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Is Carleton College the Right One For Me?

With this "Yes, if..." list, Lexi shares a few reasons why Carleton might be just the school for you.

With this "Yes, if..." list, Lexi shares a few reasons why Carleton might be just the school for you.

It’s almost college decision season! Now that applications season is wrapping up, it’s time to start thinking about the choices you’ve got before you. When I was in your position, I had a ton of questions: Where do I want to spend the next four years? How am I going to pay for it? What do I want to study? 

But, most of all, I wanted to know What school is the right one for me?

To help you narrow down your choices, I’ve listed some “Yes, if…” statements. If you can confidently check off all the statements on the list, you should definitely consider Carleton.

Yes, if you love talking about deep topics at dinner.

Picture yourself with a bowl of tofu (or chicken) fried rice, sitting in LDC with some first-years you’ve met at New Student Week. As you chow down, the student sitting next to you explains how Star Trek was primarily targeted towards housewives, and today stands as the icon of science fiction. A few minutes later, the student across from you describes the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. As you wrap up your meal, you are both full of food and new questions about the world.

If that sounds like an ideal dinner to you (never mind the food, that changes daily), then Carleton might just be your ticket. The sheer number of strange, irreplaceable conversations I’ve had in the dining halls is startling, but their contents are even more intriguing. I can confidently say that Carls take the cake for best conversationalists simply because they are so passionate about such a huge variety of things. We’ve all got something to bring to the table, and wow, we love to talk about it at dinner.

Students enjoy a meal in LDC
Students enjoy a meal in LDC

Yes, if you want access to a ton of resources.

Writing Center, Math Skills Help Center, Language Assistants, Research Librarians, SHAC, etc.! There are so many resources for students at Carleton that it’s difficult to even just list them out. Within every nook and cranny of this campus – from ResLife to the Chaplain’s Office to Dining Services and all the academic departments and so much more – there are people eager to help you.

There’s a sense of comradery that pervades every space on campus, so in the inevitable event that you need help with something (everyone does), there will not only be support available, but kindness, too. Being away from your hometown and the life you grew up with can be really scary, but Carls make it a little bit easier by being so helpful. Of course, culture is something we both consume and engage in, so we also expect each other to be kind and helpful too.

Yes, if you want your professor to know your name.

There is no hiding in the back of the classroom at Carleton. More often than you’d think, we sit in circles so there isn’t even a back row to hide in! Combined with the fact that most classes have about 15 to 30 students in them, if your goal is to stay “out of sight and out of mind,” then Carleton might not be the right place for you.

Part of the allure (or repulsion, depending on your perspective) of Carleton is how much we are able to engage with each other and our professors in each and every class. While it can be tiring to be so entrenched in the learning process, such an experience pushes you far beyond your comfort zone in the best way possible.

Not only do Carleton professors know your name, but your classmates will know it too. Friendly waves and smiles are the norm when you walk from one end of campus to the other. I often see the same students week after week because our schedules and paths align just so.

Yes, if you love being challenged to do hard things.

It’s an open secret that Carleton is a rigorous academic institution, but it must also be noted that us Carls enjoy it! If you also love rotating societal-wide problems around in your mind or studying complex grammatical structures, you’re likely to love Carleton.

I often hear my Carleton friends say that they were so bored in high school, and that the solution offered to them was more work. That isn’t the case here! If you find yourself bored, you can choose to take more challenging classes or add extracurriculars to your schedule. The trimester system keeps us all on our toes.

Carleton is rigorous in the way that we attempt to solve complex, nuanced problems. While the workload is reflective of that fact, finding classes that suit your strengths and interests is a simple process. You won’t drown in a sea of busy work here, but you definitely will need to wade through a lot of readings to get to the treasure chest!

Carleton students present their research
Carleton students present their research

Yes, if you can’t decide exactly what you want to study right now.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the liberal arts college experience is that you are not expected to choose your major before exploring all that Carleton has to offer. Sure, there are probably subjects that you enjoy or have done well in, but you are required at Carleton to explore (at least a little) other majors. Even though it is a requirement, it’s something that Carls feel is an integral part of their college career.

If you are undecided as of yet, you will have the opportunity to taste every subject between English and Physics before you have to decide. While you may not get through all 33 majors and 38 minors, you can get a pretty broad sampling before you order off the main menu. But even after you order, you can still get a taste of the other dishes. Okay, I’ve lost myself in the metaphor. The point is, at Carleton, you’re never locked into one department, and there is always room to explore things that interest you outside of the major you declare sophomore year.

So, if you’re on the fence about choosing Carleton, remember…

You still have time to decide! Everyone will have different tastes and preferences when it comes to where to pursue a secondary education. It’s up to you to make the final decision.

Lexi Wallace (she/her) is excited to be returning to Carleton as a sophomore. She works as an Admissions Blogger, Russian Teaching Assistant, and Writing Consultant. She plans on becoming a SOAN and Russian double major, but you’ll have to ask her what she ends up declaring in the spring. Her current obsessions are oat milk, NCIS, and Doc Martens.