Originally called "Iowa College," Grinnell College is the oldest college west of the Mississippi (founded in 1896), and is located in Grinnell, Iowa. Rumor has it that "Grinnell" means, in some obscure Native American dialect: "This isn't the End of the World, but you can see it from here."
Grinnell is your basic four-year liberal arts college. It's co-educational, and has been for a long time. The closed loggia on South Campus is a holdover from the days when men and women were kept in separate dorms and the women were locked up at night. (It is an entertaining footnote that one of the former "women's dorms" is called Loose, leading to all sorts of obvious jokes about "Loose women." Not as good as the "Shady Ladies" of Shady Side Academy, but still amusing.)
Average enrollment is about 1300 people, with a ten-to-one student-faculty ratio. It is quite easy to enter into a personal relationship with your professors at Grinnell, with all of the advantages and disadvantages that that entails. (Sometimes it is useful to be just a number. When you mess up at Grinnell, they remember it.)
Accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Grinnell is also on the approved list of the American Chemical Society. Member of the Association of American Colleges, American Council on Education, College Entrance Examination Board, Council for Higher Education of the United Church of Christ, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, Midwest Conference, and many other national and regional associations even more boring than the ones mentioned so far. Phi Beta Kappa chapter chartered in 1907. Grinnell has one of the better endowments for a college its size; its alumni seem proud of the level of education Grinnell provided for them. (And many still smile knowingly whenever they hear the word "Zirkle.")
Grinnell is one of the few colleges in the US to practice Oxford-style debate, where teams debate openly in front of a crowd of spectators, who vote on the winner by leaving by a particular door, indicated whether they oppose or favor the resolution. The audience can also ask questions of the participants. (It is especially funny when Grinnell debates visiting British "delegates", since the Brits never win, and seem unusually flustered by the sort of questions the American audience asks.)
If you're considering going to Grinnell, first of all, get ready for lots of people to say "Cornell? Wonderful school!" In the opinion of this alumnus, going to Grinnell is a liberal and mind-broadening experience, well worth the idiotic amounts of cash required to go to a private college, though my bankbook may disagree. Thanks to being located in a small Midwestern town, at least an hour from a city in any direction, the college, while an open and welcoming place (if you're not a Republican), is hardly as "radical", as, say, Oberlin, while remaining liberal-minded enough to please a pinko pagan gamer freak like myself. The people are wonderful, and the professors are as well. The administration... Well, know of any college where the administration doesn't screw the students for a buck? Or just for the hell of it? And if you're interested in student politics, don't bother. There's a reason that I ran for school president under an Anarchist platform. Student government is pretty powerless. It's not all peaches and cream, but I wouldn't trade my experiences in for anything... This is as of around 1991-1995, when I went there. I understand it hasn't changed much.
Grinnell is also the source of the Back Table, which some people believe to be the real power behind the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission.