As an essay editor who has worked on hundreds of college essays, I often come across students who focus so much on writing essays they think colleges want to read that their own unique voices are lost. Don’t get me wrong, writing strong essays and working hard to get into college is important. But, choosing a college should be more like a really great first date. It’s not only about showing the college what you can bring to the table, but it’s also about finding a college that fits you. Is this going to be the right school for your temperament, your learning style, and your needs? Going to a large, prestigious college is an attractive option to a lot of teenagers, but the truth is, it’s not always right for everyone. Figuring out what kind of school fits your personality is the best way to ensure a successful experience for both you and your college.
So, this month, I’d like to talk about one school that is not for everyone. In fact, it’s only for about 300 people. Marlboro College is a very small, liberal arts school with an average student body of –you guessed it-300 students. Located in the small town of Marlboro, Vermont, this college exists for the student who wants a less structured environment, where personal accountability is law. The school adheres to a “self-governing” way of life, which means that students and faculty are collectively responsible for the school’s governance. Students are also responsible for the design and implementation of their own unique academic program or “Plan of Concentration.” This often results in an interdisciplinary schedule that focuses on the discovery and blend of that student’s very specific interests and needs.
One of the few course requirements at Marlboro College is the Clear Writing Requirement. Marlboro believes that a focus on clear thinking and clear writing is the foundation for any Plan of Concentration that the student will embark on, so as freshman and sophomores, students are required to submit diverse, academic writing portfolios each semester. After this, students are required to take at least one writing-intensive course each semester for the rest of their time at Marlboro. A focus on clear writing grounds every student’s course schedule at this school.
Another grounding feature of Marlboro is the amount of interaction that students get with the faculty. Because of its small student body, Marlboro faculty is able to spend an incredible amount of time personally interacting with their students. In a student’s first few years, discussion-based courses, advising sessions, and group projects facilitate collaborative relationships. Later, students are able to work with faculty to tackle their Plan of Concentration in its own, distinctive way
Let’s be honest: Marlboro is an academic challenge in the largest sense of the word. Some have said it is more demanding than any Ivy League school is, which is why it’s not for everyone. But it might be for you if you are a student who can handle the responsibility that comes with this type of freedom, who wants to be deeply involved in his or her education, and who, above all, values a small atmosphere focusing on writing and self-exploration. If I’ve peaked your interest, you can check out more about Marlboro here: www.marlboro.edu