UTSA is welcoming one of its most selective freshman classes this fall, but if history is any indicator, very few of them will be successful here in San Antonio.

That’s not to say that they won’t live up to expectations in the classroom, but rather that most UTSA students fail to integrate themselves into the fabric of the city. Many students go to school in San Antonio, but very few of them “live” in San Antonio.

UTSA’s main campus is at the edge of town, closer to chain restaurants and box stores than the Alamo or the Riverwalk. There is no Sixth Street to party on, no Theater District for San Antonians to call their own. But for a school that aspires to be the Tier One university of South Texas, too few UTSA students take advantage of the off-campus opportunities offered by the 7th largest city in the country.

UTSA students who integrate with the city of San Antonio help themselves, the city and the university.

Downtown is going through a rapid revitalization, and there are countless bars, restaurants and coffee shops that cater to a younger crowd. Any student who spends free time solely around campus is foregoing a fun time.

Of course, college is more about preparing for the workforce than partying, and San Antonio is quickly becoming one of the hottest destinations for young college graduates. Just a few weeks ago, San Antonio was ranked as the second best city in the country in terms of brain gain, meaning that twenty-something professionals with college degrees are flocking to the city from across the state and from all over the country. But why should companies recruit employees from out of town if the talent can be found here at UTSA?

Despite being a big city on the fast track to success, San Antonio has historically lacked a large research university to feed educated professionals into its job market. However — not unlike the city it calls home — UTSA has grown by leaps and bounds in just the last few years by attracting a greater number of more successful students.

If UTSA grads choose to stay here upon graduating, San Antonio will undoubtedly be inundated with talented Roadrunners who can have successful careers at DataPoint or at Rackspace, which was recently named the top web hosting company in the world.

“We can’t recruit our way to greatness,” RackSpace Chairman Graham Weston told Texas CEO Magazine in January. “We have an educated population, and this is an invitation to all the universities in town to up their game.”

Creating a stronger relationship with San Antonio’s booming economy is vital to any university seeking Tier One status, and especially one that saw its research spending drop more than four percent from 2011 to 2012. The bridge to Tier One can be crossed only with more research funding, and the best way to accomplish this goal is for UTSA and its students to become an integral cog in the wheel of San Antonio’s business community.

Both UTSA and the city of San Antonio are on the rise, working hard to remove perceptions of inferiority and inadequacy. UTSA students who embrace a relationship with San Antonio — who both go to school and live here — will help not only their university and their city, but will likely be rewarded with greater job opportunities and a better college experience.

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