With the spring edition of the College Preparatory Invitational Horse Show taking place in Tyler, Texas this year, the timing fell together perfectly for me to take an extended trip to the Dallas Metroplex on my way to the show and participate in the “Magic in the Metroplex” counselor tour of four Dallas- and Fort Worth-area colleges.
The first stop on our trip? Southern Methodist University nestled near the heart of the city itself and home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, an enthusiastic student body, and a varsity equestrian team that participates in the NCEA.
First things first: Don’t let the “Methodist” in the middle of the university’s name concern you if you aren’t particularly religious and prefer to attend a secular school. While founded by the United Methodist Church in 1911, the school’s mission is non-sectarian these days (translation: non-religious) and their undergraduate student body of just over 6,000 is made up of students who prize an education rooted deeply in the liberal arts above all else – and with 106 Bachelor’s degrees to choose from in the five undergraduate schools (a law school and theology school supplement graduate-level opportunities), it’s clear they have many options before them.
(This many choices also reveals quite clearly why so many students select multiple majors and minors – indeed, during a student panel featuring students from the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences (the school where the majority of undergraduate majors are to be found anyway), we learned of several current Dedman school students who have triple majors, plus one student carrying a quadruple (!) and many more who have selected double, triple, and quadruple minors. It’s an extreme example of the diversity and flexibility of liberal arts education – but it works for SMU students!)
Regardless of a student’s chosen area of study (or studies…), the university’s location in a bustling city of just over 1.2 million people and the wealth of industries in and around the Metroplex offer an exciting living laboratory for students to explore as part of both their classroom education and for career-specific internship opportunities. Career advisors begin to work with students in the Lyle School of Engineering in their first semester to help them find the right path to their next step while students on pre-health-focused tracks likewise have a dedicated advisor to help them eventually transition from their undergraduate careers into their graduate programs. The Cox School of Business also has its own advisors (there is a direct admit option for freshmen who know they want careers in business and a later admission option for those who come in undecided and transition) and everyone else moves into career advising in their second year after they’ve had time to explore various academic paths.
The SMU Mustangs equestrian team (under the direction of head coach Carol Gwinn) recently moved its base of operations to the Dallas Equestrian Center just three and a half miles from the SMU main campus. As varsity athletes, equestrians at SMU also have full access to both academic and athletic support facilities on campus and travel both far (Georgia and South Carolina) as well as near (Forth Worth) for their NCAA Division I competitions.