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What Is the Five College Consortium?

A college consortium is a higher education organization that aims to cultivate a community bound by intellect, academics, and community engagement. “So what does this really mean?”, you might ask. Basically, a college consortium is a group of colleges that partner up to share resources among all of their students. This makes life easier for the students attending each school, while offering them more opportunities academically and socially. If you are looking for a large school feel with a small school classroom setting in Massachusetts, you might want to learn more about the Five College Consortium.

What is the Five College Consortium?

Founded in 1965, the Five College Consortium is one of the oldest college consortia in the nation. There are four colleges and one university in the Consortium. Those schools include Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. All of these schools are private colleges except UMass, which is a public university. All of the campuses are located along the scenic Connecticut River Valley in Western Massachusetts. 

Academic, technical, and community collaboration

Academic Collaborations

The Five College Consortium is well known for its academic collaborations. This includes cross-registration of over 30,000 students throughout all five campuses. Five Colleges administers a multitude of academic programs, including Astronomy (which happens to be their very first program ever offered) and Dance, and various academic certificates as well. Any student in good academic standing at their home institution is free to take a course at one of the participating colleges or universities free of charge.

Enterprise initiatives

The Five Colleges work together to save money for the colleges and students alike. They have  joint high-speed Internet access across all five campuses, and they are constantly facilitating cost effective ways for risk management and information technology.

Community Collaborations

One of their best known attributes, community collaborations are extremely important throughout the five colleges. This includes creating partnerships with other campuses and outside entities to further the success of students. One that the collaborations that the Five Colleges are most proud of is their partnership with the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. The five institutions worked together to provide fare-free public transit to their student bodies. 

How can a student benefit from the Five College Consortium?

As noted throughout this article, there are various ways that a student is able to benefit from the Five College Consortium. Let’s look at a few of the main benefits below. 

Student development

The Five College Consortium offers the Crossroads in the Study of the Americas Seminar (CISA). This seminar offers students the opportunity to explore trans-nationalist interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the Americas. The Five Colleges also have a Student Coordinating Board; each of the five colleges choose a leader that makes recommendations to the presidents and chancellors to propose improvement to different aspects of the colleges. 

Additional academic programming

In addition to stellar academic opportunities among the five schools, the Five College Consortium also offers academic programming. Just to name a few, the colleges coordinate the annual Five Colleges Undergraduate Anthropology Conference and also support a number of music festivals and events in partnership with the Five Colleges Music Chairs Committee. The Five College Theater Program focuses on multicultural perspectives within theater.

Shared faculty

Another benefit of being a student at one of the five colleges is that you have access to faculty from five different colleges and universities. This creates more opportunities for students to learn and develop a deeper understanding of their studies through a diverse faculty. 

Clubs and organizations

Students have over 900 clubs and organizations to join between the five colleges, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Related: How many colleges should I apply to?

Closing thoughts for students on the Five College Consortium

If you are looking for a college or university where you can blossom socially, academically, and personally, enrolling in a school in the Consortium might be a great option for you. With access to five different higher education facilities, hundreds of distinguished professors and academic programs, and a variety of student organizations, the Five College Consortium is a mecca for students looking to diversify their college experience. 

Also see: How to choose a college

Additional resources for students

Are you confused when it comes to applying to colleges and what you should be doing in the process? Not to worry, because at Scholarships360, we have tons of other resources that you can utilize during your college search journey. If you’re looking for help to perfect your college applications, or learning what you can do after finishing your applications, we’ve got you covered. Good luck with the rest of your college journey! 

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