The heat was on as we departed our first tour stop of the 2016 Independent Colleges of Indiana counselor tour – and I mean that quite literally, as temperatures soared into the mid-90s and the sun beat down. But the thing is, no matter the temperature outside, be it roasting or freezing, I’ve learned in my years as an IEC (and campus tour aficionado) that as long as the welcome to campus is warm, the weather is irrelevant. Luckily for our group, the moment our (blissfully air-conditioned!) buses pulled onto the Crawfordsville campus of Wabash College, the welcome was so cordial and friendly that we couldn’t help but forget the temperature outside.
Established in 1832, Wabash is one of the last three remaining liberal arts colleges for men in the United States. (Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, which I visited last fall, and Morehouse College in Georgia are the other two for you trivia buffs out there.) It’s a small school – roughly 900 students total – with small classes and a student to faculty ratio of 11 to one and a set of four unique, co-curricular initiatives that are designed to turn Wabash men into leaders in their chosen fields.
Known as “Liberal Arts Plus,” the co-curricular initiatives fall into four distinct categories; there’s Democracy, Global Health, Digital Arts and Human Values, and the Center for Innovation, Business, & Entrepreneurship (CIBE). The idea behind the program is to make direct connections between the liberal arts education students receive on the Wabash campus and the real world in which they’re one day going to work. So for a student engaged with the CIBE program who aspires to a business career, the classwork is bridged directly into hands-on experiences through internships and other similar immersions so that students get direct experience with management, entrepreneurship, and best business practices. Students participating in the Global Health initiative work in local free clinics, schools, and health departments so they can see medical and public health issues first-hand and understand the critical role that access to health care places within under-served communities – not just in the U.S. but around the world. All students are taught to uphold ethical values and examine the big picture when making decisions.
Outside of class, Wabash men keep busy with athletics (there are 11 varsity sports and another 22 intramurals, plus four club sports available), the arts (which yes, include video game design), and with theatre, a program which is ranked seventh nationally and allows participation from all students, not just those who’ve selected the major. In fact, for students who participate in the arts at Wabash – regardless of major – there are no fees for art supplies and anyone can take music lessons for credit. Students also participate heavily in Greek life with over 50 percent of the campus involved in one of the nine fraternities housed on campus.
Typical of its other all-male brethren (sorry, guys), Wabash doesn’t offer a formalized equestrian program or team, but for the young man who wishes to continue with the sport while in college – or hopes to start an IHSA or IDA team – the rural Crawfordsville location of campus and active IHSA region within Indiana and nearby Illinois would make the process fairly straightforward.