Malachie Reilly Freedom of Choice on Transferring to Marlboro

I started out at a big state university, which turned out to not be a good fit for me at all because it’s 10,000 kids, everyone is tracked, and you don’t have a lot of freedom of choice. I wasn’t getting what I wanted to learn from them, so after a year I decided to find an education that would fit my needs more. I actually didn’t apply anywhere else but Marlboro. I wanted to stay in Vermont, where I grew up. I looked at Bennington, I looked at the state schools, but I knew that Marlboro was the place for me and I didn’t even apply anywhere else.


This is a writing school, so I’ve been writing the entire time. That’s definitely what drove me to Marlboro, knowing that they were gonna pay attention to what I was writing. I transferred to Marlboro and immediately I’m hit with the Clear Writing Requirement, which people take very seriously because it’s a school that focuses so much on writing. Right off the bat I was having a really good time just exploring my own mind and seeing what was coming out when I put the pen to the page. What do I do when I’m not creative writing? I’m thinking about writing. Yeah, I’m thinking about what is next.


It’s been journey. As of now I’m a creative writing student who dabbles in music. The journey from geography to creative writing and musical elements has gone through philosophy, religion, world studies, and languages. I realized that learning languages was only reinforcing my own passion for English—which is my natural tongue, being from Vermont— and I wanted to use those other languages to enhance my own writing. So I took that language path into philosophy and religion, but then philosophy and religion took me back into creative writing.


I’m so privileged to have this education, but at the same time there are a lot of different rigidities to the academic system that I find difficult. Academics at Marlboro are challenging in the regard that I need to produce X amount of work and deliver it at Y time—I’m not a math student, which is pretty evident—the temporal structure can be challenging for me, but I do need a certain amount of structure to push me in new directions. What’s so wonderful about Marlboro is that my professors really understand that—they understand my process because the attention is so individualized.


I play a lot basketball. This gym is beautiful, it’s one of the most beautiful gyms I’ve ever seen, and we can maybe get two-on-two in here on a good night. I love it, it’s sweet. People can come here and play soccer and basketball, and I think that’s one of the things that goes over a lot of people’s heads when they’re looking at colleges. Our facilities are beautiful, and we have athletes here. You’re not gonna get the intense spirit of competition you’d find at a D1 college, but—like when we went to Landmark College that was a competitive game. We were scrappy, and we were fighting for every ball. There are still forms in which we can fulfill that need for competition.