Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thanks Beloit! (COWS Day 4)

Today was the final day of the COWS tour and we finished with a morning at Beloit College. We took a tour of campus and, similar to the other schools, got to grill both a faculty and student panel. One might fear that after five such set ups that these events would start to blur together, but I can assure you that is not the case.

Beloit is a school that knows who it is. They are not glamorous or glitzy with over the top facilities or students that carry business cards (yes, I've seen that before on a campus tour). But they are a school that clearly values community, collaboration, and intellectual curiosity. Another counselor asked both the faculty and the students separately what they would do to change the college if given and unlimited budget and no rules. The faculty said they would give the money to the students so they could participate in more travel opportunities off campus and come with them on research trips. The students said they would give the money to the faculty for their classes and research. Cue the collective "awwwwwww."

The values at Beloit are clear. They would (and I think probably do) sacrifice decorative upgrades to the physical plant in exchange for putting those funds toward the intangible things on campus. I would wager that the conversations in the classroom and the confidence that students have when they graduate are off the charts even if the endowment isn't (one student on the panel referenced having to re-learn social norms in the real world where giving your boss criticism at a job isn't recommended after being so used to collaborating with his professors and peers).

I'll be candid to say that Beloit isn't for everyone, but I think for the right candidate, it could be perfect. In closing, I have to mention a final example of Beloit's uniqueness. The bookstore stocks Beloit t-shirts in Japanese and Chinese (10% of the student body is international, and there is funding for international students), something I've never seen in any other bookstore that I've visited. Beloit thinks different. If you do too, you should check it out. And considering it is literally 5 minutes from the Illinois border and less than an hour and a half from O'Hare you can get there faster than some parts of New York state.

On to St. Louis!