The Fiske Guide to Colleges has once again named the University of Mary Washington among the country’s “best and most interesting” public and private four-year colleges and universities. UMW is among 11 Virginia universities and just over 300 schools in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland included in the 2024 edition of the Fiske Guide, its 40th annual issue.
As in prior years, the selective guide showcases colleges and universities “that students most want to know about,” with details directly from campus questionnaires and student input. Each narrative focuses on academic strengths, social life, and overall quality of life.
UMW stands out for all points, particularly for its reputation among public liberal arts and sciences colleges across the country. “Indeed,” the publication states, “for an aura of history and tradition, few schools stack up to this small college in Fredericksburg.”
The Fiske Guide praises Mary Washington’s core curriculum, which includes diversity-and-global-perspectives and digital-intensive requirements; “Beyond the Classroom” and “After UMW” components. The First-Year Seminar; Honors Program, study abroad and 10-week Summer Science Institute programs earn special mentions.
Popular UMW majors are listed in the guide, including political science and international affairs, “which benefits from the university’s proximity to Washington, D.C.” as well as a solid program in historic preservation. Others include business administration, psychology, biology, English, communication and digital studies, geography, education, theatre, and women’s and gender studies.
“I never imagined that I would find such a highly engaged and compassionate set of professors my first year of college,” a UMW student is quoting as telling Fiske. The publication notes that “the close ties between students and faculty are a great source of pride at Mary Washington.”
Another student points out unique Mary Washington activities – Devil-Goat Day, Eagle Gathering, Multicultural Fair – which create camaraderie: “Tradition is at the heart of UMW and is one of the many things that instills a sense of community here.”
The guide touts Mary Washington’s rich resources, such as the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the Office of Title IX, along with its Division III Eagles sports teams, including top performers, men’s and women’s soccer, tennis and swimming.
Campus beauty – notably a lot of bricks and trees – caught the publication’s attention, as did recent renovations, including Seacobeck Hall, now home to the College of Education; Jepson Science Center; and Willard and Virginia residence halls. Off campus, the publication notes the scenic Rappahannock River along with Fredericksburg’s coffee shops, historic homes and museums, shopping and restaurants.
A quote from a UMW junior concludes the Fiske listing: “UMW is such a positive environment, full of kind individuals who share the goal of communal success.”