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Colleges That Change Lives - the real scoop?

eb23282eb23282 684 replies19 threads Member
So what's the real scoop with the CTCL schools? CC is filled with praise for CTCL schools like Denison, but then there's nothing for a school like Lynchburg. Is it because the CTCL schools vary so greatly with selectivity? For instance:

Denison:
SAT (Reading + Math) middle 50%: 1200-1410
ACT middle 50%: 27-31

Lynchburg:
Average SAT composite score: 1120
Average ACT score: 23


These are significant differences, and a student matched for Denison would not be the same student matched for Lynchburg. I guess I'm trying to figure the value CTCL brings and how best to use it as a source.
19 replies
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Replies to: Colleges That Change Lives - the real scoop?

  • allyphoeallyphoe 2524 replies61 threads Senior Member
    It suggests schools you may not have considered.
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  • eb23282eb23282 684 replies19 threads Member
    @allyphoe But that's my point - those considering Denison are not going to consider Lynchburg. They fit a different academic profile. Plus, Denison is well known and well discussed, while Lynchburg is not discussed at all.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1779 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited January 15
    It’s a catchy title to get people to buy their books. All colleges have the ability to change lives. The colleges in the book are mostly small, private, LAC located in the NE and Midwest. If that is what you are looking for great, but I wouldnt put the book on a pedestal.
    edited January 15
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  • happy1happy1 23319 replies2307 threads Senior Member
    edited January 15
    IMO CTCL is a marketing tool that came out of a book written long ago. It is a way for a number of small schools to get their names out there as a group.

    While you may get some college ideas from the CTCL book, IMO each CTCL school must be researched independently to determine the fit/appropriateness for any given student. There are many sources other than the CTCL book that you can use to research individual schools (the college's website, the common data set, other guide books etc.).

    And yes, of course any college can change a person's life.
    edited January 15
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  • merc81merc81 10931 replies179 threads Senior Member
    edited January 15
    With respect to the book, it might be interesting to consider the ambitious subtitle as well: 40 Schools that Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges.
    edited January 15
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 299 replies5 threads Member
    I agree with others here that the CTCL book can be a useful reference if your child is interested in LACs. Reading the descriptions can give you ideas about the schools included as well as questions you might want to ask about any school you are considering. I read it cover to cover, but then I also read the Fiske Guide, the Insider's Guide and the Princeton Review guide more or less cover to cover with respect to the LACs included in those guides. As I recall, Lauren Pope's original goal was to identify schools with acceptance rates above 50% that offer an excellent and highly-personalized education, places where kids could grow. (Maybe the book's most important purpose is reminding parents that such places do exist!) The list has changed somewhat over time - I read that Grinnell and Franklin and Marshall were both on the original list but dropped off as they became more competitive. Other schools like Denison and Reed presumably they see some benefit in staying in.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29925 replies59 threads Senior Member
    As others have said, the book written many years ago by Loren Pope was very limited in the colleges described and mentioned. It’s not a big fat college guide. Also, much has changed from those years.

    Look at it as a first step, a sampler of some schools that may not be first on your list to check out, and work from there. I’m sure many more schools belong on the list. Look at ones nearby that are hidden gems.

    The CTCL web site does include Lynchburg commentary. Do check it out

    Lynchburg was the perfect school for two people I know, but it does not have the more general appeal of Denison, IMO. There is a very strong religious climate there, though not as pervasive as a number of evangelical schools. It’s certainly not like those schools that are religious in heritage and history only. Because it is a very small college.’, and the Church if Christ presence is so very strong, a large number of students I know felt it was just not for them.
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  • TS0104TS0104 1111 replies29 threads Senior Member
    I think the difference can be explained simply by the fact that CC overwhelmingly skews to higher selective/higher stat schools. Part of that is probably just self selection of the active posters. Schools with a 23ACT average are a minor part of CC discussions, whether on CTCL or not.
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  • HapworthHapworth 573 replies0 threads Member
    edited January 16
    I am a graduate of a CTCL school, though the original book was not published until after I earned my degree. The book is a minor classic in the college guidebook canon. Pope is biased (he doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't attend a LAC), but he's also passionate, and that passion is infectious and winning. He was in his 80s when he wrote Looking Beyond the Ivy League and Colleges that Change Lives.

    Back to the OP's original question. The midwest is a treasure trove of LACs, which is why the schools from this region are represented most in the book. The south is the next biggest region. The other areas (southwest, northwest, east) have slimmer pickings.

    CTCL schools that pretty much never get mentioned here: Emory & Henry, Antioch, Millsaps, Hendrix, Guilford, Birmingham-Southern, Austin College, Southwestern U, Lynchburg.

    Why do some get mentioned but not others? Denison is probably not a great example, as Denison has always had pretty strong name recognition--for a LAC, that is. My guess? Location. Midwesterners have lots of LAC options close by, and students from the Great Plains states and further west are more likely to choose a midwestern LAC than a non-FL southern LAC. The midwestern LACs are also pretty similar to their east coast cousins, but they're often less selective and $10-15K cheaper. Plus, students who are used to the four seasons (or students who wish to experience the four seasons) can do so at an east coast *or* midwestern LAC. Result: midwestern CTCL schools get mentioned *a lot* on this site.
    edited January 16
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  • happy1happy1 23319 replies2307 threads Senior Member
    @EconPop I don't think (or certainly I didn't intend) to use "marketing" with a negative connotation. In fact I think it is smart for the group of small LACs to band together for some events so they can all get the word out. My point, and I believe the point of others was that each CTCL college is different and once a person thinks a CTCL school might be a good fit further research on that particular institution is needed. I would not take inclusion on the CTCL list as "proof" that a particular college is the right fit for any given student.
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  • EconPopEconPop 444 replies7 threads Member
    @happy1 , regarding my one-size-doesn't-fit-all comments were directed toward the OP's comparison of Denison and Lynchburg.

    Sorry about the "marketing" miss. I'm a big stickler for misleading marketing and I myself have a love/hate relationship with marketing, and I misread (or projected) the hint of marketing disdain in your comment.
    happy1 wrote: »
    each CTCL college is different and once a person thinks a CTCL school might be a good fit further research on that particular institution is needed.

    100% agree
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