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Meredith College

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Meredith is wonderful, quirky, and definitely more offbeatBrightEnglish
Meredith is wonderful, quirky, and definitely more offbeat than you might expect. It can be difficult here (everybody seems to have one semester that is a really big rough patch) and it is expensive. But there are ways around it--and you might be surprised (I DEFINITELY was) at how much variety and diversity there is here.

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..."

2nd Year Female -- Class 2014
Education Quality: A+, Social Life: B
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After graduating, I realized just how stagnant andPerfomance Arts
After graduating, I realized just how stagnant and fractured the overall environment at Meredith really is. It's an old college that seriously needs some updating in its priorities; it's starting to crumble due to the lack of diversity on campus and the unbalanced way its gone about modernizing. Though there is a gigantic new eyesore of a track for our division III athletics, boys still can't be in dorms past a certain time, exploring life outside of campus influence is not greatly encouraged, and you're pretty much cut off from the student body if you don't participate in their traditions. Cornhuskin', formals, the overpriced ritual of getting your junior ring...all of it just wasn't welcoming to people like me who worked off campus throughout the semester and didn't want to join the campus-wide sorority attitude. The faculty really is the students best asset here - they helped me get full-time credit hours for my internships in big cities that gave me a big dose of reality. My best memories of my time at Meredith are of teachers and material I covered in their classes. On the flip side, there is a considerable amount of arrogance in the faculty and staff the students put up with because they know no better - that's just how it is. I wish I could have been more assertive in dealing with that when I was there, but I'm glad I recognize it now. As for quality of education, some majors are cutting edge with new buildings and top notch resources. These majors are traditionally "women's studies", like child development and teaching. If that's what you want to do, I would strongly suggest considering Meredith for school. Otherwise, take a hard look, visit, and ask questions to the faculty, staff, and students of what your interested in to get the truth. I'm grateful for some of the things I encountered at Meredith, but when I look back, so many other things just leave me incredibly underwhelmed. I really wish I could have had a better college experience. I transferred in because it was convenient at the time for me to be in Raleigh and attend a private school due to my unique offer of financial aid, but now I really wish I could have gone to a more dynamic school where the environment wasn't as structured and students were encouraged to discover themselves.
Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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