Grinnell College, IA
Grinnell College is a private liberal arts school of about 1,600 students, located in the small town of Grinnell, Iowa. In the 2011 edition, US News and World Report ranked it 18th among liberal arts colleges in the United States. WithAmerican investor, industrialist, and philanthropist Warren Buffet as a trustee, Grinnell is well known for its massive endowment and financial aid opportunities. But Grinnell is more than numbers - it is a way of life. Students come here in search of a unique college experience. Grinnell stands out among other liberal arts colleges by being, indeed, one of the most liberal. Even though its location seems remote, almost all of its students are committed social activists, each of them defending their passions and trying to improve their community.
The average Grinnellian is involved in a number of student groups, participates in several committees, and never forgets to have a lot of fun in their free time. Sometimes there are so many events happening on campus at the same time - from symposiums, author readings, scholarly convocations to classical or rock concerts, film screenings, dance parties, athletic events, hobby groups, etc. - that you simply feel at a loss while trying to decide how to spend your time. Grinnellians are free-minded, committed individuals. The college specifically runs on a policy of self-governance. That is, students are given full freedom to make their own choices and to run their lives – there are no Residence Advisors, just Student Advisors. This fosters independence and responsibility, while creating an incredible sense of community. All of the clubs and groups are student-run, and the management always consults with the students when creating or implementing policies.
Grinnell is also known for its academic rigor. While we play hard, we work even harder. Known as a top feeder for graduate schools around the US, Grinnell provides maybe the purest form of liberal arts education. There are no core curriculum requirements, except for the First year tutorial – a class designed to introduce the freshman student to academic life, college-level writing, and campus academic resources. Students design their own academic paths, with the support and guidance of their advisors, who usually encourage them to explore as much as possible. Classes are small, ranging from as tiny as 3 students to no more than 30. The regular class size is about 15. The focus is on inquiry-based learning; basically, you get to have a lot of input and share your own views and questions with all of your class. This also means that you cannot doze off or daydream in class; the professor is always expecting you to react, every single class. Outside of class, professors are incredibly accessible; you can drop by your political science professor's office almost at any time to discuss you essay ideas or talk about current issues like the situation in the Middle East.
Grinnell is well known for its large international student body, comprising about 15% of the student population. While at Grinnell, I have met people from everywhere in the world, all compelled to come here by the quality of the Grinnell education and the incredible financial aid offers available. Most of them come here to get the best education that not only helps build up their academic knowledge, but also encourages self-development.
Grinnell supports experience in the real world, too. Most internships can have expenses fully covered by college funds, and the Career Development office is an extraordinary resource that provides contacts and guidance. There's also plenty of institutional support for independent research projects, here called Mentor Advanced Projects or MAPs.
To conclude, Grinnell College is one of the best places to discover exactly what type of education you want and build your own academic trajectory in a supportive environment which fosters community involvement and excellence.
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center