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Which is your favorite liberal arts college and WHY?


Replies to: Which is your favorite liberal arts college and WHY?

  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale Registered User Posts: 2,839 Senior Member
    merc81: Why do you consider that the Swarthmore experience is one that offers less of the traditional college experience than its peers?
  • am61517am61517 Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    Went to Swarthmore (enjoyed it and greatly appreciate its impact on me) but have always loved Williams as well. Taking my DD on college tours a year ago I found the Williams environment very stimulating. Beautiful surroundings combined with outstanding LAC academics which included tutorial and Oxford semester options.

    @merc81 may be referring to Swarthmore's intensely intellectual environment with a strong social activism component, and lesser focus on partying and athletics (not that they don't flourish there as well).

    The NESCAC schools tend to have a more "balanced" environment. For example Williams and Amherst are perennially among the tops D3 schools in many sports (whereas Swarthmore is competitive but usually only near the top in individual sports like tennis, and no longer has a football team).
  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale Registered User Posts: 2,839 Senior Member
    Thanks, am61517. I like the way that sounds, so no problem. Will check with the chickadee.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,586 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    @Waiting2exhale: Ideally a student will decide which aspects of "traditional" are important to them -- and the concept itself can even be applied antithetically to schools which are different from the very traditional-in-some-ways Swarthmore -- but these are aspects I considered regarding Swat:

    1) Smaller student body than every school in the NESCAC.

    2) No intercollegiate football or hockey.

    3) No on-campus ice rink for recreational skating.

    4) Suburban campuses are less collegiate than either rural or urban ones.

    5) Temperate, mid-lattitude colleges are less collegiate than seasonably snow-bound northern ones.

    @am61517: Your key points were considered as well. Keep in mind that the post title refers to "favorite liberal arts colleges," and Swarthmore's differences as they relate to intellectualism are why it's easy to think of and include it in a topic like this.

    (Comments 4 and 5 would, without preventive suggestion, be likely to be quoted back. Consider them as not exactly fully sourced.)
  • am61517am61517 Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    ^ Agree with @merc81 points 1-3, although when I attended Swarthmore it never occurred to me I was missing a skating rink ;-) and I am not sure that the difference in size is particularly noticeable (400 students per class rather than 500). Having lived in Philadelphia, Cambridge and Cape Cod, the winter weather in Philadelphia and New England is not remarkably different. Where I would differ is on the collegiate nature of the campus. Swarthmore has an extremely beautiful self contained campus bordering a forested area overlooking Crum Creek and is also an arboretum with many varied plant species. And yet, it is only 25 minutes from central Philadelphia by train.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,586 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    @am61517: I expected what I wrote to be intelligently countered, that's why I felt comfortable posting it. Swarthmore's campus has a beautiful sweep down to its nearby town, and its slightly smaller student population in comparison to NESCAC schools -- some of which have grown too large -- can be seen as an advantage. Its proximity to Philadelphia is seen as another plus by many. In terms of snow, I didn't necessarily mean the noncommittal southern New England type (certain memorable years excepted), but maybe more the regularly skiable, Canton, NY type (post #13). As for the skating rink, I would have commented similarly regarding Haverford's lack of a pool.
  • circuitridercircuitrider Registered User Posts: 3,198 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    One of the things I love about Wesleyan is that it combines so many aspects of other LACs into one, somewhat larger, package. It shares Swarthmore's strong social activism; has the same number of sports teams as Amherst; attracts more NSF funding per capita than Harvey Mudd and nearly as many Californians as Pomona.
  • ScaredNJDadScaredNJDad Registered User Posts: 227 Junior Member
    edited October 2015
    The definition of "well rounded" is sort of like the of definition pornography, you know it when you see it. It's not the same from school to school but its close. Having an ice rink is a small part.

    A better metric would be how many students watched the World Series game last night.

    This is an interesting thread, because the same people that condemn ratings are making there choices seemingly based on that.

    Some of comments about Swarthmore and Williams seem a bit emotional, crush-like. I would suggest to you that a Lehigh or Lafayette graduate would have a big edge over a Swarthmore graduate in the job market.

  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,586 Senior Member
    "I would suggest to you that a Lehigh or Lafayette graduate would have a big edge over a Swarthmore graduate in the job market." (38)

    Allowing this debatable proposition as the case for the moment, a certain fraction of Swarthmore students wouldn't care. That's one of the things that make it a good school.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,442 Senior Member
    I know it isn't the point of this thread, but Mudd gets a sugnificant amount of research funding from private corporations for ther clinic projects that most students participate in. This gives them some diversity of funding that is helpful in these times of tight government spending on research. So comparing the NSF funding isn't necessarily apples to apples. Mudd has been building this separate funding path up quite intentionally in recent years because of the uncertainty of NSF funding. When asked if they have any alternate funding sources at Swat, the answer is a blank look and nada (I asked at accepted student visits).
  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale Registered User Posts: 2,839 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    Starting from the bottom up:

    @intparent: Impressive that you are aware, and make inquiry about, the overall sources of funding at a college. I know that would feel rather "in your face" to me to ask, but also know that knowing is valuable. So, thank you for that. Harvey Mudd, a campus my daughter spent time on as a middle schooler for women-in-engineering programs where she was, unfortunately, the only middle schooler, is one that does not appeal to her for the college years.

    @ScaredNJDad: The World Series not being in my cultural milieu, I could not care about such a metric, and would actually go the other direction from a demographic where that was a key factor in campus community bonding. Lehigh and Lafayette fall way outside of our wheel house for where my daughter would feel herself among like-minded, strongly academic, cultured kids. I must say, guiding her to look at an LAC, where it is not part of a university system (someone mentioned Columbia College in NYC) has been less than a chore, but more work than I would have thought, considering the people who raised her. And, yes, @merc81, it is precisely because she would say it does not matter that her college years make her instantly employable, Swarthmore is a greater draw.

    @circuitrider: Pomona actually makes a point to not fill its campus with Californians, and to draw from the vast array of students from across the States and the globe. They are proud of that, so that the numbers in that regard might reflect your statement I am not surprised. That stat is, also, definitely not a draw

    @merc81: Football and hockey? Can't care. But I see that you've made mention of sports and sporting quite often, so that must be a desirable aspect for you. Sports across the board are appealing to my daughter, and a part of her life, but closer to those individual sports that the kids who responded to surveys on College Niche talk about as being present at Swarthmore. So again, we're cool. On the whole, I had to wonder how giddy you were being in this thread, even while delineating key points of differencesand similitude between Swat and other places. I found the "less collegiate" comment one of interest, and I will definitely look further into it. Though I think I processed it from the perspective of "collegial." That is an important aspect of her life, and how she finds "place," considering people often don't expect her to match them point for point when it comes to academic or the outdoors experience. She walked the campus with her father, but toured other LACs in the consortium. We are double-dipping so to speak on the touring, with two children out of the door back-to-back. So thanks for the breadth and scope this thread has taken on.

    @am61517: All things considered, I think our paths in life have crossed, and I want to say thanks for sticking up for Swarthmore. It was the one school my husband and I both thought she should deeply consider, and she kept it on her list.

    To OP: Bowdoin is a great place. Anyone who knows what these schools are, will know Bowdoin when you present yourself as a graduate. The Offer of the College at Bowdoin won me over when we first began looking at colleges a few years ago. You could do worse. Good luck to you.
  • ScaredNJDadScaredNJDad Registered User Posts: 227 Junior Member
    edited October 2015

    I have to say that as I review employee evaluations, while trying to figure out how to watch both the Notre Dame game and the fourth game of World Series tonight, your directive really caught my attention.

    It is quite charming. Just keep one thing in mind. As your child does prepares for a career, there is a very good chance the person writing his or her evaluation will be someone that didn't even get into Lehigh but went to Rutgers, Penn State or Seton Hall.

    Just so you know, arrogance like that is not flattering.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,945 Forum Champion
    edited October 2015
    @ScaredNJDad With a D is currently loving her experience at Lafayette (a college clearly below wating2exhanle) and my H and S graduates of Notre Dame (guess what I'll be doing tonight?) you had me laughing. And thank you for the reminder that where one goes to college is not the defining thing in determine who will be successful in life and who will not.

    @Waiting2exhale You are not the OP on this thread and as such there is no need to send replies to people who commented in reply to the OP that are related to your particular interests, desires etc. If you want to start a thread on colleges and universities that would be appropriate to your situation feel free to do so. The side note to the OP that you could "do worse" than Bowdin is not particularly gracious -- the fact is that Bowdin is a fantastic college and may in fact be the perfect fit for the OP.
  • ScaredNJDadScaredNJDad Registered User Posts: 227 Junior Member
    @happy1 I am Irish through and through Class of 86.
This discussion has been closed.