Beloit College can be found in Beloit, Wisconsin, around 100 miles away from Chicago. The school philosophy and curriculum are inspired by the mighty Yale University. Offering courses in anthropology, geology, and evolution since the turn of the 20th century, Beloit has pioneered scientific learning in the liberal arts setting. Beloit College offers a collaborative academic environment and holds the number six ranking on our list of “the Top 20 Liberal Arts Colleges with the Most Collaborative Environments.” 85 percent of the 1300 Beloit students receive some kind of financial aid, and the school is ranked as moderately selective with an acceptance rate of just under 70%.
Also in Wisconsin, Lawrence University, also has an academic distinction on our list of “College Rankings That Matter.” Lawrence rings in at the number 20 spot on our list of “Schools with the Most Challenging Academics.” Enrolling around 1500 students, and ranked as moderately selective, Lawrence also boasts a student faculty ratio of 9 to 1. The philosophy behind Lawrence differs from that of Beloit in that Lawrence offers the conservatory of music in addition to a curriculum that emphasizes professional endeavors. This difference in approach to the traditional liberal arts setting sets the two schools apart right off the bat.
A liberal arts curriculum generally lends itself to a collaborative academic environment, and this is certainly true at Beloit College. As mentioned above, Beloit has earned distinction in this area. However, Lawrence remains right there and knocking on the door in this aspect, with nearly 60 percent of students describing the academic atmosphere on campus as “collaborative.” Another fifteen percent went on to describe the atmosphere as “highly collaborative.” While the “highly collaborative” percentage was 35 at Beloit and the difference was not slender, both schools still clearly offer a collaborative academic environment. There were more distinct differences in other academic terms that we will look at next.
The “academic environment” at any given college is often a matter of subjective perception, and so, we asked students at both schools, “How manageable is the workload at your school?” At Beloit, nearly 50 percent felt that it was “manageable” with a “reasonable amount of work.” A nearly equal number went further and felt that the workload was “difficult.” At Lawrence, however, the clear majority of students, 60 percent, felt that the workload was difficult, with the remainder of forty percent saying that it was manageable. Did this translate into more work at Lawrence than at Beloit? Let’s see.
As mentioned at the start, Lawrence University received honors for academic challenge, and indeed, more than 30 percent of students said they spend five or more hours a day studying. Fewer than fifteen percent said the same at Beloit. The majority of the rest of the students at both schools spent three to four hours a day studying. So, yes, according to our survey, Lawrence University is more academically rigorous than Beloit, both in terms of perception and the amount of time students actually spend studying. Although not dramatic, the difference here was, again, measurable and clear.
College students will form many kinds of new relationships, now that they are away from home. Among the most important will be the relationships they have with faculty members and advisors at their chosen school. Students at both colleges were equally approving of the non-teaching staff and administration. 55 percent of students reported that the staff was “very friendly” and “helpful” with most of the rest saying that the staff is “usually helpful and accessible.”
Perhaps more importantly, students took the time, at both schools, to talk to their professors outside of class. 50 percent of students took the time to talk to their professors outside of class weekly or even daily!
“I love how accessible the professors are. There is also an emphasis placed on learning in and out of the classroom. I truly feel that that mentality is expressed in every facet of Beloit,” said a Beloit junior.
And this from a Lawrence junior: “Mostly the people here are great in general. The professors are great, the counselors are extremely helpful and the people are open and friendly to everyone, regardless of quirks.”
This positive feeling carried over into satisfaction with advisor guidance.
Another Beloit junior said, “Sometimes my advisors will contact me to see how I’m doing and if there is anything that I need help with. Otherwise, I just shoot them an e-mail and we set up a meeting that happens within the next couple of days from that e-mail.” 55 percent of Beloit students were ‘very satisfied’ with the guidance they received from their advisor. At Lawrence, surprisingly, this number was only thirty five percent, and more, 40 percent, responded they were merely “satisfied.”
An important piece of the campus life that students experience is the housing they are provided. An equal number, 40 percent, were “very satisfied” with the housing on campus at both schools. There were fewer than ten percent at Beloit and none at Lawrence, who were “not satisfied” with their housing arrangements.
”We aren’t able to live off campus really, which would be cheaper but it is nice to be able to be so close of a walk to everyone,” said a Lawrence sophomore.
With students at both schools living on campus, we wanted to know what sort of “community” this created. 60 percent of students at Lawrence felt “a strong sense of community” on campus. While this number was only 45 percent at Beloit, nearly 20 percent at both schools felt the sense of community was “very strong.” Though Lawrence came out slightly on top, a healthy sense of community seems to exist on both campuses.
There was very little difference between the two schools when we asked about the relationship each school had with the surrounding community. 35 percent felt “close” and had “frequent interaction” with the local community, while the majority, 45 percent, felt “somewhat close” and had “occasional interaction” with community members outside the school. Compared to other liberal arts schools, these numbers are very strong and positive, and indicate an open atmosphere which isn’t often easy to find in this setting. As we can see, when it comes to campus life, both schools enjoy a similar, positive experience.
In terms of the social scene, the first question we asked was about the balance of social life between on and off campus activities. Once again, the results were strikingly similar. 65 percent of Lawrence students and still more, 75 percent of Beloit students felt that the balance of social life was ‘mostly on campus.’ There were less than ten percent at either school that felt that the balance was equal.
With so much happening on campus at both schools, we took the time to look at the attendance for college planned activities. Again, the results were similar at both schools, with the majority, 60 percent, saying “many people attend” these events. Roughly 30 percent were able to say that “some people” go to these kinds of events at both schools.
Finally, we looked at the importance of alcohol to the social lives of students at both colleges, something that is often an interest of the parents of prospective students. More than 35 percent of students at Lawrence said that it was “somewhat unimportant” and that “alcohol did not play much of a role at their school.” This is a fairly remarkable number, even though 60 percent still felt that it was “somewhat important.”
75 percent of Beloit students responded that alcohol was “somewhat important” on their campus. 20 percent, still a fairly strong number overall, felt that it was “somewhat unimportant.”
A Beloit junior said: “Because of our alcohol philosophy, parties are known to get out of hand here. Fortunately, it’s easy to separate yourself from that environment if it makes you uncomfortable.” As we said earlier, the social lives of students are quite similar on both campuses, but this seems to be a distinguishing feature between the two schools.
In conclusion, we asked about the overall experience students had at their respective colleges, and Beloit students had the more positive response here. 55 percent responded that they were “very satisfied” with their college experience, with the remainder, 45 percent claiming they were mostly satisfied. At Lawrence the numbers were reversed, with the lesser, 45 percent, proclaiming they were “very satisfied.”
“I like the fact that I am challenged not just in class, but as an individual to do better and seek more. And, also that the college provides students with the best possible ways to support students do what they want whether that is through jobs and internships or funding for projects,” said one Beloit senior.
75 percent of students at both schools went on to say they would “definitely recommend” their school to prospective students.
Said a Lawrence freshman, “I like that I am part of a community that is strong within the classroom and outside of it. My professors care about me and want me to succeed. The people I have met are interesting and collaborative creating an inspirational community that is somewhere I try to add to every day.”
Regardless of their differences, that is positive approval which both of these two institutions have earned! However, as always, it would serve prospective students well to carefully consider the kind of college experience they are looking for and study the distinctive lifestyles these two schools offer.