My Trip to Texas A&M University
By Coach James Nestled in the heart of Texas, roughly two hours east of Austin, Texas A&M University finds its home in College Station, which is named from the railroad running straight through town and Texas A&M’s campus. But don’t let the name of the town fool you because train access is no longer an option; highways are now the primary means of getting to campus. Miles from a major city, College Station is definitely a “college town.” It seems to be built around the university, with dozens of restaurants and student-friendly businesses just off campus, such as a pub/laundromat. The locals I met explained that on game-days people will drive from miles away to cheer on the Aggie football team. Suffice to say that football is a major pastime in this area.
However, that doesn’t mean students can’t find other sources of fun. The campus is comprised of over 5,000 acres, with running trails, an 18-hole golf course, a 400,000 square foot recreation center, and the fourth-largest capacity college football stadium in the country. Biking is a popular way to get around, but the school also utilizes one of the largest university-owned bus systems in the country. With a student body of over 40,000 undergraduates, the university has over 800 registered student organizations, and makes a point to emphasize school pride through its Texas-sized list of traditions. For example, the school mascot, a collie named Reveille, attends classes with her student handlers, and tradition states that class is dismissed if she barks. Also, each undergraduate class has its own cheer, which can be heard during football games. Sports are a huge deal at Texas A&M, especially football. Many graduates would not consider their experience complete without having attended at least one Aggie football game and tailgate. The football fandom is such a big part of Aggie culture, that they refer to themselves as the 12th Man, meaning they are just as integral to the success of the team as the other 11 players on the field. The 12th Man is not only present at football games; even less popular sports can expect an Aggie cheering section. In fact, out of the 27 national titles held by the school, the most recent are from track and field and equestrian championships.
Texas A&M also strongly values its history and patriotism. The university houses the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and the student center serves as a memorial to Aggies who died while serving in times of war. Memorials, statues, and sculptures pepper the landscape, and all are steeped in meaning. One of the most iconic sculptures is the Aggie Ring sculpture. The ring is a point of pride for seniors, and a whole day is dedicated to receiving it. The ring signifies their entrance into the alumni family and becoming an Aggie for life. The university is one of six colleges designated as a Senior Military College, with a uniformed group of students called the Corps of Cadets. This is a military-style program that includes leadership classes, physical training, and separate housing and responsibilities for participants. The Corps houses all three ROTC branches, but students who are not planning to join the military can also participate. The Corps also houses the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, one of the largest colligate military-style marching bands in the nation.
Academically, the school has a lot to be proud of. The school’s research budget is over $850 million, and many research opportunities are available to undergraduates and graduates. As a land grant institution, Texas A&M offers a staggering number of agriculturally related majors, and it has the only veterinary school in the state of Texas. The most popular and selective programs are found in the architecture, business, and engineering departments, and several industry-specific career fairs are hosted at the university throughout the year. With above-average retention and graduation rates, a nationally recognized career center, and a very large and active alumni network, it is obvious Texas A&M is committed to their students’ success. Admittedly, Texas A&M University is not for everybody. This is a large school with a big personality and a lot to experience. It is relatively far from a major city, and the campus culture is conservative in nature. If this is what you’re looking for, I would definitely recommend Texas A&M, especially to in-state students who would receive a lower tuition rate. Undeniably, Texas A&M produces dedicated graduates who genuinely loved their experience and continue to contribute to the school’s success. Photo Credits: Photo of Reveille: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Reveille-TAMU-Mascot.JPG Photo of Senior Ring Sculpture: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bluegenieart/7832311348 Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/AggieBandFormation.jpg