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Angelo State University is a small liberal arts college located out in the wilds of San Angelo in West Texas. It was established as Angelo State College in 1965 and became a part of the Texas State University System in 1975, along with Sam Houston State University, Southwest Texas State University, and Sul Ross State University.

It usually has an enrollment of 6-7,000 students and is predominantly white with a strong Hispanic minority. It's most often referred to as a "teacher's college" because many of the students there are seeking teaching certificates of one sort and another.

It's also a teacher's college in the sense that the professors (in the main) are there because they actually want to teach. This is a vastly different situation than what you find at bigger research universities, where many of the professors you encounter will be more interested in the book they're writing or the experiments they're doing than in the classes they're obliged to lead.

As a result, I had better instructors and an entirely better classroom experience at dowdy little Angelo State than I had at big, respected Indiana University.

ASU departments that are particularly good are their biology department, their nursing school, and their music and drama departments.

I obtained my biology degree there, and most of the profs I had are still there, and they're folks who'll go the extra mile to help you do well in school. If you major in biology there, one thing you absolutely must do is join the biology club, Tri-Beta. It's a fun group, and you'll learn a lot. We had a really high percentage of students going on to medical and physical therapy schools.

The music department is surprisingly good, particularly their voice department. While I was there, ASU graduated a couple of students who have gone on to fairly successful opera careers. Most of the success of their voice program is due to the efforts of Eldon Black, their primary vocal instructor.

The drama department is also quite good. ASU has the distinction of having one of the few modular theaters in the country: the entire theater is built from blocks that can be rearranged in whatever configuration is necessary to change the stage and seating.

If you're interested in football, ASU does not disappoint; the team regularly does very well, and home games are always fun. Every so often an ASU player will end up in the NFL. Linebacker Pierce Holt (who played for the San Francisco 49ers in several Super Bowls) is probably the most famous NFL player to graduate from the school. The school's mascot is the ram, and ironically the school fight song is a ripoff of Ohio State's.

And finally, the school has good facilities and is well-funded. ASU has a lot of scholarship money to give out. The primary scholarships are their Carr Scholarships, and if you get a good one, it will entirely pay for your schooling.

So, there's a lot that's good about ASU. However, there are some downsides, most of which are due to the school's small size, isolation in a small city, and conservativeness.

ASU does not -- and simply cannot -- provide the same kinds of opportunities you get at larger schools in urban areas. While my in-classroom experience at ASU was better than at IU, I had so many more extracurricular opportunities in Bloomington than I had in San Angelo that there can be no real comparison as to which university served me better overall.

And make no mistake -- ASU is conservative, and the administration is paternalistic. This state university is more conservative than most of the larger private religious-affiliated colleges I've visited in the Eastern U.S. How conservative is it?

This conservative:

  1. During the Gulf War, ASU was one of the few sites in the U.S. to hold a pro war rallies. The rallies were partly a side effect of the college having an enormous Air Force ROTC program.

  2. We had to fight tooth and nail to establish a campus literary magazine because the administration didn't want to give voice to campus liberals and malcontents who would "upset" alumni. The English department was practically no help in trying to establish said magazine, which says a lot (none of it good) about that department.

  3. However, no one in the administration batted an eye when the campus anti-abortion group put up full-color posters of aborted fetuses right by the cafeteria. Yummy.

  4. When I was there, during the midst of the AIDS epidemic (I'd already seen a local friend & fellow ASU student die of it), the administration refused to allow condoms to be sold on campus. Flat out refused. Compare this to most other colleges which set up a condom machine in every bathroom in an effort to keep their students from getting sick.

If all that suits you politically, you'll be in green acres. If it doesn't, the political atmosphere doesn't really detract from the education you'll get there, but it's something to consider before you apply.

For more information, visit the university's website at http://www.angelo.edu/

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