Iowa College Tours

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Navigatio traveled to the heartland this month discovering two colleges in Iowa worth talking about!

Cornell College (1200 students) is located in the Mayberry-esque town of Mount Vernon, Iowa. Quaintly perched on a hill, Cornell is tidy with uniform brick buildings and trees and grass dotting the landscape.  A student designed Frisbee golf course wends its way throughout the campus.

One great aspect of Cornell is their relationship with Mount Vernon.  Their library, containing a charming children’s area serves as the Mount Vernon public library.  Locals, young & old attend sporting and cultural events on campus.

Cornell’s big draw and what sets it apart is its “One Class At a Time” curriculum, known as OCAT.   Courses run for 31/2 weeks with 4 days off in between, and require students to be motivated learners. OCAT is not just a curriculum choice – it defines the campus culture.  Classes are from 9-11a.m. or 1-3 p.m., and after three, the campus is abuzz with students doing what they love, with over 120 student organizations on campus.  The amount of flexibility through this type of curriculum is notable. It’s certainly not for everyone, but works for those who enjoy a deep look at one subject at a time.     Cornell is intrinsically friendly and active, a good place for inquisitive minds. (A Colleges That Change Lives school: http://www.ctcl.org)

Another interesting Iowa find is Grinnell College (1600 students), located in residential Grinnell, a typical Iowa town with a nice historical area.

Grinnell is highly selective, drawing from across the country and the world. 12% of their students are international and the unifying themes for Grinnell students are global peace & justice issues. Grinnell offers numerous language study options, complete with housing.

Known for their large endowment, Grinnell boasts generous financial aid packages. Grinnell alumni are a successful and benevolent group as evidenced by the number of new buildings funded by them.

Activities abound at Grinnell with weekly cinema nights, comedy events and big name bands routinely appearing on campus.

Like Cornell, Grinnell is closely tied to their community.  The “Neverland Club” goes into local schools helping students write stories,  turning them into one act plays.  The football team visits local schools for “read and recess” in which they read to the kids and then go out to recess with them.

These Iowa jewels weave everyday student life into the community around them, providing solid academics and social stimulation, and both Grinnell and Cornell are worth a good look!


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