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Swartmore vs Grinnell vs Carleton vs Vassar

lin123lin123 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Hey guys,
I am an athlete and my commitment deadline is around the corner. I intend to take computer science and also complete pre-med requisites as well. I am keeping CS as a backup, as getting into medical school as an international is tough. I would like a mild social scene(not too dull) with strong academics so that a job after school is in my list? HOW SHOULD I GO ABOUT IT?
sorry I am nervous, this is urgent.
THANKS!
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Replies to: Swartmore vs Grinnell vs Carleton vs Vassar

  • merc81merc81 10348 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 26
    @tk21769: Swarthmore has had some issues with respect to over-demand for CS courses. Though the OP may want to read the included article for general reference, I nonetheless wouldn't recommend that he base his decision on a situation that simply may have received less notice elsewhere.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/technology/computer-science-courses-college.html
    edited August 26
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10022 replies171 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited August 26
    Especially for CS, Swarthmore has 2 things going for it. The consortium relationship (with Haverford, BMC, Penn) potentially expands the number of available CS professors and courses. The suburban Philadelphia location potentially expands your access to internships.
    Additionally, Swat has an engineering program that offers several classes of interest to CS majors. The other three, especially Carleton, are strong in the sciences but do not offer engineering.

    That said, Swarthmore is a tough place to be pre-med. These are all top-notch schools, but Swat is rightfully (in)famous for its rigorous academics.
    edited August 26
    Post edited by warblersrule on
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  • HapworthHapworth 518 replies0 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited August 26
    I wish that I could remember where I read it, but a Swarthmore grad talked about how he wanted to be pre-med but Swat definitely had weeding-out courses (courses designed to be so difficult that many pre-med students end up changing their focuses). He talked about a chemistry course, I believe, where the professor skipped the first 120 pages in the textbook because he said, "You already know this from high school." The problem? The Swat grad--now very successful in another field--hadn't learned those "basics" in his high school chemistry course. The grad's takeaway was that sometimes one should look outside the "elite" colleges if one wants to be pre-med, as it's more important to be in an environment that truly supports its pre-med hopefuls. Anyone else familiar with the article that contained this anecdote?

    Anyhoo, there are probably CS professionals on this board, but I wonder if it matters *that* much where one earns a CS degree if A) the CS program is solid, and, B ) the overall reputation of the college is strong (the OP is looking at four excellent schools). My advice: choose the college that offers you the best financial aid package and that feels like it will be the best fit. Really, all four schools are peer institutions.
    edited August 26
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  • 57special57special 590 replies15 threadsRegistered User Member
    Am familiar with 3 of the 4 schools, as S1 was recruited by Swat, Carleton, and Grinnell for athletics.
    -First of, you haven't mentioned your sport...makes a difference. You will be spending a lot of time practicing, training, and playing, so the ambience surrounding your sport is important.
    - All three have excellent reps academically, with Swat and Carleton having superb reps. Not sure that Carleton would be any less rigorous than Swat. CS seems to be a work in progress at a lot of schools, both big and small. Not sure that CS would be a strength of a LAC, in any event.
    - S1 preferred Carleton to Swat(was offered to both). Felt that Swat had a strong SJW minority that was antagonistic towards athletes, and prevalent on the campus in general. Not his thing. This attitude wasn't present at Carleton. Also felt that Carleton was more laid back in general, which suited him.
    -Grinnell was too isolated for him...he knew that area of Iowa. Great facilities, though.
    - In asking around at Swat, S1 said it was rare for any students to take advantage of the "consortium". They are simply to busy to take a train to Penn, and most felt that the courses at Swat would be better than most that they could have at any of the other schools. An athlete would have even less time. Some might take courses at Bryn Mar for non academic reasons.
    - A place like Grinnell or Macalester would be a slight notch down in academic intensity, though they are both still excellent schools with excellent facilities. If you are a very strong student then they might be places that are in a "sweet spot' - rigorous, yet allowing one to excel marks wise, which is key for med school. My wife went to a "lesser" LAC as an international, aced her courses, and got into a renowned Medical school.
    - I know nothing about Vassar.
    - I don't know that Swat would be more exciting than Carleton. The latter has a larger student body, and shares the town with St. Olaf, which has 3,000 students. St. Olaf is much closer than either Haverford or BMC is. Swat is in a quiet suburban spot. Grinnell is pretty much out on it's lonesome.



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  • lin123lin123 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Sorry but I forgot to mention, I play tennis and have been offered spots at all of the above colleges. I have been offered places at Occidental, UMW, Bates, Oberlin and Skidmore if that changes anything. Only Bates,Swarthmore, and Vassar have told me that financial aid will not be possibility. One more thing I’ll have to add is that Carleton’s coach is also the biology professor and a member of the pre med committee as well ;). Kindly give your updates on the same.
    Thank you so much for helping me out, sitting far away from The Sates places me at a tough situation on making a commitment to all of the above mentioned prestigious colleges.
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  • AlmostThere2018AlmostThere2018 1338 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 26
    My D18 did not apply to Swat but her closest friend did and now attends. She's had a good experience, but reports everything is 'extra.' 'Extra' activism, 'extra' academics, 'extra' . . . you name it. Amazing educational opportunities and beautiful campus, but my D didn't apply b/c she felt it was too intense -- the people more so than the classes.

    My D was accepted to and considered Carleton and Grinnell (though she ended up choosing another college.) Carleton was a real contender, and I think she would have thrived there. Laid back, smart kids with so much to offer. She never made it to actually visit Grinnell. The cold winters at both were turnoffs.

    Don't know anything about Vassar.

    If it were me, I'd pick Carleton.

    Congrats to you and good luck!!
    edited August 26
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4018 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    All 4 of those schools will allow you to get you where you want to go for med school/career. Possible considerations: Swarthmore is known as a fairly intense academic community while Carleton is on a trimester so that can affect the timing between academic terms and sports seasons. Vassar and Grinnell were two schools my D3 kid really liked -- warm communities, great academics, beautiful campuses. Grinnell is known for excellent sciences, in part because its massive endowment has allowed it to invest in infrastructure and programs for quite some time. If it were my kid being recruited for those schools, he would have chosen Grinnell in a heartbeat. Bates and Oberlin would be close runners up.
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  • lin123lin123 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    This is a very difficult call for me. Swarthmore has a beautiful campus and is a suburban campus which is a positive however the academics there are very intense and it will be tough to do CS+pre med there. Carleton is a good school and its giving me financial aid as well which is good thing. Grinnell is a rural campus but has a good science department. Vassar I don’t think is that good right?? Bates coach told me that they have a very good medical school acceptance rate. I would need help from you guys. Sitting far away makes it difficult
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  • merc81merc81 10348 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 27
    Vassar I don’t think is that good right??

    On its surface, Vassar might appeal most to students interested in fields such as fine arts and literature. Nonetheless, at its core it's a tradition liberal arts college with a wide array of majors and programs as well as a nicely intellectual atmosphere. However your other choices resolve, I'd recommend you keep Vassar in your top two.
    edited August 27
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4018 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Academically, they are peer schools -- I wouldn't say any of them are of a different caliber of school than the others, so it comes down to factors like financial aid/affordability, team and coach vibe, campus vibe, and ability to manage academic goals and athletic commitments. Am I understanding correctly that you said Swat, Vassar and Bates each said you will get no aid? Unless your family can easily pay $250,000 for college without blinking and still help with medical school, then consider removing any school which you will not get merit aid from the list. That leaves Oberlin, Skidmore, Grinnell and Carleton -- all of which are terrific schools and will prepare a student for med school. Of those 4, Grinnell and Carleton have a slightly stronger academic reputation. Grinnell sciences are top notch with amazing facilities amazing and we loved Grinnell's flexible curriculum, collaborative campus community, and the gorgeous facilities. The Carleton coach's role in pre-med advising seems like opportunity to keep both parts of your college experience "in sync." I'd dig more deeply with conversations with coaches, teams at Carleton and Grinnell, particularly comparing pros and cons of trimester and spring sport.
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Speaking of infrastructures, Vassar has recently completed a rather handsome new science center.
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  • lin123lin123 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you first of all for your deep analysis. Yes you are right, swat etc are not giving any need based aid. Financial aid is not a deciding factor in my application however as a child I would like my family to go through as less financial burden as possible. If we don’t give any preference to financial aid then among Swat, Carleton, Oberlin, Bates and Grinnell which one will have strong job prospects and also a chance of getting into med school. Also the social scene plays a little part in my choice. I do believe that Swat is not known for its social scene.
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  • merc81merc81 10348 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 27
    among Swat, Carleton, Oberlin, Bates and Grinnell, which one will have strong job prospects . . .

    U.S. News reports information for early career salaries. Of the above schools, Swarthmore places highest by this measure. However, the information for Oberlin is not available, and all of the schools may need to be adjusted for regional variations in the cost of living as well as for personal career choices that may not be driven primarily by salary considerations.

    https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/swarthmore-college-3370
    edited August 27
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^Swarthmore is also the only college of the three with an engineering school which, I'm pretty sure skews the results. In fact, unless the OP plans on being an engineer, none of the numerous ROI rankings out there hold much water.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21123 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "consider removing any school which you will not get merit aid from the list. That leaves Oberlin, Skidmore, Grinnell and Carleton -- all of which are terrific schools and will prepare a student for med school."

    The only merit aid Carleton gives is $2K for National Merit Scholarships.
    It sounds like OP won't qualify for need based aid anywhere.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 434 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    I wouldn't include Oberlin with Swarthmore, Vassar, Bates etc (in terms of reputation). Its enrollment, I believe, is declining (from reading on CC).

    Perhaps one way for you to narrow it down is to decide what kind of setting you would like, as that is something that's different between some of the schools.
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  • lin123lin123 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    One update: Swarthmore is ready to give me CS along with pre med requisites as well.
    doschicos wrote: »
    "
    It sounds like OP won't qualify for need based aid anywhere.

    I have already talked to coaches and my family qualifies for need based aid at Carleton and Grinnell

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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One update: Swarthmore is ready to give me CS along with pre med requisites as well.


    Not sure what that means. Are you talking about AP credit or something similar?
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