A rigorous academic program is at the core of a Colby education. Through transformative relationships with Colby’s outstanding faculty and in activities outside the classroom, students learn to embrace opportunities, to see connections in disparate lines of thought, and to regard education as a civic resource as well as a personal achievement. Colby is international, and students develop a mature curiosity and an appetite for engaged global citizenship.
To fulfill its mission, the College adopted The Colby Plan—12 precepts to help each student achieve his or her potential by:
- developing his or her capability for critical and creative thinking
- learning to communicate ideas
- learning to work independently
- learning about American culture and the current and historical interrelationships among peoples and nations
- becoming acquainted with other cultures by learning a foreign language and by living and studying in another country or by closely examining a culture other than one’s own
- learning how people different from oneself have contributed to the richness of society, how prejudice limits such enrichment, and how each individual can confront intolerance
- understanding one’s values and the values of others
- becoming familiar with the art and literature of a wide range of cultures and historical periods
- exploring in detail one or more scientific disciplines, including experimental methods, and examining the interconnections between developments in science and technology and the quality of human life
- studying the ways in which natural and social phenomena can be portrayed in quantitative terms and understanding the effects and limitations of using such data in decision making
- studying one discipline in depth to gain an understanding of that discipline’s methodologies and modes of thought, areas of application, and relationship to other areas of knowledge
- exploring one’s responsibility to contribute to the world beyond the campus
Colby believes that “the best preparation for life, and especially for the professions that require specialized study, is a broad acquaintance with human knowledge.” That’s part of the official mission statement. Put simply: whether you want to be well prepared for a career or you already know you will need to go to graduate school, you can have no better foundation than the liberal arts.
So, what are the liberal arts? Liberal means “not limited to or by traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes or dogmas,” according to the dictionary. “The liberal arts” refers to academic disciplines that provide a broad range of knowledge and understanding.
Many employers and graduate schools value the flexibility of liberal arts graduates, particularly those who have proven themselves capable of meeting Colby’s rigorous academic standards. Proof is in the College’s success at placing graduates in top medical schools, law schools, and other graduate programs—and in the remarkable ways Colby alumni are making a difference in the world.
An extraordinary faculty is Colby’s greatest asset. Distinguished scholars, researchers, and authors from around the world, these professors have chosen Colby because they love teaching and because they are eager to work closely with students—to build relationships that go beyond the classrooms and beyond the four years that you’ll spend at Colby.
One of the most international colleges in the United States is in Waterville, Maine? That’s the judgment of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, which recognized Colby with the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization—one of the first in the nation. Half of our 52 majors have an international component and international studies is one of the most popular majors. Two thirds of our students study abroad, and more than 60 countries are represented in the student body.
A rigorous academic program is at the core of a Colby education. Students work closely with professors, exploring new ideas, stretching to expand their knowledge and perceptions of the world. Faculty members—world-class teachers and scholars committed to liberal arts education—challenge students in a collaborative learning experience that is transformational for both.
Research shows that students learn more, and knowledge sticks, when they learn by doing. Colby stresses project-based learning in courses throughout the curriculum to engage students in the types of discovery that make learning exciting. In the sciences students synthesize molecules or decode DNA. In the humanities creativity blossoms in studios, concert halls, and on stages. Social scientists engage in the political process, studying campaign finance or creating an economic forecast for the state of Maine. Interdisciplinary projects include GIS mapping work for the state and local government. Project-based learning underscores the interdisciplinary nature of the world.
Colby graduates succeed. They find their places at the best medical schools and research universities, the finest law and business programs, top financial firms, in the arts, government service, social service, education, and nonprofit organizations, and they are inspired leaders in their communities. Some students arrive at Colby sure of their career plans. Others find their calling along the way. All (including those in the “neither of the above” category) graduate with the knowledge and intellectual tools to adapt to and to succeed in a range of careers and professions. Colby supports the applications of all students applying to medical and dental schools, and the overwhelming majority of those applicants are successful.
A pioneering program in liberal arts education designed to explore an era or topic from the converging perspectives of several disciplines, Integrated Studies was introduced at Colby in 1997. The Integrated Studies semester brings together students with similar interests and provides them an opportunity to learn about a subject in depth and to make broad connections among disciplines. Structured around clusters of courses that may explore and era or some aspect of world civilization, the program is primarily for first-year students. Examples include The Green Cluster, combining environmental ethics, activism, and biological science, and The Great Depression, with interrelated courses in history, photography, and film.