When I was contemplating attending college, I wanted a similar experience that I had in high school. I graduated from a small school in Rensselaer County where you knew everyone in your class along with one up and down, class size was small, and the teachers took a genuine interest in you and your success as a student. Initially my search lead me to institutions where I would be just a number or a face in the classroom with no connection to my peers or my instructor. I knew I could do the work and complete my degree successfully in a larger school however; my heart would yearn for that connection of a smaller school.
I searched online for colleges in the Capital District and found a listing for Maria College. Upon reading the description, these words stuck out to me “Founded by the Sisters of Mercy over 50 years ago, Maria College is an intimate campus of three buildings.” Wait, what?…Sisters of Mercy, three buildings, intimate campus…this is it! I found my college.
I applied, was accepted, and completed an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts in 2009. The college lived up to its description and so much more. Class size ran between 12-15 students providing an opportunity for class participation for all the students and direct meaningful conversations with the instructors. Classrooms were safe to share ideas and discuss difficult and controversial subjects. As a student, I was treated like a person not a number and not like a blank stare looking back at the instructor. I learned, I was challenged, I was respected, and I grew. I proudly accepted my diploma in May of 2009. I had not only completed the program I made a lifelong bond to my Alma matter.
My bond continues to this day as I work diligently to wrap up my final semester as a senior, soon to be crossing the stage again to receive another diploma from Maria College. This time for my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. My time at Maria has been exceptional. I have made friends, learned volumes, and discovered more about my passions and myself. I have been prepared to go out into the world as a better, well-informed, conscientious person who respects the dignity of every human person and is willing to turn my knowledge and skills into caring and compassionate service to others. I owe all this to a small, private, institute called Maria College.
As I write, my eyes well a bit…I am feeling melancholy and bittersweet. I am happy to be completing my program and earning my degree but I am sad that I will not be on campus, participating in classes, sharing camaraderie with classmates, expanding my mind even more in a formal setting, and feeling the vibe of the campus and the work that is done there. Maria College has been good for me and good to me. I am a better version of myself because of the knowledge I gained and the skills I can apply in the real world. The college satisfied my desire to learn in a small, intimate setting. Don’t let the size of the college fool you…the classes were significant, demanding, and worth all the effort. Small does not by any stretch of the word mean less than or not equal to larger schools. Small in this scenario really does equate to intimate, caring, respectful, and worthwhile. I would highly recommend the college to anyone who is looking for a similar experience in their journey in higher education. Now if Maria would only offer a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts!
Liberal Arts, BA