Macalester College - Comments and Student Experiences|
I loved my professors there. I received lots of personalized attention and the profs genuinely care about their students. They also know the subject and how to explain it.
Even though Macalester is not known for its sports and does not have a greek life, I felt more camaraderie with my fellow students than I did at any other school I have been to (four so far including graduate schools). I played on the golf team and loved it. We were not your typical jocks and took pride in having a high GPA average. We managed to balance academic priorities with athletic commitments.
I did a minor in studio art and even though I loved studying there, there were some things that could be improved upon. The building is scheduled to be expanded soon, which is sorely needs. Some of the faculty were too arrogant to be good teachers. They really did not help dispel the artist stereotype. The psychology department was much better both in terms of resources and profs.
Macalester has been getting a bit more attention since I graduated, but sometimes people still give me a blank stare when I tell them where I went to school. Ironically people on the east coast were more aware of Macalester than people in my home town of Chicago. I think Mac is often compared to small liberal arts schools like Bates and Colorado College.
Even though I do not call myself an extreme liberal, I generally appreciated the more liberal leanings of the student body. There is a general intellectual curiosity that fuels most student conversations. Even if you disagree with a person's political views, they will listen to you as long as you present a fair, factual, and logical case. Debate and good conversation is more important than political factions. The late night drunken philosophical conversations are probably the thing I miss most from Macalester. Sure there are always house parties to attend, if you feel like being more crazy that weekend, but most weekends are spent with a dozen of your closest friends and their closest friends drinking and having entertaining conversation (and a bit of beer pong for good measure).
Most people come from wealthy families and spend their summers and school breaks in foreign countries, visiting friends around the world, and taking exotic vacations with their families. Living at home and having a job during the summer is unheard of. Macalester students tend to be snobby, arrogant, and "open minded" about everything except something they don't agree with. Everyone is expected to change the world after they graduate, and anyone with "lower" aspirations is looked down upon.
Academics is very important to Macalester students. If you are an easygoing, carefree person whose life is about more than getting an A grade, Macalester is not for you. If a Macalester student gets a B on a test or a paper, they feel as if their life is ruined. The incredibly stressful environment around midterms and finals is depressing and annoying.
St. Paul is a small city with not much to do. Macalester is eager to sell you on the "vibrant Twin Cities area", but the more "vibrant" parts of the Twin Cities are located in Minneapolis, a 90 minute bus ride away. Public transportation is slow and expensive. Arctic tundra-esque weather also discourages people from going out.
The price for attending Macalester is not worth it. Most of my professors in my 2 years have been less than exceptional. They are generally arrogant and self-absorbed and much more concerned with their own research and writing than doing any actual teaching.
You are also charged a $200 activity fee so you may attend campus sporting events. Any fine arts activity, such as concerts, musicals, or plays, cost an entrance fee, however.
Despite its high tuition and room and board cost, Macalester also tries to get a dollar from you any way they can, charging money for laundry and other administrative fees. Students are forced to live on campus their first 2 years, and the dorms are not very nice. The single rooms are smaller than the size of a jail cell, so Macalester pays a fee to the government every year, because legally rooms shouldn't be that small. Macalester students are also forced to buy a meal plan for their first semester, which is ridiculously expensive. If you want to pay $8 for a bowl of cereal every morning, Macalester is the school for you.
The Macalester bookstore is also a giant ripoff. Paperbacks for literature classes are around $10-12 (over $100 for the class total, on average) and textbooks range from $150-$200. The school frequently changes textbooks and upgrades to new editions so it rarely buys back the textbooks. If they do, you usually get about 10% of what you initially paid for it. Expect to spend over $500 on books every semester, and get about $50 (if that) back from the bookstore.
Macalester is a complete ripoff and a waste of time and money. The classes are mostly discussion based because the professors are lazy and more focused on their own research, which results in a lot of people who like to hear themselves speak drone on and on. Since no material is actually taught, it is hard to participate in discussions because there is no background information to draw upon. There is enormous pressure to be brilliant, get A's on everything, and speak very eloquently all of the time. I hate Macalester and have made plans to leave.
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