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Sunday, September 24, 2023

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Explaining the Pride to the prospective new student

As the first month of the year, January marks the commencement of newly made resolutions, back-to-school routines and the frigid temperatures we Texans are so averse to. The time has come around again to shed holiday food comas, gather our bearings and plunge back into our respective schedules and communities.

At the University of Houston, students are gradually flocking back to their campus lives, but for those who have yet to explore the vast opportunities afforded by the University, consideration is in order. The Cougar life, for all its offerings, is truly unmatched.

With the ushering in of 2014, there are also several noteworthy additions to campus. This month will signify the completion of “Phase 1” of the University Center Transformation Project, which boasts the re-opening of the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, the LGBT Resource Center and Veterans’ Services, to name a few. This month also marks the re-opening of the Moores Opera Center, with its first performances, “The Consul” and “The Barber of Seville,” premiering in late January. And though these latest successes have come mid-winter, there is more to be expected with the coming of spring and the influx of new applicants.

Asked about her thoughts when applying to UH, freshman Caitlin Hilton said, “I wasn’t sure where I would end up going, but I knew UH was a definite possibility. It felt like a home away from home the minute I stepped onto campus.”

This rings true for many students, and despite its reputation of being a “commuter school,” UH has provided sufficient purpose for living among fellow Cougars. The expansion of campus amenities is a complement to the established seven residential communities. Students have many options for living arrangements, whether they’re at the hub of Greek life in Bayou Oaks, living alongside classmates in Cougar Village 1 and 2 or securing a more private, urban lifestyle in Calhoun Lofts.

The accommodations are fitting for any personal preference, and with an on-campus health center, the award-winning Campus Recreation and Wellness Center and innumerable dining options, there has never been a greater time to live among the red and white.

“I was surprised at how much the University had to offer, not only educationally. There’s an overwhelming sense of community among my fellow students,” Hilton said.

For those in search of a diverse institution with abounding opportunity for any and every student, the proof of success is in UH’s Tier One research university status, its recognition as “one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduates” by the Princeton Review and its No. 2 status as the most racially and ethnically diverse university in the nation.

For law students, UH ranks among the nation’s top 100 law schools. For liberal arts students, UH boasts one of the top five Ph.D. programs in creative writing nationwide. The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management is ranked among the top 20 hospitality programs.

In a 2011 interview with KHOU, Robert Franek, senior vice president of publishing for The Princeton Review, said UH students “have much to be proud of and much to brag about.”

With all of this in mind, your brow furrowed as you sift through dozens of applications and brochures, a single question arises from the ink-blotted forms before you: How is UH the best fit for me? It was barely a year ago at this time that I found my high-school-graduate self in the same predicament.

The answer lies within every student you’ll pass on your way to the UC Satellite, working out across from you at the Recreation Center or cheering on our Cougars from the stadium stands, and it’s always cloaked in pride. Your experience at UH will only ever be what you make of it, but never will it be without a sense of unity, of friendship and of the highest hopes of achievement long after our claws are tucked away.

As Benjamin Disraeli once said, “A university should be a place of light, of liberty and of learning.”

To collegiate and recent graduates alike, if these words are ever forgotten, look to the “A, A” sculpture at the front of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, rub the paws of the cougar statues in the Cullen Family Plaza and wait for the crimson glow of the Bayou Oaks Clock Tower, and you will remember your place.

UH, to the student, to the teacher, to the applicant waiting in the wings, remains a place of unique passion. With our paws in the air, our futures are limitless.

Opinion columnist Alex Meyer is a creative writing freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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