Profile: Merrimack College (MA)
Merrimack College is neither one of the smallest nor the largest private colleges in Massachusetts, but it is one of the most popular.
During the current and previous admissions cycles one in nine college-bound high school seniors in Massachusetts applies to Merrimack College, surprising for a school with only 3,400 undergraduates that is located in a state with so many small and mid-sized private colleges. I had the opportunity to take an extended visit to Merrimack to profile the school and will also share photos of the campus found on Pinterest.
Merrimack College is one only two Catholic colleges of the Augustinian order, Villanova University being the other. It would be fair to state that Merrimack is a smaller version of Villanova, with a very similar academic mix as well as the advantage of mass transit access to a major city that offers many employment and social opportunities for its students. The college will soon compete in NCAA Division I (scholarship) play in all of its varsity sports, as Villanova does today. It would not be surprising for Villanova to schedule its sister school as a non-conference rival in basketball in the future.
Merrimack offers over 90 majors and more than 100 possible minors, more than you might find at some much larger state universities. It places a greater premium on student success than most similar schools, admitting about a fifth of a freshman class based on potential, as covered through recommendations from school counselors, teachers and other reliable sources. While the statistical profile of a freshman class is not as strong as it would be for schools such as Fairfield University or Providence College as well as the flagship state universities in New England, Merrimack graduates just over two-thirds of a freshman class on time, with other continuing to advanced degrees for an extra year. This is a very positive indicator of the quality of instruction and support services at this school.
Aside from academics and student support services, the best reason to consider Merrimack is location. North Andover, the home to the college, is a well-to-do community with a downtown that resembles a New England village in a Norman Rockwell painting. Only one mile from campus on foot, the downtown offers many coffee shops and dining places that will be attractive to college students on more limited budgets as well as an ample choice of restaurants that their parents can take them to dine. The community is also served by commuter rail service to Boston, though the trip is nearly 90 minutes.
But Merrimack is a very regional school. The college’s alumni base stretches thin beyond Boston, though the alumni base in Beantown is quite active at supporting the school and the students. Students that I met on campus advised me that New York Yankee fans would be an exceptionally small group on campus, not worth the effort to start a recognized student organization around their sports loyalty.
If you’re a B/B+ student who loves the Boston area, can find an academic fit and cover the costs, Merrimack College might be your school.
Report Card: Merrimack College (MA)
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: B+/B+
- Freshman Retention: B
- Costs: C+
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: B+ (Boston area)/C (elsewhere)
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