Original post:  http://macaulayhunterblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/macaulay-hunter-community.html

One of the most common questions I get asked by prospective students is about the Macaulay community – the fact that Macaulay doesn’t consist of your nontraditional campus can be scary (even if that’s what you’re looking for!). I recently got an email from a prospective student and got asked this question again, so I thought I’d just write a blog post for future referencing purposes.

I’m from Brooklyn, born and raised, so I feel very at home in New York City. Those of us from the New York City-area do make up the majority of Macaulay, but there are plenty of students from out of state as well. So essentially, most Macaulay students come into college having some kind of community in the city, be it people they went to high school with who are also attending college in the city or simply their family.

Starting to form a new Hunter/Macaulay community however, is not easy – at least not as easy as it probably would be in an enclosed campus. It is not forced upon you. Hunter is a commuter school, so people don’t necessarily spend much time at the 68th street campus hanging out. All of the dorm rooms are singles, so you aren’t forced to interact with your floor mates. And besides the four seminars, you may never see your Macaulay peers in class (though you probably will in other honors classes and you can certainly end up in the same regular Hunter classes).

However, one of the great things Hunter at Macaulay students do have is the dorm. Despite the fact that rooms are singles, the dorm is the hub of student life for many Macaulay students – there are lots of floor events, special trips, and dorm-wide events to help foster community. But things often happen more naturally just because there are communal kitchens, an awesome game room, etc. and Macaulay students do make up the majority of students at the dorm. There’s also an honors lounge at Hunter where many Macaulay/Hunter students hang out.

In terms of Macaulay community, that’s a bit harder, because we are spread across 7 campuses. But if you’re willing to put in the effort (and the travel time) you can create a pretty strong Macaulay community as well – besides the many academic/intellectual events held at the Macaulay building, we do try to have a few “fun” Macaulay events each semester as well.

In the end, forging a community at Hunter/Macaulay may not work for you. The upside is, you have the entire city of New York at your disposal for creating your own community, even if it doesn’t have a tangible location. This is the route I have taken. I certainly know many of my peers in Macaulay Hunter, and say hi or chat with my floor mates on occasion, but my group of friends, my “community” is a mix of people I know from high school, people I’ve worked with, my best friend who goes to Macaulay Baruch, and the people they’ve introduced me to.

In sum, the “community” you’re going to find at Macaulay/Hunter/NYC is actually one you create. In a city this big, (with many other colleges besides Macaulay!) it’s impossible not to find people you like and get along with. But if you definitely want a community closer to “home” – a community at Hunter – it’s pretty easy to find! You just have to put yourself out there.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the “forced” community that many enclosed campuses create. Choose a school based on what you think will be best for you. But keep in mind that in the real world, no one is going to tell you who your “community” of friends/support should be. You’re going to have to find it, create it, maintain it on your own.

I’m a firm believer that college is what you make of it. If you do end up going to Macaulay, or another school with a similar student life situation, try to make sure you spend more time taking advantage of the opportunities offered to you rather than disparaging those things you are missing out on. (And this actually applies to everything – not just student life.) If having something specific is really important to you, make it happen for yourself!


Kaitlyn (kt.ohagan@gmail.com)