A Visit to Kalamazoo

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By Sue Luse

Location & Area

Kalamazoo College (fondly referred to as “K”) is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a city of approximately 240,000, located in scenic southwest Michigan. This city is a 10 hour drive from the Twin Cities and there are direct flights to/from Minneapolis and the Kalamazoo Airport. Kalamazoo is just 35 miles from Lake Michigan and approximately 140 miles from both Detroit and Chicago on Interstate 94. Fortunately for the students, the city’s downtown district is within easy walking distance from campus. There are also shopping malls, movie theaters and restaurants a short bike or bus ride away. I found Kalamazoo to be similar to Macalester College including the metro and more urban area/atmosphere.


Kalamazoo promotes their distinctive approach to a liberal arts education through their K-Plan, which encompasses these four components:

    Kalamazoo Spring
  • Depth and Breadth in the Liberal Arts
  • Learning Through Experience
  • International and Intercultural Experience
  • Independent Scholarship

All students take three Shared Passage Seminars which serve as preparation for the K-Plan. The K-Plan emphasizes student ownership in their educational experience. There are very few core requirements for graduation (3 courses in foreign language and 3 seminar classes).  Popular majors include Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Sociology.  Nearby Western Michigan University has a new med school and K students can gain early admission to their program. At Kalamazoo research is abundant.  Though K does not have a traditional theater program, they do have a good theater program, but musicals are rare. Kalamazoo overlaps with Macalester, University of Michigan, Hope, Wooster, Carleton, Grinnell, Beloit, Knox and Smith.  An education at K has been described as creative but not a cakewalk, and collaborative versus cut-throat.

Kalamazoo Fall

All seniors are required to complete a Senior Individualized Project, also known as SIP, which results in a written report, performance, or exhibit.  SIP’s are often in conjunction with an internship or other creative activity and usually completed in the student’s major department, but with approval, it can be completed in other departments. One example is a physics and music major student who designed an amphitheater.

More than 2/3 of students complete an internship or externship. The Career and Professional Development department assists students one-on-one and through workshops, guiding students to find the ideal internship or externship for them. Through externships, students connect with Kalazamoo alumni living all across the world and working in a wide variety of fields. Students work with these alums and live in their homes.

Studying abroad is huge at Kalamazoo and they have been recognized as a leader in  study abroad programs. More than 85% of students participate with the average duration of studying abroad being 6 months and is typically done in junior year.

Admissions & Financial Aid

Kalamazoo Spring

Eric Staab, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, works with students from Minnesota.

  • Class of 2013 mean ACT-27.8 / mean SAT critical reading-631.9 /mean SAT math-629.8
  • Essay more important than ACT
  • More than 90 percent of students receive need-based and/or merit-based financial aid; 13 percent are Pell eligible
  • 60% acceptance rate
  • Average GPA 3.8
  • They do weight the curriculum
  • EA & ED deadline is Nov. 15

Student Body

Kalamazoo Winter
  • The student body at Kalamazoo represents 38 states and 27 countries.
  • The five states with the largest enrollment on campus are: Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, California and Washington.
  • Liberal, progressive and tolerant
  • Diverse and inclusive culture
  • Growing Jewish population

Recreation and Social Life

Kalamazoo has a brand new sports facility. Good football team.  Also known for swimming and tennis (these tend to be nationally ranked teams for DIII). School spirit is growing with many fun events offered throughout the year. The Student Activities Committee (SAC) composed of students provide a variety of activities and offer its members opportunities for campus leadership and involvement.

Kalamazoo street

Kalamazoo street

Sue at Kalamazoo

Sue at Kalamazoo

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