Frostburg State University

Special to SunSpot

Not every college comes complete with its own 63-foot waterfall. Yet breathtakingly beautiful attractions like Muddy Creek Falls, located on the Youghiogheny River, literally surround students who attend Frostburg State University.

Roughly 3,200 acres smaller than the University of Maryland, College Park and half the size of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Frostburg is one of Maryland's smaller college campuses. But the 260-acre Western Maryland facility counteracts its unimposing mass with an ideal location for students who enjoy the outdoors.

Frostburg, a four-year graduate and undergraduate public university, shares its name with the town in which it is located. Nestled in the state's Appalachian highlands, the area is known for crisp autumns, snowy winters, beautiful springs and cool summers. Its location provides easy access to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, while the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore are only a few hours away.

Though the college offers a full itinerary of physical education classes and extracurricular sports, students with a taste for adventure and thrills will enjoy Frostburg's proximity to rivers such as the Youghiogheny, where they can boat, canoe, whitewater-raft or kayak. In addition, a handful of mid-Atlantic ski areas -- including , Maryland's sole ski resort -- are less than an hour away. And the nearby , and state parks offer diversions like camping, boating, hiking and swimming.

Founded in 1898, Frostburg was established as First State Normal School No. 2, a small teacher-training institute with a two-year program. During the 1930s, the name was changed to State Teachers College at Frostburg, and the training program extended to four years. The next few decades saw the campus expand and grow, which led to another name change -- Frostburg State College -- in 1963. In the ensuing 16 years, new residence halls and academic buildings were constructed. Finally, in 1987, Frostburg was granted university status, and it joined the University System of Maryland in 1988.

Frostburg's average enrollment is 5,000 (4,200 undergraduates and 900 graduates), and with part- and full-time faculty totaling approximately 1,300, the student/faculty ratio is a comfortable 17 to 1. Students worried about overcrowded classrooms interfering with their academic performance can breathe easy, as 87 percent of the classes at Frostburg contain fewer than 30 students. Students are admitted based on SAT scores and the quality of high school transcripts, with a strong emphasis given to the latter.

Ninety percent of new students (and 45 percent of total students) live on campus in one of 11 residence halls named for Maryland cities or prominent individuals (e.g. Annapolis, Westminster and Cumberland). And a little more than 10 percent of Frostburg's student population comes from outside the state, meaning the university is a popular pick for Maryland high school graduates who want to stay close to home, but don't want the urban setting of places like College Park and UMBC. For a college town, Frostburg has a comparatively quiet atmosphere.

The campus' cluster of academic buildings (simple brick structures with Gothic arches and rises) is just south of the residence halls, surrounded by more than 20 parking lots for commuting students. Other noteworthy campus sites are the Frostburg clock tower (which has become a symbol of the university), (named for the school mascot), (dedicated to Western Maryland humanitarian and entrepreneur Lewis J. Ort), and physical education and performing arts centers.

The most popular majors at Frostburg are education, business/marketing, social sciences and history. Science is also a popular field of study, with departmental facilities including a planetarium, a greenhouse, live animal rooms, a herbarium, an arboretum, a biotechnology center and an electron microscope. Students are also encouraged to research projects and papers at the University System of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies' Appalachian Laboratory, located within walking distance of the university.

When Frostburg students aren't in class, they can participate in a range of extracurricular activities. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field, while female athletes can select from field hockey, lacrosse, softball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field. There are also a wealth of campus Greek, media, religious and special interest groups, and a tripartite student government organization for those who want to become active in university direction and administration.

While being active on campus is a key to college success, students shouldn't remain on the university grounds so often that they miss its natural surroundings. Instead, pack a lunch, get outside and enjoy. The view from the highest elevation of Dans Rock Overlook is incredible.

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