Founded in 1946, with an initial student body consisting of WWII veterans using their GI Bill for education, Marlboro College was different from the beginning. The first class of students worked together building the campus on three neighboring farms (colorfully named Potash Hill) outside Marlboro, VT, and that tradition for togetherness and a common mission remains at the heart of Marlboro’s curriculum and student life. In 1997, Marlboro established the Marlboro College Graduate & Professional Studies in nearby Brattleboro, adding master’s programs and extending the Marlboro vision beyond its small campus. Marlboro has been named a College That Changes Lives and commended for its academic rigor and adventurousness, while the Princeton Review gave it a perfect score for academics, and ranked Marlboro #1 for professors.
Academic ProgramsMarlboro is characterized by a highly experimental, highly experiential curriculum. The Marlboro mission emphasizes independent learning, creativity, and academic excellence; while courses are known for their challenge and rigor, Marlboro is better known for the pressure students put on themselves to excel in their own pursuits. With an unusually small student body, Marlboro provides a 6:1 student:faculty ratio, and all students receive individualized support and mentorship. All students receive a foundation in the liberal arts, with focus on critical thinking, analysis, and imagination; there are no required core courses, but every student must meet two challenges: the Clear Writing Requirement, and the Plan of Concentration.
The Clear Writing Requirement has students write 20 pages of original non-fiction by the end of the second semester; if the writing is not judged as being up to Marlboro’s standards, the student has two semesters to revise and improve before being dismissed. In their junior and senior years, students develop a Plan of Concentration, an individual research project guided by faculty mentors, which must be defended before a committee of two faculty members and an outside researcher or expert. Much in the style of a master’s thesis, the Plan of Concentration must be a significant work of scholarship demonstrating command of a discipline or field. Most students choose an interdisciplinary path rather than a traditional academic discipline.
Student LifeMarlboro College is one of the smallest elite colleges in the nation, with fewer than 200 students; that is the intentional choice of the school, to preserve its intensive rigor and experimental nature. Marlboro was built – literally – on the concept of strength in community, and individual responsibility, and those philosophies are central to student life. All members of the community – students and faculty – take part in bi-monthly Town Halls, in which community members vote on changes to the bylaws and important decisions for the school. Elected committees composed of students and faculty hire faculty, shape the curriculum, and settle disputes in a court, with minimal security – the library even operates on the honor system.
There are few organized sports at Marlboro, but students participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities and (by necessity) winter sports, like skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing. The Marlboro campus itself offers 17 miles of trails, and the Outdoor and Recreation Program organizes events; the famous Green Mountain National Park is less than a half-hour’s drive away. One of the most loved traditions is the annual student-faculty broomball tournament, in which teams compete on ice playing a variation on hockey with – obviously – brooms and a ball.