What is a College Consortium?

Five College Consortium | Ivy Central

College Consortiums are formed when two or more colleges/universities come together to share resources. These resources could be in the form of labs, libraries, cultural centers, faculty, etc. Colleges from a consortium are located within 10 to 20 miles of each other, to ensure the smooth functioning and use of these facilities by students from these colleges. College Consortiums are said to mainly exist due to monetary reasons. Having partner colleges on board means that finances become manageable given the affordability and accessibility of resources.

Advantages of studying at a college that belongs to a Consortium:

1. Independent College Experience in a seemingly large campus

Lots of Consortium Colleges are small liberal arts colleges (The Claremont Consortium) within a larger campus. However, they could also be a blend of small and medium or large sized colleges, such as the Quaker Consortium. If you are part of a small college community, you would relish the big-college feel only when you feel up to it. Unlike those college campuses that are sprawled across a national park or a city (like NYU) where you must commute internally, you get a choice to immerse within your own college community and also venture out to explore those offered by the consortium.

2. Access and opportunities galore

Every college has its distinctive personality in the form of academic rigor, social scene (sometimes dictated by its Greek life) and sports spirit. Being part of a small college with facilities typical to larger institutions can help you carve a niche for yourselves as well as learn under numerous faculty members and enjoy the exposure to myriad opportunities in research, clubs/organizations, and cultural centers. 

3. Numerous courses to choose from

Colleges within a consortium have their unique academic strengths and being part of one enables you to enjoy these privileges. For instance, you could be at Claremont College and take STEM courses at Harvey Mudd given its reputation in this field.

4. Student Experience

Often a student’s college experience is determined by the campus community. The larger the community, the more chances at collaboration and teamwork and networking! This could also mean the chance to utilize Alumni networks from other colleges, though this is something you would need to actively follow up since colleges mostly separate their Alum meets. But, you never know. Your persistence can bear fruit.

As an example to how similar or different colleges from a consortium could be, let’s look at the Claremont Consortium! The Claremont Group include:

  1.  Claremont College- Claremont is big on research with 10 in-house centers on campus. Known most for its Economics, Government, Psychology, International Relations and History programs, it offers innumerable interdisciplinary majors across all subject areas. Most attractive is the chance to undertake a BA-MA in 4 years i.e. a 4-1 MBA program with Claremont Graduate Uni.

  2.  Pomona College- Often termed as the “eastern style liberal arts college of the west”, Pomona is no less than the Ivies, those ‘hidden’ and known. It offers a blend of liberals and conservatives on its campus and is most popular for its Economics program. Professors are ever willing to help you and research funding is massive with over 200 undergraduates receiving funds to pursue their passion for research.

  3.  Harvey Mudd College – STEM nerds keen on a liberal arts education with a technical bent will fit in well here. Given its extremely small student body, chances of winning a place at Mudd are as likely or unlikely as they are for a place like CalTech. HMC attracts well-rounded students who relish humanities along with the sciences.

  4.  Pitzer College – Pitzer is for the alternate-minded. Students here are known to be socially responsible, climate-conscious, and extremely progressive in their ways. They are unafraid to voice their opinions, but welcoming to those of others’. Be ready to contribute to its organic farm, once you’re here.

  5.  Scripps College – This all womens’ college attracts more well-rounded women than any other college in the consortium. Popular for its spacious dorms and amazing food, Scripps is considered to be a premier institution. Studying at an all-womens’ college can have loads of benefits. Refer to my blog for more insights.

Each of these colleges has a total UG population averaging between 900 to 1700. Harvey Mudd is the smallest and Pomona has the largest student community. Together, the consortium has approximately 6000 students, akin to a mid-sized university. You may have started realizing the importance of having a consortium with a student community this small but not all colleges part of a consortium are always this small.

The other popular colleges from consortiums applied by our student group are –

Five Colleges Consortium (Amherst)

“Five Colleges, Incorporated is a nonprofit educational corporation established in 1965 to promote the broad educational and cultural objectives of its associated institutions: four private, residential liberal arts colleges and the Amherst campus of the state university.” These are – Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and University of Massachusetts, Amherst (aka UMass, Amherst)

The Quaker Consortium (Philadelphia)

The Quaker Consortium constitutes the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College and Swarthmore College – and they all honor Quaker heritage. “Students matriculated at Quaker Consortium institutions may take classes in the fall and spring terms at any of the other member institutions, within certain regulations.”

Overall, being part of a Consortium College could be really beneficial to those who love smaller classes and a personalized learning experience, and also take delight in putting themselves out there socially!

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