Macalester College Early Decision for Fall 2022 Admission

Thanks for your questions!

Honestly, college food is never of Michelin Star quantity (unless you’re at Bowdoin, I’ve heard), but I would say Mac’s food isn’t half bad. Most of the food issues, like fewer choices or a lack of napkins, have originated from broader supply chain issues. The food can get repetitive, but it’s definitely palatable. My friends at William and Mary and Georgia Tech say their food is barely edible-- that’s not been the case at Mac.

There are auxiliary food locations separate from the cafe (a sandwich shop, Mediterranean takeout place, American grill, and Tex-Mex place) that allow for a bit more variety and convenience.

My friends who are picky eaters have definitely had certain nights where they dislike the food, though. (I am not a picky eater, so make of that what you will.)

In terms of minority/international students, I have found that the domestic BIPOC students interact much more with domestic white students than international students interact with either group. (Of course, BIPOC students also make use of the many BIPOC-only spaces on campus, which is helpful at a PWI.) Almost half of my closest friends are nonwhite, but all are from the US. I’ve talked to a few international students, but they tend to stay much more separate, unfortunately.

Regarding campus safety: the campus is located in one of the wealthiest, most gentrified neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, Macalester-Groveland. So the surrounding area is what you’d expect from that description; Mac students are far more likely to encounter residents who disagree with rent stabilization or complain about party noise than they are to witness “city life.” As someone who has lived in gentrified suburbs all her life, Mac-Groveland and the campus feel familiar. The student body is constantly pushing for the college to break out of the neighborhood bubble, and care about underserved and marginalized sections of the Twin Cities.

The protests of Summer 2020 (which did not occur in Mac-Groveland for the most part) are not representative of the current Twin Cities atmosphere. Discussion regarding police violence continues, but is now mainly centered around the upcoming Minneapolis mayoral race (most Mac students believe the incumbent has not treated racist violence seriously enough).

As a white woman, I can’t speak to the danger felt from police. But it is true that MPD has committed multiple, unacceptable racist killings within a very short timeframe. There is much work to be done, and many Mac students were and are at the forefront of it. MPD has been particularly egregious as of late, but their behavior mirrors that of many police departments across the country. I live in North Carolina, and as I said to my grandma, “The next racist killing could occur in Raleigh-- it’s not limited to Minneapolis.”

One thing I will note is that Mac offered to pay bail for students arrested in protests last year. Don’t think that happened, as far as I know, but they got a Fox News clickbait article in return for that announcement.


Thanks for this question-- I forgot to mention this in my original post!

Quite honestly, it’s easy to forget that you’re in an urban area. If you don’t make a concerted effort to leave campus, it’s tempting to label yourself as living in a 50-acre town called “Macalester, USA.” Jokes aside, the “Mac bubble” is real. The difference between Mac and rural LACs is that this bubble can be broken without a 45 minute car ride.

Leaving campus is simple. Finding time to do so is hard. The Civic Engagement Center offers all kinds of volunteer and other opportunities in the Twin Cities. The bus and light rail system is relatively easy and convenient to use. Many students bike to the Mississippi River, or join outing clubs that encourage them to leave campus. But if you don’t commit to these opportunities, it’s easy to go between classes, common areas, on-campus activities, and the dorms, with no indication of being in a city other than the busy streets surrounding campus.

Personally, I haven’t even been to Minneapolis since coming here (want to change that, and soon!!). Most of my outings have been to the bank, Target, or CVS (woohoo). My most exciting outings have been to see performances with my first-year seminar, to the state capitol for a climate strike, and to a blood donation center nearby.

For the rest of this year, I’m challenging myself to go into the cities more and engage. But if your daughter isn’t comfortable with doing that at first, she will find it very normal to stay on campus!

Dorm rooms are actually pretty normal-sized, unless you get a Dupre single (Dupringle)-- those are small. Most of my friends with Dupringles have come to be fine with them, but you should be able to avoid those tiny singles if you say on the housing form that you want a roommate.
Dupre doubles (in contrast to Dupre singles) are the largest doubles for freshmen. I’m in one, and it’s more spacious than my room at home, even with a roommate. Turck doubles are smaller but have sinks/are more modern. Doty doubles strike a nice balance between the two.

P.S. Work study jobs also make it harder to leave. Most of my friends who volunteer off-campus decided not to take a work-study job this semester. The jobs not in food services are very easy, mostly just sit and do homework, but you do have to show up and sit somewhere on campus for 6-9 hours a week.

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Yay!! I’m so glad to hear about your daughter-- good luck to her (and everyone else here)! I also applied EA and could never shake the feeling that I’d found my place, even after RD acceptances!

I’ll give a similar answer regarding clubs to the one about the Twin Cities-- the hard part is time management (that includes getting enough food and sleep alongside classes and maybe work study)! There are very few restrictions to joining most groups on campus; even student government elections tend to have a similar number of candidates to open spots.

Theater and music are definitely publicized activities. The most important advice I can give is to look out for audition information during orientation. It happens early, so be prepared (I wasn’t fully)!

What type of music is your daughter interested in? Mac doesn’t have a conventional concert band, but there is an orchestra, two vocal ensembles, a pep band, a jazz band, and a mixture of specialty and cultural ensembles. From what I can gather, almost anyone who auditions for a musical ensemble is accepted. The same can’t be said for theater (makes sense given that most productions don’t have 60 cast members). But auditions are definitely open to varying levels of talent.

As for the newspaper (The Mac Weekly), getting involved is very flexible. You can show up only one week the entire year and take on a single story assignment, or you can show up every week, see the paper through to printing, and aim for leadership. The staff are very accommodating.

Hope this helps, and sorry for the length, but I figure more detail is good!

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Thank you! This is great information. I remember being in college and rarely leaving campus until I moved off it and got a car. It’s easy to stay in your routines. But I’m glad it’s easy for Mac kids to get into the Twin Cities for some entertainment. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the cities more and more as you continue in school.

My daughter is a fairly casual musician—she played violin and flute in orchestras when she was younger but is now more of a self-taught guitar player. She sings and would probably be interested in singing or maybe just casual pick up guitar sessions. She’s more serious about theater and would definitely be into auditioning for shows. And the newspaper seems easy to join—which is great. She’s the News editor now but writes all kinds of pieces.

We haven’t been able to visit Mac… we just took one east coast trip this summer to see colleges. Covid definitely put a damper on our travel plans. But if she gets in, we will be happily hopping on a plane to check things out!! Do you remember how soon you heard back on your EA application? Did you have to wait until mid December?

Thanks again for taking the time!!

I appreciate your quick response. This is very informative, and reflecting great observations and thoughts. My son is a recruited athlete, and he is definitely attending Mac next fall. He is a hurdler. He simply needs to apply ED. After going thru this painful college process with my first son last year, my second is cruising without any stress. It’s very fortunate of him.
My son always wanted to explore other side of the country, and he is looking forward to leaving California. I was not sure how he would feel to be an Asian boy at a small college in Minnesota. But after I read your post about Mac culture, I felt a little relieved. I don’t want him to be just sticking with other Asian students all the time.
Academically he doesn’t know what he wants to major. He thinks he will major in English now, but he is not sure. He also likes Statistics, and may be interested in Data Science. I guess he will have to try many subjects to narrow down.
Do you like the teaching at Mac?
You also mentioned about political activities. I am curious if most students get drawn to the politics once you attend Mac.

This is all incredibly useful information and makes me really excited about Mac. It sounds perfect for my D in many ways. I don’t like how far it is from home (we are on the east coast) but that’s my issue, not hers. We have not visited, since COVID made it hard, and then scheduling was hard over the summer and airfare was too high for a last minute trip. My D would want to do tech for theater & she is a dancer & is interested in continuing to dance at a fairly high level. Thank you so much for your detailed responses - you are a fabulous ambassador for Mac!

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Hi I just read a school news article posted at Facebook Macalester parents site, and it was very disturbing to me. It was about students criticizing Administrations and confronted them for 5 hours. Accusing Administration office and president of racists? This came from international students from Sudan complaining teachers labeling them terrorists? It did not explain what triggered, but what is going on? Concern me if this a school my son should attend.

So you are not a parent of a Mac student but read an article posted in the private Mac parent facebook group? Why don’t you just ask them your question?

So, I went to find the article. It looks like it was a difficult but potentially positive experience and the President did express commitment to address issues in the community.

As difficult as it is to read stories like that, they are not happening in isolation. In my predominantly white, wealthy community in Northern California, where everyone fancies themselves to be very open minded and liberal, more and more students of color are standing up and sharing their stories of racism and discrimination—institutional and personal, casual and caustic, small slights and huge insults.

All of us need to listen to these stories. We need to know what racism looks and sounds like to the people who experience it. And we need to humbly accept their truths and think about how to educate ourselves to do better.

So, I don’t think this story in Mac Weekly is unique to Macalester at all. I think similar events are happening all over. If you are concerned, I would try to learn more—maybe there is a BIPOC group on campus that would be willing to be transparent and reflective about their experiences. To be fair, you might consider doing that with a number of schools your student is considering.

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So has anyone else gotten multiple communications from Mac saying we see you’re applying for financial aid, please let us know if you change your mind? D22 got both an email and a letter saying that rather prominently. While we are certainly aware that some schools are need-aware, we have pretty significant need and there’s no way around that. This feels vaguely threatening though, basically warning us we should change our minds about applying for aid. The first email felt a bit icky, but whatever, but receiving the letter in the mail yesterday saying the same thing made me feel like she has no chance. Are there really that many people who can say “oops, on second thought we don’t really need aid?” Ironically the same letter talked about merit aid, which still suggests they’d rather have richer people - someone who’d be happy with a $20k merit scholarship rather than $45k of need-based aid. We have really loved Mac and it would be a good fit for my daughter so maybe I’m just over thinking? Haven’t gotten a similar message from any other school.

We saw the same thing in a few emails. It may also be on the portal. It is very disconcerting, to say the least. My guess is some people went in and unchecked the FA box. But while it is a top-of-the-list school for my child, I’m not going to offer to pay an additional 20K - but I bet some parents will. I agree it sounded vaguely threatening.

Glad to know it wasn’t just me who felt that way. Odd.

For what it’s worth, we received the same correspondence in reverse – we are not applying for financial aid and they have reached out to confirm it both in email and letter. (We are fortunate to be able to do this, but I am only mentioning it because I interpreted it as gesture to confirm my daughter’s application as it relates to finances–since they know that parents are often responsible for the bills, with aid or without it).

My friend got a similar message from Barnard asking for confirmation on selection their child made the common app about whether they were applying for aid or not.

We received same email. We interpret it as they just want to confirm our choice. I don’t feel that it was threatening. It was just asking a confirmation of our choice. We did check the box for applying for financial aid and already submitted FAFSA and CSS.
I inquired Macalester parents group in Facebook about the financial aid a couple months ago. They all said Mac gave them more favorable aid than most other schools.
Some said they even received more after explaining their situations to the financial aid office.

I heard the Macalester is very liberal and students are very involved in political and social issues. I myself have never attended schools known for social justice and activities. As you point out, it is good for young people to express their voices for justice in public. My son doesn’t express his voice with parents but he has a lot of opinions about the social issues. If someone discusses, he can talk about them for long time.
And you are right, I received text from some parents that these kinds of things happen in school all over the country. I probably overreacted.

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Oh that’s interesting! It certainly feels less icky if they are asking both ways!

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I think FA is offered by the FA office and Scholarships are offered by Admissions office. I am not sure if they talk to each other to determine the final amount.

Did your daughter take ACT or SAT?

Yes, she took both, but submitted only SAT scores as they were a bit better. According to Mac’s 20-21 CDS her scores are above the 75th percentile, so she’s good there (her math is actually right on the 75th percentile, but English is higher & composite is higher).

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Nice!! She may receive nice merit scholarship. I am sure she will get in.
My son only took ACT once, and he did not want to take it again. He did not take SAT.
He did not study, so I wanted him to take another to improve, but he said no.
His English was nearly perfect, but his Math was meh…. His overall score fell on the 75th percentile, so he was satisfied. So far he is not planning to apply to any other schools. If he gets rejected or deferred, then he will start the EDII and RD applications. He is more relaxed than his parents….

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We are not applying for financial aid and Macalester and every other school has sent one or two “are you really sure you don’t need financial aid” emails to us. One school even said that if you didn’t want financial aid now, you needed to fully pay for two years before being considered. It is normal, they want to know upfront vs bait and switch (people say no aid needed and then after acceptance appeal for aid) and be very upfront. Most schools are need-aware because they have to be to keep the lights on, a few are truly need-blind.