School Profile: Is the Liberal Arts Lifestyle at Colby College Right for You?

Colby College, a private liberal arts school, is set high atop Mayflower Hill overlooking picturesque Waterville, Maine. The 714-acre Georgian Revival-style campus is home to the nation’s first college-based anti-slavery society, first Greek society, and was the first to enroll women. Colby College is the 12th oldest liberal arts college in the United States, and today serves around 1,800 students. Campus highlights include a 128-acre arboretum and wildlife refuge, a student-run organic garden that produces two tons of vegetables annually, the largest American art museum in Maine, and a biomass-fueled heating facility that makes Colby one of four carbon-neutral colleges in the country. Colby College ranks #50 among schools in the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings.

Colby College has a unique 4-1-4 academic calendar that features two semesters separated by a winter session called “Jan Plan,” which is an opportunity for a single focused experience from hundreds of choices like a travel course, internship, research, field study, or an intensive course. Three Jan Plan sessions are required, however, most students love them enough to do four.

There are 55 majors and 31 minors from 38 academic departments at Colby; many students pursue double majors, and over half pursue a major/minor combination. The most popular degrees are social sciences, multi/interdisciplinary studies, biological and biomedical sciences, and English language and literature. Students can also participate in dual-degree programs in engineering with Columbia University or Dartmouth College.

The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement offers a plethora of opportunities for learning from thought leaders in civic engagement, debate, and service. The Peace Corps ranked Colby College among the top 25 colleges with the most Peace Corps volunteers. If you are driven to connect with like-minded people around issues of social justice, civic engagement, and environmental stewardship, Colby is a good choice.

Campus life at Colby College is guided by the Colby 360 residential plan that promotes principles of life skills development, human diversity, civic responsibility, healthy living, and leadership. All residence halls, except one, are coed and integrate all four classes of students. Students can further choose from specialty housing or dialogue housing.

Colby offers three dining halls to students during the academic sessions; Dana, Foss, and Roberts. Each has its own personality and menus are posted on the college website to help you decide where your next meal will be. The Joseph Family Spa at the Pulver Pavilion in Cotter Student Union offers students salads, sandwiches, beverages, and desserts for sale. The Caporale Lounge, also located in the Pavilion, has boxed lunch offerings that are part of the student meal plan. The Marchese Blue Light Pub provides appetizers and alcoholic beverages for students who are over 21. Monday through Wednesday, students who are under 21 may order late night non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.

Colby College athletes play on one of 16 men’s and 17 women’s NCAA Division III teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, one of the toughest D3 conferences in the country. White Mule student-athletes have earned titles in alpine skiing, basketball, and crew. Colby consistently produces All American Division III athletes across a number of sports. The school’s primary football rival is Bates College, a fellow Consortium school.

Colby has a number of state-of-the-art athletic facilities on and off campus. The College also offers club sports, and iPlay is the active intramural program. Colby athletics has been supported by C Club, an organization of alumni and others, for over 100 years. The Colby Magazine helps keep students and alumni connected with Colby’s rich history, alumni achievements, and current news.

Traditions at Colby college include raucous cafeteria tray sledding. Every Colby student is expected to steal a cafeteria tray from one of the dining halls to sled down Chapel Hill at least once in their college career. As you might expect, they go super-fast, so be careful! Doghead is a Colby tradition around St. Patrick’s Day that is an all-day drinking extravaganza. Loudness Weekends are music and party events at the beginning and end of each semester. Mr. Colby is an annual beauty pageant featuring male student contestants. First prize is Mr. Colby, second is Mr. Bates, and third goes to Mr. Bodoin. On a more serious note, the Miller Steps in front of Miller Library mark the beginning and end of a student’s academic career at Colby. New arrivals gather there for a welcoming event, and four years later, commencement exercises are held there.

If you consider yourself socially conscious and you want to help make the world a better place, you prefer the intimacy of a small college, and you thrive in a challenging academic environment, keep Colby College on your list.

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By Colleen Hill