Reviews for Carleton College
There is no place in the world quite like Carleton. I have had the most incredible college experience so far and I’m a little scared to leave, but I hope others will discover what Carleton has to offer. The one reflection I hear over and over about coming to Carleton is: "I came for the academics and stayed for the people." Although Carleton’s academics are at the heart of its existence, more than anything, Carleton is about the friendly, open-minded, and engaging people that make up its vibrant community. Every day my point of view is challenged and respected by professors in the classroom, peers in the hallways, and alums talking to me from and about the outside world.
The ephemeral spirit of the "liberal arts" runs thick in our blood. Majors and programs are intentionally interdisciplinary, pushing those that attend out of their comfort zones and into new academic territory. Students and professors question everything in and outside of our small, dynamic classes. Never before Carleton did I encounter a space where the domain of critical thinking so freely pushed institutional and intellectual dogma aside to make way for new ideas and fresh perspectives. On our trimester system, students are typically enrolled in three major courses during the term (nine in total over the course of a school year). In the space of ten weeks, each of your three classes presents a whirlwind experience of learning. It's no exaggeration to say that we are pushed, here at Carleton. But on the other side of the coin, many aspects of academic life make that possible. Professors are usually only teaching two classes at any given time, and teaching always comes before research and publishing. Classes, averaging 16-17 students, become amazing breeding grounds for a collective and individual learning experience as professors bring their best to the table and are greeted by a group of students who are hungry to learn and willing to give back just as much. Outside of the classroom, professors are always willing to meet with students, during and outside of scheduled office hours. A favorite History professor of mine, Bill North, is often on the top floor of the library until 10 at night throughout the week. After professors give you everything they can, there's still more. Many introductory classes come with prefects, older students majoring in the department who did well in those classes and are paid by the school to hold review sessions and additional office hours. We also have permanent offices run by our Academic Support Network to provide safe spaces to get through challenging work. The "Math Skills Center" and the "Write Place" are two examples of permanent centers with professional and student staff who will work with you on difficult calculus problems or help to redraft a thesis statement. Perhaps most importantly about academics, the support mentality bleeds into the student body itself. Peers are collaborate, not cutthroat competitive, here. Above all, Carls want to learn and to share their learning. That's something I didn't see anywhere else on my college tours, and it makes Carleton what it is.
Student life here on our campus is about as vibrant as it could be anywhere else. Although we're close enough to the amazing Twin Cities for a quick getaway, most students barely find the time to walk the three minutes to downtown Northfield on a given week. The interdisciplinary spirit of academics is mirrored in the way most Carls spend their extracurricular time; sketch comedy rehearsals, club soccer practice, volunteer ESL tutoring, work study jobs, and research for professors take up most of my time, but it seems as though every Carleton student packs themselves a full and varied deck. And that's one of my favorite things about this school - nobody holes themselves up into a single activity with which to dedicate all their time or wear on their singularly proud sleeves. Students explore different passions, love sharing them with others, and love being shared with. The activities don't fall into prescribed categories, either. My roommate for the past several years is the upcoming captain of our varsity football team - but also spends a lot of his time working with students in the Math Skills Center and playing drums for one of Carleton's most popular bands, Ova Yonder. This is a place where you can get involved anywhere and everywhere, no matter who you are. As for the social scene, Carleton is great because there are so many ways to kick back and relax. Most importantly, however, a social egalitarianism pervades the student body on our campus; there’s a respect for everyone that struck me as entirely unique when I visited and then attended Carleton.
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