Pros And Cons Of Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University (App State), located in Boone, North Carolina, is a renowned public institution that has been serving students since 1899. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, App State offers a unique blend of academic excellence, vibrant campus life, and breathtaking natural beauty. With over 20,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, the university provides a wide array of opportunities for academic and personal growth. However, as with any institution, attending Appalachian State University comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. This article explores the pros and cons of studying at App State, providing a comprehensive guide for prospective students.

Pros of Studying at Appalachian State University

1. Scenic Location

One of the standout features of Appalachian State University is its picturesque location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campus is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, offering students a tranquil and inspiring environment. The area’s scenic vistas, hiking trails, and outdoor recreational opportunities make it an ideal place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

2. Strong Academic Programs

Appalachian State University offers a wide range of strong academic programs across various disciplines. The university is particularly known for its programs in education, business, music, and sustainability. With over 150 undergraduate majors and numerous graduate programs, students have ample opportunities to pursue their academic interests and career goals. The university’s commitment to academic excellence is reflected in its rigorous curricula and distinguished faculty.

3. Focus on Sustainability

App State is a leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship. The university has been recognized for its green initiatives, including its commitment to renewable energy, waste reduction, and sustainable practices. The campus features LEED-certified buildings, a comprehensive recycling program, and a focus on sustainability in the curriculum. Students interested in environmental studies and sustainability will find App State’s commitment to these values particularly appealing.

4. Vibrant Campus Life

Appalachian State University boasts a vibrant campus life with numerous student organizations, clubs, and activities. Whether students are interested in sports, arts, culture, or community service, they will find opportunities to engage and connect with their peers. The university hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and cultural celebrations, fostering a lively and inclusive campus community.

5. Affordable Tuition and Financial Aid

App State offers affordable tuition rates, particularly for in-state students. The university provides a range of financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs, to help students manage the cost of their education. The Office of Financial Aid is dedicated to assisting students in navigating the financial aid process and securing the support they need.

6. Strong Alumni Network

Appalachian State University has a strong and active alumni network, with graduates making significant contributions in various fields. The alumni association offers valuable resources and connections for current students and recent graduates, including mentoring programs, career fairs, and networking events. The support and engagement of App State alumni enhance the university’s reputation and provide students with valuable career opportunities.

7. Engaged and Supportive Faculty

The faculty at Appalachian State University are known for their dedication to teaching and student success. Professors are approachable and supportive, often going above and beyond to help students achieve their academic and personal goals. The small class sizes foster meaningful interactions between students and faculty, allowing for personalized attention and mentorship.

8. Outdoor and Recreational Activities

The university’s location in the Blue Ridge Mountains provides unparalleled opportunities for outdoor and recreational activities. Students can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and rock climbing, all within close proximity to campus. The university’s Outdoor Programs office offers guided trips, equipment rentals, and workshops to help students explore and enjoy the natural surroundings.

9. Strong Athletics Program

Appalachian State University has a strong athletics program, with varsity teams competing in the NCAA Division I Sun Belt Conference. The university’s sports teams, known as the Mountaineers, have a passionate fan base and contribute to a lively campus atmosphere. Students can participate in or support various sports, including football, basketball, soccer, and wrestling. The university’s athletic facilities are top-notch, providing excellent resources for student-athletes and recreational sports enthusiasts.

10. Commitment to Community Service

App State has a strong commitment to community service and civic engagement. The university encourages students to get involved in service projects and volunteer activities, both on and off campus. The Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT) office connects students with service opportunities, fostering a sense of social responsibility and community involvement.

11. Cultural and Artistic Opportunities

App State offers a rich array of cultural and artistic opportunities for students. The university hosts numerous performances, exhibitions, and events through its performing arts series, galleries, and theaters. Students can participate in or attend concerts, plays, dance performances, and art shows, enriching their cultural experiences and fostering creativity.

12. Study Abroad Programs

Appalachian State University offers a variety of study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives. The university has partnerships with institutions around the world, providing opportunities for exchange programs, internships, and global research initiatives. Studying abroad enhances students’ cultural competency and prepares them for a globalized workforce.

Cons of Studying at Appalachian State University

1. Limited Diversity

While Appalachian State University is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion, the student body is less diverse compared to some larger institutions. The university continues to make efforts to attract and support students from diverse backgrounds, but prospective students should be aware that they may encounter a less diverse campus environment.

2. Small Town Setting

Boone, North Carolina, is a small town with a population of around 20,000 residents. While the town offers a close-knit community and a charming atmosphere, it may lack the amenities and opportunities of a larger city. Students seeking a bustling urban environment with extensive dining, shopping, and entertainment options may find the small-town setting limiting.

3. Cold Winters

The mountainous location of Appalachian State University means that winters can be cold and snowy. While this is ideal for winter sports enthusiasts, it can be challenging for students who prefer milder climates. The cold weather may require adjustments in daily routines and increased expenses for winter clothing and heating.

4. Limited Public Transportation

Boone and the surrounding area have limited public transportation options, making it necessary for most students to have access to a car. While the university provides shuttle services and some public transit options, the coverage and frequency may not be sufficient for all students’ needs. This reliance on personal vehicles can be inconvenient and add to the cost of living.

5. Limited Graduate Programs

While Appalachian State University offers a range of graduate programs, the selection is more limited compared to larger research universities. Prospective graduate students seeking specialized or advanced degrees in certain fields may need to explore additional options. The university continues to expand its graduate offerings, but some students may find the current selection limiting.

6. Competitive Admissions

Appalachian State University is a popular choice for many students, making the admissions process competitive. Prospective students must have strong academic records, test scores, and extracurricular involvement to be admitted. The competitive nature of admissions can be stressful, and not all qualified students may gain acceptance. Additionally, certain programs and majors have limited spots, making internal transfers and program changes challenging.

7. Campus Housing Availability

While App State offers on-campus housing options, the availability may not meet the demand, particularly for upperclassmen and graduate students. Securing on-campus housing can be competitive, and some students may need to find off-campus accommodations. The university is working to expand housing options, but the current availability may be a drawback for some students.

8. Workload and Stress Levels

The rigorous academic environment at Appalachian State University can lead to high workload and stress levels for some students. Balancing coursework, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs can be demanding. The competitive nature of certain programs may also contribute to stress and pressure to perform well. Students need to develop effective time management and stress-relief strategies to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

9. Limited Nightlife and Entertainment

Boone, being a small town, offers limited nightlife and entertainment options compared to larger cities. While there are some bars, restaurants, and local events, the selection may not be as extensive or diverse as in urban areas. Students seeking a more vibrant nightlife scene may find the options in Boone to be limited.

10. Parking Challenges

Parking on and around the Appalachian State University campus can be challenging. The demand for parking spaces often exceeds the supply, and parking permits can be expensive. Many students rely on walking, biking, or using the campus shuttle services to get around. While these alternative transportation options are available, the limited parking can be inconvenient for those who prefer to drive.

11. Limited Major City Access

While Boone is a charming town with many local amenities, it is relatively remote from major cities. The closest large cities, such as Charlotte and Raleigh, are several hours away by car. This distance can limit access to certain cultural, professional, and entertainment opportunities that are more readily available in larger metropolitan areas.

12. Internet Connectivity Issues

Some areas in and around Boone may experience issues with internet connectivity and speed. While the university provides reliable internet access on campus, students living off-campus may encounter slower speeds or connectivity problems. This can be a drawback for those who rely heavily on internet services for their studies, work, or entertainment.

13. Limited Job Market in Boone

While the university itself provides employment opportunities, the job market in Boone and the surrounding area can be limited, particularly for specialized fields. Students seeking internships, part-time jobs, or post-graduation employment may need to explore opportunities outside of the local area. This can require additional travel and networking efforts.

14. Adjusting to the Altitude

Boone’s elevation is over 3,300 feet above sea level, which may require some adjustment for students not accustomed to higher altitudes. The altitude can impact physical activities and may cause altitude sickness in some individuals. While most people acclimate quickly, it’s an important consideration for those with health concerns related to altitude.

15. Limited Dining Options

While there are dining options available both on campus and in Boone, the variety may be limited compared to larger urban areas. Students with specific dietary needs or preferences may find fewer options available. The university is continuously working to improve its dining services, but some students may desire a broader range of culinary choices.


Appalachian State University offers a unique and enriching educational experience, with numerous advantages for its students. From its scenic location and strong academic programs to its vibrant campus life and commitment to sustainability, App State provides a supportive and dynamic environment for personal and professional growth. However, prospective students should also consider the challenges, such as limited diversity, small-town setting, and cold winters.

By weighing the pros and cons, individuals can make informed decisions about whether Appalachian State University is the right fit for their educational and career goals. For those who value a close-knit community, enjoy outdoor activities, and seek opportunities for academic excellence and personal development, App State can be a rewarding and fulfilling place to pursue higher education. Whether you are drawn to the university’s beautiful mountain setting, strong faculty support, or vibrant campus life, Appalachian State University offers a comprehensive and transformative experience for students willing to embrace its many opportunities and navigate its challenges.

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