Spotlight: Lafayette College
Spotlight: Lafayette College
Last fall, I had the pleasure of traveling to Pennsylvania to tour several colleges that are perennial favorites of many students: Lehigh University, Lafayette College and Villanova University. As a group, these three schools offer excellent academic experiences, beautiful campuses and thriving social scenes. While there are many similarities, there are also distinctive attributes that distinguish each school. This three-part series will introduce readers to these institutions and help students determine which one(s) might deserve a place on their college list.
We start with Lafayette College, which combines the qualities of a small liberal arts college with the school spirit of a much larger institution. Arriving on the beautiful Easton campus, I immediately noticed the distinctive, collegiate architecture and well-organized campus. I was greeted by a friendly junior tour guide (who, it should be noted, was one of the best guides I’ve ever had on a college tour, and that’s saying something!). Two of the building highlights of the tour were the brand-new Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center and the very large Acopian Engineering Center, which features multi-purpose work spaces and numerous cutting-edge resources for students.
As one of the smallest Division I colleges in the country, school spirit runs deep at Lafayette College. One of the most-anticipated events each year is the football game against rival Lehigh University, which is just a few miles down the road. Dating back to 1885, the Lafayette-Lehigh game is the longest-running uninterrupted rivalry game in college football, and students go wild each year in anticipation of the event. Another popular campus event according to my tour guide is Lafapalooza, which combines entertainment on campus with a showcase of the strong community service ethic that runs through the community. In addition to numerous extracurricular and service opportunities, Lafayette students also enjoy many club and intramural sports. As we walked around campus, I noted numerous areas for students to congregate outside, and on this beautiful fall day, campus was buzzing with activity.
Greek life is a prominent part of campus social activity, with roughly 1 in 4 men and 1 in 3 women joining a fraternity or sorority. Although my tour guide was in a fraternity, he also made sure to introduce me to another student who was not and who shared some insights about the many other ways to find community at Lafayette, including the housing system and the collaborative learning opportunities that take place both in and out of class. Study abroad is also very popular at Lafayette, with the majority of students taking part in a trip during their four years.
When it comes to admissions, Lafayette is competitive, with a total acceptance rate hovering around 40%. Lafayette offers Early Decision I and II, which both confer significant advantage over regular decision in terms of the acceptance rate. However, if a student is not ready to make that commitment but is still very interested in Lafayette, another important step to take is to schedule an interview. Lafayette places emphasis on demonstrated interest, with an interview being one of the strongest forms. They also take special care to help prospective students see themselves on campus if they choose to interview, by taking the time to match the student with someone who shares their interests. My tour guide mentioned the interview as the clincher for him when choosing Lafayette, noting that the care that was taken to give him an interviewer who had also played a sport and majored in economics showed him what kind of community he could find at Lafayette.
As I left the campus, that sense of community stuck with me. It was apparent throughout my visit, from the way that my tour guide greeted other students as we walked around campus, to the energetic quad, to the well-attended study sessions I spotted as we wove in and out of buildings. With Easton not being a large place (it is a true “college town” setting), the campus felt all the more close-knit.
Lafayette deserves a place on many students’ lists, but I find it an especially good fit for a student who wants the school spirit and academic opportunities (read: engineering major) of a larger school but also desires a true liberal arts experience and strong campus community. A bonus is Lafayette’s proximity to New York and Pennsylvania – both are less than a 90-minute drive – which offer bountiful internship and employment opportunities. Overall, I was already a fan of Lafayette before my tour, but my experience on the campus cemented my esteem for all that it has to offer students.