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Calling all nerds!

mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
Need help. DS is a hard worker (valedictorian with great stats). He’s considered a “nerd “ quirky and unique) but not antisocial and awkward. He has friends and they love him. He’s super sweet. Looking for a college with a math degree (applied or other) that has other hardworking students that like to engage in stimulating conversations and take their work seriously but also know how to have fun. But not the “frat boy, beer drinking type of fun”. More like the “nerf war, water balloon, quidditch team” type of fun. A place where they embrace their quirkiness. He doesn’t want to go to a closed-minded preppy school where they’ll judge him for his clothes or exclude him because he doesn’t dress well or drink. He doesn’t care about rural vs urban nor conservative vs liberal. He’s a liberal kid from the south so he can handle both ideas. (But prefers open minded people.) Looking for a friendly, inclusive place where they can appreciate a sweet nerdy type guy. Some “nerdy” schools sound like they all have closed doors and they never leave the dorm, like CMU (correct me if I’m wrong about that one). He doesn’t want that. He is a perfect fit for Rice but it’s hard to get in there and so we need some other ideas. Any advice? (And any places we should clearly avoid because they would hate him?)
48 replies
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Replies to: Calling all nerds!

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10834 replies134 threads Senior Member
    You described my daughter. She's having an amazing time and found her tribe at Purdue.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8186 replies87 threads Senior Member
    Budget limitations?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84645 replies752 threads Senior Member
    Cost constraints and state of residency?

    What math courses will he have completed by the time he graduates from high school?

    Does he have a particular goal in math? E.g. PhD / pure math / research in math (or related fields like statistics, economics, operations research), work in finance, data science, computing, operations research or other applied areas, teaching high school math, ... ?
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Don’t want to impose budget restraints yet. Will figure that part out later. We are from Texas.
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    He is not yet sure how he wants to apply math but does not want to teach. He knows he will likely have to get a Masters degree along the way.
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    And he will have completed Calculus BC at graduation (that’s as far as our school goes)
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4263 replies27 threads Senior Member
    edited August 4
    Swarthmore sounds like it could be a good fit. Large public flagships will have superb math and related departments and are big enough that a kid can find their people through residential learning communities etc. For ex., Collins at IU and Chadbourne at Wisconsin, are both home to the "nerdy quirky" kids.
    edited August 4
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2344 replies19 threads Senior Member
    RPI? WPI, Lots of nerds at both. Though from your description I think he can find like minded people at many schools, esp in the math dept.
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  • yearstogoyearstogo 868 replies30 threads Member
    DS is athletic and also heavy into STEM. From what we have seen the math crowd is very accepting. DS has done many math competitions and many of that crowd fits the nerd bill but it seems everyone speaks math and is not judgmental at all. I think your son will probably be just fine no matter where he goes.
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    That’s good to hear. I was assuming he would find his people simply because of his major. I just want to make sure he can find a place where he himself won’t be shunned for being geeky. He is actually quite a happy, nice, social guy. He even said that if everyone is going to a football game, he will gladly tag along (even though he doesn’t care about football)
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  • TS0104TS0104 1478 replies31 threads Senior Member
    William and Mary comes to mind, and Rhodes in TN (note these are in completely different tiers, acceptance-wise). My son has similar social vibes as yours and we ruled out schools that had a heavy Greek scene.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6822 replies2 threads Senior Member
    UT Austin sounds almost too obvious to mention. Stanford would be great for a master's if he can get in after getting his bachelor's in Texas (a couple of years of work in between is optional).

    I think that you should think very seriously about whether you can afford to spend $300,000 or a bit more over four years before your son gets his heart set on somewhere that you cannot afford.

    My bachelor's is in math. My masters is in a closely related field (Operations Research). In my experience math majors are very accepting of "quirky".
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks everyone
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    UT and TAMU are definitely on his list because he’s auto admit plus likely in their honors program too. But they’re two of the largest schools in the country. We aren’t weeding them out but they’re just so large!! (I went to one of them, so I know what they feel like. You can often feel very anonymous) I think he would appreciate classes smaller than 750 students (they seriously get that big) and closer relationships with profs. Even a school that’s 30,000 would be better than 55,000.
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  • coffeeat3coffeeat3 176 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited August 4
    @mathymom4 - Not sure about Math majors - but want to throw out some amazing small schools that my nerdy, outgoing daughter fell in love with: Carleton, Grinnell, Vassar - she is on the creative side for a major (would love to play Quiddich too!), but during these tours - all the guides were Stem focused and made her want to branch out into more science classes too. Grinnell would be very generous with merit money and a huge % of kids go on to PhD studies. Agree that William and Mary would be worth a closer look too.
    edited August 4
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  • mathymom4mathymom4 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I was wondering about these schools in particular...so I’ll look further into them
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8186 replies87 threads Senior Member
    Collegekid2’s bf is a recent math major at Vassar. Got a cool internship @DHS summer after 2nd year & they sent him to work with MI5 in England for the summer after 3rd year. Now doing a PhD in math at Cornell.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84645 replies752 threads Senior Member
    Class sizes do get smaller at upper levels. You may want to investigate the size of upper level math courses at UT Austin and other large universities. Lower level math courses can be huge due to them being shared by other majors, although honors courses can be considerably smaller (e.g. https://www.ma.utexas.edu/academics/undergraduate/honors-track#programs-for-first-year-students ).

    At smaller colleges, you may want to investigate the breadth and depth of upper level math offerings, since some smaller colleges have small math departments with relatively limited offerings.
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