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| Marlboro is a truly, truly, unique school. It is impossible to describe this school without simultaneously loving it, absolutely hating it, and thinking that there is simply no place quite like it. The school has an unflinching commitment to individuality and a personalization of the educational experience found at no other school. Simply put, you are expected to make your own decisions and given a unparalleled level of autonomy in just about everything. The upside of this? Basically, you create your own education. Consider it to be an undergraduate education with the mentality of a graduate school education. While you may be doing undergrad level work, you are expected to use your own agency in designing a curriculum tailored to your interests, and then figure out just how to use the (admittedly limited) resources available to you at Marlboro to do just that. To this end, there are no curriculum requirements at Marlboro, simply that you must be a decent writer and do Plan. This requires a great deal of self-initiative, and certainly, many students who come here simply cannot handle it. However, for many students, including myself, this way of doing an undergrad education is so extraordinarily refreshing it is indescribable, especially compared my time spent at a large state university. If you work hard, you are given so much respect and time from faculty, and many are thrilled to work with you. Faculty and the whole institution seem to be, as Loren Pope writes, focused on the notion that education isn't, and shouldn't be, fancy. This is a school, which is so much more about the pursuit of knowledge, and so much less about the focus of the wider "Academy" on faculty publications in prestigious journals and not giving a shit about undergrads (to paraphrase Robert Pirsig). Its desire to help undergrads and simultaneously challenge them to complete a lengthy senior thesis rather independently feel much more like grad school than a regular college experience. For the rare student that cares more about learning than yet can frequently be a proxy to learning that happens so much in the broader "Academy" of getting good grades, prestigious internships, and a school with a reputation, Marlboro is the perfect place, with Reed and Deep Springs being the only few comparable options. This is a no frills college, and education is always the top priority. That is why you will frequently see Marlboro's high marks for its excellent education, which are well deserved. |
However, this does not mean I necessarily recommend going here. As I've previously mentioned, most students cannot handle the amount of independence given to them. Our 6-year graduation rate speaks to that. Although I've criticized the lack of real learning that sometimes happens in the "Academy", do not overlook it's value. Going to Marlboro means: you will not have influential professors, will not have cutting edge research opportunities, will not have any brand recognition for all your hard work, will not get prestigious internships, will not have many peers to collaborate and feel a sense of camaraderie with (especially if not a lit student), have no networking opportunities, and inevitably, feel lost in your educational path, an experience that grad students often feel but is much more difficult for undergrads to stomach. Don't get me wrong-- this doesn't mean you can't search for these opportunities yourself, but it takes a level of independence and self-initiative you just wouldn't need at a bigger school. To be fair, Marlboro is very supportive/flexible of whatever path you go to seek these things out, but you need to be aware that it takes effort. If you are up for it, Marlboro can be an exciting and incredible stimulative place, where a lot of personal growth happens. I found that the freedom Marlboro has to offer turned me from an apathetic high school student into a incredibly driven student. However, I have seen a lot of friends fall through the cracks.
As the previous poster noted, the social life at Marlboro is a weird and dysfunctional one. The school administration is very lax about everything, and the school often can feel a bit like "Lord of the Flies". Although this can be nice, as a freshman I was elated that the police or any other comparable punitive authority figure here is nonexistent, one quickly realizes the downsides. Feel threatened by someone on campus? Too bad. Feel like the lack of campus lighting is unsafe? Same deal. Feel like the campus security guard doesn't really keep anyone safe? Yeah, that's Marlboro. The social scene is very cliquey, and while you'd think that a school this small might have, a, ummm, sense of community, it often feels like you have your small group of friends, and then people who you *might* talk to at a party. Twice a year. Also, it's worth noting that the campus has almost no diversity at all, which makes for a bit too much collective hivemind. After a while, it starts too get pretty old.
And I consider myself an extrovert, not a social recluse. Not sure why everyone at the damn school is so antagonistic and downright cold. I think its just social awkwardness, compounded by the fact that we all see each other too much. Dislike high school drama? Well, Marlboro is kind of like that. But, make no mistake - I've definitely made some really good friends here, which I do feel the smallness contributes to.
There are some extracurriculars worth mentioning -- the outdoor program is pretty cool and definitely a hidden gem, if you're into outdoorsy stuff like hiking/backpacking and climbing, cc skiing, caving etc. Town meeting is frequently mentioned in advertising, and its worth going, only to discover that its politics are frequently about as frustrating as the Senate's. However, you should definitely get involved in some of the committees at Marlboro, some of which are really interesting, and important -- and best of all, students that are diplomatic (and believe me, some students get outraged about everything -- don't be that person) are absolutely treated as equals in every discussion here.
But, ultimately, one does not go here because of the social life. Or Brattleboro - which is interesting for all of about 4 months. Or the lovely dorms, which are pretty grimy sometimes. You go here because, simply put, it is an educational experience like no other. You will almost certainly hate Marlboro and want to transfer desperately, and then never do. You will ask why you paid such an ungodly amount of money, and then realize you spent your last two years having almost exclusively one-on-one classes with your professors. You will hate the social scene and want to get off the damn hill so badly, and then realize you share such a close bond with the small group of friends you have over its awfulness. You will sometimes hate the independence and lack of guidance in your education and question why you are paying to teach yourself, only to realize it made you learn so much more than a regular classroom. You will question why you spent so many long, hard hours doing work at an obscure college with no outside recognition, only to realize it made you work so much harder to prove yourself. You will question why you didn't go to a regular school, only to realize that this finally made you passionate about learning. I absolutely would not recommend this place to 99.99% out of people out there, but for that small remainder, in a really weird, fucked up kind of way, there just isn't a better place to be.
|Jul 24 2013|| 2nd Year Male --
Class 2015 |
| I have very mixed feelings about this college. Academically, you couldn't ask for better. The academics are very personalized, with the students working one on one with professors to ensure understanding of the material, which is very complex and interesting. Students complete a "Plan of Concentration" in their final academic year, in which they work one-on-one with a professor or two of their choice (provided the professor agrees to work with you; in most cases they will as long as you've taken a class with them) to complete a lengthy and in-depth scholarly research paper on a topic of your choice - any topic of your choice - which will determine which degree(s) you earn. In summation, work is challenging and important, academics are in-depth and personalized, and the student comes out of this college with a firm understanding of a specific topic.|
However, the social life is horrid. It's not that there aren't enough parties, if that's what you're into, it's that if you're not into that, too bad. This campus is one big party. People are loud and disruptive, and that's everywhere - loud conversations are both commonplace in the library. I've even experienced someone running laps in one of the library's "quiet rooms". No one has any respect for each other at this campus. People do what they want, when they want, and the administration is for whatever reason afraid to discipline them. Now, the small number of students (currently around 250) does have its benefits - for example, theft is never an issue. But if you are looking for a nice, quiet area to do your work and study, best of luck, especially if you have a bad roommate. Furthermore, if you don't prescribe to the "hippy" lifestyle and argue that order and/or respect for each other is more important than everyone doing whatever they want whenever they want, you could find yourself ostracized by at least some of the students here. So, expect a mixed bag from this college. The academics are top-notch, and I would suggest this school for anyone who is looking to actually begin a career rather than just go to a four-year daycare; this school also has a huge number of its graduates go on to further education, something like 90%. So, come to this college for the great academics, but understand that, for those four years, your peers will act like children.
|Mar 07 2013|| 1st Year Male --
Class 2016 |
| When looking at schools in high school, I wanted to make sure I attended a college that challenged me academically. I think one thing that distinguishes Marlboro from all other colleges and universities is Plan. Instead of normal majors and minors, Marlboro students undertake a "Plan of Concentration" in a specific field of study, or in interdisciplinary fields of study. Basically, the last two years of school Marlboro students engage in a graduate-level education. That really impressed me as a senior in high school, and that still impresses me now that I've completed my first year at Marlboro.|
Some people look at our size as a limiting factor, but I see the freedom that comes with it. Because we're so small students actually get to know their professors - no one's a number here. I've even taken classes where professors have had students over for dinner at the end of the semester as a "celebration." It's personal things like that which set Marlboro apart.
One of my favorite aspects of Marlboro is 'Dedicated Hour.' Every student at Marlboro is assigned a faculty adviser, and every week during Dedicated Hour students have the opportunity to sit down with their adviser and ask them any questions they have, or for advice on academic things. And reflecting that is Marlboro's first-name basis policy. Everyone here calls each other by their first-name, even the President. Marlboro uses a tutorial system, meaning that students and professors often act as collaborators in courses. Marlboro tries to reflect that egalitarian nature in how we approach community.
Marlboro is a rural community, and that is something to keep in mind. Being from Ohio, the mountains of Vermont were a nice change of pace. We do have a really active Outdoor Program, so if you like doing outdoorsy things, Marlboro is a pretty cool place for that. Students who don't enjoy the outdoors also find fun things to do, but it's just a tad bit harder than it would be in a big city. But don't let that deter you - there are lots of fun things to do here, and there's a crowd for everyone. If anything above appealed to you, definitely think about checking Marlboro out! The classes are great, the community is friendly, and you'll engage in a totally unique academic experience.
|May 16 2012|| 1st Year Female --
Class 2015 |