Hey everyone! I should be decided by now but I'm not so I was hoping I could get more insight here. Grinnell is $2,976 more than Colby for the first year and I would have to do work study. At Colby I'd be a presidential scholar so I'd get first-year perks of free music lessons and a research assistant job. I could use the small amount of money I'd earn at the research assistant job (maximum of $1,800) to take out less loans. Money is really important because the cost of college might go up astronomically in future years if my sister doesn't stay enrolled in college.
The problem is that, from what I've read in guidebooks, Grinnell is what I'm looking for in a college. Princeton Review ranks it #3 in "best classroom experience". It's also on the list of "students study the most", "class discussion encouraged", most liberal students", "most politically active students", "LGBT-friendly", and "least religious students". How much weight should I be giving to guidebooks?
Are the differences between teaching at Colby and Grinnell actually not significant? I want to go to grad school to be a research scientist. I know that Grinnell has a high rate of phd production in the life sciences but is that just because more students are more interested in phds at Grinnell? And would this be offset by the experience I'd get as a research assistant at Colby starting my first year?
What about the campus climate? I was looking for a group of radical liberals to protest with. Could I still find this at Colby? Also, Colby was the only school on my list that wasn't flagged as LGBT-friendly. Is it LGBT-unfriendly? Overall, I thought the friends I made at Colby and at Grinnell weren't that different. I visited Colby during the Presidential Scholars open house so that might have been why everyone was super passionate about something. The students in gereral seemed athletic and preppy. At Grinnell, I didn't go to the event with all the early-writes because it was cheaper to go later. The people I met were pretty friendly but I actually didn't meet anyone who was super into politics or anything.
Does it make more sense to go to Colby, even if it might not be as good of a fit? I want to know more about political activism, LGBT inclusion, and academics at Colby. Also, will the price difference be significant once I graduate and have to pay off the loans? Any advice or experience you could share would be appreciated.
P.S. Should I go to UC Berkeley or Macalester (haven't visited) instead? They're the same price as Grinnell.