I go to a start up liberal arts college called Minerva. It’s basically a normal university (degree, 4 years, class, homework, some bureaucracy, some really, really great staff) with three pretty big differences:
- International focus. 7 cities, 4 years – 1 semester of four months each city, except for San Francisco, where we spend our entire first year. Additionally, the student body is about 75-80% international (non-U.S.).
- Science of learning based curriculum. Everything about academics is based on what we’ve figured out about how people learn best. This means a radical flipped classroom (readings before class, small (capped at 20 students) discussion based classes, practical applications in homework after class time), the official banning of lectures, and is probably the rational for some other stuff.
- City as a Campus and community based philosophies. This is what got me to come. Minerva provides no typically university campus, so we live directly in the city (albeit most of us live in opt-out apartments/hotels Minerva has sourced) and use its resources. There’s also a strong emphasis by staff and students on building a real community, with lots of initiatives and events every week.
Commonly asked questions
Is Minerva really expensive?
Tuition, housing, and fees amount to $24,950. Financial aid and work study are available to bring costs down. On top of that, the big costs that you wouldn’t get at another university are 6-8 plane tickets a year, two visa fees. Additionally, moving around so much means that there are some things like trash cans, brooms, heavy bedding, that are impractical to ship around with you, and their replacement 7 times over can be expensive. Finally, many of the cities we live in are expensive (going out, groceries, etc). So, it’s cheaper than many U.S. universities, but more expensive than other options.
Do you know your classmates?
Yes! I live with my cohort, who are my graduating class. We live in housing together, and participate in city exploration activities organized by the school, and they’re who I socialize with. Minerva’s student body is about 75% international.
“The founder of a college startup more exclusive than Harvard or Stanford says traditional applications don’t measure anything but wealth.” Business Insider, May 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/college-startup-minerva-harder-to-get-into-than-harvard-2017-5
“This college startup has a 1.9% acceptance rate, making it tougher to get into than Harvard.” Business Insider, April 2016: http://www.businessinsider.com/for-profit-college-minerva-is-harder-to-get-into-than-harvard-2016-4
“Readin’, Writin’, Revolution.” The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 2016: http://thepenngazette.com/readin-writin-revolution/
Note: written by a Minerva staff member but I think it reflects my experience studying at Minerva. “Staffing model puts pedagogy ahead of geography.” Kara Gardner, Minerva Dean, January 2017. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/staffing-model-puts-pedagogy-ahead-geography-kara-gardner/