5. McDaniel College (Westminster, MD)
McDaniel’s mission starts with building a student’s education through The McDaniel Plan, an initiative designed to help students attain specialized knowledge of their major through directed studies, internships, and more.
With approximately 1,600 students in the entire college, this small liberal arts college is a true hidden gem in the landscape of academia.
Formerly known as Western Maryland College, McDaniel has one of the most flexible curriculums of any liberal arts college. Students at the school can even participate in self-designed majors to fully take advantage of all the ambitions they have for an undergraduate experience.
One particularly interesting facility the school has is the CEO – Center for Experience & Opportunity. This is where the classroom meets the real world for McDaniel’s 1600+ students, as this unique kind of career center assists students with internships, scholarship acquisition, and even study-abroad opportunities.
Speaking of study-abroad opportunities, the school has a dedicated satellite campus in Budapest, Hungary, where students of McDaniel can go study during their undergraduate tenure.
4. Knox College (Galesburg, IL)
Knox implements an unusual academic system, what they call a “3-3” approach.
Essentially there are three 10 week semesters each year, and in those 10-week semesters, students take three courses.
To promote a greater bond and tutorship between faculty and student, the faculty are only allowed to teach two courses in each of these semesters. This allows for greater 1-on-1 learning experiences.
Knox is widely known as one of the best liberal arts colleges for funding student research. Annually, Knox funds more than a quarter-million dollars to students for research work.
One amazing effect of this funding is the school’s awarding $2,000 experience grants, money that is available to all juniors and seniors at the school for experiential study & research. Students can use this towards community service, internships, study-abroad, or even equipment to fund the experience.
Recent projects included students who explored green chemistry, dancing classes for at-risk youth, and an internship with the United Nations.
Knox College is a selective institution, with only half of its applicants being admitted. Over 15,000 Knox alumni are now working with some of the prestigious companies worldwide.
3. Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)
Evergreen State College is one of the most unique colleges in the entire world.
At most colleges, students will take multiple courses per semester, a normal tradition that has been held for centuries.
However, Evergreen’s approach is entirely unconventional and effective – students study just one course each semester, and have multiple classes only affiliated with that course. This allows for intensive, deeply focused study on a single subject of a student’s interest, rather than spreading attention out over other courses.
Additionally, unlike just about every other school, there are no majors in the undergraduate program.
Some may balk at this revolutionary idea, but considering that approximately 80% of students change their majors at least once before graduating, perhaps more colleges should follow in Evergreen State’s path of allowing students to explore different passions at the undergraduate level, rather than having them choose a specialty.
Cited as one of the most liberal public colleges in the US, Evergreen State does not issue grades; rather, faculty give students oral narratives telling them about their classroom performance.