Visit to Earlham College

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Located in Richmond, Indiana, a small city that is roughly a one and a half hour car ride from Indianapolis, “Earlham College is a member of the proud circle of liberal colleges in the Midwest that includes Beloit, Grinnell, Kenyon and Oberlin, to name just a few. Less than half the size of Oberlin and comparable to the other three, Earlham is distinctive for its Quaker orientation and international perspective.” Earlham is also a member of a special group of colleges referred to as “Colleges That Change Lives,” or CTCL.

I was honored to be among a group of college counselors/advisors from all over the nation to visit this pretty and proud liberal arts college on December 7, 2018. Since I have heard of Earlham for many years, and I am a fan of liberal arts education, when the invitation to visit Earlham came, I registered without hesitation.

December 7 was a cold, but sunny day in Richmond. We started the day by attending a presentation called “All about Earlham” by Dr. Jay Roberts, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Though a marketing piece, it was a genuine and honest presentation about Earlham. To his students, he is Jay, not Dr. Roberts. That is a unique phenomenon at Earlham: students address their professors by their first name. This habit is consistent with the Quaker commitments to social justice, experiential learning, egalitarian and informal interactions, and embracing ambiguity (both; and). The Quaker principles also include “respect every individual, act with integrity, pursue peace and justice, seek consensus, and to live simply.” Jay explained that an Earlham education emphasizes “experiential” learning. Following the introductory presentation, we visited and interacted with some of the college’s highlights – its center for social justice; center for entrepreneurship and innovation, and center for global health.

At lunch time, I had the opportunity to take a few pictures of the student cafeteria. Though the Quakers believe in simple living, they also believe in offering choices for all. There are at least five choices of cuisine at each meal. That is a lot for a college with an enrollment of approximately 1,100 undergraduate students.

I found the student panel presentation to be the most interesting part of the visit. At the presentation, the students were open and genuine with their experiences. They shared how they were introduced to Earlham, their application process, personal experiences and their interaction with their peers and professors. Throughout their presentations, I heard clear themes: they have much autonomy in their learning, and they have been engaged in something creative and experiential. The panelists explained that their professors are very involved and dedicated to the students’ learning and attend to the students’ academic and career needs. Each and every student is able to find a place for himself or herself at Earlham. Another unique phenomenon of Quaker institutions (including Earlham) is that there is no proctor at tests because students are supposed to “act with integrity.”

In terms of the social environment at Earlham, the following answers may address some of your questions.

What are some scholarships and opportunities for students of color and underrepresented students?

A few scholarships available include the Cunningham Cultural Scholarship, Bonner Scholars Program, and Quaker Fellows. A few Opportunity Programs include LIFT and McNair. The Library Immersion Fellowship Team (LIFT) is a program for first-generation students in their first year at Earlham.

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