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Ohio’s liberal arts colleges

Four things that might surprise you about Antioch College

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With over 60 small, historically liberal arts colleges, Ohio offers a wide variety of options to students seeking an undergraduate residential college experience. Our visit last week to Antioch College in the village of Yellow Springs is one of the most unique options. Here’s some things that might surprise you!

  1. Antioch College is not for everyone. In fact, it would be a nice fit for only a small segment of the aspiring college student population However, for those who might be called to Antioch College, there is no other comparable institution or college experience. At Antioch there are no fraternities or sororities, no varsity athletics, and NO flying under the radar. With under 250 students, Antioch College is a small campus community located in a small rural town and everyone knows everyone. Students are, for the most part, politically liberal and committed to racial equality, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and social justice. They also tend to be independent thinkers who want a “say so” in the design of their college education.
  2. The objective of an Antioch College education is to prepare students for lives of significance, service, and citizenship. In everything it does, Antioch exudes the words of its first president, Horace Mann: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” From international coop experiences to self-designed majors to campus life policies that are determined by committees of students, staff, and community members, Antioch lives its mission. Democracy and shared governance, especially as a means to activism and social justice, are at the heart of Antioch College.
  3. Academics are unique. Antioch’s small but capable faculty helps many students craft their own unique major integrating varied interests into their popular “Self-designed Major.” Students may also select from a short list of only 13 liberal arts major options which can be tailored to respond to the unique interests and objectives of each student. The most popular majors are Media Arts, Environmental Studies, and Political Economy. Also, Antioch is the only college in the country to require four quarters of off-campus coop work experience for all students. Students alternate two quarters on campus and one off. Most students complete at least one international coop during their time at Antioch.
  4. Like a Phoenix, Antioch College rose from the ashes of financial difficulty. Formed in 1850, and after many years of growth and financial stability, Antioch came on financial hard times toward the end of the 20th  century. They failed in 2008 and, with alumni support, reopened in 2011. Now, fully re-accredited and in re-building mode, Antioch is redesigning their future and looking for students who want to be a part of the journey. Today, Antioch students feel responsible for their education and responsible for Antioch College.

So, does an Antioch education work? According to Loren Pope, author of Colleges that Change Lives, “There is no university in the country that makes a more profound difference in a young person’s life, or that creates more effective adults” than does Antioch College. Interested? Schedule a campus visit and see for yourself!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ohio’s Big 5 Liberal Arts Colleges: Oberlin College and Conservatory

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Oberlin College, one of Ohio’s “Big 5” liberal arts colleges, was founded in 1833 and was the first college in America to admit students of color and the first to grant degrees to women in a coed program. Today, many of Oberlin’s students still “bleed for a cause.” They are liberal, academically capable, and focused on making a difference in the world.

Located 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, Oberlin enrolls 2,300 students in its highly ranked College of Arts and Sciences and another 600 in its prestigious Conservatory of Music. Oberlin is a true liberal arts college as professional programs are essentially non-existent. Instead, students immerse themselves in the humanities (particularly languages and cultures), social sciences, and the sciences. Many double major and all enjoy significant interdisciplinary study. Some take advantage of research opportunities supported by faculty.

The campus is beautiful, students are busy, and there is plenty to do. Of course, all this doesn’t come cheap. Oberlin is the 9th most expensive college in the country although, like others, they commit significant resources to providing students scholarships to reduce their cost and encourage their enrollment.

Campus Video: Check out our video compilation of photos from our last visit to Oberlin College and Conservatory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhvjiYjbZbY

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA); a Columbus Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 15 “fit factors.” College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.

In order to purchase a more extensive proprietary “Campus Field Report” on any Ohio college discussed, click here: https://collegeboundadvantage.com/campus-field-report-access/

Ohio’s Big 5 Liberal Arts Colleges: Denison University

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Denison University is a selective, private, residential liberal arts college located on top of a beautiful hill in the quaint village of Granville. Granville is only 30 miles east of Columbus and thus offers access to the amenities of a large metropolitan area. Dennison was founded in 1831 making it Ohio’s second oldest liberal arts college (Kenyon College was founded in 1824). Denison is a member of Ohio’s nationally recognized “Big Five” liberal arts colleges.

The student body is diverse in a number of ways. First, about a quarter of students identify as multi-cultural and another 25% are first generation college students. Additionally, less than 25% of the students come from Ohio.

Nearly all of Denison’s 2,200 students live on campus. Sports are popular and the university offers NCAA Division III varsity sports, intramurals, and club sports. Now, we’re not talking just any club sport – how does Fencing, Rugby, Squash, Ice Hockey, Clay Target, Equestrian, Quidditch, Rock Climbing, Sailing, and Zumba sound? If that doesn’t sound interesting, perhaps the other 180 student organizations might capture your imagination.

In terms of academics, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is a unique interdisciplinary major that attracts strong students, many of whom later migrate to graduate business or law school. The fastest growing major is Cinema and the newest is Data Analytics.

Campus Video: Check out our video compilation of photos taken on our most recent visit to Denison University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hQDG7O_J9A

Stay with us because next week we wander down the trail to to the final member of Ohio’s “Big 5,” Oberlin College – Can’t wait!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA); a Columbus Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 15 “fit factors.” College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.

In order to purchase a more extensive proprietary “Campus Field Report” on any Ohio college discussed, click here: https://collegeboundadvantage.com/campus-field-report-access/

Ohio’s Big 5 Liberal Arts Colleges: Kenyon College

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Kenyon College is a private, selective, liberal arts college (one of Ohio’s “Big 5”) located in Gambier, Ohio. It was founded in 1824 by Philander Chase and is the oldest private college in Ohio. With around 1,600 students and over 150 student organizations including a vibrant Greek system, campus life is active at Kenyon.

The campus is noted for its strong liberal arts curriculum, Collegiate Gothic architecture (think Hogwarts), and rural setting. The building shown above, Old Kenyon, was built in 1829 and is considered the earliest example of Collegiate Gothic architecture in the U.S.

While Kenyon has many recognized areas of study, it is best known for English. Its faculty (20 strong) includes renowned teachers, award-winning poets and fiction writers, and a winner of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius award.” As the home of the internationally renowned Kenyon Review, as well as many student-run literary publications, Kenyon is a great place to study English.

Check out our video compilation of photos taken during our last campus visit to Kenyon College: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcDCphr_oto

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA); a Columbus Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 15 “fit factors.” College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.

In order to purchase a more extensive proprietary “Campus Field Report” on any Ohio college discussed, click here: https://collegeboundadvantage.com/campus-field-report-access/

Ohio’s Big 5 Liberal Arts Colleges: The College of Wooster

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The College of Wooster is a private liberal arts college with around 2,000 students, located in Wooster, Ohio. It is recognized as one of Ohio’s renowned “Big 5” liberal arts colleges. Founded in 1866 by the Presbyterian Church, the College of Wooster is best known for its emphasis on mentored undergraduate research. Wooster has an Independent Study (IS) program, in which all students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to complete a 50-100 page written thesis (or other project) during their senior year. The project, which began in 1947, is presented and orally defended. Students are prepared for the IS with academic experiences in each of their first three years. Successful students are rewarded with a diploma, lots of pride, and a Tootsie Roll (not kidding).

Wooster was named a member of Loren Pope’s, “Colleges that Change Lives” and is consistently ranked as a top liberal arts college in the country. Admission is competitive and only 30% of Wooster’s students are from Ohio

Students say that Wooster is “non-competitive” and “non-pretentious.” While students work hard for grades, the attitude is one of collaboration and support versus competition. Students also refer to Wooster as a “hello” campus as students consistently greet each other on campus.

In terms of academics, History, Biology, Communication Studies, and English are the largest majors and are all strong, but check out Anthropology and Archaeology. Many students transfer into these majors after sampling a course or two.

Check out our video compilation of photos taken on our last visit to the College of Wooster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAzvHFZ28nw

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA); a Columbus Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 15 “fit factors.” College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.

In order to purchase a more extensive proprietary “Campus Field Report” on any Ohio college discussed, click here: https://collegeboundadvantage.com/campus-field-report-access/

Ohio’s Big 5 Liberal Arts Colleges: Ohio Wesleyan University

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Established in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is a member of the Ohio “Big 5” liberal arts colleges that includes OWU as well as Kenyon College, College of Wooster, Oberlin University, and Denison University. They are also one of Loren Pope’s College’s That Change Lives.

With around 1,700 students from around the country and beyond (46 states and 43 countries represented), this selective university offers 90 majors, 23 varsity sports (NCAA Division III), and 100 clubs and organizations.

Academics are strong and focus on the liberal arts, although, unlike the other members of the “Big 5” a few professional programs, such as Education (with licensure), Business Administration, and Accounting snuck in. The Sciences, Arts, and languages are all strong. They even offer the only “Planetary Science” undergraduate program in the state.

With so much to offer, I still have to warn you that they are one of the most haunted campuses in the country and even sport their own student paranormal society.

Check out our video compilation of photos taken on our last visit to Ohio Wesleyan University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExpBRG4ARDM

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA); a Columbus Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 15 “fit factors.” College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.

In order to purchase a more extensive proprietary “Campus Field Report” on any Ohio college discussed, click here: https://collegeboundadvantage.com/campus-field-report-access/

Ohio’s “Big 5” Liberal Arts Institutions

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In case you didn’t know, Ohio is home to five of the finest “Liberal Arts” colleges in the country. Collectively, they form the “Five Colleges of Ohio,” a consortium of Ohio liberal arts colleges which includes Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, The College of Wooster, and Denison University.

In their purest form, Liberal Arts institutions only offer degrees in the Arts and Sciences, with a particular affinity for the humanities (subjects such as philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history, and language that focus on how people process and document the human experience) and the sciences. What they don’t do is offer academic majors in the professions. So, in a pure liberal arts institution you won’t typically see degree programs in business, engineering, social work, education (with licensure), nursing, and the like. These institutions tend to be small, selective, undergraduate-focused, liberal, teaching institutions with big endowments (savings accounts), and a broad reach (recruit well beyond Ohio’s borders). They value an interdisciplinary approach to education so tend to organize their curriculum to encourage breadth over depth and connections over silos. They work hard to develop a student’s critical thinking and verbal and written communication skills. In most cases, over 50% of graduates move on to graduate school within a few years of completing their undergraduate work.

These are fine institutions, but not a good fit for everyone for a number of reasons. I’ll have a lot more to say on that further down the trail! Thanks for hiking with us.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA); a Columbus Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 15 “fit factors.” College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas.

In order to purchase a more extensive proprietary “Campus Field Report” on any Ohio college discussed, click here: https://collegeboundadvantage.com/campus-field-report-access/

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