My son has narrowed his schools down to University of Vermont, Western Washington University and Ursinus with plans to study Environmental Studies/Policy/Science with some sustainable energy, social justice, sustainability studies and possibly philosophy thrown in.
He is an ADHD B+/A- student who will definitely do best in a smaller environment but is not exactly sure how small is too small. I would love any feedback on the programs specifically and/or benefit of the LAC versus mid sized university for this particular students needs.
Definitely the strongest program, about 650 undergrad and 100 grad students with 80 total faculty/research/admin staff for the program. He is admitted to the Rubenstein School of Environment and would start in major related small classes immediately. Nice flexibility within the program for related majors/concentrations and non program minors, by far the best on paper curriculum wise. Appears to be the strongest for internships and research as well with a well established, run and publicized program. That said, if he changed out of the program entirely, none of us see the value for a different major.
Pro: Program. Appears to have better resources for ADHD if needed (not currently receiving accommodations). 2.8 freshman year to keep merit, 3.0 after that.
Con: Cost, most difficult to get to
Significantly smaller program and obviously a very different approach as it's an LAC. We all think he'd thrive at a LAC and the CTCL schools have resonated well. The EC opportunities here seem outstanding, which while not a primary deciding factor, he is a music and theater kid and the programs seemed an excellent fit on many levels with a ton of opportunity. We were very impressed by the internship and research opportunities presented despite the size of the school, the tremendous commitment to sustainability that was pervasive on campus, and the faculty itself, despite its small size. I have less issue with a major change here as this is choosing an educational approach as much as the program but it is still a concern.
Pro: LAC. Also seems to have signficant resources for ADHD if needed. Only needs a 2.0 to keep merit award.
Con: Cost, significantly lower state minimum wage if he gets a part time job
Would apply to the Huxley School of the Environment after meeting gen ed core req's and meeting min GPA, typically end of freshman year or sometime sophomore. Similar in student size (125 graduates per year approx) but half the staff of UVM (about 40 total). Gen ed core req's are not nearly as appealing as UVM's. Far less flexibility within the major for concentration areas but there is a minor available that might offset some of that. Large gen ed classes freshman year. Less support (very little really) for internships and research opportunities. We know kids struggling to find unpaid internships (required for graduation). Not a graduate school (in general, though there are some envs programs) so the research opportunities are limited at best. We have a program meeting in a couple of weeks that will hopefully with clarity.
Pro: Cost (in state)
Con: Curriculum is not as strong for areas of interest, large classes initially are a concern. Support for ADHD seems limited to non existent. It is also on a Sept-June quarterly schedule which could impact/limit summer job opportunities.
If he does choose to go out of state (UVM or Ursinus), WWU is always a backup plan if things didn't work out, though the credits from UVM are far more likely to transfer cleanly we think.
Costs aside (one is in state, the other 2 are virtually identical costs after merit offers) this is what we are looking at and are trying to weigh pro's and cons and then factor in the cost factor. All are doable though 2 would require he take the federal student loans which ultimately we will allow him to do, if we feel the program and environment are worth it. That is really what we are trying to determine. We do feel the pricier options are likely better fits for a variety of reasons, the question is whether they are worth the price difference (versus the question being to do loans or not if that makes sense). We would ideally be able to help him out with payments (or pay off) but can't commit to that. We expect him to contribute summer earnings regardless of the final selection.
I am not looking for a cost or loan debate. As I am sure some will go there regardless I will just state upfront that grad school is not in the plan and the student has demonstrated the ability to juggle work and school and to save/make payments already so I'm not terribly worried about his ability to manage up to the federal max (though would likely be less) if he had to.
Of course, he may decide he doesn't want to go that far away at all if it is moot but I'd love any program specific feedback if folks have it. Sorry to ramble so much!