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Social scene at NESCAC schools

RHRJMSRHRJMS Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
Hello - Can anyone weigh in on the campus vibe at the various NESCAC schools? My daughter thinks she wants a small LAC in New England, but she eschews sports, doesn't drink, isn't preppy. She is a bright girl, interested in German as a possible major, is artsy (plays three instruments, tap dances, performs in musicals, paints watercolor), and has the same good credentials that literally thousands of others have (top 10%, SAT and subject tests ranging from 700 - 760, several clubs and leadership positions, summer job). I think she needs to look at some large(r) schools, but she insists she doesn't want "big." She also wants a small, cute town alongside her dream college, so cities are out. I feel some of the women's colleges would be a great fit for her, but she won't even look. She is a senior, just now starting classes, and I don't think she's close to knowing truly where she wants to apply or what is a good fit. Thank you for your help!

Replies to: Social scene at NESCAC schools

  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 20,370 Senior Member
    Any particular NESCAC colleges in mind?

    Can you expand to LACs outside of NESCAC? Great LACs in places like PA and throughout the midwest. Although there are plenty of preppy kids at NESCACs, there are plenty that aren't. Some of the LACs outside of NESCACs are even less preppy IMO.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 5,311 Senior Member
    Conn, Wesleyan, and Tufts might be fits if she wants to stay with the NESCACs, but why? Vassar sounds like a better choice. Or Bard. There could be much better options outside the Northeast. Kenyon?

    The thing about NESCAC is that it's an athletic league. One that takes its sports seriously. So if the school is small, close to half the students will be athletes. That creates a certain ambience. Sure, the schools have their own personalities, but this may be a larger part of it than at some other conferences .

  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,983 Senior Member
    edited August 2017
    NESCAC schools tend to disproportionately enroll both student-athletes and private school graduates. That noted, the inclusive admissions and financial aid policies at these colleges, combined with a perceptible artistic flair at a few of them, will accordingly create interesting and diverse student bodies to varying degrees among the group. Based upon your daughter's personal attributes, Wesleyan and Connecticut College might be the first schools to consider. Then she can compare impressions formed there to those from Hamilton, Colby, Amherst, Bowdoin et al. Williams defines itself partly by its strength in art; Middlebury, as well as the urban Trinity, may seem highly preppy even within the NESCAC; Bates would seem to fit socially, but Lewiston might not match her conception of cute. Though I agree with the suggestion that your daughter consider other excellent schools such as Vassar and Kenyon, I think she could make a NESCAC college hers as well.
  • Sunny66Sunny66 Registered User Posts: 285 Junior Member
    I agree to look at other schools in addition to NESCAC ones -- maybe Carleton, Swarthmore, Pomona.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,959 Senior Member
    Cute town if you are willing to look outside of NESCAC would suggest Denison -- Granville, Ohio is the picture perfect village (settled in early 1800s by east coast abolitionists, looks to my east coast eye like a MA/CT village) and is 30 minutes from arts scene in Columbus, Ohio. Very strong music programs, with new music and performing arts building under construction. A community which emphasizes "living" as a diverse community, not just checking the boxes of diversity.
  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 4,188 Senior Member
    A non NESCAC option could be Skidmore
  • SpringbirdSpringbird Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    I agree - a woman's college would likely be a good fit. Smith in particular, right in Northampton, sounds like it would be perfect for her. Maybe you could visit Amherst and hit Smith along the way because you're in town anyway??

    I second Skidmore as well.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited August 2017
    My daughter ... has the same good credentials that literally thousands of others have
    The northeastern US, between greater Boston and greater DC, probably has the highest concentration of highly qualified high school seniors in the country (if not the world). The problem is that they are also among the most provincial students in the country -- they don't want to leave the northeast, and so they all are determined to apply to the same schools. For example, it seems like every smart artsy high school girl in the northeast decides to target the same cute New England liberal arts colleges.

    If your daughter is like this, then her best move -- radical as it may sound -- may be as follows: apply to some top liberal arts colleges outside of the northeast. See also Replies #1, #2, #4, and #5 above.

    For example, if she wants a top LAC with great arts and humanities, but without a preppy drinking sports culture, in a cute small town, not to mention a huge endowment and excellent financial aid, one that is actively seeking to enroll more students from the northeast, then why not apply to Grinnell ?

    You can have a great LAC experience in a cute small town in Iowa. It doesn't have to be a cute small town in Vermont.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 20,370 Senior Member
    "The problem is that they are also among the most provincial students in the country (if not the world)"

    Less to do with being provincial, more to do with the fact all college students tend to stick to their own geographic area. Name me an area where most students look outside their region? Unlike other places where the majority stick to their state schools, many NE students look at privates as well for a variety of reasons - fairly high socioeconomics, well established private schools with good need based aid, less developed state higher ed systems in some states or one's that aren't that cheap meaning it could be cheaper to go to a private with good aid, instead - I could go on.

    I do agree with the strategy of looking outside the region. It was a strategy we employed for both my kids.
  • citivascitivas Registered User Posts: 655 Member
    From your description you and your daughter definitely need to check out Vassar. It checks pretty much every one of your boxes. LAC, not athletic-centric, not-preppy, artsy, not a women's college but used to be and retains some of the character from when it was, etc.

    That said, I wouldn't stress too much about the jock/preppy culture at these schools. My son is similar to your daughter in a lot of ways and ended up at a NESCAC with 40% varsity athletes and a reputation for being preppy while he still rocks Target clothes. But he hasn't experienced any us/them or cultural domination issues with either group. Half the people in the college didn't need financial aid and 25% are kids of the 1% (according to a recent NYT story) but other than the Canada Goose jackets most seem to go to lengths to downplay their family wealth and embrace an inclusive live-and-let-live culture. I'm pretty sure this is the case at other NESCAC's too. Though when he did the accepted student overnight at Middlebury multiple students there told him the school is divided by "Bros vs " [some phrase I forgot the name of that basically meant non-athletes]. But who knows if that's even true or the limited perspective of those people who happened to be paired up with who were all varsity athletes.
  • CrewDadCrewDad Registered User Posts: 1,721 Senior Member
    "Bros vs " [some phrase I forgot the name of that basically meant non-athletes
    NARP......Non-athletic regular person.
  • citivascitivas Registered User Posts: 655 Member
    @CrewDad Yep, that was it, LOL...
This discussion has been closed.