Impressions of Earlham

My son has applied to Earlham. We did a campus visit, but it was the first day back after spring break. As we walked around campus, I saw very few students . . . this may have been because it was the day after break; but I wondered if anyone has recent impressions (on any aspects) of Earlham.

Thank you!

My son visited campus as part of athletic recruiting, and had a great experience. There were lots of students out cheering at the match that he watched as part of his recruiting, and he described that he really enjoyed the discussion during the class he sat in on. I spent time in the coffee shop/commons working, while he was with team members, in class etc., and enjoyed the range of students who came in and out. Earlham struck us as a warm, caring community, my kid was impressed by arts and athletics facilities (he’s not really a science kid, so wasn’t that interested in the renovations/new construction in sciences). Ultimately, for him, since we live in Indiana, he wanted to get at least a little further away.

I loved the swing in the middle of campus, but that’s just me.

My son said that the chem class he sat in on was very lively and that there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He also found students to be super friendly.

I run into a lot of Earlham grads through a couple of organizations I am involved with, and across the board, they are smart, thoughtful, and very articulate and self-assured.

I’m an Earlham grad, but visit campus every year or two and can provide my recent (biased) impressions. I was most recently at EC last year to serve as an external examiner for biology & biochemistry comprehensive exams, which majors take in spring of senior year. That experience reminded me that Earlham has such a great mix of talented and thoughtful international and US students. I grew up in a rural area of the country that is quite provincial, and where few people attended college. Coming to Earlham was an amazing experience for me. There were people from all over the country/world on this small college campus on the Indiana-Ohio border. For my classmates who grew up in Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, etc., the mix of people was less novel.

Some people end up crossing Earlham off their list because of its location. I liked Richmond, IN as a student; it is way cooler than my hometown. It will never be Chicago, New York or San Francisco, so it can be an adjustment for city kids. Lots of students end up driving to Cincinnati (a very underrated city) on the weekends to catch shows. It’s only 1.5 hours away, and the route through Oxford, OH on US 27 is a great drive.

Other recent impressions:
The new science facilities that house bio, chem, math, physics are really, really nice. The brand new arts building is beautiful, and has amazing studio space. The social sciences building is now 4-5 years old and is also fantastic. You likely toured these facilities, @parentmother. I only bring it up here to state that EC has done a good job enhancing facilities since I was there. Things are way nicer than in my time.

I ran XC/track all four years (with the exception of the semester I spent in East Africa), and Earlham remains one of my favorite places to run. I went running when I was back for exams, and was reminded of the great trails Earlham has on back campus. The roads behind campus go on forever through the corn fields, and the Whitewater Gorge through town also has cool trails. I encourage all who visit to check it out. I now live 4-5 blocks from the Lake Shore Trail in Chicago, but I think I prefer to run back campus, or through the gorge, at Earlham.

D19 is looking at colleges right now, and I would love it if she ended up Earlham. She likes the idea of a LAC but seems most interested in Grinnell, Pomona, and Swarthmore. We’ll see.

I’m always happy to talk about Earlham, so feel free to message me.

Thank you, everyone, for your replies!!

My son loved Earlham when we visited . . . I was just concerned because I saw so few students out-and-about . . . but I did think that could have been because we were there as spring break ended. I love everything that Earlham represents (our family is actually Quaker). My son has also applied to Swarthmore (and other midwest LACs), but I personally like the more pronounced Quaker identity at Earlham.

At Earlham, my son did a class visit, tour, and interview. The rest of the family just wandered around on our own (so we may have missed features that a tour would’ve pointed out).

The new president, Alan Price, looks as if he will be a great leader. I read that he wants to increase Earlham’s enrollment to 1200.

I too am hearing good things about Alan Price, and know that Earlham is working to increase enrollment over the next few years. I’m not sure what their target is. Earlham has a strong endowment, but I’m guessing that 1200-1300 would be a healthier number for the college than 1050-1100.

Though I’m not Quaker, I also like that Earlham is a distinctly Quaker college. I have to admit that I had no appreciation for what this meant when I enrolled as an 18 year old. You likely know that governance at all levels is by consultation and consensus. The school takes this approach seriously. Students and all employees have a voice in governance. It’s quite inclusive. Reaching decisions is often not easy, but the process makes you better at asking questions and listening (which are generally useful skills). I did not know how unique this was until I went off for grad work/postgrad at institutions with more typical top-down governance structures.

Good luck to your son! If he has the opportunity to go back for an accepted student visit, hopefully there will be more students around.

microbial40 – thank you for writing! How did you find the quality of work when you did your external review?

I have also heard that a 1200+ student population is a better level for long-term stability. I think do Earlham may be heading into a specially strong period with Alan Price. I think it’s meaningful that he’s an Earlham grad himself.

Governance by consensus can be difficult – but you are right that it really builds an ability to listen.

The comprehensive exam is in two pieces: a written portion that is graded by Earlham profs, and an oral exam that includes an outside examiner.

In the oral, the student typically presents background info and data from an independent research project. After their short presentation, it’s open for questions/discussion. My group of students performed quite well; two were outstanding.

Thank you, microbial40! And thanks again to everyone for sharing their impressions!

@parentmother I have no personal experience of Earlham, but these reports conform to impressions I’ve heard from those with some firsthand experience of either the school or its grads. Curious if your kid considered Haverford, also a Quaker school, and in the same orbit as Swarthmore.

@porcupine98 – No we didn’t consider Haverford. For the most part, my son’s search was focused around midwest LACs (Swarthmore – is a bit outside his zone, but he still applied).