ST MARY's COLLEGE OF CA! I picked a mediocre school over WAY BETTER schools due to money issues.

I’m a senior and I’ve committed to St. Marys college of ca. The thing is, I was accepted into other great schools that I really wanted to go to. I was accepted to UC Berk, UC Davis, Pepperdine, LMU, NYU, U of Rochester, Smith, and Notre Dame. The reason why I didn’t commit to any of these schools (ND was my first choice) was because I had to pay about 15-30k a year for each of these schools. I don’t come from a wealthy family, and they can’t really help me financially when it comes to college. To attend SMC I only had to pay about 7k because they gave me a lot of merit awards. I’ve visited SMC and honestly it is a decent school, well respected, and its nice- but I’m not happy to be going there. Especially since I have the grades to go elsewhere. Also I heard the school is very boring, and there is no social life. I just don’t want to get into debt because I plan to go to law school, and that will be at least 200k of debt.

My question is: Has anyone else been in a similar situation, and how did it turn out? Can any SMC students/prospective students give some insight about the school and the social life there? Will I regret picking this school, or should I just get into debt and go elsewhere?


You are not alone! Lots of super smart kids qualify for acceptance at more prestigious schools, but need to take big merit offers at lower tiered schools.

We cannot afford our EFC, so we needed to hunt down big merit awards in order to get the cost of college down. We allowed our D to apply to some schools we could not afford and it was upsetting for her because she was accepted and we said no can do.

She was pretty salty about it at first, but to her credit, she put herself out there, joined some clubs, made friends, threw herself into her academics, got a volunteer job, and by Xmas, she reluctantly admitted the school might be growing on her.

It’s even a little better this second semester. I’m not sure if it will ever be LOVE, but she’s taking advantage of opportunities that will surely cross the path of smart, motivated students.

You can bloom where you are planted. You can be a rock star student at St. Mary’s and go to a prestigious law school. You are so lucky to be able to get a UG degree with little to no debt. You’re already ahead of the game.


I can’t comment specifically on St Mary’s, but you are not alone. We also will be declining Notre Dame (her favorite) due to finances… :(( very, very emotionally difficult but it just isn’t possible for us to come up with 58,000 a year— My daughter will likely attend an in state university instead, where she’s been admitted into the honors program. She’ll graduate with no debt, plus hopefully have some money leftover to use in medical school. My head tells me it is a no- brainer, but my heart isn’t accepting it yet. I am confident you can be successful at many many schools…where you attend undergrad will not define your life…but 100,000 in debt would enslave you. Embrace what you are given and don’t look back.

St. Mary’s is not a mediocre school, it’s a CTCL college. No it’s not as highly ranked as those others but it’s a good solid school academically. Moraga may not be a social hotbed but you’ll have great access to SF and Oakland via BART and that will give you more to do socially than you’ll know what to do with. And their men’s basketball team is ranked higher than any of those other schools, so there’s that! Try to appreciate what the school has to offer, excel academically, and enjoy the next four years on that stunning campus.

On top of the CTCL laurels, St. Mary’s will certainly be hoppin’ during basketball season – they are the Zags’ main rival and only really consistent competitor in their league. SMV is regularly in the NCAA tournament and a perennial 20±win program. Winters should be fun, at least.


Re: stunning campus. No kidding! I just Googled! What a beautiful campus + sunshine + location, location, location!

St Mary’s is a great school!

MANY high stats students have done what you’re about to do. Don’t think that you can’t fly high from this school. You can!!!

Since Notre Dame is your first choice and they want you to pay 10-15, which your family can’t, what can they pay and what are their circumstances? You can always email ND, indicate they’re your number one choice but their financial aid package is ($4,000) short, ask for professional judgement, list your circumstances*, thank them no matter what.
Then, forget about it. Odds are, nothing will happen, but you’ve got nothing to lose.
Many high stats students do exactly what you’re about to do. St Mary’s is a good school, there’ll be plenty of good students, and I don’t think you’ll be bored between what’s going on on campus and ease of access to a big city. :slight_smile:

  • PM me.

My wife went to grad school at St. Mary’s and was very happy there.

It is a bit isolated, so a car would be nice to have. But heck, you’re only 20 minutes from downtown Oakland and 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco.

One of my favorite young women is a SMC grad. She attended for the same reason you did. She loved her time there. It’s frustrating to have to choose based on finances, but at this point, it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunity you have.