On a recent visit to College of Idaho (C of I) located in Caldwell, administrators, faculty and students attempted to explain what makes C of I special. It turns out that at this small, private liberal arts college, faculty and staff are able to address the varied needs of students and so in essence what makes it special for each student is as different as their individual needs. Meeting these needs seems to be working as students are excelling, and the college has produced seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars and 12 Goldwater Scholars as proof.
An innovative approach to curriculum, which has 100 percent faculty support, is one reason that C of I stands out among hundreds of small colleges. In the PEAK program all students chose one major and three minors from among four academic areas, plus there is still room within the graduation requirements for pure exploration. And the students complete it all in four years. Academic advising in a big key to the success of the PEAK program and all students have faculty advisors who get to know them personally and can guide and support the students as they create their individual paths through the curriculum.
Outside the classroom you will find almost 40 percent of the students participating in intercollegiate and club sports, yet non-athletes will find it an inclusive environment. The campus was buzzing with excitement over the return of football to the athletic lineup (another unanimous decision by the faculty and staff), with competition beginning in fall of 2014. Crowds turned out just to watch a weekend pre-season scrimmage and season ticket sales are going strong. On office windows around campus you can see count-downs to the first game and the whole campus was invited to vote on the new football helmet design. This kind of community spirit surrounds all the campus activities, from sports to music, theatre, speaking events and club activities. The students created #YoteFam (short for Coyote Family, the school mascot) and you can see it posted on social media everywhere as a call to action for campus events.
The way to really experience what makes C of I special is to visit and the campus community proves to be generous hosts. The college offers a fly-in reimbursement program to help defray the costs of visiting campus for any prospective student. The admissions office will tailor the campus visit to the individual student. Just make sure that you request a meal in their campus dining hall. On our recent visit to the campus our group of well-travelled counselors found the dining hall selections to be outstanding – from the variety to the quality of local ingredients and the accommodating food service staff. Two “must-tries” are anything from the dessert island and the aguas frescas (various fruits in water to make a refreshing drink).
It's well worth a trip to Caldwell, Idaho to experience for yourself what makes College of Idaho different from other small private liberal arts colleges.