Part of my responsibility as an independent college counselor is to visit and assess at least twenty colleges across the U.S. each year. This allows me to understand each college’s unique strengths, new programs, and dynamic students and faculty. This week, I was invited to participate in the Ohio Six College Tour, along with 49 other college counselors from across the U.S. and overseas to learn more about Wittenberg College, Ohio Wesleyan University, College of Wooster, Oberlin College, and Kenyon College.

Here are a few highlights from each of the colleges that hosted us:

Kenyon College

has outstanding academics in a Harry Potter setting. Kenyon is known as “the writer’s college” which is emphasized across the disciplines. Standout programs include Creative Writing, English, the arts and the sciences. They have a film major, which could be a great opportunity for someone wanting to try this path (no experience required). They are the only undergraduate college that is currently studying dark matter. Cool! Research opportunities are impressive, with many students pursuing PhDs upon graduation. I even met a student who was just awarded a Fulbright! The athletic recreational facility is truly top notch (they are a powerhouse for swim) and students can look forward to a new library and football field in the near future.

The College of Wooster

The College of Wooster (woo-stir) is a gem. While well known in the Midwest, few outside the region appreciate the amazing opportunities at this campus in Wooster, Ohio. What is most unique is that EVERY senior completes a thesis or independent study called IS. The thesis is similar to a Master’s level thesis, which is typically over 100 pages long. Students are well prepared for graduate school, including high placement rates to medical and dental schools (100%). Wooster’s students were bright, poised, friendly and mature. I think any student would feel lucky to call them a friend. The faculty we met were extremely impressive and truly invested in mentoring these students. School spirit and tradition abound. And where else can you see bagpipes play for the Fighting Scots?

Ohio Wesleyan University (O-Woo)

is a liberal arts college just outside of Columbus, where the focus is on preparing students to be engaged citizens of the world. Their signature OWU Connection program focuses on global experience (70% study abroad), research, and taking what you learned in the classroom and applying it with field service. Students can also apply for Theory to Practice grants. The students we interacted with had multiple experiences off-campus and abroad. They have a new entrepreneurial center (joint program with city and county), a marching band and an expanded honors program. Popular majors include business, communication, and zoology. They are investing $60 million into residential life.

Oberlin College

is a highly selective college with passionate, intellectual and individualistic students. Oberlin excels in the sciences (top producer of students pursuing PhD degrees) as well as in music (they have a conservatory). There are over 500 concerts per year, with 40 theatre and dance productions. Progressive, liberal and inclusive attitudes are helpful here but all voices are heard. Students support each other and their passions, and affirmed that it is ok to fail here, and get back up again. Overall, Obies likes to challenge convention.

Wittenberg College

Wittenberg College prides itself on a high level of engagement with its students and wants students to know that it is hard to get lost here. They have excellent support services through the Sweet Success Center and have recently doubled the size of the counseling center. 40% of students are varsity athletes, and a new facility will be opened this fall, thanks to a donation by alum Stanley Steamer (you know the one!). Wittenberg’s greatest asset is being in Springfield, a small post-industrial city, where students can become partners with the community (service is important at Witt and they wants students to become engaged, lifelong citizens). Popular majors include Nursing, Education (licensure program), and Business.