A first-years’ look at college and SMU
A red sports backpack with a white mustang and SMU logo on it. It’s what starts it all. Every prospective student receives one of the backpacks upon their arrival at SMU for a tour of campus. As they walk through the University’s grounds, these red bags automatically identify them as visitors who might ultimately choose SMU for their four-year college experience.
Ross Miller, now a first-year, still wears the red SMU backpack he received the day he toured school. The 18-year-old came all the way from Los Angeles and says the first thing he noticed was the campus’ beauty.
“I was just really taken aback by how pretty it was,” Miller said.
The campus’ size, rather than its looks however, was what impressed him the most. The aspiring political science major really enjoys seeing familiar faces due to the school’s small student body. Even though he admits to feeling a bit homesick, this feature has given him a sense of community during his first semester at SMU.
“The campus is so small you get to know a good group of people,” he said.
That sense of community is what SMU tour guide and senior Elishah Ramos likes to emphasis when he shows prospective students around campus. He says he likes stressing the close-knit relationships students can have with professors, as well the many opportunities the school has to offer.
The markets, cultures and Spanish double major believes that whether it’s greek life, studying abroad or being part of an organization, there is something for everyone. Ramos suggests first-years try a variety of activities and events in order for them to find what best suits them.
“Just go to awkward mixers,” he said. “Go to programs on your dorm floor.”
In the past two years, SMU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions has received between 13,000 and 14,000 applications according to Associate Dean of Admissions Byron W. Lewis.
SMU admits about 50 percent of the students who apply, and about 20 percent of those students actually matriculate, according to data provided by the admissions office. The entering class this fall had 1,459 students.
SMU has a 90 percent retention rate among first-years, which officials and students say shows a high level of satisfaction with the decision.
Kierson Mcgriff is within that percentage of first-years who will return next year. The aspiring accounting major has enjoyed her experience here so much she already imagines graduation day. Becoming a mustang though, was not so easy. The Alabama native visited the school three times before making her decision.
The social life Mcgriff has encountered here has been a highlight. Joining the Sigma Phi Lambda Christian sorority has been the 18-year-old’s favorite thing about her first year at SMU. She says the chapter has given her a sense of community.
“It has been great finding good friendships and having a place where you belong,” Mcgriff said.
At the beginning of her first semester Ginger Sprong, a first-year from Texas, was a bit reluctant to join student organizations. Even though she has had a blast since she decided to join these activities, it is SMU’s emphasis on academics that appealed to her the most.
Sprong is very satisfied with her learning experience so far. The quality of classes and professors she has encountered as an SMU student has surpassed her expectations.
“The teachers are just so willing to help with anything,” she said. “All the questions you have, they are always ready to answer.”
First-year Conrad Li, however, has found that the classes and professors have not quite fulfilled his expectations.
“The professors are alright, they aren’t the most exciting people in the world,” said Li. “It could be more fun.”
The aspiring business major is still enjoying his first semester, which he attributes to his involvement with student organizations. He is now anxiously awaiting to learn if he was chosen to become an AARO leader, but admits that participating in extracurricular school activities was not very characteristic of him back in high school. Nonetheless, his involvement at SMU has made him realize how much he loves it.
Li is now looking forward to attending Student Foundation events and other activities, especially basketball games.
The 18-year-old believes his efforts to join organizations and meeting new people is what has made his first semester so great.
“It’s really what you make of it,” he said.