Macalester College is a small liberal arts school in St. Paul, Minnesota that was founded in 1874. The campus is only 10 minutes from downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis, so students can take advantage of attending college near two major cities. The school is considered one of the “Hidden Ivies” because of its reputation for high-quality academics and positive student experiences. The population is just under 2,100 students, so individuals can take advantage of small classes and a tight-knit community. Macalester also provides a great value for an education because the college guarantees financial assistance to meet the needs of every student. The school also prides itself on having one of the highest percentages of foreign students in the country.
Students can choose from more than 800 courses offered each year in 63 areas of study for a total of 39 majors. The most popular majors are social sciences; computer and information sciences; biological/life sciences; mathematics and statistics; interdisciplinary studies; and foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics. Students can also create their own interdisciplinary majors or enroll in pre-professional programs like pre-law, pre-med, a cooperative architecture program and a cooperative engineering program. Class sizes remain small with a student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1, and 70% of classes have less than 20 students. Many students participate in internships or off-campus courses.
Nearly 60% of Macalester College students study abroad There are sister programs in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and France. If students want to stay close to campus, Macalester is part of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC). The consortium includes the University of St. Thomas, Hamline University and Augsburg College; students can attend classes at any of these schools.
Macalester also offers an abundance of social activities and has more than 120 student-run organizations on campus. The clubs offer a wide range of topics, including the Macalester Gaming Society, the Trads a cappella group and the African Music Ensemble. Volunteerism is a very important part of the Macalester experience. In fact, more than half of all Macalester College students volunteer every semester. About 65% of student internships take place in non-profit organizations or schools. Students can even earn financial aid by working at these types of employers. These activities are also encouraged by Macalester bringing in speakers and hosting an International Roundtable to discuss global issues.
Macalester has become known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the country. There are several traditions and groups on campus that help honor LGBTQ students. As part of this attitude, the school offers all-gender housing and a Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to encourage the acceptance of all students on campus.
Another way Macalester College is nontraditional is through its specialty housing options. These include the Veggie Co-op (for vegetarian students), the Cultural House, Eco-House, and Language Houses in which students can only speak a specific language in the house. Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, but many students remain in college housing because of the active social life and student activities available to them. Students who are looking for a nonconventional campus that still offers rigorous academics should check out all Macalester College has to offer.