I arrived in Canyon, at West Texas A&M University, after driving four hours from Trinidad, Colorado. I mention this because the mountains of Colorado and Northern New Mexico are certainly a manageable weekend trip, as is Palo Duro Canyon State Park less than twenty miles away. Palo Duro Canyon is second only to the Grand Canyon in size and a place of adventure and beauty mostly unknown to those outside of the area.

I had visited the campus twenty years earlier, when it was West Texas State University, and found the school had grown up. Approximately 9000 students attend WTAMU with 7100 being undergrads. Walking campus as the sun set, light filtered through trees and onto a golden buffalo statue in the middle of campus. As students stopped by the buffalo, I asked several about their experiences.

One girl was an international student from Africa who was studying dance. She loved the campus and her program and said that she felt as if she had found a family within her department. Another student told me she had applied to approximately ten other schools and WTAMU was the one place she didn’t plan on attending. She had high ACT scores and was accepted by what she felt were more prestigious colleges but decided on WTAMU because of the missionary work she had done with the Baptist Student group. She had attended high school in Canyon, TX, but lived on campus for the experience She felt as if she had found a family there. The third student I questioned came from the border area of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Both of her parents were graduates and she hadn’t considered any other institution.

Everyone mentioned the friendly campus, the ability to interact with teachers, small class size, and ease of moving between dorms and campus. Safety was also ranked highly by the women I talked to. Canyon’s population is around 14,000 and Amarillo is less than 30 miles north while Lubbock (think Texas Tech) is 100 miles south. That’s not considered far by Texas driving standards.ost

Yearly attendance for Texas residents is approximately $20,700.00 and for out-of-state students an affordable $21,700. Admission is rolling. Average ACT score is 18 to 23 and SAT score is 860 to 1080. Most popular majors are liberal arts, teaching, and business. Student/faculty ratio is 20 to 1. Acceptance rate is 67%.

Students most likely to benefit from West Texas A&M would be those seeking an affordable education without lots of pretense. Students would need to appreciate life in a small town and seek entertainment predominantly from the campus community. Cars would be needed to access parts of town as well as trips to the larger community of Amarillo, Lubbock, or to experience the natural beauty close to this Lower Plains town.