Saint Mary’s College of California

The drive to the campus is sooo beautiful! Imagine a forested wonderland with pleasant housing and nice gardens and cute dogs and adorable grandparents and beautiful views…that’s Moraga, California.


….told ya.

So yeah, Moraga seems like a pretty cute community. It’s quaint and simple, quiet and peaceful–but possibly too much so for my liking. It seems like a nice place to live but not ideal for what I’m looking for in my college experience. However! It is only about 25 minutes from San Francisco, which is everything I’m looking for. (The San Francisco part…not the 25 minutes.)

It’s close to the best city in the world, it’s in a beautiful, safe, and lovely town, and it’s a good school. So let’s dive in!

As soon as I pulled up the long, dramatic drive-way I quickly labeled the campus: boarding school. And really, what is college if not a glorified boarding school?

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The first stop on our tour was the honors housing. It was…old. It smelled like Old and there was a Christian/Biblical quote of some sort painted on the doorway. Throughout this experience I kept hearing the relentless alarm going off in my head: Boarding school. Boarding school. Boarding school.Boarding school. But have no fear, I didn’t run away screaming. I remained open-minded through the whole of the tour.

This dorm was a very typical, double, average, classic dorm. Nothing special.

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Here’s the inside of another dorm building:

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And the outside of it:





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And here are the designated eating areas…

This is a cafe/restauranty type place:

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And this is the main dining hall:
IMG_0858At sight of this cafeteria (sorry for the glare) and the restrictive hours of which it is open, my mental alarm was louder than ever. BOARDING SCHOOL. BOARDING SCHOOL. BOARDING SCHOOL.  But I persevered!

 I think the peak of my disappointment occurred when spotting the library:


No, it isn’t hideous or anything, it just made me kind of sad. I really appreciate a great library. Also, they didn’t take us inside…makes one suspicious. What’s so bad about that library? I mean we’re walking right passed it, why not give us a peak inside? Are there even books in there!? Is this all a lie?!

They did, however, take us into the church. It was pretty impressive.



We also got to go into the English building which was, to put it lightly, frightening. The walls are covered with murals of scenes from Dante’s Inferno and, I believe, some other demonic, Satanic story. Keep in mind, this is a religious university so I was pretty scared. I just walked through quietly with a sort of cringe on my face. (They are pretty graphic.) Although I was fearful in that moment, I did get to learn about the English program. All students take a literature seminar which is based on round-table discussion and Socratic seminar. They read classics and are challenged to be thorough and analytic. It sounded demanding but also really interesting and rewarding.

The view I enjoyed the most was looking from this spot right here:



I guess it’s hard to tell from this photo, but the green hills in the background are absolutely gorgeous. Plus, our tour guide told us that students can hike up there and that all that land belongs to the school.

Oh, and the other thing I really liked was the fog that endured throughout my whole visit. It made me so happy!

IMG_0824 That’s some good fog right there.

And here are the photos of things that I don’t really have anything informative to speak on:

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I’m gonna just come out and say it: I missed the info sessions. Don’t ask me how it happened, I’m still confused, but it did. I know, I know…I screwed up! But I figured it was okay because I already heard their whole spiel when an admissions officer visited my school. Oh well! Here are the bits and pieces I did learn while there:

  • The housing rundown is this: Freshmen are required to live on campus; Sophomores do not have to but housing is guaranteed; upperclassmen are entered into a lottery for housing and most of them want to. It doesn’t seem like there are a whole bunch of glamorous options for off-campus living. However, if you do live off-campus you can take a university bus to get into campus. Also, the off-campus living is cheap and close by.
  • Dinner ends at 7 pm. and breakfast didn’t start until something like 7 or 8 in the morning. This is the restrictiveness I referred to earlier. I find this time ridiculous and I refuse to comply with it.
  • Parking is free! Also, you can have a parking permit every year you attend the school! Yay! Vehicles have a home!
  • The tour guide told us something about having to pay $50 or something to be able to attend all athletic events? On and off campus? I have no idea how valid this statement is. She seemed uncertain..
  • The Freshmen live all together, in the dorms pictured above, but the honors students live separately.
  • They have a special schedule called 4-1-4.  Four months of school (Semester 1), then January term, then four more months (Semester 2). There are a lot of options for Jan. term including travel opportunities, classes for credit, or fun classes just cuz.
  • Students have to take a Bible course as well as one other theology class.
  • Dorms are separated by sex by floor and there are more female students than male.
  • There are over 40 clubs and organizations.
  • The tour guide prided St. Mary’s as being full of school spirit and diversity! Two characteristics I am looking for in a school.
  • Labs have a 14 student max and lectures have 40 students.
  • Students get food points that can be used at local eateries.
  • 100% of students who applied to med school got in, 80% of them got their first choice.
  • They have a cadaver lab, which is a relatively special/rare resource for undergrads.
  • No Greek! This makes me very happy but I know that it eliminates the option for students who are interested in participating, which is unfortunate.
  • There are about 3,000 students

Overall, I thought it was a really nice place to go to school. It seems perfect if you’re someone who wants a small school, to be not in but near an urban area, a liberal arts education, a brand new, fancy work out facility, school spirit and community and some faith aspect, and who likes basketball. For me, I just didn’t feel any spark while I was there. It didn’t seem extraordinarily special or exciting, it just felt nice. The lackluster may have been due to the student-less-ness of the campus while I was there, but it’s always hard to tell. Although I could picture myself there, I became pretty certain that it wasn’t My School when I got into San Francisco. All I could think was, Why would I be there, when I could be hereand then suddenly I almost completely dismissed Saint Mary’s as an option for me…I guess that’s just how it goes!

Everyone is different with every school, so please comment on what you think of Saint Mary’s! Are you more like me and need something more than what Saint Mary’s has, or is this the kind of school that really suits you? Have any questions? Please leave them in the comments!

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