Why is MCLA a top ten college? Ask the campus community

MCLA campus

As a top ten public college, MCLA has a lot to offer: more than 100 scholarships, a liberal arts curriculum that helps students learn across academic disciplines, tons of student activities, and support ranging from student-led tutoring to the TRIO Program, which focuses on helping low-income, first-generation, or disabled students get the most out of their college experience.

These are all important facets—and no doubt part of why MCLA also continues to appear on U.S. News’ list of best colleges for social mobility—but the MCLA community, who work here, live here, and learn here, has more to say about why MCLA has been named a Top Ten College for nine of the last 11 years, and keeps climbing the rankings lists each year.

“I think MCLA is a top college because of the quality of education it provides,” said Domenica Gomez ’23, who attends MCLA while working as an admission ambassador, giving tours to prospective students. “Throughout my college experience I have had the opportunity to receive one-on-one assistance from professors that genuinely care about your educational success and make long-lasting connections that will help shape my future." 

Kayla Hollins ’12, MCLA’s director of admission, came to MCLA from New York City and has helped thousands of students learn more about the College before they apply. “MCLA is a top ten college because it is filled with true trailblazers—first generation students, students who live far from campus, undeclared students, and more,” she said. “These are students who took a chance on our small community—and our community continues to deliver a quality education. MCLA is a place for all students to learn how to be a leader. As an alum, I pride myself on being a Trailblazer, and as the director of admission, I hope to recruit more of us to the institution.”

MCLA professors bring their classes to experience everything in the Berkshires, from tracking salamanders in the MCLA forest and Mount Greylock State Reservation to working with museum staff on arts and education projects. “We have incredible access to the arts,” said Professor of Art Melanie Mowinski. “MASS MoCA, the largest contemporary art museum in the country, is one of our teaching labs. I think that experiential element related to the arts, the environment, and the beauty of the land is what continues to make us a top ten school.” 

I think the institution, meaning the people who are at its core, understand and stay true to the ultimate mission: providing a quality affordable liberal arts education to a student population that is not especially advantaged,” said Dennis Ducharme ’82, president of the MCLA Alumni Association. “The college provides amazing support through a great student to faculty ratio and with many layers of services geared to maximize retention and graduation rates. The result is an educational experience that puts our students on an upward trajectory, both financially and as engaged members of their communities.”

“I am proud to see MCLA recognized again as a Top Public College, but I am more proud of the work we’ve done to continue to climb these rankings for nine of the last 11 years,” said MCLA President James F. Birge, Ph.D. “We have an excellent faculty body with expertise and dedication to a liberal arts education. We have staff dedicated to student outcomes at every level and in every department. We have incredible programs that contribute to social mobility, helping our under-resourced students achieve a college education, which will help them earn more in their lifetimes, find fulfilling careers, and live meaningful lives. Public colleges help contribute to furthering economic equity every day, and we are proud to make this part of our mission as an institution.”

Want to learn more about MCLA? Talk to our Office of Admission, or plan a visit.