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What is the culture of a small, residential college?

Christian Morris

Christian Morris ’18
Assistant Director of Admission and Coordinator of Transfer Admission

Christian Morris ’18

Hello! I’m Christian Morris, a 2018 graduate of Grinnell College, where I’m also the assistant director of admission and coordinator of transfer admission. I love getting the opportunity to talk about the culture at small residential colleges because I called Grinnell home for four wonderful years.

The culture of small residential colleges is based on the idea of a tight-knit community, which for me includes three different aspects: inside the classroom, outside the classroom, and the individual experience.

Inside the classroom, it’s impossible for your voice and your efforts to go unnoticed, whether it’s in moments of triumph or struggle. Attention, support, constructive criticism — encountering other avenues of perspective and thought are always inevitable. You can’t disappear into a crowd and you can’t hide your efforts to succeed. You learn how to inhabit different intellectual spaces because your presence is always acknowledged, and your thoughts and your voice always have time in the sun.

Outside the classroom, it’s an inclusive environment. You see the same faces regularly, if not daily, on your way to class, to lunch, to the library, or in different activity spaces. It creates a sense of interpersonal routine whether you’re aiming for that or not. You greet the same people, you talk with them more often, and you create bonds with them based on proximity and inclusion alone.

Grinnell also offers a shared space to grow for you as an individual — a space where everyone around you is also figuring themselves out in that moment, finding themselves and refining themselves together. The culture of a small residential college like Grinnell gives you the opportunity to be in a space where your work, presence, and opinions won’t disappear.

Another great thing about small residential colleges is that you get to know your professors very well. Your relationship with your professors is not confined to the classroom context— you also get to know them outside the classroom as human beings.

Here at Grinnell, we have a lively social atmosphere. There’s nothing to stop you from joining any kind of activity or event. Aside from showing up, there’s no bar to any of the events that we have on campus -- whether it’s a sporting event, a theatre performance, a concert by a music ensemble, or something else!

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