Sign up today and save up to 83% on a Hartford Courant digital subscription
CT Now

Criticism of St. Mary's fails woefully

Anne D. Neal apparently thinks that because St. Mary's College of Maryland has been unable to fill 150 seats in its incoming freshman class, its curriculum must be flawed and its students ill-educated ("Cautionary campus tale," May 30).

As a student of St. Mary's College of Maryland, I strongly disagree with Ms. Neal's stance, and I am appalled by the complete lack of basis on which she constructs her argument.

In her commentary, Ms. Neal pulls her evidence of St. Mary's apparent failure in curriculum from the "American Council of Trustees and Alumni's 'What Will They Learn?' study," which apparently "gave St. Mary's core curriculum a D, finding that students could graduate with immense gaps in their skills and knowledge." Ms. Neal asserts, based on the findings of the study, that St. Mary's students "can graduate without exposure to literature, American history or government, foreign language, or composition."

In truth, St. Mary's students must meet core requirements in such areas as international languages, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and a core seminar. To say that St. Mary's students are not required to study foreign language is untrue. Exposure to literature and composition is embedded in the core seminar requirement, and students must also take a placement exam in composition to determine if further instruction is needed.

Interestingly enough, Harvard College, the institution from which Ms. Neal is a graduate, received a "D" in the same study, "lacking" almost the exact same requirements. It seems that the study fails to take into account that many students achieve their core requirements utilizing AP credits and their equivalents. Ms. Neal also chooses to criticize the cost of tuition at St. Mary's college, but again fails to recognize that the cost tuition at Harvard is more than twice that of St. Mary's.

Ms. Neal goes on to subtly criticize the "trendy" introductory seminars that are also a core requirement of St. Mary's College. The goals of these introductory courses are to enhance "critical thinking, information literacy, written expression and oral expression" in students, while also encouraging them to become active members in the college community. While the topics of the seminars are quirky and weird (a description of St. Mary's that students take pride in), the "meat and bones" of the courses are dense with constructive learning.

As a student in the seminar, "Victorian Monsters and Modern Monstrosity," with Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black, I read such influential works as Jane Eyre and Dracula, among others, and learned to critically analyze these works in both written and oral discussion.

I learned the foundations of research and writing and how to actively integrate myself into the college community, all in a class that I found to be interesting and fun. I suppose Ms. Neal's classes at Harvard never ventured beyond the boring, overarching, "cookie-cutter" topics of learning, and that is her loss.

It seems that whatever point Ms. Neal had been attempting to make has been buried by her unfounded criticism and her complete disregard for factual evidence. She has insulted and degraded every student, faculty member, and alumnus of St. Mary's College of Maryland. I would suggest that Ms. Neal's time would be better spent examining her own alma mater, rather than criticizing an esteemed college about which she has no knowledge.

Sarah Jablon, Severna Park

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
Related Content
  • St. Mary's troubles are temporary, but its appeal is enduring

    St. Mary's troubles are temporary, but its appeal is enduring

    Our view: The college has suffered a painful setback with the departure of President Urgo, but its value remains unchanged

  • The value of a St. Mary's education

    The value of a St. Mary's education

    This letter is in response to Anne Neal's recent commentary, "Cautionary campus tale," (May 30). As a 2008 St. Mary's alumna, I, like many of my fellow alumni, took great umbrage to the broad strokes Ms. Neal attempts to use in painting our alma mater as a poster child of that "bloated wastrel"...

  • St. Mary's offers an education you can't find anywhere else

    St. Mary's offers an education you can't find anywhere else

    I recently read an article on the baltimoresun.com about St. Mary's College of Maryland ("St. Mary's: A cautionary tale for America's bloated higher education system," May 29). I am part of St. Mary's class of 2016, and the article offended me.

  • The truth about St. Mary's curriculum

    The truth about St. Mary's curriculum

    I recently read an article from the Baltimore Sun entitled "St. Mary's College: a cautionary tale for America's bloated higher education system" by Annie Neal. I would like to express my distaste for this article and it's obvious misinformation.

  • Author of anti-St. Mary's screed has a political ax to grind

    Author of anti-St. Mary's screed has a political ax to grind

    I was offended but unsurprised by Anne D. Neal's fallacious opinion piece in your paper this past Wednesday ("St. Mary's College: a cautionary tale for America's bloated higher education system," May 29). Offended, because it levels baseless charges at an education which has been invaluable for...

  • St. Mary's College can't be compared to UM College Park

    St. Mary's College can't be compared to UM College Park

    As a student at St. Mary's College of Maryland, I suspect a lot of us have a problem with Anne D. Neal's recent commentary about the school even though it's title was catchy and concise ("Cautionary campus tale," May 30).

Comments
Loading
73°