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Carleton College

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityA Faculty AccessibilityA+
Useful SchoolworkA- Excess CompetitionA+
Academic SuccessA Creativity/ InnovationA
Individual ValueA+ University Resource UseA-
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyB- FriendlinessA
Campus MaintenanceB+ Social LifeB
Surrounding CityB Extra CurricularsB
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

Lowest Rating
Campus Aesthetics/ Beauty
Highest Rating
Faculty Accessibility
She cares more about Campus Aesthetics/ Beauty than the average student.
Date: Jun 24 2008
Major: History/Histories (art history/etc.) (This Major's Salary over time)
I love Carleton and I am beyond happy that I chose to apply ED to this school over others that I was considering (Grinnell, Oberlin, assorted Ivies).

You know all that admissions literature about those slightly unusual, fun-loving, intellectual Carls? By and large, it's a true characterization of the average Carleton student. On the whole, the people I've met tend to be quite academic, but not particularly staid; driven, not competitive; intense, but not staid; passionate about something, but well-rounded. If you are fierce about your learning and equally intent on sucking as much cheerfulness and fulfillment out of life as possible, Carleton's a great place for you.

First and foremost, the academics are incredible. The classes are small, well-taught, and fascinating. The professors are accessible and prone to inviting their students to their houses. Research opportunities for science kids appear to abound—my friend, a freshman (most likely a chem major) has a paid research position on campus this summer with a prof. For the humanities types, help is always around to find internships, scholarships, and the like. Academic advising in my experience is excellent, but I hear that differs appreciably by assigned advisor.

The school's Minnesota location has certainly rubbed off on the personalities of the student body… "Minnesota nice" is evident in both positive and negative ways. The people are incredibly friendly and cooperative, but sometimes the (air of) modesty gets to be a little much (especially when you [i]know[/i] that the person in question thinks that s/he's hot sh*t but just won't admit it). There's a definite midwest flavor to the school that is absent even in other schools with Midwestern locations… WUSTL, Kenyon, and Northwestern all have an east coast feel and Oberlin and Macalester might as well be out west. Carleton is unhip, unpretentious, and unstylish, which isn't to say it's insular or provincial, just grounded.

For me, a moderate drinker/sometime smoker, the social life's enjoyable. I purposefully avoided schools with frats or big party scenes but also tried to avoid the other extreme. I'm not a big fan of large parties, so the Carleton tendency to have a few with a couple friends before hitting the big dance or concert is too my liking. Regular Sayles dances (held roughly biweekly, sometimes more)get old, but there's usually enough entertaining theme parties to tide one over until the next good DJ. In the winter the scene dies down a bit, only to be resurrected in full force in the spring. From what I understand, sub-free life at Carleton is pretty great.

There are many people for whom Carleton would not be the best. I know about three people who are transferring next year and they all tend to have some hodgepodge of these characteristics:

1. They're big partiers:

This is a school with 2000 kids and many of those students don't drink regularly. There's parties for those who want them, there's copious booze a-flowing some weekends for those who drink it, but if the kegger is something you really, really want regularly in your college experience, you'd be happier somewhere else. Likewise, the hook-up scene is unpredictable and a small campus can make that awkward.

2. They're in need of a city:

I like Northfield. I like its leafy streets and its little restaurants and its cheesy festivals. I also like the fact that it's close to Minneapolis (which is a big city by most measures). But some people, mostly from the Boston or NYC areas, get claustrophobic very fast. Be honest with yourself—can you handle living in a small town of 15,000 people, only able to get waaay off campus on weekends?

3. They don't mesh with the Midwest:

I've seen a lot of East Coast reared, private school educated Carls go through culture shock when confronted with their public schooled classmates, especially those who live on farms or even in small towns and suburbs. They will have to get used to a lack of ocean, a prejudice against flashy or expensive clothing, and the general lack of hipsters. There's just a different way of talking about one's accomplishments and opinions in the Midwest than there is back East (and to a lesser extent, out West).

4. They'd be happier at a bigger school:

Carleton is small. Think realistically about what it means to be cooped up on a little campus with your exes, meeting a majority of your classmates over your four years, seeing the same group of people at parties, and studying in a department with maybe ten profs at most. For some people, the benefits of a small school far outweigh the bad. For others, it's just not worth it.

5. They didn't want to come here in the first place:

If Carleton's your safety school, fifth choice, or back-up plan, you might want to ask yourself why you're coming. Maybe it's better to take a gap year and give that place you really want to go one more shot before coming into a school with an unhappy disposition. Carls tend to be optimistic and make the best they can out of what life hands them. A LOT of people chose this school early decision or had it as their first choice and that enthusiasm can be hard to react to if you're still mourning the loss of your first choice.

Carleton has provided a great first year for me. I've met amazing people, studied with brilliant and helpful profs, and broadened my intellectual horizons. My fellow Carls have taught me so much about things academic and otherwise. For me, the school's small size, midwest location, moderate party-scene, distance from Minneapolis-St. Paul, and strong character have been rewarding because I find that these factors foster an amazing, close-knit community truly dedicated to all kinds of learning.

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