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Can't decide between all of the LACs

mpcosgriffmpcosgriff Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited November 2012 in College Search & Selection
The colleges I'm considering applying to are:

Brown University
Carleton College
Clark University
Goucher College
Kenyon College
Macalester College
Middlebury College
Oberlin College
Princeton University
Swarthmore College
Vassar College
Wesleyan University

I know it's a lot, but I really don't know how to narrow down the selection. I'm white and artsy, with a 3.87 UW GPA and a 35 ACT score. I'm big into the maths and sciences, but would like some sort of art program as well. I have been in GSA (gay-straight alliance) and Robotics at my school for the past few years, and am in charge of both this year.

I'm looking for a small liberal arts college that's not in the middle of nowhere (but that's not a vital factor) with a strong science program. I've visited a good few of these and I like Middlebury, Vassar, Macalester and Swarthmore best. The problem is that there are so many other high-quality LACs that I probably won't be able to visit before applications are due, and I have no idea if this is even all of the ones I would be interested in.

Any help would be appreciated!
Post edited by mpcosgriff on

Replies to: Can't decide between all of the LACs

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,983 Senior Member
    Take a look at the course catalogs in the math and science subjects you are interested in to make sure that they have the academic offerings of interest to you. Also, check on frequency of offering, since courses offered only once every two years may be more difficult to get into your four year schedule.

    Check the net price calculators for financial aid estimates.
  • SgtDonutSgtDonut Registered User Posts: 857 Member
    I'm applying to many of those same schools, and I share your dilemma of feeling a bit incomplete, not sure how else to put it. Like I know all of the schools I'm applying to are amazing, but I've gone through the list of top LACs countless times and I really don't think there's any more I can do. If I was you, I would just go on USNWR (regardless of what you think of its actual rankings) and eliminate the schools you're not interested in. You've already got a really good list going, in my opinion. Most of these are pretty strong in the sciences. You'll probably never be able to apply to every college that would be a fit for you because maybe you're adaptable and can get along just fine in a variety of environments (like myself). I say apply to all of these or until you get too tired. Sorry if that wasn't helpful.
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Registered User Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
    Do the analysis to sort these into categories based on affordability (your EFC versus school's generosity on FA and merit aid) and your odds of getting in. Then start eliminating where you have too many. Make sure there are plenty of affordable safeties and matches. Don't go crazy with too many reaches.

    Start looking at other characteristics that will help differentiate them - Distance from home, ease of transportation, opportunities for internships, whatever...

    Many of your schools are very selective, so you may need to cast a wide net anyway. 12 is not too many given the types of schools you have.
  • jennielingjennieling Registered User Posts: 339 Member
    Have you visited Carleton? It is fantastic and sounds like it would be up your alley. Students are very bright, some are quirky, everyone is fine with everyone else marching to the beat of his/her own drummer. It is a fairly liberal-leaning college. The music and art programs are excellent, also. Carleton is consistently in the top 10 LAC's on the U.S. News and World Report list, and it ranks very high for excellence of undergrad teaching (there are no grad students there, so students get to do scientific research directly w/ the professors). It is in a fairly small town, but there is another college in the town (St. Olaf), and they bring a lot to the campus, so you are never bored there. Also, the Twin Cities are just 45 minutes away.
  • ConsolationConsolation Registered User Posts: 21,643 Senior Member
    I think you have a very good list, with a number of excellent fits across the spectrum of selectivity. I think you should go ahead and apply to all of them. Casting a wide net is important for kids who have high stats and are applying to places with acceptance percentages below 30% or so.

    I *might* consider swapping out Kenyon and/or Goucher for a place that is a bit more STEM-oriented, such as Bucknell. Bucknell would fall between those two in terms of selectivity. The reachier LACs you could consider--all of which break the mold a bit for you--are Reed and Pomona/Harvey Mudd.

    Assuming that you can afford to attend these schools, given the amount of aid you are likely to get, I think the list is fine.
  • pointoforderpointoforder Registered User Posts: 546 Member
    I'd encourage you to consider Haverford (great location and great sciences). Grinnell also has great sciences, but location doesn't fit your requirements.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,983 Senior Member
    One other thing to consider if you want to major in math is that if you are more than a year advanced in math (calculus BC as a high school junior or earlier), you could more easily run out of math courses to take at an undergraduate-only LAC; very advanced math majors often take graduate level courses in math as undergraduates. Also, very advanced math majors at big universities will skip the big lower division courses, thus reducing the disadvantages of big universities.

    Also, you may want to read posts #94 and #97 in this thread (ignore the general prestige war that is also in this thread), and PM the poster if you have more questions about majoring in math. Also, see post #108 of that thread.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 9,736 Senior Member
    ^ Does the OP in fact plan to major in math?

    Posts #94, #97, and #108 in the thread cited by ucbalumnus are directed to PhD programs in mathematics. b@rium's observations (#94, #97) pertain especially to programs in pure math. The Swarthmore advice to math majors (#108, "Getting into math grad school is a lot harder than getting into college") may not be less applicable to undergraduate math majors at most large research universities than it is to those at LACs.

    There may be reasonable anecdotal evidence to believe that a LAC is not the most appropriate choice if you're committed to an academic career in pure math. On the other hand, LACs and small- to mid-sized private universities dominate lists of the top 20 or so schools for per-capita PhD production in the arts & sciences overall and in a number of specific fields.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 34,348 Super Moderator

    Rank Math and Statistics
    1 Calif. Inst. of Tech.
    2 Harvey Mudd
    3 Reed
    4 Univ. of Chicago
    5 MIT
    6 Harvard
    7 Pomona
    8 Rice
    9 Princeton
    10 Swarthmore
    Actually it looks like LACs are perfectly good choices for math as well.
  • MomOf3DDsMomOf3DDs Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    Start researching the professors to get a better look at what may peek your interests both in and out of the classroom. I know Bryn Mawr has a CS prof who is very much into Robotics so you would have access to him through either Swat or Haverford. BM also has graduate programs in math, chem and physics to tap into if needed. Univ of Penn is also accessible to you. Just make sure you look at the whole picture when looking into a specific school. Good luck!
This discussion has been closed.