Lafayette College


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 includes

  • 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 activities.

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.

Information Summary

Ranks 6th in Pennsylvania and 41st overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 97.5
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $71,270
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 32 / 1435
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 10 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 93% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 2,642


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 current curriculum.

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 the Web.

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 communication tool.

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.

Other Technology

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 system.

Special Programs

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 writing skills.

Most Popular Fields of Study


College Campus :: Lafayette College


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 class.

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.

Early Decision

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.

Financial Aid

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 cash-flow relief.

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

Ranks 4281st for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Pennsylvania.


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.

Community Service

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.

Greek Life

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.

Off Campus

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.

On-Campus Living

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 interim session.

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 committees.

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.

Prominent Grads

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 highlights.

  • 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.

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