Vermont College Road Trip: St. Michael’s College

Lindsey Rogers of Park Ridge, New Jersey, had never been rock climbing before she came to St. Michael’s College in northwestern Vermont. By the time she graduated in 2018, the neuroscience major had logged dozens of trips across New England as an assistant instructor for the college’s Adventure Sports Center.

In addition to its hands-on learning and ample outdoor recreational options, the private liberal arts college‘s small class sizes attracted Rogers, as did the general sense of community among the school’s roughly 1,800 undergraduates. “There’s a ton of opportunities, and they make it all really accessible,” Rogers says.

Founded in 1904 by the Society of Saint Edmund, a Catholic group, St. Michael’s infuses its campus culture with a spirit of serving others. Some 70 percent of students give back, and options include organic gardening, afterschool tutoring, caring for animals and baking for hungry families.

[Read: Learn About U.S. Colleges With Religious Affiliations.]

The Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts program is a one-stop shop for getting involved in service. Leah Seften, a 2018 neuroscience grad from Bolton, Connecticut, volunteered for one of several St. Mike’s mentorship programs where she led one-on-one trips, games and special events for area middle schoolers.

MOVE also sends more than 135 students each year to 12 other states and two international sites — in the Dominican Republic and either India or Guatemala — over school breaks.

Although religion is the backbone of the school, for many “it has only a subtle presence on campus,” says recent grad Kerra Photiades, from Bedford, New Hampshire, who double-majored in education and English. More than half of students identify as Catholic, and another 25 percent or so note another religious preference. As part of the curriculum, students must complete two courses focused on Christian and Catholic intellectual traditions.

Rounding out the core curriculum are requirements in philosophy, arts and literature, history and society, scientific inquiry, quantitative reasoning, global issues and languages. Undergrads are introduced to the school’s small classes and writing-intensive coursework in a first-year seminar.

The college’s honors program includes a set of specialized seminars, a senior capstone project and a colloquium course through which students attend community events and discuss them. About 30 percent of undergrads study abroad in more than 100 locations around the world, and many work on one-on-one research projects with faculty.

[Read: 6 Worthwhile Scholarships to Fund Study Abroad.]

Senior Mia DelleBovi, an elementary education and American studies major from Buffalo, New York, worked with an education professor to modify toy cars so children with mobility challenges could ride in them.

The college’s 440-acre campus features a number of stately, red brick buildings, an astronomer’s observatory and nature trails. Some students can enjoy mountain views from their dorm rooms, and 98 percent of undergrads live on campus all four years.

[Read: When Living On Campus Could Save You Money.]

Furthering the feeling of camaraderie, faculty are known to turn up at sporting events, meet students for coffee and attend fundraisers for the 40-plus campus organizations. With a 13:1 student-faculty ratio, the professors know you, “so you can’t just be a ski bum and not show up to class,” says Sarah Kelly, vice president for enrollment and marketing. Burlington is just a few minutes away, while Montreal is two hours by car.

Outside the classroom, the Adventure Sports Center hosts outings for all students interested in hiking, mountain biking and climbing. Students can also participate in frequent low-cost trips to try snowshoeing, ice climbing or kayaking, as well as workshops and lessons to build skills in emergency medicine, decision-making and teamwork. Free buses head to the slopes every weekend.

The school fields 21 NCAA Division II athletic teams, with club and intramural options, too. And at the student-run St. Michael’s College Fire and Rescue, undergrads are on call 24/7 to provide fire and emergency medical services to Colchester and the surrounding area.

The school is also home to a professional performing arts playhouse where some students sharpen their skills over the summer in theater and music, which are among the roughly 38 majors offered at the college.

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Vermont College Road Trip: St. Michael’s College originally appeared on usnews.com