Liberal arts schools with strong student newspapers

My daughter, a rising senior, would like to go to a liberal arts school that has a strong, well-run student newspaper. She doesn’t want to major in journalism but wants to continue writing and loves the community she has found on her high school paper (her school paper takes journalism seriously and there’s a lot of pride in what they print). She will likely major in political science and join the Peace Corps before going to law school.

She is a high-achieving A student with many APs, highish test scores (1470, will try again for the 1500+), other ECs, etc. But we would value any input on liberal arts schools with great newspapers… selective or not so selective. It’s rather easy to find the lists with all the big name schools or schools that have well-known journalism programs. We are not chasing merit and are full pay.

Thanks so much!

Not only does Wesleyan have one of the oldest student run newspapers in continuous existence of any college or university in the country, but it also has one of the best alternative blogs sites, Wesleying. When The Argus ran into trouble some years ago, a whole slew of alumni in the business came out in defense of it: Ethan Bronner, John Yang, Steven and Emily Greenhouse among others.

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Perhaps web searching for the newspaper(s) for each college of interest and reading them may help.

Thanks… that’s actually what started us down this path of looking at it from the “newspaper” direction. She’s been looking at schools and has one in particular she loves for a few reasons but was let down when she saw the school’s newspaper website. She didn’t realize that this was something that mattered as much to her as it seems to. I thought maybe if we found a few schools known for their papers we’d see if they fit the bill in all the other ways.

Would she be willing to join a lower quality newspaper and try to build it into something better?

Note that there may also be more than one student newspaper at a given campus, although this is often for political reasons.

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It’s a good question. I think she might be willing to do that if she were joining an excited and passionate group of people who want to make the paper better. I will float that idea.

I think researching a few new ideas knowing they have strong cultures around their newspapers will help her see if she’s willing to overlook other things (such as location or core curriculum or size) to get the paper or vice versa.

Tufts is one school that seems to have it all for her. But it’s a tough one to get into. We will look at Wesleyan too. She initially wasn’t too keen on its location but she liked other things about it.

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Two other NESCACs, Amherst (The Amherst Student) and Williams (The Williams Record) have very professional websites, IMO.

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If you google “best college newspapers” you will find a number of lists you can look through.

Kenyon College has The Kenyon Collegian newspaper and, of course, the renown Kenyon Review where students can work as associates.

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If I were applying to college, I would apply to Kenyon in a heartbeat. They have captured my fancy. :slight_smile: My daughter’s take is that Gambier, OH is less exciting than the bigger cities or hip college towns she prefers. But I might take her there anyway, just to be sure. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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My writer-kid (not a professional journalist now although had some fantastic internships and a cool fellowship after graduation at a publication which made an offer to stay on when the fellowship ended) wrote /edited one of the student papers AND a local paper which was known for high quality investigative journalism and exceptional feature writing. I would not rule out a mediocre student publication if there is a quality publication in town which hires students (and many do). Some towns/cities just have a paper which pulls off Reuters. But if they do actual journalism that can be a fantastic experience.

At the writing intensive schools we looked at, many have a clear hierarchy for the papers so that’s something to explore. There can be a daily, a weekly, a publication focused on arts and criticism, etc. Some have open processes- submit a few clips, you’re on, work your way up the ladder. Some are very competitive, and it can be frustrating for a freshman who chose the college for the quality of the paper to discover that freshman work as fact-checkers and ad sales people, occasionally covering a travel athletic competition. So she needs to figure this out…

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Yes, I can see that. My daughter (who just finished her first year there) also had concerns about the location; but when she contacted a current student, who is originally from NYC, she was reassured. The student told her that the upside of the somewhat isolated location is that it creates a tight-knit community. And there’s a lot going on campus (in normal times). Even with the pandemic, my daughter (who was on campus only in the fall) was so busy with classes, music activities, and spending time with friends that she was never bored (and she’s going to add theater this academic year). Besides, Columbus is not very far away and some students make trips there, I understand. The campus is beautiful and has a bucolic feel to it. I would recommend visiting, it’s very charming indeed and might change your daughter’s mind. My daughter’s original top choice was Macalester (a complete opposite), but she could see herself in either location type. She always said that Kenyon had the feel of a writers’ retreat to her. She’s had an amazing experience there so far.

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Sounds like your daughter has already looked at Barnard…?

As an indirect suggestion, look into LACs that emphasize writing across their curricula, such as Carleton and Hamilton:

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/writing-programs

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I would add The Middlebury Campus to this list. They have had excellent coverage of the pandemic since March 2020. I found reading campus newspapers among the more enlightening parts of the college search, especially when campuses were closed to outside visitors.

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She did look Barnard. And liked many things about it. Upon visiting, she ended up feeling like she would prefer Columbia. Barnard students participate in Columbia’s ECs, including the paper, but her feelings about Barnard had more to do with it feeling like an “outpost” of Columbia and not really it’s own place. She said of her tour of the Barnard campus: mom, I think I’d just want to be across the street. And since Barnard doesn’t want that (and I don’t blame them), we took it off the list.

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Aw, that sounds amazing. I’m so glad your daughter had a good year despite the pandemic. She sounds similar to my daughter… she loves music (plays 3 instruments, taught herself guitar) and was very active in theater before the pandemic. What kinds of music activities does your daughter do at Kenyon?

I just sent you a message.

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If you do visit Kenyon, you might check out Denison as well. Denison would be maybe a low match for your daughter with her high stats, but it’s a terrific school and it will be on your way if you are traveling to Kenyon from Columbus. Denison has a good newspaper, the Denisonian, which has been publishing since 1857, as well as a narrative journalism program that might be of interest to your daughter even if she doesn’t want to major in journalism. They also have a strong politics and public affairs department and a highly-regarded Philosopy, Politics and Economics (PPE) program. Granville is still pretty small, but it’s a beautiful little college town, and Denison is only a half hour from Columbus, which is a hopping place these days.

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Carleton was mentioned up thread and when we toured the biggest standout was the student newspaper kids. A new edition had just come out and they were standing in a group “hawking” the newspaper with humor to all the passing students. No clue about quality - but they had spirit :slight_smile: The English dept is small, so that was a negative to my daughter with I think less than 12 graduates a year ? I could be wrong - but that is what I remember too.

Regarding Barnard, at a 10% acceptance rate (this year) it stands on its own and the current President seems to be all about the advantage of an all women’s liberal arts college with the resources from a research institution across the street. In my opinion, it is integrated with Columbia and Barnard is finally speaking about the advantages of being a Columbia student too (you have an email from both schools, can eat in all dining halls, be in clubs and sports teams all without the Columbia core). The Columbian newspaper has writers from both schools. From the bit I know - kids integrate across both campuses quickly - if they choose too.

Kenyon is a fan favorite at our house and is a very special place - enjoy your search and this special time with your daughter.

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