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Best way to find school for undecided student

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Replies to: Best way to find school for undecided student

  • ivycoverivycover 135 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    homerdog wrote: »
    @Publisher she is completely uninterested in a big school. She made that abundantly clear when we were in Madison last week. I tried. She didn’t like the big dorms, the long walks to class, the tall buildings, the busy streets, etc. She wants a walkable campus that has no busy streets. I thought Madison was way more manageable than Michigan or UIUC but she was having none of it.

    Good stuff.

    Quantifiable parameters.

    An interesting metric is "density". Sure, there are some small atypical campuses/programs that will wear you out physically but this is still major predictor of small "feel". Student to student proximity isn't the relevant factor but the density of a small undergrad population does directly relate to intimacy and physical exertion.

    Your new spreadsheet can contain only schools of a maximum undergraduate enrollment and a maximum number of acres and a derived density. What other quantifiable parameters do you wish to include? Urban/suburban/rural? Distance to major metropolitan center. Number of sorority houses per student? Percentage greek?


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  • homerdoghomerdog 5066 replies93 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @ivycover yes! Intimacy! That’s the word I was looking for. Although I’m sure she could eek out intimacy with professors and fellow students at an honors college, that’s not the intimacy she’s drawn to. She wants to feel like the student body as a whole is intimate. The saying hi between classes, the passing a bunch of kids on the sidewalk during passing periods. When we were at UW, there were cars and bikes and Madison townies and it didn’t seem like students knew each other. (It’s summer of course, but still...the landscape was too busy.)
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  • ivycoverivycover 135 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited July 22
    Broad brush pronouncements are almost always flawed but anecdotally the difference between Buffalo/Rochester and Atlanta/Birmingham levels of personal engagement are on a fairly predictable latitudinal scale. And their is a longitudinal aspect as well but it's relationship is less direct.
    edited July 22
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7256 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    That type of intimacy exists on a larger campus. Whenever we visited our daughter at her school we were stunned at how many people/groups she waved to, said hello to, stopped to talk to, interacted with etc as we walked the campus and town. Your daughter seems to prefer smaller schools....that’s where she feels comfortable and at home.

    We visited schools (some more than once) with 6000 students...not an LAC and not a large university...where most students walked alone, no hellos etc. My daughter didn’t want to apply to such schools...even though she really had no idea whether this was typical of most days.

    edited July 22
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  • TS0104TS0104 890 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    @homerdog , my son was similar to your daughter (and I think we have crossed paths on some past threads for our sons), as in no clear career path or major in mind. Eventually over Junior year he settled in on Psychology or Poli Sci as possible options, but we started and continued the college search NOT based on program or major, since he didn't have a strong interest and well, every college has those above two. So our research and search was based much more on size, feel, fit. We thought that a LAC, or other schools that encourage lots of exploration and/or have bigger core curriculums, would be better for him...I WANT him to explore and feel that he will likely find his true interests better IN college than just trying to figure it out now. Plus I have heard that 40% of college students change their major.

    Anyway, also knowing some things about my son and his style and personality, fit became a a strong factor in our search along with size (also medium, although we looked at some small, and DEFINITELY not big) and location. I also had my ears perked for schools with strong advising, or internships or other experiences built in, and that might provide a bit more oversight/individual attention, as my son is the kind who will rise to the occasion so to speak, but might not go searching out that occasion, if that makes sense. I'm sure that will change in college, but a closer relationship with faculty and/or an advisor will benefit him.

    Some of your D's schools were on his list too, and Rhodes (discussed upthread) seemed like a great option but I couldn't talk him into visiting. He ended up choosing Elon which rose to the top of the list at the first visit, and stayed there, and the second visit sealed the deal. It's a good fit for him with the strong advising and focus on engaged learning, is the right size, and we've only heard great things. We both feel it's the best choice for him. But this is all "fit" and not necessarily rank or statistics, which confirms that for our search, visiting and reading up on culture was important, as well as the other things mentioned such as when they declare their major. We also found helpful the sites (***che.com) or Fiske Guide that has lists like "similar schools to" or "other schools that students applied to" or the peer/competitor lists, once we found a couple that seemed to fit S's broad interests.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7256 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The one student I know who attended Elon had a fabulous experience. It was not her first choice school...and she considered it a safety...but once she got over the “safety” piece she thrived and had an unbelievable four years...with several wonderful internships.
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  • ivycoverivycover 135 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited July 22
    twogirls wrote: »

    Whenever we visited our daughter at her school we were stunned at how many people/groups she waved to, said hello to, stopped to talk to, interacted with etc as we walked the campus and town.

    Back during the last ice age I distinctly recall a fellow who walked campus on a strict schedule and pattern. In addition to a penchant for outlandish headgear and neckties, he always accessorized with a tall iced tea glass containing a dark brown liquid. While not an athlete or conventional BMOC, he was exceedingly genial in an almost British manner and a Greek to boot. The family estate finally accrued to several billion but that is strictly an ancillary detail.

    Greeting and being greeted by as well notation of the costume of the day and the then current level of the liquid in his glass were topics of discussion as common as the weather and sometimes even addressed by professors from the lectern. Seemingly no one was immune from his charm. It was only then that I first recognized the value of a Culver (or equivalent type) education. A few of you may know exactly the individual to whom I am referring.

    edited July 22
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34200 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Lol, UMass Amherst is a crazy big campus. It's the first thing so many note, before saying how much they liked their experience there. Some kids just don't want the all that acreage.


    One of the things that impressed me when visiting, was whether students were friendly and open to us, as visitors. Clark/MA was one of the best.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8078 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Interesting discussion. Agree that both large & small schools offer intimacy, but sometimes privacy is difficult to find at small schools. Regardless, for one intent on joining the Greek system, a sorority at any size school should offer plenty of intimacy & close bonding.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 4022 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    Right up front, admittedly, I'm biased to UMich. I find it cute, small-ish and quaint.

    When I/we visited Madison, during the 1st week of August a couple years ago, it seemed like Manhattan to me, compared to Ann Arbor. :smiley:
    edited July 22
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  • ivycoverivycover 135 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Publisher wrote: »
    . . . . . . but sometimes privacy is difficult to find at small schools. . . . .

    Some crave or require virtual anonymity and find it only in the largest, urban schools.

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  • tkoparenttkoparent 175 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I can understand your daughter's thinking, as it sounds similar to my son. When someone asked him last week what he liked most about Denison, he surprised me by saying something like "the compact campus." He had been very consistent in this preference over our whole two year search. The first school we visited during junior year was Occidental, which also has a beautiful self-contained campus, and he loved that and stuck with the concept. He had been to sports camps at Cornell, UCLA and Berkeley and had also visited USC, but he absolutely wouldn't consider any big schools. No point arguing about it, I think, as there are lots of good schools that fit the model. I remember laughing a few years ago when I read posts about kids dinging schools because there was a road running through campus, but now I understand!
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5277 replies77 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    UMass Amherst is a big campus for New England. Until you visit some of the really big schools outside of the NE bubble. It’s a medium sized flagship at most. But certainly waaay bigger than most of the names mentioned on this thread. It’s a great place. Like most flagships you will have an opportunity to find a group and vibe that works for you. You’ll find the full spectrum outside of the crazy and terrible fringe stuff.

    edited July 22
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  • AlmostThere2018AlmostThere2018 1344 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My S had same reaction to Wisconsin when we visited in June. Too many streets and too busy. I liked the fact that the town blends with the campus b/c even off student apartments are easy walking or biking distance to classes. But it's def. more urban feeling. It's still on his list I think (if he decides to apply engineering), but he liked VT better.

    Some large schools are not like that. UNC is 16k undergrads (a lot smaller than Wisconsin) so bigger than a lot of colleges on your D's list but it's compact and has very few roads running through it so it feels more intimate. Students run into each other all the time b/c theres a central part campus that I think almost every student passes through several times a day. It's gorgeous -- but of course it's my alma mater so I'm biased!
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22994 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My kids at 16, when they were looking at colleges, thought 5000 was too big and really wanted smaller. They'd been to bigger schools for sports camps and band camp and just wanted something smaller. One picked a school with about 3500 on campus and the other 10,000 (size was her compromise to go to the school she wanted). She knew 2 other students before she started --from Kindergarten! After orientation she knew dozens more. By the first few weeks of class she knew hundreds more. She did have one lecture with about 140 students in it (biggest at her school) and she knew 15 or so right off the bat in that class.

    Both visited friends at much bigger schools (like Florida State and Colorado State) and both said the same thing "Oh, I could have done this school." In fact, both wish their schools were bigger by junior year, especially that there would be more class choices and more sections of the classes. For my daughter's last semester senior year, she had the same prof for 2 courses, he was her senior adviser, and she worked for him. It was a small department and she'd run out of courses to pick from.

    Kids are different at 16 than at 18. She might not like Wisconsin but may like Iowa as another Big 10 choice. Different campus, different vibe. Just as cold.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5066 replies93 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    @twoinanddone yes true. 16 is not 18 and she could very well change her tune. Unlike our S, I do think she will have a bit of a mix of schools on her list. She still has over a year and quite a few visits left before anything has to be decided. It won’t be Iowa or IU for her. Too many kids from our high school go to those schools (50+ to each last year) and she definitely does not want that. But maybe another bigger school could be in the cards. Who knows. Right now, I can just go on what she’s saying and start her list from there. Even if she is not keeping an open mind, I am. And I’ll have options for her to add if she changes her mind. Still want a school, though, that has very strong alumni support and career services. I don’t see that not being a priority.
    edited July 22
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  • Parentof2014gradParentof2014grad 978 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    My LAC kid also said, a year in, that she would have been fine at a big school. But she’s a happy grad of that LAC. She didn’t regret her choice, just realized later that that size limit that had been so important to her, at the time was, in retrospect, less important.
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  • RockySoilRockySoil 143 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    If your daughter is willing to compromise on the "middle of nowhere" criteria, St. Lawrence would be a really good safety, with lots of merit for her profile. We just returned from a visit with DS21 and loved it (posted a visit report on CC yesterday). 2400 students, lots of school spirit (D3 sports but D1 hockey), fanatical alumni connections that really help with getting internships and jobs. Good academics all around, with an excellent Environmental Studies program. It is remote, but if she likes the outdoors and doesn't mind snow it is a beautiful spot to spend four years.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22994 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It won’t be Iowa or IU for her. Too many kids from our high school go to those schools (50+ to each last year)

    I never understand this. Does she not like anyone at her high school? Does she even KNOW 50 kids from her school who go to Iowa other than as a statistic? My nephew graduated with about 225 and I'm sure 50 are at CU (some directly, MANY transferred after their OOS or LAC schools proved too small, too far away, too expensive). He knows several hundred more from prior grad years, youth sports, girls (he went to an all boys school), etc. He's a social guy. He took a random roommate his first year just for something different. His girlfriend is not from here (I think she's from your kids' high school!)

    I just don't get the worry that out of ~23k students at a school like Iowa, she may know 50 and even run into 2-3 per day. I understand she may not want to go to Iowa, but the reason shouldn't be that she'd run into past classmates or fear that it will be just like high school.
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