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Bates Vs. Macalester

gummibear3gummibear3 19 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
I was recently accepted off of the waitlist for Macalester. The amount I would have to pay are fairly the same ($6k to $7k). I only visited Bates. I just want to hear your opinions.
I am from the South, and I prefer a small environment. I am not really a party person. Diversity is very important to me. Study abroad is also important. I am a minority, so I need to feel included. I need chances to have lots of opportunity.

I want to major in Politics with a concentration in East Asian Studies.
edited May 21
10 replies
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Replies to: Bates Vs. Macalester

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5479 replies10 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Two great options! I would give some serious thought to location. Macalester is in nice part of a major metropolitan city while Bates is in a small city in a really beautiful wilderness-y state. Your off campus options (and the kinds of students who are interested in them) will be very different.

    Kids at both seem friendly. My impression was that Mac is more diverse, and one of the benefits of a city school is that there tends to be more diversity in a city, so if your school is coming up a bit short, the city can take up the slack. It can be a bit of work, but it's an option.

    Personally, I have a soft spot for the Maine schools, so one question I would have for you is how you liked Bates when you visited. If Mac is tempting because you weren't really feeling it at Bates, that may be your answer. If, otoh, you loved Bates, Mac is not going to be that perfect New England school and you should embrace your inner Bobcat.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1279 replies8 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Mac is indeed more diverse, but not by much (32% non-White versus 22%). Both have a reputation for being welcoming, and both have brutal winters. As @gardenstategal states they have different characters, and,as she also writes, the only way you can really decide is to visit. Objectively, both are amazing LACs, and at both you will recieve an absolutely excellent education.

    Those are the two major factors in a decision: a very nice city (or rather, cities), with coffee shops and other places to explore, versus amazingly beautiful scenery and outdoors activities, including different types of exploration, and the characters of the two schools. While personally, I would prefer Macalester, based on your description of yourself, you may find Bates a more comfortable place to be.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9011 replies488 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Tough decision, and I agree with both posts above. Bates has admitted its most diverse class ever, and the most first generation students too. Full disclosure, my child attends Bates. Her best friends are from Hawaii, Tunisia, Morocco, Florida and Harlem. She has pursued all kinds of opportunities, both on and off campus, and Bates has been very supportive. She received a fellowship this year to pursue research off campus, has had multiple meaningful campus jobs, volunteer positions that have added to her resume, had an AMAZING study abroad experience living with a family in East Asia (Bates has excellent study abroad programs and something like 70% of students take advantage), and has blossomed as a person. I 100% feel that much of this is directly due to being at Bates.

    Both schools will be good for your majors. Both schools are small. Both schools will have partying, but are not focused on partying. Studying is important at both schools.

    Macalester is a wonderful school. Be aware that you will probably spend a little more money on personal expenses, due to its more urban location. It has a gender imbalance, unlike Bates, of roughly 60% female to 40% male. That may or may not matter to you. Bates has a very good program to support Fulbright applicants and is regularly top in Fulbright scholars. It has high rates of acceptance to grad school.

    If the outdoors is important to you, Bates gets the nod. It has easy access to winter sports if you enjoy them. You can leave your dorm and go hiking. The coast is 30 minutes away. The colors in the fall are amazing. Lewiston is not stunning, but it is definitely being revitalized. It has a fun restaurant area that is very popular with students and there's a lovely river walk about a 15 minute walk from campus. Bates' Outing Club is popular and does a lot of great hikes and other outdoor excursions. There are also plenty of college-sponsored free events.

    I agree that if you liked your visit at Bates and can see yourself there, I can't see a compelling reason to choose Mac over Bates. You can also consider that in all likelihood, being at Bates will lead to more opportunities on the East Coast, and Macalester will lead to more opportunities in the Midwest. In the end, it was that realization that helped my daughter to choose Bates. Either way, two great choices. Good luck!


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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3405 replies23 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @gummibear3 These two colleges are probably more similar than different so there is no bad choice to be had.

    Regarding Macalester, a few things really struck us on our visit there. One was the commitment to global citizenship, ranging from the priority to admit and fund international students to the emphasis on local community service. The IR program is well regarded and the school emphasizes study abroad as a student norm. Second was diversity, both on campus and in the Twin Cities, which, for example, has one of the largest urban Native American populations in the country, as well as having sizable Southeast Asian and Somali immigrant communities.

    From a practical point of view, the Minneapolis/St Paul airport is located just 7 miles from Mac's campus and easily accessible by public transportation or Uber. You may want to check out flight itineraries and prices from your area to both campuses to see if there is a meaningful cost difference/travel hassle factor between them.

    Mac's campus is in an urban/suburban location, adjoining a safe, upscale residential neighborhood. A 30 minute walk will take you to the Mississippi River which offers a number of walking trails.

    Finally, I am not trying to downplay Bates. I just don't know the school well enough to render an opinion. See @lindagaf's post above regarding its many virtues.
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  • PublisherPublisher 7549 replies78 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP: Since you have visited Bates College in Maine, what are your reservations or concerns ?

    Without any more information, I think that Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota is the safer option since it is more diverse & located in a major metropolitan area (Minneapolis-St. Paul). If my recommendation doesn't sit well with you, then Bates college is your choice.
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  • wallingfordwallingford 2 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    I visited Bates with my daughter last year, and we live a block from Mcalester. Do you have specific questions. ST. PAul has its first AFricsn American mayor, who is 38 years old, I think. I just saw him at the tool library this afternoon building a be for his daughter.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited May 26
    I also used to live a few blocks from Mac. 🙂 Regarding the spending comment above, I don’t see the gap between Bates and Mac as that huge. Not as if the student would be in New York or the Georgetown neighborhood of DC, you know? I’m familiar with both schools, and also am a little more partial to Mac between the two.
    edited May 26
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33093 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Just saying. With all the student confusion this season about which college to enroll at, I don't think we can answer that for anyone. In theory, you had some wise assessment of all the colleges when you applied. We don't know who you are, what truly empowers you, drives your growth. Just a few lines about what you want.

    We can't match for you now.
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  • Kiltdad2Kiltdad2 3 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited May 30
    Gummiebear3: Congratulations on your acceptances. As a parent of two children who attended LACs (one of whom is a rising senior at Bates but considered Mac) I would suggest that you should try to visit Mac too before making a decision. Both are terrific schools and share many similarities. They do have some differences, among them environment. Mac is in a nice part of St. Paul and very close to the bigger city of Minneapolis. Bates is also in a city (second largest in Maine population-wise I think) but it is a little grittier, and Portland which is 20 miles or so from Lewiston is a wonderful city but nowhere near as large as Minneapolis. Also keep in mind that most of the kids who attend Mac are from the Midwest while those at Bates are from New England; as such, the Mac grad network is stronger in the Midwest while Bates grads tend to gather in Boston, New York and DC, which for my daughter was a consideration (as was having family in Boston and clicking better with her sports teammates at Bates). Good luck to you.
    edited May 30
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  • havenoideahavenoidea 250 replies12 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    The couple kids we know we chose Mac were dance to the beat of your own drum types: one had even filed suit against the city related to an environmental issue and later trekked alone through Iceland. The kids heading to Bates were more mainstream, perhaps? Smart, nice, sporty. Very small sample size though! Maybe others know if this characterization is correct/incorrect. Visit if you can.
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