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The New Ivies 2011

Schools where you'll find the next generation of excellence

by Explore Editor

Carnegie Mellon University

One of the biggest perks of heading off to college is the chance to surround oneself with like-minded individuals. For students who were considered outcasts in high school, Carnegie Mellon will feel right at home. According to one biology major, "Everyone is brilliant, everyone is a geek, everyone is driven, everyone is awkward, everyone is a work-a-holic." Carnegie Mellon is often named one of the country's most elite college and students are challenged daily by both their professors and peers. "You walk in smart, you walk out smarter and you learn all you can."


Duke University

The only thing that can rival Duke University's academic reputation is the fierce school pride of its students. One junior boasts, "Academics are Duke's true selling point, with most departments improving constantly and many boasting some of the world's top scholars in their field." And while getting accepted to Duke may be an impressive feat, that is just the first of many challenges that await. One student put it a bit more bluntly: "Duke is a top notch college, so there's really no f*cking around when it comes to getting down to the grind. And kids here are really, really smart."


Middlebury College

Located in the sleepy Vermont town of the same name, Middlebury College is ideal for pressure and distraction-free academic pursuit, and its small size creates an intimate learning environment. One theatre student says, "Academics at Middlebury are known to be top notch. Because the classes are usually pretty small, professors are more than willing to give you personal attention and most, if not all of them, come from amazing academic and worldly backgrounds." Students at Middlebury are excited about their education and unanimous in their praise of the school's academic life. Another student has this to say: "The classes are awesome here. Classes are engaging and challenging and push me to do my hardest. I always feel like I'm learning a lot and am generally very close with my professors."


Rice University

Rice University is both one of the nation's top research institutions and, by reputation, home to one of the most eccentric student bodies. This combination of intelligence and unique personalities makes for an exciting learning environment. According to a political science student, "Everyone at Rice is unbelievably smart and has worked their butt off to get where they are. Discussions in classes are robust, and the diverse student body ensures that there will be an interesting perspective on issues." Students here also take their academics very seriously and ensure that they leave Rice with as much new knowledge as possible. "Everyone here seems to be very intelligent and very committed to academics. People are sometimes overly ambitious (almost everyone double and triple majors) and very dedicated to their studies," claims one sophomore.


Swarthmore College

While Swarthmore doesn't calculate GPA or class rank, this does not mean that students coast through their course work. Instead, the school's unique academic system allows students to focus on their own studies and pursuit of knowledge. According to one pre-med student, the challenging coursework is enough without having to worry about competition. "It's true that the classes at Swarthmore are generally very tough...but the relationships with professors and the camaraderie (and lack of cut-throat competition) really makes things seem less bleak." One English major describes the academics at Swarthmore with a little more…enthusiasm: "I've had some classes that were so amazing I would basically walk out the door and have my head explode with all the insight and information I gleaned from that one class. Professors here truly love the material they're teaching."


Tufts University

"Tufts students (or at least a good portion) are really smart, sometimes intimidatingly so, and very active citizens. In fact, at times it's overwhelming how many causes everyone wants you to be involved in," says one international relations student. Whether spear-heading a new club, playing a sport, or taking advantage of internship opportunities in nearby Boston, students here take advantage of every opportunity offered at Tufts. On top of all the extracurricular activities, students somehow manage to squeeze in time for their regular studies as well. "Students definitely take their classes very seriously. However, there isn't much competition between students. It's primarily students being competitive with themselves and holding themselves to high standards."


Washington University in St. Louis

Students at Washington University in St. Louis are so passionate about their studies that the line between academic and social life is often blurred. "Students here are really smart, and it's not just in the classroom. People here talk about classes, academics, and current events all the time. At parties, it's funny to hear people talking about their most recent chemistry test or some funny lecture they had," claims one freshman. Another student has this to say: "As the 11th ranked school in the nation, people do take their academics seriously and you struggle to find a seat in the library come finals." That might read as a good warning for prospective students to make sure you really love the subject you're studying.



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