“Life-Changing” Rhodes Profiled in Revised and Expanded College Guide


Publication Date: 8/14/2006

College Placement Bureau founder Loren Pope has again selected Rhodes College for inclusion in his revised and expanded edition of the popular guide Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Penguin; August 2006). According to Pope, the 40 schools excel at developing potential, values, initiative and risk-taking in a wide range of students.

Pope was education editor of the New York Times in the 1950s and in 1965 opened the College Placement Bureau in Washington, D.C., to help families of college-bound students make informed choices. He also is author of Looking Beyond the Ivy League. Pope’s first edition of Colleges That Change Lives was published in 1996.

In addition to assessments by students, professors and administrators, the 2006 guide includes a description of each college’s personality; a “ten years later” section for each college listed, profiling the success of the school’s graduates; upperclass students’ advice to new students; and sections on home schooling, learning disabilities and single-sex education. According to the publisher, “The 40 life-changing colleges profiled may be little known in a status industry, but they are outdoing the Ivies and major universities in producing winners.”

Pope begins his profile of Rhodes by calling attention to the school’s architectural unity and its "elegant, Oxford-like campus of lovely grounds and collegiate Gothic buildings with leaded glass windows." He also mentions facilities that have been added since his last visit to campus—the new library that serves as the center of campus, a comprehensive sports and recreation center and student apartments.

Also mentioned are those programs expanding an emphasis on student engagement such as Rhodes CARES (Center for Academic Research and Education through Service), the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies, 15 scholarships awarded to students who make significant commitment to service, and Rhodes’ partnership with St. Jude Children′s Research Hospital to provide research opportunities for science majors.

Citing grade point averages and test scores, Pope notes, “Rhodes is more selective than most of the colleges in the book. However, Dave Wottle, Rhodes Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, adds ‘No grouping of numbers can adequately convey the importance we place on the subjective criteria . . . counselor and teacher recommendations, a personal interview, the application essay, and extracurricular involvements. We want a very motivated and diverse group of talented students.’”

Pope says “First-rate, caring scholar-teachers are the hallmark of the colleges in this book, but I was especially impressed with the ones I talked with at Rhodes.”  As one of the Rhodes professors interviewed, Dr. Marshall McMahon says, “There is a community of scholarship among the students. Even in their social life, it’s hard to get away from their common purpose. When you’re out on Saturday night, you get conversational exposures to the ideas or problems discussed in class. Life is a learning experience.”

Adds Pope, “Aside from the core courses, students have a panoply of choices: traditional majors or interdisciplinary ones, internships in many different fields that may open career doors, a variety of foreign-study experiences – including, of course, a term at Oxford.”

In Colleges That Change Lives, Rhodes alumni also provide testimonials about their experiences. A 2004 physics alumnus describes his teachers as “more family than faculty” and adds that because of their support and encouragement, he was able to win a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. A 1996 graduate and actor notes, “Rhodes is a wonderful place that teaches us to be who we dream to be and accepts us for what we are while we are there.”

After ten years, says Pope about Rhodes graduates, “A thread that runs through their testimonials is the number who had no idea when they came to college that they could achieve the things they did, whether it was a creative, research, or learning triumph or some athletic or extracurricular accomplishment.”