Both Berry College and Hendrix are small, coeducational liberal arts universities in the deep south. Both offer expansive choices of majors from the humanities to the sciences, and both are relatively small; Berry enrolls about 2,200 students, while Hendrix enrolls just over 1,400.
Berry is a distinctly rural school–and the world’s largest continuous college campus, occupying 27,000 acres of woodlands in northern Georgia. Hendrix has more of a small-town atmosphere, nestled in a corner of Conway, Arkansas.
The estimated total cost of attending Berry College (including tuition, fees, books, and on-campus housing) was $43,800, compared to a significantly higher $52,500 at Hendrix. Total net costs (factoring in financial aid) were almost the same for both colleges: $22,900 for Berry and $22,000 for Hendrix.
Both colleges have fairly high acceptance rates, though Berry is a bit more selective. 80% of Hendrix applicants were accepted into a degree program, compared to 60% at Berry.
Each college’s worldview dramatically affects the atmosphere of campus and attitudes of students. Berry College is a Christian liberal arts university, which sets a more conservative tone for campus life and events than Hendrix, at which many students report prevalent drinking and partying.
The best way to decide between these two institutions is to do your research and talk to those who’ve been there. We surveyed students from freshmen to seniors at both colleges to ask what they thought of the academics, campus life, and the accessibility of faculty and professors.
The academic workload at both schools is almost the same; at Berry College, 65% of students said the workload was manageable, with a reasonable amount of academic work. 58% of Hendrix students said the same. More Hendrix students found the academic load too difficult or unmanageable, though. 42% of Hendrix students said academics consumed most or all of their time, compared to only 30% of students at Berry.
“The faculty and staff are hands-down amazing. The campus is beautiful. The classes are challenging and interesting,” said one Berry senior, when asked about the atmosphere on campus.
At Berry College, only 10% of students said their school was “highly competitive,” while 60% said they found the environment more collaborative. Student opinions tended toward the same opinion at Hendrix, where 13% of students labelled their classes as “highly competitive,” while 70% said it was more collaborative.
That attitude of teamwork plays out in community involvement, study abroad opportunities, and unique expectations in classes; Hendrix offers the Odyssey Program, which encourages undergraduate students to pursue a research project, service opportunity, artistic project, or global awareness study before they graduate. Berry College also offers international study abroad, student teaching, and global service projects each year.
Half the students we surveyed at Hendrix said they talked to professors about classroom topics on a weekly basis, compared to 39% of students at Berry. Another 14% of students at Hendrix said they “almost never” talk to their professors about class topics, though all Berry students reported they had conversations with their professors on at least a monthly basis.
Though the data is split, students from both colleges reported that they were happy with the faculty at their schools.
“[I like the] engaging and challenging academic environment with committed and talented faculty” said one Hendrix senior.
Berry students echoed the same idea: “The majority of professors really care and will challenge you in a caring way,” a Berry senior said.
Berry took the lead in student advisor ratings, though; 77% said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their advisor, compared to 66% at Hendrix. Some Hendrix students complained that their major advisor wasn’t a professor in their major, though they still offered good course planning advice.
Most Berry students are required to live on-campus, with few exceptions. According to some students, that has posed a problem in the past:
“Last year 100 students were left without housing after selection due to lack of rooms and they do not allow anyone to live off campus unless you have special circumstances,” said one Berry senior. Another said that the rooms were a bit cramped and small. 20% of students at Berry said they were not satisfied with their housing arrangements.
Hendrix students liked their housing much better. 77% said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with on-campus housing, and only 3% said they were dissatisfied with their options. Hendrix also requires most students to live on-campus.
“Off-campus housing is much cheaper but permitted only under special circumstances,” a Hendrix junior said.
An overwhelming 88% of Barry students reported that their school has a close or very close relationship to the local community, while only 30% of Hendrix students reported the same. Far more Hendrix students (70%) were likely to say they had occasional or extremely infrequent interaction with the local community; more of their social activities were planned on-campus rather than off.
Berry and Hendrix differ dramatically when it comes to social life. At Hendrix, the social scene is dominated by drinking and partying; Berry, on the other hand, is a dry campus, so its social activities take on a very different tone.
72% of Berry students said that alcohol doesn’t play much of a role that their school; another 22% said that hardly anyone ever drinks at social events. 80% of Hendrix students, on the other hand, reported that drinking is prevalent at almost all social events. Another 10% of Hendrix students said that those who don’t drink really stand out.
“The parties can get pretty crazy, and as a non-drinker, I can easily feel left out. It’s sometimes hard to find things other than partying to do on the weekends,” said one Hendrix junior.
75% of Berry students said their school had a strong or very strong sense of community. An overwhelming majority (80%) of Berry students also reported that, though cliques exist, they don’t really play a big part in campus life. 76% of Hendrix students said their school had a strong sense of community, but they also indicated that cliques play a more prominent role; almost 20% of students at Hendrix said that cliques play a big part in the life of the school.
It all comes down to a simple issue: would students recommend their school to others?
76% of Berry students said they would definitely recommend the school to others, compared to 62% of students at Hendrix. This might be closely linked to the tight-knit community and welcoming atmosphere that many of the Berry students surveyed said they loved.
“I love the community; I have friends wherever I go. The people are some of the best around, and most want to know more about you. I’d say 99% of the population has a heart of gold,” a Berry junior said.
Though Hendrix students said they would recommend their school a little less frequently, they nevertheless spoke highly of their experiences there.
“The Hendrix community is close. Very close. We care about one another and we are very inclusive. In fact the community at Hendrix is why I came to the school. I realized that I belonged here. That I was home. And I haven’t regretted that decision for one day these past two years.”
The conclusion? Both schools are similarly challenging academically. They’re both small and close-knit, and students at both spoke highly of their advisors and professors. Student satisfaction overall at Berry was a bit higher than at Hendrix, but either school would be a solid choice for prospective high school seniors looking for a Liberal Arts College experience in the South.