You won’t find many students snoozing in class at Marlboro College in Vermont.
We tallied this list based on the responses of 126,000 students at 378 colleges to our survey question, “Are your instructors good teachers?”
To find out what students at Marlboro have to say about their school’s academics, social life, and student body, read below!
Teeny tiny Marlboro College in Vermont offers a “self-driven, free, and intimate academic climate” with a “rustic feel.” With an average class size of just ten students, the school is all about creating a serious academic setting “where students are on equal footing with teachers and decide their own academic paths.” “I dictate my own academics at Marlboro; I have the freedom to seriously study most anything,” says one student. Marlboro’s unique academic system, the Plan, is “incredibly exciting”; through this curriculum, students “can focus right in, very specifically, on the particular books or ideas that interest them most.” The “incredibly sharp-witted and compassionate” faculty members at Marlboro “have strong personalities,” and relationships with professors are “really intimate (in a good way).” “By the end of a class—provided you participate—they know you well, and you know them well,” says a student. There’s definitely “a relaxed, humorous atmosphere that manages to coexist with the intense academics, somehow.” Discussions can run deep, and “There are few classes here in which the professor talks more than the students do.” There are also more than 200 tutorials at Marlboro, which are typically reserved for juniors and seniors; most are one-on-one, and depend on students taking charge of a subject, preparing for and leading a weekly meeting with the faculty member and completing a piece of research or production. In addition, there is a “town-meeting-style community government” in place and “lots of energy from staff going into projects outside the classroom.” Though no student lacks for attention or academic assistance, some admit that resources can be spread thin in some areas, including the “limited in number” professors; accessible as they are, some subject areas only have one professor, which means that “if you don’t get along with the professor in your department you can either suck it up, or choose a different major.” However, all of the “ingenious” professors are “great and really flexible. They just want to help.” Grades, “while something that happens,” are not considered important—instead the work students produce “is for our own pleasure and pride.”
With just a few hundred students enrolled, there aren’t a lot of redundancies or waste. The dining hall is a central meeting place, and many students “hang out there for hours talking.” People also spend a lot of time in the library, which is open 24 hours and “functions as some people’s second home.” In this “intellectual yet casual atmosphere,” everybody “seems to be reading constantly,” and students “talk about books a lot, or articles, or things people have read on the internet.” “Class materials get inside people’s heads, and they seem to want to share it.” Parties do occur on weekends, though it’s not a huge scene; “It’s common to see people talk about epistemology while they’re drunk and dance while they’re sober.” “We party a bit, play lots of video games, watch a lot of movies, and sometimes go into town,” says one student. Athletics aren’t really very big (other than nearby hiking), and “most of time we like talking to each other.” People are “constantly philosophizing the state of things.”
Marlboro is “a place where ‘the weird kids’ from high schools all across the nation congregate and make beautiful music together (often literally).” “There is no typical student. That’s the point,” says one. Students here are “functionally eccentrics,” “quirky,” and “ready to pursue their own passions.” There is a “high level of LGBTQ tolerance,” and students here are “usually politically mindful and open to challenging his or her perspectives.” “It’s kind of crazy, and everyone likes each other,” says a student. There are people of all sorts, “from suits to rainbows, dreadlocks to comb-overs, you get the point.” Essentially, “There is nothing too weird for Marlboro.”