Berea College was founded in Berea, Kentucky, in 1855. This liberal arts work college stands out from similar colleges because it provides a free education to all students as part of its work-study program, and it was also the first co-educational and racially integrated college in the Southern United States. At present, the college offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in nearly 30 fields.
Berea is a small, rural town with a population of just over 13,500 and is well known for its many art and crafts festivals and historic buildings and restaurants. The Spoonbread Festival is a particularly well-known event and attracts droves of tourists every year; as the name implies, this festival features a type of bread that is traditionally served with a wooden spoon. Year-round activities that can be great fun for students from all walks of life include visiting Tater Knob Pottery and Farm, hiking up Berea Pinnacles or checking out Old Town Fudge Factory.
Given that the college is located in a rural area and the students are required to work at least 10 hours a week in their spare time, it is not surprising to note that Berea College does not have a vibrant party atmosphere. There are no Air Force, Army or Navy ROTC clubs, fraternities or sororities. There is also no Greek life. Even so, the college does have 86 registered clubs and organizations. It is also important to note that there are no bars in the county, and students (even those who are of legal age) are not permitted to bring and/or drink alcoholic beverages on campus.
About 84% of all students live in college owned/operated/affiliate housing and only 16% of students live off-campus. As current and former students note, obtaining off-campus housing is not easy. For starters, Berea College stipulates that only legally married couples, parents and students over the age of 23 are permitted to live off-campus. What is more, local landlords are not particularly student-friendly, making it difficult for out-of-town students to rent an apartment or house. At the same time, many students have found that living on campus is extremely convenient, as off-campus housing is not located very close to the college.
While most students find that Berea College’s good points outweigh the bad ones, there are still plenty of things to complain about. The lack of fun activities, the town’s remote setting, the small campus, lack of public transportation and crazy weather are some of the top ten things that students hate about this particular educational institution. Those who are used to living in a large city with plenty of things to do may find it difficult to adjust, as the entertainment options in Berea are not nearly as diverse as those in the average American city.
There is a lot to love about Berea College. Not surprisingly, the fact that tuition is free ranks as the most-loved aspect about this college. Students are also very happy about the fact that the relatively small campus and classes make it easy to get to know other students and professors. Beyond that, Berea College offers free laptops to all students, has a reputation for providing a high-quality education, and guarantees an on-campus job to all alumni. Professors and townspeople alike get high marks for being friendly, approachable and helpful.
Berea College has had its fair share of notable students. Some of the many famous individuals who studied at this institution include Carter Woodson, John Fenn, Muse Watson, Juanita Kreps, John Carney, Esfandiar Lohrasbpour, Naomi Tutu and G. Samuel Hurst.
Classes are not easy, but the professors have a reputation for going out of their way to provide help and assistance to students who need it. The class workload is intense and challenging; despite the fact that the school requires all applicants to have high grades in order to gain admittance, only two thirds of all students graduate from the college.
At the same time, the school has a very high standard for its alumni that serves them well later in life. Prospective employers know that obtaining a Berea College diploma requires a great deal of work and effort on the part of the students, and having such a diploma can provide an advantage to anyone who is looking for a job in a competitive field.
The most popular majors at Berea College are Psychology; Manufacturing Engineering Technician; Health, Outdoor and Physical Education; and Business Administration and Management. However, the school and its students have a reputation for being tolerant and accepting regardless of which major a student opts to pursue.
Those who are looking for a college that is truly into sports will find that Berea College is not the place to go. While the college does have eight men’s sports teams and eight women’s sports teams, most students are not familiar with the sports mascots for these teams and are generally unaware of when games are played. Some even study while at a game. Additionally, the athletic facilities are not as up to date as those of other well-known colleges and universities.
Summers in Berea are humid and stormy; winters are cold, although there are a few mild periods. Even so, students note that the temperature changes quickly.
At present, Berea has 1,658 students. Of these, 57% are female and 43% are male. Even so, many students find it easy to start relationships. The exact number of LGBT students in the school is unknown, but Berea College has a reputation for being reasonably gay-friendly.
While Berea certainly has all the features and amenities that one would expect to find in a top-notch college, most students note that these facilities are either small or do not meet the standards of some ultra-modern educational institutions. Even so, the library gets high marks for being an excellent place to work, as it has convenient study rooms. The college campus is green, and the school and its faculty members are environmentally conscious.
All students at Berea College are required to attend seven convocations each term. These convocations feature a wide range of speakers and cover topics that are highly relatable to students from all walks of life.
Berea places a great deal of emphasis on traveling and studying abroad. It offers trips to Haiti, Turkey, France, Greece and other countries; in fact, in some instances students can apply for a grant to sponsor and support a trip to the country of their choice.