Is the University of Kentucky a Good School?

Not all postsecondary institutions in the US offer a full range of programs across disciplines.

Changing your mind at any time during your undergraduate degree at a school where your options are limited may mean making do with what’s available, thus compromising your goals and dreams.

Or it may also mean transferring to another school, which is like applying to college all over again.

The University of Kentucky is one of the only eight American degree-granting institutions with a complete gamut of engineering, agricultural, liberal arts, medical, and professional disciplines.

It tends to attract students looking for top-notch undergraduate engineering and business programs.

Located in Lexington, Kentucky, UK is the largest among all colleges and universities in the state enrollment-wise: based on its latest Common Data Set (CDS), it has 31,547 students.

It also has very high research activity, as evidenced by its Carnegie R1 designation.

You might want to consider adding UK to your college list if you prefer a diverse campus where sports, parties, and Greek-letter activities are integral to an undergraduate student’s life.

Most applicants get in — UKY has a very high acceptance rate of 95%.

The average high school GPA of admitted first-year students is 3.6, while their SAT and ACT composite scores range from 1070 to 1290 and 21 to 28, respectively.

Number One Rankings: There are Many of Them!

There are over 50 four-year institutions in Kentucky.

Niche gives U of K plenty of #1s among surveyed institutions in the state, such as:

  • Best College Campuses in Kentucky
  • Best Colleges in Kentucky
  • Best Colleges That Accept the Common App in Kentucky
  • Colleges with the Best Professors in Kentucky
  • Top Public Universities in Kentucky

It’s also included in The Best 389 Colleges by The Princeton Review.

Commonwealth Stadium, University of Kentucky Wildcats
Commonwealth Stadium, University of Kentucky Wildcats

US News, which is arguably the most popular college ranking site out there, ranks UK #159 in National Universities, #84 in Top Public Schools, and #109 in Best Colleges for Veterans.

The well-trusted site gives the following UK undergraduate programs high rankings:

  • Business
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Nursing
  • Psychology

What’s Life Like on a Dense and Diverse Campus

In terms of enrollment, UKY is the largest in Kentucky.

Among its 31,500+ attendees, around 72% are undergraduates. Approximately only 27% of the entire undergraduate population are first-time, first-year degree-seeking students.

Together, they share the 918-acre city campus with seven libraries and 16 colleges and schools, including the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the College of Medicine, and the College of Law.

Parties and Greek Associations: Important Parts of Campus Life

Among 28 surveyed institutions, Niche ranks UK #1 in Top Party Schools in Kentucky.

Many UK students confirm on Reddit that attendees like to have a good time. It is a must to consider this matter if you want to work on your undergraduate degree with very little to no distractions.

The biggest annual social event is March Madness.

Fraternity rush week follows it — if you want a party-filled college experience, being a member of a Greek-letter association lets you enjoy increased chances of finding and partaking in big shindigs.

Running out of a group to join should be the least of your worries because there are 50+ frats and sororities.

With 23% of male undergraduate students being members of fraternities and 31% of female undergraduate students being members of sororities, it’s undeniable that Greek life is massive in UKY.

It’s no wonder that Niche ranks it #1 in Best Greek Life Colleges in Kentucky.

The Wildcats Play in Varsity and Club Sports

Sports are a big part of UKY campus life.

There are 25 varsity teams known as the Kentucky Wildcats or simply Wildcats.

Over 540 student-athletes are attending. As many as 126 student-athletes graduated from UK in 2023, thus setting the record for the biggest athletics graduating class in the school’s history.

Basketball — it’s definitely the biggest sport in U of K!

The male basketball team has won eight national championships, with the most recent one acquired in 2012. But before that, it became the first collegiate basketball team to reach 2,000 all-time wins.

Being a Wildcat doesn’t have to mean competing in the NCAA Division I like student-athletes do.

Whether you like to compete like a pro or hone your skills, you’ll be happy to learn that there are numerous student-initiated and student-led sports clubs to choose from.

You might find these official UK sports clubs as interesting as I did:

  • Club Dodgeball
  • Futsal Club
  • Kentucky Karana
  • Pickleball Club
  • Rock Climbing Club
  • Rodeo Team
  • UK Bass Fishing Team
  • UK Clay Target Team
  • UK Club Water Polo
  • UK Kendo Club
  • UK Powerlifting Clubs
  • Wildcat Triathlon Club

Plenty of After-School Activities

There are 500+ student organizations around.

Indeed, there is an activity that you may partake in between hitting the books. It doesn’t matter if you need to let off some steam, want to acquire new skills, or wish to pursue an interest.

Groups range anywhere from academics to health and wellness.

You may also opt for something that allows you to provide service to the community — the Center for Community Outreach, for instance, has various programs for raising money for a cause.

Before I forget, there are faith-based groups, too, such as:

  • Bonfire
  • Cats for Christ
  • Christian Student Fellowship
  • Every Nation Campus
  • Latter-Day Saints Student Association
  • Muslim Student Association
  • Secular Student Alliance

I really enjoy attending University of Kentucky, but I do believe there is still some room for improvement both through administration and the student social life scene. UK is very good at being such a diverse school which is rare to find in a southern school like itself, but I think there is room for improvement for academic resources that really take the time to help you one on one

On-Campus Living: Not a Requirement for Freshmen

Want to stay in the apartment of your choosing or with your loved ones?

You’ll be more than delighted to learn that UKY does not require freshmen students to reside on campus, although as much as 86% of first-time, first-year students choose to do so.

Undergraduates have 19 residence halls to choose from.

There are six on the North Campus. All are just a stone’s throw away from downtown Lexington, the White Hall Classroom Building, Patterson Office Tower, and the UK Student Center.

On the other hand, the rest are on the Central Campus. They are close to the Kroger Field, the home of the Wildcats, the William T. Young Library, and U of K’s popular dining facility, the 90.

Known for Engineering, Business, and Health Professions

When UKY came into being in 1865, it was called the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky.

It isn’t surprising that some of its most sought-after undergraduate degree programs include agriculture and engineering, although business- and health-related programs are popular, too.

Around 52% of all first-time, first-year students earn their bachelor’s degrees in four years.

The average annual salary of alumni members six years after graduation is $45,100. As many as 98% of the graduates are employed two years after earning their diplomas.

Selective Majors Require an Additional Application Process

Over 170 majors are available for undergraduate students to choose from.

Some of the most popular majors include:

  • Business
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Engineering
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Communication
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • Information Science
  • Accounting

At U of K, some colleges and schools have selective majors, and some of them are:

  • College of Engineering
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Public Health
  • Gatton College of Business and Economics
  • Martin School of Public Policy

Often, going for a competitive major requires a separate application process after admission. It’s also not uncommon for a degree-seeking student to be placed into an alternate major until a final decision is available.

Online Programs That Do Not Say They’re Online

Adults with businesses, jobs, or families to tend to may choose to further their education without much disruption to their day-to-day duties and responsibilities through UK’s online programs.

You can choose from 80+ degree and certificate programs you can complete 100% online.

What’s so wonderful about online programs from UK is that the word “online” does not appear on the transcript or diploma — they have the same value and recognition as their traditional counterparts.

As an online student, you have access to robust student support services such as:

  • Academic advising
  • Career counseling
  • Technical support

Large Classes and a High Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Although going to a campus with a large student body has benefits (a wide range of academic programs, a diverse community, more people to make friends with, etc.), there are certain downsides, too.

For instance, many of the classes are large.

Around 32% of all undergraduate classes consist of 20 to 29 students, while 12% have 30 to 39 students. Almost 15% have 50 to 99 students and even 100 and more!

Meanwhile, only 25% of all undergraduate classes have 10 to 19 students.

The student-to-faculty ratio is also above average: 17:1.

There are 2,260+ instructional faculty members around. Approximately 62% of them teach full-time.

Make sure that you consider your learning style before adding UKY to your college list because how many individuals you share the classroom with can impact your academic success.

My experience with Kentucky so far has been great the staff really communicate with you . And I feel like I’ve made an excellent choice in picking where to continue my education I’m hoping to have a great year there and be able to peruse my passion which is helping people.

Opportunities for Studies and Internships Abroad Galore

The University of Kentucky believes that having a global realization and intercultural knowledge of your chosen industry is crucial in today’s diverse and mutually dependent workforce.

Because of this, it encourages undergraduate students to participate in programs outside the country.

You can choose from opportunities such as:

  • Study abroad
  • Intern abroad
  • Research abroad

These programs can be as short as two weeks, one semester, or even a full academic year.

You may also opt for an exchange program that will take you to another institution in the United States or a university in another country — while paying your regular UK tuition rate!

Some of the countries where undergraduates in study-abroad programs go to include:

  • Australia
  • Cyprus
  • Ecuador
  • England
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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