Centre College (KY) Does All A Liberal Arts College Should Do
If you visit Educated Quest, you probably know that I try to write about colleges that are good values. Centre College, based in Danville, Kentucky, has been on my radar for several years. I have not had the opportunity to visit, but I have tried to do the next best thing. The school is also noted as one of the Colleges That Change Lives.
Pam Baughman, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at Centre College, talked with me about her school. I cordially invite you to listen. Pam is not only a senior administrator. She is also an alumnus as well as the mother of an alumnus. Pam has been around Centre long enough to see how the college has changed over time.
The college has also made a nice collection of YouTube videos to offer a broad virtual experience. These include recently recorded sessions with Centre College students. Current students and recent graduates are often the best references for a school in terms of what it has done, and what it is likely to do for them towards their career goals.
There are private liberal arts schools that have always “ranked” highly in most published “rankings.” They’re all very expensive, and they deny far more applicants than they accept. Such a liberal arts college is typically well-endowed. It can admit and welcome students without concern for financial need. However, those have the greatest desire to attend these liberal arts colleges typically come from families who can afford to come.
Is that school “better” because it turns people away? Or because it does an excellent job of educating the people who got to go?
If you answered “no” to the first question, and “”yes” to the second, read on below, because Centre College:
- Has appeared high in every published “ranking,” even those such as Forbes;
- Is one of The Colleges That Change Lives;
- Graduates over 80 percent of a freshman class within four years;
- Does not require students to submit ACT or SAT scores;
- Admits many “very good” (B+ or A-/1250 SAT) students as well as excellent ones who could have gained admission to an “elite” Northeastern school;
- Offers those excellent students a chance to earn some of the most generous merit scholarships in the country;
- Has a larger endowment than any schools considered by students from the Northeast such as Connecticut College, Muhlenberg College and Elon University;
- Appears in the top ten in alumni satisfaction in the Alumni Factor’s rankings, among colleges of all sizes, public and private;
- Hosted two nationally-televised Vice Presidential debates 12 years apart;
- Is able to house everyone on campus;
- Had graduates in 2018 who borrowed owed, on average, $27,000 for their degree, the maximum they can–and should–borrow from the Federal Student Loan program;
- Has direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) that are less than many “elite” schools charge for tuition and fees alone;
- Accepts over 75 percent of the students who apply; and,
- Defeated Harvard in a football game, at a time when Harvard was a national power.
Centre College offers a selection of majors and minors that you’re also likely to find in a more selective liberal arts school, with some exceptions. The college does not allow students to minor in Economics and Finance; they can opt for a minor in Global Commerce instead. However, there is a major and minor in Data Science as well as majors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemical Physics that you’re more likely to see at a larger school. Centre also has a unique partnership with Vanderbilt to apply for accelerated path to a Masters of Science in Nursing. Want to be a teacher? Centre has partnerships towards masters degrees and licensure with Louisville and Vanderbilt.
Like many small (around 1,400 undergraduates) liberal arts colleges, Centre is not located immediately adjacent to a large city. Lexington, home to the University of Kentucky, is about 40 minutes away. Louisville is 90 minutes away, and it will take two hours to reach Cincinnati. Danville, home to the college, has a very nice downtown, and there is plenty to do when you want to get away from campus. Pam will also tell you that the college is about to become more engaged in its hometown.
Centre’s brand recognition is strong in the Southeast, though weaker in Central New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania. It gets cross-shopped against the selective Southern liberal arts colleges like Davidson (NC) or Rhodes (TN) while nearly 60 percent of the students are from in state. Alumni appear to be quite proud of their alma mater, and most opt to remain close by. They named themselves the ‘Centre Mafia’. Their satisfaction with their experience has helped the school to expand its recruitment outside of Kentucky and neighboring states.
Centre College is a great school because it succeeds with the students it has. Not because it has turned students away. Please listen to Pam Baughman as she tells you more.
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