Banner Elk, North Carolina
Lees-McRae College, founded in 1900, is a private, four-year institution that provides a well-rounded experiential education within the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.
Offering a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate degrees on the all-residential campus, as well as five programs online and at an extended-campus site at Surry Community College, Lees-McRae College fosters personal growth and exploration while providing a platform for environmental and community stewardship.
As part of its core mission, Lees-McRae develops strong candidates for marketplace demands through creative, collaborative, and critical thinking with a focus on experiential learning.
Get to know Lees-McRae College
COMMON INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCES
All Lees-McRae students complete several general education courses designed to develop a cutting-edge mindset in critical, creative, and collaborative inquiry. Lees-McRae students think differently, see the world differently, and see themselves differently. As students progress through the general education, they create a foundation on which to build their specific field of study. This foundation is what prepares Lees-McRae students for a lifetime of learning and success.
Each student who passes through Lees-McRae College is required to participate in general education courses designed to hone and further develop the skills needed to successfully complete an undergraduate degree. General education objectives include written and oral communication, empirical investigation, quantitative literacy, ethical reasoning, awareness of cultural diversity and the environment, human and social issues, understanding history, engaging the arts, literary analysis, personal development, health and wellness, and professional preparation.
COLLABORATIVE ASSIGNMENTS AND PROJECTS
Lees-McRae students work together to achieve larger goals. At the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, students work alongside expert faculty to nurture and rehabilitate injured wildlife. Wildlife rehabilitation students take part in a summer clinical, an intensive experience that sees students manage care around the clock.
Students from the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences participate in team-diagnostic practices as well as in events such as mock emergency simulations designed to teach students essential career skills in near-real-life scenarios.
In the School of Business and Management, a select group of Lees-McRae students conduct research and analyze survey results from the annual Woolly Worm Festival in downtown Banner Elk, North Carolina.
In addition to research completed for each senior’s required capstone project, many students are invited to participate in individual research by Lees-McRae faculty. Many of those research projects are presented at conferences and events across the U.S.
Students within the Wildlife Biology program carry out research at the Elk Valley Preserve and Field Station. The college’s property provides students with the opportunity to conduct real-world research in a natural environment. While there, students complete long-term research and gather data on various mammals, salamanders, snakes, and fish.\
From Wildlife Rehabilitation to Nursing, students can travel the world helping those in need all while exercising their acquired skills. Recently, a group of Wildlife Rehabilitation students traveled to New Zealand to learn about indigenous wildlife and volunteer in a rehabilitation center. Similarly, nursing students traveled to Haiti to serve in one of several area hospitals.
ENROLLMENT BY ETHNICITY
Non-U.S. Citizen: 3%
Black or African American, non-Hispanic: 8%
White, non-Hispanic: 73%
Native/Indigenous American or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic: 0%
Asian, non-Hispanic: 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic: 0%
Two or more races, non-Hispanic: 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown: 7%
As of recent, Lees-McRae College has grown in more ways than one. In 2015, the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences building was completed and, since then, has expanded and deepened its fleet of high-tech patient simulators, equipment, and tools. Both nursing and emergency medical services and management students practice essential skills on cutting-edge technology, which is equipped with video cameras and microphones to allow for later review and learning.
FIRST-YEAR SEMINARS AND EXPERIENCES
Throughout their time at Lees-McRae, students have the opportunity to partake in a skills-building seminar each year. Each seminar course is designed to supplement each individual student’s field of study.
Lees-McRae College students complete at least 15 hours of writing-intensive coursework prior to graduation. Writing is a learning mechanism as well as a form of communication, and those students who engage in a variety of writing tasks throughout their college career are more successful in integrating their skills into both personal and professional settings.
At Lees-McRae College, students are equipped with the tools necessary to excel both within the classroom and in their post-graduation endeavors. Housed within the Burton Center for Student Success, services such as the Tutoring Center, Ratchford Writing Center, and Academic Advising have been designed to give each student the opportunity to become the best possible version of themselves.
A Lees-McRae College education is hallmarked by the foundational belief that learning happens both in and outside of the classroom. During the school year, students across programs participate in experiential opportunities to deepen and hone their unique and individual skill sets. From working backstage in Hayes Auditorium to the mock crime scene event put on by the Criminal Justice program, students are encouraged to practice and apply their skills.
MOUNTAIN DAY OF SERVICE
During the academic year, students participate in two community-centered events celebrating the mountains of North Carolina. At the start of the fall semester, students partake in Mountain Day—a time set aside for all members of the Lees-McRae College community to celebrate the surrounding environment.
During the spring semester, students, faculty, and staff volunteer their time and efforts during Mountain Day of Service. Both on and off campus, participants work to improve and beautify the place in which they live, work, and play. In years’ past, students, faculty, and staff have worked to clear trash from nearby streams, clean cages at the Avery County Humane Society, and plant flowers and trees throughout campus.
SERVICE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
Over the course of April, students across campus participate in events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, working in coordination with the Lees-McRae Campus Life; Delta Zeta Nu, a community service-based sorority; and OASIS, a local nonprofit that serves survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Students also participate in the “Clothesline Project” and the popular Tea Week, a week-long event filled with presentations, films, and games in order to learn about a variety of topics related to sex, sexuality, and gender.
At 3,720 feet, Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, has the highest elevation of any college or university east of the Mississippi River. The college is 75 miles north of Asheville and 200 miles west of Raleigh in rural Avery County. Lees-McRae College is nestled between the Beech and Sugar mountains on 460+ lush and biologically diverse acres. Centered on the Elk River system, the historical campus and surrounding community boast numerous outdoor recreation endeavors such as mountain biking, rock climbing, fly-fishing, and hiking.
Bobcat Athletics are home to 19 men’s and women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II varsity sports as well as the men’s and women’s Division I cycling team. The Lees-McRae athletics program is a member of the Conference Carolinas athletic conference.
Men’s varsity athletics: basketball, cross country, cycling, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
Women’s varsity athletics: basketball, cross country, cycling, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
Intramural and club sports are available for several teams, including skiing and snowboarding, eSports, cheerleading, and climbing.
The school mascot is Wily the bobcat, and the school colors are green and gold.
Within Career Services at Lees-McRae College, students can begin exploring the possible career paths that fit their individual values, skills, and passions. At the Career Center, students can explore majors and programs, develop strong résumés and cover letters, participate in practice interviews, search for job openings, and explore the graduate and professional school application process.
Students are also invited to participate in a formal dinner to practice important business-meeting etiquette. Other annual events include a Job Fair as well as the Career and Leadership Connections event at which students participate in mock interviews and attend speaker sessions.
STUDENT SUCCESS STATISTICS
84% of main-campus students find placement in major related careers or graduate school within six months of graduation. Additionally, 91% of extended-campus and online students find placement in major-related careers or graduate school within six months of graduation.
Lees-McRae College approaches admissions holistically, taking into consideration many factors when reviewing applicants. Students are required to submit official transcripts and engage with admissions specialists throughout the admissions process. ACT/SAT scores are not required for students who feel that these exams do not adequately represent their academic abilities. Personal interviews are recommended and can be conducted in person, by phone, or via Skype.
Lees-McRae College offers two options for submitting an application—early action and regular decision.
- Early Action (non-binding): To be considered for Early Action, one’s application and accompanying documents are due by December 1. An admissions decision notification will then be sent by December 15.
- Regular Decision (rolling basis): Students who aren’t interested in receiving an early notification may submit their application and accompanying documents by April 10. An admissions decision notification will be sent by May 1—National College Decision Day.
Steps for High School Seniors
Lees-McRae College accepts AP, IB test, and coursework from dual-enrollment or early-college programs.
To be considered for freshman admission:
- Submit a completed application
- Submit an official high school transcript
- Submit official SAT or ACT scores (optional; click here to learn more about Lees-McRae’s test-optional admissions policy)
Steps for Transfer Students
Students who have attended a regionally accredited institution and who have satisfied the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement are considered as having met the College’s general-education core requirements.
To be considered for transfer admission:
- Submit a completed application
- Submit an official high school transcript or recognized equivalent showing proof of graduation
- Submit official transcripts from all colleges attended
Tuition & Cost