New Mexico Highlands University: A Nice Place to Visit, But…

A brief visit to New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas, NM, was actually my second visit to the campus. I walked around the campus back in 1990 when I was doing some research on the United World Collegesone of which is located just outside of Las Vegas.

Parts of the campus are quite attractive. The new science building looks great, and the library is inviting. I admit, however, to a somewhat jarring moment when I stepped onto the lawn and realized it was plastic turf…no wonder it looked so green in this very dry part of the country. The academic buildings seemed inviting enough. But it was a group of dormitories that struck me most negatively.

They look almost like old motels, with long outdoor corridors leading to a series of identical doorways. Their cinder block construction was all too evident, and while I’m sure the rooms are

clean and as spacious as any other dorm room on any other campus, the impression was not one that would likely encourage a 17 year-old prospective student to want to live there.

The town of Las Vegas, on the other hand, has some fun, frontier-like aspects to it. It’s not a booming metropolis, by any means, but it has some character for those who seek an authentic southwestern experience.

All in all, I enjoyed my visit. But I might recommend that a student consider off-campus housing options.

Mark Montgomery

Great College Advice

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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  1. You must have seen the old dorms. In the first of my 2 visits to NMHU, we were shown the new dorms, which were almost completed at that time (May 2009). Of the many colleges I have toured, the new dorms were by far the nicest I have encountered at any college. Beautiful, brand-new, spacious suites. The kids I had with me were tempted to enroll just to get one of those awesome dorm rooms.

  2. Hi, Laurel,

    You’re right: there are new dorms. However, it’s telling that you say that kids are tempted to sign up just to get the new dorms. Imagine how disappointed they will be, however, when they get are assigned the ugly ones (which are not on the official tour).

    The lesson is this: don’t pick a school by the dorm rooms alone–especially the ones you see on the official tour. Get off the tour, consider that only a fraction of the student population lives in the new, opulent dorms, and remember: you are buying a college education, and not a dorm room.

    Thanks for writing in!

  3. In your response to Laurel Summerfield, you remind her that students are buying a college education, not a dorm room. To me, that sounds like you’re advising students not to put too much stock into what their dorm looks like on the outside, and I think that’s sound advice. But, in your review, you write about the “ugly” dorms and suggest that students live off campus to avoid living in them – even though you acknowledge that the interiors are probably just fine. So, which is it? I think maybe you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth just a little bit.

  4. Hi Rosalind. Perhaps I am sometimes inconsistent. But I’m not sure this is one of those occasions. I guess my point is this: when you are shopping for colleges, you do need to focus on the education first, the rest second. But some colleges do require students to live in the dormitories. As a parent, if I’m expected to pay rent for a living space, I want to be sure I get value for my dollar. Perhaps these dorms at Highlands are super cheap and just fine on the inside. But in my experience, dormitories are usually overpriced. So if a student finds that New Mexico Highlands makes sense academically, then they have every right to consider value for money when it comes to accommodation.
    Thanks for taking the time to write!

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