MARIST COLLEGE (visited 7/25/13)
Even driving onto campus, I was more impressed with Marist than with some other campuses. It was open, places were well marked, and the atmosphere seemed inviting to visitors. The admissions office was well-organized and people were genuinely friendly, greeting visitors and being willing to help, even though it was busy. Another person and I had trouble finding parking since the visitor’s lot was full, and the person (I later found out she was a student) immediately got on the phone to security to let them know where we parked so we wouldn’t get ticketed. All the students seemed to be like this: proactive problem-solvers.
The information session was one of the best I’ve ever attended. As people got settled into the room for the presentation, a slideshow played with some facts about the school. The rep, an alum, spoke beautifully about life at Marist from both sides – her love for it as a student and then as a rep who helps recruit students who will fit into Marist life and thrive there (with a 93% first-year retention rate and a 83% graduation rate – both 20-30% over the national average — they’re doing something right). She showed a short video showcased what students are involved in as well as the beauty of the Hudson (the campus sits directly on the river) and surrounding area. She talked about what made Marist unique (which is rare; too many presentations talk about the same sorts of things: study abroad, faculty accessibility, internships. All schools have those; we need to know what makes a school different!). They ended with a five-student panel, one of the few times I’ve ever seen that in a general info session. The students fielded questions for about 20 minutes before taking people out on tour so we got multiple perspectives on life on campus.
Students raved about their experiences on campus; they’re intellectual without needing to flaunt it, they’re social, and they’re just nice. They talked about their academic experiences with enthusiasm: their favorite classes were Intro to Criminal Justice (she liked the topic and the professor who was a retired cop), Human Resources (taught by a professor with experience in HR and shared lots of stories), Creative Writing (this made her fall in love with English again), and upper level theater. Their smallest classes ranged from 7 to 12 students, and the largest class any of them took had 26 students in it.
Marist is academically impressive in the range and strength of their curriculum. It has a nationally accredited Core Curriculum and they’re offering a First Year Seminar (FYS) for the first time. There will be a common reading expected of all entering students; this year, it’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and the author is coming to campus to talk to the students about the book. Their Business School is accredited by AACSB (which only accredits only the top 25% of business schools in the world). International Business majors must study abroad and present an independent project when they come back. Additionally, all students majoring in areas falling in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences must complete internships and/or field work before graduation. Marist maintains a close relationship with the NYPD, NCIS, FBI, CBI, Homeland Security, and the Hawaii Department of Education where several Marist graduates go to teach when they graduate. They’ve had a 100% law school placement rate over the last couple years, and 100% job placement for the Medical Technology majors since 1982. Over 90% of students are admitted into graduate, medical, and health professional schools. Since 2006, 3 Marist students have been selected as Goldwater Scholars.
Their Politics and Public Policy programs are worth noting. Last year, 4 of the 20 students nationwide selected for the Hansard Scholars Programme were from Marist. This program sends Politics or Public Affairs majors to London for 14 weeks, allowing them to take classes at the London School of Economics and providing internships and other hands-on experiences with members of British Parliament and other similar places. There are plenty of other options for studying away, as well. The Albany Internship Experience allows students interested in politics the chance to work in the state capital, and anyone can study for a semester at American University in DC.
Students don’t have to move off campus to have amazing internship or field-experience opportunities because of Marist’s location. Student use the Hudson and the entire Valley as a lab for study (one of FYS is about environmental activism in the Hudson Valley). Poughkeepsie and the immediately surrounding towns have a lot to offer including five colleges within about 40 minutes (Vassar and the Culinary Institute of America are both less than 10 minutes away) which makes this a great college town. Poughkeepsie is located almost exactly halfway between Albany and NYC, giving students opportunities for internships in all sorts of fields. The MetroNorth commuter rail station is five minutes from campus giving students easy access into New York, and busses regularly run up to Albany. The Marist Institute for Public Opinion pairs students with NBC News for Polling purposes (the got a lot of experience during the last election cycle). The FDR Library and Museum, located nearby, provides history majors or other interested students the chance to do research and internships. The university also has close ties to IBM which is located down the street. Because of this proximity, students have access to extensive research and internship opportunities. Even the library uses IBM digital library technology as an electronic gateway for advanced storage and retrieval technology. Marist stresses technology usage; the rep said that they use “advanced technology in the pursuit of excellence” which fits into their Mission Statement: “Help students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global 21st century.”
In addition to the main campus, Marist maintains a Marist in Italy program. One of the programs they offer is the Freshman Florence Experience: approximately 20 students go together to study there their entire first year. Any student can complete a Bachelor’s in one of 8 areas, mostly in the arts (studio art, art history, conservation, fashion, and interior design); Italian Language is the only non-artsy major offered there. They also offer a 1-year Masters in Museum Studies.
Life on campus is vibrant, and students certainly don’t need to leave campus to have fun. Even visiting in the summer, there were students everywhere, walking across campus, studying on the grass, and in the library. Marist has 23 DI teams which are well supported with a fan base. There are over 90 clubs and organizations ranging from ice hockey and fencing to political and religious groups. Clubs, in keeping with the college’s mission, must provide some sort of community service as part of their charter if they want to continue getting funding from the school. Marist, although still named for the Marist brothers who started the college, is no longer religiously affiliated. The university went coed in 1968, and control of the college was turned over from the Marist Brothers to an independent Board of Trustees a year after that. However, there are several Marist Brothers who still live on campus and are active in Campus Ministry. However, today there is a great deal of religious diversity within the student body.
Admission is selective with about one-third of the applicants getting offered a spot. The top 10% of applicants are invited to the Honors Program which opens up additional opportunities and specialized coursework. Once in the program, they must maintain a 3.5 GPA. Marist is a test-optional school.