Thursday, December 1 2022

Chemistry professor Reuben Hudson, left, helps a student collect water samples from Frenchman Bay, near the College of the Atlantic waterfront. COA is a leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, and is the #1 Princeton Review college where everyone cares about conservation.

In the 2023 Guide, published in August, COA is ranked #1 in “Green Matters: Everyone Cares About Conservation,” #3 in “Colleges with the Most Active Student Governments,” #3 in 4 in “Professors Who Get High Marks”, #5 in “Most Liberal Colleges”, #8 in “Students Who Study the Most”, #10 in “Big Financial Aid”, and #19 in “Best Food on Campus.”

COA fosters a tight-knit, intellectually curious and engaged community with compassionate and environmental ethics, according to the Princeton Review. Undergraduate students interviewed for the guide’s interviewees describe the community as “welcoming [and] kind” and rooted in “compassion…for people, plants, animals, and the planet.”

“I’ve never felt more able to explore freely…and discover who I want to be and how I want to express myself,” says one student. “As a queer person coming from a very conservative background, COA was like a breath of fresh air.”

Atlantic College students join the campus for a solidarity rally.  Many COA students adopt...Atlantic College students join the campus for a solidarity rally. Many COA students embrace political activism, both within the college’s All College Meeting governance system and for causes around the world. The Princeton Review’s guide to the 388 best colleges ranks COA 3rd in “colleges with the most active student governments.”

Strategically located between Frenchman Bay, Maine and Acadia National Park, the COA opened its 51st academic year in the fall of 2022 with a total enrollment of 379 undergraduate students. Each COA student designs their own curriculum under the umbrella of human ecology, an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to the liberal arts, focusing on the relationships between humans and their social, natural, and built environments.

“Any of these rankings on their own would be valuable, but their combination is what tells Atlantic College’s unique story,” says COA President Darron Collins ’92. “COA’s blend of intellectual passion, critical reasoning, creativity, and self-directed interdisciplinary study creates an inclusive environment that equips graduates with everything they need to tackle the world’s complex problems.”

The COA’s compassionate ethos permeates across campus and extends to the practices, policies, values ​​and behaviors of the college and its members, the review says. The school’s motto, “Changing Lives, Changing the World,” conveys the sense that students learn and grow at COA to use their resources and knowledge to make the world a better place.

Atlantic College students share a potluck using their reusable cutlery and containers...Atlantic College students share a potluck using their reusable cutlery and containers. The COA is ranked #1 by the Princeton Review in the category “Ecology Matters: Everyone Cares About Conservation.”

“The institution strives to make its students ‘more creative…and critical thinkers’ and truly empowers each student to ‘build [their] own unique path.’ One of the ways to achieve this is through the use of the school’s ‘inclusive governance system’,” the review states.

The weekly All Quorum Meeting (ACM) is central to the ACO’s tradition of self-reliance. Nearly one day a week is free from classes and reserved for ACM, school clubs and other participatory governance activities.

“At ACM, you’re present with peers and professors and you can really observe this process of making practical decisions, you can see how real problems manifest themselves and think about a solution that will work for you and the college,” says Ananya Singh. ’24, which conducted an independent study on governance at COA and works closely with ACM.

COA staff and faculty are graded by the exam for their contributions to the close-knit community. “COA teachers are ‘incredibly nice and educated,'” the profile reads. With a 10:1 faculty to student ratio, faculty and students get to know each other personally, helping students feel supported and energized by what they are studying.

Susan Letcher, professor of botany at Atlantic College, leads students through an identification of campus plants.Susan Letcher, professor of botany at Atlantic College, leads students on a campus plant identification walk. Small class sizes and place-based experiential learning are hallmarks of COA’s Human Ecology program. The Princeton Review’s Guide to 388 Best Colleges ranks COA #4 in “high-scoring faculty.”COA staff also care about providing resources to students and making the college accessible and affordable, meeting 98% of students’ financial needs. Just over a third of COA students are eligible for the Pell Scholarship, a federal financial aid program for low-income undergraduate students.

College of the Atlantic is founded on the belief that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to empower students to actively shape the future. COA is a leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, and has been named the #1 Green College in the United States by The Princeton Review since 2016. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offer a Bachelor of Arts in Human Ecology—the study of how humans interact with our natural, social, and technological environments. Each student develops their own curriculum in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines. Learn more at

Atlantic College students study at a cafe in Bar Harbor, a common site during the...Atlantic College students studying at a cafe in Bar Harbor, a common site during the academic year. The Princeton Review ranks COA as the 8th “student who studies the most”.

The Princeton Review is a leading tutoring, test preparation, and college admissions services company. It helps millions of college and graduate students achieve their education and career goals through its courses, online resources, books, and dozens of academic ranking categories. Founded in 1981, The Princeton Review is now in its 41st year. Learn more at


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