S went (alone) to Admitted Days last weekend. Came back "in major doubt". Academics are absolutely beyond question. But major partying was going on in the dorm, including smoking, on a Thursday night. Last night I read all reviews on C**P** and it seems like the consensus is "like Pitzer" but tougher academics.
What's going on? I thought students were up to the challenge. I know there are partiers at every school, but is it that they are the most vocal in reviews? I suppose 40% partiers means 60% not partiers, but I just can't seem to get a handle on the real situation there. Is it a maturity thing? It seems, from a distance, that the school spends plenty of money on things to do. Maybe the new administration is changing things? If more students want sub-free, why not just set aside another dorm? The weather is a challenge, but it's the same story at half the colleges in the country at least. Could someone PLEASE enlighten us as to the "real story" of the students at Grinnell.
I don't think there is "one" story. Alot of kids will party, and alot will not. He obviously did not do his overnight in a sub-free dorm or floor. My son did not party in HS, but I know he does now at college. Fact of life. What I do think, though, is that he does not party just for the sake of getting wasted, but as something he likes to do while hanging out with his friends. I have no idea if he's drinking on a Thursday night or not. I"m sure there are kids at Grinnell whose idea of a good time is to get as wasted as they possibly can. Just as I"m sure there are kids who have zero interest in substance use.
IMO, the key to the Grinnell culture is its acceptance of people as they are. So, if a kid wants to party, he / she does; if they don't, they find their own comfort level in being in a room where people are partying or they find other people to hang out with.
All I can say is, I know that my son loves to have engaging classes and interesting discussions with people, and he feels very comfortable at Grinnell. He is not one who would hide his intelligence to be cool (he has never ever cared about peer pressure in any way) and seems to have made alot of friends.
It is difficult to know for sure from an overnight on any campus, and I"m sorry this happened to your son. I know when my son went in high school for his visit, he stood outside a party his host went to, and spent the night talking to people there. He didn't feel comfortable joining the party (this was a Friday night), but he felt totally reassured by the conversations he had with students that this was the place for him.
My son requested sub-free and was instead grouped on a floor with other over-flow requesters, which seems pretty similar to me and worked very well for him. It was a mixed-year floor, which also worked well. My son does go to parties and enjoys them. I don't get the feeling that there is any more partying going on at Grinnell than at other LACs and probably way less than some of the big Us with Greek life and big sports.
Did he not encounter partying at Pitzer? My son certainly did on his visit to Pomona.
1bie, did your son go out and look around the campus to see if the partying was going on everywhere? I'd be shocked if it was a campus-wide night of debauchery! I would imagine that if he went in the library (or other quiet spaces students use to study; I know my S uses other locations sometimes), he would have seen students hard at work.
I have to believe that at any school in America, on any given night, students will be doing some substance use. It could also be that the particular dorm your S stayed in happens to be a bit more of a "party dorm" by virtue of the particular students who are in it this year than if he had overnighted in another location.
I also have to add that all three of my kids didn't drink or otherwise "party" in high school, but that all three of them drink in college. Each of my kids is independent-minded and not prone to peer pressure, so I guess they just decided they wanted to try it. I"m not saying that this will happen to everyone, but sometimes what kids decide to do once they get to college might surprise their parents -- and the kids themselves. Two of my kids proudly called themselves "straight edge" in high school....All I can say is that I'm really glad they postponed the drinking until they were old enough to consider handling it a little more responsibly. (and no, I don't think they started drinking because they felt released from parental pressure or suddenly accustomed to new freedom; my D told me that she really liked how she felt that I trusted her as an adolescent growing up in our household...).
I'm just saying that what might feel scary or wild to your S now, might be different once he's in the environment.
I know these are students picked by the college to represent them, but I'd have to believe they'd be honest. Everything I've seen about Grinnellians tells me that they speak their minds! Plus, right on this site, the school asked them to name their "worst thing about Grinnell," so they're trying to give a clear picture... It's a small campus, so fit is important. That's another reason I believe they'd try to be honest!
There are people who party on wednesday and thursday nights. south campus always smells like pot, and you can always find people smoking. but most of the campus only parties on friday and saturday. if you get a bad dorm (and there are some) where people party every night, your best bet is to go somewhere else at night. this is the way it is at all colleges, but a grinnell, i really do think the proportion is lower.