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St. Mary's a great college choice

I cannot blame Anne Neal for her rage at St. Mary's College of Maryland ("Cautionary campus tale," May 30). If I had paid for an education at Harvard University and graduated without a basic ability to read, I would also be overcome with directionless ire. But in the future, could you ensure your op-ed contributors understand the fundamental tenets of journalism? For instance, research. Since Anne is too overwrought with emotion to do this herself, she should look at the college's website and an overview of the first year curriculum. If she had, she might have noticed that St. Mary's actually does have a core curriculum of generic liberal arts classes. It's shocking, I know, that a state-funded school would be forced to comply with the accepted structure of most American colleges.

All name-calling aside, I understand Ms. Neal's reasoning for picking on St. Mary's. With a comparatively high in-state tuition, a crunchy granola liberal arts attitude, and all the recent troubles, it's an easy target to use to make an example. But this commentary, aside from being blatantly inaccurate, is completely unhelpful and willfully ignores the positive points of St. Mary's. When I graduated high school (with a 4.0 grade point average, club president, research position at the National Cancer Institute, the basic good kid track), I didn't even bother applying to Ivy-level schools. Don't get me wrong, I desperately wanted to go to Georgetown University. Even at the liberal arts schools to which I did apply, their highest merit scholarships weren't comparable to St. Mary's base price. At some point, I had to look at the price tag and make a decision about how much debt I was willing to accept. St. Mary's students shouldn't be mocked for their decision to attend a low-cost alternative to private liberal arts colleges. They should be applauded for having the maturity to think through how their actions at age 18 will affect the rest of their lives and for choosing to ignore the lure of brand-name education.

This is a challenging time when a lot of big changes are happening at St. Mary's. In a lot of ways, I'm happy to have graduated and moved past dealing with them on a personal level. But this article, and this negativity, is not what St. Mary's needs to pull through. There is a good education waiting for the right students at St. Mary's, and if it isn't the same price as University of Maryland College Park, who cares? Whether or not tuition is worth it is a decision for students and their parents to make, not a woman four decades past college. If Ms. Neal thinks St. Mary's is a bad investment, then she doesn't need to encourage her children to go there. But for thousands of students, it has been the best possible choice, and that's all that matters.

Tessa Endter

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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