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St. John’s College: How the nation’s third-oldest school became a pioneer of modern liberal arts

Study International

July 13, 2017


Established in 1696, St John’s College is the third-oldest college in the United States. It’s liberal arts curriculum and teaching strategies are famous worldwide, placing the school among the most highly-respected places of study in the US. Over the years, the school has developed and innovated a unique educational experience for all attendees; one which immerses students in a world of active involvement and thought-provoking insight.

/> The school champions the study of original texts, with the likes of Homer, Plato, Euclid, Nietzsche and Einstein regularly featuring in teaching. Classes explore the fundamental works of Western philosophy, literature, history, theology, politics, economics, psychology, music, mathematics and the laboratory sciences being presented with fundamental questions and theories, while students are encouraged to formulate and develop their own unique ideas to discuss with their peers.

Stimulating creative thought is of paramount importance to teachers at St John’s, with pupils learning to speak articulately, read attentively and reason effectively through a curriculum based on discussion, conducting experiments and analysing musical compositions. Faculty at St John’s regard themselves as mentors to help nurture students into critical thinkers, exploring personal insights in their own written work.

Taught in smaller classes of 13-19, students are exposed to a personal learning experience which focuses on their needs and skills as an individual. The overall faculty-student ratio remains at one to eight. Here, pupils learn about human nature and the importance of working together as collaborators and colleagues to achieve a common goal.

The school is split into two spectacular campuses – one in Annapolis, Maryland, and one in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Despite a great distance between the sites, students at either campus are able to easily transfer from one straight to the other, with many students choosing to spend a year at either campus. The two locations share a common interdisciplinary academic programme, while each presents its students with a vast array of opportunities to get involved in the life of the local community.

The picturesque 36-acre Annapolis campus is situated in the historic capital of Maryland, overlooking College Creek and close to the Chesapeake Bay. With the local area offering a harbor with luxury yachts and racing sailboats, coffee shops, art galleries, and historic Colonial architecture, students have plenty to explore when they need a break from class or want to continue the conversation in a different setting. Nearby cities of Baltimore and Washington. DC are also accessible to St John’s students, presenting the opportunity to experience two of the most historic cities in the United States at short notice.

Sport plays an integral role in life at St John’s, with an intramural program that is one of the most distinctive and loved aspects of social life at the St John’s. Intercollegiate sports include crew, croquet, fencing and sailing, while students at the Annapolis campus can also take advantage of College Creek, the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay to join the sailing or crew team and compete in regattas with other schools in the region.