Getting To Know: Marymount Manhattan College (NY)
I trekked into New York City on the recommendation of a counselor friend to check out Marymount Manhattan College. This school is an interesting option for someone who wants to combine their talents in communications, performing arts or the visual arts with minors in business, humanities, social sciences and sciences.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice and antiracism are at the heart of the school’s mission.
It helps to be liberal/progressive or at least open minded to get along. The message is also part of the appeal. In prior years this school welcomed between 450 and 500 freshmen. This year the class will have more than 600 students. It’s not exceptionally hard to get into the business, communications or liberal arts majors. But the visual and performing arts programs have additional requirements. Fortunately, there’s no application fee and there are conditional admissions for the visual arts based on the valuation of a freshman portfolio.
Marymount Manhattan is test-optional. The scores might not be important outside of the science and speech/hearing programs. But it will help to write well if you really need a scholarship.
Costs have to work out.
The direct charges for the upcoming academic year will be just under $61,000 for someone who lives in college-owned housing. That’s not bad compared with a school like Fordham or NYU if your interests lean towards the visual or performing arts. Scholarships range from $10,000/year to $22,000/year and it’s possible for students in the arts to earn more.
However, incoming students should add at least $7,000 to $10,000 for incidentals, including subway fares. Not to mention that renting in New York has its extra costs and headaches and entertainment in the Big Apple is more expensive than practically anyplace else. The average student loan balance for students in the Class of 2021 who borrowed was just under $39,000. I had wonder if the costs were one reason for the low (70%) freshman retention and four-year graduation rates (49%).
Marymount Manhattan has recently reduced the number of general education credits from 45 to 30.
This will make it more possible for students in BFA programs to pursue a double major or take more electives beyond a minor. Marymount Manhattan offers 34 majors and 79 minors as well as concentrations within majors. Being a very small school in one of the world’s largest cities, Marymount Manhattan sells New York as aggressively as it sells itself. The map below, as one example, hangs in the room where I attended the information session.
Marymount Manhattan also offers ‘CityEdge’ a set of programs, one with stipends for students who want to accept unpaid internships in the Big Apple. Incoming freshmen are also required to take a New York City Seminar to help them become more familiar with the city. The college also closes 71st Street to traffic for a fall student fair in the fall. Marymount Manhattan plays no intercollegiate sports, though students are also called Griffins. Homecoming focuses on music and theatrical performances instead.
This small (less than 1,700 undergrads) school is located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
It’s a thriving urban neighborhood that young adults dream about, especially if they hope to be on Broadway. Marymount Manhattan is accessible to Broadway via the ‘Q’ line on the subway. It’s a very short walk from Penn Station to Herald Square to meet up with the ‘Q’ and an equally short ride to get to the 72nd Street stop near campus. Those who choose this school will get to know the ‘Q’ well; it’s also near the 32-story freshman-sophomore-transfer residence hall, but the stop is on 57th Street. The college also operates a 12-story apartment complex in the East Village, which is even further away. Budget approximately $1,700/year for unlimited monthly passes on the subway, especially if you want to stay in the city over the summer.
Campus? What campus?
Aside from the two apartment complexes as well as a former townhome that serves as the admissions office, this campus is essentially two buildings. Carson Hall hosts the visual and performing arts spaces, including the Theresa Lang Theater and one of the largest dance studios I have seen on a college campus. I took a photo before a class came in for lessons.
The Lang Theater is a very serious performance space as are the practices spaces. I dropped three photos below.
Other student spaces could be best described as functional and modern, but not fancy. While I visited Marymount Manhattan on a day where there were no classes or events, I had the sense that corridors are quite crowded between classes.
At first, I thought that Marymount Manhattan would appeal more to New Yorkers who already knew the city.
But less than a quarter of the students, and only a fifth of this past year’s first-year class came from the Big Apple. Only half come from New Jersey, New York or Connecticut, less than I thought. Some of the college’s marketing messages must be working and awareness of the more popular programs is strong outside the region.
It was tough to single out similar schools
Among the schools that I have visited Emerson College (MA) has a similar mix of communications and arts programs. The students bond no less around their academic and professional interests. Both Emerson and Marymount Manhattan offer speech and hearing programs, too. Emerson also offers the “student citizen” experience of living in a major city. However, Emerson also has over 1,000 more undergrads and grants graduate degrees. It also has a second campus in Los Angeles. There are more opportunities at Emerson. But Boston is not as much of an entertainment and media capital as New York.
Some of the comments that I made about Emerson College also apply to Marymount Manhattan. This school offers many potentially rewarding experiences, especially for students who take the most advantage of the education and the city. However, the experiences can also be quite expensive. At the same time, I also felt that Marymount gave students more latitude to design a degree program to fit multiple interests. Those who have the curiosity and/or maturity to do that may really like this school.
But like Emerson, Marymount Manhattan can also be a fishbowl where everyone knows everyone else’s business. That can be an uncomfortable feeling for some college freshmen. It also helps to pursue or greatly appreciate the visual and performing arts. The student’s talents bond this community more than anything else.
Report Card: Marymount Manhattan College
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: D/C
- Freshman Retention: C
- Costs: C
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A (Communications, Visual and Performing Arts,)/C (anything else)
Want to know more about me?
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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