- Class: Senior
- Major: Journalism
- Gender: M
- High School: Maine South
- Transfer Student: Y
The University of Utah isn't necessarily a traditional "college town", but a burgeoning arts, culture, restaurant and bar scene is just a two-minute bike ride down the hill from campus. If you don't want to do the bike thing, there's light rail -- known as "Trax" -- that connects the U with downtown and the rest of the valley. Trax is also nice for those living off-campus, which many students do. There is a business district adjacent to campus with more restaurants, record stores, bike shops and other retail, and there are plans for a mixed-use development just south of the U's football stadium, along the Trax stadium stop. Plans for this include residential, retail and food, anchored by a local brewpub, Squatter's. One of the real advantages of attending the U is the school's proximity to world-class skiing, snowboarding, mountain-biking, hiking and climbing. Salt Lake City was chosen as the host of 2002 Winter Olympics for a reason -- world-class resorts like Snowbird, Alta and Park City Mountain are less than hour from campus. Right behind campus is a network of hiking and biking trails that wind up into the Wasatch Mountains. Utah also has the highest number of golf courses per capita in the country, and with a nine-hole course right on campus, there's been many days in spring where I've been able to golf, ski and go to school all in the same day.
The University of Utah is a large school that has a ton of different majors and departments to choose from. The business school, law school, and medical school are all nationally ranked. There's pretty much something for everyone. My major is mass communication with a print journalism emphasis, but I have also taken a few "technology/arts" courses and am pursuing a minor in creative writing. (By the way, the U's Creative Writing Program happens to be one of the best in the country.) While there were a few classes that were primarily lectures in an auditorium, the vast majority of my classes have had 20-35 students with a fair amount of attention from the instructor and an active dialogue in the classroom. A few of my classes were taught by adjunct professors who were still active in the newspaper industry. For example, my political reporting class was taught by the political editor at The Salt Lake Tribune, my sports reporting class was taught by the Associated Press sports reporter assigned to Salt Lake City. Not only were these professors able to convey their knowledge about their respective craft, but they have proven to be good contacts when networking for internship and job opportunities.
As expected, the student body at The University of Utah is pretty homogenous. But, if you look close enough there are organizations for about every kind of student. Each year there is an LGBT Week and there are no riots or protests or anything of the sort, which is a good sign (You go to the school down south, Brigham Young University, and any sign of LGBT awareness would get you kicked off campus by school security). There are groups for pretty much every ethnicity that is represented at the U, though a quick stroll through campus will reveal a lot of white faces, despite the fact that the U is becoming more and more diverse. With 26,000 students, there are going to be a lot of different interests and a ton of varied opinions on issues of the day. In general, I would say that the campus is left of center, but not as much as other college campuses because of the influence of the LDS religion. Though, I have many friends who grew up "LDS" but have distanced from "the church" as they've gotten older and in turn have become much more liberal than their parents. Bottom line: if you have a specific interest, more likely than not there is a group at the U that you can identify with. Like any other place, the richness of the experience hinges on the how much effort is made by the individual.
The Best Things
The skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, and awesome views from campus and above.
The Worst Things
Though Salt Lake City (The U's location) is predominantly liberal, it's an island in one of the reddest states in the country -- following state politics can be frustarting.