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My daughter did an overnight visit this week with the crew team, so I took a tour while waiting to pick her up.
As it turned out, the day we were there was Mountain Day. As a result the campus was rather devoid of students. I did see a Mt. Holyoke van stopped with students in hiking gear getting in to head up the mountain.
Our tour guide, a junior, was of Indian-Persian descent. She grew up in Montreal as well as in Massachusetts.
We started out in the library, which is lovely. It included a Wall of Fame with descriptive posters of famous alumna (did you know Apgar of the Apgar test was a Mt. Holyoke grad?) We passed by a vending machine containing items like glue sticks and blank CDs. We also passed by the study abroad office (woman at the front desk in an African headwrap) and a colloborative study hall. The latter included large screens so study groups could work together on one computer and a learning lab where students can get help with Photoshop, Excel and other necessary software packages. There was a scanning station for books (not quite sure about the copyright arrangements there...)
We continued across campus to the Science Center, which included such inspirational touches as a periodic table embedded in the tiles at the entrance, a neuron floor mural and double-helix staircases. Posters describing student research projects lined the walls.
Our student guide described many of the college traditions, including Elfing, a plant in the greenhouse for each first year student (so that it may grow and flourish with the student), strawberries and champagne at graduation, and class colors and costumes at convocation.
We were shown into a dorm. The single room we saw was at least twice the size of the one my older daughter has at Ithaca College. (However generally only seniors at Mt Holyoke get singles.) The dorm included both a formal and informal common room. The informal common room had a foosball table, the formal, a grand piano and grandfather clock (apparently Mary Lyon wanted both of these items in every dorm). Although the dorm we visited did not have a dining room, it had a kitchen instead. Dorms without dining rooms still provide a continental breakfast every morning to residents.
The food at Mt. Holyoke sounded excellent. Those with food allergies are assigned a dining hall so that they can be sure and receive the appropriate diet and menu options. There is a halal/kosher dining room (dairy and meat on alternate days). Vegetarian options can include ethnic food like dal (lentils) and rice. They also have "Gracious Meals" on occasion which are prepared specifically with locally grown produce and other ingredients.
The college has recently introduced the Nexus program, which is a minor designed to better integrate liberal arts study with preparation for working in the business world.
All in all, the facilities at Mt Holyoke were top notch and reflected a concern for beautiful living as well as successful studying.