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New England Small College Athletic Conference Colleges (NESCAC): The Little Ivies

New England Small College Athletic Conference Colleges

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is an association of 11 private liberal arts schools in New England. Located in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, these prestigious institutions are sometimes called the Little Ivies. 

This article will explore the rich history, renowned academic programs, vibrant campus life, and esteemed athletic traditions that set NESCAC schools apart.

NESCAC history

NESCAC was founded in 1971 by eleven liberal arts colleges and universities. This formation was primarily driven by concerns over the direction of intercollegiate athletic programs. NESCAC schools were interested in maintaining a balance, where sports complemented academic excellence rather than overshadowed it.

Today, each college is individually known for its fantastic academics. The conference has consistently emphasized the importance of integrating athletic endeavors with academic pursuits, ensuring that sports remain strong but proportional to the educational missions of the member institutions. 

The 11 NESCAC schools

In alphabetical order, here are the 11 NESCAC schools:

Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University, and Williams College.

Campus culture

Although each NESCAC school has its own campus culture and academic programs, the conference is generally known for its heavy emphasis on intellectual pursuits, student involvement, and tradition. 

Most schools have small student populations and congregated campuses, contributing to a close-knit community feel. Students form lasting relationships and networks. 

This sense of community is further enriched by the array of extracurricular activities available, from arts to athletics, ensuring that every student can find their niche

Notably, only a few NESCAC schools still maintain Greek life on campus. They include Hamilton College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University.

Academic rigor 

NESCAC schools are celebrated for their academic rigor, often compared to Ivy League institutions regarding the quality of education and respect among academia and employers. 

The core of a NESCAC education is its liberal arts focus, which equips students with essential skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, and problem-solving. This broad-based educational approach is designed to prepare graduates to succeed across various fields and adapt to a rapidly changing job market.

NESCAC institutions are known for their smaller class sizes, which allow for more personalized attention from professors and stronger relationships within the community. Coaches in these schools are not just trainers but mentors, guiding student-athletes in both their sports and academic careers.

Commitment to diversity and inclusion

NESCAC institutions are committed to creating equitable and inclusive communities. Admissions offices collaborate closely with athletic departments to ensure that intercollegiate teams reflect the student body's diversity and adhere to academic expectations. This approach fosters a rich, diverse learning environment that benefits all students.

NESCAC athletics

The first four NESCAC institutions to recruit athletes were Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College, which formed an agreement in 1955 to become a conference. In 1971, Colby College, Bates College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, and Tufts University joined the charter, followed by Connecticut College 11 years later.

NESCAC offers many sports programs, accommodating men and women in 27 conference championship sports. The sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, squash, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field. 

Since 1971, NESCAC teams have won five national championships and 19 individual national championships.

Why consider NESCAC schools?

NESCAC schools don't offer athletic scholarships, but they recruit student-athletes. Throughout their time at the school, student-athletes are carefully monitored in their classes, as athletic coaches and advisors expect that they fully participate in student life and academics. If you dream of being a student-athlete, consider the NESCAC schools.

Even if you're not a student-athlete, you can still gain a lot from attending a NESCAC school. These institutions equip students with the critical thinking and leadership skills needed in a rapidly evolving world. Attending a NESCAC school also opens doors to robust professional opportunities, aided by the network of successful alumni across various industries.

What are your chances for admission to a NESCAC college?

If attending a NESCAC school interests you, there's more good news. NESCAC colleges are easier to get into than the official Ivy League schools, but you'll still get an Ivy-like, top-tier education.

However, you can find out where the NESCAC schools stack up in terms of your chances for acceptance by using Appily's college admissions calculator. It's always free and easy to use. Just share your GPA, test scores if you have them, and your potential college major, and we'll tell you your chances of being accepted. 

This information will make the process of building your college list much easier. Just click the button below to see your chances. 

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