Colleges: 21st Century Frontier

Century At Arizona's Prescott College, fresh man orientation is a trifle more strenuous than listening to a series of welcome speeches. Instead, incoming students, both male and female, strap on 40-lb packs and spend three weeks hiking through dry, bramble-strewn canyons and scrambling down 165-ft. cliffs; for three days, they must live on their own, surviving on nothing but water. In addition, they paddle kayaks and canoes for 95 miles around a wind-chopped lake, struggling to keep afloat during cloudbursts and camping overnight on the rocky shore.

The explanation for Prescott's rigorous "wilderness course," declares the school's president, Ronald C. Nairn,...

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