The second stop on our “Magic in the Metroplex” counselor tour of Dallas-area colleges was to trek a bit north to Austin College – a school which, to be clear, is not located in Austin, Texas, but is instead in the town of Sherman. (The school is named for Stephen F. Austin, “The Father of Texas” and today is the only – and oldest – college in Texas still operating under its original charter and name.) This small school of nearly 1,300 students has been recognized by Loren Pope’s famed Colleges That Change Lives guidebook and has a diverse, engaged student body to prove exactly how it earned its spot on the list.
With a liberal arts core and exciting opportunities to explore both the breadth and depth of various academic subjects over the course of their four years (an optional January term – known affectionately on campus as “JanTerm” – offers an additional chance for study abroad and internships over a short, intensive period), Austin students can pursue some weighty academic courses of study on their way to graduate work (the college has produced 19 Fulbright Scholars since 2010) or can enter into one of the pre-professional courses of study (pre-law, pre-engineering, pre-health, pre-ministry) to put themselves firmly on a particular career path.
Those not familiar with Austin College might also be surprised to learn exactly how diverse and focused on cultural competency the institution is. Over half of this year’s first-year class consisted of students of under-represented minority groups and over 70 percent of Austin College graduates study abroad during their four years so they experience full immersion into cultures that are very different from the ones they come from. In fact, when current Austin president, Dr. Marjorie Hass, joined the institution, the students on the presidential search committee asked her what other languages she spoke. They didn’t ask her if she spoke other languages; the assumption was that if she were to lead their college, she would have to be someone who demonstrated her own cultural competency.
Unfortunately, equestrians, Austin College doesn’t currently host an equestrian club or team on (or off) campus; however, the school’s more rural location would benefit a student who perhaps wishes to take a personal horse to school with them to board off-site. Particularly enterprising and driven students might even be inspired to begin an equestrian club as a resume builder!