For our next Hidden Gems spotlight, we are focusing on Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. As a school of about 2,600, Skidmore stands out as a true hub of liberal arts brilliance. We spoke to a number of Skidmore alums to write this article and based on our conversations with them we’re focusing on the following aspects: the faculty, location, and unique academic departments.
Skidmore’s faculty is chock full of enthusiastic professors who tend to stick around for a long time--and for good reason. One alumnus we spoke to raved about the diversity of opinion that she experienced in a class:
“I very rarely had any professors who were any less than extremely inspirational. They also remembered your interests and took the time to incorporate your other academic pursuits into the class on a regular basis. I remember one of my American Studies professors calling students out, asking them ‘wait, Angela, you’re pre-med--how are you thinking about this?’ It caused us to constantly question our opinions and perspectives by expanding them.”
The faculty at Skidmore are involved in a lot of different research focuses and are highly invested in their students. A number of them stay on campus over the summer and facilitate Skidmore’s Faculty Student Summer Research. During these summers, students pair with a professor and work in the lab or classroom for 5-10 weeks on a research project. Oftentimes these projects serve as the basis for students’ theses or senior research projects. A number of alums told us how wonderful it was to have so many faculty-driven resources on campus, and that it made a true difference in their ability to express their creative thought (Skidmore’s motto).
All of the students we talked to also raved about Skidmore’s campus. As cliche as it sounds, the campus is gorgeous. It has a very homey feel, particularly because there are so many isolated tiny nooks where students can go and be alone. And there are the North Woods, 150 acres on campus with trails for both students and the Saratoga Springs community alike to explore.
Students can pop on a free bus that will take them to downtown Saratoga Springs whenever they want, and students head downtown often. Saratoga Springs is a bumping haven for artists in upstate New York and is the perfect town to accompany your college career. Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan used to play at folk music club Caffe Lena back in the day. And then there’s the food.
“Saratoga Springs has some of the best food I’ve ever had. And I grew up in New York City, so that says something,” one alumnus we spoke to said. “You go to Putnam Market for sandwiches, Ravenous for crepes and pommes frites, and Esperantos for the dough boy. The dough boy is heaven.”
The food on campus isn’t bad either. The D-Hall acts as a space where students can eat, meet people, and happily procrastinate doing their work for a few hours each day.
Finally, all of the alumni raved about the academic opportunities. Skidmore is a liberal-arts college, so they give students the chance to explore classes in many different departments. Additionally, though, the school offers some truly unique departments of study. For example, Intergroup Relations. Skidmore is the first school in the country to offer a minor aiming to “support student learning and competencies around inter- and intragroup relations, conflict, and social justice across a range of social identities.” This is essentially a minor in intersectionality. Or the American Studies department, which highlights a major curriculum “that focuses upon life and culture in the United States, past and present, using a variety of resources, techniques, and methodological approaches.”
Skidmore is a unique and interesting place to pursue your undergraduate degree for four years, and those who have graduated absolutely loved it. They all could have gone on for days about why Skidmore is truly “the best.” We advise all of our students to go and visit a school to get a feel for it and the surrounding area, but in this case we’d also recommend that you visit Saratoga Springs just for fun. Let us know if you have any questions at all. Oh, and fun fact: Skidmore announced last year that their application process is going to be test-optional.