<p>I have recently stumbled across a lot of bad reviews for the school I am thinking of accepting admission at. I have read seriously concerning reviews like a few that say coming to the school was the biggest mistake of their life. some wrote that the school is dirty, falling apart, infested with roaches and rats. Others wrote that the teachers are snubs who are overpaid in addition to giving difficult to pass classes. I am also very concerned about the schools well being, since 2010 the school has massive decline in enrollment from its peak of 2100 students to now with only 1788 students. This has led to some foreseeable problems such as a budget deficit and big cut backs on spending and programs. I would really appreciate some feedback from people who attend the college now or did last year. Is this worth the expensive tuition? All of your comments will be helpful in my making a decision that could ruin my life or make it thrive. </p>
<p>I would just like to say that the school looks really amazing even if it is old. I actually want to go to this school but I am just worried about the little things. </p>
<p>We visited with D2, and I actually thought it was a bit of a hidden gem of a school. It is quite rural, there is really nothing right near campus in walkable distance, and even where a shuttle (i believe there is one on campus) would take you isn’t particularly charming. But the school itself has an almost summer-campy feel. The academics seemed very solid, but not overwhelmingly difficult if you are worried about that. My kid sat in on a science class and thought it was quite good. A couple things that have gone on in the past few years:</p>
<li><p>I think they replaced their admissions office head a few years ago. The new person did NOT understand the marekt well for their school and essentially mis-aimed their marketing efforts (didn’t court close to home students enough, may have made some ill advised staffing changes, etc.). Then they missed badly on their yield estimate a year or two later as a result of this (essentially didn’t offer admission to enough students who applied and didn’t make a strong enough waitlist). They ended up with a small freshman class for a year or maybe 2 as a result of this. But I have the impression that this has been corrected.</p></li>
<li><p>They had a problem with a dorm after a large storm with water damage/mold. They brought a cruise ship into the river by the college and put the students up there for a period of time during repairs. That is over and done with, but made for an interesting story.</p></li>
<p>St. Mary’s College of Maryland is the public honors college of Maryland. It has smart kids and is like a public LAC. If you haven’t visited, I would suggest you go visit for yourself. Ask your tour guide questions, sit in on a class and ask other students questions before and after class, read the school newspaper (best source of dirty laundry for colleges I know!), go outside a dorm and ask a student to take you in to see their room. Make your own judgement, don’t just take the word of some anonymous posters on the internet who may have sour grapes (or for all you can tell, may not even attend the school). We didn’t know about it when my older D applied to schools (we are from OOS), or I think she would have applied. D2 didn’t apply either for other reasons, but we did really like it when we visited. Check it out yourself and make your own determination by talking to people who are actually there.</p>
<p>If you have already applied, then go to accepted student days if you get in. Talk with as many current students as you can. Of course apply to other schools you would be happy to attend, you can’t have all your eggs in one basket in today’s college environment. </p>
<p>Thanks for the really good insight on the school! I’m also looking at College park as a possible school. I think my most important determining factor will be how much financial aid or scholarships I can receive at each school. I will definitely keep this school in mind. </p>
<p>Are you a junior and in-state for both schools? You can visit, and certainly can apply to both and then make up your mind. I’ve also been hearing positive buzz about University of Maryland Baltimore County, too.</p>
<p>Yes,I am getting in state tuition in both schools. Yes I am a junior, if it matters for anything.</p>
<p>My DD is a junior at SMCM and loves it. She surprised us when she chose this school as she had acceptances at what we thought were more “prestigious” schools. The school is a hidden gem and, as a parent, I have been very impressed with the caliber of the academics and professors. It is not an easy school by any means. The students are smart and the academics challenging. I have seen this in my daughter’s classes and the classes her friends take. One benefit of being a small LAC is that the classes are small and the professors very accessible. Her largest class was 60 students in a freshmen geology class but most of her classes are very small, around 8-10 students in some and no more than 22-30 in others. The majority of professors she has had are amazing. Although the school is rural, set in a beautiful location by the water, the professors who teach there are outstanding. One downside is that for some basic courses some professors are visiting and classes are evening classes. But you can manage to avoid those if an evening class is not your thing. There is something about the school, the serenity that is very conducive to learning - a calming setting. Although students work very hard, I have never felt that the students looked stressed or intense. A vibe we definitely picked up at other schools when we were visiting colleges. The school really attracts nice, smart and down to earth kids. I have met my DD friends and she is on a varsity sports team and have gotten to know these kids - all really nice kids. The school is well maintained and well run and the campus is beautiful. I am not sure what source said the school is dirty and infested with rats - nothing we have ever seen or come close to seeing. The school is clean and there are no rats. My daughter has lived in three different buildings - all well maintained. They are college students so their dorms/suites/apartments may not be clean because of the student but the buildings and grounds are well taken care of. Kids who choose to go to SMCM need to know what they are looking for in a school. It is rural and small and a student needs to be ok with that. The academics are top notch. Most kids do not go home on the weekends and there is plenty of things to do on campus during the week and weekends. So much so that my DD has wanted to get involved in so many things but is limited because of the demanding academics and her sport. There are not bars and clubs to go drinking on weekends although there is one bar near by. There are parties on the weekends for those who like to party but it is not the entire student body. The main shopping area offers restaurants and plenty of stores for shopping. There is not a shuttle that goes into “town” on a regular basis but most kids have cars, including some freshmen, so a student can always find someone who is going into town. Happy to answer any specific questions.</p>
St. Mary’s definitely went through a difficult period in the mid to late 2010’s. We’ve recently gotten a new president though, and a lot of other staff/financial changes have followed in her wake. I’m amazed every day to watch as SMCM changes so radically from semester to semester. We’re building new buildings, upgrading dorms, adding new programs, hiring new people, expanding our opportunities, holding tuition and increasing aid–it’s really been heartening, though I am sad I didn’t come in after all of this was said and done.
Still, I think SMCM is a great investment, and I encourage all the HS students I know to apply now, before everyone realizes what a “gem” it is and drives the selectivity rate back up.