I was raised in Arkansas, a state with many natural resources. Still, however, I was blown away by the multitude of resources at SMU. “The Natural State” better watch out! It has some stiff competition!
When considering resources at SMU, the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (ALEC) is the first that comes to mind. The ALEC offers free tutoring services to SMU students. Coming from a small town in an impoverished school district, I knew that I would be behind a lot of students upon entering into college. I knew that I would have to seek additional support in order to level the playing field. Immediately I turned to the ALEC. The kind tutors with whom I collaborated were former students that had earned A’s in the classes. They not only knew the course content, but they also knew the relevant test tactics and professor preferences. They provided me with a competitive edge as well as with new ways for approaching knowledge and academic tasks.
In addition to the upperclassman tutors, the ALEC also has expert English faculty members in the Writing Center to assist students with writing papers. Recently, SMU commissioned a special subset of English faculty to the Scholars Den to assist students with professional school and fellowship applications. I recently utilized this resource upon writing my personal statement for medical school; I truly could not have conquered this daunting task without their expertise!
When navigating research papers and projects, it is not only wise to consult the Writing Center faculty but also the librarians and research staff members of Fondren Library. This expert team has its members on call, as well as available for private appointments. They help students develop research outlines and locate their sources within SMU’s extensive library system.
SMU has six libraries on its main campus. Fondren Library is by far the most popular, with its expert research staff, centralized location, contrasting study zones, and infamous Starbucks! Students patron Fondren numerous times a day—to meet with study partners, to retreat to special hideaways, to occupy odd gaps between classes, or to fuel up on coffee! Students can reserve private rooms for individual or group study. They can also select among an endless variety of public study spaces—from the very loud-and-social first floor to the extremely quiet-and-reclusive fourth floor. This top floor boasts a spectacular aerial view of campus and of the Dallas skyline. Another scenic study location is the Centennial Reading Room on the second floor. This glassed-in reading space is sanctioned for the most serious and sophisticated of students. Its ornate, traditional decor transports me back to my studies abroad in Oxford, England.
While Fondren Library offers much variety, SMU students have several other options for studying beyond the walls of “Club Fondy.” Students can study at the Underwood Law Library, the Bridwell Theology Library, the Hamon Arts Library, or the Cox School of Business Library. The sixth library on SMU’s campus is the George Bush Presidential Library. The George Bush Institute provides students with excellent opportunities for internships in political science, public policy, history, and economics. Outside of the library system, the residential commons also cater to students’ academic needs with their study nooks, study lounges, and classroom settings. While the commons’ classrooms are utilized by professors during the day, they are open for student use during the late night and early morning. These areas come equipped with printers, hole punchers, white boards, and projector technology.
Enough nerding out over libraries! I’d like to wrap up by giving a brief overview of the resources in our student center, rec center, and health center. The Hughes Trigg Student Center is the headquarters for our more than 200 student organizations! It is also the hub of student life at SMU. There you can find several offices and meeting spaces, as well as several dining options! Students spend their flex dollars on Chick-fil-a, Cinco Taco, Panera Bread, and the Market. The Market contains a full-service sushi bar, a gourmet popsicle stand, and a plethora of healthy, grab-and-go options! In addition to these food items, the Market also stocks school supplies, toiletries, and over-the-counter medication. Directly across from the Market is the Mail Center. Students can send and receive packages and paper mail at this location, as well as utilize the UPS drop box. Perhaps the epitome of Hughes Trigg resources is the Hegi Career Center. Hegi sets up every SMU student with an online database called Handshake, which operates similarly to a LinkedIn profile. There, students can keep track of their professional materials, while also networking with prospective employers. Hegi plans career fairs, resume workshops, and other signature events throughout the year. They prepare undergraduate students for jobs, internships, post-graduate programs, and on-campus leadership positions through their mock interview appointments and other career-related services.
The Dedman Rec Center is SMU’s three-story fitness complex. Students can freely access its facilities, as well as attend workout classes for free. The Outdoor Adventure Company belays the three-story rock-climbing wall, while also incentivizing outdoor recreation through its camping rentals and guided camping trips to nearby state parks. Dedman employs an elite team of fitness instructors and personal trainers; it even hires massage therapists during finals season to further alleviate stress and stiffness!
Finally, the Bob Smith Health Center is an incredible resource at SMU. Its three stories represent the body, mind, and soul. The first story, corresponding to the body, contains a pharmacy, dental clinic, and numerous physicians accepting patients as walk-ins or by appointment. The second story, corresponding to the mind, is the headquarters for counseling services at SMU; students can book up to eight free appointments with the clinical staff before being charged or referred. The third story, corresponding to the soul, houses a Zen Room with a massage chair, essential oil diffuser, and other features that promote meditation and relaxation!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources, but it contains some of my absolute favorites! These resources differ greatly from those in my home state, but they certainly fostered a more “natural” transition into the SMU community.
Class of 2021
Biology & Philosophy Major | Psychology Minor