Communal Colleges?

Hey all!

So I was recently thinking about where I want to go to college – geographically, that is, and I realized what mattered most to me, above proximity to city or nature or whatever, was community. I guess I realized had I always thought of location in terms of how it added or detracted to the community of the college, if that makes any sense.

With that said, I want to ask: what colleges are best known for their sense of “community”?

I’m not sure if this is even a valid question, but I hope so!

Deep Springs College, the Service Academies, and the Webb Institute probably have the strongest. That being said, you will find a very strong sense of community at most liberal arts colleges with a high graduation rate that aren’t in extremely urban locales like the New School.

The liberal arts colleges are very communal with a very small portion of students ever moving off campus. Classes are small and group work is encouraged. Your academic advisor is a professor in your major that is not overwhelmed with students.

Deep Springs is a special case. The school has only 25 students and its on a ranch.

The Catholic schools are obviously very strong in this regard, even if you discount the day to day role of religion. Just those types of kids.

Olin College of Engineering has a very strong sense of community amongst its students, faculty, administration, and parents. Everyone feels they have a stake in the school and its quality that extends beyond the years when the students are enrolled. The sense of family is very strong.

There are various consortia of colleges that add to a sense of community. For example, there are the 5 colleges - UMass Amherst, Smith, Amherst College, Mt. Holyoke and Hampshire College. Students can take classes at any of them, and they intermix socially as well. There are also the Claremont Colleges in California.

I’d look for three things: a total student population of about 2000 or less; a high percentage of students living on campus (at least 75%, but the higher the better); a rural or rural-esque setting.

I don’t think of schools in consortia as being especially communal, although some can be.

Of the 40 college visits (seriously!) that we did, two schools that stand out in my mind as having a particularly strong community are Mount Holyoke and Haverford.

Have you visited penn state?