top of page
  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

Liberal Arts, Four Seasons, and Unique Curriculums Fostering Creative Thinkers - Look No Further!

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Every college and university has its own feel and focus and that’s what sometimes makes it hard for students to choose where to continue their studies. There are so many options, and certainly a number of good fit choices for each student and family.

Recently I visited two selective, small liberal arts institutes of higher education that were certainly unique in their offerings but also had quite a few similarities… and interestingly enough they are located only 30 minutes from one another in Central New York State with lovely hilltop campuses near small, picturesque villages. Hamilton College in Clinton, NY and Colgate University in Hamilton, NY each offer a supportive community for intellectually curious students (many from other states and countries) interested in experiential learning. As residential colleges, students live on campus all four years, further fostering a sense of community and the integration of academics and recreation. The personalized approach of a 9:1 student to faculty ratio, small class sizes, many research opportunities, and a focus on student exploration are additional commonalities at these two schools.

Each has just over 55 areas of study, over 200 student clubs and organizations, many off campus study opportunities both in other states and out of the country, and many leadership activities for students. Both have very active career planning centers with internship assistance, outreach programs, alumni connections, and over 90% post-graduation placement rates (into jobs, grad school, other planned activities). There are many happy students on each campus, based on the retention rates of greater than 90% and confirmed by the students I met on tour who had carefully selected one of these two schools for the opportunities to be creative in how they explored their own path.

While rare to find, each of these colleges meets 100% of every accepted student’s demonstrated need – making it a more affordable private school option for those students who get in. They both are also supportive of students who are interested in taking a gap year and have processes in place for such requests. In addition to an interesting variety of academic offerings, both are part of the New York Six Consortium in which students can cross register for one course per semester at other New York liberal arts colleges and universities; including Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence University, and Union College.

All of the New York Six Consortium colleges have another thing in common – they are located in Central and Upstate New York where there are four seasons, including snowy winters. While students will have to bundle up for the cold, they also will get to participate in winter sports and beautiful countryside scenery.

But yes, as I said earlier, each college and university has its own unique offerings and vibe. Here are a few additional details, broken down individually:

Colgate University

  • 3,228 undergraduate students

  • Historic stone buildings – the original West Hall was built by students and faculty from Colgate’s own rock quarry

  • 575-acre campus with an estimated 2,300 trees (mostly sugar maples and red oaks)

  • Students live, learn, and dine together in on-campus residential commons which connect faculty to students for intellectually and socially rich programming, faculty mentorship, first-year experience transitions, and continued opportunities for leadership/mentoring roles for students

  • Outdoor education program – with classes, backyard adventures, and equipment rentals for wilderness adventures

  • More than 34,000 alumni, with over 200 returning to campus for the SophoMORE Connections program with two days of workshops, panels, and networking opportunities for students

  • There are sorority and fraternity houses that upper-class students can live in that are owned/managed by the college (so still part of the residential experience)

  • Sustainability - the campus has achieved carbon neutrality, offers sustainable transportation (Green Bikes Program), has a community garden (sustainable, local food for the campus and community), and locally sources food for campus dining

  • Home to 25 NCAA Division 1 sports teams plus club and intramural sports opportunities

  • One of Their Traditions: Lucky number 13 (it’s said Colgate was founded by thirteen men with thirteen dollars, thirteen prayers and thirteen articles for a constitution) – Fridays on the 13th are dubbed Colgate Day and are celebrated by the university community worldwide who often don Colgate attire on those days, admission decisions may come out at the thirteenth hour

Hamilton College

  • 2000 students, exclusively undergraduate students

  • Historic campus that is more than 200 years (3rd oldest college in the state of NY)!

  • 1350-acre campus, complete with hiking trails and 150 tree species in the Root Glen

  • Students can explore their passions with the unique open curriculum (choosing the courses they are interested in or to pursue new ideas), a focused writing and speaking program, and an individualized plan of study; leading to more motivated and independent thinkers

  • Outing club provides logistics assistance and equipment rentals for a wide variety of outdoor recreation

  • Over 23,000 alumni, some returning for the annual “What I Did With My Major” event

  • There is Greek life but it's non-residential (no dedicated housing for it)

  • Sustainability – the campus has student engagement with climate leadership, local food initiatives, LEED certified new building construction and renovations, and campus-wide recycling, composting, and participation in the college and university Recyclemania competition

  • NCAA Division 3 athletics with 29 varsity teams in addition to club and intramural sports options

  • One of Their Traditions: Feb Fest – where students get to enjoy the cold and snow with events like snoccer (snow soccer), chili cook-offs, snow sculptures, food trucks, t-shirts, crowing of Mr. Hamilton and more!

I love hearing about colleges and universities preparing their students to be critical thinkers who can present themselves well and understand the connections and opportunities in our ever-changing world! With mottos like “study what you love” and “know thyself” and “be who you are” – and offers to participate in an “energetic pursuit of knowledge” and a “uniquely modern education rooted in rich tradition,” I want to go hang out on these campuses for the deep intellectual immersion I could have there, while still getting to make my own choices and learn more about myself!

For anyone else who is intrigued, each college’s website has great information! While the admissions deadlines have passed for new students entering in Fall of 2023, current high school juniors who are looking ahead for Fall 2024 may be interested in the campus visit opportunities which start back up in mid-February.

There is a lot to consider when selecting a college or university and learning about the unique programs offered can be very helpful. Confident College Planning guides students and families in the process of finding colleges which best meet their personal needs and interests so that the student will be most successful. Our services include planning discussions for exploring majors, making college lists and college visits, and individualized attention for essay editing, application review and tracking, scholarship research, and funding strategies. Contact me at for a discussion on what I can do for you!


bottom of page