Different Needs---Different Colleges

 All colleges are the same...

                                          ... not !



Maybe you are thinking that:


'Pretty much all colleges are the same and pretty much all undergraduate education is the same... except as to quality... and I'm just not ready to go to college ! '


...that is to say,


'a BA is pretty much a BA, and a BS is pretty much a BS--- the only difference being that some come from more prestigious (and one assumes 'better') institutions, so if I (or my son or daughter) am not ( isn't) ready for this generic 'college' there is no college possible right now for him or her.'

If so, the following list is for you.


What follows is a list of some 60 very very different colleges (in no particular order) that belie that assumption.


I've purposely left off some of the more obvious such as Brown with its 'no university-wide graduation requirements' as, in the event, it really isn't nearly as different as most of these, of which some at least you might not have heard. And I've included some (such as Reed) that while they offer a very standard small liberal arts experience do so in such an idiosycratic way as to appeal only to a rare student... but then massively.


Google (any of) them and find out just how different 'going to college' can be. (PS: this list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive !).




1) Reed (alt. College of Wooster): major capstones are not all that's different

2) Evergreen State: utterly unique, makes everybody else's understanding of 'alternative' look boringly predictable. Public honors 

3) Hampshire:  the alternative college of 'The 5 College Consortium'

4) New (Florida): public honors, alternative

5) Marlboro: tiny, decidedly non-conformist, intellectual, townhall governance

6-11)* St John’s College (2), Shimer, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, Thomas Aquinas
12-18)* Berea, Warren Wilson, Sterling, Blackburn, College of the Ozarks, Alice Lloyd, Ecclesia

19) Unity: Maine, "hunters&huggers" gunlockers and Birkenstocks

20-25)* College of the Atlantic, Prescott, Northland, Green Mountain, Dickenson, Alaska Pacific

27) Deep Springs: you must look up

28-29)* Bard & Simon’s Rock: if everyone cared as much about doing college admissions right the we would all be better off.

30) MIIS:in CA,now 'of Middlebury':one of two simultananeous translation centers in US

31-33)* Harvey Mudd, FW Olin and Rose Hulman

34-36)* Colorado College, Cornell College (IA) and Quest (Canada)

37) Cooper Union ( fabulously hard to get into)

38) Curtis (ditto: think Stanford admission on steroids)

39-40)* Landmark, Beacon

41) Vandercook: there are conservatories... and then there is Vandercook

42-44)* University of Cincinnati, Dayton, Antioch ( the college, not the University) 

45) Babson: all business, all the time

46) Naropa: along with Soka (and, to a lesser extent 55 below) where East meets West

47) Alverno: no grades, competancy based, Catholic women's pre-professional emphasis-- who knew?

48) The New School (NY) including Parsons, and Eugene Lang

49) Bennington: interdisciplinary, learn by doing... and Art as part of everything

50) St Mary's (MD): public honors

51) Sarah Lawrence: cf Bard, Bennington, Hampshire... and Evergreen State

52) Vassar: avant-gard, fine arts& humanities... and  diversity

53) Embry-Riddle: speciality engineering

54) Webb Institute: ditto

55) California Institute of Integral studies: Do the West... then do the rest.

56-57 Johnston Institute for Integrative studies (at U. of Redlands)& Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies (at  W.Washington): so decidedly not the conservative/regular colleges that they exist as a part of; as 'alt' as the best.

58) Minerva: "Let's take this college on the ROAD!" (in style)

59-60) Wabash, Mills: single sex but oh so different; Wabash= one a very few Men's colleges left; Mills= very different from other women's

61) The various (1 Fed, 6 state and one private) Maritime Academies 

62-64)* Lawrence, Oberlin... and St Olaf

65) Deep Springs (yes, again... because it is the ‘most unique’)


*6-11=Great Books

 12-18= Work Colleges (essentially free or relatively cheap, cf also 37 and 62)


 31-33=Interesting Engineering (see also 53 -54 and 61)

 34-36=Block Classes

 39-40= LD schools

 42-44= Co-op colleges

 59-60= Single sex

 62-64=SLACs with major music; L&O with conservatories;St.O with no conservatory but   as a whole college, even more musical than the others.  


Different Needs---Different Colleges 2.0

 Just to give you some idea of the differences you would discover in the above list, here is a sampling:



Landmark and Beacon, but especially Landmark, offer an alternative 1-4 semester bridge to regular college for students either 'on the spectrum' or with LD issues or ADHD etc. getting in the way of optimal performance both in high school and in college. Landmark actually has its best success, according to them, with students who have been admitted to a regular college, gone and realized they need some more help if they are to best profit from their home institution (to which they often return) after 1-4 semesters at Landmark.


Simon's Rock of Bard College is one of the relatively few 'early college' options for those ready to go to college in their sophomore year or junior year in high school. Bard offers different iterations of this early college theme, but this is the flagship program. 50% of students only go there for 2 years and then transfer to other schools but 4 years on site or a semi transfer to Bard's main campus is also possible and used by many. It offers an interesting sort of halfway in HS halfway in college for that first year particularly for the perhaps academically more than ready but not socially ready student.

Co-op colleges such as Cincinnati, Antioch, Northeastern, Kettering, Purdue, CSUFresno, Georgia Tech, Drexel, Rochester, Florida Tech and Wentworth offer varying degrees of a sort of ongoing and integrated "All Gap, All the Time" with all sorts of internships and/or social volunteerism built into the core curriculum. These different schools all offer different blends but all require pretty heavy duty mandatory outside-of-the-college-proper work  (for the most part paid) in one's major for graduation.

The Work Colleges Consortium (
http://www.workcolleges.org/) take paid work a step further requiring students to work inside-of-the-institution for either tuition, room and board, both and/or cash, integrating work while in college into all aspects of college life. The result is (also) a very inexpensive college experience.