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Academic Life

You'll find that Carleton's academic environment is both highly challenging and highly supportive. You'll pursue a rigorous liberal arts education in the company of friends who love learning as much as you do—and who help one another instead of competing.

Whether your academic goals are already well formed or you're unsure of what path to take, a Carleton education will prepare you to think critically, to solve problems creatively, and to express yourself well. You will discover new passions, gain fresh perspectives, and learn to adapt to dynamic situations. After four years at Carleton, you will be ready to take your place in the world, wherever that place may be.

See what makes a Carleton education distinctive.

Learn about academic support at Carleton.

  • Kathleen Galotti
    Kathleen Galotti (faculty) says:
    Academic life is intense! Tailored to an audience of highly motivated and hard-working students who thrive on intellectual challenges.
  • Ben Bedore '13
    My two favorite classes at Carleton have been Environmental Chemistry and Symphonies from Mozart to Mahler. I loved learning intro chem through an environmental lens and designing a final research project.
  • Sam Patterson
    Sam Patterson (faculty) says:
    Academic life at Carleton is intense, but everyone is focused on the same goal.
  • Cliff Clark
    Cliff Clark (faculty) says:
    Carleton students are serious about their studies but friendly and warmly supportive. I have always been impressed by how willing Carleton students are to help each other, whether it is supporting a friend who is having difficulty in a Calculus class, or working together on their senior comprehensive essays. Students here are competitive with themselves but not with their peers.
  • Marlena Hartman-Filson '13
    Academics at Carleton are rigorous - there's no way of getting around that. Professors expect you to have not only completed the assignments, but put a good bit of thought into them too. Although it takes a little extra time, the reward of interesting, intellectual classroom discussions makes the extra work well worth the effort.
  • Caffi Meyer '15
    Which Carleton classes have been your favorites? Why? Caffi Meyer '15 says:
    CGSC 130 "Introduction to Cognitive Science: How to Build a Mind" (taught by Roy Elveton). The course title reeled me in but it was the engaging readings and lectures that kept me hooked. This class was definitely a favorite of mine because I got to learn about an interdisciplinary field of science about which I initially knew very little. The final class assignment involved an open-ended research paper which was an opportunity to apply what we learned about cognitive science to any topic of our choosing.
  • Asim Manizada '13
    You know you're at Carleton when someone who has an 8:30 a.m class is staying up with you until 3 a.m. to help you with work -- definitely happened to me on more than one occasion!
  • Susan Jaret-McKinstry
    Susan Jaret-McKinstry (faculty) says:
    Everyone here takes the life of the mind very seriously, and demonstrates that ideas matter by talking, writing, thinking about, and applying them in so many ways. For those who want to be challenged, Carleton is ideal.
  • Marielle Foster '16
    How would you describe academic life at Carleton? Marielle Foster '16 says:
    Intense, fast, and fulfilling. The school does a great job helping people blow off steam, whether that is through petting puppies or having a silent dance party during finals week, or bringing giant bouncy houses indoors for us to play in during the dead of winter.
  • Sara Hooker '13
    Academic life at Carleton is challenging. Carleton primarily builds its reputation on academic prowess and it takes this responsibility very seriously. All students here have excelled in high school and most graduated near the top of their classes. This makes for a classroom where students perform to a high standard and go beyond it. At the same time however, students are really open to learning together and I have never felt like I couldn't approach someone else for help.
  • Emily Balczewski '16
    Academic life here changes term-by-term. It is key to have a balanced schedule and to explore all of Carleton's fabulous departments. Students here do care about grades, but I think there is a positive culture here that values learning more.
  • Emily Balczewski '16
    I wanted a school that would challenge me both inside and outside of the classroom and then offer support to allow me to grow academically and personally from these challenging experiences. Small classes, intimate professor relationships, and a kind and diverse student body are key to achieving this, and Carleton has all three!
  • Adriana Estill
    Adriana Estill (faculty) says:
    Carleton academic life is intense, fast-paced - for thrill-seekers. Challenging.
  • Al Montero
    Al Montero (faculty) says:
    Every week begins with an array of breath-taking challenges and every week ends with only partial resolutions and many on-going tasks yet to do. It just keeps coming until time runs out on the trimester. And then it starts all over again. After this, 'real life' seems to move much slower; it is 'easier.' So Carleton students feel that much more empowered to do more after graduation.
  • Anna Chance '15
    How would you describe academic life at Carleton? Anna Chance '15 says:
    Difficult but also within a very accommodating and supportive framework. It's OK to struggle, it's OK to fail. Professors are there to help you get better and to learn. Everyone is good at "their thing." Even if you are SUPER BAD at something like math (like me), no one on campus will judge you for that. Teachers and other students are there TO HELP. The only expectation is that you to work hard, and to care about the work that you do.
  • Marty Baylor
    Marty Baylor (faculty) says:
    Carleton is for students who love to learn something new. Whether it’s trying something they have never done before like jewelry making or delving deeper into a subject they have seen before, Carls live to learn.
  • Yansi Perez
    Yansi Perez (faculty) says:
    Academic life is challenging! I know that my students are working extremely hard in all the classes they are enrolled in but that does not lower my expectations for them. It is a rigorous academic institution and all the students I've talked to chose Carleton precisely because of that reason.
  • Scott Carpenter
    Scott Carpenter (faculty) says:
    Academic life at Carleton is like one of those jungle scenes in old movies -- filled with novelty and adventure (not to mention the occasional scary plant), and whenever you fall into a pit of quicksand, there's always someone around to pull you out with a vine.
  • Kelsey Parsons '13
    How would you describe academic life at Carleton? Kelsey Parsons '13 says:
    We work hard for our weekends.
  • Ben Bedore '13
    I designed and conducted an economics experiment this fall using real money and student test subjects to explore charity donation strategies, with the goal of maximizing donations.
  • Cliff Clark
    Cliff Clark (faculty) says:
    During a senior oral exam there was a knock on the door, and the student’s roommate, dressed in tails with a linen napkin on his arm, appeared and served us all champagne. Carleton students have a great sense of humor.
  • Louis Newman
    Louis Newman (faculty) says:
    Carleton students are eager to learn, inside and outside the classroom, and to engage with faculty and with one another.
  • Marty Baylor
    Marty Baylor (faculty) says:
    Academic life is intense. The pace of the term, the high expectations of faculty for students, and the high expectations students have for themselves and the faculty keeps everyone on their toes.
  • Josh Meltzer '95
  • Cindy Bell Neville '75 says:
    Carleton taught me that I can learn anything I put my mind to.