Lawrence University is the next of the Colleges That Change Lives that I will review. It’s a shame that I had to do a virtual review instead of coming to campus. Lawrence University has a beautiful riverfront campus located in Appleton, Wisconsin, a very nice town. I gathered a few photos on Pinterest so you can see for yourself. Take a few moments to check out a YouTube of Lawrence in the fall and one of Lawrence’s Northern Campus, Bjorklunden, in winter. It gets cold in New Jersey, but nothing like it does in Appleton. However, Lawrence students are well fed. They get the Bon Apetit dining services that I’ve always liked at other schools.
If you’re a Green Bay Packer fan from out of state, check out Lawrence University if you’re lucky enough to get to a game. It’s less than 30 miles from Lambeau Field. Downtown Appleton is within walking distance and that is one of Lawrence’s strengths. I have personally been to only three small college towns: Lewisburg (PA), Fredericksburg (VA) and Saratoga Springs (NY) that do as well at catering to college students tases and preferences. The university and town join together to produce Mile of Music, a fall festival featuring over 200 performers in over 50 venues in the community.
Lawrence University is a small school with just over 1,400 undergrads that is quite generous with scholarship aid. Two-thirds of the freshmen who arrived in 2019 received need based scholarships that averaged over $44,000. About a third received merit awards that averaged over $31,000 or about half of the total cost of attendance of $62,000. Lawrence University has recently concluded a $233 million ‘We Are The Light’ campaign that raised money for scholarships and academic programs from more than 16,000 patrons. That amount is more than the entire endowment of many schools, including the University of Maine and the University of Rhode Island.
Generous aid is certainly a good reason to consider a college. But it should come along with an academic and social fit. Lawrence is a college and a music conservatory, granting a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Bachelor of Music degree. This year the university has also launched a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree. Interested students may combine their passions for music and the visual and performing arts. Half of the credits for this degree are in the liberal arts.
Lawrence is certainly a great school for an aspiring musician. But it also offers its own Medical Shadowing program and a retreat with medical alumni for aspiring physicians within its pre-health advising programs. Lawerence has 32 liberal arts majors as well as partnerships that would lead to the:
Everyone takes one course each in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Fine Arts as well as courses in diversity, quantitative reasoning and foreign language proficiency. Everyone must complete a senior capstone paper or project, called a Senior Experience. Lawrence also requires every freshman to complete a two-semester sequence based on a collection of great books by great thinker called First Year Studies. That sequence has been part of every Lawrence University education since 1945. The president of Lawrence at that time who designed this sequence, Nathan Pusey, would go on to become president of Harvard.
The university accepted just over two-thirds of the students who applied to be in the Class of 2024. The university has been test optional for some time. In fact, less than half of the applicants for the Class of 2024 submitted scores. The average GPA for the Class of 2024 was a 3.5. Lawrence has retained between 85 and 91 percent of every freshman class since 2008.
The four-year grad is good, just over 60 percent. But it could be better, given the attention that you would receive here as well as the quality of life on and near campus. I hope that the most recent campaign helps to address aid and programming to help improve retention and graduation rates. Lawrence has so many strengths in place on and off campus; it should graduate over 70 percent of its freshmen on time.
If you have watched a Packer playoff game in January, and you are a fan of the visiting team, you might admire the heart and heartiness of the local fans. However, prospective students would need to ask themselves if they could handle that kind of weather during finals week and most of their spring semester. Like Green Bay, Appleton is on the banks of the Fox River. Downtown Appleton plays to the legend of the cold. Its main street is lined with ice sculptures and called the Avenue of Ice.
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