Macalester College

Written by Lisa Bleich


Macalester is a quintessential small liberal arts college with and urban twist. While Macalester is located in St. Paul, it has a neighborhood rather than city feel with numerous local shops, cafes and restaurants. Students can take the metro and be downtown in about 10-15 minutes.

The campus is pretty with a central quad and a mix of old and modern architecture. Some of the stand out buildings were the visual art and music building. Students live on campus freshman and sophomore year and then can live in apartments near campus.

There are also several theme houses including a German house, where our tour guide lived, and a Vegan house. Freshmen all participate in a First Year Course (FYC) and half of those courses are living and learning communities, whereby students in the same FYC live together in the same dorms.

Macalester boasts an environment centered around social justice, multi-culturalism, and internationalism. Students wear many different hats with multiple cross interests and find their own fun.   It’s not uncommon for students to have 2-3 unrelated interests such as baseball and improv comedy. Most Macs are politically engagement and want to change the world. Students tend to be outspoken, but not all about the same thing.   The campus definitely leans left and of course there will be snow for most of the school year. Our beautiful early November weather was not the norm!


We met with Ross, an admissions counselor, who is also a Mac alumnus. He was recruited from San Francisco to play baseball player and loved it so much he stayed on to do admissions. Ross told us about one of his teammates, a baseball nerd, who grew up in Bronx and majored in math and economics.

He is now working in statistics at Yankee stadium joining a long line of Mac students who have found a foothold in professional baseball and sports. Other top programs include science, math, political science, and foreign languages. Many students are pre-med and Mac has about an 80% acceptance rate into medical school.

Students hail from all over country and world with Minnesota (15%), California, New York, and Wisconsin the most represented. Given its focus on internationalism, 14% of the students are international and 24% are students of color. Most students have an interesting back-story or have lived abroad before coming to college.

The Career Development Center does a good job of working with students to find internships and jobs after graduation. Mac’s strong alumni network also helps students land jobs.


Macalester takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications; each application gets 2-3 reads. The acceptance rate ranges from 30-39%. They fill 20-25% of the class with Early Decision candidates. Testing is small piece of the overall review; they superscore both SAT and ACT.  The median ACTs is 29-32 and 650-690 for each section of the SATs. Mac is always looking to add international and domestic diversity and offer a fall fly in sampler program for minorities.

Carleton, Oberlin, Grinnell are the most common crossover schools for Macalester in terms of applications.

Financial Aid

Macalester meets 100% of demonstrated need with 2/3 of the student body receiving financial aid. The average need based package is $42,000 made up mostly of grants and work study. They also offer merit aid, which is automatic and based entirely on academic rigor, letters of recommendation, and grades. 15-20% of students receive merit aid ranging from $12,000 to $15,000 per year.


Macalester is a great college for politically engaged students with multiple interests looking for an urban, small liberal arts college with a focus on social justice, internationalism, and don’t mind the snow!

Macalester College

1600 Grand Avenue

Saint Paul, MN 55105

Tel: 651-696-6000

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