Critical Thinking in the Pines

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A dramatic educational return on investment results when a college puts experience at the center of learning. At Prescott College, the best learning is collaborative. The best teaching is individual.

Prescott College, tucked into a corner of the central Arizona town whose name it bears, is an evolving experiment in rejecting hierarchical thinking for collaboration and teamwork as the cornerstone of learning. The College puts students at the center in everything it does and is.
Optional grades. Narrative Evaluations. No barriers. Limited bureaucracy. No summa or magna or “best in show” ribbons. Just a peripatetic community of lively intellects and fearless explorers whose connecting threads are a passion for social justice and the environment – and a keen sense of adventure.

In 1963, the Ford Foundation challenged the country’s most innovative educators to come together and design an “ideal college for the future that would prepare students for contributing in an ever changing, and ever faster moving, world.” Prescott College is the result. Since its opening in 1966, more than 9,000 students have enjoyed the College’s highly individual philosophy of higher education that mandates and incorporates experiential learning into every course.

This is higher education without the competition, without striving for someone else’s definition of success, without dividing talent into that arbitrary alphabet of A through F. Unplugged from such conventional practices as the departmentalization of knowledge, confining learning to the classroom and textbooks rather than real experience, and thinking of college as preparation for life, rather than life itself. An organic process, moving almost seamlessly between teachers and students, focused on questions and problems that matter deeply to both. Prescott students learn critical thinking and research and how to apply them to real-life problems and their own passions by living them and testing them out in real time. 

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