Meredith College - Comments and Student Experiences|
My Background: I am from Raleigh, NC and I applied to seven colleges throughout North Carolina before deciding on Meredith College. I am a graphic design major with a double minor of photography and studio art. (I am also in the Honors Program). My senior year of high school was a challenge for me as I had to weed through colleges and decide what I really wanted out of college. I even visited this website to read student reviews. I got into the NC State School of Design (which if you don't know, it is an excellent program and quite hard to get into). I surely thought that I was going to go to NCSU because of the great opportunities ahead of me. However, I had also visited Meredith and when I went through the application process for the Honors Program at Meredith (and for an art scholarship) I was able to spend the night on campus with a current student and it was a great experience. It is so different getting to see the campus not on a tour/visitation day and to get to hang out with current students. The professors and staff were so friendly and clearly interested in me not just as a student but as a person. That won me over. NCSU is an excellent school with wonderful resources & opportunities but I knew that I would personally feel like just a number and a small fish in a big sea as NCSU is the biggest college in NC. Currently in my sophomore year, I have loved every minute of my time here at Meredith.
Education Quality: I believe the education quality to be great. Although students grumble about taking gen ed classes, you'd have to take similar classes at other colleges. Going into college you don't want to take classes similar to what you took in high school (English, foreign language, science, etc) but I?ve had great unexpected experiences in these classes and have learned things I thought I wouldn't (for example, my Spanish class Skyped with our professor's friend in Argentina and we got to learn about the country's culture straight from someone who grew up and lived there while getting to practice our Spanish language skills) . In addition, it is a great opportunity to make friends outside of your major. There are plenty top notch professors at Meredith who bring their experience and intellect to the classroom for the students? benefit.
Friendliness & Faculty Accessibility: I have found both staff (professors & other faculty) and students to be very friendly. Walking across campus you often run into friends, classmates, and even just other students you recognize but have never formally met and say hello in passing. Professors are very welcoming and eager to help you and encourage you to stop by their office if you have a question or even if you just want to say hello. Most have been very prompt returning my emails and some even give you their cell phone numbers so that you can reach them. The staff in the dining hall are probably the friendliest people on campus. I have often held warm conversations with them while getting my food and the man that makes custom omelets-to-order for breakfast even has my order memorized! Haha In addition, our president Dr. Allen is so friendly and wonderful and I have seen her numerous times in different parts of campus interacting with the student body. She even drove one student to the hospital after the student fell and broke her ankle.
Social Life: This is a bit tricky. Since Meredith is a small school there isn't always tons of school-organized stuff going on around campus. There are on campus gallery openings every so often, speakers from all different fields that come for interesting lectures, movie nights, workshops, dorm hall socials, and various activities within academic departments (for example, the art department is sponsoring a free all day field trip to various art museums throughout the state in about a week). There are things to do with your friends on your own either hanging out on campus (playing games, watching movies, etc) or going out to local shops, museums, parks, etc. I personally haven't had a problem in the ?social life? area of college but I?m also not the person that goes clubbing or has to go out every single day. I have homework to do, movie nights with friends in my room, visiting family, volunteering, etc to do that occupies my time quite nicely.
Extracurricular: There is a wide variety of clubs & organizations to be a part of ranging from intense to casual commitment depending on the club or position you have in it. There are great opportunities to become leaders within these clubs/organizations and it is a great way to make friends with similar interests.
Campus Safety: I feel very safe on Meredith's campus. Being an art major, I am often having to spend a lot of late nights in the art building working on projects and I have never felt uncomfortable being in the building after hours or walking back to my room. The school makes it a priority to ensure that students feel safe.
Surrounding City: Growing up in Raleigh, I have always felt that there are so many things going. Meredith is just down the street from NC State so on weekends there are things going on there and there are plenty of shops/restaurants in several shopping/retail centers (Quail Ridge, Cameron Village, Crabtree Valley, and along Hillsborough Street as well as downtown Raleigh). There are concerts that come to Raleigh all throughout the year, plenty of clubs if that is your thing, and downtown festivals.
Campus Aesthetics: Meredith is very beautiful. There is a greenway trail that connects you to the NC Art Museum and is great to go out walking/running on when it is a nice day. There is a pond with a gazebo. There are open grassy areas, wooded areas, and lots of flowers. I don't know how else to describe it but hopefully there are plenty of pictures online for you to look at.
After reading all the other reviews I suggest to high school students to look at the breakdown of "grades" given to Meredith in comparison to other schools. There are always going to be students who have a disappointing experience because let's face it, no college is perfect. However, I strongly believe that you get what you put in. If you invest yourself into the school then you get more out of it. I have made wonderful friends and have great experiences at this school and I can't imagine myself anywhere else.
There are only a few basic things that you can't really find out from the website or a tour, and so I am going to try to cover them on here (in no particular order of importance):
As I said before, it really is an offbeat and more diverse campus than people necessarily think. This is a new development! Five years ago, when I first visited (I believe in middle school) it was dull and lifeless and totally uninteresting. I visited MereCo on a whim as a junior in high school and I was astounded by how much it had changed. The best way to explain the difference is to say that there is a glow and excitement in the student body that there wasn't before. I am not sure if it is the difference in the academic programs (we recently had a major overhaul) or maybe the admissions department recruits differently but there is more of a spark in the air.
One good thing: people seem to really appreciate one another and find other paths in life interesting. We have a diverse body on campus: Islamic students, Christian students of many denominations, a smattering of other students from other diverse religions--Buddhism, Judaism, and other sorts. And although it has always traditionally been considered an upper-class Southern school, there are a LOT of students here are on scholarship--and you would be awfully surprised at how many. Although the economy has been down for colleges lately (and the NC State legislation tuition grant is going to be cut in the spring, DRAT) there are a lot of scholarships available and if you have a talent or show yourself to be a student or future leader of exceeding worth, financial aid will be very kind.
A con: a lot of students are on gpa based or very strict academic scholarships. This means that during exam time, when the midden hits the windmill, people go NUTS. But...
A pro: there are resources to help cope. The Counseling Center has some incredibly high quality professionals. And although the list can be extremely long, once you get an appointment block it will be steadily available. Also, there is an emergency crisis walk in hour. If you are desperate for someone to help you through a really rough patch, go to that. And the Dean of Students is incredibly helpful and flexible. So are the RDs and (most of) the RAs.
A pro: There is a really good queer and gay scene on campus and people are really surprisingly (especially if you are used to the atmosphere of a small town) kind and respectful. (Yes, we are a women's college. Yes, there are queers. No, not everyone is. And if you bring it up with an Avenging Angel, you *will* get that world-weary tone.) It is there. And they do have SPECTRUM meetings--go to at least one of them. There are a LOT of professors with SAFEZONE signs outside their doors. Whatever your sexuality is--whether you know exactly who you are or are still exploring--take Dr. Brown's Human Sexuality course in the spring. If nothing else it is a chance to get class credit for going to Priscilla's.
Some general advice for queer students (I wish College Review would put that section on here! It would make choosing acollege a lot easier for a significant portion of the population): Meredith is a small campus. And, for that reason, queer romance and conflict can get REALLY claustrophobic (which, to be fair, also happens to straight romances on small coeducational campuses). Just be forewarned. It is fun to go out to college and start dating more openly and explore your sexuality, but it can hurt an awful lot when things go bad and you still have to be reminded of your failed romance day after day (or even worse, be stuck in class with her.) And, if you do get involved with an upperclasswoman, remember that you will probably also have to socialize with her exes (who may or may not also be students on Meredith campus.) Weird undercurrents exist. Are you up for that?
Pro (for all students in general, queer and straight): You CAN take classes at State, Peace (sorry, William Peace University--had to take a jibe at them), St. Aug's, and Shaw. It can be a romantic lifesaver as well as a relief in general. It is nice to get off campus--and meeting guys and other queer girls (or even a nice hot bi guy) is sort of like escaping to a perfect deserted island. It is a bit easier to take classes there once you are more advanced in your major. Language or history or political science (sometimes things like PEs and music) are popular options. But do try. It'll be an adventure that, if you do it right, can blow your mind in the most positive way.
A con for queer students (and probably also useful for straight students as well): just because it is a more tolerant campus with fair sensibilities does not mean that you cannot totally let your guard down. Be careful about who you disclose your personal information to. People's actions are louder (and unfortunately have more consequences) than their words. People have falling-outs and if they know something about you that could destroy your life (or make you lose a scholarship) that they then disclose to another source (whether out of spite, malice, or general loose-tongued gossipy intentions) it can lead to a lot of problems. This kind of situation doesn't arise very often, but when it does it is dramatic and traumatic for everyone involved. Be careful. Don't assume that because someone SAYS she is ok with gay and queer people in general means that she IS. People are more complicated than they seem and sometimes prejudice and hatred is very, very well hidden. And if you DO have problems along these lines, don't hesitate to go to your RA or to a counselor at the counseling center. They will help you. (And don't worry about seeming weird--all kinds of crazy things happen here. If it happens once, it'll happen again, and if your situation truly is strange, something weirder will come along in a month or two to beat it...)
I am sorry, I almost forgot to talk about academics! (This is Christmas break talking...WOOHOO!) I could give a lot of information here, but goodness, just look it up on the website. Here is my two cents worth: pick the major you fall in love with. Don't waste your time and money doing something you hate. And if you do, stop complaining about it to the rest of us. (No one really likes a complainer.)
On the subject of social life: it is a little bit of a divided issue on campus. Ours is improving--slowly but steadily--but it still has two huge major factors to combat. One is that a lot of people (and the number decreases the more mature the student becomes) tend to go home to hang out with their friends on the weekends. The other is that people WORK. I am totally impressed by how hard-working students are in order to pay for their education. But I have to say that sometimes it is lonely (and a bit creepy) to be almost the only person in the hall on the weekends. If this kind of stuff bothers you, FIND SOMETHING TO DO. The only really lousy semester I have had was the one where I didn't have any structure on the weekends. Get a job or find somewhere to volunteer or party--but don't be a workhouse all weekend. Do some homework during the weekend, but balance it all out over the weekdays and try to have some fun or mind-broadening stuff to do on the weekends. Volunteer somewhere. The other main issue to do with social life--absolutely do not let yourself get locked in into one special close set of girls. It is unhealthy, for one--and for another, if you get too close, sooner or later an explosion will result. Social claustrophobia is real. Spend time with lots of different people and also remember to leave some space for yourself to think.
Be open to possibilities. It is, as I said earlier, a more wonderful and offbeat college than people seem to consider it being. I haven't even told half of it (and when I say half, I am not even including Corn.
Meredith College: "You just have to experience it..."
William Peace University (NC) 2:positive
University of Dayton (OH) 1:neutral
King University (TN) 1:positive
State University of New York College - Cortland (NY) 1:neutral
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