The recent article "St. Mary's College: a cautionary tale for America's bloated higher education system," about the under-enrollment for next year's freshman class and why it is happening, struck me as badly written and simply untrue.
I finished up my freshman year at St. Mary's this spring and feel that this article is simply wrong. As a high school senior I had absolutely no intention of going to a state school, as they seem too big and too impersonal. St. Mary's gave me the option to go to a much less expensive school than any of the six others I applied to, while still allowing me to live on a beautiful campus with a real community.
Perhaps the problem that my school is having is not being recognized as much as it should be by students looking for a less expensive option as a Maryland student while wanting the intimate learning experience these $40,000 a year out-of-state schools provide. These students are perhaps looking out of state, as I did as a high school student. Though as an out-of-state option it is not cheap, as an in-state school with the opportunities the school provides, it excels.
This article paints my school in a bad light, which will do nothing to help the school grow. The allusion to the first year seminar class is just simply an incorrect statement. Ms. Neal mentions the class called "Pimp My Ride: Materialism in Human Life," which, I will admit, has a stupid name, but what she fails to mention is that it is taught by an anthropology professor who wants to explore and explain how materialism has affected humans in history and how that has affected human life today. My freshman seminar, "Culture and Madness," was taught by a psychology professor well known for teaching abnormal psych. She taught us through a psychological and anthropological view of mental illness, teaching us that mental illness cannot be looked at through one scientific lens. The professor for my first year seminar also taught us core skills such as oral presentation and how to write a 10-page term paper in APA style, skills that other classes may just assume its students know well.
The fact is, I never would have attended a school like Maryland or UMBC where the classes have more than 100 people in them. None of the intro classes I took as a freshman had more than 30 students in them. My smallest class had 15. This gave me a chance to have a voice, to engage with my fellow students and with our professor, and to learn to be an academic person.
Ms. Neal sarcastically states in her article: "with a mind filled with the knowledge from these courses, (freshman seminar courses) who needs literature, composition, foreign language or American history?" First of all, all students are required to take a language. The other classes are not required, which I feel is acceptable, as many students go to St. Mary's for Biology or Psychology and do not need to learn how to be better writers or readers. If these students want to take these kinds of classes, they can! Secondly, the history and language classes I have taken so far at St. Mary's have been the best I could have imagined them to be. My professors have been extremely knowledgeable about the subjects they teach and have been caring people who seem to really love what they do. In short, this article is wrong and will do nothing but hurt the school that has been so good to me as a first year student.
Isabel Klompus, St. Mary's City