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Carleton - ED2 or RD?

searchlight22searchlight22 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
edited December 2009 in Carleton College
After reading the previous thread, I feel a little foolish asking this question, and ask forgiveness if it sounds conceited in any way.

My son was deferred by his Ivy first choice in the ED1 round two weeks ago.

He must now decide whether to apply RD to this same Ivy, plus another Ivy, and three LACs, including Carleton. He has already been accepted by the University of Michigan.

Or, he can apply ED2 to Carleton which he likes a lot, and where he has a good chance for admission. Carleton is the only school where he might apply ED2.

My question is to people who did not get into a more "prestigious" school like an Ivy, and ended up going to Carleton.

Could you please comment on whether you regret in any way getting a Carleton education vs. spending four years at a school like Yale, Williams, etc.

I know this is splitting hairs but I want to convince my son that the quality of the education he would receive at Carleton far outweighs any brand name recognition in the Northeast where we live.

Thank you.
Post edited by searchlight22 on

Replies to: Carleton - ED2 or RD?

  • dddavydddavy Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    My first question is why you think that the people who attend Carleton were denied admission to "more prestigious schools." For your information, Carleton is a top choice school for many students including those who are qualified for admission to 'the Ivies.'

    Second, it doesn't sound as if you have done your college search homework. The University of Michigan, Yale, and Carleton are about as different as you can get. It seems as if you are shooting for a name and not taking into consideration the particulars of any institution.

    Why not consider fit? What do you really want from your education? I think if you honestly answer these questions the "best" school for you son will be obvious.
  • searchlight22searchlight22 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    Sorry if I offended you or anyone else.

    Among the sixteen colleges we visited, and the dozens I researched, Carleton is the best "fit" for my son. I know Carleton would provide a better education -- for him -- than he would receive at colleges which have more "prestige" (notice the quotes) in the Northeast where we live.
  • Mom90Mom90 Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    D was accepted to "Ivies" and Caltech. Chose Carleton - best "fit". Extremely happy with her decision. Go with fit.
  • NorCalDad88NorCalDad88 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    For most students who are certain (or very likely) to continue on to grad school, choosing a "best fit" school like Carleton may make more sense than choosing an Ivy because of prestige. Large Ivies like Yale have fantastic graduate programs but their undergraduates get very little one-on-one time with their professors, among other key differences. For many very talented kids the best long-term educational choice is a LAC for their undergraduate years followed by a quality graduate program at a prestigious university afterwards.

    A friend recently told me about a conversation she had with a 2009 Carleton graduate and biology major who is working as an intern at Stanford this year. The Carleton grad is working with numerous other interns, mostly recent Stanford grads, and he was astounded to see first-hand how far ahead he is academically compared to other interns. I had a similar conversation with a Carleton chemistry grad a few years ago who went straight to UC Berkeley for grad school after Carleton. He worked with recent graduates from all the best schools in the country, including the Ivies, and he felt that he had the best undergraduate education of all of them. Generally, he said, the best prepared students in his program were the ones who came from LACs without graduate programs.
  • 11901190 Registered User Posts: 628 Member
    searchlight22:

    You should understand that Mom90's daughter is more rule than exception. Carls are about as far removed from prestige seekers as any group of undergrads you'll find anywhere. They arrived in Northfield not as a default to HYPS but as an alternative to these great but more standard offerings because they loved all that is unique to Carleton. They leave after four years about has happy a bunch of graduates as you'll find anywhere. Their national #1 giving rate, the attendance percentages at reunions, and, yes, even the number of Carls throwing rice at other Carls walking down aisles years post-grad are testaments to this incredible experience.

    You may be right in believing that Northfield and not New Haven represents the best fit for your son. But unless you feel Yale would be some egregious error, I'd suggest you tread cautiously, give voice to your feelings, but ultimately leave this decision in his hands.
  • Confused92Confused92 Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    Fit? What exactly would you gain at Carleton that could not be found elsewhere?

    This is NOT an attack on Carleton. I just submitted my app after all. I just don't get why people have to get all defensive and keep ranting about this mythical "fit" idea
  • mflevitymflevity Registered User Posts: 1,201 Senior Member
    If you have already submitted your college applications and don't understand what it fit means, you should probably figure that out before you make your decision in April.

    Schools, like applicants, have personalities. Carleton's personality has been described on this forum many times and in much more detail than I could possibly provide here, but common themes include the friendliness, openness, and (shall I say it? Of course I shall!) quirkiness of the student body. Carleton's students have a vast and varied array of passions, but they don't take themselves too seriously and tend to balance everything with a well-cultivated sense of humor.

    The idea is that you should choose a school that meshes with your own personality, a place where you feel a sense of belonging. Fit is why it is so important to visit college campuses if at all possible.


    This next part is for searchlight22's son:

    I went into the college search process feeling fairly confident (at least, as confident as anyone with reasonable knowledge of the college admissions process) that Brown University was the school for me. Brown had a great literature program, it seemed like an excellent fit for my interests, and everything I read in the college guidebooks seemed fantastic. What's more, it was in the Ivy League--when I told people I was going to Brown, they would say "wow." Brown seemed like the pinnacle achievement that would put a crown on all of the work I had poured into my high school career.

    Then I visited Carleton. It wasn't my first visit to a college, so I had some basis for comparison. I was cautiously optimistic at first, because it, too, sounded great on paper, and I loved the funny little postcards sent by the admissions office. The fact that last year's valedictorian at my school had turned down Yale for Carleton definitely piqued my curiosity too.

    And something funny happened. The freshman English class that I visited spent an hour discussing references to pooping (of all things) in an 18th-century poem, in an incredibly bright and articulate manner. What really surprised me was the way they supported one another—when one student lost her place in a poem and accidentally quoted one on another page, another girl strengthened her point by pointing to a new set of lines. The best part? At one point, the professor made a Wishbone allusion…and everybody got it!

    Afterward, while I wandered the campus, I discovered something else: Carleton students were obviously happy. Out of all the colleges I visited, I never found a place with quite the same peculiar aura of earnest exuberance and joy. In the student union, kids bought flowers to stuff into their friends’ (unlocked!) mailboxes to celebrate the end of the week. Want ads in the NNB guaranteed payment in cookies. Walking down a hall, I heard laughter coming from multiple classrooms. I didn't quite know it then, but slowly, everything was starting to add up.

    I visited Brown a few months later. I don't know whether it was an Ivy League thing, but things seemed...off. Instead of inviting prospective students to visit classes, the admissions office told me to look through the entire online course directory to find a class I wanted to visit that took place on Fridays, look up the professor's name, and email the professor. Okay, fine, I thought. Brown has way more prospies than Carleton, so I guess they can't place them all in classes. So I emailed a creative writing professor and waited to hear back. A few days later, the professor turned down my request. Which would have been okay--but then the same thing happened three more times. The only class I was finally allowed to see was a large history of education course that I was only vaguely interested in.

    The rest of the visit was pretty good. Brown is a fantastic school. But something just wasn't the same. In the back of my mind was this constant, hesitant little thought: "But at CARLETON..."

    A few months after that, I submitted my early decision application to Carleton. Searchlight22, I can't say that I've never looked back on my decision and wondered "What if...?" I can't say that I don't feel a slight twinge when Carleton's name is met with blank stares and the boy in my grade who was accepted to Princeton as an athletic recruit gets big smiles and pats on the back. I'm only human. But you know something? I can honestly say that I have never regretted my choice. I know where I belong.

    I don't know which school is going to be the "Carleton" for your son. Maybe it's Carleton. Heck, maybe it's Columbia and you'll get a fat envelope in April and look back on this time of anxiety and laugh. But only your son can fill in the blank. If he is not absolutely certain right now, then he should by all means apply regular decision and make his choice when he's had more time to think. I wish you both all the best in your search, and remember that six months from now this uncertainty will be over and he'll be on his way to a great place, wherever that is. :)
  • Confused92Confused92 Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    "Schools, like applicants, have personalities. Carleton's personality has been described on this forum many times and in much more detail than I could possibly provide here, but common themes include the friendliness, openness, and (shall I say it? Of course I shall!) quirkiness of the student body. Carleton's students have a vast and varied array of passions, but they don't take themselves too seriously and tend to balance everything with a well-cultivated sense of humor. Fit is why it is so important to visit college campuses if at all possible."

    Typical, generic, empty statements. I visited a bunch of colleges and basically realized that trying to pin down thousands of individual into one mold is ridiculous. There are a few factors that are very clear such as competitiveness, intensity or preppiness. But most of the liberal arts schools are very similar.

    There is a certain intangible aspect, but that can only be felt by the individual. Trying to boil it down into defining characteristics is way too simplistic.
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 24,980 Super Moderator
    keep ranting about this mythical "fit" idea

    It's nothing mythical at schools where fit is important, but it's probably not so important at most schools, especially large ones. Some small schools, especially LACs, have distinctive personalities; you don't want to clash!
  • searchlight22searchlight22 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    I really appreciate all of the advice and comments, especially the Brown story. Thank you.
  • 11901190 Registered User Posts: 628 Member
    I'll second appreciation of the Brown story.

    Best of luck, searchlight.
  • TerriTheMayorTerriTheMayor Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    dddavy, IF you actually read the OP, you would see that he never said that, as you wrote, "the people who attend Carleton were denied admission to 'more prestigious schools.'"

    He was simply directing his question to people in his son's situation. As searchlight22 wrote, "My question is to people who did not get into a more "prestigious" school like an Ivy, and ended up going to Carleton." He never said that ALL people at Carleton were denied admission to Ivies, but is asking THOSE people who were denied admission to Ivies about their Carleton experience.

    dddavy, I understand that your son was recently admitted to Carleton and I'm sure that you're very proud of him, but you don't need to be so hysterically defensive.
  • SDonCCSDonCC Registered User Posts: 2,373 Senior Member
    Deciding whether to apply ED really comes down to how well your son can live with his decisions. If he gets in ED, but will always feel "what if" or that he did it because you pushed him into it, then he is setting himself up for some discomfort in the future.

    While it may be strategically beneficial to apply ED, it really is a decision that should be made only if the student either is totally convinced this is the number one school for him or feels that he would be equally happy at all the choices and is content to just pick one early.
This discussion has been closed.