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Need LAC suggestions for future "Nate Silver" kid... :-)


Replies to: Need LAC suggestions for future "Nate Silver" kid... :-)

  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    @doshicos I will copy it on my original thread too, it was just an update on where we are now in this search (same place as before haha).
  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    Hello everyone, I'm just copying here my follow-up thread about the trips S and I will start doing now to visit/choose schools for him to apply. Thanks again for everyone who helped me with suggestions and ideas, they really helped a lot!

    Hello everyone, my son and I are back from our first very quick trip and I decided to start a new thread. We went to MN and unfortunately did not have time to stop in Chicago on the way back, but we are planning to go there some time during summer/fall.

    We flew into Minneapolis and then drove to Northfield, a quiet small town, more rural than I expected. We visited St Olaf in the morning, the campus is beautiful, lots of trees and fields, my son loved it. He talked to a few students and they were all – without exception – very nice and friendly. S talked to a professor who could not have been nicer and accessible, they talked about ways that S could have an interdisciplinary major with math and social sciences. They also discussed the school’s music program and S was very excited about joining an ensemble there. He liked the school but tbh I was expecting him to love it and I don’t think he did.

    We went to Carleton in the afternoon and contrary to his impression from online reviews, S liked Carleton. It’s more diverse than St Olaf and it has a beautiful campus. Carleton has a math/statistics track already and is planning a statistics-only major starting in 2019 which my S really liked. He talked to a few students in the math department and they were very nice and S didn’t feel kids would be competitive. He met with a professor who was very attentive and they discussed ID options. He was OK with the music department (thinks St Olaf’s is better), but the academic choices at Carleton offered more variety.

    The next day we visited Macalester and U of Minnesota. Macalester was my favourite on paper because of its location, right in the city. The campus is small and very compact, not very pretty but S said having the city close by was an advantage for when he got bored. Academically, I thought it was something between St Olaf and Carleton, although math at St Olaf is probably stronger. S met with a professor in the math department and went through its catalog, he said it was good (they also offer stats). For some reason though, he was not very excited about the school and didn’t even want to visit its music department (which shows he was not too serious about it).

    After lunch we went to U of Minnesota. BIG university, lots of students. Middle of the city (not rural) which I like. S visited the stats department and talked to a few grad students, they were very nice and answered his questions. We couldn’t meet with a professor (quite different from the LACs) but S and adm went through the course list and there were many options regardless of the level he would start at, including grad classes if required. There is an ID where he could combine 3 areas of concentration and create a new major (similar to what LACs offer). Later, S went to music department and met a few kids there, they said there are ensembles with and without auditions, so it would be easy to join one if he really wanted.

    While S was talking to some students, I met another parent visiting her sophomore son and we talked a little, she mentioned classes were very big during his first year and access to professors was difficult. Also, there was no space enough in some classes so he had to get into wait lists. She mentioned her son was not part of the honors program though, so that may be a difference? (I am assuming my S has a chance to be accepted in Honors). There is also (strong?) Greek life which my S doesn’t like at all (neither do I), but I am not sure how much impact it has on the campus.

    So this is where we are now… S liked St Olaf, but preferred Carleton and U of Minnesota (huge surprise). He was a little concerned with Carleton’s small size and location (which he said he wanted before) but was also worried about U of Minnesota big classes, TAs, waiting lists and Greek life. He is still undecided on what kind of school he prefers... sigh.

    In any case, this trip helped him to refine a few of his requirements and now he wants:
    -stats option (major ideal, but at least minor/concentration). He says this a requirement, he doesn’t want to go to schools that offer math only.
    -strong social sciences program (pol, econ, psy, etc) and possibility to have an ID major with stats
    -smart and intellectual kids who are not competitive/mean
    -cold weather
    -no Greek life/small impact on the school. He’s OK with sports (likes to watch games)

    So far his list of LACs (heavily revised) has:
    -St Olaf and Carleton (visited both, St Olaf is a maybe)
    -Macalester (it's a maybe, S is not very excited about it)
    -Amherst (has stats and part of consortium)
    -Williams (has stats and tutorials)
    -Haverford (doesn’t have stats but it’s part of consortium). S doesn’t want Swarthmore (which could be a good option)
    -Mayne colleges (??? - he doesn’t know much about them yet)
    -Grinnel and Kenyon (has stats but conservative areas?)

    Universities he wants to research more:
    -U of Minnesota (visited and liked well enough)
    -U of Wisconsin (Greek life? Party school?)
    -U of Chicago (to be honest he’s not very excited about it, but it has some pull)
    -U of Michigan (likes PPE and Data Science programs)
    -CMU (likes the Behavior Economics program, not sure about the students)
    -Northwestern University (MMSS) and Dartmouth (QSS): S loves these 2 programs, especially MMSS, but is not really interested in attending either (strong Greek life?)… but we will check NU when visiting U Chicago.

    I don’t think any of the above schools can be really considered a match, maybe U of MN? And I don’t see any safeties in this list as well, so he still has a lot of work to do.

    Any thoughts?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,578 Senior Member
    With respect to fraternities and sororities, big universities can have a big scene in absolute numbers, but only a small percentage of students. For example, University of Minnesota probably has about 1,000 sorority and fraternity members, enough to fill a number of houses, but that only represents 3% of the undergraduate population. University of Wisconsin has a bigger scene, but it is still only about 8-9% of the undergraduate population.

    You can check percentages in fraternities and sororities in the campus life tab of the college's entry on http://www.collegedata.com . However, not all colleges report that, and there may be unrecognized fraternities and sororities at some schools.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 14,784 Senior Member
    Well, at least your son is finding that his impressions while on campus vary from his impressions reading about schools. I think that your trip seemed informative and helpful from several perspectives and will hopefully make your son more open to looking at other schools he might have written off on paper based on something nebulous rather than strengths of academic interest and other areas of potential fit. Sounds like a big step in the right direction!
  • agatha1939agatha1939 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    @blossom That's a good point, I did see many more schools offering Applied Maths than Stats as a major, not sure if S is aware of this but I will make sure to mention to him as well. Very interesting what you said about Brown professors holding dual appointments in social sciences and math, that sounds something my S would like to know too. Thanks!
  • 2mrmagoo2mrmagoo Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    edited May 18
    Agatha1939, Haverford has stats. They have a variety of concentrations within math and it looks like a stats minor.


  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,148 Senior Member
    Here is an almost complete list of centers and institutes at Brown and by my rough count, there are at least 10 of them which could interest your son. Note that these are NOT majors or undergrad courses- but it shows you the wide range of interdisciplinary work being done by faculty-- and virtually all of these centers and institutes require an analytical/quantitative/statistical component:

    Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
    Center for Environmental Health and Technology Research
    Centers for Epidemiology and Environmental Health
    Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health
    Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research
    Center for Health Equity Research
    Center for the Study of Children at Risk
    Center for Vision Research
    Institute for Brain Science
    International Health Institute

    Center for Biomedical Engineering
    Center for Geometric Computing
    Center for Computational Molecular Biology (CCMB)
    Center for Fluid Mechanics, Turbulence and Computation
    Graphics and Visualization Center
    Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES)
    Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM)
    Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation (IMNI)
    The Lefschetz Center for Dynamical Systems

    Annenberg Institute for School Reform
    Center for Contemporary South Asia
    Center for Statistical Sciences
    Center for Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA)
    Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice
    The Education Alliance
    Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
    Initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences
    John Carter Brown Library
    Population Studies and Training Center
    Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)
    Swearer Center for Public Service
    Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy
    Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

    Center for Language Studies
    Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
    Cogut Center for the Humanities
    John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage
    Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning
    Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
    Leadership Alliance
    Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women

  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia Registered User Posts: 2,635 Senior Member
    I think I mentioned this before, but Case Western might work for him. It's adjacent to museums and Cleveland Institute of Music. Fairly diverse for a mid-sized private university, both in race and socioeconomic profile. It ended up being my D's second choice, and she mostly preferred small town LACs. In classroom visits at Case she found the students to be serious about their studies, but not competitive or snooty. Strong in both STEM and music.
  • 57special57special Registered User Posts: 308 Member
    edited May 18
    FYI, University of Wisconsin is known to be more of a "party" and Greek school than U of M, to the extent that my son is very interested in going to the latter, but not the former. Both are good schools academically. S1 is very interested in U of M, though he likely won't be able to play Varsity baseball there.

    St. Olaf is known for it's strong music dept. It tends to have more of a local flavor than Carleton.

    Both S1 and myself were knocked out by Carleton, except for the baseball field. The field itself is OK, but the stands, dugouts, etc. were small and looked like something you'd see at a smallish middle school. Not a deal breaker, but not exciting, either.

    Macalester is of interest to my son, and seems to be a good match, but there is a 62%/38% female to male ratio which is offputting to him.

    Hope I'm not repeating myself, but has he considered Canadian Uni's? McGill, or U of T, Queens, are all really good schools, with the latter being the smallest. They've certainly got the cold thing down.
  • ConsolationConsolation Registered User Posts: 21,735 Senior Member
    My H went to his first college because he liked the baseball field. Big mistake. :D
  • porcupine98porcupine98 Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    edited May 18
    I concur on checking out Case Western.

    Also, I still think Grinnell is also worth looking at, because the vibe sounds exactly right. And Iowa is interesting, politically. Swing state, lots going on during election season. Some conservative areas, some not so conservative areas. Town is a mix, college is pretty liberal. PM'd you some info.
  • 57special57special Registered User Posts: 308 Member
    edited May 18
    Now that I think about it, University of Toronto is competitive as hell. Probably not a good choice. McGill isn't too bad, unless you are in Medicine, but it certainly isn't a small, collaborative atmosphere. Montreal is also known as being Gay friendly...it's not so much it is politically correct but just that people are refreshingly not into judging minorities quite so much there.

    As far as the Minnesota schools, there is a thing called "Minnesota Nice". Some locals scoff at it, but as an outsider I've found it to be very real. They are a bit reserved(though a bunch of loudmouthed exhibitionists compared to English Canadians) but decent, for the most part, as long as you're not cheering for Wisconsin.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,212 Senior Member
    This is the way the process is supposed to go! You go to see if a school is what you're looking for, you get information that alters what you're looking for, you refine your priorities, and eventually, you end up with a good list. Sometimes, it takes seeing several of a type to figure out that the type is either a good or bad fit. Glad it was a productive trip.

    I would recommend visiting Swarthmore when you go to see Haverford, if only to compare. Your son sounds open to the process so might be able to glean some insights into what is really resonating with him.

    Thanks for the update!
  • LBowieLBowie Registered User Posts: 1,726 Senior Member
    Thank you for the update! Enjoy your travels and visits.
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