Colby is the farthest north of Maine’s esteemed liberal arts colleges, and that location has been influential in forming its friendly and outdoorsy student body. From their first experience with COOT, the Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip, new students form connections while biking, hiking or serving the community, and create a lasting COOT family before even reaching campus.
Situated high atop Mayflower Hill, Colby’s campus is classic New England in style, with continuous updates. The Colby College Museum of Art was recently modernized using a $100 million alumni gift to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art. Students and professors use this resource to create interdisciplinary connections between art and many other subjects, such as an installation depicting the impact of climate change that complements the college’s strong environmental studies program.
Academically, Colby’s strongest programs are considered to be biology, chemistry, economics, psychology, environmental studies and computer science. It pioneered the 4-1-4 schedule, or “Jan plan,” in which students can pursue something unique during January, such as taking a short course, studying abroad, or doing an internship. Colby has been highly rated for having accessible professors, and over 95 percent of students surveyed said they have a professor who cared for and supported them every day while at Colby.
Fostering connections is a major priority at Colby. Community service is a required part of living in their new housing for upper class students in downtown Waterville, and a shuttle connects the college with town. An incubator space downtown also creates opportunities for students to develop business ideas with the community. Over 60 percent of students study abroad, and the Davis Connects program provides funding for global, internship, and research experiences regardless of personal networks, connections, or financial means. Colby’s commitment to diversity includes trips to LL Bean to get boots for students from other climates, and offering host families for students who can’t travel home for holidays.
30 percent of Colby students are varsity athletes, and 75 percent participate in some level of sports. This college is ideal for students who enjoy the outdoors, with nearby Waterville Valley skiing and the very active Colby Outing Club. Construction is underway on a new athletic center that will include the only Olympic size pool in Maine.
From an admissions perspective, Colby is looking for students who challenge themselves and are intellectually engaged. They consider how applicants spend their time outside of class, and look for “doers” who will contribute to the Colby community. Acceptance rates have fallen from 22.5 percent to 9.5 percent in the past four years, and current students are actively discussing whether this is a result of the new test optional policy, the lack of an application fee, increasingly more academic students, or some combination of factors. This exemplifies how they value the Colby culture and want to be active agents in sustaining it for future students.