Macalester College
Saint Paul, MN, USA

Reviews

Macalester College
4.33 Average Rating

Rowan from Finlayson, MN

a current student here
11 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Tips for prospective students
Definitely visit! Macalester has a very definite atmosphere, and it's difficult to imagine yourself as a student there without having physically been there.
Academic Rigor
Macalester is definitely not for you if you don't enjoy schoolwork. As a student, be prepared to read and write TONS. It isn't bad, though. Professors are very willing to work with you if you're having trouble and they genuinely want you to succeed. Also, even if you come in thinking you have a pretty well established set of opinions, expect to have them constantly questioned. Mac prepares you to think about things from every angle and constantly re-evaluate yourself. There is a meme for Mac that says Life used to make sense; now everything is a social construct, and it is very true, but it is a really fantastic academic environment there! Everyone is very passionate about what they are doing and Mac students are generally strong advocates for social justice issues. Mac definitely prepares you for the world, not just for more school.
Dorm Life
I was placed in a single my first year on campus. At first I was kind of crushed about it, but Mac does a really great job at including everyone and creating a welcoming community environment. Making friends was really easy, and I wouldn't consider myself an extremely social person normally! I really love my dorm community and have had a great time bonding with my floormates as well as meeting people from other communities. Dupre doesn't have sinks, but it makes up for it with class. Definitely invest in some colorful posters, but where the dorms lack in aesthetics they make up with amazing people and a friendly atmosphere. You will find your Mac family.
Food and Dining
If you have any dietary restrictions, Mac is very accomodating. There are always vegan and gluten-free options, and the catering staff is very accessible if you have further concerns. Don't go into school here expecting a diet of cheese pizza, mac&cheese, and ramen--Cafe Mac never serves it. Very nice selection of healthy foods, amazing salad bar (feta cheese and kalamata olive amazing!), wide variety of foods, and nice variation throughout the week. My only complaint would be about their policies surrounding the cafe. You aren't allowed to take food or coffee out of the Cafe (except pastries and fruit), and if you want to downsize your meal plan they don't offer you a lot of other options, but still charge you the same price. As far as I know, these things are being worked on at this time, however.
What to do for fun
Mac does a great job of informing students of both on-campus and off-campus events! We have periodic dances on campus and those can be pretty fun if you go with the right people. Poetry slams are AMAZING! They sound kind of nerdy, but seriously they are one of those things you just don't miss. Otherwise, the twin cities are amazing and there is literally always something going on if you're looking for it. Also, you can get cheap concert tickets and bus passes through the campus center!
Bang for the buck
If you need the money, Macalester will give it to you. We are one of the few colleges that give 100% aid based on your need, but don't figure that need into the application process. Mac is not only worth it academically, but the social experience you will receive here is something you'd have a hard time finding somewhere else. Though, again, Mac is really not that expensive if you can't afford it to be. A lot of my friends going to community college are paying WAY more than I am paying at Mac.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
The Children's Section in the second floor of the library is a super cozy place to hunker down and study... or take a cat nap! There are also about 30 practice rooms with beautiful pianos in them in the new Fine Arts center that are just fantastic. When you visit be sure to ask someone about the bell!
Great for these types of students
Mac usually gets the reputation as a big hipster school or as very liberal. This is kind of true, but there are definitely a much wider variety of people at Mac than just hipsters. Ultimately, whoever you are I think you will find your niche here, but I would say Mac is especially great if you identify as politically involved (no matter which party), passionate, over-achieving, artsy, or even as a bit quirky.
Clubs and Activities
While it's difficult to speak broadly to all of Mac's extracurriculars, I have a lot of friends involved in a wide variety of activites and they all love them! No matter what you are interested in, Mac has a club for it that will be very happy to welome you with open arms. This is where the friendly community enviroment at Mac really kicks in. In my experience, you form amazing circles of friends in Mac's clubs that stick with you during your time here!
Greek Life
Mac doesn't have any Greek life, but we do have super cool options for living outside dorms! We have a cultural house, language houses, an eco house and many others. Also, if you are interested in an alternative to the meal plan, you can apply to live in the Veggie Coop where residents take turn buying groceries and cooking vegetarian meals for the entire building. Even if you're not a vegetarian, a lot of people really love living there!
Campus Safety
Mac is overall a really safe environment. Even though you are in the middle of the city, the Mac Bubble is very real and keeps you safe when you're walking from building to building. And, if you ever don't feel comfortable, students have the option to call Campus Safety and have two student employees walk with you to where you need to be.
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Joseph from Spring Park, MN

a current student here
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I've learned a ton in areas inside and outside my major. When trying to figure out my major I was astounded by the quality of the science department. My high school lacked a strong science program, but I learned so much so quickly through my classes at Mac that I'm now a declared biology major and working on summer research with a professor.
Am enjoying being here
Going to Macalester is probably the best decision I've ever made. I've met friends here from all different fields of study (my roommates and best friends' majors are english, computer science and economics). Most everyone gets along and you get to meet a lot of strong minded individuals. I went into the school knowing nobody and within the week, my entire freshman floor became a community where everyone was able to mingle and be friendly.
Bang for the buck
Macalester is one of the more expensive schools in the state, but they are very good at helping students pay for their school. The money I've paid is far and away worth it. Mac has given me opportunities that I don't know I'd get elsewhere. I figured out my major and career plan due to excellent professors in the biology department, I'm conducting summer research with a professor and getting paid for it, and I'll be studying abroad conducting independent research in Costa Rica next spring. Had I gone to a different school all this might not have happened, so yes, Mac has much bang for the buck.
Tips for prospective students
Visit the school, and stay overnight as a prospective student (or pf). I never did and I went into the school not knowing anything what the student or dorm life was like. I've hosted pf's and shown them around and can tell you that spending a night and meeting students gives you a very good impression of what the social life at Mac here is like.
Great for these types of students
Mac is great for strong minded individuals, independent thinkers, people who like to talk with others about intellectual topics as well as have a good time.
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Savannah from Tucson, AZ

researching this school
6 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Will learn a lot
Macalester offers a unique and highly intensified education - you'll definitely learn a lot here.
Will enjoy being here
You must be motivated to go here - I would reccommend visiting the campus and eating lunch with a current student before deciding whether to go here or not.
Bang for the buck
Macalester degrees are known worldwide - but that doesn't mean that you're going to get a job right out of college. If you're planning on going to graduate school, this is a good choice for you. If you just want a four-year degree to increase your potential salary and benefits...go someplace else.
Tips for prospective students
Make sure to look at schools in the area! If Macalester isn't for you, there are dozens of great, small schools in the Twin cities area that might just work.
Great for these types of students
Highly motivated, focused, driven, overachievers - who need to attend a school with need-based aid.
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Carolyn from Germantown, WI

a current student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Macalester is a very accepting, open-minded, and active college. Aside from its academic rigor, it also offers many opportunities to engage the Twin Cities community, study abroad, and meet other students from a variety of backgrounds. Macalester always has something going on and its small size, combined with the possibilities of the Twin Cities, gives students the intimacy of small schools (small class sizes, connections to professors, etc.) without being limited in their education.
Tips for prospective students
Visit and stay overnight with a current student! Talk to us and ask us why we chose this school. We have students from all around the world, so you can here a variety of opinions.
Academic Rigor
Classes are challenging but not impossible. The amount of reading varies dramatically depending on the class, but Macalester has a lot of classes on very interesting topics. Go to the school's website and look at classes on the academic page to get a taste of the kinds of things Macalester students study.
Dorm Life
Some dorms are really nice with big rooms and showers, while others are a little bit smaller. Each floor of the freshman dorms has a lounge, so you can hang out with friends easily. There are also language houses you can live in later on that emphasize the use of a specific language.
Food and Dining
The food here is pretty good and there are always options for students that are vegetarian and vegan. There are also other places on campus to eat besides the main cafeteria if you want something different. If you're interested in off-campus dining, there are plenty of restaurants around Macalester that have delicious food that isn't too pricey.
Great for these types of students
This college would be a good choice for students that want to be active in their communities, meet people from around the world, study abroad, and/or are interested in social justice.
Greek Life
There is no Greek life at Macalester.
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Sarah

a past student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Macalester is intellectually engaging and challenging. It emphasizes internationalism and community engagement, but it often falls down when it comes to commitment to its progressive values.
Tips for prospective students
Take advantage of the Twin Cities! They are full of amazing opportunities to apply your learning. Find work that excites you and use your education to compliment that work.
What to do for fun
The Townhouse is the best gay bar. Get into some performing arts in Minneapolis; I saw incredible one-man plays, quirky theater, and dance performances on a regular basis. Also, free Thursdays at the Walker. And playing in the snow.
Bang for the buck
Private school can cost a lot (usually in the form of loans) but Macalester is committed to meeting the financial need of all its students, so for low-income folks, it can be a good deal. It's a great school academically, but not necessarily the path to the highest paid positions.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
There's the bell (ring it when you first have sex on campus). There's a game with a giant ball that has made a comeback since I was there. You can learn to play the bagpipe for free (one of my biggest regrets).
Great for these types of students
Smart, engaged, thoughtful types
Greek Life
None
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McKinley from Sandstone, MN

researching this school
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
macalester has a beautiful campus. macalester has friendly welcoming people. macalester includes a diverse student body.
Tips for prospective students
make sure that your essays are top notch.
Academic Rigor
seems like it has great undergrad studies!
Dorm Life
friendly dorm living.
Food and Dining
awesome dining hall with many healthy choices!
What to do for fun
it's right in the city, what can't you do?!
Bang for the buck
it's considered a hidden ivy.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
they have the rock that they share with carlton.
Great for these types of students
hipsters, hippies, unique, boho type people. also, liberals.
Clubs and Activities
basically anything you'd want.
Greek Life
doesn't have any.
Campus Safety
gated and close. feels very safe.
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Anne T.

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I have only spent a semester here, but already I've learned quite a bit. Learning doesn't just take place in the classroom; everyone at Mac has unique experiences to share. Classes are really intense, and they will challenge you in very unexpected ways. I had to learn a bit of HTML code for an English class of all things. I've grown a lot since being here.
Am enjoying being here
I enjoy being at Mac. My professors are awesome, and the students are too. Mac students don't really know how to party though. <It's a hipster school.>
Bang for the buck
Financial aid is a huge reason that I am here. It covers up to 100% of a student's need. The only loans you should have to take out would be from the government. Financial aid office is really nice and helpful.
Tips for prospective students
Interview! I didn't, and I believe it hurt my admission chances (I was originally wait listed). It'll also force you to go to campus and visit which I highly recommend. Campus is pretty all year round, and the tour guides really help you understand Mac life.
Great for these types of students
hard-working hipsters who love to volunteer
students who want to explore diversity and global citizenship
...everyone!
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Marijo from Mahtomedi, MN

accepted here and planning to attend soon
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Will learn a lot
I have no doubt that I will learn a ton. Macalester is a great school and I've heard from many current students and alumni that their experiences in the classroom and abroad are irreplaceable. I have a feeling that no matter who you are, though, you will only get out of college as much as you put in. I plan to put most of my energy into my studies (but I definitely plan to spend lots of time having a very fun four years of independence.)
Will enjoy being here
Macalester is great, however, I think the St. Paul/Twin Cities area is probably the more attractive draw of the two. There are plenty of campuses that would be fun, just like Macalester, but few have the benefits and fun of a big city. Great education and enormous possibilities when you get sick of studying with other student; where else can you get that?
Bang for the buck
Macalester is one of THE MOST expensive schools in the country, but I received a very, very, very generous financial aid package and it ended up costing less than any of the other 17 schools I applied to, and all of them had lower tuition-room-board-other expenses. It depends on your specific financial situation, but I found the people/faculty at Macalester to be really helpful and CARING! I am so excited! I will graduate with under $10,000 in debt. I hardly have to pay a thing! (College is still expensive.)
Tips for prospective students
I never spent a night or saw a dorm, so I guess I'm not the best judge of that. However, don't judge a school based solely on their facilities. While important, (and very nice) nicer buildings don't equal nicer people or a better education, or even better opportunities. Keep that in mind! You should feel a connection to the school you choose, and don't let anyone influence your better judgment! It is your education, not your parents'.
Great for these types of students
Smarty-pants, people looking for a diverse community, liberals (or moderates, I haven't heard of many uber-conservatives on campus, though I don't really know I guess,) travelers, rich kids, poor kids, people that have special interests/talents, people who love the city and people who like small campuses with access to a big city :)
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Inga from Bemidji, MN

accepted here and planning to attend soon
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Will learn a lot
Having basis in the liberal arts is a major draw for Macalester. Getting to test the waters and form out a career path as I move along is a definite plus at Mac.
Will enjoy being here
Growing up in a small town going to small schools, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to go someplace where I will be in a bigger city, yet still have the community that comes with going to a smaller school that I have grown to love so much.
Bang for the buck
While Mac is not a cheap school, my financial aid package was very beneficial and largely comprised of grant money.
Tips for prospective students
Visit, visit, visit! Get to know the Twin Cities area so that you can use it to your advantage once you are on campus. Stay overnight if you can and take time to feel the vibe of this neat school.
Great for these types of students
Motivated students looking for new opportunities and ways to get involved in the community will thrive here!
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Sarah

a current student here
2 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
At Macalester I have found a loving and supportive community, challenging and rigorous academics and more opportunities than I ever could have dreamed of. I have learned about the world around me and about myself at Mac and have developed meaningful relationships with my peers, my bosses (work study) and my professors. Campus is beautiful and the Twin Cities are a wonderful place to study and grow.
Tips for prospective students
Macalester is very challenging, something that not everyone is expecting coming in. I thought that I would be very well prepared, and while I have done well, I have worked harder than I ever would thought I would. But it has definitely been worth it! And even so, with such a small student body, you'll find time for fun and deep friendships.
What to do for fun
The Twin Cities are a lot of fun. They offer a lot of cultural opportunities, the most parks for a metro area in the US, tons of club and concert venues and a very lively athletic scene. Campus is right in between the two cities (about a mile between each downtown) and opportunities to get involved with the local community are endless. In addition, there is never a dull moment on campus. You will never search for something to do, but rather, for time to fit everything in. Activities are vibrant and diverse, and you're sure to find something to suit your interests.
Great for these types of students
Looking for a very academically challenging environment, devoted to social justice, interested in activism, interested in internationalism.
Clubs and Activities
There are so many, you will find what you're looking for!
Greek Life
There isn't one.
Campus Safety
I work with the security officers and they are wonderful people and do an excellent job. I always feel safe on campus.
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