From the first time you step onto campus, you realize something about Grove City. It is a unique place. I am currently a sophomore getting ready to transfer. For me, the novelty has worn off.
At a liberal arts school, one might expect a few things. Challenging classes, an open atmosphere which encourages questions and foster understanding of subjects, and a well-informed education which covers a wide survey of topics. Being a Christian school, one would also expect aspects of Christianity to enter into the education. Well, I have found that those basic expectations are not met to any sort of degree and the integration of Christianity is done with a sledgehammer.
For example, the humanities courses attempt to cover what is discussed at other liberal arts colleges. Art, history, worldviews, and literature are all covered by these courses. But, not in the way one might expect. Instead of history, history of the Christian Church is covered, and only form a Protestant, Presbyterian view. Literature is discussed only in relation to God, art is only analyzed by how God would view beauty, and worldviews are only portrayed in a way to convert and critique, not to understand.
I will also restate what a few other reviews have said, classes are hard. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but most of the classes are simply ridiculous. What would make this level of difficulty acceptable is if classes were actually challenging. Few, if any, are. Cram for the test is the mantra of every student. Comprehension is optional at Grove City. Also, questioning of the material in class is highly discouraged, not from professors, but from the students themselves. A raising of a hand will earn the owner scorching glares from every eye in the class. Thankfully, most professors are very helpful during office hours, so try not to get too lost in class and they will help put you back on course. So, in my near two years here, I can honestly say that I have yet to learn anything.
As an economics major, I will also speak to the ability of the department. I have no problems with the Austrian school of thought which is taught, but have a problem with the lack of education on how to converse with mainstream schools of thought. Talking to any other economics major from another school results only in you realizing that arguments stem from completely different foundations and understanding of economics. The professors in the department are very knowledgeable in the field, Dr. Herbener can typically provide resource references for papers on the spot and will go out of his way to email you more. Unlike other professors in the department, his grading is extremely fair. You will get the grade for the effort you put in.
Unfortunately, if you want any decent exposure to other schools of thought in economics, you have to go outside the department (try Dr. DalleTezze). The exposure to other schools is minimal and met only with sneers from professors. Any attempt to combine understanding of Austrian economics and any mathematical schools is discouraged. Unfortunately, this means that getting into any graduate program for economics other than at George Mason requires a good deal of work outside the major or having a weak application.
But academia is only one piece of college, the other piece comprises social life. In keeping with the theme of uniqueness, Grove City likes to make sure its student body is distinct from any other college. It keeps itself homogeneous. Like I first did, some may think this is a good thing; likeminded people with similar backgrounds coming together to discuss ideas and problems. You knew the perspectives of other students. However, this doesn?t challenge you perception of the world at all. What Grove City has become is an amalgamation of moderately wealthy, white, homeschooled, Presbyterian kids. Anything else is simply not tolerated. To test this, walk up to any Biblical and Religious studies major and tell them you are Pentecostal and you will be lucky to walk away without having others question your very salvation. And God forbid you went to public school. If it gets out that you have, people will begin to question your basic ability to reason correctly.
Most kids here are either socially stunted or repressed. Because so many people have been homeschooled for the majority of the time when the socialization process takes place, they do not know how to interact with other people other than to argue with them as their parents have taught them. This helps greatly in the formation of cliques throughout the student body. Once these cliques are established on the freshmen halls your first year, they are very hard to break unless you participate in Greek life. Even then, most of the groups are self-selecting as only certain halls will look at specific Greek groups. All this to say, you don?t meet many people and none of them challenge you in any way. The biggest challenge most Grovers will face is arguing with a Catholic or debating whether free-will or predestined interpretation of the Bible is correct.
So, now that friend groups are established, what do you do for fun? Well, not much. As a guy, you can sit in your room and play video games until you are numb, play some sport on one of the fields if the weather doesn?t prohibit you from doing so, or do homework. That?s about it. As a true to definition dry campus, there is no night life, unless you know where to look. This undergrounds the whole night scene. Not only does this make for some dangerous nights but it also opens you up to major consequences if caught by the school, especially if you are underage. And don?t let your fellow, non-party going Grovers know that you do go out. Some of them may try to turn you in, or at the very least constantly harp on you for imbibing the devils drink.
For enduring all this, whether good or bad, you do get a diploma. It is how you go about utilizing this which is most troublesome. As a small liberal arts college in northwestern Pennsylvania, no one outside of Pittsburgh has heard of the college. So when approached by an applicant who has gone to Grove ?City College?, employers will typically wonder how the person sitting in front of them only earned a 2.x at a rural city college. The same goes for graduate schools until they see your test scores. Then they simply wonder why a decently bright individual could earn that low of a GPA at a no name school. A good example of this is the accounting students. The big 4 recruit for UPenn with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA to submit your application. With the average accounting student earning less than a 3.0, they are not even eligible to submit their application. Grove City administrators will continually try to pound in that they offer an academically rigorous education. Unless you are an engineer, don?t believe them. Better educations can be had elsewhere at similar prices.Grove City may be a unique place, but don?t expect to grow, learn, or experience much there.