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College That Change Lives Counselor Breakfast

on December 31, 2013 in Application Process, New This Month

At a recent counselor breakfast hosted by three Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL), we were given updates that highlighted the distinctive features of these three small liberal arts colleges. Eckerd College in Florida, Earlham College in Indiana, and Kalamazoo College in Michigan each offer a unique experience for students. Students who are considering these colleges should attend their local CTCL fair and contact their local representatives for each college to schedule interviews during their visits to the area in the fall.

eckerd-2Eckerd College’s 180-acre campus is surrounded by water on three sides and is located near a residential neighborhood in St. Petersburg, Florida. Popular majors include Marine Science and Environmental Studies, as well as Communication and Business Administration, the latter two unique at a small liberal arts college. Eckerd is also affiliated with the US Coast Guard, offering the unique Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team (EC-SAR), where students serve alongside the Coast Guard in providing assistance to Tampa Bay boaters. Students in the visual or performing arts can combine their majors with others and must complete an apprenticeship, several of which are available in nearby St. Petersburg. While it may be difficult at a larger school, Eckerd actually encourages combining the sciences and other majors.

The unique “Eckerd Edge” allows students who are not employed or in graduate school six months after graduation to return to campus to audit classes as needed and work with the career center.

Support for students with learning disabilities is strong, and it is unusual for students to slip through the cracks at this small college. Students must be able to advocate for themselves and know which accommodations work before arriving at Eckerd, and admissions encourages students to self-disclose as this can be an advantage in helping Admissions better understand a student’s record. Washington State’s Running Start credits are accepted at Eckerd if a student enrolls for at least three years.

Kalamzoo HornetsKalamazoo College offers what is known as “The K Plan,” a four-part program to encourage lifelong learning in a more open curriculum. First, students work with their advisors to define their flexible four-year plans, which they must declare publically. Students are limited to only three classes at a time at this fast-paced, quarter-system college. Students with learning challenges may not find this compressed quarter system a good fit. Second, students complete an intercultural research project, with study abroad costs included in their tuition. Third, internships and externships are supported by a worldwide network of alumni, encouraging living and working alongside alums in a wide variety of fields. This homestay program is unique and allows students to experience a true work/life balance in action. Fourth, senior year, students must complete an individualized project not tied to their major.

The student body includes many pre-meds and science majors, and many Kalamazoo students go on to complete a PhD. This college of 1400 students (”small but mighty”) manages many of its own study abroad programs, promoting safety and oversight. Over 90% of Kalamazoo students are involved in the arts in some way, either in the community or in campus activities, including jazz. Kalamazoo students are typically risk-takers and independent learners who want to have a say in their education. Scholarships are available in areas of social justice and sustainability, and Kalamazoo also offers merit aid to strong students. While 70% of students are currently from Michigan, Admissions is on a strong push to geographically diversify the student body, and they have the financial resources to bring students to campus for visits.

Earlham College is small, with only 1200 students, and is located in the small city of Richmond, Indiana, with only 18% of students from Indiana. Twenty percent of students are international, and students are required to study abroad at no additional cost. Earlham is a Quaker institution and has a strong commitment to social justice and community service. This identity of simplicity informs all of the principles and practices at Earlham, where consensus in all activities is essential, encouraging leadership skill development. Earlham, like Kalamazoo, is part of the Great Lakes College Association, an umbrella organization offering externships and programs like the New York City Arts Semester. Admissions is test-optional, and Kalamazoo is looking for students with a deep commitment to certain activities, not long lists.

Katie Yamasaki Mural at Earlham College

Katie Yamasaki Mural at Earlham College

Students must take courses in all fields, encouraging interdisciplinary study through a defined core. The biology and chemistry programs are nationally recognized, and its strong Japanese language and cultural studies programs draw from all over the country. Additionally, Earlham has recently added Arabic and Chinese to its offerings, which also include linguistics and comparative languages. For area students or students considering languages, the choices at this small college are extensive. With a more seminar-based environment, average class size is 17, and classes often include other faculty expanding their knowledge base.

Many merit scholarships are offered, and need-based aid is provided to 80% of students. The “10-Year Mindset” allows students to stay connected to professional organizations and Earlham alums worldwide, putting the liberal arts into action. Career services follows through with students six years after graduation to maintain support as needed. Activities include an equestrian program with its own stables and horses and Division III athletics.

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