University of Montana
The University of Montana is located in the city of Missoula, founded at the convergence of three rivers and the second largest city in Montana. A quick overview of the city includes the facts that it has a population of 73,000, and offers the benefits of a thriving downtown featuring numerous cultural events and easy access to the outdoors. In Missoula are three theater companies, 11+ concert venues, First Friday art walks, the Missoula Art Museum, and the Kyiyo Pow Wow. For outdoor activities, there is a river trail system running through the city, Montana Snowbowl eight miles away, mountain biking, hiking, and rock & ice climbing.
The undergraduate population is around 8,500 with about 1,500 graduate students, 65% are Montana residents, and there are 170+ academic pathways. Introductory level classes can include over a hundred students, but they are always taught by a professor, with TAs leading discussion groups. Once students reach upper level classes, most have fewer than 25 which offers great access to professors and their networks and research. The student to faculty ratio is 13:1, and the only class not taught by a professor is Writ 101 which is an introductory writing course that teaches students to write the different essay types they will need in college.
UM emphasizes hands-on learning through three pathways: research, internships, and study abroad. In February, 2022, UM earned the designation as a top-tier, “R1”, research university. With a low student to faculty ratio, it is easy for students to become involved in the research being done by faculty. There are stipends available for students doing internships to offset the associated cost of the dread "unpaid internship". Finally, UM has partnered with schools in 55+ countries to offer a wealth of study abroad opportunities.
The Davidson Honors College offers academic rigor in an interdisciplinary setting. Each student is given an additional academic advisor, is offered priority class registration, has access to DHC specific classes, and is eligible for generous scholarships.
All freshmen are required to live on campus, and for returning students, housing is available on a first come basis. Living Learning Communities are available and have RAs who are involved in hosting relevant events and creating community. There is a free UM bus service (UDASH), 15 Varsity Sports, 200+ clubs including 25 intramural sports, 11 club sports, academic clubs, hobbies, and Greek life. The food is great and the main cafeteria is called the Food Zoo.
Bear Tracks, freshman orientation, begins in the spring before the start of school, so that students have all of their paperwork completed before they get to campus. The first 3 days of Bear Tracks features a Big Sky Experience-a service project to introduce students to Missoula, and then orientation switches to a UM focus. There are also pre-orientation trips hosted by the Outdoor Program (which is the source of outdoor gear rentals).
Most academic buildings face the oval, with University Hall, the first campus building, at the top of the oval. The oval is a gathering place for students year round. In the winter, one quadrant is turned into a skating rink and there are fire pits for s’mores and hot chocolate. The University Center is where students go for club offices, the game room (home of the esports team), the radio station, a food court, student government office, and an innovation center. Of note, the entire campus is the State of Montana Arboretum and inside University Center is where you can find tropical and subtropical trees.
Admissions is straightforward: students apply using the Common App or the UM App, a 2.5gpa is required, the school is test optional, and essays and letters of recommendation are not required. For students interested in the Davidson Honors College, there is an additional application and essay required.
For Financial Aid, students need to submit a FAFSA. To qualify for WUE, a student needs a high school gpa of 3.95 (and to keep the WUE must maintain a 3.0 gpa in college). Students are automatically considered for some scholarships with their applications. There is a UM Scholarship portal and this is a great source of additional funding. Finally there are generous scholarships offered to students in the Davidson Honors College.