If you’re considering a liberal arts college over a large university, you have more than 250 to choose from. So, why become a Johnnie at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico?
America’s third oldest college
Like Harvard and the College of William & Mary, St. John’s College has been part of the American education scene since 1696. It was originally founded in Maryland as King William’s School and is the third oldest college in the country.
Kudos for St. John’s Santa Fe campus
St. John’s opened its campus in Santa Fe in 1964, accepting 81 students in its first freshman class. Inside Higher Ed calls it the “gem in American higher education.” And the Los Angeles Times says St. John’s College “hovers like a high-achieving angel above the landscape of American higher education.”
How you study at St. John’s
St. John’s focuses on your education. There are no classes with more than 21 students, and many classes have two faculty members. Every class involves an interdisciplinary discussion about great books and ideas led by nationally revered professors. But at St. John’s, faculty are called “tutors” rather than professors because they don’t profess at students but work alongside them, guiding their efforts.
Students at St. John’s read from more than 200 of the original writings of great thinkers across 3,000 years of human thought, and across multiple disciplines including philosophy, literature, math, science, music and more. In the intimate setting of a small class, they discuss, debate, and challenge each other’s understanding.
They hear others’ perspectives and learn to critique their own work, leading to personal and intellectual growth. At St. John’s, the focus is never on grades but rather on learning.
Summer program enrichment
St. John’s offers several Great Books-focused summer programs — like Summer Academy for 15–18-year-old high-school students interested in learning if St. John’s is right for them. There are also Summer Classics for adults and the Teachers Institute. These one-to-two-week programs offer a taste of life on the St. John’s Santa Fe campus, as well as a chance to engage in their signature, seminar-style classes.
St. John’s also offers the Pritzker Promise Bridge Program, preparing new Johnnies by helping them develop academic skills and study habits, providing guidance and support, and building relationships with faculty and peers prior to their arrival on campus.
Campus life is … lively
Campus life thrives at St. John’s. There are opportunities for students to engage in many clubs, organizations, and events — developing lifelong friendships. The campus is known for its Outdoor Program, intramural sports program, pottery studio, archery team, and renowned bookstore and coffee shop. Find out more in this video.
And it’s Santa Fe!
This is Santa Fe — the artistic capital of the Southwest — known for its Spanish colonial heritage and Native American culture, its massive arts market and robust film sector, its pioneering role in science and alternative medicine, and its celebrated food scene. Santa Fe is also the highest altitude city (not town) in America, sitting at a rarified 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains — offering easy access to skiing, biking, water sports, and — the simplest — hiking. Walk out the back of the campus, and you enter 400 miles of interconnected backcountry trails.
Paying for college
Students benefit from St. John’s generous support. The college offers $13,000 grants for all accepted New Mexicans. All Pell grants are matched 100 percent, providing almost $10,000 more in aid to the neediest students. There is a generous merit scholarship program for the school’s deepest thinkers and achievers, and free, funded internships and career support for students.
For both active students and graduates, there is a growing network of successful alumni who devote their time and energy to mentor students in careers. Everyone wants the three-century legacy to continue.
Want more? After you have completed your Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts, you can continue your studies, earning a Master of Arts in liberal arts or a Master of Arts in Eastern Classics.
How to Apply
Because conversation and thinking are central to the education at St. John’s, the college offers a discussion-based application, in which students interview first with an admissions counselor, and then with a faculty member; the goal is to engage in a robust conversation about books and ideas. For those who prefer a more traditional written and test-focused application, that is available too. The college recommends scheduling a campus tour to know if St. John’s College is right for you!
If you’ve done your research on St. John’s College, your work may be done, and your choice made. But remember, it’s not the end. You are just at the beginning of your greatest adventure.
Story by Bud Russo