See what students say:


Carleton College, with its low student-teacher ratio and small-town Minnesota setting, “is a rigorous school full of laid-back, outdoorsy students with a passion for learning and for developing strong community.” With a trimester schedule and an emphasis on the liberal arts and interdisciplinary scholarship, Carleton also boasts strong programs in the sciences and social sciences. The school has a reputation for being “highly rigorous without the cut-throat competition that other elite institutions are known for”; many students use the words “challenging” and “collaborative” to describe this tight-knit, highly focused academic community. One student sums it up as an “Ivy League education without all the Ivy League pretensions.” While academics are “challenging” and classes are “fairly fast-paced,” the work is “worth every ounce of effort” and professors are almost universally praised as “friendly, accessible, supportive, and enthusiastic about teaching.” Students “have no qualms about dropping in on office hours to chat” and have “been to many wonderful dinners at professors’ homes.” “Students help each other out a lot, too (even if it is just emotional support).” One student describes the school accurately with her reasons for choosing to attend: “I wanted to be at a place where I was challenged. I wanted to be surrounded by people who were smarter than me but also wanted to see me succeed.” Finally, students report excellent resources for pursuing graduate study, and visible improvements within career services.

Student Body

At Carleton, students are, “on the whole, pretty liberal” as well as “politically and environmentally aware,” and “are highly interested in activism on the whole.” The school has also “been ramping up diversity efforts in recent years.” Students note that they “spend the majority of the weekend studying but still find time for socializing and spending time on extracurriculars,” though some note they wish they had more downtime, especially since their peers tend to be “very welcoming,” “extremely kind,” and “kind of dorky” in the best possible sense. “There are so many clubs and organizations to get involved in, and so many people doing really interesting things outside of any structured class or club, that it is incredibly hard to not get involved in something or other.” That level of activity extends to hanging out as well: “Everyone loves to have meaningful conversations” and “the best part about that is that they all keep really open minds.”

Campus Life

Weekends at Carleton bustle with activity to help balance the intellectual challenges of weekday classes. As one student put it, “I often find myself attending a concert at the Cave, the student pub; going to a show one of my friends wrote at the Little Nourse Theater; taking a quick trip to the cities for Mall of America or an uptown excursion; or, most likely, having a surprisingly engaging and deep intellectual discussion with some friends at a party on a Friday night.” Intramural sports such as broomball and ultimate Frisbee are “freakishly popular.” Outdoor activities are very popular in the Arboretum, “an 800-acre forest where students go for runs, go snow-shoeing, or have camp fires.” The campus even features Dacie Moses House, “a house for baking cookies 24/7.” If you’re looking to unwind with a less structured activity, “the drinking policy throughout Northfield is strict, but...it’s relaxed here at Carleton,” and most students report that while partying is an option, “there are just as many opportunities for substance-free activities. Even at parties, there is no pressure to drink.” As Northfield is small and most students live in the dorms (a few wish for more off-campus living options), Carleton life tends to be campus-centric. “Carls” complain about very few things: the cold Minnesota weather, oncampus food options, and the accessibility of the health center. Overall, though, it’s clear that students here feel well cared for.

Contact & Visit

Campus Visits Contact

Holly Buttrey
Associate Dean of Admissions - Visit Experience

Admissions Office
100 S. College St.
Northfield, MN 55057



Experience College Life

Most Popular Places On Campus
Cowling Arboretum
Weitz Center for Creativity
Historic Goodsell Observatory
Japanese Garden
Recreation Center
Sayles Campus Center, Library, Historic Scoville Hall

Most Popular Places Off Campus
Mall of America
Guthrie Theatre
Walker Outdoor Sculpture Garden
Science Museum of Minnesota
Historic Summit Ave
St. Paul Cathedral, State Capital, Minnesota History Center, James J. Hill House, Landmark Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Weisman Art Museum, Historic Fort Snelling, American Swedish Institute, Basilica of St. Mary

Campus Tours

Campus Visiting Center
Monday-Friday and Saturday during academic year
8am-5pm and 8:30am-noon

Campus Tours
Appointment Required: Yes
Dates: Year-round
Times: Varies
Average Length: 1 hour

On Campus Interview

Campus Interviews

Information Sessions

daily (morning and afternoon)

Faculty and Coach Visits

Dates/Times Available
Academic Year

Contact Coach Directly

Advance Notice
1 week

Contact Email Address for Visit

Class Visits

Dates/Times Available
Academic Year

Contact Admissions Office

Overnight Dorm Stays

Overnight Dorm Stays

Contact Admissions Office

1-night stay; bring a sleeping bag or reserve a rollaway bed; 3 complimentary meals in the dining ha


Types of Transportation Available to Campus
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is 35 miles from campus. Carleton offers a very limited schedule of rides between the airport and campus; call the admissions office to make arrangements. Taxi service runs from the airport to the College. Rental cars are also available at the airport. Amtrak trains serve Minneapolis/St. Paul. These trains generally arrive late at night; therefore, you should plan to stay overnight near the station and take a bus or taxi to Northfield the following day. Northfield Lines also has a bus service to campus.

Driving Instructions to Campus
From I-35, take Exit 69 to Minnesota Hwy. 19 and head east for 7 miles to Northfield. At the first stoplight (where Hwy. 19 merges with Hwy. 3), turn left. Proceed to the next stoplight (2nd St./Hwy. 19) and turn right onto 2nd St. You will come to a stop sign at Division St.; continue straight ahead up the hill on 2nd St. Turn left at College St., which takes you to campus and the admissions office.

Local Accommodations
Fairfield Inn & Suites (114 2nd St W; (507) 366-5000) is within walking distance to campus. The Country Inn and Suites (300 Hwy. 3 S.; 800-456-4000) is about 1 mile from campus. AmericInn (1320 Bollenbacher Dr.; 507-645-7761) is within three miles of campus. There are numerous hotels in the southern metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul that will be within 45 miles from campus.


Applicants: 8,583
Acceptance Rate: 17%



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