No over-booked flight (thanks, Delta) or crazy spring weather was going to prevent me from making my usual spring pilgrimage to Massachusetts and last week was not the exception. I arrived to rain and temperatures in the mid-forties, but by the time I arrived in Newton to tour Mount Ida College’s campus, the sun had come out full force and temperatures were well on their way to the high sixties.
With its close proximity to Boston, one might expect Mount Ida to have a city or even traditional suburban feel, but despite the golf course alongside the winding drive as you head for the main entrance, once you’re in the heart of the school, it feels like its own separate world. Well-maintained landscaping, lots of wooded spaces, and the close clustering of the majority of campus buildings give one a sense of security – a sense that lasts right up until the moment you feel eyes resting on you and turn around to find yourself face to face with one of the college’s infamous wild turkeys. (Some schools are known for having squirrel populations who are practically tame; at Mount Ida, it’s the turkeys who lack fear of humans – though it would be quite a stretch to refer to them as anything resembling tame!)
Academically, Mount Ida is known for being a liberal arts college with a very strong focus on hands-on career preparation and vocational training. Programs like fashion design, animation, dental hygiene, funeral management, and both an Associate’s and Bachelor’s program for vet techs offer plenty of classroom training for students, but the emphasis is on getting them into real-world situations where they can put their book knowledge into practice. From the dental hygiene students who clean their classmates’ teeth (for a discounted fee – and whitenening services are also available!) to the vet techs in the sophomore class who are each responsible for caring for, rehabbing (when necessary) and re-homing the rescued Beagles that make up the bulk of the school’s canine subjects, it was clear as we traversed campus that a Mount Ida education isn’t limited by the four walls of a classroom.
Most exciting, we learned throughout our tour that, thanks to the energy that accompanied the arrival of their new president last fall, the campus itself will undergo five major renovation and construction projects over just thirteen weeks this summer. The upgrades will address residence halls, classroom spaces, staff offices, and athletic facilities – a wide scope! – so I have already planned to return to campus when I come east next spring to investigate what the sweeping changes have done to enhance and improve campus. (The enthusiasm of students and staff about the renovations was quite contagious so it’s clear that they’re anxious to see them as well!)
Changes occurred for Mount Ida’s equestrian team as well last fall, when their new coach (formerly of the Stonehill College varsity team) moved them to a different home base to Ridgetop Farm in Holliston, MA. Despite the added commute time (the trip is about 40 minutes), the team is positive about the changes and there are high expectations for their future competitive achievements. Also worth noting – the college’s equine management program (a division of their business degree program) has also moved out to Ridgetop. (You can read more about that program here.)
All in all, I enjoyed my time on campus and look forward to seeing Mount Ida again soon. Could a hands-on learning environment like the one at Mount Ida be right for you? Contact me and we’ll find out!