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About Carthage

Transforming students into scholars

Carthage Seniors: Top 11% nationally
Carthage Impact: Top 17% nationally


When it comes to critical thinking, problem solving, and written communication, Carthage seniors are in the top 11 percent nationwide among colleges and universities using the Collegiate Learning Assessment.

“Students are entirely transformed during their time at Carthage, and at a higher level here than at most every other school that takes this assessment.”

The Collegiate Learning Assessment, or CLA, is a national tool administered at institutions across the country to assess their impact on student learning. The CLA measures a college’s contribution, or value added, to the development of four higher-order skills: analytical reasoning and evaluation, problem solving, writing effectiveness, and writing mechanics.

In the College’s most recent CLA report, 2011-2012, the gains shown by Carthage students in these areas were higher than gains shown by students at 83 percent of participating institutions. Carthage seniors scored in the 89th percentile.

The results testify to the value provided by a Carthage education.

“The CLA represents the quality of our faculty and our students,” said Carthage Professor and former Provost Julio Rivera. “Our value-added score tells us that students are entirely transformed during their time at Carthage, and at a higher level here than at most every other school that takes this assessment.

“Our seniors, as they leave, are in the top 11 percent among graduating seniors nationwide. Students and parents want to know that when students graduate, they leave competitive. The CLA results show that our seniors are very competitive in academic skills with seniors across the nation — at all institution types, from Ivy League schools to community colleges.”

A Top College

Curriculum, Faculty and Students

Carthage has participated in the Collegiate Learning Assessment twice, in 2011-12 and in 2008-09. The College’s results both times were very strong. In 2008-09, Carthage students showed academic gains in the top 8 percent in the nation.

Dana Garrigan, associate provost for planning and assessment at Carthage and an associate professor of biology, said the CLA results are a testament to the strength of the Carthage liberal arts curriculum — a curriculum that emphasizes writing in every major, interdisciplinary study, critical reading and thinking, and hands-on learning through research and other projects.

Programs such as Western Heritage and the Carthage Symposium further the College’s curricular goals. The writing-intensive Western Heritage Program requires every Carthage student to spend two semesters studying the history of Western thought. Carthage Symposia — courses team-taught by faculty from different disciplines — challenge students to explore a topic through the lenses of two completely different fields. All students are required to create a senior thesis, so they graduate having produced an original academic work that is research- or creativity-based.

The results also speak to the dedication of the faculty and the quality of our students.

“You can have the greatest faculty in the world, but if students don’t respond, it’s not going to work,” Prof. Rivera said. “Education is about change and transformation. If you come to a place like Carthage, you’re looking for that kind of change and transformation.”

About the CLA

Designed to measure an institution’s contribution

Carthage, along with 160 other institutions, administered the CLA during the 2011-12 academic year. Approximately 100 first-year students took the test in fall 2011, and approximately 50 seniors took the test in spring 2012.

Students taking the test complete tasks that require them to analyze complex materials. Their written responses are graded to assess their abilities to think critically, reason analytically, solve problems, and communicate clearly and cogently. The CLA then compares the performance of first-year students with that of seniors to measure an institution’s contribution, or value added, to the development of those competencies.

“The value-added score is a measure of institutional effectiveness in working with students over the four years that they are enrolled here,” explained Prof. Garrigan. “We score better than 83 percent of comparison institutions.

“That’s the number we’re really excited about,” Prof. Garrigan continued. “It represents that wherever we start with our students, we’ve had great success in helping them develop their abilities to a really high level.”

Download the full CLA report

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • Our athletes rank up some impressive stats. So does our fitness center. The N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center (better known as the TARC), is home to a 16-lane swimming pool, 200-meter indoor track, two racquetball courts, an indoor rock climbing wall, and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center.

    • Carthage fields 24 NCAA Division III sports, including basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball, and water polo. Our varsity teams play in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin — regularly taking home hardware from one of the nation’s toughest Division III conferences.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …