I spent a few hours on the campus of Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. This two-year, private college is located on the heights of the Palos Verdes peninsula, and sports a commanding view of Santa Catalina Island off in the distance. The view is spectacular and inspiring.
Marymount offers Associates degrees, and virtually every student is preparing him or herself to transfer to a four-year private or public university. Seventy percent of students are from California, but fully 10% of the 800 students on campus are from overseas.
Housing, however, is something of a difficulty, with all residence halls located 7 miles downhill from campus. A reliable shuttle moves students back and forth, and some students choose to drive.
My tour guide was terrific: knowledgeable, personable, happy, and honest. She told me that (unsurprisingly) most of the students were wealthy kids who had, for various reasons, not done well in high school, but who were sent to this pristine “boot camp” to get their academic affairs in order so that they could get a college degree. She said that a large portion of the kids drove much nicer cars than the professors. Many, she said, were really not that interested in academics or in getting ahead, but that a sense of entitlement tended to prevail. She had found refuge in the arts, and had honed her photography skills at the college. She felt she was getting the education she needed to improve her academic skills and ensure future success. And for this, she was very grateful for the opportunity to attend Marymount Palos Verdes.Â And she hastened to clarify that there were many students–like her–who had received financial aid to attend.
I also met with the expert staff at the learning center, which helps kids achieve their academic potential. They have excellent facilities and capabilities for assisting kids with learning differences, including ADHD and dyslexia and a number of others.Â While they do testing to assess student needs as they enter, the program is one of “self-help:” as at most colleges, students must take the step to make use of these excellent services.
I was impressed with this little gem of a two-year campus.Â A beautiful setting, a strong sense of purpose, a focus on the transfer experience, and specialized mission.Â Students who lack a strong academic foundation, for whatever reason, should consider Marymount College in Palos Verdes as a way to move ahead with an academic career.