The rain had returned by the time we arrived at Hanover College on our second-to-last stop on the 2016 Independent Colleges of Indiana campus tours. Still, when two busloads of counselors unload on the grounds of a school that consistently ranks among the most beautiful in the nation by a variety of the groups who rank that sort of thing (including The Princeton Review, who ranked them at 14 last year), the weather is of little consequence – especially when we’re talking about Indiana’s oldest private college and a campus that overlooks the only place in the Midwest where you can clearly see three bends in the Ohio river. (There are also four hiking trails and 15 waterfalls on campus if you want to explore and keep count.)
Needless to say, thanks to its location (historic Madison, Indiana, a former major river port which today boasts a full 133 city blocks on the National Register of Historic Places), proximity to major cities like Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Louisville, and rural setting, students who want a liberal arts education with big hands-on opportunities and enjoy the outdoors won’t do better than Hanover.
Like many of its liberal arts brethren, Hanover is a small school of just over 1,100 students that boasts an average class size of 13. (In fact, the largest lecture hall on campus only holds 60 students.) Thus, a personalized and individualized education for every student is a hallmark of the school – including the opportunity for students to create their own majors if they so desire. (Prefer a super-structured major instead? Engineering will soon be offered as part of the curriculum.)
Students may also shape their own individual learning experiences outside the classroom at Hanover; through the Office of Experiential Learning, students not only engage in research and internship experiences to supplement what they’re learning from faculty and textbooks, they’re also developing an extensive network of professional contacts and mentors to guide them after graduation. Depending on each student’s personal goals and interests, they can select experiences that appeal to them and that will hopefully propel them to the next level of their education.
For example, if you were to be – say – a student at Hanover with a strong interest in horses, you might follow in the footsteps of one student who had a full semester internship with Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. Responsible for their marketing and promotional efforts as part of the farm’s daily operations, the student was able to use her interest in horse racing combined with her major in economics to create an experience that both inspired and educated her in something she wasn’t familiar with. That’s the strength of both small schools and liberal arts education, readers!
For active riders, Hanover currently doesn’t have an equestrian team or club (they have in the past) but the combination of the school’s rural location, proximity to major horse show venues, and the flexible thinking of a college that encourages its students to create their own educational pathways means that any student who wants to build an equestrian community on campus will be welcome.
Should Hanover make your short list of schools to consider? Contact me to discuss or pick up a copy of my book to help guide you in your search.