The recent 7% hike in tuition prices has left many St. Mary’s students and potential students questioning whether they should shove out $25,360 for in-state tuition, and has every out-of-state student second guessing the $37,437 price tag that comes with a liberal arts education at a small, public, honors college. St. Mary’s is a small school with a big price tag. With the start of another school year many incoming students may be questioning whether they made the right choice to come to this school. While returning students are cringing at the price tag and the ever amounting debt they will soon face, most of us have come to realize that a college education from St. Mary’s is worth the ever-growing cost.
The Washington Post recently rated St. Mary’s as the fourth most expensive public college in the United States. Yes, $25,360 is a ridiculous amount for a public, instate college, and $37,437 is an even more ridiculous amount of money for a college that has only about 2,000 students (which is a generous approximation) but those of you who are reconsidering your choice should consider the price of doing business. Not only does your tuition cover class fee’s, housing, meal plan, etc. That money goes towards retaining all of the facilities and benefits that students enjoy, one of those being the amazing waterfront most of us list as out favorite part of St. Mary’s.
If the waterfront access is not enough to convince you that you made the right choice in coming to this college then look at the community you have been accepted into. Besides the waterfront, one of the main things that draws faculty, staff, and students to this school is the warm and welcoming St. Mary’s community. For those of us who have been here for a few years, we know that the sense of connectedness is not just a myth written on the admissions website. People really do have bonfires at The Point and someone will inevitably bring a guitar and a majority of the campus will show up, take their shoes off and relax. This sets us apart from other schools were you fall into a clique, sorority, fraternity, or you just become a number. It may seem like a drawback but the fact that there are less than 2,000 students at this school makes it really easy to form a bond with your fellow classmates.
Even if you aren’t really into the whole Bonfire at The Point thing than you find that you will soon be going to campus events and meeting people in various clubs, sports, and classes that you somehow know. The joke here besides doing something stupid and yelling “Honor’s College,” is that St. Mary’s is so small that everyone knows everyone else. You soon learn that it is weird when you meet someone and realize you have never before seen them on campus. As corny as it sounds, when you come to St. Mary’s you come to a community that is ready to accept you.
If all of this waterfront/community stuff doesn’t make you want to love St. Mary’s despite the exuberant price then look at the facts of what you get despite the small size. St. Mary’s students have every advantage that students who go to larger school have, in my opinion we have even more perks. We can boast the highest graduation rate of any public college in Maryland, we have a 90% retention rate, 66% of alumni seeking employment find jobs 4 months after graduation, more than 60% of alumni attend professional or graduate schools, and 92% of our students are accepted into medical school. All of this information comes courtesy of the Admissions Office.
St. Mary’s also has some of the best professors, with 98% of them holding doctorate degrees and some Fulbright Scholars. These people are not only teaching you but they become mentors and friends during your four years at the College. So for your money you are getting taught by the best and brightest who happen to be people who are warm-hearted, love teaching, and generally care for their students. This is something that is difficult to find in even the smallest colleges in the nations, but something that comes in handy in multiple situations.
So basically I say that if you are fortuante to be able to afford St. Mary’s than take every opportunity that the college has to offer you. As I am sure many of my fellow students will attest, this place offers a great education and is a wonderful place to spend four years of your life.