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10 Of The Most Unusual Colleges In The United States

The modern education system has developed a specific image in our minds of what a college is like. Huge blackboards, over 100 students per class, a strict teacher, and at least one bully. Well, there’s more to US colleges than all these basic elements and common subjects.

If you don’t believe it, read through this list to find out more!

1. Maharishi University Of Management

The Maharishi University of Management, MUM, ironically, is not a school of management. But that isn’t what makes it unusual. MUM is a private university in Fairfield, Iowa. Since 1973, this college has been offering ‘consciousness-based education’. As the institute describes, the students here practice the Transcendental Meditation program along with their traditional education. The usual majors such as business, computer science, and literature are offered here. But the twist is that students can only study one course per month. This minimizes the stress levels and alongside that, increases room for efficient learning.

Over 1,000 graduate and around 500 undergraduate students are enrolled in MUM. The university focuses on developing the conscious of every single student through their meditation program. In fact, it is also mandatory for faculty members to attend this program. The founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, emphasizes that this meditation program is vital to boost intelligence, health, and academic performance. He believes that it is something of great importance, yet the modern educational system fails to include it in the routine of studies. This university has a strong faith in its unique system, which they claim helps individuals build a successful career, manage their life overall, and also in the maintenance of relationships.

2. Deep Springs College

You’ll find this college 40 miles away from Bishop, California. It is a private college that falls into the category of liberal arts. This college is one of the smallest higher education institutes in all of the USA. What’s astonishing is that the total enrollment if this college never exceeds 30 students. Moreover, every single student is given a full scholarship. Instantly, the major stress of finances is lifted off the shoulders of the students. It has been around since 1917 and is going pretty strong. Considering that the college has stayed successful for over a century, it is definitely doing something right despite being unique.

Deep Springs College is located in a rural and remote location. You may have misinterpreted this college to be small in size keeping in mind that there are never more than 30 students on the campus. However, that isn’t the case. The campus is spread over 155 acres in a desert. Since there are minimal distractions, the students here can focus on their curriculum which includes subjects like labor and self-governance. Other than academics, the students also work inside the college during there stay. Cooking, farming, and ranching are some of the work options available at Deep Springs College.

3. Antioch College

A college that has its own mascot obviously had to be on this list. Antioch College is a private liberal arts college located in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1850. From 1852 onwards, this college was run as a non-sectarian institute. Throughout the years, Antioch College has focused on education that benefits society in the end. Sadly, this college has to close down in 2008. But, as soon as their financial issues were handled, they reopened in 2011. Starting off with the first unique aspect of this college: the campus is as eco-friendly as it could be. They use locally grown and produced vegetables and meat. Moreover, 30% of the food is grown by students on campus. Solar energy is the main source of power in this college.

They enroll around 100 students per year. Each student is required to fulfill the requirement of off-campus work. The motto of this institute is that careers cannot be built by restricting students inside a classroom. Hand-on experience is necessary and the faculty at this place makes sure that every student does that. This is why graduating students can quickly find a paying job. Some job opportunities are also international. As for students who are still studying, they too can find well-paid part-time jobs near the campus to be able to earn alongside their academics.

4. Evergreen States College

Evergreen State Collge is located in Olympia, Washington. It is a unique public liberal arts college that allows the students to design their own academic plan. Yes, it is an institute that actually lets the students control their studies. Isn’t that amazing? No boring classes, no compulsory courses, and no forced major requirements! In this non-traditional college, students don’t enroll in classes. Instead, they opt for a program of their choice to follow along throughout their years at the college.

The founders of this college firmly believed that students have very variable interests, as all humans do. Being restricted by strict requirements that the students have no interest in is completely useless. Instead of wasting time on the same old boring plans, the students are free to design their own syllabus according to their interests. As for the grading system, although they use the traditional letter grades, the evaluation is very elaborate. At the end of each course, each student gets detailed feedback from the instructor and the students also evaluate themselves. Moreover, the goals of each student are recorded at the time of admission. These goals are revisited every year so that the students don’t get sidetracked. Eventually, every student submits a final paper based on these aims at the end of senior year.

5. Alverno College

Next in line is a Roman Catholic, all-women college. Alverno College is Milwaukee’s top-ranked college with an array of undergraduate and graduate programs. It is an independent institute that offers four-year programs. Over 2500 students are enrolled here every year. Noe, there are a number of colleges that prepare students for the practical world. But, what makes Alverno stand out is that the students here are not. Instead, they are treated as a part of the real, practical world from the get-go. This is this college’s way of training the students. Including this training, there a total of 8 core abilities that this college focuses on. These include things like citizenship and social skills. Altogether, the aim of Alverno College is to prepare the ladies for all aspects of life.

Subject choices of Alverno College include some traditional options as well as some fun ones. Science, music, arts, and nursing can be studied here. There is no grading system at this college at all which is unique considering the obsession of our modern educational system with grades. Instead, students are given narrative evaluations to give them an idea of where they stand academically. Every student is required to complete one internship throughout the 4-year program. Not only do these internships require 8-12 hours of time per week, but the internees also attend mandatory seminars.

6. St. John’s College

Before we talk about St. John’s College, let’s give you an introduction to the Great Books. These books basically cover the basics of the literature of Western culture. At St. John’s College, the students read and discuss these Great Books. There are small discussion classes supervised by world-class faculty to encourage a better understanding of these books. On top of this, no majors are offered in this college. This institute has no religious affiliation and the sole focus is on a unique style of academics.

This college has two campuses. One is in Annapolis, Maryland, and the other is in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each campus enrolls 500 undergraduate students who are referred to as ‘Johnnies’. The classes are rather small, with no more than 15 students in each. For every 15 students, there are one or two teachers who supervise and assist the students instead of teaching them traditionally. As for the academic system, there are certain requirements. Two years of music classes, two years of lab science, and four years of math, language, and seminar are mandatory. It is necessary to study two years of French and two years of Ancient Greek to fulfill the language requirement.

7. Berea College

One thing that Berea College is most famous for is its no-tuition policy. Yes, you read that right, no tuition fee! Every student enrolled here studies for free. It is the perfect place for students who have a desire to study but financial difficulties keep them tied. The students are rid of the stress of fees so that they can focus on their academics efficiently. You may wonder how this place runs if they charge no fee. Well, funds from alumni and organizations keep this institute running successfully. The students work for 10-15 hours per week to compensate for their scholarship. This, in turn, helps them gain experience along with theoretical knowledge.

Other than this massive benefit, Berea College is also prided for being the first interracial and co-education institute in Southern USA. It was founded in 1855. There are 32 choices of majors which can be completed in a period of 4 years. Berea College is not only home to students of the USA, but also attracts capable and needy individuals from other parts of the world.

8. Naropa University

Naropa University was founded in 1974 by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. From this fact alone, you can gather how this university will be based on non-traditional beliefs. It has even been named after an Indian Buddhist from the 11th century. Naropa University claims to transform every individual who enters their premises. They believe that transforming one individual at a time will lead to a positive change in the entire world eventually. Academics at this university focus on artistic expression and observant behavior. This is why meditation is a common part of the students’ routine. One thing to bear in mind about this university is that not everyone can survive here. On average, 38% of the students give up and transfer out.

The degrees they offer are based around the goal of promoting change. A total of 11 majors are offered including literature, music, contemplative psychology, peace studies, and other similar subjects. Each degree is four years long, although some students take up to eight years to complete their major. During the first year, every student has an opportunity to partake in LEAPYEAR. This is a program that takes students to Latin America or India for internships and exchange programs. As for students on campus, there are a number of extra-curricular activities. For students who want to explore outside the contemplative world, they can join clubs like Eco-Dharma, Zazen Group, Awakening Goddesses, and many more.

9. Hampshire College

If you absolutely despise the grading system, Hampshire College will be an institute that you will love. Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, this college is breaking stereotypes to the maximum. Their education system is divided into three parts. The first part includes classes in the college’s five schools of thought. The students explore each of these schools of thought thoroughly for one year before moving onto the second part. In this second part, they study one subject in-depth for two years. There are no distractions in terms of compulsory subjects or courses. So, the students solely focus on the one subject that they are interested in. They also have the freedom to design their own program with a mix of subjects of their own preference.

In the final part of their degree, the students showcase what they have learned in the form of a project. This is not just a thesis, but a large scale project that eventually becomes the students’ portfolio. None of the projects are graded. However, a detailed evaluation is given to let the students know where they did well and where they didn’t.

10. Bard College

One admission requirement for pretty much all colleges is that you must have graduated high school. Well, guess what? Bard College has no such limitation. You can apply to this college as early as at the age of 13. There has been a case of a student who even started at the age of 11 years. However, on average, freshmen are usually around 16 years of age. The only condition for admission is a high motivation level. It is the only college that offers a four-year graduate program for students who didn’t graduate or attend high school.

As for enrollment, the college houses around 350 students at a time. No classroom teaches more than 20 students. Although, the minimum number of students could also possibly be one. Each student must opt for two majors. One of these is from a list of traditional options whereas the other one can be designed by the students themselves. Therefore, don’t misinterpret this institute to slack on education. This private liberal arts college is located in New York, within the Hudson River Historic District. The location is beautiful. It overlooks the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River. This college claims to encourage curiosity, passion for learning, and a strong connection with civic participation. The students and faculty refer to this college as Simon’s Rock College too, due to its location.

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