It’s been almost two months since I drew California and have been doing research on this post! What has taken so long? Yes, it’s been busy in the guidance office, but I’ve also had a hard time picking a California school to spotlight. First – there are SO many colleges to consider. Secondly, I’ve tried to stay away from those big schools that everyone has heard of. The original goal of this series was to expose our students to schools they may not have heard of, or may not know much about. Sure, there are a million interesting things I could tell you about USC or UCLA, but you probably already know some of them. With that in mind, I chose Saint Mary’s College of California.
College in the Spotlight: Saint Mary’s College of California
Location: Moraga, CA (20 miles east of San Francisco)
Enrollment: 2,873 undergraduates
A cornerstone of a Saint Mary’s education is the Collegiate Seminar. While there are 35 majors and minors to choose from, all students participate in the Seminar program which follows a Great Books program. In a nutshell, this curriculum (which is practiced in some form at over 100 colleges in the US, and exclusively at a few) makes use of the texts that are thought to be the foundation of Western culture. Students are required to take four Seminar courses, and they are integrated into all subject areas. The idea is that all disciplines are connected and examining these works can help students see those connections. All courses are discussion based and, according to the book Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change The Way You Think About Colleges (more on that below!), challenge students to “read carefully, draw sharp conclusions, listen to other people, and disagree civilly.”
Like other colleges we’ve spotlighted, Saint Mary’s also has a January term program. All students participate in this month-long program, where a single course is studied in great depth. The College encourages students to explore areas of interest that may be outside their major. Here are a few examples from this past January term:
- Bay Area Wild – Students explored the Northern California coastline, mountains, forests, and bay area then returned to campus to work on developing their notes into essays and other forms of creative writing
- Crime and Punishment – This class aims to correct the misinformation of the criminal justice system that many Americans have learned from television and movies
- London: The History of Science – Examines the progression of scientific ideas since the start of the Renaissance. This course took place in London and in surrounding cities, where many scientific advances occurred
As mentioned above, Saint Mary’s College of California was named as one of the Colleges That Change Lives. This organization publishes a book dedicated to helping college-bound students (and their parents) learn about colleges that offer transformative educational opportunities. Check out the article on Saint Mary’s here.
College basketball fans may already know of Saint Mary’s College. Since 2005, the school has appeared in the NCAA Tournament five times, even making it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010. Saint Mary’s hosts 17 NCAA Division I teams nicknamed the Gaels. The “Gael Force” is the cheering section, which has the reputation of being one of the loudest in the country.
For more information on Saint Mary’s College of California, visit http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/