Centre College included in “Colleges That Change Lives”
September 6, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
“Colleges That Change Lives.” Centre is one of forty schools
listed in this fourth edition of the educational guide, which was
released earlier this month.
Centre College has once again been recognized as one of the nation’s “Colleges That Change Lives.”
The College is one of forty schools listed in this fourth edition of the educational guide, originally created by Loren Pope, the former education editor for the New York Times who passed away in 2008. Writer Hilary Masell Oswald is the editor of the new edition, which was released earlier this month.
Centre is one of 33 institutions that has remained in the book since its initial publication in 1996 and has appeared in every subsequent edition, in 2000, 2006 and this year.
“As a charter institution in ‘Colleges That Change Lives,’ Centre has taken pride in and seen the positive effect of membership among this select group of colleges,” says John A. Roush, president of Centre College. “For Centre, being in this mix of remarkable colleges extends our reach across the nation and beyond, and in a way that is distinctively different than what is found in traditional rankings and guidebooks. The detailed chapters, in particular, offer perhaps the most effective explanation for why a liberal arts college education is both valuable and transformative. Young men and women, and their families, who seek undergraduate education of the transformational variety read this book and make their choice.”
Pope created “Colleges That Change Lives” to highlight schools that are often overshadowed by the Ivy League, but that leave an indelible impact on students, faculty, staff and alumni—more so than other institutions.
“College isn’t just about the end result. It’s also about the means, the process, the path you take to earn your degree, whom you meet, and who inspires and mentors you,” Pope and Oswald write. “To find a life-changing college, you must pay attention to how a college educates its undergraduates.”
“I have heard from countless families about how ‘Colleges That Changes Lives’ is a revelation for them that provides a real sense of choice in the college search process,” says Bob Nesmith, dean of admission and financial planning. “The detailed chapters, in particular, offer perhaps the most effective explanation for why a liberal arts college education is both valuable and transformative. This is achieved by judging a college by what it does for its students, focusing more on outcomes and outputs than on reputation and inputs. Ultimately, it makes the search process more rational and helps students achieve the right fit.”
The chapter begins by praising Centre for the high academic profile and character of its student body.
“Centre students are bright, wholesome, polite, friendly and personable, eager to do well, and serious about what life holds for them,” write Pope and Oswald. “Intellectually curious, they take many courses outside of their majors, and they are willing to take notoriously tough courses for the sheer joy of satisfying their curiosity, even at the peril of their GPAs.”
Centre is also lauded for its diversity, with students from 44 states and nine foreign countries, and 16 percent of the student body made up of minority students. Socioeconomic diversity is appreciated, too, as one student as one student said, “You realize fast that everyone comes from a different background, not everyone has a silver spoon. If you dig into the campus community, you find that everyone has a different story.”
Finally, Centre’s high retention and graduation rates are extolled in the book. The chapter states that 92 percent of first-years return for sophomore year, “beating the national average for four-year private baccalaureate colleges by 23 percentage points—and 85 percent of students graduate in four years, putting Centre squarely in the company of the big-name private colleges.”
While the outcomes of attending Centre are clearly high, tuition is not—and the chapter praises Centre for a price tag nearly $10,000 lower than its peers. Furthermore, many students receive scholarships and awards from the College.
“In 2011, the average freshman got $27,500 in aid (toward a comprehensive cost of $42,500), and 90 percent of students get need-based aid, merit awards, or both,” Pope and Oswald write.
The book goes on to commend faculty for challenging students while also making themselves accessible to students—which often leads to strong bonds.
“Centre’s faculty … are earnestly committed to and excel at the art of teaching. It is obvious that they like the students and enjoy working with them,” the chapter reads. “Professors who’ve been at the most famous universities say they’ve never experienced the kind of collegiality they enjoy at Centre.”
“Classes are intense,” a student is quoted as saying, “but people are excited to wake up every day and go to class and learn.”
“Colleges That Change Lives” also recognizes Centre for its study abroad program, calling the College “an international hub” thanks to sending 85 percent of students abroad at least once during their college career.
“‘We bring the world on campus to the students in the things we teach and the arts on college. But we also send our students out into the world. That creates a fuller experience,’” says associate dean and religion professor Beth Glazier-McDonald in the book.
With so many aspects of life at Centre seemingly perfect, it might be hard to believe the hype—but current students want high schoolers who read “Colleges That Change Lives” to understand that every word rings true.
“‘Centre looks great on paper, but it’s even better when you get here,’ a senior says. ‘I was skeptical. I thought it looked too good to be true. Everything is here; you just have to take advantage of it.’”
Centre’s inclusion in “Colleges That Change Lives” is just one more way the College continues to maintain its rightful place among the nation’s best.
“Centre is a quiet powerhouse, a place that even top administrators find magical,” write Pope and Oswald. “You can find the component parts elsewhere, but you’ll have a harder time finding the special alchemy that pulls the pieces together and has such a profound effect on students’ lives.”
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.