By Katie Willingham '11 (New York) and Slavisa Mijatovic '12 (Bosnia Herzegovina)
1. Student body
Getting to know Macalester students is one of the most rewarding things about going to school here. They come from all over the US and around the world. We go to class, live in the dorms, study and grow personally together! We work hard on academics (after all, we are here to study and learn, no?), but we also have a lot of fun outside of class. During the course of four years at Macalester, you will realize that you have learned, debated, grown from—and made friends with—students from many different cultures, political systems, traditions, religions, even food palettes…and together you’ve imagined ways to improve the world―what else could you want from your college experience?
Both intelligent and approachable, our professors make Mac a diverse and exciting learning community. Not only do 95 percent of our full-time faculty members hold the highest degree in their field, they also have a genuine interest in challenging us to accomplish our personal goals, whether it’s writing a new psychology study or analyzing coral reefs. Students thrive in an academic environment where we are respected, inspired to work hard and encouraged to share ideas. Many professors also invite students to help with their research, providing exceptional opportunities to get published as undergraduates in academic journals.
3. Class size
Macalester’s small classes give students the opportunity to take more responsibility for their learning experience. Our professors lecture, but they also make time to engage the class in stimulating discussions and reflect on ideas raised in the course material. We find this helps us synthesize information and sparks ideas for papers or future research. One of the things we love most about small classes is having the time to follow interesting tangents wherever they might lead.
One of Mac’s ‘catch phrases’ is diversity. This does not just apply to our student body, which includes students who are citizens of over 90 countries and come from across the US, but also to our faculty. Professors from all over the world come to teach at Macalester – India, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Peru and other countries. They enrich our education. Different perspectives and ways of thinking and understanding are evident in everyday life, from classes to student organizations and just random conversations with friends. Geographic, ethnic, economic, religious, sexual, political and many other types of diversity are present at Mac, making our student experience so much more valuable.
5. Liberal Arts and Sciences
As a college of the liberal arts and sciences, Macalester urges students to explore different subjects during our time here. In addition to completing a major, there’s plenty of time to take electives and experiment. When we leave Macalester we have a broad base of general knowledge in which to ground our worldviews and future careers. There’s also a wide range of cross-listed classes that encourage us to think about the ways even disparate subjects can relate and contribute to our understanding of different perspectives.
6. Metro location
Academically, Mac’s location in the Twin Cities makes it really easy to get great internship, science research and community service experiences. From museums, galleries, concerts, and sporting events to restaurants, cafés, clubs―it is all here. The Mississippi River is nearby for nature lovers, as well as many parks and recreational areas. The Twin Cities are famous for theater (only second to New York City in number of theater seats per capita), so going out to a play is a must for every Mac student! We have easy access to two great cities, and Mac is located in a charming neighborhood that feels like a small town―it’s the best of both worlds!
7. Financial aid
What makes Macalester affordable to such a diverse student body is the great work of the financial aid office. Many Macalester students receive some sort of financial aid, and it is usually focused on actually helping the student out, instead of burdening us with large loans. Student employment is a big thing at Mac, and quite a few of us work on campus – the library, academic departments, office work, and many other jobs make it easy to earn money toward our education and feel good while doing it!
Over the course of our time here, we grow to think of the Macalester campus as a home. The many organizations and activities on campus also foster a strong sense of community, allowing us to share our wide-ranging talents beyond the classroom. Because Mac is small, we are likely to know someone involved in events on campus, making everything from soccer games to choir concerts well attended by friendly faces. Even those students who choose to move off campus junior or senior year, generally stay within a five block radius to make it easy to continue to engage in campus life.
Macalester has a cozy, beautiful campus in the lovely Macalester-Groveland neighborhood. Stretching over several blocks, it definitely has everything we could possibly need. The big trees and open green areas on campus provide space to enjoy sunny days in the fall and spring and participate in sports like Frisbee and lacrosse. Architecturally interesting buildings (from 1888 until as recent as 2009) showcase Macalester’s long history, as well as the care that is put into the maintenance of our campus.
10. Good food
Although there’s only one cafeteria on campus, it provides options ranging from pasta and pizza, to chili and curries, with recipes from around the world. It’s also very vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, including vegan dessert options. Café Mac not only tries to provide a healthy variety, but also engages issues of social justice and environmental concerns. To that end, it seeks out local meat, dairy and produce when possible, and purchases only fair trade coffee. Café Mac also recently started a program in which food waste from Macalester goes to feed pigs at a farm outside the Twin Cities.