St. Michael’s College (visited 4/15/14)
St. Mike’s, located just outside of Burlington and about 10 minutes from UVM, is a medium-sized, attractive campus comprised of mostly brick buildings. They’re an Edmundite institution (the only one in the country), describing themselves as similar to the Jesuits in terms of their commitment to equality and peace/social justice. Only 50% of students are Catholic with the other students self-identifying as belonging to a variety of faiths, including non-Christian. There’s a sense that students who want “Real Catholic” won’t be comfortable here. However, although this wasn’t as “in your face” as some other Christian schools I’ve visited, there were a few crucifixes and religious paintings on the walls. Seventy percent of the students are involved in community service, including working on the Fire and Rescue Squad based on campus, but that serve several surrounding communities.
The Fire and Rescue squad, in existence for 44 years, is actually separate from the college but staffed mostly by students. The rescue and the fire units both have two vehicles; combined, they go on about 2000 calls a year. Students on these squads must work 24 hours a week, but as they work their way up, they do more. The crew chief is the busiest. I talked to him during our info sessions; he’s currently taking an Advanced EMT class at UVM.
This is a strong Liberal Arts residential college and is 1 of only 4 Phi Beta Kappa in the Northeast. Their biggest overlap in applications is UVM, but their size is what distinguishes them. They do pull 80% of their students from out-of-state who also tend to apply to places like Stonehill, St. Anselm, Providence. The Integrated Experience (a graduation requirement) is an experiential learning component which can be an internship, study abroad, or a leadership experience on the Fire & Rescue squad, community service groups, or sports.
Burlington is highly ranked by places like National Geographic as a “livable city.” Students have easy access to it; they can use their Culture Pass to travel downtown and beyond, and get low-cost tickets at Fly Center in downtown. Not surprisingly, there’s world-class skiing in Vermont. Students get a free pass at Smugglers’ Notch Resort which isn’t far away (and is where the men’s and women’s alpine and Nordic DII teams practice). The university also has an award winning Wilderness Program. The two full-time staff members organize and train people to lead 4-6 trips every weekend in activities such as hiking, backpacking, rock or ice climbing, biking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, orienteering, and wilderness medicine, and more. About one-third of the student body will do something through this office during the year.
They run two pre-professional programs in Education and Business, but these students also need a concentration in the Liberal Arts. The Honors Program is strong and is unusual in that it’s student run; they do the all the programming and are even involved in the admissions process! Students complete 5 honors classes, including a first-year seminar and a Senior Capstone. The remaining class can be in the student’s major or Gen Ed classes.
30% of students do a credit-bearing Study Abroad experience. Many more do volunteer or short-term study-travel experiences. Financial Aid packages will travel with students for 1 semester of credit-bearing work. For a full-year, they can’t take institutional scholarships with them, but can take federal aid. Faculty led trips over the summer are partially subsidized.
Retention from freshmen to sophomore years is about 90%. The college’s tag-line is “I like St. Mike’s” and that certainly seems true! Almost all students live on campus, with some upperclassmen living in 3 dorms or one of the apartments on North Campus, a couple blocks from Main campus.