Best liberal arts colleges without a core curriculum?

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Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: Best liberal arts colleges without a core curriculum?
By Ceruleanne (Ceruleanne) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 11:58 am: Edit

Hi! Besides Vassar, Denison, and Ithaca, do you guys know of any good liberal arts colleges that do not require a core curriculum? I'm also a prospective english major, I'd say, so I'm looking for colleges with good english programs. Any suggestions?? *-*

By Sopranosmom (Sopranosmom) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 01:53 pm: Edit

Smith, Brown

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 02:44 pm: Edit

Grinnell, Weseylan, Holy Cross (beyond a religion course), Hampden Sydney College (all male), Evergreen State College in Washington, New College of Florida, Eugene Lang in NYC...

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 02:50 pm: Edit

There is a distinction between core curriculum ( as at Chicago, Columbia, Harvard) and distribution requirements. Among the various colleges we considered, only Wesleyan and Brown appear on Carolyn's list. Wesleyan has a distribution requirement.

By Perry (Perry) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 03:00 pm: Edit

I believe Amherst has no core requirements.

By Sarbear (Sarbear) on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 11:14 pm: Edit

Perry's right... Amherst is probably the school with the best academics and no requirements to fill... bar none. They don't have distribution requirements either, it's an open curriculum.

By Haon (Haon) on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 01:36 pm: Edit

Williams has no core requirements but it has distribution requirements (which are easily fulfillable).

Amherst and Williams are the two best LACs in the country.

By Rocksolid4 (Rocksolid4) on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:59 pm: Edit

dont forget Swarthmore

By Haon (Haon) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:03 am: Edit

Swarthmore is a completely different type of school as Amherst and Williams. Comparing Swarthmore to Amherst or Williams is like comparing UChicago to Princeton and Yale.

By Sarbear (Sarbear) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 03:11 am: Edit

More like comparing Stanford to Princeton.... Swarthmore's academics are at least as good as those at Amherst/Williams. It's more the student body and the lifestyle that differ... Swarthmore students are more politicized, unique (dorky, perhaps), and the campus is green and plush. Amherst/Williams students are more white, smart, rich, jocks who like to drink a lot. The campuses are both New England colonial. It just depends what you prefer!

By Jimjunior (Jimjunior) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 08:24 pm: Edit

When you guys are listing the best LACs you guys should not ignore Pomona just because it is on the West coast. It has every bit as strong a student body as those three schools

By Tennizpro06 (Tennizpro06) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 08:49 pm: Edit

wow sar- i never had that impression of amherst or williams being a place for "white, smart, rich, jocks who like to drink a lot." This sounds like Dartmouth or Wis. Mad., two places I definitely don't want to go to. I would've thought almost the opposite even, although your take on Swarthmore seems right. Where did you get this info?? Amherst is one of my top school choices.

By Haon (Haon) on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 10:02 pm: Edit

Neither Amherst OR Williams are places for "white, smart, rich jocks who like to drink a lot."

I believe both Amherst and Williams have a higher %age minority students than Swarthmore does and they both focus much more on extracurriculars and much less on grades/transcripts as Swarthmore.

You'd be much more accurate in saying that Williams and Amherst are for intelligent AND well rounded students.

If there's one negative thing i've ever heard about Williams it's that it's fairly isolated. I've heard that Amherst students can be fairly stuck up/snobby but I've never experienced this first hand.

By Chasgoose (Chasgoose) on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 11:59 pm: Edit

I actually agree with the Swarthmore:Amherst/Williams :: UChicago:Harvard/Yale analogy because Swarthmore has the reputation as being the really quirky intellectual with an extremely intense worklad LAC just like UChicago is for universities. The only difference is that Swarthmore is closer to Amherst and Williams acceptance ratewise than UChicago is to Harvard and Yale.

By Sarbear (Sarbear) on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 01:03 am: Edit

Tennizpro -

I visited all three schools, and I know students at all three as well if you want the sources of my opinions. I am a bit biased towards Swarthmore because I'm not a fan of New England colonial architecture, but also the students I met at Williams/Amhers (sorry I just lump those two together) seems much more arrogant and concerned about success in the financial arena. People at Swat seem to love learning for learning's sake. Disagreeing with Haon, Swarthmore has a higher percentage of minority students (especially minorities aside from Asians), and the people there are definitely not concerned with grades/transcripts. If they were, they wouldn't be at Swarthmore, seeing as it is impossible to get an A (the sell t-shirts saying "anywhere else it would have been an A" and it's true). I'm also partial to Swarthmore because aside from NYC and Boston, Philly is the cultural hub of the east.

That said, if Amherst is your first choice, it is an EXCELLENT school. The 5 college consortium, including UMass Amherst, makes sure you don't get bored with the same people despite being in rural western Massachusettes (that's one of the problems with Williams). Swarthmore also has a consortium, and you can cross register at UPenn. Williams is much more athletic than both Amherst and Swarthmore. Swarthmore is the most politicized of the three.

Let me know about any more questions you have, but you have to take into account my biases. You can't take my impressions/opinions for truth!!

Take care,


By Jesswip (Jesswip) on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 05:42 pm: Edit

But does Swarthmore have distribution requirements or a core ? If not I'm sold on it.

By Dazedhyacinth (Dazedhyacinth) on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 09:58 am: Edit

Yep. While it has no core, it does have distribution requirements...3 courses in each of 3 arenas over the 4 years: 3 social sci, 3 lit/hum, and 3 quantitative reasoning (sci & math, one of the 3 must have a lab). No language req if you took it in HS. Also a P.E. requirement (swimming if you don't pass the mandatory swim test, otherwise any sport counts, any athletic class, dance, etc.)

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