Mount Holyoke’s academics are top-notch. The workload is very intense, sometimes surprisingly so, and burnout is a very real possibility if you don’t balance your academic obligations with extracurriculars, social time, cultural events, and speakers. However, the flip-side is that you’ll know you’re getting one of the best educations possible. It’s almost impossible to just lay back and take easy classes where you’re assured good grades, unless you’re a senior and have completed most of your credits and distribution requirements. In general, the sheer volume of requirements, both distribution and major and minor requirements, tend to make this unlikely. Because you will probably have to take at least one class in a subject outside your comfort zone, you will be exposed to things you wouldn’t normally have encountered. Quite often, exposure of this sort will change a student’s perspective on that subject, or on some aspect of life in general. She might call home newly informed on the role of racism in contemporary society or on the possibility of majoring in art history, and tell her dazed parents that she is planning to join the Peace Corps or create an art show in her hometown. No one is going to stop her.
The professors play a big role in the sort of life-changing academic experiences you’re likely to have at Mount Holyoke. Because this is a relatively small school, you’re much more likely to get to know one or several professors on a more personal level than just as “that guy who stands up there and lectures.” Some of these relationships continue beyond graduation, as the professor becomes a mentor to the student. In general, if you cultivate such relationships, they will pay off. Knowing that MHC has such an outstanding academic reputation is not the same as taking full advantage of it. If you complain that you have too many papers and finals, then maybe Mount Holyoke isn’t for you. If you take the challenge in stride, knowing that you will have difficult moments, then you will do well. There will always be other students to commiserate with or professors to give you extensions (or at least moral support).