Pros: larger university, generally helpful and friendly teachers, nice campus
Cons: rural Statesboro, average academics, party school reputation
It has taken me a long time to finally write this review on my experience at Georgia Southern University. My feelings about it have always been mixed and complicated. I came to Georgia Southern Spring 2002 as a transfer student from a small private school (Mercer University in Macon, GA). I was unhappy at Georgia Southern during my first two years here largely because I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, and because I do not feel challenged academically. My public high school and Mercer were far more challenging schools. However, the reason I left Mercer is because there is little diversity there. I feel more at home in a large public school setting like GSU where you find more people of different ethnicities and backgrounds.
Georgia Southern University is the largest university in southern Georgia, and it is located in rural Statesboro. I believe we currently have about 17,000 students, and we expect growth every year. Tuition is inexpensive for a university, and many students have state scholarships, which truly make GSU a great deal. Georgia Southern is about 50 miles from my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, a beautiful, historic city that is worth a visit, and where many students go for bars or shopping. We have just about every general major you can imagine, and also very specific majors like Construction Management or Spanish Education. The campus gym, known as the RAC (Recreational Activities Center) is top notch.
I will have lived on campus all four years, and I have no real complaints. The old dorms are cramped, but you will make lasting friendships there. I currently live in Southern Courtyard, a fairly new on-campus apartment building, and it is very nice for a college dorm experience. However, most students live in off campus apartments because they are cheaper. I'd say the average off campus student pays $300 dollars a month in rent. The big news is that by Spring 2005 we are supposedly getting a bus transportation system comparable to UGAs. I've heard that parking can be a headache for commuters, so hopefully this new system will be valuable.
Although I regard my academic experience here as average, will be fair and say that a degree from Georgia Southern is respected, at least here in the South. Personally, my workload is a joke, and I made all As last semester. However, I know people who struggle with less hours and have lots of homework. It could just be that school in general has always come easily to me. My study technique of procrastinating and cramming for tests is usually effective.
Expect to take about two years of core courses, unless you have AP credits. This can be a real drag, since most of it feels like a repeat of high school. Specifically, GSU is known as having excellent Education and Nursing programs. Although introductory classes such as Science and History can be large (up to 300 people), my upper level Music and Psychology classes typically had about 35 students. I have studied music here for four years, and I can vouch that our Music Department is wonderful. I had no previous experience with Opera, solo performing, and classical singing before coming here, but I was encouraged to be involved and grow in these areas, which influenced my decision to minor in Music. The Music Department is fairly close knit, and my involvement in Opera, choir, and piano has led to many friendships and some of my best experiences at Georgia Southern.
I considered majors in Sociology and Vocal Performance before deciding on Psychology, and I am finally content knowing I made the right decision. Psychology is a large major with approximately 400 students, and I am involved with the Psychology Coalition, a wonderful student organization comprised mostly of Psych majors. Recently I was inducted into Psi Chi, the Psychology Honor society, and that has been exciting for me.
So what is the bad side of my experience here, besides not being impressed with academics? I hate Statesboro. Ive realized that small town life just isnt for me. We dont even have a Starbucks here. In a college town of 17,000 students. The nickname for the Statesboro Mall is the Small, which speaks for itself. However, if you grew up in an even smaller town, or know that you enjoy or dont mind living in a small town, this may not be an issue for you.
GA Southern has intermural sports and over 200 student organizations. Football is the most popular sport, and this is a great contributor to the generally high level of school spirit. I do not enjoy watching sports, so while having a good football team may be a bonus for many, it doesn't do anything for me. There are many opportunities to get involved, but it can be difficult if you arent even sure yet what you are interested in (like I was).
The off campus social scene is comprised primarily of a few small bars, drunken house parties, and Wal-Mart. Once you know that, its easy to understand how GSU has a high rate of STDs and a reputation as a party school. A large percent of the students here are from Georgia, are conservative politically, and Christian (after all, this is the Bible belt.) If you are thinking of coming here from another state or even another country, keep these things in mind. I personally am not a conservative Christian, and I am quite liberal, so I often do not feel that I fit in here.
The reasons I am not recommending this school are largely because of Statesboro and my experience with average academics. Also, it is the type of school where people pretty much know by the end of HS if they want to come here or not. I think the people that will enjoy it the most are from Georgia, do not mind the small town atmosphere, and enjoy partying. I graduate next semester, and although I will miss seeing a few close friends regularly, I am ready to move on from Southern!