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Best way to find school for undecided student

homerdoghomerdog 4919 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
Our D21 is going into her college search as an undecided (but definitely not STEM) candidate. Our S19 was undecided as well when he was looking but was interested in math or physics so he was a different animal all together. D21 knows she doesn't want an undergrad business degree and no STEM.

She's drawn to mid-sized universities and LACs and I've posted here in the past to get ideas for her. Her list so far includes Wake Forest, Davidson, Richmond, Colgate, and Denison. She will be adding more but it's early. We did visit UW-Madison yesterday since she still wants a social campus and I was curious how she would feel about going bigger. It's a no. Dorms too big, campus too big, etc., She's sticking with original game plan. (But, let me say that Madison's campus is gorgeous - highly recommend for anyone interested in a bigger school.)

This is the dilemma - what kind of school is best for someone who will probably end up with a non-STEM liberal arts degree (psychology, history, poli sci, etc.). She sees no grad school in her future right now (of course that could change). I'm convinced that we need to be leaning towards schools where the alumni network is strong and where she will have strong advising in the career center since she envisions herself working after undergrad. She will need guidance on how to marry her interests in the classroom with the job market. I'd like to be proven wrong, but I think going to a highly ranked school will be important in this case.

Anyone have a student like this? What did their path end up being after undergrad? Any good news stories from certain schools or any regrets?
edited July 18
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Replies to: Best way to find school for undecided student

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33459 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    A lot of kids have no idea until they hit the college buffet of possible studies. You mention psych, history, poli sci, but those *are* areas kids learn something about, in high school, even indirectly.

    If she's a rising junior, she has time to learn a bit of what's out there. An LAC sounds perfect.
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  • washugradwashugrad 1117 replies13 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    This is just an anecdote rather than a real answer but I was impressed by the info session at Macalester last month. It differed from all of the others I've sat through so far - they focussed on 5 of their former students and talked about their path through school including their majors, extracurriculars during their time at Mac, internships and what they had learned from the internship, study abroad program if they'd done one, and what they are doing now. I bring that up mostly because of the internship aspect... it was interesting to see how those fit in. So I guess that's where I would suggest focussing for a student who was thinking of going into the working world after graduation... does the school seem to have a good internship placement program?
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1380 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it is very important that she comes out of school as close to debt free as possible. This will give her maximum flexibility in her first job.
    Have you looked at Lawrence? It had a little of the Madison feel. My DS though that College Ave was trying to be State Street.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29591 replies172 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What is your budget? Will that put any limitations on where she can look? What about geographical limitations?

    You looked at U WI Madison. Are you in WI or MN? If so you can hardly spit out there without hitting a decent LAC or smaller university where she can thrive. She doesn't need to focus solely on places that have name recognition here at CC to have a solid future.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4919 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 18
    We are full pay and can afford to send her wherever she wants. She will not have loans. We are in Illinois. Her brother will be off to Bowdoin this fall and she liked it there but it’s not quite a fit. I don’t know if she could even get in. Of course we don’t have junior grades or scores yet. Let’s just say I’m comparing everything to Bowdoin right now since that’s what I know best and, even though S19 hasn’t started yet, we are very impressed with everything Bowdoin offers. We want to make sure D21 is set up with as many opportunities as possible.

    I didn’t want to repeat myself on this thread but, for those who have not seen my others, D21 wants smaller school with big school spirit. Warmer weather a plus. I’ve already posted asking for school suggestions. You can see her starting list above. Just wanted to know how to evaluate schools since she’s undecided, not STEM, and wants to work after school and not go to grad school (at least for now). Good info in some of the posts above so thanks. Keep the suggestions coming!
    edited July 18
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77694 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Agree with others that an undecided student is best at a school where the possible majors of interest are not filled to capacity. This is less of an issue with H/SS than engineering, CS, or business, though economics or psychology is sometimes "full".

    H/SS majors typically do not have as long or voluminous prerequisite sequences (psychology is sometimes an exception), so that first year schedule planning can more easily be done to sample various majors without getting behind on any.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4919 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Midwestmomofboys yes I’ve heard good things about Denison. We will visit this fall. A good friend of S19’s will be there and D21 knows him well. He can give us the scoop and show us around after official tours!
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  • RayMantaRayManta 175 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hi again Homerdog--

    This is a fascinating puzzle--because it IS like a puzzle, waiting to be solved.

    I agree with @gardenstategal above that she probably would want a school with distribution requirements--an open curriculum school could be overwhelming. I know that I had no idea what I wanted to major in when I went to school, and had a hard time choosing classes and an open curriculum would have been totally the wrong environment for me.

    If she likes school spirit, then it seems like she is looking for a smaller Division I school where the sports teams are actually good--I am interpreting school spirit as being reflected in the support for the teams. That would put Wake and Davidson right at the top, I think. Maybe add Rice and Bucknell?

    Unfortunately, that's about all I can contribute. Best of luck to her and you!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5576 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Agree that the D1 LACs could be a fit. Lafayette, Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate. Denison has a lot going for it, so it'll be interesting to hear how she likes it. Union is another to check out -- lots of energy around hockey. Very good alumni network too. Can't remember if you had that on the list.

    I don't recall what most did for distribution requirements.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1380 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you are going to visit Denison, you could look at some of the other Ohio schools. Kenyon and Oberlin are great LACs. If you want to look at something midsize, you could stop by Miami University. It is about 20k students in a small town. If she didn’t like Wisconsin, don’t stop at tOSU.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4919 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Eeyore123 thanks. I’ve been to Kenyon and Oberlin with S19. D21 won’t like them. Kenyon is too secluded. Oberlin is too social justice-y. Don’t try to change my mind on that. We’ve been there and it won’t work. Miami of Ohio is an interesting one. Yes I think it would be good but she’s turning her nose up. Too many poor students from our high school go there. She just won’t be happy joining those kids. They seem to take everyone. I get that she shouldn’t care about that and look at what Miami has to offer but I’ve already lost that battle.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6971 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    How about College of Wooster?
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7187 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 18
    I think many students are undecided or change their major...sometimes more than once. It’s not unusual for interests to change.

    Your daughter may want to ask the schools about various career paths of liberal arts majors immediately following graduation. I would also investigate internships and research opportunities...research doesn’t have to be lab based. My daughter’s friend was a liberal arts major at an LAC and did research that was not in a lab, and was also involved in language research while abroad. My D was involved in both lab based and non lab based research. The opportunities your D takes advantage of while in school will help her once she graduates...not only in terms of the actual resume, but also the professors she develops relationships with.

    Has she looked into Emory and Tulane? Emory is not big on spirit but they go to Georgia Tech for games and seem to be fine with it.





    edited July 18
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1380 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @homerdog I have to ask, what type of school does she go to that the "poor" students go to an out of state public school? I always get a slightly more snobby vibe from Miami University. Not because I really know it, but it is from the high concentration of Greek Life and Business students. This is really a comparison between the 3 big public's in SW Ohio (OSU, Miami, Cincinnati).
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4919 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 18
    Hi @twogirls :)

    Those are good ideas. You’re right. I think she should investigate different majors at each of the schools she’s interested in and see where those lead. She can even choose a few majors and talk to professors when we visit even if she eventually changes her mind. Tulane and Emory I believe would feel too urban to her. She basically wants Davidson attached to the town of Madison. Lol. She wants lots of space on her campus. Lots of green. But then wants a town pretty close by to have some fun.

    I went to Northwestern and that fits her bill. Except it’s way too stressful there and she’d like more advising. Believe me I’ve looked at NU every which way and it’s not a match but the actual campus and it’s location right up against the town of Evanston is perfect. BC also comes up but she decided that the Jesuit nature won’t work for her. Again, we’ve investigated fully. :)
    edited July 18
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  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1399 replies13 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Washington and Lee
    Elon
    ?
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4919 replies89 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 18
    @Eeyore123 I meant students with bad grades. Low scores. Miami takes so many kids from our school that are not good students. I don’t want to offend anyone but kids who go to Miami from our school are not the kids she hopes to be surrounded by for college.
    edited July 18
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