School Profile: Is the Intimate Community of Colgate University Right For You?

Thirteen is Colgate University’s lucky number. The story goes that in 1817 six clergymen and seven laymen, 13 in all, came together with 13 dollars, 13 books, and 13 prayers to form the Baptist Education Society, which wrote the 13 articles of the school’s original charter, hence Colgate’s love affair with the number 13. The school is situated on a 575 acre campus in rural Hamilton Village, NY, and has been recognized as among the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S. It has a strong commitment to sustainability with a goal of carbon neutrality by 2019.

Colgate undergraduates choose from among 54 majors and several minors from four academic divisions. The most popular majors are Economics, English Language and Literature, and Political Science and Government. All students complete an academic core study in diverse perspectives, critical thinking, effective writing, and lifelong inquiry, to enhance their degree programs. Ten academic centers and institutes on campus support study and research in many fields. More than 20 extended or off-campus study programs support various classes, many with three to six trips for additional intellectual engagement. Students also have learning opportunities through volunteering, internships, living-learning environments, research project, and an array of academic clubs. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 100% of the classes are taught by faculty.

A whopping 91% of students live in student housing, with only 9% opting to live off-campus. This speaks to the close-knit community the 2,900 students have created, being both cause and effect. Nearly half of Colgate students are active in Greek life. It has been recognized nationally for being among the top campuses for LGBT students, and one of the top three schools in integrating African-American students. Colgate has also been honored as one of the most fit colleges in America. These acknowledgements are reflective of a campus environment that is open, welcoming, and active. Students boast about the web of cross-country trails, Frank’s omelets and hot sauce, finals prep in the Library Café, Dance Fest, Living Writers, and the many theater and a capella groups on campus. Students also enjoy the Village farmer’s market, Good Nature Brewing, and the off-campus social hub at Barge Canal coffee shop—especially on open mic night.

Colgate varsity athletes compete on 23 NCAA Division I-AA varsity teams in the Patriot League. The Raiders’ tradition of excellence began in 1932 when the football team was “undefeated, untied, unscored upon, and uninvited” to the Rose Bowl game. Colgate’s college rival is much larger Cornell; nowhere is it more evident than at hockey match-ups, where games turn into major events. There is an amazing array of high-end athletic and fitness facilities for such a small campus, including the Trudy Fitness Center, and the proposed new athletic facility and soccer stadium. Freshmen go on a Wilderness Adventure through Colgate’s unique Outdoor Education program that also offers snowshoeing, tree climbing, kayaking, rock and ice climbing, and so much more to all students, faculty, and staff.

A modern-day tradition at Colgate is Colgate Day, celebrated every Friday the 13th. Colgate students and alumni around the world wear the school colors and tweet #colgateday to try to get the topic to trend on Twitter. A tradition of love is to stroll beneath the willows along Willow Path; legend has it that a first kiss under the willows foretells marriage. A more serious tradition is the Torchlight Ceremony, each year freshmen are led up “Cardiac Hill” to Memorial Chapel by faculty and senior honor students (13 men and 13 women) for a Founder’s Day convocation. Four years later, students are led back down the hill to Taylor Lake in their graduation robes the night before commencement. They sing the Colgate Alma Mater, place their torches on a bonfire, and celebrate. Colgate is an excellent choice for the student looking for an intimate college experience in a rural area.

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By Colleen Hill