In one sentence: A prestigious liberal arts college in the Grand Avenue neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, Macalester College is very internationalist, liberal, laid-back but academically sharp, Macalester is a hair below the top group of schools in the United States.

History & character:

Macalester College was founded in 1885 by Rev. Dr. Edward Duffield Neill. The school was named after Charles Macalester, a Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist. It started as a Presbyterian institution and graduated 100 students between 1889 and 1898. Charles Macalester's Scottish ancestry strongly influenced the school in the 1940s, when the Chief of the Clan of MacAlister officially adopted the school into the Clan. There is a large Scottish Country Fair with bagpipes, dancing, games, contests and Scottish food on campus every spring now. You, too can partake in the amazing artery-clogging Scottish Egg on a Stick. People play bagpipes on campus when it's warm, too.

After World War II, President Charles J. Turck helped advance internationalism at the school with foreign student programs, studying overseas, and getting more faculty from around the world. Today 11% of Mac students are international, representing 78 nations!

Macalester is pretty well known as the alma mater of Kofi Annan, current secretary of the United Nations. Over campus a U.N. flag flies below the American flag on the central flagpole. Other noted grads include Scott McCallum, current governor of Wisconsin. Former Vice President Walter Mondale spent a few years here and then ran out of tuition money.

The students:

Macalester's students are well-known/stereotyped as being parked well out on the left wing, international, and pretty darn smart. The school is definitely full of hippies, hippie posers, and pretty bright liberal-arts kids.

Some statistics from the Princeton Review's The Best 331 Colleges:

On average, the first-year population has verbal SAT's 630-720, and math SAT's 610-700. ACT's range 27-31. Kids who apply there often also like Rice University, Middlebury and Swarthmore College and sometimes like Carleton College and Colorado College. Mac also gets compared with Grinnell College a lot.

The liberal stereotype is pretty well justified: According to the guy who I followed during my visit, there are only 15 registered Republican students. There's definitely a PCU factor: Freshmen are referred to as first-years by everyone, evidently because some of the freshmen are women! Women! First-years, by the way, are required to live on campus.

Students there often complain about a left-wing mentality which tends to take up a cause and dump it rapidly, over and over, in an effort to be rebellious and cool. qousqous' Rebellion is cool. Cool sells. Baa... node sums it up really well.

As one school newspaper guy put it to me when I visited, Macalester is thought of as more of a pot school than a drinking school. I, naive young high school senior, asked him to estimate how many Mac kids smoke weed. "Like how frequently?" he asked. "Weekly?" He laughed at my question. "About 70 percent."

Student Activities:

Besides rockin' the ganja now and then, Mac kids do a lot of extracurricular things. There is an anime club, an Outing Club, a Queer Union, The Macalester Peace and Justice Committee, the Macalester Democrats, the Macalester Gaming Society, among lots of other groups. The school radio station, WMCN, 91.7 FM, is kind of messed up right now and is sort of in legal limbo. Hopefully someone will set that right this coming year.

Stuff to do for fun:

Since I don't go to Mac yet I'm not sure what are the favorite activities. I'll fill it in more when I've been there for a while.
There's a ton of things to do in the Twin Cities for fun. Around Mac, kids used to like hanging out at Kagin Commons (closed for renovation as of Summer 2001) and, now, the brand new Student Union.

Turck Hall is a good place. On my overnight visit to Mac, I stayed in a former lounge converted to triple room in Turck which was really big and comfy. Turck is co-ed, at least mostly. The 4th floor may officially be combustion-free according to qousqous, but it didn't seem that way to me! ;) Turck Hall is attached to Doty Hall through something called The Fishbowl.

The school is located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. It's a really cool spot. Bus lines can take you to downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul pretty easily. Ruminator Books (formerly The Hungry Mind Bookstore), Eclipse Records and other rockin' shops and restaurants are an easy walk.


Macalester is in the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, along with other liberal arts colleges in Minnesota such as Augsburg College, Carleton College, Hamline University, and St. Olaf College. Macalester is pretty competitive but they had a notorious football team in the 1970's which had a multiple-season losing streak. Friends of mine report that the track facilities are excellent and well-maintained.

Residence Halls:

Noders at Macalester:

In alphabetical order :)

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