Signing With Baby

Signing With Baby

I’m interested in learning more about using sign language with babies. I’ve watched several acquaintances and two of my sisters-in-law use some signs with their children and I was impressed at how young children were able to clearly communicate their thoughts and desires well before they were able to form understandable spoken words.

I’ve also been reading a bit on the subject as Melissa Wiley and Elizabeth Foss have touched on it in their blogs.

I’d like to try and learn how to sign with Bella.

To that end I’ve requested some materials from the library (have I mentioned how much I love our library?)

I picked up one book yesterday, Signing Smart with Babies and Toddlers, which I had no recommendations for; but it was one that the library had on hand. I’ve also requested the Signing Time video which both Elizabeth and Melissa have recommended enthusiastically.

So far I have mixed feelings about the book. I’ve only read the introduction and first chapter and already I’m weary of how they keep mentioning the name of their book/system, Signing Smart. It reminds me of the handbook that came in our first aid kit that refers to all the products by their brand name, icky marketing schtick. The whole thing reads like a long infomercial. Even if their method works, the book is so self-referential, I’m not sure I can read it. I think I’m going to look for a different book on the subject.

Another thing that annoys me is this book seems geared to people with older kids, but it never really specifies what is a good age to begin signing.  It seems too early to do much now., of course But when should I start trying to sign with Bella? I want a book that will be a bit more helpful and less annoying.

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I graduated from UD in ‘01 and ‘04 but while the numbers may be more recent than Melanie’s I think the memory seems just as distant.
    I spent my freshman year of college at Duke University. While the buildings were far more elegant than UD’s, the food better and the libraries far bigger, I hated it. I had to take a bus to get to most of my classes, students were getting mugged in front of their dorms at 4:30 in the afternoon, over 75% of students joined Greeks, liberalism was very rampant including pro-abortion groups and I had to pass through a tunnel that was at one point painted for “gay week.” During spring break I visited a friend at UD and sat in on some classes. I fell in love with UD on that trip and realized I didn’t have to be surrounded by saturated liberalism to go to school. I loved the Catholic environment. I loved that instead of just picking whatever courses hit my fancy out of a fairly random selection, UD was focused on theology, philosophy, literature, etc. The core cirriculum gave direction and focus rather than assuming I knew every course I should take. The school was a lot smaller and the classes were a lot smaller as well. I had never thought of going to Texas, but the next fall I found myself driving to Dallas as a transfer student.
    If I get a chance to post any more, I’ll try to stick to whichever angle Melanie is aiming at, but that is how I wound up at UD for my B.A. and I hung around and got my M.A. there as well.

  • Talk about perfect timing! I just emailed Dom at his blog to ask about UD and he told me about your blog! I have so many questions as we are nearing that time with our daughter and she really likes what she has read about UD. She wants to be an english major and loves theology as well. How is the english department at UD? Are the students a close knit group? Are most of the students serious about their faith? How competitive is the admission process ? and for me as a parent how miserable is Dallas weather!!!! Thanks and I’m excited to learn more of all of your experiences at UD!

  • Ok, that’s a lot of questions. I’ll take them one at a time.

    First, I was an English major so I can comment at length about the program. Though I did graduate in 96 so there have been some changes in faculty and I believe the major program has been restructured a bit as well. Hopefully I can recruit a more recent graduate to update any errors and fill in any gaps. (Kate?) Also, my sister is currently in her last year at UD (she’ll be done in December) finishing a German/Theology dual major. So she should be able to comment on the Theology dept at some length.

    My first recommendation, though, is if it is at all possible she should go visit the school and sit in on some classes, talk to current students and to professors and get a feel of the place. Also a trip in one of the warmer months might give you a good taste of the weather. I’m from Austin so I’m not necessarily the best person to ask about the weather. It’s what I grew up with and thus seems normal. If you’re from up north, as I infer from your question, it might be a bit of an adjustment. I recall my friend from Seattle cursing the weather a bit come May.

    The literature program at UD is very strong and in fact I don’t know of any I’d recommend more highly. When I went for my MA in lit at BC a few years ago I was stunned at how under prepared all of my fellow students seemed and how shallow the programs they described.

    The four semester core curriculum requirement in English, which all undergrads must take regardless of major, out guns the requirements of many schools’ major programs. This is a great bonus for english major types because all your friends will have a common experience and vocabulary, will have read THe Odyssey, The Iliad, The Aeneid,  Beowulf, The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Odeipus, Shakespeare, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter etc.

    In short UD is not a school from which one can graduate without ever reading the classics. By contrast, I had classmates in grad school who’d majored in english who’d never read shakespeare or heard of Aeneas!

    In addition to which are the classes required for the major: I took Medieval Poetry, British Lit of the Renaissance and reformation, romantic and victorian literature, shakespeare, tradition of lyric, russian novel, british novel, southern literature, and 20th century novel. There is also a junior project, a senior thesis (with oral defense) and comprehensive exams.   

    The junior project was the highlight of my academic experience thus far (and I unclude my two years of the MA program). Each student selects a poet and reads their complete body of work, a biography, and completes a pretty extensive survey of criticism about their poet and then are examined by a panel of prefessors. It was a rite of passage, and an excellent introduction to thinking and working like a scholar. It far exceeds most school’s senior project requirement and after that my MA program felt like a letdown.

    The English faculty is excellent, though as I said there are some new faces since my time.

    My perception is that UD tends to accept a very diverse group of students. Many (perhaps most) are serious about their faith, but there are many who are not and there are quite a few non-catholics. (Again, this is my recollection of the student body ten years ago.) I certainly was very close to many of my fellow students both in my year and in the years ahead and behind and have kept in close touch with quite a few of them. And the Rome experience is uniquely bonding. I think most people find a very comfortable niche at UD. It does not tend to be cliquish at all.

    The core curriculm gives all students a shared experience and really does seem to make it easier for students to make connections outside their narrow fields of interest. One of my best friends was a chemistry major who after our Rome semester decided to minor in art history. That’s the kind of cross-pollination UD fosters.

    The admissions process was quite competitive when I applied. I’ve got the impression that it’s eased a bit since then; but perhaps is swinging back to being more rigorous. (Correct my if I’m wrong, those who are current or more recent students.)

    I’ll try to write more later. If any further questions occur to you, please don’t hesitate to ask. The more specific the questions, the easier it is for me to respond.

  • I second everything Melanie’s said!

    I chose UD because, even though I was going to be a drama major, I wouldn’t be forbidden to delve into philosophy, literature, theology, history, etc.  I would, instead, actually be required to broaden my academic horizons!!!  That was what stood out in looking at the pamphlets from UD and those from elsewhere.  Well, that and the Rome program.

    I graduated with my B.A. in ‘01 in drama (CeciliasMommy, do I know you?), and an M.A. in English in ‘06.  (Yes, I took my sweet time.)  The English department is excellent.  The undergrads in any department really do seem to bond, since they lean on eachother for support in the junior and senior projects.  Still, the departments aren’t clickish, because of the “cross-pollination” of Rome and the first two, core-heavy years.  What’s more, the classes tend to be small, so there’s very little feeling of anonymity when dealing with professors or other students.  And the professors are very accessible outside of class, as a rule.  My freshman year, I followed one of my English professors (Crider, for those in the know) back to his office every day after class to continue our disscussion (from Lit Trad I).

    Have you got specific questions about the English Department, Mary?  I just graduated from them, so I’ve got the inside scoop, I suppose.  Their main focus is teaching literature, not teaching theory.  They’re not postmoderns (some enjoy it, but they don’t teach much, if any, of it to the undergrads).  They’re interested in what the book/play/poem has to say, and they believe that meaning exists in the work itself, and not just in the mind of the reader.  Which, as I understand it, makes them rather unique in current academia.

  • They’re not doing the Sleeping Bag Weekends anymore, which is perhaps a little bit disappointing….what they are doing now are the “Odyssey Days” Weekends, for both prospective students and their parents.  You would be doing many of the same things—attending classes, touring the campus, touring the Irving/Dallas area (i think), eating the food…..i’ll stop there.  You would be able to interact with the professors in the departments in which you’re interested (and any other department, too!  advantage of a small school).  It’s a pretty good first-hand look at what it’s like to go to school here, and they do them, i think, 3 times, twice in the spring and once in the summer

    as for my UD experience, i’m afraid there may not be much i can add to what’s already been said.  Like Melanie, I had no idea where I wanted to go for college (my brother had gone to Rice in Houston, but they didn’t have a drama major so that was out).  So my dad and I leafed through the Princeton Review, looking at profiles for everyone….some promising hits were Loyolla New Orleans, DePaul Chicago, etc…..then we stumbled across this small conservative catholic UD place which carried a strong liberal core…..and a semester in Rome.  I also found out my High School philosophy teacher had graduated from UD, and he was one of the coolest whackiest colourfullest madmen of a teacher I had ever had.  I guess in my world that was a bonus.

    I’m in danger of rambling on and on.  Melanie is entitled to it on her own blog, but I could easily wear out my welcome, stuttering and shuffling my feet on the threadbare doormat.

    I’ll just say that coming to UD was without a doubt the best and one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made; being here even led to one of my other most important decisions, to become Catholic

    I hope you do apply, and visit, and fall in love with this place like most of us did; I really hope you can’t help yourself ….. then you’ll be in precisely the spirit of the whole community, the spirit which makes it so unique and dynamic as a University.


  • Dear Melanie,

    Thank you so much!  I’m really looking forward to reading all that you have to say about UD.  That said, even though more detail is always better – and I want to hear everything YOU think is important whether it’s included in my (pretty open-ended questions) or not….I do have some questions.  I’ll put them below…and I may come up with more. smile  I’m pretty convinced on the academic part of it (though again, more is better smile) but a lot of my questions have to do with the atmosphere of the place.  Thanks again!!!!!

    Did you see the orthodoxy on campus the result of most students making a mature, informed decision to accept Church teaching or does it often tend more towards a “sheltered” blind kind of obedience?

    What were frequent topics of conversation outside the classroom?

    What did students do to have fun?

    How would you characterize the student body?

    What did you think of the philosophy and history depts?

    How would you characterize the classes and professors?

    What was dating like? (I love Our Lady very much and have a great devotion to her, but the Ave Maria College students who say the rosary together on their first date strikes me as quite weird!)

    Any idea of the male to female ratio? I know that’s a funny question, but I just had to ask, given that George Weigel alludes to a “need for more young men to round out the campus” (on UD website)!

    What things did you dislike about UD?

    Yes, they are still using “the university for idependant thinkers”….another thing that really attracts me.  Care to expand on how well UD lived up to that motto?

    If this helps at all, I’m going to be a jr this year, and am looking most seriously at Notre Dame, Providence (in RI), Xavier (in Cincinnati)….also at Villanova and St. Anselm’s….and of course, UD!!

    God bless,



  • Hi Meg, I’m Melanie’s sister (and Mandy’s sponsor into the Church, on a random note).

    I’m going to tackle your questions in order.

    The orthodoxy of students: you get both of the situations you describe. A large number of my friends are converts, most of whom decided to convert because of their experiences at UD.  If you are the kind of person who belives in the blind obedience and not questioning, it is easy to find people who agree with you, but it is far easier in my experience to find people who made a conscious choice to be Catholic, whether as a convert or as a cradle believer, who enjoy intelligent discussion about the faith, who strive to learn and understand more.  About a month ago my friend Chris and I got into a discussion about the nature of God and grace, and how that affects us. He talke about it from a physics point of view, and me from theology, but because of the Core we had a common language to discuss it with. Outside of class we can be found discussing the texts we read and the topics we study in a regular basis, and as an upperclassman that happens more, not less. We spend time talking about movies, books, (which are good and why), philosophy, theology, whatever. Our conversations definitely take a certain bent because of our education.  Oddly, we also, at least in my circle of friends, tend to do more things like watching Pinkie and the Brain when we have spare time to kill (I had forgotten how intelligent that show could be). We get together to pray or eat or watch movies, or discuss topics all across the spectrum. Most people don’t have cars, so they tend to stay on campus much more rather than running around town. We have regular events on campus; Campus Ministry has event at least twice a week, sometimes more. Different clubs are always doing something. There are awesome lectures to go to frequently. We have movies on the mall, TGIT (Thank God its Thursday, when we all gather to goof off), sports, and then major events of the year, like Octoberfest, International Food Day (so yummy), and my favorite of all, Charity Week. A week of crazy activites designed to raise money for charity, including putting your professors (or they putting their classes) into a makeshift jail. Fr. Robert, one of our Cistercian monks, is known for his amazing escape artist abilities. We have the Brute Squad, whose main job is to play tackle with Fr. Robert and get him back into the jail once he has escaped. Charity Week is one of the highlights of the year. I am going to miss it very much when I leave.

    We do not have a lot of liberals at UD. We do have some, but mostly we have orthodox Catholics and conservatives, and the random agnostic. Freshmen tend to be very polarized in these categories, upper classmen less so.  Really, if you are looking for one group or the other, you will find it. I know that my group of friends may be weird and crazy, but they are all good solid dedicated people, nice, serious about their faith, and they know how to have a good time without being immoral.

    I don’t date here, so I can’t comment on that, but I do know that people notice rather quickly wen attachments are made, since we are such a small group. Again, you will find all kinds of people. I know people who do like to pray the rosary on a first date, and I know people who think that is totally weird.

    We have more women than men. Unless you count the seminary, which I don’t. They are in our classes, and you can see them around campus, but they are not as visible. Good guys though.

    The classes are small. They encourage you to think for yourself and participate. Most of the professors are pretty cool. UD encourages students to get to know professors. At the beginning of your freshmen year, most departments have a small party/ get together for incoming students into their departments. Both the theology and german departments hold a party at the end of each semester where we all just get together and relax. There is always a definite distinction between professors and students, but I know that there are a number of professors that I will keep up with when I graduate. In fact, there are a couple professors I know who have retired, and I still talk to them regularly. People often continue discussions with professors after classes, my friends and I have invited several over to dinner, along with their families. 

    I don’t like: UD’s baseball team. The small number of holier-than-thou people (but they are easy to avoid). The small library (but SMU has a great library, and it is easy to get books sent to UD or to find rides to SMU). I don’t like having to carry a full backpack up the hill on icy winter days. The rumor mill can be annoying, but any small community is like that, and actually big schools can be as well. I am sure there are other things I don’t like, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

    Really, I have to stop and think about the things I dislike. They don’t come automatically to mind for me. I love UD. I would not trade it for anything. This will always be one of those places I think about as home. And so will Rome. The Rome semester is so awesome, it is an experience not to be pased up. I went as a Junior, not a sophmore like most people do, and I started college later, so I was much older than the students I went to Rome with, but I made lifelong friends there, and it was an unforgettable experience.

    Yes, we are the univeristy for independant thinkers. We all read the same texts, we learn together and study together, but you put 10 UD students into a room and you will get 9 different opinions about Plato, or whatever is under discussion. UD teaches you to be able to take the data and make sense of it. She doesnt tell you what to think (you get an occasional bad teacher, but its the exception) but rather UD teaches you how to think. Which is how my friend Alisha convinced herself, with no outside prompting, to become Catholic. She was working on a paper in which she was going to “prove Augustine wrong about that stupid purgatory thing” and by the end of the assignment realized that not only was she wrong, but she needed to do something about it. She went home that Christmas and told her father she is becoming Catholic. Which did not go over well, since he is a leader of the Church of Christ.

    That kind of thing happens all the time, people writing papers and realizing at the end that they proved themselves wrong.

    I went home to Austin for spring break one year, and got into a discussion with a UT philosophy graduate student about ht emeaning of Plato’s Republic. He kept saying that so and so said X about what it meant, and I kept saying, ok, but what do YOU think? Come to find out that he hadn’t even read the text, only criticism of the text by so called experts. UD students always have an opinion, but by the time we graduate, most students are very good at backing up that opinion, are more capable of properly forming an opinion.We know how to put data together, instead of always relying on the experts to do it for us. 

    I love the theology department. I love the German department. I love most of the professors that I have had at UD.

    Ok, I am going to stop rambling. If I see any more good questions up, I will take a stab at them. Hope I have been of some help.

  • Wow, this is so great! More questions: Do most students live on campus or are there commuters as well?  Are there single sex dorms? Curfews? Rules regarding male/female behavior?How much of the student population is from Texas and how much is from out of state? What kind of activities do students do on weekends? Do people stay on campus all weekend or do they go into Dallas and surrounding areas? How competitive is the admissions process? What would you suggest to high school students to increase their chances of admission? What other colleges did you consider? Is there a lot of dating between students or do most hang out in groups as friends? Do a lot of students attend daily mass? How difficult is the core curriculum and were you prepared for it coming from your high school? What high school classes would you recommend taking to better prepare for it? Are the professors helpful if you are struggling in their class? How much partying goes on at UD? Is there a big problem with alcohol or drugs? How warm does the weather get during the school year and are the dorms air conditioned? I hope that’s not too many questions. You have no idea how helpful this is!!! Thanks to everyone and especially Melanie for opening this topic up on her blog!!  Mary

  • Wow! Lots more questions. I’ll try to tackle them a few at a time.
    Thanks to Mandy, Kate and Theresa (tyledras) for jumping in. You’ve covered lots of things that would have slipped my mind. As I read your comments I kept saying: Oh yeah! Please feel free to continue to contribute.

    I’ll start with Meg’s questions and then try to get to Mary’s in the next round.

    Did you see the orthodoxy on campus the result of most students making a mature, informed decision to accept Church teaching or does it often tend more towards a “sheltered” blind kind of obedience?

    I think there will always be people for whom their faith is a matter of blind obedience, who don’t want to seriously think things through, and who go through the world wearing blinders. But UD definitely makes it much harder for people to maintain such an attitude. All the classes in the core are structured so as to introduce students to the intellectual tasks of seeking first principles, of questioning their assumptions, and of thinking critically about everything.

    What were frequent topics of conversation outside the classroom?

    Everything. We talked about movies, music, books, culture, world events, deep philosophical questions, theological questions, etc. Frequently we would talk about our classes, continuing the conversation. I often thought that more learning happened in the cafeteria and the dorms and in late night discussion than did in the classrooms. Which is not at all to criticize the professors or the classes; but to point to a very important phenomenon, we were making the ideas we discussed in class our own. They were becoming a part of who we were.

    I felt a very strong contrast when I was at BC. I rode the shuttle with the undergrads and ate in the cafeteria and I almost never heard them discussing their classes, books, great ideas. It was all about parties and booze and at most complaining about homework or teachers.

    What did students do to have fun?

    We played cards, watched movies and then talked about them (ditto for tv, in my dorn we watched a lot of Star Trek Next Generation, which I know really dates me!) We played pool, did crosswords puzzles, went to coffee houses on campus to hear live music, sat and talked with friends, went to the park when we knew someone with a car. My first year and a half were very confined to campus and finding things to do there as I didn’t have friends with cars. Later we did get out more, going to hear a friend’s band play at local pubs, going into Dallas or Fort Worth, etc.

    How would you characterize the student body?

    Diverse, intellectually serious. A fun group of people. I made most of my best friends there. Am still in contact with at more than a dozen of them. When they came to my wedding the reunion was a blast. 

    What did you think of the philosophy and history depts?

    I took four philosophy classes which I loved all the profs I had were excellent at fostering interest in the subject to non-majors like me.
    I only took three history classes, the two Western Civilizations and History of Ireland. (I APd out of American History). They were all great classes, good teachers. I especially loved Hist of Ireland with Dr Sommerfelt. Now I wish I’d taken more history classes. Philosophy is not really my cup of tea, though I’m very glad I took the classes I did.

    How would you characterize the classes and professors?
    class sizes tend to be small the largest class I had was history of at and architecture at about 70 students. The more usual size is probably 15-20. I had some classes that were under 15.

    The professors are very knowledgable, tend to really care about their students, are very accessible to talk with outside of class. Teaching styles vary. Some lecture, some tend more toward discussion or seminar style.

    What was dating like? (I love Our Lady very much and have a great devotion to her, but the Ave Maria College students who say the rosary together on their first date strikes me as quite weird!)
    I spent more time hanging out with friends in groups than actually dating. Dating relationships vary as much as the people do. Sometimes casual, though more often they seem to tend to the intense. As theresa says because it’s a small community there does tend to be a feeling of everyone knowing who’s going out with whom and who likes whom. I never encountered the saying a rosary on a date type, but I’m sure there might have been some of that going on too.

    Any idea of the male to female ratio? I know that’s a funny question, but I just had to ask, given that George Weigel alludes to a “need for more young men to round out the campus” (on UD website)!

    Back in my day there might have been slightly more women than men, but not enough so as to make it feel lopsided or terribly noticable to me.

    What things did you dislike about UD?
    At times I seriously disliked that you really have to have a car to get off campus and do stuff. (at other times that seemed not a bad thing) I disliked the small library (did much research at the SMU library) but suspect that now the internet would make some of that less relevant. I’d get frustrated with the cafeteria closing too early and not following student’s actual lifestyle. The usual complaints that any college student had I did; but on the whole there is very little I disliked.

    Yes, they are still using “the university for idependant thinkers”….another thing that really attracts me. Care to expand on how well UD lived up to that motto?
    I’d say it did an excellent job. It is a motto that really fits. Professors ar much more interested in your coming up with your own answers and defending them well than with your parroting back their ideas to them. I feel like especially with the junior and senior projects you learn how to think independantly, I learned how to challenge the critics and that my thoughts could be just as valid. I learned how to always seek first principles, to challenge assumptions, to defend my positions and to rethink them when evidence seemed to contradict them.

    I might have some more to say on some of these topics. This is just off the top of my head.

  • And now for Mary’s questions.

    Do most students live on campus or are there commuters as well?
    The majority of students live on campus and form a tight-knit community. I think all freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus unless they have family in the area. There is a handful of commuters, but mostly upperclassmen who have already established their social networks and thus don’t suffer as much from the off campus disconnect.

    I lived on campus all four years. In the dorms for three and in a student apartment the fourth.

    Are there single sex dorms? Curfews? Rules regarding male/female behavior?
    Yes there are single sex dorms, the majority. The one or two co-ed dorms (the composition of dorms changes periodically according to the needs of the changing student population) are actually single sex by floor. Men on the first floor, women on the second floor. I lived in the coed dorms all three years and enjoyed mingling with the men in the lounges. (all the dorm lounges are coed, but those in the women’s dorms do tend to be heavier on the women than men.)
    There are no curfews if you mean a time when students have to be back in their dorms. This I found good because I frequently was involved in late night coed study sessions.
    There are however “open house” rules, men and women could only visit in each other’s rooms during set times and doors had to be open if there was a member of the opposite sex in your room. If I recall correctly it was between six and ten on weekdays and four and midnight on weekends or something like that. Maybe Theresa or Kate can correct me.

    How much of the student population is from Texas and how much is from out of state?
    The admissions office would probably have better figures but as I recall the majority of students are from Texas and adjoining states but demographics might have shifted a little as UD expands its recruiting efforts.

    What kind of activities do students do on weekends? Do people stay on campus all weekend or do they go into Dallas and surrounding areas?
    To really get off campus you do need a car. Or to make a friend with a car.

    However the university does have a program called Dallas Year for freshmen. They try to provide opportunities to take advantage of the cultural opportunities afforded by the metroplex. Trips to museums, the symphony, plays, the zoo, six flags, etc. I recall going on a great architectual walking tour of downtown Dallas.
    I didn’t take as much advantage of such opportunities as I could have being fairly reclusive and introverted.
    I did make friends junior and senior years and got out much more into the city.

    How competitive is the admissions process? Ask admissions.
    Not sure I can answer that. Seemed pretty competitive to me when I was there, seemed a little less so in later years.

    What would you suggest to high school students to increase their chances of admission?
    Again, ask admissions. I’m not sure what they look for.

    What other colleges did you consider?
    Not many. UT Austin was one. I wasn’t really serious about anything but UD.

    Is there a lot of dating between students or do most hang out in groups as friends?
    I mostly did the groups thing and that seems very common. But there’s a good amount of dating. Seems like a fairly high percentage of Uders marry other UDers.

    Do a lot of students attend daily mass?
    I never did, so I can’t help with that. I became more serious about my faith much later after I moved to the Boston area in part thanks to my now husband.

    How difficult is the core curriculum and were you prepared for it coming from your high school?
    It’s pretty rigorous, which is a good thing. I was pretty prepared. For the record, in high school I took honors/AP English, math, science, history, as well as four years of Latin and one of French. SO i ws no slocuh as a scholar. I found the course work challenging, I certainly couldn’t be as complacent as I sometimes was in high school. But I was never overwhelmed.

    What high school classes would you recommend taking to better prepare for it?
    Not sure. Take the hardest classes you can, maybe. Ones that challenge you to work independantly?

    I didn’t find taking the AP placement classes especially helpful in replacing
    UD classes, but perhaps good in building up my skills. I wish I’d taken American Civ at UD instead of skipping it. I did take all the Lit Trad sequence despite my AP English exam. I did place higher into Latin; but could have done that by exam, didn’t need the AP.

    Are the professors helpful if you are struggling in their class?
    Yes, if you take the initiative and go visit them in their office. They won’t hunt you down or hold your hand. You have to convince them you are trying and it helps to get to know them. Be proactive. I only had one prof who wasn’t helpful when I went to her in all four years. She was the exception that proves the rule.

    How much partying goes on at UD? Is there a big problem with alcohol or drugs?
    I won’t lie, alcohol consumption happens. I never drank my freshman year, there isn’t huge peer pressure to do so. I did drink in Rome, wine and beer were allowed on campus. And then after I came back I occasionally had wine and beer. But I think drinking is not really a problem. Most students balance their social life and their academic life very well and don’t let partying get in the way of school work. Additionally at most of the parties I went to there were discussions about books, ideas, classes going on. UD students tend to integrate social life and academics into a pretty seamless whole. Not much drug use at all. I knew a couple of students who occasionally smoked pot. They were definitely the exceptions to the rule.

    I have to say that from my experiences teaching at BC and Salem State, UD is realy an island of sanity compared to most colleges. I would feel very safe sending my child there.

    How warm does the weather get during the school year and are the dorms air conditioned?
    The dorms have central heat and ac. The only problems I had were the transitional weeks between warm and cold weather. They have to shift the whole system at once and sometimes wait a week or two to make sure the weather has really shifted. You can look up the temperatures for Dallas. It’s usually pretty hot in Sept and gets hot in late April/ early May.

    I hope that’s not too many questions.
    Nope. glad to help. Please feel free to ask more if they arise.

  • Melanie, Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all these questions, especially while taking care of a young baby. ( By the way Isabella is beautiful). Enjoy every minute because it goes so fast. I can’t believe I’m talking about colleges!! I have searched the internet for this kind of info about Catholic colleges and this is the first place I have seen this kind of interaction from students and alumnae and potential students.  Looking forward to learning more!  Mary

  • Mary,
    I’m glad to help. I know how overwhelming college searches can be. FYI UD does have a page on their site where you can email a student and ask questions. I am going to suggest they switch to more of a blog or forum format. Also I’m going to suggest they have current sudentss blog about their daily life and link to that on the web site. It’s sad more schools don’t take advantage of the internet in reaching out to students. Their online presence offers little more than the brochures they mail out.

    I love UD and want to promote their programs every chance I get. I know the school isn’t for everyone, but for most of us UD will always be a second home.

    Thanks for the kind words about my beautiful Bella. I’m a very proud mama. (I’m writing most of my answers while she eats, balancing my laptop on my knees and stretching over her.)

  • Most students live on campus, though there are commuters (myself being one of them).
    Most dorms are singles sex dorms, O’Connell is the only exception, and even with that, the top floor is women and the bottom floor is men. The only curfews apply to being in in the dorm of the opposite sex past a certain time of day (or in the case of O’Connell, it refers to which floor you can be on past a certain time.) These times tend to vary with each dorm, so you have to check the forms on the door. Rules like not locking the door when a member of the opposite sex is in your room. But you can stay out as late as you want. Most people don’t, most prefer to get sleep and be ready for the next day’s classes, so it is getting pretty quiet about 11 pm or midnight when people quit studying and watching tv.

    Most of the students are from outside of Texas.
    Most people don’t go into downtown Dallas or other areas very often; most people don’t have the car to do so, and when they do, only some are even interested in doing so. To do anything you really have to drive into Dallas, which isn’t so far, but not so close either. Activities on the weekends aren’t that hugely different from the weekdays in my experience, only more sitting around goofing off and less working, unless you have papers or projects. But there is so much to do, that we do spend a fair amount of weekend time doing homework too.

    I don’t really know how to grade the competitiveness of the admissions process. I know that they lowered standards for a while, and those who got in on lowered standards left by the end of the first year because they didn’t like the workload or thought it would be less academic.

    UD is looking for people who are interested in actually thinking, so have fun with your application, be creative. They have an essay section, and most people I know wrote about something a little different, and were pretty creative about it. Also, all the admissions office and ask to speak to someone, they probably can tell you something more helpful than we can.

    I did not consider any other college. I took some time off after high school and got a job. By the time I was ready for college, I knew that UD was the only place I wanted to go. Since I had moved into the area to be with my sister, who was at that time still in the UD area, I was called in for an interview. They asked me what schools I had applied to, and I said none. They pushed me to think of school and I told them I was going to keep applying until they let me in. I think they thought I was weird. Either way, I got in pretty quickly.

    ” Is there a lot of dating between students or do most hang out in groups as friends?”
    With the people that I know, it is moslty hanging out as groups of friends. Dating certainly happens, but there is not a huge push for it, at least not with any of the people that I know.

    We have two daily masses. all told, we can draw between 20 to 100 people at Mass, students and professors. Students also go to the Dominican Priory and Cistercian Abbey for daily Mass, so you can’t really get an accurate fix on how many students attend daily Mass. The seminarians go to Mass every day at their own chapel.

    The Core curriculum is difficult but do-able. You have to do a lot of work, you have stacks of books to plow through, but if you are willing to read most of them, you can do it. I have to say this: as part of my exit interview for one of my majors, we were asked about the hypothetical dumbing down of that major. Would we think it was a good idea to lessen the requirements, to make it easier on students, especially double majors? There was a unanimous and resounding no. All of us agreed that despite its difficulty, we appreciated what it had done for us, how it had made us stretch ourselves, not just our minds, and that we would rather have it difficult.

    I know that my roomate went to a very good Catholic school and was very prepared for UD. I went to a public highschool and was not. Both of us did equally well, though she had to do less homework to keep up, since she had already seen some of the material previously. If you can take AP classes, and do well on the AP tests, you can test out of a couple of the history courses, and maybe the Economics course. Try to take English classes where they actually teach you how to write an essay. Better if you can get a teacher that teaches critical thinking, but that is so rare in most highschools.

    All the professors I have taken were very helpful if you were struggling. So were other students. You have to make the effort to go to their office during office hours, or make appointments to see the professor, but if you make the effort, and they know you are really trying, most of them will bend over backwards to help you.You just need to show them that you are making an effort.
    Partying: my friend Debbie insists that I absolutely must tell you about the Milk and Cookies Party. First, there is not nearly as much heavy partying at UD as at a state school. Most of it that does happen takes place off campus. Most of the parties I have been to where there was alcohol did not involve underage drinking, and they usually devolved to arguments about who was right in their interpretation of Plato’s Republic, or how certain laws of physics might or might not apply to the latest Star Trek episode that we had seen. Or some obscure point of theology that only academics would care about. Or how the laws of physics relate to the nature of God and time. Really, we are a lot of happy nerds.

    The craziest parties (which I somehow missed) were the milk and cookies parties that a certain Mr. Heyne used to throw. Milk and cookies. No alcohol, no drugs. Involved frisbees, singing, dancing, milk, and cookies. They were the loudest parties that have happened during my time. But then the instigator is rather a legend.

    The only time that alcohol is really a problem is during Groundhog, and that is closely monitored by the school to ensure that there is no underage drinking. I don’t know of anyone at UD who does drugs. If it happens, I am unaware of it. Unless milk and cookies can be counted as a drug?

    It gets very warm here at the beginning of the fall and the end of the spring. But there is always AC during the hot times. The part to worry about is the first cold snap of the year. Everyone always petitions to have the heat turned on, but it is so expensive to do so, and by the end of the week it is back into the 80’s or 90’s again. So the first cold of the year can be a little cold. I just piled on some extra blankets. It really does get warm again before winter sets in.

  • Thank you so much, Melanie and tyledras!  I especially appreciate Melanie’s kindess, because I know she has a (very beautiful) newborn and many other duties to attend to (as I’m sure tyledras does too…I just don’t know of them smile)!  One other question I have is how you see UD as comparing to some other Catholic schools (if you’ve had sufficient experience to make a judgment) – I would love examples here.  Also, the pros and cons of the small size (the website lists 1,200 undergrad, 3,000 total). 

    And…awkard pause smile…what did you think of the male population?  I can think of some small orthodox schools (trying not to name names here because there is good and bad everywhere!), where I have personally witnessed groups of immature/“nice enough” but not very intelligent/mediocre theology majors (“I don’t know what I want to do w/ my life, but I love the Church” -default setting)/perpetually discerning priesthood and dating simulataneously/all of the above guys.  They end up marrying very attractive, intelligent girls, who are “taking what’s available”…and you get the feeling that they deserve better.  Now, I hope the above did not sound crass in any way, nor did I mean to offend anyone who may be dating/discerning the priesthood.  smile  However, I think most people will understand what I mean about a lack of commitment – not making up your mind and being a man about it.  If my (admittedly awkward) words displease, it’s because they express a very real phenonmenon that is truly displeasurable.  If I didn’t express that well, please believe I don’t mean to offend, and I will do my best to clarify any point I have left unclear.  I’m bringing up in a delicate issue not to disagree or create controversy, but to listen and learn.

    In Christ,

  • PS When I said “they deserve better”, the they referred to the females…as is clear (I hope) from the context.  -Meg-

  • How competitive is the admissions process?
    It is rather competitive, but the Admissions office is smart in that they look at the big picture on any given applicant.  for example, my SAT’s were below par because i’m the Village Idiot of Standardized Testing…..but my grades, my recommendations and my entrance essay were all hot, so the scores didn’t have that much bearing in the end

    What would you suggest to high school students to increase their chances of admission?
    Like tree said, i went to a pretty rigorous Catholic High School in Houston, so I was fortunate in how prepared i was for UD’s core.  I think the biggest hurdle i had to watch the average UDer go through was learning how to write—so, if your high school offers anything by way of the how-to’s and what-for’s of analytical writing, take advantage.  if not, plague your english teachers.  Learning how to write critically, analytically and creatively in high school was what benefitted me the most coming into UD

    Um, well, i’ll be honest—there are drug users here.  But again to be honest, they’re in no way the majority, and to echo melanie and tree, UD’s got nothing drug-wise on your average college.  but it is there.

    i attended the first Milk Party, and that was the wildest time i’ve ever had at any party.  ever.

    Male population…..i’m not sure you can just sum it up.  you get the “i dont know what i want to do with my life”…you get the “i know exactly…” , the “fly by the seat of my pants”….the “go where the wind blows me”….the “straight to med/law school for me!”…..the “wife! kids! now!”…….. yeah, all sorts.

    actually, i thought there were far more texans here than out of staters….but tree was probably all smart-like and looked it up ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Oh, how could i forget?  Also with the boys, i swear, you get the “What’s a girl?  WHAT’S MY SHOE SIZE!!!!!”

    it’s adorable.  sad.  but adorable.

  • Actually, no, I didn’t look it up. But little Debbie said that she had seen a statistic recently that UD put out saying that most of our numbers were now out of state. I’m just a messenger!

    I haven’t dated much while here at UD, so I can’t really comment on your last question.I know that I have a good number of male friends, and I trust them all, and consider a number of them to be very good close friends. But I can’t really comment on the other. I think you’ll find that kind of thing everywhere, but I’ve not heard anyone griping about such a situation as though it were common here.

  • I am very impressed by the depth and detail of the answers by UD students and alumnae. It reflects well on your education! I also have to comment on the wisdom of choosing to spend time in groups of friends rather than isolating yourselves in one on one intense dating relationships while in college! I know many of you have friends/spouses that are familiar with other Catholic colleges, in talking with them how would you compare and contrast your experiences at UD with theirs?

  • I actally know very little about other Catholic colleges, other than the very marginally Catholic BC. UD was the only Catholic college I looked at.

    I can offer a little comparison with what my husband tells me of Franciscan U of Steubenville, though with the caveat that this is all second-hand impressions.

    It seems to me that the unifying principle at UD is the great books core and thus the emphasis is on the Catholic intellectual tradition and Western civilization. At FUS there is a great emphasis on the Catholic spiritual life with the household system organizing students in social groups that do things together socially and spiritually.
    Which is not to say that at FUS the academics are less rigorous, but that the unifying principles are different and thus the atmosphere is different. In general people go to FUS because they want a Catholic environment; they go to UD because of the academics and intellectual environment.

    At FUS it would be easier to construct a program of study that is not as academically rigorous. Though it is also possible to construct a program that is very rigorous. At UD it is possible to let one’s spirituality fall by the wayside. Though it is also possible to find a community that will nourish the spiritual life. 


  • People at UD seem to either grow more spiritual than they’ve ever been, or less than they’ve ever been.  Especially in Rome, oddly enough.  You see alot of polarization in the average Romer’s spiritual identity.  This may sound alarming, but it’s a period of time and trial and doubt that most of us have to go through in our lives, and college is a great time to get it out of your system, and UD will let (make sure) you do it with as rational and level a head as you could ask.

    If it helps at all, i spent the second half of high school and ALL of college (including Rome) not spiritually apathetic, but certainly with an antagonistic attitude towards the Church and organized religion at large; this past Easter, almost 4 full years after i graduated i was confirmed into the Church.  so for some of us it just takes (a bit) of time….

    I’ve heard some about Notre Dame—the kids who go there to begin with and stay there love it; most UDers who have gone on to there are a bit scornful of the “pale mockery” and “shadow” of UD that their programs offer.  So it’s probably not bad there, but i get the impression they lack the substance, the depth and the richness with which UD, very simply, is bursting.

    quite a few UD grads go on to Catholic U in DC, but i haven’t heard much about that school, just that alot wind up there, especially for English and Politics

  • Melanie et al:
    Thanks for all the discussion about UD.  At Christendom this summer, there were some of the inevitable discussions about which were the reliably Catholic colleges.  The usual suspects were named, but no one seemed to know much about UD.  I’ve known a couple of people who went there, but never got much a of picture of the school.  I’m glad to hear all your impressions of your time there and to have some more data to back up including UD on the list.

    By the way, your impressions of FUS are correct – it is possible to get by with a less than rigorous program, but for those who are serious about academic study, there are some great programs as well as an honors great books program.

  • Noelle,
    Thanks for the input. I wasn’t aware of FUS’s great books honors program (Dom’s never mentioned it, maybe he doesn’t know about it.) I’m glad my impressions are correct, I’d hate to lead people astray.

    I’ve generally found that UD is a much less known school. Even in Texas, I’d have to explain that it’s not a state school. I’m always glad to spread the good news and let people know about my alma mater.

    By the way, stay tuned. I will be writing another UD post soon. I’ve still got more to say. (can you believe it?) I’ve got some stories I want to share to fill in the details now that I’ve roughed out the big picture.

  • Melanie,
    As you prepare to write more about UD, I wonder if you could include information about UD’s spiritual life for students. I know about FUS’ households and Eucharistic adoration in the dorms, etc.. How central is prayer, bible study, Mass, the kind of friendships that call each other to accountability in living the Christian life at UD? As you are growing intellectually are you being challenged to grow in your relationship with Christ and the Church? Thanks so much and I look forward to reading more!!

  • Just wanted to make a note for anyone finding this thread that I’ve posted a new entry with a link to a new video about UD, made by two students. It’s a top quality video and I urge anyone with an interest in the university to see it.