The College of the Atlantic is an alternative college in Bar Harbor, Maine that is not for many. What this college focuses on is the skeptics and the questioners in life that not only want to further their education, but use this education to make the world a better place, both for themselves and others. Students learn directly from experience, which allows them to connect the schemas and networks of information that will propel them into their field of study.
The college focuses on creativity, because the staff is very well aware that leaving a student to pursue their studies on their own time and in a manner of their own choosing will ensure them the best and most fulfilling education. This also promotes critical thinking mostly due to the fact that the answers aren’t simply put in place for the students in a boring curriculum, the students have to find them. These fundamentals working together create proactive individuals that branch out into the world and do more than just what is expected of them, all in supplement of their own unique visions.
The college only offers one degree, and that is a Bachelor of Arts in Human Ecology. The reason for this is that the college does not want to compartmentalize education into specific departments because they believe, as many of their students do, that knowledge is a vast interconnected pool, and not a simple set of principles. All students receive an education in human ecology and some background in the liberal arts, but nothing that would encroach upon the freedom to choose their educational path, but rather something that will ensure a well-rounded experience.
Some popular areas of study are Arts & Design, Field Ecology and Conservation Biology, Sustainable Business, Sustainable Food Systems, Ecological Policy and Planning, and Literature & Writing. Beyond that, students do not have to prescribe to any specific major as the college believes students are best left to independent study.
Largely due to the open curriculum style and non-departmental approach to education, the college has yet to feature online courses or a formal distance learning program. That isn’t to say, however, that exponential increases in technology and interaction won’t prompt the college to expand its alternative approach to inquisitive students around the United States and the globe.
Tuition at the College of the Atlantic comes out to $30,987 per year for full-time students, and part-time students should expect to pay $1,032 per credit hour. Although the price tag is hefty, the college, among other ideals, believes that one’s education shouldn’t be limited by physical resources like money and makes an ardent effort to supply students with grants. Due to these efforts, the majority of students are receiving financial aid of some form, with the majority of that majority receiving aid from the college itself.
The central goal of the College of the Atlantic is breaking the mold. Students who don’t want to subscribe to the conventional approaches and standard institutions available anywhere else come to this college for their studies. It is likely in the future that colleges like these will be commended for their alternative approach, and hopefully more schools will follow this model.