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Colleges that Change Lives

college admission consultant college admissions college admissions consulting May 12, 2023

A 4.2 GPA student should be successful at any college, but when a college routinely admits B students and transforms them into high-achieving, confident college students, that school is having more of an impact than a highly ranked college that only admits top students.


If you are immersed in the college search process, you may have heard about Colleges That Change Lives, a book profiling 40 schools located around the country that offer very different programs but share a commitment to the undergraduate experience.

While most of the CTCL schools are small, private liberal arts colleges, Evergreen State College is a public school with over four thousand undergraduates. The wooded, waterfront campus in Olympia is less than an hour from Seattle. But what really distinguishes Evergreen is the unique interdisciplinary curriculum. Instead of taking four or five classes at a time, students sign up for one program, which is usually team-taught by several professors from different fields. Programs often include field projects, internships or travel, which are easy to schedule since students don’t have other classes. Rather than picking a major, students create their own course of study, in consultation with professors who get to know them well. Students receive narrative evaluations of their work instead of grades, although grades can be provided if necessary for graduate school applications.


While a number of CTCL schools, such as Hampshire College, allow students tremendous freedom to create an individualized course of study, St. Johns College has a mandated curriculum. There are no majors and no course choices. Students spend their four years reading and discussing the great books of Western civilization, and everyone studies Greek and French, as well as four years of math and three years of science.


Students looking for a more traditional curriculum might like Eckerd College, which has a waterfront campus in Florida and offers a nice selection of liberal arts majors as well as terrific marine science


If you want a beautiful campus with trees but need to be near a major city, Goucher College, just outside Baltimore, offers the best of both. You will also be seeing the world beyond campus as Goucher requires all students to study abroad.


Most of the CTCL schools are not super selective when it comes to admission, but that doesn’t mean you won’t work hard to earn a degree. Some of the schools require students to complete a major re- search paper, similar to a master’s level thesis. It’s no surprise that so many graduates of CTCL schools go on to earn Ph.D.s.

In addition to offering small classes and nurturing faculty, many of the CTCL schools also offer merit scholarships, making these colleges a real bargain for strong students. Learn more about Colleg- es That Change Lives at:


Photo by Armin Rimoldi:

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