- Class: Junior
- Major: English
- Gender: F
- High School: Our Lady of Lourdes Academy
- Transfer Student: N
FIU is a rather large institution with about 40,000 students. Anyone passing through (except on Fridays) can see the many, many faces that go through the halls and buildings all over campus. Because of its size, the classroom suffers high student-to-faculty ratios (Florida, as a whole, has the worst in the nation, about 31-to-1, according to http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/mar/15/30gtis-floridas-tuition-too-low/). I could tell as a freshman that FIU's ratio was a bit poor; I had between 40 to over 100 students in my introductory courses, which oftentimes counted as requirements for graduation (known as the University Core Curriculum [UCC]). But the number of students dwindled as I entered courses more pertinent to my major, and it was much easier to contact and communicate with professors outside of the classroom. School pride is mixed among the student body. It's difficult to establish "solid" pride in FIU within the body at large because it is primarily a commuter school. The general opinion is, "I don't want to stay on campus longer than I have to" - which means students may sometimes be unable to participate in activities and events the university offers in order to instill esteem. It's a rather unfortunate cir***stance; the school plans many activities for its students, primarily through the Student Programming Council. But until students see the university on a more personal level - as perhaps out-of-state students see theirs - then this attitude will change. Though venues for student involvement - social organizations, honors societies, service groups - are great opportunities for students to participate in events on campus, and therefore celebrate FIU pride. Mixed emotions about FIU also come through students' general opinion on the university as a whole. Many students feel FIU is "not as good" as other universities, making it less worthy of recognition compared to other schools in the area (in regards to academics and athletics - especially athletics). In some circles, there is some bitterness: "Yeah, I wish I went to [insert university here] instead." (Usually that other school is in the same city as FIU... to give a hint, it's affiliated with a natural phenomenon Florida is all too familiar with.) But over time, I think this attitude has diminished because of FIU's large and recent projects, mainly, the approval of a medical school and the opening/graduating class of a new law school. FIU is homegrown; it is relatively young, so it isn't taken in the same regard as say, Duke University or even the University of Miami (and the latter is only about 50 years older than FIU). The biggest complaint about FIU, is undoubtedly, the parking situation. Though I don't drive, I know through friends and others (even professors) that parking at FIU is like traveling to Hell and back. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to talking about how lousy the parking is on campus. Students are often caught waiting in line for spots, making them late for class or even unable to attend. As long as students are mindful of potential waiting times, they should be fine when it comes to getting to class promptly. (Teachers know about the trouble, but some will probably not accept it as a legitimate excuse for tardiness.)
FIU's requirements are honestly not that bad. They're in place to ensure students are well-rounded in their studies. But even with the University Core Curriculum (UCC), students have opportunities to take classes associated with their major that can satisfy UCC requirements. For example, in the English major, one course is recommended for the UCC for a student to take, because it's closely affiliated with later classes. But once students get past the UCC and enter major requirements, classes become a lot more focused, smaller, and frankly, fun. I feel this is especially the case with the English major. The English department has many professors dedicated to their field. Most of them have doctorates in specialized fields pertaining to literature in some way; many of them are published, and others included are currently working on new contributions to their field (eg. research, novels, etc). The professors are very approachable and friendly, but they can sometimes be very busy - office hours are precious. There are a few professors who can be reached outside of class (I know one in particular who gives out his cell phone number the first day of class, in case students need to reach him). If you have a particular project you're working on independent of the general coursework you're taking (say, poetry or a short story), many professors are more than happy to take a look at your work and provide feedback. These opportunities are very important, because these are the same professors who can provide you with recommendations to graduate school and other programs outside of undergraduate studies. English majors participate frequently in courses through discussion, but there isn't much of an air of competition. (Sure, there may be one or two of the Pretentious, but they're generally a minority.) Outside of class, students (in general) do not really tend to talk about coursework or related topics - but I think this varies with the individuals one associates with.
Because of its size, the student body is very diverse; but although there are races across the spectrum, the bulk majority of the student body consists of Hispanics, simply because of FIU's location in Miami. FIU is about as Miamian as you can get! You can easily overhear conversations held in Spanish as you walk through the halls, especially the Graham Center, the heart of student socialization and eateries at University Park. Besides these groups, you can easily distinguish between those involved in Greek life and not. Most Greeks are adorned with shirts carrying their letters; girls carry purses with large Greek symbols stitched on them. Those in fraternities and sororities usually sit together in "packs" in the Graham Center, mostly because they frequently advertise their events and causes for students (bake sales, raffles, and others). Since FIU is located in Miami, students tend to wear jeans every day. Shorts and skirts are also common. Many students dress very casually (pajamas) while others look as if they spent three hours getting ready (a nice ensemble and pumps). FIU has political organizations that are active. The predominant ones (affiliated with political parties) are the College Democrats and the College Republicans. In general, FIU seems to be more liberal, but there are many conservatives on campus.
The Best Things
Friendly, knowledgable professors
The Worst Things