We were weary from two previous tours when we reached the campus of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana at the conclusion of the first day of tours with the Independent Colleges of Indiana – but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the campus tour and evening excursion they planned for us. Indeed, I’d even dare say it invigorated everyone – at least until we reached our hotel and collapsed at the end of the night!
(Touring campuses for a living is hard – and, as always, students and families, I recommend one tour and one campus per day when you’re in the midst of the college search. Three tours and three campuses in one day is best left to the professionals.)
But back to DePauw:
Unique among many of its liberal arts brethren, the university of almost 2,300 students operates on a calendar of 4 and 1, meaning that students take (on average) four academic courses during fall term then one course during a shortened January term, followed by another four academic courses in the second semester and one course during a short May term. This allows students to both meet their academic requirements within the breadth of the liberal arts but also to seize opportunities for deeper immersion into particular topics at the same time. Known as “extended studies,” the shortened terms can either be experienced on campus or as part of study abroad or internship/externship endeavors; student research, service projects, or even guest student stints at other colleges or universities also count. The important thing is that each DePauw student complete two extended studies programs before graduation.
For students who wish to further expand their academic opportunities, the university offers a liberal arts honors program or the opportunity to participate in one of their four fellows programs. Each path offers different options for deeper study in a student’s chosen area – fellows may focus on the areas of the environment, management, media, or natural science research, gaining access to top professionals in each field and earning hands-on experiences that can help propel them into graduate programs or the workforce when their undergraduate careers finish.
Of course, it isn’t all work at DePauw. A new athletic complex opened in 2014 and is home to twenty-one varsity sports teams for men and women, as well as expanded workout facilities for all. Music also has a large presence on campus, with not only a strong program for those interested in a major, but also a slate of top level performances held right on campus. (I confess, they had my full attention with the posters for a recent performance of the Canadian Brass – a long-time favorite of this now-retired trombonist.) They’ve also featured Yo Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin, as well as interdisciplinary art festivals that explore the connections between literature, history, and art and composer festivals that provide DePauw students with opportunities to get up close and personal with some of today’s top composers.
DePauw students are also very active socially on campus; with one hundred percent of them living in campus-owned housing, it’s little wonder. Greek life is also very present (66 percent of the campus participate and their lodges are part of the campus housing system) and not a single student we spoke with complained of boredom.
DePauw has no formalized equestrian offerings for students, unfortunately, but its rural location and proximity to some of the “horsier” areas of Indiana mean that any student who finds their academic home at the university is free to start their own club or find an area barn to continue in their sport.