Quirky Colleges for Quirky Students

by | Feb 1, 2024

Embark on a transformative academic journey as we explore the distinctive curriculums of ten colleges redefining higher education. From personalized learning at Hampshire to Brown’s open curriculum, each institution showcases innovative approaches that empower students to shape their educational narratives. Discover how these unconventional academic structures cultivate critical thinking, creativity, and a holistic understanding of diverse disciplines.

  1. Hampshire College:
    • Unconventional Academic Structure: Hampshire College takes a unique approach to education by allowing students to design their own curriculum. There are no traditional majors, and students work with advisors to create personalized, interdisciplinary courses that align with their academic interests.
  2. Evergreen State College:
    • Narrative Evaluations: At Evergreen State College, traditional grades are replaced by narrative evaluations. Faculty provide detailed written assessments of a student’s performance, emphasizing qualitative feedback over letter grades. This approach aims to encourage a more holistic understanding of a student’s academic progress.
  3. Brown University:
    • Open Curriculum: Brown University is known for its open curriculum, which gives students the freedom to shape their education without rigid core requirements. This flexibility allows students to explore diverse subjects and create a curriculum that reflects their individual passions and academic goals.
  4. Deep Springs College:
    • Labor, Academics, and Self-Governance: Deep Springs College is a two-year institution where students engage in rigorous academics, manual labor on the college’s ranch, and participate in self-governance. This unique blend aims to foster a holistic educational experience focused on intellectual, physical, and communal growth.
  5. New College of Florida:
    • Contract System: New College of Florida employs a contract system where students work closely with professors to design individualized courses. Students negotiate learning goals and outcomes with faculty, creating a dynamic and personalized educational experience.
  6. St. John’s College:
    • Great Books Program: St. John’s College has a distinctive Great Books Program where students engage in a classical education focused on reading and discussing influential texts from various disciplines. There are no traditional majors, and students explore timeless works to gain a comprehensive understanding of the liberal arts.
  7. Bennington College:
    • Plan Process: Bennington College emphasizes a self-directed learning approach known as the “Plan Process.” Students work with faculty advisors to develop Plans—individualized projects that can include internships, research, or creative endeavors—allowing them to tailor their education to their unique interests.
  8. Reed College:
    • Grades Optional: Reed College offers a unique grading system where students can choose to receive narrative evaluations instead of traditional grades. This system aims to shift the focus from competition to collaborative learning and meaningful feedback.
  9. Antioch College:
    • Cooperative Education: Antioch College integrates a cooperative education program into its curriculum. Students alternate between academic study and work experiences, gaining practical skills and real-world application of their learning.
  10. Bard College:
    • Integrated Arts Curriculum: Bard College features an innovative curriculum known as “The Bard Plan,” which includes an integrated approach to the arts. Students engage in foundational coursework that combines arts and sciences, fostering interdisciplinary thinking and creativity.

Questions? Let’s chat!

bettina Weil

Weil College Advising, LLC


Weil College Advising

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