CASTLETON STATE (visited 4/16/14)
Castleton is the oldest college in Vermont and the 18th oldest in the U.S. (founded shortly after College of Charleston in SC). However, facilities are modern and comfortable: they’ve put over $70 million in renovations and new buildings over the last 10 years or so. One of the new buildings is a pavilion where they now hold graduation, and in the winter, they flood it to make a skating rink.
They serve a variety of students – they have the A kid in the Honors College and the C kids who have amazing transformations. Thirty percent of their students come from out-of-state, and 50% are first-generation college students.
They bring in a lot of events, but they are quick to acknowledge that “Castleton isn’t exactly the most bustling of towns,” so they give students the opportunity to get off campus with buses to Yankees and Red Sox games, concerts, city trips, and more. Skiers can get a season pass to all 3 major ski resorts in the area (including Killington) for $300 a year. A Rail Trail goes right by campus which is great for runners or cross-country skiers. Our tour guide was surprised at how big sports were here, which range from intramural to varsity. Some of the more unusual sports offered are Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding (Club), Mountain Biking, Homerun Derby, Wallyball, Water Polo, and Dodge Ball (they were recently listed in the Guinness World Record book for the longest Dodge Ball tournament that lasted 41 hours).
Two other students were surprised at the community and level of support. First Year students meet once a week with advisors who make sure they’re being challenged and supported. Their retention is starting to go up (currently at 70%). Forty percent of each dorm is reserved for freshmen who are mixed through the dorms. Our tour guide, a senior, lived next door to freshmen. The dorms are single-sex by suite, and rooms are spacious.
Academics of note include Athletic Training, Computer Information Systems, Global Studies, Geology, Social Work, and Sports Administration. The school does a good job linking academics and clubs, sending students to conferences, helping set up internships, and in other ways giving students real-world experiences related to their majors.