The University of Toledo: Big-school opportunities, small community spirit
Ahmed Alfadel

The University of Toledo (UToledo) is one of only 27 research universities in the US to host a range of revered professional schools. From medicine to law, pharmacy to nursing, engineering to business plus a host of other medical and scientific specialties, students here are given the tools they need to shine in a range of fields.

But what does that mean for UToledo learners?

1. Personal relationships with nationally and internationally respected faculty

Jose Viloria

Ask any UToledo student about his or her classroom experience, and you’ll hear what Jose Viloria has to say: “One of the most surprising things to me about The University of Toledo was how approachable and supportive the faculty is.”

Why is this surprising? Because even though the University has award-winning instructors teaching at the master’s and PhD levels, underclassmen also study and research with these exceptional campus leaders. And those relationships can make all the difference at critical times in a student’s academic career.

2. Opportunities to discover and pursue new goals

On average, roughly one-third of students who begin college with a declared major will change majors during their academic careers — and around 10 percent will change majors twice.

Changing a major can result in a significant disruption if you have to change schools, too — but at UToledo, students have opportunities to switch focus without the stress of changing their academic home.

Dhaval Bhakta

Dhaval Bhakta was one such student. “I changed my major after two days,” he said, laughing. “I had come to the University planning eventually to become a doctor,” he continued. “But when I learned I had 14 years of school ahead of me, I switched right away to healthcare administration.”

Fortunately for Dhaval, he didn’t have to deal with the disruption of changing schools to change majors, because UToledo has an extensive array of health science and health management programs from which he could choose.

Jose Viloria has a similar story. “I started as an electrical engineering student with a minor in general business. A year and a half later, I got involved in multiple organizations, including the Pi Sigma Epsilon business fraternity. That helped me get a better insight of what the business world is — and I definitely loved it. After a couple of meetings with both my academic advisor and success coach, I decided to switch to the College of Business and Innovation and pursue a double major in information systems and management.”

Was it an easy process? “Yes — it didn’t even take me 30 minutes in my academic advisor’s office. And, she also suggested all the classes I needed to take to still graduate on time. Whether you are a business, engineering or music major, UToledo faculty make sure you are not wasting time and money.”

3. Greater self-development through degree specializations and minors

The broad range of academic offerings at UToledo allows multi-talented students like Dhaval and Jose to build customized degrees.

Yana Khabina also benefitted from the ability to expand her skillset at The University of Toledo. She transferred to UToledo from a university in Ukraine where she was majoring in finance — and she had no intention of changing her planned course of study. “But the diverse programming in the College of Business and Innovation helped me discover another business field that I’d never been interested in before — accounting,” said Yana. “After taking a few required accounting courses, I decided to add accounting as a minor.”

Yana Khabina (first from left)

The University of Toledo also has several programs of study in the arts and humanities, so students pursuing STEM programs can round out their personal development by adding a program in the arts. Fine art, music, theater and film are available as minors, as well as majors, and STEM students are encouraged to pursue the arts in both classroom and student organization settings.

4. Opportunities to connect with people of diverse backgrounds through shared interests

As we’ve already learned, involvement in student activities can lead UToledo students to discover interests and abilities they didn’t know they had. But they can also lead to deep and lasting friendships – as they did for Yana.

“I had a chance to become part of the track and field team here at the University,” she says. “I can say that it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far. I not only found people with the same interests as me — I found my ‘track family.’ I’m really grateful to the University for focusing not only on academic excellence, but also for creating communities of interest that bring us together as one big family.”

5. Leadership development opportunities through student organizations and service programs

Jose’s involvement with campus organizations helped him develop leadership skills, too. “I always emphasize how important it is to get involved on campus, as you will find your real passions. I’ve taken advantage of how culturally diverse the University is — if it hadn’t been for the student organizations I’ve joined, I wouldn’t have discovered my ‘why’ in life. As president of the International Students Association (ISA), I have been able to be a cultural ambassador of my home country, Venezuela.”

Leadership opportunities are available even to campus newcomers. As a freshman, Dhaval’s strong interest in promoting an inclusive campus led to his selection as an Inclusion Champion. “I was allowed to attend the organizing event by the dean of students, even though it was an invitation-only event for presidents and VPs of UToledo student organizations,” he explains. Dhaval now serves as a mediator to resolve tensions between students of differing backgrounds and is also planning a run for ISA president. “People here at UToledo are welcoming. That’s why I’m here — I could tell from the UToledo people I met in India that people here would be cool!”

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