As the Brawl of the Wild game approaches, we must once more confront that all-encompassing question: which university is better, MSU or the University of Montana? Of course, the answer is MSU. We Bobcats are lucky to attend the best university in Montana, and I’m here to tell you exactly why.
First, the academics at MSU are excellent for a state university. Students have the chance to work with professors at the top of their fields who frequently conduct innovative research and publish their works to great acclaim. There is an incredible range of classes and majors to choose from, and students can create a field of study and degree plan that works for them. Students are supported by organizations like the Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success, which provide services such as tutoring and other academic assistance. MSU also offers a wide range of internships and research programs to continue learning beyond the classroom.
In addition, as frequently mentioned by our own President Cruzado, MSU is rated as a university with “very high research activity” by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research’s Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. MSU and University of California Santa Cruz are the only two universities nationwide whose Carnegie rating is “very high undergraduate.” There is a myriad of opportunities for cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines on the MSU campus. While STEM research is the most frequently publicized, undergraduate students in nearly every major have the chance to complete research. I’m a history major, and I’ve done valuable research with the university for over a year. What does Missoula offer?
Of course, no one experiences college in an academically-focused, socially isolated vacuum. Luckily, MSU provides a sense of community that is exceptionally rare for a university of its size. While the school is home to over 16,000 students, it has a small-town feel to it. People are incredibly friendly and will welcome you into their friend groups and activities, no matter whether they’re slacklining on the Mall on a hot August day or skiing at Bridger over winter break. While walking around campus, I almost always greet a friend or acquaintance wandering the same sidewalks. I know every professor in my department, and we frequently have long and rambling conversations or grab coffee at International Coffee Traders. My friends who attended the University of Montana felt quite differently about the community, even going so far as to leave the school due to loneliness in what the Chronicle of Higher Education termed a “hollowed-out” university.
Finally, MSU is located in Bozeman, an absolutely incredible college town. Bozeman has a thriving food scene and promotes local food through restaurants and amazing farmers’ markets year-round. The city also boasts several museums and dozens of art galleries, each uniquely fascinating. The outdoor activities in and around Bozeman are second to none, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy. However, MSU’s involvement with Bozeman goes beyond enjoying its many amenities. Students at our university are deeply involved in community activities in Bozeman, from volunteering at Service Saturdays to working at businesses across the city. While Missoula may boast some mediocre shopping and dining, it is easily outdone by Bozeman.
All this and the Bobcat football team? No wonder MSU’s enrollment has grown steadily over the past decade. It’s simply the best university in Montana and arguably one of the best in the nation. On the other hand, University of Montana is still waiting to wake up from hibernation. Go Cats Go!