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GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: ski_racer, a high-achiever in high school, was rejected by some of the elite schools she applied to. This rejection was the best thing that happened to her as she got to choose her own path. Learn how she fell in love with her safety school, ASK HER ANYTHING!
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Help us balance out a visit/explore list!!!

ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
Hi, we are wading into the college search process for my D20 and would love some expertise from the wise CC group about rounding out a list of schools to visit/explore in more detail.

Basic overview:
  • Rising junior at mid-Altantic urban independent school
  • UW GPA 3.83 (school does not weight GPA or rank in class, no APs/IB)
  • PSAT10: EBRW 720, M 610. (She's be doing some independent SAT prep and practice tests that suggest the M should go up to 650-700, who knows. Will take ACT next spring.)
  • Junior course load: English 11, USH, Bio, Differential Calculus, Latin IV, photography, and 2 semester-long, psychology courses through an online consortium her school participates in.
  • Anticipated senior course load: English 12, Integral Calc, Latin V, Senior Art Studio, plus 2 out of Advanced Bio/Advanced Chem/Env Science.
  • ECs: Track & Field 4yrs, XC 3 years.
  • Club involvement: Beekeeping Club, Art Club.
  • Outside of school: Art classes, volunteer art teacher at local art center, runs own (small) design business on Fiverr, babysits. Wants to be a camp counselor at a farm camp next summer. Spends a lot of time doing her own art, music (writing, playing, recording), and digital design. Hasn't really gone after deep or broad involvement or leadership opportunities in ECs.

She's starting to plan her month-long Junior Project (January 2019) - hoping to work at a small winery/estate vineyard in Oregon that my in-laws own; or at a cacao plantation and chocolate factor in Hawaii (also owned/run by friends); or intern at a sleep lab at a research university.

Future academic interests: Psychology/neuroscience, with an art or design minor.

Based on previous teammates' experiences and her performance, she could be a D3 recruit for track/XC at a less-competitive program but at this point has no interest in pursuing that. (Alas.)

We've done some initial visits mostly to assess what kind of schools grab her attention and interest. She has pretty much settled on a LAC, and is very interested in a women's college. LGBTQ-friendly is a must. No Greek life preferred.
We will be full pay, so merit would be fabulous. Prelim list is:

Barnard (visited & loved - "dream school" right now, but a reach)
Bryn Mawr (visited & very enthusiastic - it's very nearby which is good + bad)
Smith (visiting soon)
Mount Holyoke (visiting soon)
Macalester (visited and liked a lot -- only school on our recent midwest trip that made her say "I could see myself here")
Wesleyan - big reach
Vassar - big reach
Sarah Lawrence

I'd like her to also consider (yes, lots of reaches here too):


But I realize we don't have a solid group of likely/safety there, and we haven't dug into the CTCL list or other amazing LACs that are further away/less known. Would appreciate additions to this list with more geographic and selectivity diversity! Thanks!
edited June 19
157 replies
Post edited by CCAdmin_Vic on
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Replies to: Help us balance out a visit/explore list!!!

  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2069 replies25 threads Senior Member
    What schools didn’t she like during your Midwest trip?
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6711 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Earlham and Guilford seem to fit the desired vibe which seems pretty well defined. Neither is super selective and Earlham is very strong in the sciences.

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  • ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
    Great question, @Eeyore123.
    Grinnell, St Olaf and Carleton: All appealed in their own way except the geographic isolation (Grinnell, particularly).
    UW-Madison: WAY too big.
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  • gandalf78gandalf78 1843 replies33 threads Senior Member
    If you travel out to the Pacific NW to see Reed, what about Whitman?

    Or if you go back to the Midwest, perhaps Kalamazoo College?
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2069 replies25 threads Senior Member
    Knox has a beekeeping club

    I would suggest to look at Beloit as a safety. Likely to get the COA in around $30k with her stats. The artsy/science feel should be a fit. If you are trying justify another trip to the Midwest, I would add in Lawrence.

    You also have the Ohio schools. Kenyon and Denison likely would fall the same Grinnell.
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Enjoy the trip to Smith and Mount Holyoke. I love that area. Smith is immediately adjacent to "downtown" Northampton, to my mind a great, funky college town. Look Park outside of town is nice, and there's an Eric Carle museum in Amherst. Did you know that Smith and Mount Holyoke are members of the Five College Consortium (with Hampshire, Amherst, and U Mass Amherst)? Students can take classes and take advantage of opportunities at the other other schools.


    If you are up there, you might also take a look at the University of Vermont. It is bigger than an LAC but nothing like Wisconsin. It doesn't feel very big. It is just up a hill from downtown Burlington, which is a great college town, right on Lake Champlain, with the Adirondacks visible across the lake, with beautiful sunsets. Church Street is just a couple of blocks off the lake. It's a great pedestrian mall with lots of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc. It's a long drive from Northampton/Amherst, but a nice one.

    Reed does seem like a possibility for her., and Wellesley too. The other one that comes to my mind is Colorado College. Students take one class at a time, so that might well be a positive or negative. Otherwise, it seems to check all her boxes very well.

    Good luck!
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  • ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
    Yes, @TTG we're very familiar with the Pioneer Valley and with the consortium. Love the area and the opportunities! My sister lives in Noho and my niece goes to MHC. Really hoping D20 digs these two schools!

    Thanks to @Eeyore123 @gandalf78 @gardenstategal for these suggestions (particularly the beekeeping club @ Knox!). We'll do some more research. Have heard great things about Earlham, Knox, Whitman. I'm intrigued by Colorado College. Not as familiar with Lawrence, Kalamazoo, Beloit, Guilford.
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  • houndmomhoundmom 341 replies12 threads Member
    Anyone mention Agnes Scott in Decatur, GA? Women's college in cool part of Atlanta not far from Emory. Very LGBTQ friendly part of the city.
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  • ninakatarinaninakatarina 1619 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Maybe Goucher for a safety?
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  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Lawrence has beekeeping, too, and I think there is a Claremont consortium opportunity for it, too. I will say that she might think about whether she can work beekeeping into her Common App Essay. It is a pretty unique hobby.
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  • ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
    @intparent - funny you mention that. Her older sister D17 wrote her Common App essay on autopsying a dead hive.
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  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Sounds like a winning basis for a good essay to me. :D You should look at Lawrence, it seems like a good match for her.
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  • hophop 1032 replies3 threads Senior Member
    I second Goucher as a good match as well as a safe bet, and the aforementioned MHC, Bryn Mawr, Smith and Wellesley.
    I would also toss Simmons into the mix as another urban woman's college that would likely be a safe school.
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  • glittervineglittervine 210 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Have you looked at Mills College in California? LAC, women's college, higher acceptance rate, Bay Area. I've never visited but I hear it has an artsy/activist vibe.

    It sounds like she will love Smith. You should visit Amherst while you're in the area - it will be a reach for her too, but we have great psych and neuroscience programs, no Greek life, and a beautiful college town. Possibly Hampshire for LGBTQ friendliness and her beekeeping/farming interests, as they have an 80-acre farm which I think has beehives. If she's interested in Reed and Pitzer, Hampshire has a similar vibe. Neither are women's colleges, though.

    Other schools she might be interested in:
    Sarah Lawrence
    University of Mary Washington

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  • happy1happy1 24165 replies2426 threads Super Moderator
    Skidmore seems like it could be a very nice fit. Agree with Goucher as being a good safety.
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  • momrathmomrath 6026 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @Itisatruth I think your daughter is a strong candidate even for more selective colleges. She has that winning combination of academics, arts and sports (plus interesting other activities) that would appeal to most colleges. Of course there are no guarantees but I wouldn't rule out some other reaches like Williams, Pomona and Wellesley.

    I hope your daughter plans to submit an arts portfolio (and possibly music performance as well) even if she doesn't intend to major in an arts related discipline. Her participation in photography, art, music are good ECs appreciated by many small LACs.

    In addition to the schools already suggested (Wesleyan, Skidmore, Vassar) I would also suggest that she look at Williams, Kenyon, Hamilton for vibrant arts programs and rigorous academics. While in Western MA, you might want to visit the Clark and MassMoCA art museums.

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  • ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
    Agnes Scott, Simmons, Goucher, and University of Mary Washington are all great suggestions, thanks @glittervine @hop @happy1. I've totally got my eye on Skidmore but D20 has ruled it out for the dumbest reason (which I should go post on the "dumb reasons to rule out colleges" thread).
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  • ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
    edited August 2018
    @momrath Yes, I think she is planning to assemble and submit a portfolio, that is a big focus of the Senior Studio class she'll take Senior year.

    Thanks for the encouragement on her chances! My parents lived in Williamstown for many years and still have a house there so Williams College, Clark, & MassMoCA are annual summer visits for us! Somehow didn't think about Bennington (duh) but we could easily visit there, Skidmore, and even Bard when we're there later this month.
    edited August 2018
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College 2262 replies104 threads Forum Champion
    Regarding your interest in low matches and safeties, you might look at these colleges that are similar in tone and personality to some on your list:

    Hampshire College in MA (visit when you go to Smith and Mt. Holyoke— same consortium)
    Clark University in MA
    Wheaton College (I mean the one in Norton, MA, not one with the same name in Illinois!)
    Goucher in MD
    Eckerd in FL

    Very, very small colleges of a similar sort:
    Bennington in VT
    New College of Florida in FL
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  • ItisatruthItisatruth 389 replies25 threads Member
    Just circling back here to say that I've done a fair bit of research into Bennington College (since we will be in Williamstown MA next week anyway) and all I can say is -- WOW! Holy mental update, Batman! I definitely had an outdated, tired impression of that school from 70s/80s reputation and then the 90s upheaval.

    I was super impressed (like, seriously, she's amazing) with the new president, Mariko Silver, and also pretty persuaded by Bennington's version of open curriculum, The Plan, and the yearly 7-week Field Work Term in Jan/Feb. Yep, it's tiny (still <800 undergrads) but incoming class is 220 or so, and Silver and her new team are working hard on selectivity, yield, retention, diversity, and more strategic use of merit aid. The no-tenure thing is controversial for sure (my spouse and I are both tenured faculty, so I'm admittedly biased) but I can see why they did it and how it works to support Bennington's unique ethos.

    Anyway, all that to say that I'm very excited to visit next week with D20 if I can talk her into it. It would come right on the heels of Smith + Mount Holyoke visits, should be interesting comparison. If D20 likes Bennington that should give us more info about including Bard, Hampshire and Sarah Lawrence on the list.
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