Long time readers of this blog know that when the temperatures warm up, my fancy automatically turns to two things: horse shows and campus tours. I’ve also made no secret of my love for the folks of the Independent Colleges of Indiana and the wonderful tours that they organize for guidance counselors and independent consultants each year. I’m happy to report that this year’s version was no different.
With the temperatures spiking into the low nineties and storms on their way up from Missouri, we headed out on Monday morning and made our first stop at Manchester University in North Manchester, Indiana. Manchester is a small liberal arts school of around 1,300 students and some distinctive programs that make it an intriguing possibility for many high school students who are beginning their college search. (With just over 60 areas of study in total, there’s actually a lot there for everyone.)
Distinctive among the school’s academic offerings are its Peace Studies Institute (Manchester was the first school in the United States to have this program – all the way back in 1948) and its long-term connection with the United Nations, which boasts a Manchester alumnus amongst its founder. As a result, the organization has granted Manchester a permanent spot each year for an observer to go over and learn more about how it functions. (It’s also worth mentioning that Manchester is also the only college in the nation allowed to vote in the UN.) For students with interests in some other areas, the school has added a new major in sales for the fall of 2014 and is also bringing out a new college of pharmacy thanks to an endowment from Eli Lilly and Company.
There’s been a lot of recent talk in the realm of higher education recently that liberal arts colleges need to focus more on preparing their graduates for careers and the workforce, an argument that has seen some push back from academics, who argue in favor of a holistic education that allows workers to think broadly across a variety of disciplines in their everyday working lives. Manchester has found a way to do both for its students in several ways; first, their Success Center doubles as not only a learning support center for students who need extra help with coursework and writing papers, but also is the career services department on campus, equating success in the classroom to finding success in the job hunt. (It must be working – 94 percent of Manchester grads are either employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation!) Manchester has also developed a “Fast Forward Program” that allows top students to fast-track their way to a bachelor’s degree in three years. How is that possible? It takes a dedicated student with a high degree of focus and three straight summers of meeting general education requirements off-campus at colleges or universities that offer summer coursework, but for students who want to get into their career field as soon as possible after high school, it offers a wonderful opportunity to save both time and money.
Manchester is proud to focus on five distinct areas of education for its students both in and out of the classroom. These distinctions are highlighted first in the building of community and relationships and then in striking a balance in viewpoints and opportunities and even across gender lines (their student body is nearly 50-50 men and women). The third focus is on experiential education, then on student support and the fifth focus is on the outcomes that are brought about by the emphasis on areas one through four.
For equestrians, Manchester hasn’t formed an organized equestrian program or team of any kind, though its rural location would open it up to the possibility of doing so if any students wanted to either bring a horse and keep it near campus to continue with a current training program or if a student interested in Manchester wanted to demonstrate leadership abilities and add it to their current roster of just over 60 student clubs and organizations. (Talk about real world experience and resume building!)
Want to hear more about my visit to Manchester (or any of the schools on the 2014 ICI tour)? Contact me!