Life at ‘University of Maryland’, College Park

By Aditya Kulkarni, ENTS Major, Class of 2014

Aditya, an alumnus of Dilip Oak’s Academy shares his insights on the University of Maryland:

University of Maryland: An Overview

The University of Maryland (UMD), located at College Park, just north of Washington DC is a Public University and is the state’s flagship educational institution. Its suburban campus is spread over 1,250 acres (5.1 sq. km.) and has roughly 38,000 students (2012-13 stats), with a teacher-student ratio of nearly 1: 10.

UMD is well known for its state of the art M-Square research park, a new performing arts center and a quantum science lab among other things. The University houses 13 colleges offering courses in Arts and Humanities, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Music, Behavioral and Social Science, Computers, Math, Natural Science, Engineering, Education, Information Studies, Journalism, Business, Planning and Preservation, Public Health & Public Policy. Admissions are ‘very selective’ with an acceptance rate of about 40%. GPA averages for bachelor’s students range from 3.8 to 4 and for master’s level students from 3.5 to 4.

Curriculum and Academics

The university has a rich educational heritage and has the added advantage of being abreast of all the latest technological advances. The curriculum is revised regularly to be in line with the needs of industry. One can opt for advanced courses to augment learning, and although doing so makes the work schedule a bit hectic, it something that ambitious students can easily do. In general, UMD is a great institution, boasting a variety of programs, excellent faculty and superb infrastructure (i.e. labs, classroom facilities and technology). The specialized Telecom course has exceeded my expectations and offers great exposure to current trends in global telecom markets.

On Campus Jobs; Graduate/Teaching/Research Assistantships

UMD provides very good opportunities for self-funding: most students get an on campus job by at least the second semester of their graduate program. Current statistics indicate that around 50-75% International graduate students have some kind of funding, on campus job or Research or Teaching Assistantship that helps pay their expenses. The hourly wage for jobs at the University is good, ranging from $8 to $13 on an average. Graduate Assistantships are available there is a lot of competition for them, so they can be hard to get.

I was fortunate to get a campus job as an IT Support Student Assistant at the University Library early in the very first semester and a Graduate Assistantship (with 50% tuition waiver) from the second semester onwards. My Graduate Assistantship involves providing IT support to users and staff at UMD’s National Foreign Language Centre. My tasks involve network, hardware and software support. UMD has a good placement cell so I am confident of getting a good job once I graduate in 2014.

Food and Travel

UMD is a well-connected campus and one need not own a car, as there is a convenient shuttle service. We also pool with other students who have their own vehicles. There are a lot of Indian stores and eateries nearby as well as shopping centers and several places to hang out at and enjoy oneself. Food seems a little expensive at first until you forget about the dollar-rupee conversion, but there is ample variety to cater to all tastes.

Legendary Sports Culture

UMD is a mecca for the sports fanatic. The university has its own recreational center. The facilities provided are truly world class with state of the art gymnasiums, Olympic-size swimming pools and other indoor and outdoor field games. The UMD sports mascot is an anthropomorphic turtle and we the proud UMD’ites call ourselves TERPS (short for terrapins – a word which refers to turtles). There are many student development groups that one can join and be a part of. Performing arts are also considered a huge deal here and the university has its own performing arts center with world class facilities.

Overall Experience

The University of Maryland College Park has been a great experience for me. The facilities and program content are wonderful. The program I am enrolled for covers the latest developments in the field and offers a wide range of relevant sub courses. In all, my experience there has been FANTASTIC!