Colby is committed to the belief that the best preparation for life, and especially for the professions that require specialized study, is a broad acquaintance with human knowledge. The Colby experience is designed to enable each student to find and fulfill their own unique potential. It is hoped that students will become critical and imaginative thinkers who are welcoming of diversity and compassionate toward others, capable of distinguishing fact from opinion, intellectually curious and aesthetically aware, adept at synthesis as well as analysis, broadly educated with depth in some areas, proficient in writing and speaking, familiar with one or more scientific disciplines, knowledgeable about American and other cultures, able to create and enjoy opportunities for lifelong learning, willing to assume leadership roles as students and citizens, prepared to respond flexibly to the changing demands of the world of work, useful to society, and happy with themselves.

Colby stands for diversity, for respect for various lifestyles and beliefs, and for the protection of every individual against discrimination. In the classroom and outside, there is freedom to study, to think, to speak, to work, to learn, and to thrive in an environment that insists upon both civility and the free and open exchange of ideas and views. The behavior of individuals may often affect the rights and well-being of others; therefore all members of the campus community are responsible for fostering an environment in which teaching, learning, and research flourish.

The Colby Plan is a series of 10 educational precepts that reflect the principal elements of a liberal education and serve as a guide for making reflective course choices, for measuring educational growth, and for planning for education beyond college. Students are urged to pursue these objectives not only in their course work but also through educational and cultural events, campus organizations and activities, and service to others. These precepts, which the College believes are at the heart of a liberal arts education, are as follows:

  1. to develop one’s capability for critical thinking, to learn to articulate ideas both orally and in writing, to develop a capacity for independent work, and to exercise the imagination through direct, disciplined involvement in the creative process
  2. to become knowledgeable about American culture and the current and historical interrelationships among peoples and nations
  3. to become 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
  4. to learn how people different from oneself have contributed to the richness and diversity of society, how prejudice limits such personal and cultural enrichment, and how each individual can confront intolerance
  5. to understand and reflect searchingly upon one’s own values and the values of others
  6. to become familiar with the art and literature of a wide range of cultures and historical periods
  7. to explore in some detail one or more scientific disciplines, including experimental methods, and to examine the interconnections between developments in science and technology and the quality of human life
  8. to study the ways in which natural and social phenomena can be portrayed in quantitative terms and to understand the effects and limits of the use of quantitative data in forming policies and making decisions
  9. to study 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
  10. to explore the relationships between academic work and one’s responsibility to contribute to the world beyond the campus.