Criteria for the list included at least a semester study period, fewer than 500 students, faculty involvement abroad, and a specific location internationally.
A typical semester at Harlaxton will include students that hail from 12 to 15 different universities, with an average of around 200 students at a time.
“It’s a full service campus,” said Earl Kirk, Study Abroad Director at the University of Evansville. Kirk said that part of Harlaxton’s success comes from its amenities.
Few study abroad locations can claim a school nurse, student development office, traditional housing and a gymnasium. The fact that this package is wrapped in a 19th-century manor house doesn’t hurt either.
“It’s beautiful to look at,” Sophomore Stephanie Yurks said. Yurks, a history major at the University of Southern Indiana, chose Harlaxton for its scenic location in the English countryside as well as the rich cultural background which she is fond of.
One of many aspects that draw students to Harlaxton is its British Studies program, which counts for six credits and integrates British history as well as culture into the classroom. Although American professors teach at the manor, British instructors give the British Studies lectures and lead seminars.
“The British Studies lectures are very expansive,” said Derek Dahlk, a senior from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clarie.
All students who study at Harlaxton are required to take British Studies. It involves two lectures a week as well as smaller seminar groups that meet directly afterward.
“Let me just assure you that this British Studies program is outstanding,” Kirk said. Kirk feels that it is not often that students get excited about a six-credit class that is mandatory, but this is an exception.
“It receives rave reviews at the end of the semester,” he said.
Travel and bonding with peers are crucial to the study abroad experience, which is where Harlaxton’s Student Development Office comes into play.
Kristin Eberman, Dean of Student Development, wants students to build relationships in the manor but also step outside the “Harlaxton bubble.”
Student Development offers an extensive travel program including smaller day trips around Harlaxton and larger excursions to places such as London, Ireland and Paris. The majority of trips aren’t mandatory but are recommended and fairly independent if the student chooses them to be. Most school weeks are only four days long, which allows for school trips and independent travel.
The Meet-a-Family program gives students the opportunity to interact with members of the Grantham, England, area. Students are assigned a local family and get together periodically, usually at the residence of the host.
As far as on campus activities, the Student Development Office offers intramural sports teams, student government, and various other clubs to help students connect with one another. Classmates are even divided into four houses that compete in competitions throughout the semester. The winning house receives a coveted key to the manor’s front door.
Harlaxton’s first place rating on Best College Reviews’ seems to come as a pleasant, yet hardly shocking suprise to many students and staff at the college.
“It’s picturesque and an ideal version of what the British experience would be,” Dahlk said.
Although the rating is very positive for Harlaxton, perhaps the most important PR campaign for the college is the hundreds of students and staff it has dramatically impacted through the years.-Patrick Henry