The following reviews are the views of students or alumni at this school and are unrelated to the school data and other editorial content on usnews.com. These reviews neither reflect nor impact a school's position within the Best Colleges rankings.
First I'll explain the truth about Mac, especially what the people are really like. I feel like the student body and the climate are the main difference between any given small liberal arts college. Coming to Mac I might have had some preconceived notions about what kind of kids I would encounter, but I mostly expected it to be more cool people and less stupid idiots (than high school). For the most part that's true, because you don't get in unless you have some kind of brain, and that generally entails some kind of social skills. However, Mac is conforming more and more to the "small school big price" business model, and losing what made it so unique. From a business perspective it makes sense, but why the hell would I go to Minnesota for the exact same education and experience I could get in California? The reason that I came to Macalester was that it possessed a quality, indefinable perhaps, that is Mac. We are steadily losing that quality, and within ten years we will have sold our soul to be exactly like every other goddamn "new Ivy" out there.
It's a small school, and it can get a little claustraphobic some times. But if the idea of a small school is appealing, then you can guess at the advantages - knowing your professors and your professors knowing you, being close to classmates, feeling like a member of a close knit community - and you can take heart that all of those things exist at Macalester. But on the flip side, it can all feel like a little too much. Have a bad day and everyone will know. Have a relationship go in the hole and everyone will ask you about it. People you don't even know will know lots about you, and vice versa. But that's the cost of it. At the same time, a smart comment in a class, a prominent place in a popular student org, or a number of other things besides joining a frat or being the captain of the football team can make you a minor celebrity on campus. You really do experience a connection between the person you want to be and the person people recognize in you, as recognition has a way of coming easily. That's a great feeling, and that's the advantage of a small school, and perhaps this one specifically, though again, I have very little comparative basis.
It is a great school for the first two years of college life, yet on your 3rd year, make sure you study abroad or get off campus for a semester, otherwise you will be very tired of this very small space by your senior year. Don't believe in the international shpeel the admissions gives you. it's an average college, trying to eick out a living, you'll have great speakers from all over the world, but you'll get the same if you go to any big university, the only difference is you will have a great community to rely on your first two college life years. after that macalester is too small, and lacks the resources. Also beware, the career center is one big waste of time and money. so don't expect the college to help you land a job after you graduate, so pick your major wisely, you will need to pay those loans, and a BA will only get you as far as you take it, and that's not far with no resources except your parents, relatives, family friends to help you with finding your jobs/internships/etc. I would say if you are thinking long-term, more than just these 4 years, macalester isn't a great place to be in terms of resources. but if you are outgoing and have no problems relying on distant family friends to help you land places, then you'll be fine.
The best thing about Macalester in my opinion is variety. Everybody is unique (and since everyone is unique, no one is... but that's an entirely different discussion that I've no doubt had at 2 am in the lounge). People from Mac come from so many diverse backgrounds, but despite the miles between everyone's hometowns, people find so much in common, which is great. I think Macalester can be a good school for anyone. I can't claim that Macalester is "perfect for me," because I honestly believe anyone can have a blast here. Being in the Twin Cities is also a huge advantage. Advantage meaning, you'll be able to have a lot more fun here than some schools in the middle of no where. The food here is great (I know people who gripe about it but I think they have been here so long they've forgotten what high school food was like... ugh). Macalester really has something for everyone, unless you want to go to culinary school or something like that... in which case... I'd say go to culinary school.
I really enjoy going to a small school that is in the middle of a city to escape into when needed. The Twin Cities are very supportive of the arts and there are lots of cultural events and good restaurants to visit. I enjoy being in a community where so many people come from far away. The classes are small and conversation is inevitable.
The best thing about Macalester is its size. It embraces being a small liberal arts college in so many ways. Class sizes are remarkably small, and are ALWAYS taught by professors (or visiting lecturers). Professors are accessible, to the point of inviting students to their homes for dinner, which is something I always thought was just a stereotypical college guidebook comment. The campus is a manageable size, and though it's in a city is in a quiet residential neighborhood, so it's really the best of both worlds. Even better, and something I did not anticipate, is the way the school almost seamlessly blends into the neighborhood, in the sense that surrounding area is full of students, alumni, faculty, and people who are just generally friendly towards the school and the people who go there. When I tell people where I go to school, most of the comments I get are about how cold the winters must be. They are. But for me, that was fairly irrelevant - I bought a winter coat and kept going. The administration, to the best of my knowledge, is fairly tame. They make themselves very visible, which is good...but they also seem to beat the dead horse about their favorite brochure phrase, "global citizenship". To their credit, the campus is legitimately diverse in terms of having students from around the world, especially since it's a small school in the midwest. Something unique about Macalester is the "Veggie Co-op" - quite literally an on-campus group of vegetarians and vegans who live in converted loft-style rooms under the stadium and share a kitchen where they cook meals together. They throw the best Halloween party every year, make delicious food, and are generally an interesting group of people. You have to apply to live there, but from what I hear, its way worth it.
Jules FreshmanReviews provided by: Unigo