Home Feature Agnes Scott scales to the top of the “most innovative” liberal arts college list

Agnes Scott scales to the top of the “most innovative” liberal arts college list

by Maija Ehlinger

For the last five years, Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia has topped the charts as the most innovative liberal arts school in the nation by US News & World Report.

Behind that ranking is a mix of classes and off-campus experiences designed to build the next group of innovative women business leaders. Central to that is the Sophomore Class Atlanta Leadership Experience (SCALE) program, something that each and every student will participate in this year. 

Dr. Heather Scott, the Assistant Dean who oversees the program, describes the SCALE program as a “very intentional, external leadership immersion experience” that puts students at corporations, nonprofits, and medical facilities throughout the Metro Atlanta area. 

Students this year will be matched with large enterprises like AT&T, BlackRock Financial, Mercedes Benz, and Porsche or with key organizations in the city ranging from The Task Force for Global Health to the Atlanta History Center. 

Understanding the SCALE program

While many schools offer “externship” opportunities, those typically less of a focus at liberal arts colleges like Agnes Scott. And unlike most college internships, students going through the SCALE program aren’t just doing busy work at a back desk all day. Students spend their time “interviewing leaders, learning how those organizations might take on challenges that they’re facing” and embedding with organizations to get a better sense of day-to-day for employees. 

Inclusive leadership is core to the SCALE program, added Scott. It is also a natural extension of the innovative first-year programs students participate in. Students are enrolled in Leadership classes shortly after arriving on campus and spend part of their spring semester abroad. 

 Sophomores at UPS headquarters. (Adam Hagy for Agnes Scott)


“In their first year, they’re introduced to leadership within an individual perspective, [and then] travel to further explore leadership through a global lens,” added Scott. Adding in the SCALE program in a student’s second year is about bringing that global perspective back to the Atlanta business community and ultimately into their career journey in the later part of college.

Peak Week, aptly named as the culminating externship component of SCALE, is set for the week of March 6th this year. Over 260 students will be embedded with companies across the Metro Atlanta area next week to fulfill this graduation requirement and flex those leadership muscles. And with 30 companies and organizations participating in the program this year, there is a good chance you might see a “Scottie” or two in your office next week.




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