College of the Week

Each week, Mrs. Nilsen will provide insight into unique college options for learners and families. The source is the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019, an annual comprehensive catalog of diverse universities here in California and nationwide, Colleges That Change Lives, and 50 Colleges that Create Futures.

THIS WEEK: Austin College

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Enrollment: 1,259

Acceptance Rate: 54%

DETAILS: For historical reasons over which reasonable persons can and do disagree, the Kangaroo has become the symbol of all things Austin College. All freshmen receive ’Roo Crew T-shirts at orientation, students hold a trick-or-treat alternative known as ’Roo Boo for local children, and the online career management system is known as ’Roo Connect. AC’s pre-professional programs, most notably pre-med, are among the strongest in the state. Professors here even serve students breakfast at 10 p.m. the night before finals. It’s just another example of the personal style that is typical of this charming Southern institution.

“You feel comfortable and safe at Austin College,” says a sophomore. “It becomes your second home.”

The core curriculum begins with a freshmen seminar called Communication/Inquiry. Each professor who teaches the course becomes the mentor for the 20 freshmen in his or her class. Then students select from courses in three categories in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students can combine three of the school’s majors into an interdisciplinary degree, and all must complete one major and a minor or a double major to graduate. During the January term, students can focus on just one course, and many use that time to study abroad or undertake off-campus internships.

Of the academic climate, a chemistry major says, “It is competitive enough to push you to do the best work you can, yet very collaborative through working with peers on group projects, lab assignments, research experiences, and other tasks.” Sixty-seven percent of all classes have fewer than 20 students. “Teachers always make time for students, they’re approachable, and the mentor program really helps when it comes to registering for classes and looking for summer research programs or internships,” says a student. The college also offers independent study and departmental honors programs. The Posey Leadership Institute offers seminars and courses, and a minor in leadership studies is available. AC also provides five research areas in Grayson County. Thirty-three percent of students conduct undergraduate research and 60 percent study abroad each year. The Global Outreach fellowship program gives 10-15 students the chance to volunteer in educational programs around the world.