St. Mary’s College of California

St. Mary’s College is a small campus in the foothills outside of Oakland (in Moraga, CA).  At St. Mary’s, they say that students “enter to learn, and leave to serve.”  St. Mary’s is a Catholic school in the LaSallian tradition; a social justice orientation pervades learning.  Founded during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, St. Mary’s is celebrating 150 years in 2013.

St. Mary’s has a 4-1-4 calendar, which allows students to remain on campus or travel the world for “Jan term” in January.  Two religion courses are required for students during their four years at St. Mary’s.  The Socratic method is used for many courses, emphasizing reading, discussing and debating material of all topics.  In my recent tour, a St. Mary’s professor demonstrated this to a group of about 15 college counselors by presenting us with a Shakespearean sonnet and having us read and discuss its meaning.  St. Mary’s has a strong creative writing program, and also offers an MFA in creative writing.  The sciences are also very strong here.  Ninety-five percent of students go abroad at some point during college.

I’ve visited St. Mary’s twice and I love this campus.  With just over 2,800 students, and most of them living on campus, there is a real feel of community here.  Professors are approachable and available, academic help and tutoring are easy to access, and students feel connected to this school, which calls itself an “athletic powerhouse.”

More information about St. Mary’s is here.

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