Shimer is a very small liberal arts college devoted to a rigorous Great Books core curriculum like the one Robert Maynard Hutchins imposed in the 1930s and '40s on the University of Chicago undergraduate college. Mathematics 1, for instance, starts not with a textbook but with Euclid's Elements--and everybody has to take it.
"I saw that they admitted people before high-school graduation, and that it was far away from home," recalls Groth. "I didn't know anything about the Great Books." She applied in the fall, was promptly accepted and slated to start in February 1971. "My father was a little dubious about this place. What if it was a funny farm? He drove me across the country, thinking that he might have to drag me back home. The first thing when we arrived on campus, a long-haired guy jumped out of the bushes flapping his arms like a bird." Her father left her there anyway.