April 12, 2012


McDaniel is a small LAC located in cute, historic Westminster, MD. The college is perched on a hill and offers many views in every direction. The numerous quaint and attractive buildings are clustered closely together so that walking the length of the campus can be done in a few minutes.

We toured the school after hanging out for most of the morning with nothing in particular to do. We were invited by admissions to eat in the dining hall for $7.50 each, which we did. We sat amongst students and faculty eating, and noticed a variety of seating options that we had not seen before: single tables, like desks, in long rows that swivel toward a giant TV screen, and long and round, tall bar tables and seats placed in different areas around the cheerful and new dining hall. I ate a Mongolian stir-fry, new and popular campus cuisine (it was also touted at F&M) and the kids ate pizza as part of their survey of to find which campus has the best. F&M is currently in the lead but Juniata is not in the running as we did not lunch on campus there.

After lunch, we ventured back to admissions and Jeremy was visited by the assistant soccer coach, himself a recent McDaniel graduate. They had a friendly chat that was ended by an admissions officer who was ready to begin her information session, upstairs in the quaint house that houses the admissions offices. That speech was canned and pretty void of enthusiasm and excitement. It would have been actually dull had it not been for the presence of newbies from CA on their first tour ever, expressing surprise, glee and excitement about many things she described about the whole college application process. One thing to note: there is plenty of money for merit awards at McDaniel!

The tour was, by far, the highlight of the visit as we had two very charming and entertaining tour guides. Both love the school shared their favorite aspects of McDaniel with us. It really does make a difference seeing the inside of buildings and learning the stories behind them. We each felt a greater admiration for the school afterwards. Highlights for me are: the diversity, the “red square” (the quad), the football field with lights, the library, the lone lecture hall, and the athletic center.

When I first arrived at the admissions office, I sat and read the tiny amount of literature available about the school. I picked up a new book, America’s Best Kept College Secrets. I was happy to read about McDaniel in that book because it is not included in my bible, The Fisk Guide to Colleges, at least not in the edition that I have. Many good schools are omitted. However, after reading the description of McDaniel, I have to say it was pretty thin and devoid of accolades compared to that book’s descriptions of other schools we have visited and really liked. It was hard for that author, as it is for me, to pinpoint what is is that makes McDaniel really special. It's a nice, generous little LAC in a nice area and its acceptance rates are fairly high.

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