Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts
Funding: Private College
Size: 2,300 (approx.)
Percent Women: 100% (with minority transgender and other self-identifications)
Tuition (one year): $53,596
Most Popular Majors: Biology, International Relations, Political Science, Economics, Psychology
Greek Life: No
Acceptance Rate: 51%For more information about financial aid, scholarships, majors, study abroad, and average test scores, visit Mount Holyoke College’s website at www.mtholyoke.edu.
Why Choose Mount Holyoke?
While Mount Holyoke recuits its students from various parts of the nation and around the world, the most applicants are self-selective: they chose Mount Holyoke because they wanted to be here. In addition, the majority of students who chose Mount Holyoke are also familiar with the other Seven Sisters Colleges (Wellesley College, Bryn Mawr College, Vassar College – now co-ed, Smith College, Barnard College, and Radcliffe College – now a part of Harvard College) through family, relatives, and friends.
After the initial interest, most students claimed that they committed to attending Mount Holyoke for various reasons. Students who have visited as prospective students fell in love with the campus, which was recently ranked #7 in Princeton Review’s Most Beautiful Campuses. In addition, the generous financial aid offers, excellent academic rankings, and the diverse student population were main attractions for many.
Mount Holyoke College has a lot to offer and the students will tell you that there is a plethora of opportunities to take advantage of. However, the students unanimously agree that their favorite part of the school is the community of people – friends, professors, staff, etc. It is a collective group of “Uncommon Women” who hold a diverse amount of interests and their passion is clearly seen in the classrooms and extracurricular activities. Their professors and professionals in the field inspire the students and their fascination is a direct reflection of intellectual curiosity that translates to quality in their work. However, this is no surprise considering the amount of great professors on this campus. Recently, the Princeton Review ranked 300 professors in the nation, and Mount Holyoke’s professors hold 14 spots on the list, which is on average more than any other college. These professors range in department from International Relations to Biology to French to Economics to Sociology.
Aside from the rigorous academics, students love the beauty of this campus and the traditions it has to offer. Some of their favorites include Mountain Day and M&Cs (Milk and Cookies). Mountain Day is held every Fall semester with a very uncertain date that everyone looks forward to. The bells on campus ring on Mountain Day at 7:00 am, indicating that classes have been canceled. On this beautiful Fall day, students take the provided shuttle to hike to the top of the Mt. Holyoke Summit, where the dining staff awaits with ice cream. It’s a great day to be spent with friends while enjoying New England’s Fall foliage.
M&Cs is every weeknight (Sunday to Thursday) in the common room of every dorm at 9:30 PM. It is a long kept tradition of providing students with some kind of snack (mostly it is pastries like cookies and cupcakes or snacks like pretzels and Goldfish). Many students take advantage of snacking late night before heading to the library or retiring to their dorms to continue studying for their classes. It provides students with an extra boost of energy and an early start to midnight munchies.
In addition to traditions of the college, there are many events that are traditions of student organizations like cultural events, concerts, and parties.
Without a doubt, there are imperfections on every campus. If you asked the average Mount Holyoke student, they would say that the worst part is the intense rigor and academic competitiveness, which result in hyper-stressed students. While stress is unavoidable in college, students often feel overwhelmed not just from their own personal stress but by having to witness other stressed out people as well. However, it shows the amount of care that students put into their academic careers throughout their 4-years here and the willingness to work hard to receive their well-deserved grades.
Other improvements of this campus include the horrible wi-fi connection (which is currently a problem), the typical New England muggy weather in the winters, and many complaints about Residential Life. However, the administration does give students plenty of options to voice their opinions and makes changes accordingly.
New Collegiette on Campus
First years are integrated into the community without a problem. Each dorm hall has an allocated amount of rooms for every class year which helps build friendships across classes. In addition to having upperclasswomen as friends (which is a perk since they can be of great help in choosing courses and other life mentorship), they have a week-long orientation with orientation leaders. It is an important step in their initiation as a part of the community because it allows them to fully understand the ins-and-outs of this campus. During the orientation week, students also meet their academic advisors and the Deans.
For Spring-admitted students, it takes longer to be integrated into their class years. Initially, they form smaller groups of friends within their Springies group and branch out by the end of the semester. By their Sophomore year, everyone has their own niche of friends without any discrimination to class years.
All About Academics
The academics on campus are excellent across the board, but some departments definitely gain more attention than others. Most popular majors include Biology, International Relations, Political Science, and Economics. However, no matter which department you are under, everyone agrees that the work is challenging and mentally stimulating as long as if they like what they study.
During the first year, students are required to take a First-Year Seminar (FYS), which are various courses only open to first-year students. These courses are designed to explain and practice the experience of a liberal arts education. Some of the past courses have included Israel and Palestine: Fact or Fiction, a course that studies the on-going conflict through the usage of fictional works such a poetry, film, and novels.
Course registration is a simple process. While first-years have the last date for choosing courses, each student is assigned a registration time to avoid online traffic. The course list is on MHC’s online system called ISIS, which also has links to many other useful tools like requesting transcripts, viewing your profile, and applications to summer funding. Most PE and elective courses fill-up very quickly, but the majority of the 100 and 200 level courses will usually be open for Sophomores and First-years without a problem. The departments make sure that there are plenty of spaces for students to finish their general requirements.
Aside from academics on the part of the college, students are responsible for keeping in touch with professors in the case that they need recommendations, working hard to get good grades, and completing other assignments as requested (ie. Declaring majors/minor). Though it may seem like there are a lot of tasks, the students have many resources to go for help. The library, also commonly known as LITS, is a great place to study. Students can find a range of study spaces from silent areas like the Stimson Room (which only hosts poetry books) to engaging places like the Atrium where students meet up to talk and grab coffee at Rao’s. There are also plenty of computer and media labs to work on projects. Of course, most upperclasswomen can be found in the stacks, especially if they’re doing a thesis or independent study research. Students have access to academic buildings and classrooms throughout the day, and with their swipe card at night, which expands the abundant quiet places for concentration.
Learn from the Best
Mount Holyoke professors have a great reputation in the realm of academia. 14 of the college’s professors are listed in 300 Best Professors in the Nation, a ranking by the Princeton Review. They range from all departments, but their ability to connect the students with the material is crucial in inspiring the students to take the extra step towards their academic and career goals. They have not only mastered the subject well enough to clearly explain it, they are also gifted and talented in the art of teaching – the ability to teach in an engaging way to heighten the attention and the process of critical thinking and analytical thinking in their students.
In addition to the quality of education, professors are very accessible and they encourage their students to visit them in office hours. They truly enjoy helping students in their free time. Because the student population is low (in comparison to other colleges), students are able to better connect with their professors for mentorship. The individual care that professors give to the students is an incredible advantage that Mount Holyoke students have over other college students. They do not have to fight for their time with a professor – even though some professors are more busy than others and would require a wait during office hours (but majority of them take appointments too).
Another advantage of going to a small college is the amount of students per classroom. The largest lectures will be around 100 students while the smallest courses will be 10. Though 100 students may seem a lot, these lectures often break into smaller lab groups. And unlike other colleges, there are no courses taught by TAs. The professors take their time to get to know their students and cater to their needs.
Interests & Involvement
Most Mount Holyoke students are very busy and involved in various groups on campus. Many students are part of athletic teams, while others participate in different clubs. Since it is a diverse campus and study body, there are a wide-array of clubs and student organizations that students can participate in. Students find out about clubs through friends, classmates, or the student organization fair that happens at the beginning of each semester. Some of the most popular clubs on campus are the Network, an events committee that hosts many large parties, the Mount Holyoke Newspaper and the African & Caribbean Student Association. Being apart of a club allows students to be involved in a smaller community on campus. It helps students get together and share their ideas and goals. Starting a club is possible but students have to meet certain requirements and regulations that sometimes take a long time to be approved.
The soccer, swimming and basketball teams on campus are well-known sports teams. Since sporting events are not highly advertised on campus, attendance is low and thus, school spirit in athletics is also low. Mount Holyoke does offer club sports in addition to varsity teams that compete in NCAA Division III and the Newmac. The Equestrian Teams are a part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Athletics are very time consuming in addition to the course workload, but many students enjoy the benefits of being a part of a team. Some of those benefits include practice times, access to different parts of the gym, and being a part of a community where they share a common interest.
As a women’s college, Mount Holyoke harbors a strong sense of women empowerment. It prides itself in the diversity of the student body, which includes not only just women from around the world, but also a population of LGBTQ young students. While majority of the students will identify themselves as females, everyone is well conscious of the students who prefer to identify as another gender.
This special accepting aspect of the Mount Holyoke community allows individuals to flourish as a person regardless of gender identification. This also adds to the interests and diversity of the student population, which are reflected in the way students dress and their participation in extracurricular activities and events.
The college works closely with the Five-College Women’s Studies Center, which affiliates with the Gender Studies Department and host multiple events throughout the year, such as lectures and talks.
Food & Drink
There are six dining halls on campus, which has a variety of foods. With the exception of Wilder Hall, each dining hall has vegetarian and vegan options in addition to their daily menu that changes on a weekly basis. Wilder Hall is a kosher and halal dining option and it only serves meats twice a week. Though the option may seem limiting, many students enjoy the healthy foods it provides. Each Wednesday, Wilder hosts an ice-cream sundae table that is popular with the students (aka Wilder Wednesday).
If students are too busy to sit down and eat in a dining hall, other options are Blanchard and Kendade Cafés. Blanchard is the student center with a to-go style dining on the first floor. It has fixed menus and daily specials in four stations: Culinary Cuisine, the Grill, the Deli, the Salad Bar and the Brick Oven Pizza. The Kendade Café is a small to-go bar in the Kendade Science Center which is popular for students to grab-and-go in brown lunch bags on busy days. Usually there are 6 options for entreé and 4 additional items for snacks and drinks.
The best meals without a doubt are on Sundays when 4 dining halls have their brunch specials. The most popular destination for Sunday brunch is in the Abbey/Buckland dining hall for make-you-own crepes. Often, students invite friends and families onto campus for the weekend and take them to Abbey/Buck brunches.
Because dining hall foods can be repetitive, it is also popular to call local restaurants for take-out or to grab dinner across the street in the Village Commons. Leftovers can be reheated in microwaves in the kitchenettes on each floor of the dorm halls even though the Golden Pear kitchens (fully equipped kitchens in some dorm halls) are closed due to the lack of maintenance by the student body.
Most students grab dinner off-campus in Amherst or Northampton, watch a movie or hang out with their friends. Since Mount Holyoke is a part of a Five-College Consortium, some students prefer to attend parties and social events at one of the other colleges such as Amherst College or UMASS Amherst.
Though Mount Holyoke does not have sororities, there are prevalent student organizations that host large parties such as the Network or MHCASA.
Drug and alcohol use on campus is not prevalent. Students do not feel pressured to participate in any activities since the community is accepting of people, regardless of their choice to drink or not. However, there are some divisions between different social groups who tend to stick with their friends instead of branching out and meeting others. The social scene on campus is mostly exclusive because most of the parties that occur cater to a certain group of people.
There are no large parties during the week, but students can find other events such as cultural shows and performances, lecture series and talks, and movie screenings. However, on the weekends, most students spend their time off-campus in Amherst or UMASS Amherst since they are accessible through the Five-College bus system, PVTA.
Dorms are warm and homey. Each dorm has a common room and a TV room in addition to a computer room. It has been a tradition of the college to have a piano and a grandfather clock in each dorm hall, which adds to the classic beauty of the dorms. Each hall has different characteristics, architecture, and design. Some halls have quiet floors and quiet hours with restriction to male usage of the dorm bathrooms (usually it’s every other floor). While students may have guests stay in their room, it can be no longer than 7 days and they must have consent from their roommate (if they have one). Males are also not allowed to be on a different floor in the dorm halls than that of their hostess(es).
The housing process is a lottery system, but it gives priority to upperclasswomen. Students can pick one or two roommates or apply to live in a single room (which is almost impossible for first and second years). However, by third and fourth year, most students have their own rooms. Some upperclasswomen choose to live off-campus, but it is rare due to the lack of accessibility to get to campus unless if they have a car.
Most students prefer to live on-campus for all four years because it harbors a sense of community through hall events and bonding activities. In addition, they have easy access to all the academic buildings, health and athletic centers, and their friends.
Exploring South Hadley
The town of South Hadley is very small. It contains a few restaurants, a theater and some other stores. There are not many nightlife options in the immediate surrounding of campus, but there are bars nearby towns, such as Amherst and Northampton. Though South Hadley has very limited options in restaurants and shops, it is a cozy place for students to relax and experience the charm of a New England small town. It is also very safe to leave campus and walk around the town.
Students who do go to the town of Holyoke, which is about 15 minutes from campus, participate in community service projects, internships, and volunteering work through the Community-Based Learning program and the Weissman Center. They give students the opportunity to take action for a better environment in their immediate surroundings and to apply their experiences in the academic field.
HC's Complete College Guide: Mt Holyoke College
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