During a gentle snowstorm in early 1851, on a hillside overlooking the village of Ripon, Ripon College’s first building was staked out. Today’s campus still reflects that early beauty, with 250 tree-covered acres including 130 acres of restored prairie and oak savannah. The three original limestone buildings and seven other campus buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Still adjacent to downtown Ripon, Ripon College affords applied learning opportunities and meaningful interaction between students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. Ripon College remains rooted in the liberal arts, with students being nurtured to have curiosity about the world and others in it, being engaged critically with ideas and society, evaluating moral and ethical implications of choices, and having confidence in their ability to do and understand anything.
Yet the College also responds to the needs of the future. The rapidly changing world of employment now emphasizes flexibility and adaptable skills. In the fall of 2016, Ripon College launched its unique and innovative Catalyst curriculum, in which students will earn a concentration in Applied Innovation, demonstrating their mastery of 21st century skills.
The College is a leader among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges for delivering a transformational educational experience and focusing on individual needs of each student as they move on to lead lives of meaning and accomplishment. Acknowledgement of this strength is borne out year after year as Ripon continues to place highly on numerous national rankings.
The college dream remains attainable for most families at Ripon College. The vast majority of students receive financial aid, and nearly 40 percent of students are the first in their families to attend college. Thirty-five percent are Pell-Grant eligible—from families with an annual income of $30,000 or less—and Ripon outpaces all other schools in Wisconsin in graduating students who received Pell Grants.
Students benefit from small class sizes and individual attention from faculty, who serve as mentors, advisors, and collaborators. Within six months of graduation, 96 percent of Ripon graduates are employed, student teaching, or in professional school. Ripon’s five-year acceptance rate to medical school is 71 percent, nearly twice the national average.
Graduates include winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Academy Award, and Grammy Award; best-selling authors; three Rhodes Scholars; and major contributors in business, education, and medicine. The College also established Pi Kappa Delta, now a national honorary society for debaters and orators, and the National Forensic League. In 1953, the College was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, placing it among a select group of the nation’s top colleges.
Jaye Alderson is an editor at Ripon College.