Belmont Abbey College
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Belmont Abbey College - Comments and Student Experiences|
Over the course of the years, however, things have progressively gotten worse.
One major issue from the get-go was the book store: not one semester have they ever provided me all of my books from the start. Some semesters, not at all; this most recent semester they forgot to provide me, and many others I've spoken with, with books totaling roughly $200 in the campus bookstore, having them on "back order" with the promise of notification when they would come in. There is less than a month in the semester left now, and no notices. I had to recently pay for many of these books out of pocket (IN ADDITION TO THE MONEY I PAID TO THE CAMPUS BOOKSTORE), and resorting to shoddy electronic copies for the last couple. The bookstore will, naturally, not refund me for this. They had four months since I registered for these classes in April to get my books for me until the beginning of this semester, yet they waited for me and many other students empty-handed.
In addition, certain departments are grossly mismanaged. For instance, the English department (which is my major) decided to turn its 2-year graduation program into a 3-year plan, months AFTER I had declared as an English major. They never had the common decency to grandfather me out of the new plan, and combined with the fact that a number of requisite courses weren't offered this semester or this coming semester, I have no choice but to take at least one additional semester of classes. Yes, I cannot graduate on time due to the school throwing extra classes at me and not offering some of these courses I need to graduate on time.
The Cafeteria, whilst not directly controlled by the school, nevertheless merits discussion. The quality of the food offered has declined over the three years that we have enlisted the catering of Chartwells; expect lots of poor-quality, soggy, greasy, fried, or leftover food, in addition to lazy and/or questionable meal choices (for example, expect potato/tortilla chips to be considered an entree on some days). The staff also bears mention. The cashiers and the student workers are actually quite lovely to be around, as they greet patrons with a smile and appropriate cheer. It's the rest of the staff, who are often sullen, surly, constantly shouting with each other, and overall miserable to be around.
Registering for classes can also be an issue. Students can have "holds" placed on them which prevents them from registering on time, but the issue is that the website for registration never tells students just what is causing their holds. Instead, students have to go to and from the Crusader Hub in order to talks to somebody to clear up any issues. Some holds can also result from poor planning: for instance, some students have taken certain classes in I and II increments yet only receiving credits for one course due to both courses having the exact same course code (e.g. Film Criticism I and II both being coded as EN216).
There are mostly fairly reasonable rules to live by on campus: curfews for coed visitation, no drinking under 21, no excessive noise (especially at night), etc. However, the rules about drinking include a very controversial measure: the "presence policy". Essentially, if anybody under the age of 21 is in a room/apartment whilst alcohol is being consumed by others, everybody with alcohol is punished. This can be problematic thanks to fake IDs, and particularly at large parties where underage participants can blend into crowds. Also of concern is noise complaints: whilst not an inherent problem, neighbors can (and often have) grossly abuse the use of noise complaints, since investigating RAs don't look into the matter beyond simply reprimanding the supposed perpetrator (or even hand out warnings).
Campus police are also nice for the most part, but a word of advice: do not ever break any rules, however minor, in their midst. They WILL abuse their power and carry out vendettas against people that happen to rub them the wrong way.
The school suffers greatly from neglecting to notify students about serious matters. Oh, you'll get tons of emails about extra-curricular on-goings and activities on campus, but they take their sweet time to send out notices/reminders of urgent matters (e.g. when I discussed the English department's reforming beforehand, they never updated their website until this semester to reflect standing changes in curricula, and chairs of departments never sent out emails to their appropriate students about said changes). Especially of note is the IT Department on Campus, which was outsourced to a software company over this summer. The software company forbade the IT Department from looking at student/personal computers this year (which is a major detriment to the student base), but the school in turn has still never, at the moment of writing, notified students of this change. People had to (and still have to) find out by going out of their way to head to the IT Help Desk.
The worst change yet, however, was the "Crusader Success Hub", which opened up in the Student Commons this semester. The school has only put out vague, propaganda-like material to students concerning the Hub ("Find all the answers you need at the Hub!", etc). Good luck learning that the Registrar's Office has moved here, or that the introduction of the Hub meant the revoking of the 24-hour open schedule of the Commons, the latter of which was another serious blow to a large number of students, who found the Commons to be a great place to study (especially at night before an exam).
The actual classes are very solid. You will successfully learn (and likely appreciate) most, if not all, of what you take at this school. The workload is not to unbearable, at least in 100-300 level courses. In a decent amount of 400 level courses, however, some professors seem to go off a notion that their students have no other classes, as the work piles up greatly. Yes, the amount and intensity of work will and should increase as the level increases. However, these certain 400-level courses are a whole 'nother ballgame, and can be absolutely soul crushing.Perhaps the school will improve, as this seems to be a "transition" period. However, for any students looking at this school right now, I would focus elsewhere, as I expect these "transitory" issues to carry on for the next few years.
Despite the positives of Belmont Abbey, there are a lot of grave problems. One, the social atmosphere in the Abbey, as a whole, can be a cesspool and very toxic. If you make one social mistake or a couple, gossip can be spread against you. Second, Greek life and the athletes have too much of a pull in the Abbey. They both add to the drama in the Abbey. At the same time, I have seen well-meaning good Catholics get corrupted and lose their Faith by the party atmosphere in the Abbey. If you are not a strong Catholic and want to work on your faith, don't come here! Go to Christendom, go to Thomas Aquinas! Go to Wyoming Catholic! Parents, if you are afraid that your child will become corrupted by college, don't send them here. Third, for the longest time, there were RAs, (not all of them) who are modern-day Pharisees. They think they are holier and better than thou. Many of them take the job way too seriously. They act un-Christian in their attitudes. Yes, there is a point to ensure order and Catholic values such as underage drinking in the Abbey, but the RAs Pharisee attitude and acting like police don't make sinners saints. Also, if you piss off one of the RAs, some of the RAs make it personal against you. Fourth, within the God Squad, there are some nice good Catholics, but some of them are arrogant, superficial Pharisees. They know so much, but yet know so little. One time, one of my friends shut one of the Theology majors down, because that God Squadder was flat wrong on the Faith. Lastly, people in Belmont Abbey like to one up each other. And you will notice that the Abbey can be superficial and two-faced at times.
ConclusionBelmont Abbey College has a mixed reaction from me. If you want a good education and a place that is an alternative to the liberal public or liberal religious schools, this can be a decent alternative. Also if you want a small college, this may be the right place for you. However, don't come here if you think you can lose your Faith. Don't come here if you don't want stupid superficial drama. Belmont Abbey College is good in many ways, but it can be a facade. The literature and brochures may say one thing about the Abbey, but it has a long way in being a truly Catholic college.
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