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Polymer Science Akron

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  • 1 month later...
Guest bruno

This may be a little late for you, but here it goes anyway.

The U of Akron Polymer Science program is one of the strongest in the country; the last national ranking I saw was that it was #2 in the country. I have a few friends going through the Ph.D. program. It is one of the few programs at the school that is not tight on $$$; not only are departmental funds available, but well-paying local externships are always available also, so many that many of my friends have put off graduation to take some of these. The city spent millions of $$$ to attract polymer companies to the area to attempt to replace the rubber industry that moved overseas, so there are many opportunities available. Goodyear ponied up several millions of $$$ to pay for a dedicated polymer science building at the university (interestingly enough, on the same ground where synthetic rubber was invented in a previous building).

The program has several working relationships with other divisions of the university, such as the law school and the business school. Dual programs are available.

UA has spent tens of millions of $$$ recently to up-grade the look of the campus, especially in landscaping. The place actually looks pretty nice now. The school used to reflect the gritty, industrial area that surrounds it, but things have changes alot in ambiance. The sports teams also have become respectable in the past few years.

The bad parts? The campus sits near downtown, which despite decades of rehabilitation, is a real dump. Vagrants and the homeless are attracted to the campus because they think people there will give them money. Once you leave the campus (and sometimes on the campus) on foot, chances are good that someone will ask you for money. The area just south of campus has had a spate of major crime this spring, including several murders and rapes. The university is trying to buy up as much of this old housing stock that attracts crime, and bull-doze it. There is a master plan in place, approved by the state, to purchase most of this area through eminent domain and have private developers do something new with it. But it may take several years.

Akron the city still maintains the old blue-collar state of mind. Many of the local residents still think the early 1960s was the perfect time in American history and want to go back. In other words, it is not a very progressive city. There is something about being from northern Ohio that makes people think they are losers, and misery loves company. The students that grew up in Akron hate the new look of the campus, hate that there is a Starbucks on the campus, and hate that they can't drive through the campus anymore. People that didn't grow up here think it is about time Akron and the university joined the 21st century.

The university in many departments are ham-strung by lack of funds. This is mostly due to the poor economy in Ohio, and the state government share has declined yearly and tuition has increased, although it is still in the middle of the pack for Ohio state institutions. However, polymer science is the exception.

Some good news is that if you like an international atmosphere for departments, UA has students from over 90 countries. The polymer science department, I believe, is over half comprised of foreign students.

My recommendation: if you get funding and can afford a car and an off-campus apartment, UA is not a bad place to spent a few years. If you have to pay tuition, or might have to live in one of the lesser parts of town, you might be better off looking somewhere else.

Hope this is timely enough for you to make an informed decision.

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