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How Midwest Colleges Set Students Up for Success

While the great American Midwest may not be as fashionable as the east and west coasts, it is not to be overlooked. With many world-class cities, booming industries and prestigious universities, the Midwest is a bastion of culture and opportunity. Today we have a guest post written by Amanda Greenhoe of Calvin College reminding those engaged in the college search to consider the Midwest. 

Carl Sandburg penned a poem about the great people of Chicago, Illinois—that “City of Big Shoulders.” Frank Lloyd Wright hailed from Richland Center, Wisconsin, before beginning his lifework in prairie-style architecture that made him an American treasure. And the nostalgia of Iowa, which holds both the ice cream capital of the world and the setting of “Field of Dreams,” makes this Midwestern state particularly iconic of U.S. culture.

The Midwest is at the heart of the country for a reason, and most of the country is aware of its abounding ­­charm. One of its better kept secrets, though, is the caliber of its colleges and universities.

Here’s how studying in the Midwest benefits college students for four years—and a lifetime:

1. Research and scholarship
Research at Calvin CollegeMidwesterners are serious about in-depth research and academic scholarship. The #1 public research university in the United States, according to the National Science Foundation, is not perched on the east or west coast, but nestled in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan. The #2 ranked school isn’t far away: Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Many Midwestern undergraduate institutions benefit from the joint expertise and research of affiliated post-grad programs—like Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, which features a medical school, a dental school and a law school, just to name a few graduate options.

2. Conference and learning opportunities
The most highly driven college students seek out opportunities to influence their field, even before they graduate. The Midwest is one place you can meet (and even present alongside) thought leaders in your area of interest, through conferences and institutes. For starters:

    • NASA hosts its Planetary Data System Geosciences Node at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
    • The Nobel Foundation-certified Nobel Conference happens at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minnesota.
    • The nationally known Festival of Faith and Writing brings top authors to Calvin College’s campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Fall at Calvin College3. Booming businesses
Several Fortune 500 companies have taken up residence in the middle ground of America, from General Motors (Detroit, Michigan) to UnitedHealth (Minnetonka, Minnesota).

Midwestern states hold their own industry niches as well, with Iowa named the national leader in renewable energy by the American Council on Renewable Energy. Indiana earned one of the best education grades in the country from the American Legislative Exchange Council, making this state a great place to study as a future teacher.­­­­­­

4. Midwest roots run deep
When looking for internships or mentoring opportunities, corporate hospitality and empowerment are key. And the Midwest has plenty of both. Heart-of-the-country students should expect to be invited to professors’ and mentors’ homes for meals, to make some of their best friends (and career connections) in their first jobs, and to stay in touch with other alumni for life.

To explore Midwestern schools for yourself, search colleges by region at https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search.

Amanda Greenhoe serves as Writer and Social Media Manager at Calvin College, a premier Christian liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here she shares stories of innovative students and alumni, their work across various disciplines and their partnerships around the world.

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