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Opinions on Ohio Schools from Ohio residents


Replies to: Opinions on Ohio Schools from Ohio residents

  • jcmom716jcmom716 Registered User Posts: 325 Member
    My son visited Denison last fall. We saw a diverse student body both culturally and geographically. IMO I think with the strong merit packages, they have been able to pull in more intellectual students. Somewhere on CC I think a thread mentioned this as well. You may not be able to get a great feel for fit in the summer, but if he likes the summer tour, he could always go back when school is in session.

    Also if you are in Ohio, Wooster may be worth a look. Our tour guide was international and the student panel had two students from different countries. My son who is strong intellectually felt the environment was a good mix of students and the undergraduate research was emphasized. He came away happily surprised.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,494 Senior Member
    @jcmom716 thanks so much. Great feedback and maybe we should look at Wooster too. Looks like we may have to make a second trip to Ohio sometime later into junior year. Once we have SAT scores in hand, I think we will have a better idea of where he may best fit.
  • younghossyounghoss Registered User Posts: 3,025 Senior Member
    edited June 18
    as far as diversity goes(referring to skin color diversity) at Denison. 71% are white, and Hispanics are the next biggest group at 10%, then 7.1% black. Kenyon is 76% white, 7% Hispanic, and 4.2% black. Compares to 2013 Census of 77.1% white, 17.1 Hispanic, and 13.2 black for the U.S.
    By the stats, Denison more diverse of the two referring to skin color, but by reputation, both schools more diverse in thoughts and ideas than Oberlin.
  • shravasshravas Registered User Posts: 2,056 Senior Member
    I grew up in Ohio, and to be honest, I get the sense that the reputations of Oberlin, Kenyon, and Denison are greater on the coasts than here. But this is saying more about the residents of Ohio than anything else. I can count on one hand the number of people that went to Kenyon and Oberlin from my high school in the four years I was there, and no one from my graduating class of around 500 went (a few more went to Denison, but it is much closer to us).

    I also get the sense from friends who went to these schools that many people end up moving out of Ohio after graduation. For example, you are probably more likely to run into a fellow Oberlin or Kenton grad in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn than you are in Columbus. So this doesn't really help very much either.

    And to be clear, all of these schools are very good, as the posters before me have mentioned. But if you are looking for an Ohio school with a strong reputation in Ohio, you might be better off considering places like Case Western, Miami, or Ohio State.

    It is probably good to note that the racial demographics of the overall population do not exactly match that of current college students.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,494 Senior Member
    @shravas great perspective. Thanks! And, yes, it does seem that all three schools have a curiously small percentage of Ohio students. Again, I wonder if it's because Kenyon and Oberlin are more liberal than the average Ohio family. It's also one of the reasons why our high school sends only one or two kids each year. Parents in our school district are overwhelmingly conservative. We are one of the few liberal families in town.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    edited June 18
    Again, I wonder if it's because Kenyon and Oberlin are more liberal than the average Ohio family.

    Likely a factor....especially with Oberlin.

    Back when I was an undergrad, the great political divide was one key factor in the poor town-gown relations. While the town was relatively lefty by Ohio standards, that still meant it was very conservative.

    Some of the attitudes regarding race, gender, not to say LGBTQ by the local townies were like traveling back a few decades in time. The townies had serious issues with interracial daters, students speaking a foreign language in public as I found out from one idiot whom I told off by saying I had the right to speak Mandarin to some international students and he had no right to tell me otherwise, female classmates were subjected to lewd catcalls from young local males driving by the campus, and yes....some townies did yell racist epithets to non-White students...including yours truly.

    One such townie almost wanted to start a fight with me after I replied to his yelled racial slurs with a NY style one-fingered salute. He thought better of it the instant he noticed a police car 3 blocks behind him closing on his position.

    Kenyon is much more recent in this regard as back when I was applying to colleges in the mid-'90s, Kenyon was actually considered a decent choice for conservative/libertarian applicants from my area(NYC) as the campus culture rep back then was on the more conservative side.
    I also get the sense from friends who went to these schools that many people end up moving out of Ohio after graduation. For example, you are probably more likely to run into a fellow Oberlin or Kenton grad in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn than you are in Columbus.

    If an Oberlin student was from the town/local area when I was an undergrad, one key factor for them moving out of the area is the lack of suitable gainful employment due to the effects of lost employers/depressed economy. Lorain County, the area where Oberlin is located was considered one of the two poorest counties in the entire state by a local paper when I attended.

    There's also the factor that students who attended Oberlin from the local/regional area....especially back when I attended tended to be much more liberal in their politics and/or LGBTQ which would have placed them at great odds with most of their hometown neighbors/parents. In this respect, they're not too different from many undergrad classmates from very conservative rural/suburban Southern/Midwest regions who opted to attend Oberlin* and then relocate permanently to the coasts.

    * In an era before and during the process of the popularization of internet access in homes, many of those classmates had an easier time concealing the radical progressive left reputation of our college.....and many parents didn't bother to look too closely either.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 10,373 Senior Member
    edited June 18
    Ohio is not a red state, generally speaking (it went red last year but blue the 2 pres elections before). It's very much a swing state and I guess that makes it purple :)

    Growing up in NYC, I only knew Oberlin and Antioch, of the Ohio LACs. I think Oberlin still has the more national rep, with Kenyon then Denison in that order (Antioch is not at all what it was after closing for several years).

    I've been an Ohio resident for 23 or so years now and know kids at, and grads of, all those schools and professors at two of them. The top seniors choose all 3 with some regularity. They all offer merit (K and O less) because in Ohio top kids proudly go to Ohio State and that's the tuition level Ohio LACs have to compete with. Professor's kids tend to choose LACs here, both because they often have a tuition benefit but also because professors tend to send their kids to LACs, overall.
    The question remains about Denison. Wondering where it fits in the mix and what kind of kids go there. Kids who like Oberlin's offerings but not its politics? Kids who couldn't get into Oberlin? Kids who like a more Midwestern type feeling at their school? Or like the Greek system?

    Denison has intentionally changed course since the 80s. It had a party school for rich kids rep that IMO was deserved, then when a family member taught there. Then they made Greek life nonresidential and began recruiting a more diverse group of kids and the academic standards went up and now the student body is very different. Still some of those kids there, not nearly as many. I personally know a student who turned down Princeton to go and one who turned down Yale - that's how Denison uses merit scholarships, to lure THOSE kids.

    A fair # do go Greek, but since they don't live in houses it's a different scene than, say, Ohio State.

    I also think Wooster is worth a look. It could be on the way from Oberlin to Kenyon, if you have time.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,494 Senior Member
    @cobrat @Ohiomomof2 Super helpful. Thanks!!

    On a bit of a related note, I heard a story about how a prospective student was asked by an Oberlin tour guide which pronoun he uses to describe himself. I mentioned that to S19 and he said that is a thing now...but he's not really interested to be in a place where that's one of the first things people ask. :(
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    edited June 18
    On a bit of a related note, I heard a story about how a prospective student was asked by an Oberlin tour guide which pronoun he uses to describe himself. I mentioned that to S19 and he said that is a thing now...but he's not really interested to be in a place where that's one of the first things people ask.

    This question is increasingly being asked in many venues other than colleges/universities.

    Especially with employers who are sincere about being LGBTQ friendly. Like some who aren't comfortable with interracial daters decades ago or LGBTQ folks openly acting like romantic couples no differently from their heterosexual counterparts....it's likely something he and the rest of us will need to get used to as time progresses.

    That is....unless the future has us retrogress back to the days when such groups are again considered non-socially acceptable with all the negative consequences as was the case in the recent past.
  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 3,508 Senior Member
    I am a longtime Ohio resident (Cleveland area) - I would characterize Kenyon and Oberlin as east coast schools that just happen to be in the midwest. . My D applied and was accepted at both Kenyon and Denison - and I remember when we toured Kenyon, (in the summer) we were the only people from Ohio in the group. As an AP teacher- I do a LOT of college recs - so see kids lists of schools, and at my very high ranking public (top ten in state) LACs are just not super popular (which I think is sad, b/c I love the ed philosophy of LACs - but that is a whole other conversation). Kids may throw one in .... and every year a couple kids go - but they are not the most common choice in our upper middle class suburb.

    Random side note - the pronoun preference question was on 2 of D's summer internship applications - it may be the new normal
  • momofzagmomofzag Registered User Posts: 600 Member
    I am also a Northeast Ohio resident in a liberal, diverse, affluent suburb. Our public hs school typically sends at least one if not several students to each of these colleges every year. And the upthread poster is correct that more and more top students attend Ohio state every year. About 70 from a class of about 400 typically go to Osu. It's gotten increasingly selective and many solid students at our hs are not admitted to osu.

    My D13 toured both Kenyon and Denison. On paper Kenyon should have been perfect for her. She is an artsy theater kid and wanted a small lac. But she was underwhelmed on her visit even though a good friend was there who loved it. I think gambier and the college just felt too small and sleepy to her. We stopped by Denison on a whim right after we left Kenyon. She immediately perked up. The campus seemed to fit her vision of what college was supposed to be. She ended up visiting Denison 3 times. She felt there was a mix of students --racially and by type as well with some spotty, some arty, some preppy etc. a girl in the class ahead of D turned down U Chicago and Cornell for one of the big merit scholarships at Denison and she was extremely happy there. I think Denisons reputation has steadily risen over the past couple of decades. I think oberlin and Kenyon probably still have higher academic reputations but I wonder if there is all that much actual difference in the quality of education or academic abilities of the students. These colleges do have different personalities with oberlin probably most left, Kenyon a bit quirky feeling and Denison most mainstream feeling ( though again we found it surprisingly diverse). There is almost certainly more merit aid to be had at Denison if that is important to your family.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,494 Senior Member
    Thanks @momofzag ! Great information!!
  • FinalForFinalFor Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    We live in Ohio and just visited Kenyon yesterday 6/17/2017. It's on my son's short list so we spent the day there. The school has an excellent reputation overall and excels in English but also learned they have a strong science program as well. We spoke to a few pre-med students and they all love the school. The dorms are mediocre and my least favorite part of the tour. The town is very, very, very, very small. If you go you'll see but it's quite lovely. They have strong swimming and soccer programs. Students are quirky but not so quirky that you notice. The ones we spoke to were nice and well spoken young people. We will be visiting Oberlin July 3rd and Denison we've not had the official tour but have been on campus. Campus is very nice and again a small town but giant compared to Gambier. My impression as far as reputation from me is that Kenyon and Oberlin are more intensive and harder to get in than Denison. Denison has a good poly sci program however. For perspective we also visited Swarthmore which is similar to Kenyon and we visited Princeton and Cornell to see how an ivy stacked up. Both were awesome. We also plan on visiting Miami because they offer full rides to top performers which appeals to me. The other schools would cost me some major money and I feel like a name brand grad school is a better investment than a name brand under grad. Good luck in your search for the right school
  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Registered User Posts: 2,245 Senior Member
    edited June 19
    I am also a resident and grew up about thirty minutes from Oberlin. All three are excellent schools, and if they were located in the mid atlantic or coastal California would be much more well known, imho. Several students from my daughter's all girls high school apply to and attend all three every year. Fewer students from my son's all boys high school do the same. Oberlin remains the grande dame among Ohio schools, and when dealing with older folks, especially those not immersed in the minutae of high education, Oberlin's reputation is better than either Denison or Kenyon. Among younger folks, and speaking specifically of those in my kids' cohort, it appears that Denison and particularly Kenyon have passed Oberlin in desireability. I know that some disagree, but Oberlin's well earned reputation for fringe politics hurts it in a place like Ohio. As @Ohiomomof2 mentioned, Ohio is neither a red nor blue state, and people here are not as accepting of the hoax hate crimes, embarrassing professors, silly protests, etc that a place like Oberlin generates. On the other hand, Oberlin is unique in that it has the conservatory, which is truly world class. While Both Kenyon and Denison have their academic strengths, neither has anything approaching the heft of the conservatory.

    As far as vibe, we visited both Kenyon and Denison with our daughter, and she has participated in theater in and around Oberlin for years. I would agree with @toowonderful that Oberlin and Kenyon are basically coastal schools in their outlook which happen to be located in fly over country. While all three schools draw nationally, there will be more Ohio and midwestern kids at Denison than Kenyon, and probably more at Kenyon than Oberlin. They are LACs, and all three are in quaint or bucolic little towns (depending on your perspective). I personally preferred Kenyon's campus, but all three are beautiful in their own right. Oberlin a bit more eclectic and very much a part of the town. The others less so. All are within an hour of a major city, Cleveland in Oberlin's case, Columbus for the other two.

    As intimated above, Oberlin is pretty muscular in its politics, and someone who is not fully on board with current progressive thought may have issues. My sense, based on our visits and the kids I know at each school, is that the majority of students at Kenyon and Denison are less concerned with global progressive political causes. That may or may not be a bad thing, based on your kid's perspective. Very arts heavy, no kind of athletics scene at all. Back in the day, the very few Oberlin fans, when they were losing a football or basketball game (which happens pretty often) would chant "That's all right, that's ok, you will all work for us one day." I think that pretty well sums up Oberlin.

    My sense of Kenyon was that it was a bit quirky/wierd/nerdy. It kind of reminded me of something my daughter's tour guide said at Wesleyan; "here, all the stuff I was into in high school is cool". There are a fair few artsy kids, some straight up geeks, some athletes, etc. That would track with the type of kids I know who are attending - mostly "good students" who don't take themselves too seriously and were immersed in a particular extra curricular. Bigger sports scene than either of the other two. There are frats and sororities, but greek life is a minority choice among students if I recollect correctly.

    Honestly I found Denison to be kind of middle of the road. It has somewhat of a larger greek presence than Kenyon, but I don't think it is still the "party school" it is sometimes accused of being. I really thought it was a place for normal kids who want to get a great education and have a bit of fun while doing so. I would also agree @ohiomomof2 that Denison is in the midst of really making a push to attract more top students and there are some attractive merit options out there.

    Personally, I think they are the three best schools in the state by a pretty wide margin. And yes, I know that OSU is becoming a tougher and tougher admit. Which is amazing to me since it doesn't seem all that long ago that it was essentially open admission.

    And the pronoun thing is a thing. Both my daughter and wife are involved in the arts, and it has been a thing in that community for awhile. Drives my wife nuts. While she wants to be accepting and not offend anyone, her first degree was in english and she really has a hard time with the bending of grammer rules to make "they" (a choice for many people who identify as gender fluid) a singular pronoun. That said @homerdog, I think your son's insight is well grounded. At some schools, those types of issues are top of mind, at others they likely will not be. It's not a bad little verbal cue.

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