did seem like they really went out of their way to recruit Ag students; we really felt like we got the “red carpet” treatment. It was a great visit, but my daughter is interested in a university that would also offer a more traditional college experience. Some schools of interest for her are Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Auburn, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Kansas State, and Purdue.

Does anyone have experience with having a child or being a student in Agriculture at a large university?

Did being in the school of Agriculture make a large university seem smaller?

I appreciate reading about any thoughts or experiences you may have had.

My son was an Animal Science major at Kansas State. He absolutely loved it (from TX by the way). College always felt small to him. The Ag school is close.

He was pre-vet so took a lot of classes the bio majors took. He was close with them tool The way they do their large classes is to have Recitation sections each week which are small and go over the week’s material. Those were wonderful. Most of the ag classes are small and close-knit.

He was able to do an outstanding travel abroad for a mini summer session with one of the animal science professors to Switzerland. It was fantastic.

He was able to get great scholarships, good on-campus jobs, research experience and still end with a 4.0 and an outstanding education. He did very well on the GRE and is starting vet school at Kansas State next week!

They say the school is like family and it is not hype. It is. The ag school has outstanding clubs and events. All their ag departments are very strong. They get to know their professors very well and you get the feeling they really like their students.

He also looked at A&M, Texas Tech, Auburn and Mississippi State from your list but just felt so at home at Kansas State that it rose quickly from and “ok I’ll go visit” to the top. All the school’s on your list are good. Like you my son looked at only land-grant universities (he added with veterinary schools) and never was sad about it. He was academically challenged the entire time.

So good luck looking and ask Kansas State any questions you have. They don’t hesitate to talk to prospective students and answer any questions they have. If things are better in the spring they have an adventure day for prospective students where you shadow a student for a day, go to classes etc. It was well worth it! Ask if you have other questions.

In upper level class, they will likely be smaller than their non ag counterpart. Many of the 1st/2nd year classes are the same. At TAMU, AgEcon/Business are neither tiny or humongous. I would say that most of the Juniors/Seniors know each other.

Experience with pre-vet at Colorado State University. Loved the school, the city, and Colorado.

I never heard about the Ag school part of being a land grant U at Wisconsin. Never thought of it as special because I was never involved in it except for having one dorm roommate majoring in ag journalism. Of course there is the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Biochemistry can be majored in that college or Letters and Sciences- they have slightly different graduation requirements. UW also has short courses run by the Ag school that are for farmers not pursuing a college degree. Different states will run things differently, partly based on the major ag industries in the state. Surprisingly, UW did not have a vet school until several decades ago - especially with the dairy industry.

I would not generalize about land grant colleges. Some states have two or more dominant U’s of which one has the better ag focus (Wisconsin is not one of them). A large flagship U will be so much more than any agricultural roots. btw- UW scientists were responsible for warfarin after a cows bleeding after getting into clover problem was researched (WARFarin is named for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) so not having a vet school did not mean farm animals were ignored.

Clemson is land grant school and has some of those majors. Niece just completed masters in agricultural education. My best friend from HS was animal science major and worked with the farm animals, castrating bulls, etc. There is no vet school in SC.

Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is considered the top agriculture school in the country. Highly competitive admissions as with the rest of the university.

Midwest states that have large farm economies typically have very robust, well respected Ag programs of study. Purdue and Iowa State have long been ranked at the top of the USN’s Ag/Bio Engineering rankings, with Illinois, Texas and Nebraska near the top. My D’s roommate is in the Purdue Ag&Bio Engineering program.

One of my favorite signs at the Purdue-Nebraska football game we attended (Purdue Parent’s Weekend, iirc) was “Our corn is better than your corn”.

(Looks like Purdue dropped to #2 after 6 years at #1, often tied with current #1 Iowa State. Cornell is ranked #6)

My 21 daughter wants to major in food science, and right now Michigan State is her first choice. You are right, they so want kids in these agricultural majors that you feel very very special and wanted. Every ag school she is interested in has a recruitment and retention coordinator.

Her prospective major is tiny in numbers but strong in prestige - employers come looking for them.

She is also looking at the University of Kentucky, Purdue and Ohio State. Also some smaller likely schools that don’t quite have that major but close enough.

The girl who is allergic to everything is going to be in an agricultural major lol.

In California, UC Davis is one that stands out for agricultural and animal sciences that offers a great traditional college experience. Another one is Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and maybe Cal Poly Pomona.
I wanted to add if football is a must have for your student, Davis in the second-tier NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision intercollegiate competition

I want to add that although UC Davis, Cal Poly SLO and Pomona offer these majors, all are California public schools that offer no financial aid to OOS students so full price at $65K/year for UCD and around $40K/year for the Cal states.

Regarding a big school with a smaller school feel, UCD has the quintessential college town atmosphere and with any large school once a student gets into the upper division courses for their major, there will be a greater interaction with a smaller group of students.

As a Cal Poly alumni and having an UCD graduate, I can attest to a great experience at these schools but with the high OOS rates, I would be hesitant to recommend them unless affordability is not a consideration.

@Gumbymom Yes, undoubtedly, consider your budget. I included California public colleges because the OP seems to be from Texas but is considering other out of state schools too. Purdue out of state would cost about the same as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

UW was founded before the land grants were made. When the program was begun UW was selected to be the land grant college. The state government squandered most of the grant money.

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has all of the majors you mention, and Yes, being in an ag-related major can make this large university seem much smaller. In fact, the entire ag college is on a different campus a couple of miles away from the main campus. The ag campus is very beautiful, with lots of trees. Shuttles connect the two campuses, so it is not hard to be involved in both places if desired.

Cornell University, University of Georgia, UC-Davis, & Iowa State might be of interest to your daughter.

Beat me to it! Check out CSU for sure.

Definitely the large, land grant univs are the way to go- at least that is my experience as a Texan. I do know people who had great experiences at Humbolt State in CA.

barrons does not have expertise in UW as a land grant school. S/he needs to provide a lot more info when making disparaging comments. Not living in Wisconsin- I believe from the east coast and did a business type major there decades ago. Most flagship U’s will provide a school to meet state needs in agriculture.

My son graduated last year with an AgEcon degree from TAMU. The department took great care of him. He had a great internship at Monsanto/Bayer during his Junior year. He is the kid we worried about getting through college and everything turned out wonderfully. I thought his department/major made a difference in personalizing the “huge college” aspect. Tarleton is another great choice. I’m guessing that might be the school you visited.

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I work in the agriculture field (dairy) and Wisconsin and Cornell are the standouts.