Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Swarthmore vs Colby vs Carleton vs Grinnell

Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
I was wondering which one has the best physics/astronomy/astrophysics program. And what about geology, I mean it would be obvious that carleton is the best because is member in the keck consortium, and I know that grinnell doesn't have geosciences, so it remains to decide between colby and swarthmore.
«1

Replies to: Swarthmore vs Colby vs Carleton vs Grinnell

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,904 Senior Member
    I'd pick Carleton of those four for across the board strength in the areas you named.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 5,338 Senior Member
    Colby has the best observatory in NE and great resources in geology (as well as profs the students seem to love) if that's a draw. I would look at the requirements for the various majors, the course requirements, and the offerings at all of them and see what appeals to you. Carleton is known for its excellent sciences, and Swat for its engineering. Quality is great at all.
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    And how do they compare to Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Caltech? Is the difference big ? and if yes, what makes the difference (beside more research opportunities) ?
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,613 Senior Member
    One could make a case for Carleton based on those interests, but (if limited offerings don't rule any of them out) they're all close enough that it should be safe to choose based on net price or location. IMO most of the top ~40 LACs are quite similar in many characteristics (including academic quality). If you apply to all 4, the adcoms might make your choice easier :(.

    If you're seriously interested in geology, you might want to look at some of the other Keck Consortium LACs. Colorado College has an attractive location for geology students. Its one-course-at-a-time "block plan" facilitates off-campus field work.

    For physics/astronomy/astrophysics, you're likely to find better facilities (as well as broader course offerings) among major research universities.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 10,048 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    what about geology, I mean it would be obvious that carleton is the best because is member in the keck consortium
    Where'd you get this idea? Some top schools for geosciences, such as Williams, do not participate in Keck; conversely, some schools in Keck appear to have relatively thin programs, with fewer than ten majors annually.
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    merc81, I was comparing it with the other three colleges listed. I know there are better colleges out there. But still, I didn't know that some Keck colleges have such small programs.
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    "Colorado College has an attractive location for geology students. Its one-course-at-a-time "block plan" facilitates off-campus field work."
    I've looked over the block plan and it doesn't seem to fit me. I would rather take a more integrated approach. Also, I want depth and I don't think the block plan is that good for this because you don't stay enough time on a subject. Correct me if I'm wrong.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 10,048 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Geology

    The Rocks

    Carleton: Region includes the Precambrian Canadian Shield and Paleozoic sedimentary formations. Exposed cross-sections may be limited as a result of relatively flat topography.

    Colby: Proximity to mostly metamorphic and igneous formations related to Paleozoic orogenic events.

    The Geomorphology

    Carleton: Wind and water sculpted post-glacial features.

    Colby: Variety of post-glacial features, often in the form of esker. Significant nearby elevation ranges.

    The Programs

    Carleton: Enrolls some of the country's top geosciences students.

    Colby: Well regarded for environmental studies. Concordant geosciences courses reinforce anthropogenic effects on the environment.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    I know that grinnell doesn't have geosciences, so it remains to decide between colby and swarthmore.
    Swarthmore doesn't have geosciences either. Swarthmore is in the Tri-College consortium with Bryn Mawr and Haverford, so in theory it might be possible for a Swarthmore student to major in geology at Bryn Mawr, which has a solid program. However, this would be cumbersome in practice, because Swat is about 40 minutes by van from Bryn Mawr.

    Haverford students often major in geology at Bryn Mawr, but those two schools are quite close. If you want a highly ranked LAC in the Philly area with good science (including geology) and can live without engineering, then just substitute Haverford or Bryn Mawr (if female) for Swarthmore.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    I'd pick Carleton of those four for across the board strength in the areas you named.
    I would too. Carleton and Williams might be my top LAC picks for across-the-board strength in physics, astro, and geology. Colby and Haverford/BMC would be solid, slightly less selective alternatives. Would not consider Grinnell or Swarthmore if geoscience is important, although both are excellent schools otherwise.
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    Oh, yes, I've looked up and only Carleton and colby have geosciences. But what about astronomy/astrophysics/physics at Grinnell and Swarthmore?
    And, at all of these four colleges (Carleton, Swarthmore, Colby, Grinnell), which subjects are more emphasized: geosciences or astronomy/astrophysics/physics ?
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Also, I want depth and I don't think the block plan is that good for this because you don't stay enough time on a subject. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    You spend the same amount of time on each class under both conventional and block plans. The only difference is that you take courses in sequence under the block plan, and concurrently under the conventional plan.

    Let's say that your semester lasts four months, you take four classes per semester, and each class has four hours of classroom time every week.

    Under the block plan, each class might only last for about a month -- but you would have 16 hours of class per week during that month. So 64 hours of instruction per class. During the course of a four-month semester, you would complete four classes (one per month).

    Under the conventional plan, you would enroll in four classes. Each class would last for 4 months -- but each class would only have 4 hours of classroom time per week. So 64 hours of instruction per class, which is the same as under the block plan. During the course of a four-month semester, you would complete four classes, which is the same as under the block plan..


  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    Corbett, I was not talking about time spent on the subject at courses, but outside the courses. Under a conventional plan the material (the same quantity as in block plan) is streched over a longer period. I prefer to do more different courses at a time because some of them might be easier while others harder, thus I can manage my time better. Under the block plan there might be times when the material is easy and I end up with more free time and others when the courses are more complex and I cannot spend as much time as I could under the normal plan.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    And, at all of these four colleges (Carleton, Swarthmore, Colby, Grinnell), which subjects are more emphasized: geosciences or astronomy/astrophysics/physics ?

    Number of physics degrees granted in 2015-16, from College Navigator:
    22 Carleton
    15 Grinnell
    13 Colby
    5 Swarthmore (physics is often less popular at LACs with engineering)

    Swarthmore also reports 2 astrophysics majors. The other schools don't report any astronomy or astrophysics majors, but they may be included under physics. Astronomy/astrophysics programs at LACS are typically very small.

    Number of geology degrees granted in 2015-16, from College Navigator:
    16 Carleton
    10 Colby
    0 Grinnell
    0 Swarthmore
  • Mag AdrianMag Adrian Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    Wow! College Navigator is the site I needed :)
This discussion has been closed.