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Help w/ List: Amherst, Wellesley, Haverford, etc

GoldPennGoldPenn 159 replies7 threads Junior Member
I could really use some help adding colleges to D21’s list and so I’m turning to all of you knowledgeable CC parents with hopes you’ll have suggestions. We’d like to have a short, well-chosen list of schools to visit in order to allow her to get to know each one before deciding where to apply ED next fall.

The List (so far):
*Amherst (Big Reach)
Wellesley (Reach)
Haverford (Reach)
Grinnell (Reach/Match)
Bryn Mawr (Match)
Mt. Holyoke (Match)
I think we need more matches and a couple of safeties but am not sure?

The Criteria:
I’ve been tasked with finding small liberal arts colleges that:
•”are in cold states”
•have an ethnically diverse student body
•have a socioeconomically diverse student body because “I don’t want to go to college with a bunch of rich, white kids.”
•have a campus sustainability plan and “not something lame so they can pretend to be green.”
•offer majors in at least one or more, of the following:
Peace & Conflict/Justice Studies
Environmental Studies (Policy
Concentration with few/no science
requirements)
Public Policy
And offers minor in Linguistics

Stats:
SAT: 1520 (800v, 720m)
GPA: 3.9 unweighted: (I believe weighted is 4.3)
Classes: all International Baccalaureate (mix of high level and standard)

Activities include:
Model U.N
Amnesty International (volunteer)
ACLU (member/volunteer)
American Sign Language (teach class)
Volunteers for clean lakes organization
Plays tennis

About Us:
Full-pay family
Kid has no hooks
From Nebraska

About D21:
Kind-hearted
Collaborative
Quietly confident
Emerges as leader in group work
Great communicator
Passionate environmentalist
Social justice warrior
Will watch sports if friends are on the team
Hangs out with friends but not a partier
No preference for rural vs urban setting

*Re Amherst:
•Concerned about using her one early decision opportunity on a school so selective. Any thoughts?
•It offers 3 out of 4 of her interest areas (the only one that does)
•it has by far the largest number of interesting courses, per D21, after comparing course selections of each college on list.
•It’s incredibly diverse, both ethnically (41% white) and socioeconomically (57% receive aid; 23% Pell Grant)
•it has impressive campus sustainability efforts
•so far emerges as D’s favorite, by a good margin, over her other choices.

Vetoed:
Hamilton: Despite offering Public Policy major (hard to find in liberal arts); it was deemed “too white” at 64%.

Many thanks for your comments and suggestions!
47 replies
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Replies to: Help w/ List: Amherst, Wellesley, Haverford, etc

  • ItisatruthItisatruth 334 replies22 threads Member

    At least consider researching to add to list based on programmatic availability:
    (first # after school name is USNWR Diversity index, closer to 1.0 is more ethnically diverse; second # is % Pell Grant.)

    Hi Reach:
    Swarthmore 0.69. 20% = 89
    Williams 0.62, 21% = 83

    Reach/Match:
    Carleton 0.50, 15% = 65
    Vassar 0.57, 25% = 82

    Match:
    Smith 0.58, 24% = 82

    Safety/Match:
    Macalester 0.50, 18% = 68

    FOR COMPARISON WITH EXISTING LIST:

    *Amherst (Big Reach) 0.69, 23% = 92
    Wellesley (Reach) 0.70, 20% = 90
    Bryn Mawr (Match) 0.63, 15% = 78
    Mt. Holyoke (Match) 0.56, 20% 76
    Haverford (Reach) 0.56, 16 = 72
    Grinnell (Reach/Match) 0.51, 19% = 70

    And also for comparison, Hamilton is 0.45, 16% = 61
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  • wisteria100wisteria100 4309 replies48 threads Senior Member
    Mt Holyoke is probably a safety.
    As for Amherst, it’s a reach for everyone but your D’s stats are in line with what they look for and if it ends up being her favorite than ED would provide a slight advantage. Being from Nebraska could be a minuscule hook at all these schools.
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 1079 replies16 threads Senior Member
    I think that haverford offers almost everything on her list and their ED acceptance rate makes it closer to a match for her, no? If Amherst is the dream, though, why not line up an EDII backup just in case?
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6134 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I think your list is good. Earlham would be a safety that would check all the boxes.

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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 199 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I am sure you have looked at Colgate and probably rejected it for the “rich, white kid” reason but I am going to suggest you reconsider. They have a new no loan initiative and are looking to really diversify the population. We found it to be more diverse than Amherst, actually. It offers 3 of the 4 academic areas of interest (no public policy). It may not rank high enough on the SJW scale but it is the first college in NY to reduce it’s net carbon emissions to zero. D20 was accepted ED and has already met incoming students from Alabama to Hawaii, The UK, and Vietnam. Oh, and she isn’t rich 🙂
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  • AlwaysLearnAlwaysLearn 343 replies17 threads Member
    I think you have a good list. Would maybe add ones that are already mentioned: Vassar and Smith

    I would encourage her to ED at Amherst if it is her 1st choice, especially since you are full pay. IMHO she would be a competitive applicant. Also, they are one of the LACs that does not have ED2.

    Best of luck to her!
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  • AriBenSionAriBenSion 86 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I second helpingmom40. Colgate is a very exciting place with a great vibe and should be considered. Their Peace and Conflict Department is excellent.
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  • AlwaysMovingAlwaysMoving 295 replies2 threads Junior Member
    GoldPenn wrote: »



    The Criteria:
    I’ve been tasked with finding small liberal arts colleges that:
    •”are in cold states”
    •have an ethnically diverse student body
    •have a socioeconomically diverse student body because “I don’t want to go to college with a bunch of rich, white kids.”
    •have a campus sustainability plan and “not something lame so they can pretend to be green.”
    •offer majors in at least one or more, of the following:
    Peace & Conflict/Justice Studies
    Environmental Studies (Policy
    Concentration with few/no science
    requirements)
    Public Policy
    And offers minor in Linguistics

    ....

    From Nebraska

    About D21:
    Kind-hearted
    Collaborative
    Quietly confident
    Emerges as leader in group work
    Great communicator
    Passionate environmentalist
    Social justice warrior
    Will watch sports if friends are on the team
    Hangs out with friends but not a partier
    No preference for rural vs urban setting


    For a safety, what about CU Boulder? It's not the most diverse place, but it checks a lot of her other boxes.
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  • momrathmomrath 5997 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @GoldPenn If Amherst continues to be your daughter's top choice I think applying ED would be a good strategy. For sure it's very selective, but to me, that's the whole point of ED. There's nothing in your daughter's profile that would keep her out of Amherst and a lot that would get her in.

    The type of programs that attract your daughter to Amherst are supported at most selective LACs, though they may be titled or configured differently.  This is especially true of concentrations and interdisciplinary programs, so it's hard to make apples to apples comparisons.

    If she likes Amherst, she should also visit Williams. Similar diversity and aid statistics, similar personality and a stellar environmental program.

    Williams' Center for Environmental Science was founded in 1967, one of the first environmental programs at an LAC. Williams also offers a Political Economy major (focusing on Public Policy) and Justice and Law concentration.

    My son and many of his friends at Williams have chosen careers that are heavily driven by sustainability, though their paths have been diverse: through urban planning, law, economics, architecture. The internships, Winter Study courses, and networking opportunities provided by Williams facilitated their graduate school admissions and ultimately their career paths.

    I would also take a look at Middlebury and Colorado College for environmental advocacy. Swarthmore and Wesleyan for robust social justice programs.
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  • elena13elena13 956 replies15 threads Member
    I'm not sure about linguistics but as far as her other criteria go, Vassar sounds like a great fit for her. I definitely think it's worth a visit. Very diverse student body, beautiful campus, and quite open curriculum. They announced a big new plan this past fall regarding carbon neutrality.
    https://www.vassar.edu/sustainability/carbon-neutrality/
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3503 replies11 threads Senior Member
    Macalester. Many LACs aren’t going to have a public policy major but living in a state capital provides lots of relevant opportunities.
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  • somanyaliasessomanyaliases 2 replies0 threads New Member
    Your daughter's profile looks remarkably similar to our D20. Our daughter had nearly identical stats, IB, non-athlete, strong leader, non-partier, committed to social justice causes, etc. In the end we had some overlap with your school list, though financial aid was in play for us, so we had some other constraints, particularly around home equity calculations and inclusion of merit possibility for safeties.

    Anyway, having just completed the process, I would at least add Smith to your list as a match school, especially since it looks like you will be visiting the area. Although, given the thoroughness of your current list, I suspect you may have reasons for it not being on there already.

    Also, as another "geographical diversity" candidate--though less so, Colorado--I agree that ED may be a solid strategy for a clear first choice if everything else is in line. When we began this process I was really not sold on ED unless our daughter used it to leverage legacy status (both her parents are alums of the same top private university), but after our Wellesley visit we relented. Meeting actual Wellesley students completely sold our daughter on the school (ironic, since it almost didn't make the initial cut as she thought it might be too white and wealthy). After we left Wellesley *all* of the other schools on her list ended up in the same "we'll see" tier, along with a couple of large National Merit rewarding publics. Basically, she could see a path for herself at the other schools, and was willing to weigh their respective financial offers against each other. But Wellesley was different, and after repeated runs of the Wellesley NPC it just made sense to ED there (which worked out, as she was admitted and the financial aid package was right in line with what their NPC had predicted). Now, how this applies to Amherst I can't say, but in retrospect I do think being from a less-represented part of the country is as close to a "hook" as our kids are going to get, so using it carefully (i.e., in ED) certainly makes sense.

    Good luck with your search, and congratulations on being so prepared. You look to be well ahead of where we were in this process a year ago!
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  • waverlywizzardwaverlywizzard 180 replies0 threads Junior Member
    There is everything to love about Amherst and Wellesley in particular. If she wants to ED there then give it a go! I will say that the Peace-Conflict studies Department at Mount Holyoke College are phenomenal. I know a person who went there and did a junior year abroad in Israel that was formative. But Amherst and Wellesley are just great choices for your D it seems. Best of luck.
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  • ProfSDProfSD 92 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited January 13
    "Ethnically diverse" is relative for all of these schools. In general, students looking for racial and ethnic diversity do not turn to NE LACs. So although there are some variations among this group, you should temper your expectations. Of course, if your D is Caucasian, then her standards of "diverse" might be lower than what many SOC looking for racial and ethnic diversity actual consider "diverse."

    It is also important to look at common data sets. For example, a school like Tufts seems very diverse on paper, but the number of Black students fluctuates between only 4-4.5%. Their racial and ethnic "diversity" is mainly Asian and Hispanic. At some of the other colleges, like Skidmore, it is the Asian community that is much smaller. (I know Tufts and Skidmore are not on your list, I am just using them as examples.)

    As a URM, if ethnic and racial diversity was a major concern, I would not turn to a NE LAC at all.

    Edited to add: And keep in mind the size of the student population. 18% students of color feels much different at a place like Haverford, then at a school the size Tufts or Boston College or NEU.
    edited January 13
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21990 replies232 threads Senior Member
    Some LACs in the NE are fairly diverse. Stats on Haverford for an example.

    https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/haverford-college/student-life/diversity/

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  • ProfSDProfSD 92 replies2 threads Junior Member
    doschicos wrote: »
    Some LACs in the NE are fairly diverse. Stats on Haverford for an example.

    https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/haverford-college/student-life/diversity/

    Again, it's relative depending on your perspective. For NE LACs, yes, that's considered diverse. But if you are a URM, that may not seem particularly diverse when you consider schools with larger populations.

    I am not saying this is a problem. My only point is that students looking for ethnic and racial diversity do not tend to cite NE LACs.
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  • ProfSDProfSD 92 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited January 14
    doschicos wrote: »

    Yes, on a relative scale. But I know several students of color who would never dream of applying to these colleges because they do not see them as especially diverse. It really depends on your perspective. For students who attend high schools with little racial and ethnic diversity it may not take much, but students of color do not often share the same views on what constitutes a diverse environment. That's my only point.

    And yes, Amherst, Bowdoin, and Wesleyan are considered very diverse. But my H and niece (URMs) who both attended Bowdoin will tell you it still felt VERY white.

    I realize OP's D is not a student of color so this conversation is somewhat irrelevant. I just always find it curious what some people consider a very racially and ethnically diverse environment.

    Edited to add: And for the record, my D20 was accepted ED to Hamilton. Had she not been accepted, we had several other LACs and NESCACs on her list (including Bowdoin, Trinity, and Colgate). But in no way did we ever think she would be attending a college with a lot of diversity. If that was a primary concern for her, we would have revamped her list altogether.
    edited January 14
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  • ProfSDProfSD 92 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited January 14
    I should clarify my comment about D20's list. In no way did we ever think she would be attending a college with a lot of racial and ethnic diversity.She was looking for a diverse student body, but for her "diversity" meant more than race and ethnicity. For example, she didn't want a school with mainly athletes, or a school with mainly "artsy" types. She wanted a mix of all types, and wanted to know that students were generally not segregated into groups. If it was just about race and ethnicity, we would have revamped her list substantially.

    I'll let it go. I'm not trying to shift the focus of the thread. Just cautioning that "diversity" is often a relative term depending on your group.
    edited January 14
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  • merc81merc81 10805 replies173 threads Senior Member
    edited January 14
    Hamilton: Despite offering a Public Policy major (hard to find in liberal arts), it was deemed “too white” at 64%.

    Nonetheless, Hamilton offers an offsetting legacy from its innovative history. That is, having arisen in its modern form from two colleges of different emphases and characteristics, its academic and architectural/spatial range should appeal to students (of any ethnic/cultural background) seeking intellectual and aesthetic variety. With respect to your daughter's particular interests, Hamilton, as you noted, offers an uncommon major in public policy, as well as a popular D.C. term suitable for students interested in this field.

    https://www.hamilton.edu/academics/offcampusstudy/washington-program
    edited January 14
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