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An Insight to Saint Mary’s College

I was lucky enough to be able to recently tour Saint Mary’s College, a welcoming gem of a school tucked away just an hour and a half from the South Bay area. 

Saint Mary’s College has been in Moraga for over 100 years, yet few have heard of this small Catholic college located between Berkeley and Walnut Creek. 


For California students hoping to stay local, Saint Mary’s College offers a number of major differences from the typically UC/CSU experience: 


January Term – They have only one (yes, you read that right!) class in January. Students will often choose to talk this class abroad, discover an interest outside their major or dive deeper into their volunteering, internships and extracurricular activities. Since the whole school is structured this way, this doesn’t even delay time to graduation. 


Faith and Service: The school is undeniably Catholic from the large chapel on campus to its two religious class requirement. While 52% of students identify as Catholic, it is welcoming to people of faiths. The school’s 2000+ undergraduates contribute a remarkable 15,000  20,000 of community service hours annually, and this respect for all people is reflected in the many campus clubs and speakers of diverse viewpoints, like the founders of the #metoo movement or the social entrepreneur behind Numi tea. 


Collegiate Seminar Classes Much like a Socratic seminar filled with lively debate, Collegiate Seminar Classes consist of a series of required courses that give every student a firm foundation in the liberal arts. The program is made up of four courses that examine major works of Western civilization: works of literature and philosophy, history and political theory, art and science. 


Small, Welcoming CommunityWith an average class size of 19, at Saint Mary’s there’s no hiding in the back of the room when you haven’t done the reading! Yet this intimate setting is one of the strengths of a Saint Mary’s education. At this school, you’ll find a the university president makes regular office hours to meet with students, many clubs and welcome events like the Freshman ‘Weekend of Welcome’an infectious school spirt from the school’s division I athletics program, and even inter-house competitions just like in Harry Potter. 


While a liberal arts school, Saint Marys also has a strong business program, and undergraduate research opportunities and a cadaver lab for students interested in science or medicine. 


Wondering if you can afford this private school? They give merit based scholarships ranging from $6,000-$25,000 a year, and this can be in addition to departmental scholarships that offer up to $13,000 in scholarships to students seeking certain specialties, from business to history.  Interested students should strongly consider signing up for an optional admissions interview. 


Overall, Saint Mary’s is a small, supportive environment that offers an educational experience far removed from a large state school. In the words of the university, Saint Mary aims to ‘engage the intellect and the spirit with exceptional academics… to change lives and inspire the desire to transform society.’ 

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