Macalester College in Minnesota is an academic powerhouse; it "opens myriad doors for students to work incredibly hard at what they love and, through research, explore avenues of interest they may not have previously considered." The school attracts a high quality of "academic-minded" students because of the generous financial aid and places an emphasis on internationalism; the college also strongly encourages students to follow their interests in developing extracurricular student organizations. "Student organizations are provided exceptional guidance and funding from the college," says a student. The atmosphere is "academically challenging without feeling competitive," and Macalester is all about "finding the balance between serious academics, service, and fun." The "genuine, resourceful, accessible, and friendly" professors "are exceptional mentors" who "share the excitement they have about their particular fields." "I have found a lot of variety both in the teaching styles of my instructors and class topics, which is something I really appreciate about my major and Macalester in general," says one student. When professors can, they "change lecture to discussion," "add various different types of course materials," and generally keep students engaged. There is also a lot of interdisciplinary work and collaborations between professors in order to "help develop new courses, research topics, and even academic majors." Personal relationships are incredibly important to the faculty here, and professors "invest their time in the success of each student." Though there's "a definite depth to courses provided," the small size of the school means that "the variety within departments could be sparse." Being in the Twin Cities, there are "a lot of opportunities for volunteering and internships," and non-achievements, whether in sports, arts, or community service, are given "equal recognition." "There is an awareness about the world, our place in it, and how our choices affect it. There is an earnest desire to learn and listen to differing perspectives," says a student.
Macalester is full of "intelligent," "left-wing," "self-driven students who want to participate in academics, politics, and social issues." There is a "simultaneous lightheartedness and intensity" to Macalester students, and everyone here is "eager to converse and debate with peers who may have a very different background from them." "The socioeconomic range is huge, as is the geographical diversity with international students composing 19 percent of the student body." "The experience of sitting in a class of twenty with students from eight different countries discussing the cultural implications of translation is one that can only be found at Macalester," says a student. "It would be easier to define the typical kid who is not at Mac: bro/ fraternity-type guys and ditsy, sorority girls," says one student. "Mainstream people without their own opinions don't make it here."
This "unique international community in the middle of a frozen metropolis" ("I wish I could pick up the entire campus and move it to a warmer climate") has an "ideal" placement in a "beautiful" residential neighborhood dotted with restaurants and shops, with quick access to two major cities. At Mac, "there is so much to do on campus that you're never bored." "So many organizations, so little time!" says a student. With more than 120 organizations, "it's hard to find the time to get involved in everything, but very easy to find something to do." For more casual fun, people "go out into St. Paul and Minneapolis, go to dances on campus, go to house parties off campus, or just hang out and watch movies or have conversations." Parties "only happen on the weekend, and they are nonexistent around midterms or finals"; "Often people end up talking about Marxism or feminist theory at parties anyway." "You know you're at Macalester when the football team had its first winning season in decades, but our poetry slam team [are] national defending champions." Deep conversations about politics, spirituality, and identity are frequent, and "class and school invade all aspects of life here."
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