Why, out of all the other places to attend, should I choose Carleton?
Carleton offered every subject I might have wanted to study, which is a lot of subjects – the major deciding ones were archaeology and film, which weren't offered at several of the other colleges I looked at. The atmosphere also seemed fun and down-to-earth, and I wanted to experience a different part of the country after growing up in New England.
I always liked the small school vibe: discussion-based class sizes, lots of opportunities to get involved, and a strong sense of student community. I searched the Midwest for schools that exemplified these traits, and not only did Carleton meet the criteria exactly, it ended up being my most affordable option.
The Admissions Office:
Students come to Carleton for all different reasons, but here are a few reasons why Carleton stands out for students who visit:
The college runs on a trimester system. Each term (fall, winter, spring) consists of 10 weeks, during which time the work of a semester is completed. It's intense to squeeze 15 weeks of course work into 10, but students only register for 3 courses a term. The trimester system gives students lots of flexibility when declaring a major and registering for classes, particularly when trying to complete a sequence of courses since you have 3 trimesters a year to sign up for the course instead of two semesters. We don't declare a major until the end our sophomore year, which allows you plenty of time to sample many different departmental offerings before picking an area of specialization.
2/3 of our students study abroad, the highest percentage among the top 10 small national liberal arts colleges. You can study black dance in Jamaica, art in Australia and the Cook Islands, French in Mali, political economy in China and those are just a few of the study abroad programs that Carleton operates. Carleton is also a member of numerous study abroad consortiums that routinely take students to a variety of places throughout the globe to study.
Northfield is very much a college town, with a rural backdrop. Northfield has about a dozen pizza places, cute shops, and a coffee cafe that everyone loves to study in; there are also numerous farms. Carleton itself owns a 800 acre arboretum which features natural prairie land and forests. It's a great place to run, ski, or bike. We're also about 45 minutes away from the arts and entertainment that the Twin Cities offers, with buses going up there every weekend.
Carleton students, staff, and faculty have a great sense of humor. We're quirky and fun loving and active in the community. For example: Back in the 1960's, students "liberated" a bust of the German poet Schiller from the dean's office. Since then, Schiller has been in the hands of generations of Carleton students who keep their identity a secret and show the bust at important campus gatherings. Since his liberation, Schiller has been lowered out of a helicopter at homecoming, been aboard Air Force One when President Clinton visited in 2000, and seemingly exploded during an elaborate magic trick at reunion.
I chose Carleton because of its quirkiness, its plethora of traditions, its safe location, the students that I met while I visited, the activities that people do, and the "work hard, play hard" feel of the school.
There are few colleges with professors and programs as good as Carleton's, but such colleges do exist. There are, however, no colleges with the same combination of playful intellectual spirit and downright friendliness as Carleton.
I chose Carleton quite simply because of how comfortable I felt on campus, around both other students and professors. I liked the daring location of the school as well - most of my friends were splitting to schools on either the West or East coast, but the idea of a small town in Minnesota intrigued me.