Carleton College
Northfield, MN, USA

Reviews

Carleton College
4.13 Average Rating

Brittany from Evansville, MN

accepted here and planning to attend soon
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Tips for prospective students
Take the most challenging classes you can while becoming engaged in your community and volunteer activities. Still try and remain unique. Its hard to describe the ideal Carleton student, because they all have different interests, but all seem to share the same type of passoin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Greek Life
None on campus
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.
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Devin from Northfield, MN

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Marie from Minneapolis, MN

a past student here
2 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
An incredible all around experience; academically you are held to very high standards, but there are also endless opportunities to try new experiences outside of class. The student body is friendly, welcoming, creative, and adventurous. It's a whirlwind of four years of trying new things and learning a ton.
Tips for prospective students
Visit campus. You'll get a feel for if it is the right fit for you right away. Talk to current students.
Academic Rigor
Very academically rigorous, but no one gets left behind. Professors genuinely care about how you are doing, as do your classmates. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Dorm Life
The dorms are fantastic. They are all within an eight minute walk to any class/campus building. Dorm floors facilitate fun and friendship, and Carleton does a great job at pairing freshman year roommates.
Food and Dining
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. There is endless variety. You can choose to be a picky eater or try something new every day. Food is fresh and often showcases food from local farmers or the student-run Carleton farm.
What to do for fun
There are so many different activities that it can be hard to choose what to do! If you like running, playing board games, partying, skiing, baking cookies, playing broomball, going sledding... or anything else you can think of, you'll find it here.
Bang for the buck
Carleton is expensive. However, they do a good job at meeting financial needs. One of the very best things about Carleton is that after you figure out your tuition/financial aid, literally everything else is free. This means that you are never left out of activities or events because you can't afford them. Carleton hosts free events, concerts, and off-campus trips constantly.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Shiller, Rotblatt, streaking, Silent Dance Party....
Great for these types of students
Academically motivated, but not competitive about it. Down to earth and willing to try new things.
Clubs and Activities
So many ways to get involved, it is almost overwhelming.
Greek Life
none
Campus Safety
I never once felt unsafe on campus, even tipsily walking home from a weekend party alone, running in the arboretum after dusk, or making my way home from the computer lab at 3:00am. It is truly the safest place I have ever been.
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Sara from Buda, TX

researching this school
25 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
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.
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).
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).
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).
Great for these types of students
Bright, motivated, humorous, noncompetitive, down-to-earth people. Friendly (without being to obnoxiously extroverted).
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Katherine from Ann Arbor, MI

a current student here
13 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The environment is welcoming, the professors are always willing to help out, and the students are bright and curious. You will learn things you never knew you were possible and expand your horizons in this tiny Minnesota college. It's not well-known outside of academia but it's a gem of a place and I'm so happy I call it my alma matter.
Tips for prospective students
Come visit the campus! Prospective students (or prospies) are always welcome.
Academic Rigor
Classes are Carleton are fast and intense. The ten-week terms means that you take three classes at a time and trust me, you wouldn't want to take more than that. Classes are challenging but professors hold very accessible office hours and are actually delighted to talk with you.
Dorm Life
Everyone on my floor is really close and we hang out in the lounge and kitchen together. The RA's are ridiculously nice and the room sizes aren't bad at all. I'm on a sub-free floor but theres no judgement if I want to go drinking.
Food and Dining
There are two cafeterias on campus: LDC and Burton. Burton has better quality food, but LDC has more creative and vegetarian options. One can also eat at Sayles, which is open late and has tasty options like curly fries and burritos and the best smoothies ever. The food at Carleton is generally pretty healthy and local, especially at LDC.
What to do for fun
I hang out with my friends, play frisbeel, go for walks in the Arb, listen to concerts at the Cave, and go exploring in Northfield.
Bang for the buck
The sticker price is definitely high, but the value is worth it. Besides, the financial aid is pretty good. They also guarantee money for National Merit Finalists.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Carleton prides itself on having quirky traditions, from the freshman frisbee toss (and subsequent returning of the frisbees) to bubbles at Convo to Silent Dance party, Streaking is also very popular and occurs at most major college events.
Great for these types of students
Dedicated, motivated, willing to work hard but also have lots of fun. Students here are accomplished and impressive without being pretentious about it. Carleton is the place for people that actually want to learn. There's cooperation and collaboration, and way more stress on knowledge and personal growth than grades.
Clubs and Activities
There's something for everyone, from the traditional music groups to the CANOE outdoor adventures club to Model United Nations. Everyone is involved in something, and often lots of things.
Greek Life
Non-existant and blissfully so!
Campus Safety
I have never felt unsafe on campus, even walking alone at night, and I can't say that about my home town. If you do ever feel unsafe though the campus security people are very nice and will help you or walk with you to anywhere.
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from MN

a current student here
13 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Canaan from Saint Bernard, LA

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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Anthony from Haslet, TX

a current student here
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
If you are looking for an exemplary education, a strong sense of belonging, and an amazing experience, go straight to Carleton. You have found the perfect college.
Tips for prospective students
Prepare yourself by obtaining the best education available to you in high school. Carleton is a step above the rest, but being a student here made the effort worth it!
Academic Rigor
I am a Chemistry major, so the courses I take are challenging. That being said, the classes are typically less than 10 students, and professors as well as tutors are always available for assistance.
Dorm Life
There is an amazingly broad demographic in regards to the student enrolled at Carleton. No matter what you are interested in, everyone here is accepting and the environment couldn't be more relaxed.
Food and Dining
The dining hall reminds me of the dinning on a cruise. Different stations within the hall, all providing different daily menus. Everything is available, from vegetarian to Chinese.
What to do for fun
Absolutely anything you can think of is available on campus. If for some reason you can not find what you are looking for, make a suggestion and have your interest brought forth. Carleton's diversity extends to every realm.
Bang for the buck
The tuition, 60,000 for 2014-15, is a bit steep. But they do provide scholarships and the education is beyond measure.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
The Bald Spot is in the center of the campus. During the winter an ice rink is set up and a ton of winter fun can be had. During the summer there are more activities available than I have time to list.
Great for these types of students
Everyone here is a free thinker. This is the perfect environment for a student that wants the best education available, a very small community, a caring administration, a safe atmosphere to live, and the opportunity to grow into the adult you want to be.
Clubs and Activities
Everything under the sun.
Greek Life
None, and we like it that way!
Campus Safety
We all feel safe here, we watch each other and take care of each other.
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Tanner

a current student here
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Devin from Omaha, NE

a current student here
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Greek Life
Non existant
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.
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