There is a little known theory about Lafayette. It doesn’t involve mathematics or
chemistry, but it may describe the actions of thousands of people over more than a hundred
and seventy-five years. No scientists, anthropologists, or philosophers have been consulted,
but after reading this essay, the theory may get their support. The theory is simply this:
There’s a certain type of magic you will find at Lafayette. That’s right—magic. There is no
name for it, and no proof that the magic is in the water or in the air, but anyone who
graduated from Lafayette knows it’s there. How else can you explain why such miraculous
things happen at this college?
The heart of the magic is that year after year, the most well-rounded students begin
their college careers at Lafayette. And during their four years at the college, these students
find the magic contagious, as they exchange their own interests, enthusiasm, and passions
with other students. It’s this magic, and the brilliance of the students, faculty, and administration
that allows students to leave their mark, make a difference, and continue to contribute
to the college long after graduation.
The Lafayette Experience
Afew years ago, the college put into words what Lafayette was all about. Titled the
Lafayette Experience, it truly was created to describe a student’s experience, which
- student-focused teaching and mentoring by an exceptionally qualified faculty committted
to each student’s success.
- a challenging, broad-based academic curriculum that also offers strong programs in the
liberal arts, sciences, and engineering.
- a small-college environment with large-college resources.
- a friendly community offering an exciting social life with a broad spectrum of extracurricular
In fact, the Lafayette Experience is truly what students encounter on day one.
Concerned and knowledgeable faculty advisors assist students in selecting classes, small classrooms
make student-directed learning a reality, the finest and most sophisticated technology
drives research in the lab and social interaction in the state-of-the-art recreation center.
In Easton, Pennsylvania, on top of a steep hill, sits a well-manicured, tradition-soaked
110-acre campus. Although its geographic location doesn’t allude to it, Lafayette knows no
boundaries—and neither do the students. That’s what makes the college so magical.
As you drive up the hill to the college for the first time, you can only see
hints of the old buildings hanging over the cliff. But once you reach the top, you
become immersed in the Lafayette lingo and way of life. The school lets you grow
but nurtures you at the same time.
The best thing about Lafayette is that it will prepare you for your future in a way that
no other college can. The sky’s the limit; if you want to try something new, create a new
organization, research with a professor, create a major, or travel abroad, people at Lafayette
will encourage and help you.
Lafayette is the perfect mix of independence and nurturing. You will become an independent
thinker, an amazing writer, act in a play, sing in the chorus, play new sports, and
of course, make long-lasting friendships. Lafayette will teach you how to think, how to be
resourceful, and how not to let any obstacle keep you from your dreams—and that’s all part
of the magic.
To fully appreciate Lafayette, you really need to take advantage of all that the faculty
has to offer. One of the greatest gifts that the faculty has given is student focused,
student-directed learning. Lafayette is not about boring lectures and unavailable professors.
Rather, Lafayette has built a strong reputation in the liberal arts, sciences, and engineering,
because of its focus on the student. This unusual combination of strengths continues to define
Lafayette’s special role among the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.
Students can choose from forty-six majors in four main categories: engineering,
humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. If Africana Studies, Neuroscience, or
Environmental Science don’t interest you, you have the flexibility to design your own major.
The current curriculum has been designed to allow students to experience greater depth in
their learning, by requiring only four courses per semester.
One of the main focuses of the academic program is to create well-rounded thinkers.
To accomplish this, Lafayette has introduced new areas of learning and has enhanced the
Faculty and Seminars
Small classes are one of the most valuable benefits of a small college, and at Lafayette,
the professors are as dedicated to the introductory courses as they are to independent
research. In fact, all senior faculty teach beginning as well as advanced courses. And the
student/faculty ratio of 11 to 1 guarantees that no students have the opportunity to hide
from interactive learning. Lafayette has committed to increase its faculty size by twenty
percent in the next five years, reducing the student/faculty ratio to 9 to 1.
There is no better example of how important this attention to students is than the firstyear
seminars. Limited to sixteen students per seminar, this series of courses of varying topics
are designed to introduce first-year students to the value of small-class learning. Furthermore,
the courses give students an opportunity to be comfortable among their peers and prepare
them for the many other student-directed learning experiences that are ahead of them.
In fact, students use these skills each year as they present papers at the annual
Conference on Undergraduate Research. Lafayette’s delegation is one of the largest among
the 250 institutions that participate, including ones several times the size of Lafayette.
Renovations and Improvements
The college has an impressive endowment of more than $688 million. New or renovated
academic buildings completed recently include: a $25 million Hugel Science Center for
Chemistry, Physics and Biochemistry; a $22 million renovation of Skillman Library; a $10
million Oechsle Hall for Psychology and Neuroscience; a $3.5 million Williams Visual Arts
Building; a completely renovated Acopian Engineering Center; a Ramer History House; and
an $8.5 million Kirby Hall of Civil Rights for Government and Law. The Hugel Hall of
Science and the renovation of Olin Hall has created a $25 million state-of-the-art complex
for biochemistry, chemistry, and physics. Located adjacent to the biology and engineering
buildings, the complex includes new classrooms, teaching laboratories, seminar rooms,
offices, and lecture rooms that have the most modern equipment for teaching and research.
Also featured are smaller research labora tories designed for student-faculty research and
lounge/study areas where students and faculty gather for informal discussions.
The Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, home to government and law, was one of the first academic
buildings to undergo renovations, and now features impressive state-of-the-art classrooms
that will be replicated throughout the campus. In these “e-classrooms,” learning is
enhanced by equipment that enables faculty to use sound, film, video, live camera, and
the Internet as well as display images, book pages, and three-dimensional objects. This
technology allows professors to use the computer
software to complement discussions and allows students
to review presentations that are hot-linked to
Another new addition to the campus is the
Williams Visual Arts Building, with studio and gallery
space for student and community artists. This impressive
facility has been built at the base of College Hill,
where the campus meets downtown Easton.
Writing and Technology
No matter whether you decide to be an engineering,
psychology, or business major, writing will be a major focus of your studies. The Writing
Program is intended to help integrate the practice of writing into courses throughout the college.
The program trains selected undergraduates as Writing Associates (WAs), assigning them
to specific courses in the college’s general curriculum and in a wide variety of disciplines.
Through the Writing Program, everyone who graduates from Lafayette enters the world with an
impressive understanding of the written word, and is able to leverage writing skills as an effective
VAST values in science and technology courses provide an exploration of math/natural
science and humanities studies that look at the way technology and science impact our
world. The courses are designed to engage students in problem solving using a multidisciplinary
perspective. In particular, there should be strong evidence of both humanistic and
scientific approaches to the chosen problem or issue. In essence, VAST courses are less
about teaching content, and more about teaching a process of thinking.
Elmo isn’t just from Sesame Street. Walk
into any classroom, and you will probably
hear students and professors talking about
Elmos. Elmos are the electronic learning
tools that are now being installed in all
classrooms. They allow professors to easily
access the Internet, give presentations,
and digitally display any printed material,
all with the press of a button. Furthermore,
the technology allows students to bring
PCs to class, and plug right into the
The EXCEL Scholars Program is Lafayette’s paid research assistantship program.
Students do undergraduate research working one-on-one with a faculty member. Each
year, more than 200 students gain this invaluable experience. Besides the stimulating academic
challenge, they have the opportunity to apply techniques and knowledge learned in class
to a specific problem.
Lafayette encourages students to consider the international dimension as an integral
part of their education. Lafayette students may select from several faculty-led programs
offered in cooperation with European institutions. A Lafayette faculty member accompanies
students and teaches one or two courses in these semester-long programs.
Another alternative learning opportunity is the Interim program. Last year, 170 students
took seven courses on four continents including China, Africa, Israel, Germany,
England, and the Bahamas. Subjects of study may be as tightly focused as techniques of
botanical measurement, as broad as the New York jazz experience. Each interim course earns
the same credit as a semester course.
The fact that, as B.S. majors, we were required to take various liberal
arts courses such as English and foreign languages was very beneficial. I have
met many people who had very “narrow” educations from wonderful schools—
extremely knowledgeable about science but very lacking in communication and
Most Popular Fields of Study
There are hundreds of small liberal arts colleges sprinkled across the Northeast. For
a long time the reputation of Lafayette was that the college was just one of the many
schools to offer a solid academic experience on a beautiful campus. But over the past few
years, Lafayette has broken away from that pack, and its national reputation has begun to
truly represent the college’s uniqueness in the academic world.
As Lafayette has gained national notoriety, however, the school still maintains the
same sort of nurturing educational experience it always prided itself on. And that is why, to
this day, the number of students hovers only around the 2,300 mark.
Here are the numbers that mean something to you:
- More than 6,000 apply to fill only 600 first-year class spots.
- The average SAT score was Verbal—630, Math—660.
- Seventy-five percent of the first-year class was in the top ten percent of their graduating
But please realize that it isn’t all about numbers at Lafayette. In fact, the Admissions
Department indicates that aside from test scores and GPA, it is very interested in “evidence
of special talent, and personality/intangible qualities.” While you’re calculating your
highest combined SAT score, why not think about things that really matter at Lafayette:
- Can you make a difference?
- Are you ambitious?
- Do you have the makings of a student leader?
- How can you impact your academic department?
- How will you leave your mark?
Although interviews are not required, you are encouraged to have one. While your application
may mention the clubs and community service you participated in during high
school, an interview is the perfect opportunity to let your personality and drive shine
through. And even if you’re not ready to be a future world leader or business tycoon, the
Lafayette admissions staff is very adept at seeing the special sparkle in someone even
before they recognize it themselves.
If you cannot get to the campus, Lafayette has more than 600 Alumni Admissions
Representatives (AARs) who interview candidates in their home areas throughout the
country. Interviewing with an alumnus may not only be more convenient for you, but it’s a
great way to see how influential the college has been on a student years after graduation.
Student Representative Program
The best way to see Lafayette is to participate in the Student Representative Program.
A current student will be assigned to spend the day and night with you, taking you to
classes, meals, and social activities. The Student Representatives volunteer to host
prospective students overnight, with the hopes of sharing the magic of Lafayette with
others. No doubt, after spending a day and night on campus, you will have a definite idea
of whether the school is right for you.
If Lafayette is your first choice, you should consider applying for Early Decision. Decisions
on such applications normally are made within thirty days of receipt of completed application
forms on a rolling basis between November 1 and January 1. Applicants admitted
under the plan must withdraw applications to other institutions. And if you are a financial
aid candidate, you are bound to Lafayette only if your financial need is met.
While many Lafayette students do come from the northeastern United States, the
student body represents forty states and seventy-eight countries including Argentina,
Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Ghana, Hungary, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia,
Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.
There is really no way around saying this: Lafayette is expensive, more than $40,000
a year. But that doesn’t mean that affording Lafayette is impossible. In fact, about sixty percent
of all students receive some sort of financial aid from the college, with about fifty percent
receiving need-based aid. The president and trustees do realize that many families
would have to channel some magic just to afford the school so the college is constantly
increasing the amount of financial aid and scholarships that it awards to students.
Lafayette awards more than $38 million in financial aid. In the class of 2008, fortynine
percent received college-awarded financial aid in the full amount of demonstrated
need. Some other students received aid in an amount less than demonstrated need or that
did not include grant assistance. Awards ranged from $500 to $34,500 per year.
Even students whose families are expected pay the full cost of college can take
advantage of special payment options that can result in savings, payment plans that apportion
costs into more manageable monthly amounts, or loans with reasonable rates that provide
Lafayette offers special educational opportunities and more than $1 million in scholarships
to the most academically promising applicants. These awards are offered to more
than 300 accepted students who have demonstrated academic excellence and intellectual
curiosity. These students may be designated as Marquis Scholars. They receive an annual
minimum award of $16,000 (totaling $64,000 over four years) or a grant to the full amount
of demonstrated need if need is more than $16,000.
Student Financial Aid Details
One of the best things about Lafayette is how responsive the college is to
meeting students’ needs. If you want to make something happen, all you need to
do is ask. Lafayette is small enough that the faculty and administration are very
responsive, and large enough to have the resources to get things done.
For the 2,300 students at Lafayette, there are more than 250 student-run organizations,
six fraternities, six sororities, and forty-four intramural sports, so the average student
could easily be the photo editor of the newspaper The Lafayette, the drummer of the pep
band, a DJ on the college radio station, and the vice president of a fraternity. In fact, ninetytwo
percent of all first year students end up graduating from Lafayette—and as any student
knows, it’s not just the academics that help retain students. Rather it’s a combination of
academics, recreation, leadership activities, and fun that makes college a well-rounded
experience. And Lafayette makes sure that every angle is covered.
Lafayette has a very active Community Outreach Center, with numerous and diverse programs.
You’ll easily find one that fits your interests and schedule. Every year, more than
900 students give more than 33,000 hours of community service. Lafayette also participates
in the America Reads program, providing reading tutors for young children. One of the most
exciting programs is Alternative Spring Break. Groups of students travel to four locations
during the January interim session or spring break such as Johns Island, South Carolina; a
Navaho reservation in New Mexico; Atlanta, Georgia, and Honduras to help communities
with painting, home repairs, tutoring, or environmental work. You can volunteer for any of
the center’s programs or create one of your own.
Part of the Lafayette Experience is Greek life. Although it no longer overwhelms the campus
or first-year students, fraternities and sororities still hold an important place in the
social scene. Twenty-five percent of men and forty-five percent of women are members of
Greek houses, but that certainly doesn’t limit non-Greeks from getting involved in the system.
Part of the magic at Lafayette is that social events are hardly ever restricted, and those who
are not Greek don’t let that stop them from taking advantage of the parties and events that
the houses sponsor. Furthermore, sorority and fraternity rush (the period of time when you
learn about joining a house) doesn’t take place until sophomore year, giving first-year students
a whole year to get acclimated to college life before being thrust into the Greek system.
As the town of Easton continues to rebuild itself, more and more local pubs and bars are
extending the social scene away from the fraternities and sororities and “down the
hill.” But there is much more to do on campus than go to parties. The award-winning activities
planning organization, LAF, brings comedians, musicians, and other entertainers
to campus each week. Recent shows have featured Bela Fleck and the Dave Mathews
Band. And there are also the much talked-about yearly events, such as Homecoming, the
Lafayette-Lehigh Football Game, and All-College Day, which all involve a lot of outdoor
parties, bands, and Lafayette spirit.
Living at Lafayette has taken on a whole new meaning in the past few years. While everyone
is guaranteed housing for all four years, the options for living continue to expand.
An exciting addition to Lafayette’s residential campus is the newly-opened Sullivan Lane
complex of four buildings and a parking garage. Designed to promote a distinctive integration
of living and learning, the buildings are particularly well suited for living groups that
are centered on academic or cocurricular interests.
Year after year, the most desirable place for underclass students to live is South
College, which underwent a $3.5 million renovation and modernization. But since everything
is within ten minutes walking distance, you are never too far away from anything to make
one residence hall more desirable than others. First-year students receive first choice for
housing, and many of the top picks are South, McKeen, and Ruef Hall. Each room includes a
bed, a desk, and a chest of drawers. As you can imagine, you will want to decorate your room
to reflect your personality but any questions that you could ever have about your room and
Lafayette in general can be answered by your Resident Advisor, an upperclass student who is
highly trained and dedicated to making your experience complete.
After your first year, your living options increase to fraternities, sororities, collegeowned
off-campus houses, and specially designed learning-living houses. The most prominent
of these houses is McKelvy House, which is home to the McKelvy Scholars Program.
This program encourages academic excellence and facilitates the exchange of ideas among
students. Students are nominated by the faculty to reside in the house, where students participate
in discussions and other intellectual activities, including the production of a scholarly
journal titled The McKelvy Papers. Living in the McKelvy House is highly coveted by
students, and the program was featured on CBS News’ Sunday Morning.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Most recently, Lafayette completed construction of the new $35 million Allan P. Kirby
Sports Center. In addition to the already existing varsity sports area, the construction
adds an additional 110,000 square feet for recreational sports. The new intramural area boasts
two indoor basketball courts, an elevated jogging track, an indoor inline skating rink, six-lane indoor pool, thirty cardiovascular machines, spacious weightlifting area, a thirty-five-foot rock
climbing wall, six racquetball courts, and a café. There is also an entire floor of the center
dedicated to pool tables, foosball, and Ping-Pong. The most dramatic feature of the center is
its wall of windows that face the varsity football field.
In addition to an impressive intramural program, there are twenty-three varsity sports
for men and women. All Lafayette Leopards varsity teams compete in Division I except for
football, which is I-AA. The records of the women’s field hockey team, men’s basketball
team, and the football team outshine some of the other varsity sports. As soon as you come
on campus in the fall, students will be already talking about the annual Lafayette-Lehigh
matchup. This year marks the 145th year of this game, making it the most-played football
rivalry in the nation. And it is therefore one of the oldest college party events in the nation
too, as students and alumni from both Lehigh Valley schools make it a day to remember.
The Lafayette magic follows students even after graduation. Talk to Lafayette graduates
and they can recount times when they have been in odd places and encounter other
Lafayette alumni or stories of running into alumni almost every week in New York City,
where many alumni seem to relocate to after graduation. But even more important, is that
Lafayette grads continue on to do great things. In fact, Lafayette ranks second in the nation
among the thirty top-ranked national liberal arts colleges in the percentage of alumni who
are corporate leaders according to Standard & Poor’s.
But you are not on your own after graduation.
Lafayette helps you make specific plans for graduate
or professional school and for the world of work.
You will gain experience during your four college
years in applying your knowledge through undergraduate
research, independent studies, community
work related to your academic field, and internships.
Through this special four-year career development
program, Lafayette students work with an advisor to
create an action plan to help them achieve their
goals. Through the Career Services office, Gateway
provides a wide range of informational and counseling
services as well as access to a network of Lafayette alumni who can provide practical
advice based on their own experiences. Students who sign up for the program are paired
with a profes sional career advisor. Together they work out an action plan based on the
student’s interests and goals. Students have the opportunity to be matched with alumni
for work-related experiences and networking in a specific career field. In addition,
students registered with Gateway are linked to JobAlert. Through this computerized job
database, students will be notified when Career Services receives information about a job
vacancy that matches their skills. Internships are an excellent way to gain experience in a
field of interest. Most students participate in these during the summer or over the January
Faculty members and the Career Services office provide information on these opportunities,
some of which offer academic credit. A major value of an internship is the on-the-job experience—an accomplishment sought by employers and graduate school admissions
In addition to internship opportunities, Lafayette students have the chance to participate
in a special program made possible by alumni volunteers. Lafayette alumni offer
more than 200 on-site job experiences called “externships,” which are short-term internships.
Students spend four to seven days, during the January interim sessions, shadowing
an alumnus or alumna in a profession that they are interested in pursuing. For instance,
one student assisted the supervising researcher at the National Marine Fisheries Service in
Honolulu, Hawaii; another spent a week with a pediatrician in New Jersey; and another
reviewed civil cases and observed a trial with a New York City law firm.
Approximately thirty-seven percent of all Lafayette graduates earn advanced
degrees. Some prefer to work before pursuing graduate study, but about one in five goes
directly into a graduate or professional school.
All academic departments provide graduate school counseling for their majors, but
the college also offers specific assistance to those headed for professional schools.
Because Lafayette students are so
equipped to make a difference on campus,
it’s no surprise that they have made their
marks post graduation. Here are some
- Philip S. Hench, ’16, Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine
- H. Keffer Hartline, ’23, Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine
- Peyton C. March, 1884, United States Chief of Staff
- Alan Griffith, ’64, Vice-Chairman, Bank of New York
Only at Lafayette…
Would an alumnus donate $50,000 so
that a retiring professor could continue
his work. That’s right, former student R.
Marshall Austin, class of 1971, donated
$50,000 to honor Professor Bernard
Fried. After thirty-seven years as a professor of biology at Lafayette, studying
parasitic flatworms, Mr. Fried will be
able to continue his studies in his
retirement because of Mr. Austin’s generosity. The reason for the gift? Mr.
Austin believes it was the research that
he published with Professor Fried that
got him admitted into Duke University’s
M.D./Ph.D. program. Now that’s magic.