Distant Revisit: Miami University of Ohio

A popular t-shirt at the bookstore at Miami University of Ohio reads: Miami Was a University When Florida Belonged to Spain. Not only is this the first school named Miami in America, it can also be called the University of Nicknames in America.  

For example:

  • Miami is known as the Mother of Fraternities. Four “alpha” chapters of national Greek letter social organizations were founded at Miami, as was one national sorority. About a third of Miami students go Greek. But you don’t need to go Greek to be in “a house” at Miami. Private residences rented by students also have their own names and traditions, without the fraternity/sorority dues and initiations. 
  • Miami has been called the Yale of the Midwest. The university’s first buildings, including Stoddard and Elliott, which still house students today, were supposedly copies of Yale’s architectural styles.  
  • Miami is known as the Cradle of Coaches, a nickname the university has copyrighted. Miami may be the only US university that has produced football coaches who have won national championships in college football, NFL championships in the pre-Super Bowl era and Super Bowl champions. Miami also claims Hall of Fame baseball manager Walter Alston, who won three World Series titles for the Los Angeles Dodgers; Wayne Embry, the first African American general manager in the National Basketball Association, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has won two Super Bowls for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 
  • Miami can be called the ‘Epicenter of Esports’. It was the first university to win a national championship in varsity collegiate esports as well as the first to build a state of the art arena on campus for the games.  

Miami University of Ohio is also a more affordable and achievable alternative to schools such as Syracuse or the University of Virginia. Acceptance rates are high, often exceeding 70 percent. The typical freshman will have a 3.8 GPA and an average SAT of 1270 about 70 points lower than the average at Ohio State, and:

  • Miami’s freshman retention rates have exceeded 90 percent for the past five freshman classes, excellent for a state university, no matter how selective.
  • Over two-thirds of each freshman class that arrived in 2009 through 2013 graduated within four years, a performance matched by few state schools, including Ohio State. 
  • The average Ohio resident who would be at the middle of the freshman admit pool at Ohio State could receive a scholarship to come to Miami. So could the non-resident who might be at the middle of the pool for a school such as Delaware, Indiana-Bloomington, Penn State or Wisconsin. 
  • The Miami Promise holds not only tuition, but also on-campus housing costs and some fees for the full four years of your education.
  • Just over half of Miami’s recent graduates (in 2017) left campus with no student loan debt. 

Miami is also special for these reasons:

  • It assigns freshmen and sophomores to living-learning communities within the residence halls. This is the only university I know of that has a Welcome Week for freshmen and a Welcome Back Week for sophomores. 
  • Miami is one of the few universities public or private that owns a campus in Europe (in Luxembourg) while also offering many opportunities to study abroad as well as study away in several US cities, including San Francisco. Check out LinkedIn.com and you find that Miami has over 12,000 alumni in and around Chicago, and more than 5,000 in and around New York City. 
  • Miami offers more attention to undergraduates, but almost as many majors as larger schools such as Ohio State. 
  • Miami has a campus that poet Robert Frost called “the most beautiful that there ever was.” Most buildings follow a 19th century colonial theme. But the Armstrong Student Center is one of the most modern that you will find on any university campus. 

But no college is perfect, including Miami:

  • Depending on where you come from you might find Miami too isolated. The Oxford campus is an hour’s drive through farmland to the nearest interstate highway, though it is only 25 miles from Cincinnati. There’s little in the way of mass transit to get there.
  • Greek life is more important here than at other state schools because of the school’s history with fraternities and sororities and the more isolated location. Greeks will have more influence on campus events and student affairs than they might at a school in a larger city with many off campus attractions. 
  • The football and basketball programs are lower profile than you will find at a Big Ten school, or even  at the University of Cincinnati. Not everyone who considers the state university experience cares about the football or basketball teams, but I’ve run into enough people who do. 
  • Student reviews call the campus community “preppy” and “conservative.” Admittedly, you are likely to find a more ethnically diverse student body at Ohio State or the University of Cincinnati if you come from Ohio. I did not notice a difference between students I met at Miami versus students that I have met at Penn State-University Park, an isolated campus closer to where I live. But community is something that prospective students should observe for themselves. 

I judge colleges more by what they do for the students they attract than by where they are ranked in the media or by the percentage of applicants that they turn away. On that standard Miami of Ohio could rightfully be considered America’s best state university, or at least among the ten best.

Report Card: Miami University of Ohio

  • 4-Year/6-Year Graduation Rates: A/A
  • Freshman Retention: A
  • Costs: A
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B+—Miami would get an ‘A’ if the campus was closer to a large city or mass transit
  • Comforts: A
  • Connections: A

Need help on your journey to college? Contact me at stuart@educatedquest.com or call me at 609-406-0062