You can learn a lot about a college by reading its brochures, web pages, and magazines, but these resources cannot fully convey everything that makes Grinnell College such a wonderful place. You almost have to experience it to believe it. But if you aren’t able to visit, here’s a list of a few of Grinnell’s most incredible qualities:
Small, discussion-based classes. Classes at Grinnell are small and are never taught by a teaching assistant. Professors rarely lecture; instead they involve as many students as possible in lively, intense discussions. In fact, my Spanish professor has yet to give a single lecture this semester! Instead, we come to class each day and interact closely with each other and the material. These discussions foster an open dialogue and allow us to learn from each other’s views and experiences. This opportunity to learn from my peers as well as my course materials has been one of the most enriching and educational experiences of my college career.
The great residence-hall community. First-year students — in fact 90 percent of all Grinnell students — live in the residence halls. Every floor has a student adviser who serves as a resource to help residents with anything they may be going through. Advisers throw several study breaks per year and encourage floor-mates to get to know each other. As a result, a very special floor community exists, allowing students of all years to become close friends. Many of my best friends are people I met in my residence hall. We even made floor T-shirts to prove it!
Amazing professors. In addition to being wonderful teachers, Grinnell professors care deeply about their students. During a typical class period, professors will ask their students how they are doing (and wait for individual responses!), share a story or two, and encourage students to visit them in their offices. I have spent as much time in my advisers’ offices talking about our pets, my family, and what I want to do with my life as I have talking about academics. Profs at Grinnell are our biggest supporters, and they care about our academic and personal success.
Exciting extracurriculars. In addition to all the studying you can do here, there’s an extracurricular activity (or two or 10) for everyone. No matter your area of interest, from dancing to debating, from the environment to social justice, there is a group or organization that fits it. Do you love to sew or cross-stitch? Join Sewing Circle! (Really, join! My friend started the group and it’s awesome!) Are you passionate about the consumption and production of local foods? Join Local Foods Co-op. Are you interested in politics? Join the Campus Democrats or the Campus Republicans. Do you know, or want to learn, how to juggle? Join the Juggler’s Union of Grinnell! Life at Grinnell is spiced up by more exciting extracurricular activities than you can imagine!
Grinnell offers one of the best liberal-arts educations in the country, but what truly makes Grinnell special is the environment that exists in academic buildings, professors’ offices, and the residence halls. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, I hope that this list gives you some sense of the wonderful place that is Grinnell.
Kate Munday '13 is a Psychology Major from Kansas City, MO.