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Staff Editorial: Recommending Mills

Would you recommend your college to potential students?

As you attend higher education and grow as a student, feelings can change toward the college of your choice. You can go from excited to indifferent within the short span of a semester. There are many different aspects that could potentially make or break a college, and not all likes and dislikes are welcomed or universal.

Being confronted with the situation of recommending your school as an active student is no easy task. Understanding both the upsides and the downsides to Mills does not make things easier as potential students funnel in. As students of this college, would we recommend Mills? The short answer: Yes and no.

It is relatively easy to say that every existing college has some aspect that is not liked by the student body. Mills College has some issues that make it difficult to recommend to other potential students, one of which is retention within the Mills community.

Staff, faculty and even students are constantly moving out of the school, creating an environment difficult to ground oneself in. Many have their own reasons for leaving, but each time there is a void left in their absence that can affect everyone. Difficulty in teacher retention and turnover at Mills has been an ongoing issue, and students are heavily affected when a professor does leave the college. There have been major cuts in the tenured faculty, which has a lasting impact on the school and the student body. These cuts affect classes, advising and majors and minors that the school provides. When recommending a school, a natural progression would be recommending classes and professors. But if retention is unstable, it is increasingly difficult to recommend the school in confidence since there is no guarantee that the same professors will still be here.

Besides retention, there is a lack of transparent communication at Mills, especially when it comes to the available classes and majors that the school provides.

Potential students who are looking for a school that provides specific major and minors would be limited at Mills. While there are various programs that the school offers, some classes are only offered once every two, three or four years. Many Mills students had to redesign their future path because the school failed to provide them with the academics that they were searching for. Many students will change their major or minor depending on what Mills is offering. Students are depending on Mills to provide the classes that they advertise, and when they don’t follow through, students will have to reexamine their academic field of study. While the Mills website lists classes under Data Science and Religion, no classes under these specific major and minors are available to register for the 2019 fall semester.

Besides the lack of transparency in the major and minor fields, there is also discrepancies in the way Mills markets itself to potential students. On the Mills College website, viewers are presented with extravagant classes, plenty of interesting major and minor fields, and an array of school statistics that represents the school in a very enticing way. The way the school markets itself compared to the reality of what the school can provide is very misleading. Some classes on the Mills website are not actually offered regularly throughout the semesters, which makes it difficult for students to fulfill major and minor requirements.

Because Mills is a historically women’s college, it has provided a space for women, trans and gender non-conforming people in higher education. This academic space within Mills promotes confidence and allows for students to be assertive within the classroom setting. This confidence is something that can be utilized throughout our lives, even outside of the academic world. Being surrounded by like-minded women and genderqueer students in a college setting is a very rare opportunity, thus making the Mills experience a unique one.

Mills also has a very strong student community. Because Mills is a small college, close connections can be made very easily. The clubs and groups provided at Mills also create the sense of community engagement. Within these, students can meet with people with similar backgrounds or passions. However, because Mills College is such a small school, it is easy for a student to fall through the cracks. If a student is unable to connect with an adviser or to find a group community setting within the clubs that the school provides, a student can feel othered and excluded from the school.

Whether or not a current student would recommend Mills to a prospective student is purely situational. The answer will differ depending on the student and what they are looking for. Mills College is not for everyone, and should be treated as such. There are some programs that are excellent while others are not. All potential students have the right to know about both the negative and positive aspects of the school. All aspects of Mills should be shared in order to provide prospective students with an accurate description of the college; when they are, this allows the student to make their own opinion without being fed one narrative. All potential Mills students should do their research on the college beforehand in order to understand what the school provides. Doing this will allow the prospective student time to evaluate what Mills can offer, and if it is suitable for their academic goals. When the question arises on whether or not we recommend Mills, we can only authentically explain the ups and downs of the school, and allow the prospective student to make the decision for themselves.