“Coming from abroad, I expected an open-minded placeMar 23 2014History/Histories (art history/etc.)
“Coming to Mount Holyoke is one of theFeb 07 2014Biology
“Mount Holyoke is an extremely good school forDec 07 2013PreLaw and Legal
What I will most strongly advocate for is that the academics, especially in certain departments such as International Relations, History, Psychology, Philosophy, and the hard Sciences are absolutely stellar and enjoyable. However, something which is not emphasized enough when high school seniors are selecting their college of choice, is whether or not the liberal arts major they are interested in will be a particular strength of an otherwise likable school. I do not think that anybody who wants to study anthropology, sociology, or art history at the eventual graduate level will find that they are receiving the preparation they need. This is based off of my experiences hearing majors in these fields air their complains, as well as my observations about what the departments expect their majors to do afterwards. That is not to say that the classes are not well taught. However, as the school is very small, Anthro and Sociology are not able to offer the same swath of classes which would be taught somewhere else. This is especially pertinent in the Anthro department, which focuses mainly on social and not physical. Meanwhile, Art History offers no survey class, and I have been acquainted with majors who are unaware that language study will be necessary for graduate school. If you are interested in double majoring, then this is less of an issue, but I would implore future students of any college to research at least a few of the majors they would be interested in, to confirm the opportunities which will be available to them afterwards. (For the records, I am a Middle Eastern Studies major planning on going to law school. There is not nearly as much support for pre-law as their is for pre-med, but then again, I personally believe that if you cannot access all of the colloquial advice necessary for law school admission on the internet, then you shouldn't be going to law school anyways. As for Middle Eastern studies, as it is an interdisciplinary major, the resources are there, but I need to be proactive. If you plan on being an interdisciplinary major at any school, you had better be proactive to begin with.)
I have noticed that in terms of who transfers away from Mount Holyoke are from New York City or the surrounding suburbs. The financial aid office is not usually very nice to New Yorkers. You may be different, it really depends, but no education is worth graduating with $100,000 in debt, unless perhaps you are studying engineering. Some people come here because they think it will be a small, very supportive and affirming environment. It generally is. However, the students as a culture are all very self competitive. The campus is beautiful, but in the dead of winter, the sun goes down by 4:30 PM and it's very cold. If you're the type of person who gets sad, stays up all night on social media, wakes up at noon or later, and doesn't go outside much, then Mount Holyoke can be really depressing.
The food is pretty great for college food. However, if you have a dietary need that requires the use of a kitchen/preparing your own meals, you can get the use of a kitchen but it's generally only for students with these needs, and it can be very lonely eating by yourself.
Religious and spiritual life is very open and a mix of christians, muslims, jews, buddhists, etc.... From my own observations each of these groups has constituencies of people both deeply dedicated towards leadership, as well as more passive students who come to events. While somebody with stringently socially conservative politics may find it difficult to fit in here, simultaneously the campus places a large value on spirituality as a part of human life. Interfaith events are a weekly occurrence, and often people of different faith groups will attend the services of each other.
There are a ton of student leadership opportunities, though political clubs are not nearly as popular as music clubs, specialty clubs, or club sports. While students here generally carry passionate political opinions, the "free to be you and me" nature of the campus generally detracts from very much political activism, though Students Against Mass Incarceration and Mount Holyoke Divest from Fossil Fuels are two currently very active student groups.
Studying abroad is encouraged, and many students, especially students in the humanities and social sciences, will do so. In addition, every student is not guaranteed one summer of grant money to pursue an unpaid or underpaid opportunity.
Overall, I have seen many students graduate and go on to the business world, medical school, the peace corps, education, and/or working or living abroad. The school was founded in 1837 as an educational seminary to train women to go teach and proselytize abroad. Today it is not religiously affiliated, and the majority of students can tell you all about post colonial theory. However, the heavy value the school has placed on internationalism remains from this time.Mount Holyoke can be a great place to be, especially if you're driven and passionate. You don't need to be passionate about every subject and extra curricular activity, but you need to be passionate about something. When the workload of finals week is hitting, and you're on the internet at 2:40 in the morning writing a review of the college in order to procrastinate, you need to know that when you return to your work, you will find it exciting, and not simply "a means to an end." But that being said, liberal arts was never supposed to be a means to an end anyways, though you can become a greatly successful wall street analyst if you take the appropriate econ classes and write a good cover letter. However, if you want to passively do well in a school while placing greater importance on family, social, or work life, you are not going to like it here.