Anyone currently attending St. Mary's College of Maryland?


I am thinking of attending St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the Spring of 2016. For any current students (or parents of students), what has been your experience so far?

I’ve read some concerning reviews about the state of housing - but I am probably going to rent something nearby anyway. I’ve also heard some rumors about issues with sexual violence cases on campus. Is there any truth to these reviews?

I would love to here all about the academics, atmosphere, etc. I’m a transfer student and will be a biology or neuroscience major.

How tough are the teachers here? I like challenging academics, but not teachers who are unnecessarily tough graders. I’d also like to know if there are a lot of people who go home on the weekends, I’d be a few hours from home and wouldn’t be able to go back every week so it would be nice if there were things to do. Anything you can tell me about the school would be great!

I am going to start this post out with saying that I do not like SMCM. I chose the wrong school for me but due to unfortunate circumstances I wasn’t able to transfer. I wanted to let you know this before I start answering your questions.

Housing is bad. My freshmen year I lived in a dorm that they are currently closing down because it’s “not needed.” But I have a feeling it has something to do with it having no air conditioning, sporadic heating that comes from 100 year old radiators that spit boiling water, and the fact that the top floor of rooms is literally in an attic. Other dorms are better but not by much. Some don’t have a/c, and in the winter the rooms get so hot it’s unbearable. So I support your move to live off campus. If you do end up living on campus, try hard to get a townhouse, and if not that then a suite.

I can’t speak much on the sexual violence. I wasn’t aware we had those sorts of problems until people started talking about it on yikyak. And SMCM is on the list of schools being investigated, so there must be some truth to it. But as a female who has been here for two years now, I have not experienced it and I have never felt threatened.

Academics…Biology is one of the hardest majors here and we are well known for it. I’ve heard we have a very high rate of getting students into med school. But that also means that if you are not interested in med school, you are going to be competing against people who are, which means it is really tough. I am not sure how it will work as a transfer, but as a freshmen you have to take Principles of biology 1 and 2. Those are the weeding out classes. Especially the second one. I took the first and got a C, which I was thrilled with, but I knew I would never pass the second. The second POB tries to make you fail. Friends have told me the teachers are cruel about grading and they are trying to push you past your breaking point. One of the teachers has actually said he makes the test so that you fail. They want to make sure that whoever sticks with the bio major will make the school look good, which is really disappointing. I expected a small liberal arts school like SMCM to care more about the students than their grad school ratings. But like I said, if you want med school stick with it. Also, because it is so hard it creates a nice little community of the bio majors. They help each other and stick together.
As for neuroscience…I was actually planning on being a neuroscience major. However, St. Mary’s does not offer that major (only a minor) so you have to create your own major and submit it for approval. A lot of people make that major though so it’s not a hard one to get approved. I ran into some problems because I didn’t decide I wanted that major until sophomore year. I started to go through the approval process but I found out that if you don’t start this major freshmen year then it makes it very difficult to go abroad. Because of my feelings toward this school there was no way I was not going to go abroad for at least one semester. So I had to give up that major and now I am just minoring in it. But it really make me angry that they don’t offer neuroscience as a major. So many people do it at the school and they make it so difficult for a student to do it. I hear they might be trying to make it an official major, but who knows when that will happen.
I have liked many of the teachers I have had, but that’s mostly because I have been staying away from biology classes. I have had challenging classes, but with teachers that support me and guide me through.
The atmosphere of the school is very…open and free. There is such a wide array of students that go to this school that I feel like there isn’t much judgement. The only type of people you don’t see much of are rich/republicans. No judgement to either of those things, but they are a rare sighting.
Weekends are mostly about drinking. There isn’t much to do otherwise. There is a club all about doing stuff that isn’t drinking on the weekends, but I have never done it before. They do things like bingo, nerf wars, scavenger hunts. But anyways, the weekend during the day is pretty quiet most of the time, but it comes alive at night. Everyone is walking around visiting different parties and seeing people. But if you are from a big school, don’t expect the parties to be like that. If you aren’t into drinking, then join the non-drinking club. Also, if you join other clubs like outdoor adventure then you might go away on weekends to different trips.
Some people do go home on the weekends, but not every weekend. Some weekends it will be weird and it seems like everyone randomly picked this weekend to go home, but a lot of people don’t want to go home because they love the weekends there.

I admit that for people that are not me, it is a great school. It is beautiful and very outdoorsy (things that I myself like about it). It has a campus farm you can volunteer at, there is sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, it’s small and very much a community of it’s own (A lot of people call it camp smcm). But I cannot handle the seclusion. You need a car to get anywhere off campus, but even the nearby town isn’t much. I also wish there was more to do on the weekends. But most people love the school, as far as I know, I am in the minority. What can I say…I never liked camp.

I would strongly encourage anybody interested in St. Mary’s to visit the campus if at all possible. As the poster above indicates, it’s a great fit for some people, but its size and location means that it’s not going to work for everybody.

I’m a current student at SMCM, and I think I can address some of these concerns (though it might be too late, seeing as the Spring 2016 semester starts in two days…).

HOUSING: I would not bank on being able to find something nearby to rent. You’re certainly not going to find anything (let alone anything affordable) within biking/walking distance, and though you probably can find affordable housing within reasonable commuting distance, know then that a car and gas are a part of your “rent,” in a way, and the house/apartment isn’t going to be anything super fancy. We have an off-campus housing site for you to reference!

That being said, PLENTY of people are more than happy living on campus. There’s an amazing, engaging community, and though the dorms certainly aren’t built for royalty, they’re generally not unclean/unsafe either. We’re upgrading almost all of them this year!

BIOLOGY/NEUROSCIENCE: When people here say they’re a Bio major, everyone else in the room winces a little. If you can get past the first two “weed out” classes, Principles of Biology I & II (POB I & II), you have a hard but rewarding major ahead of you, but that’s kind of a big “if.” Plenty of people love the major, though, and really love the professors.

SEXUAL ASSAULT: The campus definitely had some major issues in the 2013-2014 year, but since then, we’ve gotten a new president, a new Title IX coordinator, and a new head of Public Safety, and these three together are taking ANY and EVERY threat on campus very seriously. All students and faculty are required to complete sexual and alcohol safety courses at some point during their time here, and there are numerous systems in place for reporting and handling alleged assaults. I have never once felt unsafe, myself, but I know people who have, and they say things are getting better with this new administration.

Overall, SMCM is for a very specific type of student. If you expect your college to be the sort of place that rams opportunities down your throat and forces you to be happy, SMCM isn’t for you. You’ve got to make your own friends, your own connections, and your own happiness here, but if you can do that, you’ll find yourself in a very strong, supportive, and fun-loving group of people.