"Saint Martin’s provides many, if not all, of the qualities of a larger institution without most of the negative aspects ... resulting in an ambiance that feels more like home and less like a business."
I attended Saint Martin’s University for three years after transferring from a local community college. As a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Master of Aeronautical Engineering), I offer a comparison between a small university on the far edge of the national academic radar and one of the most well-known educational institutions in the world, and explain why my time at Saint Martin’s was so valuable and worthwhile.
Enrolling in the Mechanical Engineering Program at Saint Martin's, I found myself surrounded by a community of friendly students and faculty genuinely interested in my success. Professors are readily available in their offices on a regular basis, even without an appointment, for discussion of coursework or even just to say hello and talk about life for a while.
The depth and complexity of courses vary throughout the engineering curriculum, as does the teaching style in each of the professors. Some are very by-the-book and rather strict, while others encourage thinking out-of-the-box and provide more flexibility throughout the course. This academic blend requires hard work, critical thinking, and creativity, all of which are required for the successful development of a well-rounded, multifaceted education.
Student-governed activities, such as the remote-controlled baja car and concrete canoe competitions, bring students together to encourage ingenuity and collaboration. Saint Martin’s provides many, if not all, of the qualities of a larger institution without most of the negative aspects, such as overcrowded classrooms and impersonal service, resulting in an ambiance that feels more like home and less like a business. The religious affiliation of Saint Martin’s augments this ambiance, and all faculty members express an air of not only tolerance, but acceptance of all faiths.
The beautiful, modern campus remains secluded from through-traffic for a quiet, pleasant experience, differing drastically from large urban universities, which tend to resemble small cities more than schools. The majority of the buildings are modern, and include a new state-of-the-art engineering facility. The spacious green areas between buildings provide an excellent area for social interaction and prevent one from feeling trapped on campus.
Though I did not participate in any collegiate sports during my time at Saint Martin’s, I was very aware of the excellence of the athletics department, which offers a wide variety of sports and also includes intramurals for those looking only to have some fun. The rec center is very modern and clean, including three basketball courts and various training facilities.
Having lived locally off-campus, I am unable to comment on the on-campus housing experience, though many of my friends there did live on-campus and rarely had any complaints. Many different options exist to suit almost any living preference, including single and shared units, as well as small apartments. As a commuter, parking was exceptionally accessible at any time of the day or night (for free!), even during events. This little convenience might be one of the things I miss the most about Saint Martin’s.
In conclusion, Saint Martin’s University offers all the tools to success offered by larger institutions, without sacrificing all the comforts and conveniences one normally leaves behind in their freshman year. The quality of education that can be attained is excellent, and the small student body allows exceptional, hard-working students to stand out, rather than be overshadowed by hundreds of other students. Looking back, I am proud and greatly satisfied with my decision to attend, and would make the same decision again today. Saint Martin’s may be a small university, but it provides enormous potential.