A book written in 1996 sought to change the way people thought about colleges and how a student chooses which college to attend. The book is titled Colleges That Change Lives, and since then those colleges featured in the book have banded together to promote this philosophy of student-centered college selection. The organization seeks to change the way students and parents look at schools, to not just consider those ‘ivy-league’ schools and the big rankings, but instead take a personalized approach to find the best-fit for each individual student.
Colleges That Change Lives, Inc. (CTCL) states that they are “regarded as a leading advocate on the subject of the higher education access and college choice.” The organization offers a website (https://ctcl.org), printed materials, outreach efforts, and support to college counselors who have a similar philosophy. It seeks to help students “frame their college search beyond the ratings and rankings”. There are currently 43 colleges and universities that are CTCL members. CTCL is a non-profit, charitable 501(c)(3) organization.
Schools in Pennsylvania that are categorized as CTCL schools are:
Allegheny College (Meadville, PA)
Allegheny College is one of the nation's most prestigious and dynamic institutions of higher education. It is a place where students are encouraged to explore their unusual combinations of interests and talents. Allegheny is one of the only colleges in the country that requires its students to choose both a major and minor, ensuring they develop the skills needed to be analytical, creative, and innovative. Allegheny is a leader in higher education innovation, having been recognized in 2016 as the nation's top baccalaureate college for undergraduate research by the Council on Undergraduate Research. Allegheny ranks in the top 5 percent of schools in the country for graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. and in the top 4 percent in the sciences.
Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA)
According to the school, Juniata is an independent, co-educational liberal arts college, founded in 1876 to “prepare individuals for the useful occupations of life.” Located in the scenic mountains of Central Pennsylvania, the beautiful 110-acre main campus is supplemented by a 365-acre nature preserve. In addition, a 365-acre Environmental Studies Field Station on nearby Raystown Lake provides one of the most distinctive opportunities in environmental science in the nation. The College has a strong reputation for excellent academics, personal attention, and state-of-the-art technological resources. Juniata students enjoy small classes, a challenging, flexible curriculum, countless chances to learn by doing, and a lively, friendly campus.
Ursinus College (Collegeville, PA)
According to the school, the mission of Ursinus College is to enable students to become independent, responsible, and thoughtful individuals through a program of liberal arts education. That education prepares them to live creatively and usefully, and to provide leadership for their society in an interdependent world. Students gain intellectual curiosity, the capacity to think analytically, critically, and creatively, and the skill to express thoughts with logic, clarity, and grace. Located in suburban Philadelphia, the college boasts a beautiful, wooded, 170-acre campus that features a highly individualized academic experience. The college offers student research carried out with one-on-one faculty mentoring and extensive internship opportunities. Financial aid and scholarships are generous. Students are often the recipients of prestigious national awards, such as Fulbright Scholars, Watson Fellows, Kemper Scholars and Goldwater Scholars. The first Rhodes Scholar from Ursinus was selected in 2011.
Other colleges in the country that might be of interest are:
Lawrence University (Appleton, WI)
According to the school representative, the nation's only purely undergraduate focused college of liberal arts and sciences combined with a conservatory of music. It is described as a place where students are very intelligent and unpretentious. Ninety percent of students pursue individualized learning (i.e., one-on-one coursework under the direct guidance of a professor). The College’s Summer Research program matches Lawrence undergraduates with Lawrence alumni who are professors and researchers at Carnegie Class 1 research institutions. The Conservatory of Music is also home to one of the preeminent jazz programs in the country as well as a growing world music program.
The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)
The Evergreen State College takes a distinctive approach to teaching and learning that sets it apart from most other colleges and universities. Coordinated, team-taught, interdisciplinary programs, combining a range of topics around a central theme, replace disconnected courses. Faculty members write narrative evaluations to assess student work, rather than reducing performance and progress to a letter grade. The curriculum promotes engagement and collaboration, rather than competition. While in many ways Evergreen breaks the mold of traditional higher education and in doing so opens up opportunities for students with a wide range of learning styles and career goals, the college delivers a high level of academic rigor. Evergreen students spend more time analyzing and synthesizing information instead of simply memorizing; spend more time working with other students on projects or assignments; and are more likely to be encouraged to attend events that address important social, economic and political issues than students at peer institutions.
McDaniel College (Westminster, MD)
According to the school, McDaniel College offers first-year seminars, a sophomore interdisciplinary studies (SIS) program, and senior capstone projects. Special opportunities include study abroad at McDaniel's European campus in Budapest, Hungary, or a host of other destinations; intensive three-week January Term courses offered on campus or abroad; The McDaniel Plan is a customized and personal curriculum that is grounded in the liberal arts and sciences that is delivered in classes that average 15 students that allows students the flexibility in choosing courses and even self-designed majors.
Reference: Narratives from GuidedPath