Colby College was originally founded in 1813 as the Maine Literary and Theological Institution in order for the Baptists in the region to train and prepare their own ministers. In 1821, after Maine separated from Massachusetts, the school was renamed Waterville College and later dropped the theological programs in favor of a more liberal arts curriculum. The school flourished until the Civil War, when after the student body was depleted from the war, the college faced closure since its funds were depleted during those bleak years. However, a substantial gift from Gardner Colby made it possible for the school to continue it’s educational mission and it was renamed Colby University in his honor. One final name change in 1899 brings the school to it’s current moniker of Colby College.
Geographically, the town of Waterville occupies an enviable position of being both remote and central. Within an hour and a half’s drive are the Maine coast, Sugarloaf (favorite ski mountain of the Colby community), Freeport (where L.L. Bean has its flagship store), and Portland, a small dynamic city of restaurants, art, and live music. Drive another two hours and you’re in Boston. Montreal is also within easy driving distance, and closer than that are the Maine North Woods, western Maine mountains, and more lakes and rivers than there’s time to paddle. On the other hand, it’s possible to go for months without leaving campus. There are events every weekend night, lectures most weeknights, and an astonishing amount of live music.
The school has the distinction of being the 12th-oldest private liberal arts college in the United States, along with being the first all-male institution in New England to admit female students in 1871. Students here have unique opportunities, such as participating in research as undergraduates and the highly popular Winter Term, where students can intern, attend a specialized class, or complete research without any formal classes required at the same time.