We’ve started with looking at different local universities. Since we live in the DFW metroplex, there are plenty of options to choose from! My son is interested in studying linguistics, but could also be open to getting his undergraduate degree in Latin. He’s thinking that he’ll probably need to continue his education and get a masters to follow through with what he’s interested in doing.
Recently we visited the University of Dallas and really were impressed with their Classical emphasis. Since we had never really considered private liberal arts colleges before, we decided it might be good to go check out other options in the area. Austin College in Sherman Texas was only a day trip away, so we thought that would be a good place to start!
When we decided to tour the campus, my son put out an invitation to his Classical Conversations class to see if anyone wanted to join us. I really enjoy touring colleges with a group of friends. We ended up with a total of fourteen in our caravan to Austin College consisting of six prospective students, me and my husband, and six preteens. With rain looming overhead, I had no idea how this would go.
When we arrived, we started off with an information session with an admissions counselor. While it opened it's doors in 1849 in Huntsville Texas, it moved to Sherman in 1876 for expansion possibilities. The campus has a historical and established feel with mature trees and a beautiful layout.
By the time we were done with our information session, it had started raining. With such a big campus, I was curious how this was going to work. Thankfully they provided free ponchos to make our tour more enjoyable.
I'm sure we looked like a sight walking around a college campus in white trash bags with hoodies! At least it was easy to keep track of anyone in our group!
Pros of Austin College:
Although it is such an old school, they are still continuing to provide students with updated facilities and equipment for the best learning environment. The Adams Observatory is home to the largest research telescope in North Texas. Some of the school's biggest parties are stargazing parties.
If you're looking for a way to immerse yourself in a modern language without studying abroad, Austin College offers the Jordan Family Language House as a way for students to practice their language skills on campus. Students can live in the quadrant of the language they're interested in studying, and in the common areas, they can only speak the foreign language. Native speakers live there to help students master their pronunciation and accuracy. Simply living in the house also gives you credit towards graduation because the learning never stops!
Hands On Business Skills
A generous donor gave $1 Million dollars to the school for the students to invest in the stock market and learn with real money at stake. At the end of the year if there is money left over, the excess goes towards scholarships given out by the school. (And by the way, don't be thrown off by the private school price tag. Sometimes the price isn't as bad as you think it will be!)
Competitive Mock Trial Team
My niece just finished her Mock Trial competition in Challenge B, so when the tour guide asked if any of us had heard of Mock Trial, fourteen enthusiastic hands went into the air. I loved the look on her face! Inside the Austin College library is a beautiful court room where their nationally competitive Mock Trial team practices. For anyone who aspires to be an attorney, this would be an incredible resource.
We were charmed from the beginning when we drove by the historical village where upperclassmen can live. Since the school requires three years of residency on campus, it's nice to know that their living accommodations are top notch.
All graduates get their names engraved on the wall in this beautiful courtyard. They've truly left their mark on the world.
Drawbacks For Us In Attending
So we've only visited a couple of schools, but my son has several elements that he's settled on as important to him in the college he chooses. While Austin College offers some incredible opportunities for their students, my son is taking this school off of his list for a couple of reasons:
Definition of "Liberal"
From a classical perspective, the way that you liberate a mind is through cultivating wisdom and virtue. As a Biblical classical student, my son is looking for an education grounded in Truth that comes from scripture.
Austin College, although founded by Presbyterians, has a broader perspective than scripture. For example, they have a Buddhist club on campus. Everything is centered around giving students a wide variety of experiences. From our perspective, it's just not what we're looking for.
Study Abroad Opportunities
My son was so impressed with the semester in Rome offered by University of Dallas. That's a very specific and purposeful study abroad program. Austin College takes a different approach by offering January Term classes.
Each student is required to take three Jan Term classes during their four years at Austin College. Each student can choose something that interests them. The courses build individual interest, however they don't necessarily correspond with their field of study. Not all of the Jan Term courses are overseas, but it just didn't appeal to us as much as the semester of study in Rome.
In the end, I don't think my son will be pursuing this school. That doesn't mean that it isn't a place where you could get a great education. Our visit wasn't wasted either because it helped us refine our perspective about what we're looking for in a school.
We have more on our list to tour. Check back with our bucket list for college launch activities to share in more of our college visits!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.