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Student Reviews

Carleton College Reviews

Check out reviews left by other students or leave your own review. You could win a free scholarship.

  • 05/04/2010

    Reviewer is Researching this school. Reviewer has been to campus.

    19 out of 19 people found this review useful. 1 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Great for these types of students

    Bright, motivated, humorous, noncompetitive, down-to-earth people. Friendly (without being to obnoxiously extroverted).

    Tips for prospective students

    Really consider the environment you are looking for in a university. Carleton offers a small, tight-knit community that is pretty non-competitive. It has no sororities or fraternities, and favors inclusion over exclusivity. It is, to quote an admissions officer, Elite without being elitist. The people are bright, motivated, and friendly. They take academics seriously, but do not take life too seriously. The campus is very rural and nature-oriented (as displayed by the gorgeous 880-acre Arboretum).

    Bang for the buck

    I am a firm believer in the fact that a good education is well worth the price of a school. And a Carleton education appears to me to be just that--a good education. Also, Carleton offers instrument/vocal lessons that are not counted as classes and are therefore considered to be free. So that's pretty awesome. AND they have really great financial aid that very nearly matched the offer made to me by an Ivy League school (which is saying something for such a small, relatively unknown liberal arts school).

    Will enjoy being here

    Carleton has an amazing atmosphere on campus. Most everyone is friendly and seems to share the sense of community (and the Midwestern sense of humor) that defines Carleton. Everyone I met on-campus was involved in several activities (intramural sports, radio station, community service, comedy troupes, musical groups, etc.) and seemed to be genuinely happy to be there. The main factor that kept me from attending, however, was the location. While Northfield is a very charming small town it is also distressingly TINY. It is located in a very rural area and likely lacks sufficient social life off-campus (or so I feared). However, if you have a car you could likely reach the Minneapolis/St. Paul area within 45 minutes to an hour. So there's that. Plus there's those harsh Minnesota winters (so be prepared for that).

    Will learn a lot

    Carleton offers a comprehensive liberal arts education. Because it is based on a trimester schedule, students only take three courses per ten-week term. This allows them to focus more on the classes in which they are enrolled without becoming overwhelmed. And at the end of their four-years, they will have actually taken four classes more than most students at most other universities. Additionally, because Carleton is a small school that only offers an undergraduate education, all classes are taught by professors (rather than graduate students) and are small in size.

  • 06/23/2011

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    8 out of 8 people found this review useful. 2 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Great for these types of students

    The students that want to do everything. Carls are extremely talented, interesting, well rounded people. However, you won't necessarily know this because they do not brag of their accomplishments or try to compete with other students. Carls are friendly, conscientious, engaged, and intelligent. Carls are quirky. You can find people here that are all very different but that get along. Academics come first but Carls know how to let go and be goofy (as seen in our numerous school traditions, check out the Wikipedia page). The frequent motto is study hard, party hard. Partying can mean whatever you want it to.

    Tips for prospective students

    Visit. I didn't know that this was the right place for me until I visited. Do an overnight. Talk with students. Talk with more students. They love 'prospies' and will tell you all about Carleton. It sounds cliche, but I picked Carleton because of the people. This is true for many of my friends too. Remember to pick a school that is right for YOU. Not anyone else. Go somewhere where you can really be yourself. Also, if making the decision where to go is hard, try elimination. Write a list comparing your schools and gradually cross them off. Allow yourself to be selective.

    Bang for the buck

    Financial aid was fantastic. This price of an education at Carleton was equivalent to that at a state school. The financial aid office is very good about working with students so that they are able to continue to go here. I have friends who have appealed and received more aid. Carleton is also great about giving out work study.

    Am enjoying being here

    Although I didn't realize it until I got here, I could not have picked a better school. Students here truly love this school. This is seen by how prospective students are treated like celebrities, how there is an abundance of students who want the unpaid position of tour guide, and how Carls could go on for hours talking about their school. Here is a place where there are so many opportunities. Carls are involved. Not only can I be a student receiving a great education but also a volunteer, a friend, an athlete, a worker, a musician, a club member and so much more. Yes, Northfield is a small, rural, Minnesota town but that does not mean that activities are lacking. The school brings in bands weekly to 'The Cave', there are 'Sayles' dances, traditions such as Rotblatt, Spring Concert, and Screw your Roommate, sporting events, performances by both school and major musical, theater, and dance groups, speakers, camping and adventure trips, club sports, intramural sports, an 880 acre 'Arb', floor activities, free trips and tickets to the movie theater, weekly movie screenings, countless costume/dress-up parties... Students stay on campus on weekends because they want to. There is something for everyone.

    Am learning a lot

    Learning at Carleton can not be quantified by a GPA. Students here learn class material, yes, but also about themselves and the world. Students become conscientious, passionate, well rounded individuals. The learning environment is conducive to this. Other than intro classes, classes are small and many are discussion based. Students do not just idly sit, but engage in the material they are learning. Professors are amazing. They encourage students to attend office hours and are genuinely interested in getting to know them better and to help them. Many invite students over to their houses for meals. They are great resources for writing letters of recommendation, internships, study abroad opportunities, and research. Outside of the classroom, students learn through the many activism groups on campus, volunteering, campus activities, and the numerous speakers and presentations including the weekly 'convocation' where a famous speaker is brought in to speak every Friday. Carleton gives it's students many opportunities for them to grow and learn.

  • 03/22/2011

    Reviewer is A past student here.

    6 out of 9 people found this review useful. 4 people found this inaccurate. 3 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Great for these types of students

    quirky to use the admissions office term. Highly academic, motivated, driven, and intellectual students. Socially alternative, dorky, misfit people.

    Tips for prospective students

    Make sure that you fit the carleton-type. I knew after spending one hour on campus that Carleton wasn't for me and I did not fit in. I still decided to go because of the academics, but I would caution anyone who feels out of place there to consider a more mainstream experience.

    Bang for the buck

    Apparently generous with needy students, but overall cost is expensive.

    Did enjoy being here

    While I loved my classes and professors at Carleton, the overall college experience was miserable. There is absolutely no school spirit or pride. The small student body is made up of almost entirely identical students seeking a somewhat alternative experience. Athletes were seen condescendingly by students and professors. The weekend scene was depressing. Most students studied, save for occasional small parties thrown by some of the athletic teams mostly. One of my visiting friends remarked it was the quietest, loneliest campuses he had ever set foot on. The lack of diversity (socially) among students was the biggest flaw. Carleton attracts and accepts a certain type of person, and if one does not feel that they fit in, they are correct.

    Did learn a lot

    Academically, I found Carleton outstanding. My professors were incredibly engaged and cared about the success of each and every student. The expectations were high, very high, but I felt like I was truly pushed to my highest level of learning. The classes were varied and interesting. There is nothing bad to say about the academics at Carleton.

  • 06/22/2011

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    5 out of 5 people found this review useful. 4 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Great for these types of students

    This school is great for quirky, open-minded, intelligent, diligent students who like being outside and who enjoy the feel of a small town. It's also a plus if you enjoy the smell of malt-o-meal and like winter.

    Tips for prospective students

    I didn't visit campus, but I wouldn't recommend taking that approach. One of the things that's great about Carleton is that there are a lot of misfits who find other misfits to fit in with. . .which is great if you're a bit of a misfit, but I can see how some people wouldn't be happy with the social scene. The campus is gorgeous and definitely worth looking at, and it's probably a good idea to see dorms and things, but I also think it's important to get a sense of the people you'd be going to school with if you went to Carleton (or any school).

    Bang for the buck

    Carleton gives out pretty great financial aid packages, and I'd say I am definitely getting a lot of bang for my buck. The academics are great and pretty challenging, but the amount of support you can get to aid you in your academic growth is incredible. If you want it bad enough at Carleton, between academic support services and professors, you can find a way to get ANYTHING. Also, there are a bunch of study abroad programs that are covered by your tuition, which I think is great.

    Am enjoying being here

    I'd say that 90% of the time, I enjoy being at Carleton. The social setting is definitely one that is interesting. There is a lot of social awkwardness, and sometimes that can be a little intense, but I'd say that by the end of my first term, I was completely accustomed to the awkwardness, and I've even come to embrace it. I'd say that the 10% that I'm not enjoying myself is accredited to not enough sleep because of poor time management (something that is easy to fall into given the amount of work/number of extracurricular events on any given night). As long as I'm managing my time effectively, I find my experiences at Carleton pleasurable. Everyone is really nice and very accepting of social/cultural differences, really open to helping their peers, really open to almost anything, really.

    Am learning a lot

    Both the professors and students at Carleton are amazing. Profs make themselves incredibly available, and I've yet to have a professor who was unwilling to meet individually with his/her students. Not only do profs take an interest in your academics, though. Many of them enjoy getting to know their students outside of their coursework. Many of them are fascinating people who enjoy just kind of chit chatting with students. I have found them to be incredibly social and very supportive of the academic and extracurricular endeavors of their students. The students at Carleton are also incredible supportive of each other, as well. The atmosphere is very non-competitive, and that fosters this no-fail sort of atmosphere. At a college as academically rigorous as Carleton, it's easy to become overwhelmed, but I am continuously impressed by the academic resources available on campus. There is literally tutoring for everything. The prefect program, which acts as reinforcement of the course material, is amazing too. I have definitely learned more in my first year at Carleton than I did in any single year of high school, and I credit the rigorous but noncompetitive academic atmosphere for that.

  • 06/13/2012

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    5 out of 5 people found this review useful. 5 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Campus Safety

    I have never felt like I was in any danger when I walked around campus, regardless of what time it is. Security is very good at responding to any quarrels, and fights are so rare here that the only time cops are on campus is when students may have alcohol poisoning.

    Greek Life

    Non existant

    Clubs and Activities

    There are so many clubs, and it is here that a good portion of friendships are formed since you will be around kids who have the same interests as you.

    Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus

    Shiller! A small bust of Freidrich von Schiller is held by a secret few, and ever so often they present it at public events and students chase down the handlers. If they catch the handler they are allowed to take the bust and must outrun other students. To have shiller is a great honor at the college.

    Bang for the buck

    They meet all of my determined financial need, but still the school is expensive to attend. I feel the board is a little steep considering the quality of the food, but it is not detrimental to my decision to return. Also I have built fantastic relationships with professors, but it isn't until you reach the higher level courses that you get the small class sizes that allows the intimate settings with students and professors.

    What to do for fun

    There is something called the Carleton Bubble, that I didn't notice until winter term. While there is a second college in the city, it has a dry campus so many times its students find there way onto the Carleton campus. While there is alcohol present, there is very little pressure to drink. There is also a drinking culture, despite what many might thinks about this college. But the school has a wide variety of activities every weekend ranging from concerts to movie showings at the Weitz cinema, so for those who choose not to drink there are an abundance of other activities to partake in. A few favorites of students are Dances at Cowling gym, Rottblatt, Spring concert, Easter, and during the winter traying (sledding on dining trays aquired from the dining halls) and broom ball/ice skating on the ice rinks put up during the winter months.

    Food and Dining

    The dining service is better than it has been years past, and Bon apetit also boasts about how they use food from local and sustainable farms. But at times the food does lack variety in the long term. But there is always something to eat, and they have a good selection of vegetarian and vegan foods as well as celiac friendly accommodations.

    Dorm Life

    The college requires you live on campus until your senior year, and as a first year student a majority of my friends were those who lived on my floor. The first week the college has a competition of fun games between all the first year students teamed up by their dorm floors. This was the first experience that began the relationships between me and some of my closest friends.

    Academic Rigor

    The classes move fast, and it is essential you say on top of daily assignments as well as long term assignments. While the course work is difficult it is also engaging and fun to see how well you can learn given the volume of work.

    Tips for prospective students

    Ask for help. A trimester is a foreign concept to many, and the classes move at a quick speed. Falling behind at one point can be detrimental to understanding future course work. Also see professors when they have their office hours, they are very good at clarifying concepts and recommending other resources to help you learn.

    In three sentences

    A fantastic institution that encourages you to follow your passion, whatever it may be. The list of clubs is endless, allowing you to foster your interest in a variety of activities. The professors also encourage free thinking and strive to build relationships with students to further their education.

  • 08/28/2011

    Reviewer is Researching this school. Reviewer has not been to campus.

    6 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Tips for prospective students

    Read the student blogs, they are incredible! ( link here: http://apps.carleton.edu/admissions/blogs/ )

    Bang for the buck

    Carleton is a pretty expensive school to attend, but they give generous scholarships, paired with work at the school so that virtually everyone can afford to go.

    Will enjoy being here

    Through reading the student blogs it seems to me that the student body as a whole is friendly, cheerful very open. It also appears that the school does a very good job of pairing off incoming freshmen with roommates they can get along with easily.

    Will learn a lot

    through research I have found that the classes are rigorous and the teachers are really interested in making sure students succeed, also their is a large range of classes and subjects to chose from.

  • 09/02/2012

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    7 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus

    There is a bust of a German poet, Friedrick Von Schiller which anonymous students vie to keep to become it's guardian. Schiller has being airlifted on the presidential helicopter during Bill Clinton's visit to Carleton, Schiller has also being mentioned on the Colby report and has being around the world in different places. If you can capture Schiller, it is an honor to keep it.

    What to do for fun

    Sports, food, recreation center, exploration of arboretum, visit beautiful Northfield

    Tips for prospective students

    Prepare for the Carleton student's awkwardness.

    In three sentences

    Carleton is a very liberal college that promotes accepting different people regardless of background. Its a school that is academically rigorous yet gives you space to experience new opportunities. It is an awesome learning experience am having

  • 12/08/2012

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    8 of 13

    Categories Comments
    What to do for fun

    There is so much to do!! There is always an a capella concert. There is always a party. There is always a movie night somewhere. There is always a game/meet/ There is usually a movie playing. There is Knight life for the non-party people its a group that puts on late night activities during the party hours.

    Food and Dining

    Bon Appetite is a great catering business but our school only has the gold level of their business. While its good food, if you are anything like me I grew up with an ex-gourmet chef. I would suggest bringing spices!

    Dorm Life

    We have a really nice dorms, they have all the basics and aren't small. Of course they aren't the best that I have seen for freshmen anyway. They also aren't the worst the dorms for upperclassmen are great though!

    Academic Rigor

    Carleton is definitely challenging and pushes you to the max, but the nice thing is it has incredible student and faculty support.

    Tips for prospective students

    Come out for a visit during an school day instead of a visiting day and you'll fall in love because you will see the students in their regular atmosphere.

    In three sentences

    Everyone is Minnesota friendly, in other words we are all there to help each other grow, there isn't a strong sense of competition but rather communication. Carleton supports each and every person with clubs, sports, and all sorts of activities. Carleton creates leaders in every field.

  • 06/27/2013

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    9 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Campus Safety

    Campus security is very good about keep the town folk off of campus, and they take theyre jobs quite seriously. Also at bigger events extra security staff is brought on.

    Clubs and Activities

    There are tons of clubs and activities to fill your time with. If for some reason you are not satisfied with the variety it is not difficult to start your own and get funding as long as you can find several others who are interested in the idea.

    Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus

    At dances at midnight when Like A Prayer plays, its a thing to take off your shirt and dance. There is also a stone bust of Friedrick Schiller, and it is tradition for the keepers to appear at events with him and everyone chases him. If you catch them you are the new guardian. It is a great honor.

    Bang for the buck

    Its a great community, education and environment, but I feel that tuition is a bit high. While they do have financial aid it is hard to justify this kind of tuition despite reputation.

    What to do for fun

    The school always has programs or activities for the weekends. Each weekend movies play at the Weitz Cinema (not new releases, but new enough where theyre not on dvd yet) and that is always fun. They also have dances, movie buses to the local theater and the Student Activities Office can subsidize other activities so the possibilities are endless. Off of campus though there is not much in the town since it is quite small.

    Food and Dining

    It gets old after a while, but when it is good it is fabulous. Lots of vegetarian and vegan options, also a salad bar with fresh produce. A lot of ingredients are also local to promote sustainability.

    Dorm Life

    They have a complex process of assigning freshmen to floors, so you are placed on a floor with at least 1 student from your A&I (a type of course all 1st years must take) and from your new student week. The RAs are here to help foster a community and the ones they select for floors with freshmen are great at what they do.

    Academic Rigor

    It is a trimester school, so at times things can be overwhelming with the pace the coursework moves at. While it is difficult, it keeps you engaged and helps you develop a new work ethic beyond what you could have expected from yourself.

    Tips for prospective students

    When applying list all extra curricular activities and passions, no matter how obscure they may be. Also apply if you intend on exploring multiple subjects, because this is a liberal arts college.

    In three sentences

    It is the most important place in my life. Here I am challenged in such a way that keeps me involved and very interested. The faculty and students are amazing, they foster my ideas and encourage individuality.

  • 08/10/2013

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    10 of 13

    Categories Comments
    What to do for fun

    Because Northfield isn't a huge city--the population is around 20,000--students don't typically hit up the town on a Friday or Saturday night. However, there are always things to do on campus. Comedy shows, free movies shown in the Weitz Center, bands at the Cave (the student-run pub on campus), sports games--as the saying goes, you're always missing out on something. And you're feeling the itch for a big city, the Twin Cities are only a 40 minute drive away.

    Food and Dining

    The company that runs the dining halls, Bon Appetit, does a very good job for feeding hundreds of students, three times a day. However, it can get old eating the same types of meals three times a day, seven days a week. Northfield has some great dining options when you want to eat out, most of which are in a five minute's walking distance from campus. The meal plans can be a little frustrating to deal with; although there are various combinations of the amount of meals you get per week, along with the amount of dining dollars you receive (to use at the café on campus, which sells food a la carte) all the plans cost the same amount of money per term, and if you live in a dorm on campus you have to be on a meal plan.

    Dorm Life

    The vast majority (I believe 99%) of students live in dorms on campus, or in townhouses owned by the school, so dorm life continues to be relevant to a student's social life during your years at Carleton! Personally, I had a wonderful experience on my floor and living with my roommate. If you take even a little time filling out the roommate questionnaire, you should be paired with a fine roommate. The RAs are selected through an extensive selection process and go through rigorous training, and all of the RAs I knew of were wonderful people, and excellent at their jobs. As far as parties go the college is fairly relaxed about alcohol in the dorms, however they have a stricter policy regarding marijuana. On the weekends there are always parties in the dorms or in the school-owned townhouses off of campus.

    Academic Rigor

    Don't be fooled by the small number of classes per term (3 each trimester, 9 per year), each of your professors are aware that you only have two other classes to study for, and will assign work accordingly. This isn't to say that professors assign homework for homework's sake; with only 10 weeks each term to cover class material, the pace of most classes at Carleton is necessarily fast. The work never becomes unmanageable, but academic dedication is expected at Carleton.

    Tips for prospective students

    Definitely tour the campus, and stay overnight with a current student if you're able--it really gives you a great feel of what life on campus is all about, and you should figure out pretty quickly if it's a good fit for you. As far as the application goes, Carleton's supplement to the Common App is pretty straight forward--I believe there still isn't an additional essay question. Carleton students are very diverse and multifaceted; I would advise prospective students to engage in many different activities and clubs in high school. Carleton students are also extremely intelligent and dedicated, so I would also recommend that prospective students show dedication in an activity or two (more than one year of commitment), and, of course, demonstrate intelligence through their GPA, test scores, and AP classes.

    In three sentences

    A small, rural, liberal arts college. Full of friendly, interesting, diverse students and equally friendly and interesting faculty. Despite it's small size, there is a niche for virtually every student at Carleton, waiting to be discovered!

  • 08/28/2013

    Reviewer is Researching this school. Reviewer has been to campus.

    0 out of 2 people found this review useful. 11 of 13

    Categories Comments
    What to do for fun

    There are parties and dances and plays to watch. My sister loved it here and was always busy with something!

    Food and Dining

    There are many different options in the dining halls.

    Dorm Life

    My sister's various dorms were old and small. Carleton does have on-campus houses, but they are hard to get placed in as an upperclassman and impossible as an incoming freshman.

    Academic Rigor

    My sister attended college here and she says that the classes are extremely challenging. She is a genius, so the classes must be pretty tough. She worked hard and I think that will be necessary for anyone that is interested in Carleton.

    In three sentences

    The campus is beautiful. The professors seem interested in their students. My sister loved it here!

  • 02/27/2014

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    12 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Bang for the buck

    Great financial aid available!

    What to do for fun

    Hang out with your friends and head out to the $9 Chinese buffet! Play ice hockey. Head to Target for your personal items! Work out at the gym. Put together a soccer team and get active.

    Food and Dining

    Nice variety

    Dorm Life

    Students are friendly and cordial here.

    Academic Rigor

    Challenging, stretches your mind!

    Tips for prospective students

    Be ready for the cold. Be open to extracurricular activities to make friends.

    In three sentences

    Challenging academics. Small intimate student body. Great supportive faculty and programs.

  • 03/10/2014

    Reviewer is Researching this school. Reviewer has been to campus.

    13 of 13

    Categories Comments
    Campus Safety

    On my tour of campus, I felt very safe. There are roads that go through campus, but they were controlled and there were many walk ways to get around.

    Greek Life

    None on campus

    What to do for fun

    Northfield seems to pride itself on its small town atmosphere, even though there's more than twenty thousand people. The nearest large town I live by only has around 13,000, but Northfield felt even smaller than that.

    Food and Dining

    I had a scone from the little coffee shop on campus, and the staff there was VERY friendly and polite. We had a very nice conversation, and the food was good. Compared with how the food USED to be years ago when she attended, my aunt says the food there now is MUCH better, although its still not five class dining.

    Dorm Life

    The dorms weren't fancy, but they didn't appear to be horrible. My aunt attended this school decades ago, and apart from being updated with Wifi, etc., the dorms haven't changed much. None of them pose an extremely long walk to classes, all of them are keycard entry, and some of them have very nice views.

    Academic Rigor

    Carleton appears to be very academically rigorous. The school uses a trimester system instead of semesters, so while you take fewer classes each trimester, you take more classes each year. You are also taking 18 week classes in about 10 weeks, so the classes are more intense.

    Tips for prospective students

    Take the most challenging classes you can while becoming engaged in your community and volunteer activities