Marlboro College - Comments and Student Experiences|
I came here because I wanted to be somewhere different. I wanted my college to be as beautiful and off-beat as rigorous and nourishing. As an older student who spent a few years volunteering, working, partying, and not putting my Associates in environmental science to very good use, I came to Marlboro because it fit all of my requirements (including a Chinese language program, organic garden, and a psychology/philosophy presence) as well as because it was easy to get into. The common term used to describe our admissions process is "self-selecting", a highly accurate characterization. Some don't realize what they're getting into when they come here. It's small, but I'd prefer to call it cozy. You can live anywhere on campus and rush to your class from the front door of your dormitory in five minutes (or much less). The marketing buzzwords being employed at the moment include "rugged" and "intellectual" and, while corny, they do not fail in their descriptive adequacy. The campus is clean and beautiful. The people (here and in Vermont) are kind and engaging, generally. You should not expect everybody that you encounter in life to be such. When I came in, I was keen to make friends. Two years later, I've retained a select few, while some have graduated, and I've developed a close relationship with my chief faculty mentor. I have great relationships with many other faculty members on campus. I've been to Cambodia (remarkable volunteer work and sight-seeing), Costa Rica (for TESOL certification and plenty of fun), as well as taken frequent trips to regional destinations (including twice to Montr?al ??again in three weeks for a conference). I've been challenged academically and personally more than I expected. The beauty of this school is that you have the opportunity to get to know people so well. With some, it requires being open and respecting differences. Others will come much more naturally and with far less effort. That was speaking to the social life, which can also include professors (if you're not working with them), but I'd like to speak more to faculty. The greatest fruit of your labor here will be entering into your junior and senior years. Doing so, you'll be provided with a unique opportunity to take the diverse (or immediately focused upon matriculation, we have both types here but it is a quintessentially liberal arts institution) experience of your earlier semesters and narrow them in such a way that you're constantly thinking about, researching, and enacting the passions that you've curated as a student here. You will be doing so week after week with a professor that knows you well, knows the material well, and wants to help you meet your goals. You will be on a first-name basis with them. Then you'll graduate and go to grad school, right? (Maybe you will. Have you made that decision already?)
I've gone tangential. I wanted to remark upon two aspects of the school that are frequently brought up for comment.
The first is the rendering of our college's social life. In response to common misconceptions amongst the woes of the disengaged, I'd like to say that it is far from poor. It gets clique-y. That said, I don't adhere to a click. I get along fine with people from all walks of life and liberty. There will be those who party a lot, and those who play four-square and probably watch a lot of anime. There will be a bit of everything. Who you choose to engage with and get to know, and how to choose to conduct yourself as a student and peer, will determine the depth of your enjoyment and social engagement. Some people are simply different from one another, others don't want to be engaged much at all. Most importantly, it is very rare that anybody here acts disrespectful to another by malice or malcontent. Nobody will abide your dignity being invalidated. We are a kind and considerate student body. If the music is coming too loud from the "party" dorm on a Friday night, request to live a little further away from that dorm (and you will be accommodated). If it's your neighbor being too loud, ask them or your RA. You'll be listened to.
Sheesh. I'm losing steam. Okay, two more things (but one will be the second point of the aforementioned "two aspects".)
The surrounding area does not suck. Brattleboro is a 15-20 minute ride down the hill, during which you'll see beautiful rolling hills, mountains, a river, or snow, depending on the time of year. Brattleboro is a quirky town (look it up on Wikipedia, and while you're at it, look up the town of Marlboro). There's plenty of arts and culture there, as well as great food. This goes for the entire surrounding area. Marlboro and its neighbors are full of a long-standing, proud and vibrant history. The town of Marlboro is home to so many different people. Take a short, gorgeous bike ride and you can buy fruits and vegetables from a farm stand owned by the son (or is it grandson?) of one of our first ever professors (John MacArthur, husband of Margaret McArthur, a nationally-renowned folk musician, look her up on Wikipedia, too) who still teaches occasional science classes here at the age of over 90 years old. Also at that farm stand, you can buy locally-raised meet that comes from the family of our science professor, among others. That's just one farm stand within 10 minutes of here. Small town? Yeah. Get to know it. You'll never want to leave. Every Saturday, I go to the local farmer's market 10 minutes down the hill on Route 9 towards Brattleboro. My girlfriend and I enjoy local, organic food samples and then buy a whole weeks' fresh vegetables for about twenty dollars. Tomorrow, we'll attend a local, free potluck celebrating the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival and watching a supermoon do a backflip during an eclipse. Or something? She loves special moons. I like food and Chinese culture.
Finally (yes, I hope), I'd like to address academics in a more specific way. During my first year or so here, I wondered if I had made the right choice. The truth was, I didn't know what I wanted and I didn't know what personal challenges lay ahead of me. Most importantly, I didn't know the opportunity that was available to me here. Yes, I'm studying theoretical linguistics and Mandarin Chinese at a school where the faculty for those two fields consist of the same, remarkable man. Do I get large lectures and sponsored reading clubs and tutoring? No. But I get to walk into his office five days a week and talk about the graduate-level textbook and contemporary literature that I've selected to work through with his guidance. I get to study Chinese at my own pace and next semester, practice reading Chinese-language primary linguistics literature to prepare myself for a Masters in Taiwan. And what of those tutoring sessions and reading groups? I'm being paid to tutor and working to schedule supplementary class discussions. That's what it means to work your way up to familiarity with your professors and the institution. At Marlboro, I've broken through multiple academic thresholds and done things I'd never thought I would. My CV will look amazing coming out of here. My scholastic background will be well-rounded yet diverse and advanced. What are you looking for in an undergraduate education?Okay, that's it. To be real, if you want to talk more, you should probably be able to find me by now.