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Need LAC suggestions for future "Nate Silver" kid... :-)

agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
Hello, I am a long-time lurker and am now in the process of helping my son to find the right college… and I need some (A LOT!) help. My S17 will be applying this year and have strong scores but also some quirks so I am a little unsure. English is not my first language, so please excuse me for any mistakes and let me know if something is not clear.

We now live in Virginia and S17 attends a VERY competitive high school… that he hates. Hindsight it was probably a wrong decision to have him there, even though it’s a match for him academically, the competitive environment with other kids was not very conductive to make friends and he is not happy there. I don’t want to repeat the same mistake and want to find the best fit for him. That said, he is very smart and has good grades and scores, so I need to consider strong academics as well. He is my only kid and I am will not qualify for any need-aid so I am expecting to be full-pay (but of course, some merit is more than welcome).

Some more info about his qualifications:
-GPA 3.94 (unweighted), 4.64 (weighted)
-ACT 34, SAT 2370 (CR 780, Math 800, Writing 790), top 10% of class
-6 APs (all 4 and 5s), will have 9 APs by graduation
-normal ECs I guess (3 years as a math tutor for ESL kids, writes in the school newspaper, plays sports but not a captain)
-10 years of piano, also plays guitar (5 years)

He wants to study politics + statistics (double major?), he loves Nate Silver and dreams about doing that kind of work (quantitative political analysis) in the future. He’s also very serious about music and would like to continue playing at school (but not necessarily as a major). Since he is interested in politics, he says he wants a school that is more moderate, meaning both sides are equally represented so he can learn from different perspectives.

School wise, his wishes are:
-LAC with small classes, seminars/tutorials would be great (although I’m not sure these are available in US). Big schools are out.
-very smart kids who are intellectual and smart but NOT competitive (does that exist?). This is probably a consequence of his HS years, every time I discuss schools with him, his first answer is “I want to be in a school with NICE kids”. He is shy and doesn’t make friends easily, but is very loyal when he does.
-no Greek life (maybe he can handle a small presence if it doesn’t not impact the campus too much… I guess).
-he is OK with sports if they don’t overwhelm the school. He plays a few sports recreationally and I think he would enjoy watching a few games and cheering for his school.
-cold weather (no California or south), so I’m thinking NE and upper mid-west?
-not urban, he wants a campus with lots of trees and nature.

Another thing… my son is gay and my biggest concern is to find a school/area where his sexual orientation does NOT matter and he is fully accepted. I know most LAC are considered very left, but believe me when I say, I have lived in many liberal places in US where being gay was “tolerated” at a best,... we also had some issues at his current school (a very liberal area). Anyway, based on all this… I am lost. I wish he would consider going to a bigger school/university (more chances of higher courses, opportunity to attend graduate classes if necessary), medium-size (bigger number of students so easier to find a group he identifies with) and urban/close to a major city (so he would have more options socially), but this is exactly the opposite of what he wants!

S17 started researching LACs so we could select a few to visit and so far we got:

-Swarthmore and Carleton: those were my favourites and I think they would be a good match academically if he got in, but everything he read said they are very stressful places… he’s NO for now.
-Haverford: it seems strong and with nice kids, he liked the Honour Code and is interested.
-Maine colleges: don’t ask me how S17 was able to differentiate them from their websites only, but he says Bowdoin is of course (!!!) not a fit but Colby is of course a yes (!!!). He didn’t like Bates.
-other NE colleges (Williams, Midd, Amherst, etc): strong NO, he says they are too preppy/jocky.
-Grinnel and Kenyon: he wants to visit and they seem OK but I worry they are both located in conservative areas… am I wrong?
-Oberlin: he says NO, it is too left… sigh.
-MN colleges: he was so-so with Macalester but says we can visit… but he really LOVED St Olaf, it has a formal statistics program, a very strong math department and excellent music. On paper, it’s a perfect fit for him and based on his grades he could even get a merit scholarship. But it’s a religious school so I worry about his sexual orientation being an issue there (I know nothing more serious will happen, but again, I don’t want him in an environment where he is only tolerated instead of being fully accepted). He said he thinks kids there are nice from online reviews (niche? I guess).

What do you think? I think we need way more schools to visit/apply… He will apply in state as well as a safety but he wants to live in a different area of the country (and I will be moving away in a few years anyway), so we are looking for LACs in other areas of the country.

Planning to visit/apply:
-He likes Haverford, but we’ll also visit Swarthmore since we will be there anyway. Any other school in the area we could visit?
-He likes Colby, but will also visit Bowdoin and maybe Bates, hoping he will change his mind.
-St Olaf and Macalester, will also visit Carleton if I can convince him (for some reason he really dislikes Carleton)
-Grinnel and Keyon… may visit, we’ll see… any other suggestions in the mid-west?

Thanks.
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Replies to: Need LAC suggestions for future "Nate Silver" kid... :-)

  • DeastonDeaston Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    Have you thought about Wesleyan, Vassar and Reed?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 60,311 Senior Member
    Nate Silver is a graduate of the University of Chicago.
  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    edited May 1
    [Have you thought about Wesleyan, Vassar and Reed?]

    Ugh, I am not sure how to quote... but anyway, yes, I am considering Wesleyan, do you think it could be a match? I am worried we only have high reach schools in the list and want to have more matches/safeties.

    Reed is in California so it's out, too hot weather... also, it seems kids there can party/drink/drug a lot and he wouldn't be comfortable with that.

    I hadn't thought about Vassar, will have a look now. Thanks for the suggestions!
  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    [Nate Silver is a graduate of the University of Chicago. ]

    Yes, I know and I told him... UChicago is MY dream school, but son said NO, it's urban and with very competitive/intense kids, he doesn't want that anymore.
  • cameo43cameo43 Registered User Posts: 1,260 Senior Member
    edited May 1
    Reed is located in Oregon. Not southern (hot) California!
    What will your son be doing with his gap year, if he is graduating this year? (I'm assuming S17 means the usual, Class of '17, unless you meant 17 is his age??)
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 16,670 Senior Member
    Why wouldn't Harvey Mudd and/or Claremont McKenna be on your list? Either or both seem completely natural, except for your arbitrary exclusion of California. As would Wesleyan, which is not as preppy/jocky as Williams or Amherst, and not in California.

    And of course, if you want to be Nate Silver, why not make the same choice he did: University of Chicago? Perhaps the only place where Nate himself would reflect the mainstream, not some quirky sub-culture. It's not so different from a LAC, and the differences may cut in its favor (i.e., guaranteed that there will be a critical mass of kids who share his academic and social interests).

    Obviously, all of them are reachy, and he needs some safeties, but he has the goods to compete on the reachy level.

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 60,311 Senior Member
    edited May 1
    agatha1939 wrote:
    Ugh, I am not sure how to quote

    Like this:

    [QUOTE=agatha1939]Ugh, I am not sure how to quote[/QUOTE]
    agatha1939 wrote:
    Reed is in California so it's out, too hot weather...

    Reed is in Oregon.
  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    [Reed is located in Oregon. Not southern (hot) California!
    What will your son be doing with his gap year, if he is graduating this year?]

    Ha, why did I think Reed was in California? You are right! I will mention Reed to him, but isn't Reed very difficult to get in? And it's so far... but maybe he'll like, we'll see.

    My son is graduating in 2018, I just noticed now I wrote S17 and what I thought it meant was S17=starting senior year in 2017 but I see now that what matters is when he will finish... so S18 I guess, sorry.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 60,311 Senior Member
    The two initial screens that are relatively easy to do:

    A. Financial. Run the net price calculator on each school's web site to see if it is likely to be affordable. If not affordable at list price or on need-based financial aid, then the reach/match/safety assessment must be made on the merit scholarships needed for affordability, not merely admission (an admission safety may be a reach for the needed merit scholarship).

    B. Academic suitability. You and he may want to compare the on-line course catalogs and schedule in subjects of interest (statistics, math, political science, economics, ...) at the various schools (perhaps using University of Chicago as a reference school).

    Remember that the most important school on the list is a safety where admission and affordability are assured, and it is a school that he likes and is otherwise suitable for him.
  • brantlybrantly Registered User Posts: 1,914 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus How did you get it not to display as a quote when you typed the commands?
  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    Why wouldn't Harvey Mudd and/or Claremont McKenna be on your list? Either or both seem completely natural, except for your arbitrary exclusion of California. As would Wesleyan, which is not as preppy/jocky as Williams or Amherst, and not in California..
    My son doesn't want California/hot weather... so we'll try to find schools in other areas, no big deal.
    And of course, if you want to be Nate Silver, why not make the same choice he did: University of Chicago? Perhaps the only place where Nate himself would reflect the mainstream, not some quirky sub-culture. It's not so different from a LAC, and the differences may cut in its favor (i.e., guaranteed that there will be a critical mass of kids who share his academic and social interests)..
    I have no problem with Chicago and would LOVE if he went there... but again, his choice, he doesn't want too competitive and specially urban.
    Obviously, all of them are reachy, and he needs some safeties, but he has the goods to compete on the reachy level.
    Yes, that's my concern now, It's kind of "easy" to find reach schools, I need good matches and safeties.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,927 Senior Member
    edited May 1
    Reed is in California so it's out, too hot weather... also, it seems kids there can party/drink/drug a lot and he wouldn't be comfortable with that.

    Actually, Reed is located in the Pacific Northwest(Portland area). Weather there isn't likely to be too hot. If it's similar to the Seattle area, it's likely to be on the coolish side even in summer.

    However, while Reed's students tend to be collaborative, the academic rigor/workload is well-above the norm even for elite/respectable colleges alongside schools like UChicago, Cornell, Swat, etc.
    I hadn't thought about Vassar, will have a look now. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Vassar actually shares many similarities to Oberlin other than politics. Speaking of politics, Oberlin nowadays is much more mainstream and far less radical in its student political culture than when I attended in the mid-late '90s.

    Vassar tends to be on the Arty side of the spectrum than Oberlin whereas Oberlin tends to be much more politically-oriented. This dynamic while annoying for some also made for stronger politics when I was applying. That and Vassar had no one covering East Asian politics when I was applying.

    On the flipside, if I was interested in studying East Asian Art, Vassar actually had slightly more coverage in that area when I was applying so in that case, Vassar would have had the edge.
  • DeastonDeaston Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    Reed is a match for your son, not a reach. The others are somewhat more difficult to gain admission but your son has great stats. If you can afford it, consider Early Decision if he finds "the one."
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 60,311 Senior Member
    brantly wrote:
    How did you get it not to display as a quote when you typed the commands?

    To make this:

    [QUOTE=brantly]How did you get it not to display as a quote when you typed the commands?[/QUOTE]

    Write this:

    [QUOTE=brantly]How did you get it not to display as a quote when you typed the commands?[/QUOTE]
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,294 Senior Member
    I might look again at Amherst. The open curriculum makes it easy to double major as there aren't any other classes required (only one semester first year seminar all kids take).

    Of the kids I know there, some are gay, most are not jocks/preppy at all.

    It fits all your stated criteria:
    -LAC with small classes, seminars/tutorials would be great (although I’m not sure these are available in US). Big schools are out.
    -very smart kids who are intellectual and smart but NOT competitive (does that exist?). This is probably a consequence of his HS years, every time I discuss schools with him, his first answer is “I want to be in a school with NICE kids”. He is shy and doesn’t make friends easily, but is very loyal when he does.
    -no Greek life (maybe he can handle a small presence if it doesn’t not impact the campus too much… I guess).
    -he is OK with sports if they don’t overwhelm the school. He plays a few sports recreationally and I think he would enjoy watching a few games and cheering for his school.
    -cold weather (no California or south), so I’m thinking NE and upper mid-west?
    -not urban, he wants a campus with lots of trees and nature.

    Definitely look at Kenyon too.
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