Mount St. Mary’s University (visited 10/17/18)
“Lots of good things are happening at the Mount because of the people here,” said the Director of Financial Aid. Their President who retired from the army in 2016 has been here for 3 years; he concurs with that assessment: “We’ve done surveys; the best part of students’ experiences has been the care and concern from the faculty and staff.”
Enrollment has grown over the last 2 years. Two years ago, they increased by 24% percent with the 2nd largest class in the history and then surpassed that last year. “It’s happening because our students are succeeding. They’re competing for Fulbrights and the Marshall,” said the President. Most students complete internships, and in 2018, Zippia ranked MSM as the #1 school in Maryland for post-grad employment, “and that’s competing against places like UMD and Johns Hopkins.”
Business (including Forensic Accounting) and Criminal Justice are strong, and Education also got a shout-out by the tour guides, one of whom is in the program. “Sciences are the weak link,” said another counselor who sends several students here, but hopefully that will change. They do have a Health Science/Nursing dual degree program as well as an Osteopathic Medicine 4+4 program.
Campus is beautiful and built on the side of a hill; it earns its nickname of The Mount. (There is a beautiful grotto at the top of the hill overlooking campus; there are 121 steps up to that). “There’s nothing in walking distance,” said one of the tour guides. Campus is about 2 miles from Emmitsburg, the closest town, but Frederick and Gettysburg are both about 15 minutes away, and the school will run shuttles to BWI and the train station for breaks. A lot of freshmen don’t have cars, but are allowed to, and parking is accessible.
Both tour guides raved about all there is to do on campus, and events are very well attended since about 80% of students live on campus. They offer optional pre-orientation trips such as camping or service-oriented activities. Move-in weekend has parties, food trucks, and more. A favorite tradition is the Tiki Dance that starts off the year; this is “bookended” by Rampage which is held on the last week before spring finals. Bingo is really big. “Be there an hour in advance or you aren’t getting in.” They also do Canoe Battleship! They said that if they could, they’d spend money on smart classrooms and add even more activities, “particularly building a bigger space for the popular events so more people can fit in.”
The college offers tickets and transportation to a lot of events ranging from apple picking and Six Flags to NYC and the Gettysburg Battlefields. Basketball is really big here; “it’s a struggle to get a seat for a game.” Soccer and lacrosse also pull in a lot of fans. They have 22 DI sports (they’re the 2nd smallest DI school in the country) including rugby. There’s also an active intramural scene. “The Seminarians will kick our butts!”
I asked them about how religion played out in the day-to-day experience on campus. “Yes, it’s Catholic, but there are options and non-denominational stuff. If you’re looking for the Catholic community, it’s definitely here. There are emails from the Catholic ministry and some rooms have crosses. There are lots of Seminarians around; they mostly have their own classes, but they’re often in ours, as well.” There are 6 chapels on campus and masses are offered (including in Spanish), but there are no chapel requirements. The Gen Ed requirements include a theology class, but there’s some choice.