I toured St. Mary’s College in mid-July, and was impressed with the beauty of the campus, with its manicured garden-like walkways and Spanish Renaissance buildings. Some colleges feature a mish-mash of buildings, but at St. Mary’s it’s all about polished uniformity.
Speaking of the campus highlights – the workout facilities were enormous and amazing, complete with a climbing wall. And for those too intimidated to work out next to Div. 1 athletes, don’t worry. They have their own gym. Swimmers and sun bathers will enjoy the outdoor pool, which is stunning.
The tour guide was a very exuberant student who gushed about her love for the college. Founded by the Lasallian Brothers, a Catholic order, St. Mary’s is known for its community atmosphere. Classes are capped at 25 students, there is free tutoring in all subject areas, and each student is set up with two personal Advisors. The most popular majors are psychology, business, and communications. Students take four Seminar Classes in fall and in spring. During the month of January, or “Jan Term,” they take only one course – usually something a bit unconventional. During “Jan Term,” students are encouraged to take their course off campus. Our tour guide will be heading to Rome for the month, and because scholarships cover on average 75% of students Jan Term courses, she will only pay $500 to study in Rome. Other courses and destinations for Jan Term include Sundance, Yosemite, among hundreds of other options.
The locale of St. Mary’s is a bit off the beaten track. While “only” 23 miles east of San Francisco, I can tell you from experience, taking BART to SF from that area takes no less than 40 minutes – more like an hour, door to door. Students who wish to arrange internships will need to arrange their schedules accordingly. Nearby Morago and Lafayette are quaint, if not upscale towns. While some websites, such as CollegeConfidential.com claim that the social life at St. Mary’s is a bit too quiet, our tour guide informed us that when NCAA Basketball season arrives, it’s live. St. Mary’s biggest rival is Gonzaga, and students turn out for games in big numbers.
While I did not stay for the financial aid seminar, I have heard that there are quite a few merit-based scholarships available to students upon applying.
Unfortunately, we did not tour a dorm room, so I cannot vouch for the size of the dorms, but our guide informed us that the dorms provide a lot of social interaction. Apparently, there is some competition too – similar to the houses in Harry Potter. Speaking of Harry Potter, check out the Hogwarts-like eating hall. It comes complete with long wooden communal tables, and old-time chandeliers.
Finally, a random note: each student at St. Mary’s is eligible for twelve mental health appointments, included in tuition. Oh, and students petitioned to see Katy Perry when she came to Oakland – tickets and transportation were covered.