Carroll County offers two schools for higher education. McDaniel College is a four-year liberal arts and science school that also has a graduate program. Carroll Community College is a two-year college offering an associate degree and certificate programs. While the schools may differ in their approaches, they are united in their goal to provide top-quality education to students.
McDaniel College is nicknamed “the Hill” for many reasons. The most obvious one is its location overlooking the city of Westminster. The other, according to its website, is the fact that McDaniel is a place where “you’re constantly climbing” to “discover yourself, your passions and all you can become.”
That climb starts the moment a student arrives on the 160-acre school’s campus for the first year of college. Offering more than 70 undergraduate programs of study, including preprofessional specializations and student-designed majors, academics center on the McDaniel Plan, “a customized, interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning and student-faculty collaboration to develop the unique potential in every student,” according to Cheryl Knauer, director of public relations at McDaniel.
With nearly 1,800 undergraduate students, the average class size is 15 students and the college boasts a student-faculty ratio of 13:1. Annual tuition is $46,800; $6,650 room; $6,772 board; and there is a $975 new student fee.
The most popular areas of study, Knauer said, are kinesiology, business administration, psychology, biology, political science and international studies. The college launched its newest majors; actuarial science, applied mathematics, American Sign Language, biochemistry, biomedical science, criminal justice, health sciences, international business, marketing, and writing and publishing, in the fall of 2020.
According to President Julia Jasken, a team of mentors will guide each student through their academic careers at McDaniel.
“Our dedication to our students and their future is most evident with our McDaniel Commitment, a signature component of our academic program, which guides students as they completely tailor their program of courses and opportunities to prepare them for personal and professional success,” Jasken said, in an email.
The commitment is comprised of four components in the college’s general education curriculum: My Place, My Design, My Experience and My Career.
- My Place, an intensive orientation program, begins the summer before a student first arrives on a campus and continues through their first semester of school.
- My Design is a course designed for students to discover how they want to spend their time at McDaniel by looking at their strengths and goals. It is taken during a student’s first January term, a three-week term between the fall and spring semesters.
- My Experience guarantees every student two experiential learning opportunities, including study abroad, student-faculty research, internships or independent study.
- My Career is a career-counseling course taken during a student’s junior or senior year to help them launch from college into their desired career.
A National Security Fellows Program gives students experience in national security and the ability to specialize in an area of interest, including interstate conflict, intrastate political violence, cybersecurity, ethics and human rights. Paired with any area of study, students completing the program are recognized as National Security Fellows.
The school’s STEM Center is located in the school’s Hoover Library, and supports students taking courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). It also hosts workshops and provides a meeting place for the school’s science-related student organizations.
The college also offers more than 20 graduate programs and has more than 1,300 graduate students.
On the lighter side, there are 70 student organizations, intramural sports and fraternities and sororities. Art, music and theater productions are scheduled throughout the year.
One-third of the student body participates in athletics. McDaniel’s 20 athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division III Centennial Conference. The school’s mascot is the Green Terror.
The college is also proud of its many traditions. First-year students ring the college’s Old Main Bell to “ring in” the first day of classes while seniors “ring out.” The school also is known for tailgating during home football games and sledding on the hill.
“While this is my first year serving as president, I have been fortunate to be a part of this community for over 18 years in various roles and I have witnessed how McDaniel is truly a place that changes lives,” Jasken said. “During my time here on the Hill, I have witnessed how the personalized experience that we offer our students really sets us apart. This is an exciting time at McDaniel, and I think that the college is increasingly becoming the independent college of choice for students here in Maryland.”
Carroll Community College
A branch of Catonsville Community College when it opened in 1976, Carroll Community College became a fully accredited two-year, degree-granting institution in 1996, offering 40 career-oriented programs and transfer recommendations in multiple areas of study.
“We offer a wide variety of courses for those who want to begin, enhance or pivot to a new career. Many of our programs lead to licensure or industry certifications,” Kelly Koermer, vice president of continuing education and training at the college, said in an email.
With a student population of 3,126, the student/teacher ratio is 8 to 1 and the average class size is 20 students. Annual in-state tuition is $5,002 and out-of-state is $6,989.
“One of the latest innovations we have achieved is the introduction of classes in a variety of formats: in-person, hybrid and online, and we offer a dozen fully online academic programs,” Provost Rosalie V. Mince said in an email. “We continually update our offerings. Recently approved programs include health science, corrections, data science, drones and business management.”
The school has expanded since its beginnings in Robert Moton Elementary School to its current location on Washington Road and Route 32, with the addition of the Random House Library in 1997, and both the Robert Annis and Phyllis Barrett Scott Center for the Fine Performing Arts and the Business Training Center and Life Fitness buildings in 2002. In 2004, the Nursing and Allied health building was completed and the K building, featuring additional classrooms, was completed in 2010.
Some of the college’s recent technology investments include a virtual reality lab; a 3D dissection table that allows students to see all aspects of the human body and how the various systems work together; and a new manufacturing technology program developed in collaboration with industry experts.
The college’s Commercial UAS (Drone) Pilot workforce training program was upgraded with the addition of several commercial drones.
Those who graduate from the school with an associate degree can transfer their credits to four-year state schools, including Towson, Stevenson and Frostburg universities and University of Maryland Baltimore County. Since Fall 2019, Carroll students can also take advantage of the transfer program to McDaniel College, with programs including exercise science, elementary education, engineering, physics, chemistry, biology and psychology.
On the lighter side, Carroll offers a variety of clubs from chess to Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter. Students are encouraged to create new clubs, too. Free movies are offered and live music and theater productions are scheduled throughout the year.
In the fall of 2019, the college’s sports program began with men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country teams. In spring 2020, men’s and women’s lacrosse and track and field premiered. Golf will begin for both men and women in spring 2023. The college is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and its teams compete in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. Its mascot is the Lynx.
“Our athletic programs support the college’s mission and values, providing students the opportunity to grow their leadership skills and practice teamwork, setting them up for future success both in and outside the classroom,” Bill Kelvey, Carroll Lynx athletic director, said in an email.
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Carroll County commissioners’ fiscal 2023 budget includes $2.4 million of funds for the college to construct a new sports complex on its campus. A new turf field will be built first, and can be used by the general public once complete.
The college’s strategic plan, Compass 2025, is “the guiding force for the future growth,” according to college President James Ball, and includes five priorities:
- Promoting student success from initial contact to completion of their program;
- Expanding career and economic development, including the introduction of programs to meet emerging trends and attract new student populations;
- Promoting diversity and global citizenship, preparing students for a diverse, increasingly connected global workforce;
- Assessing institutional excellence, ensuring that programs continue to deliver a rigorous academic experience;
- Practicing effective resource management, to continue its mission: Empowering Learners. Changing Lives. Building Community.
“We know that we have to continuously improve and stay ahead of the curve in preparing our students for the jobs of the future,” Ball said in an email. “Our investments in technology, state-of-the-art equipment, and faculty and staff training programs are critical to remaining ‘the jewel of Carroll County’ as well as the county’s No. 1 choice for educational opportunities.”