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Are there any fun AND academically rigorous colleges? If so, help me find one!!!

blawnedblawned 72 replies18 threads Junior Member
edited July 2006 in Parents Forum
I posted this on the College Search forum, but it was suggested that I also post it here.

I have been visiting a lot of colleges lately and it seems that I am even more confused about which colleges I should consider.

I visited Whitman and Skidmore and enjoyed the academic atmosphere. Classes were small and all the students seemed very academically motivated. Especially at Whitman, I noticed an academic intensity and love for learnign that I had not seen at other schools.

I am VERY interested in creative writing. I write for my school newspaper and am also interested in journalism. In college I would like to try out college radio and possibly theatre. Another thing that I am VERY interested in is education. I would love to go to a school with a good teaching program but I would hate to have to base my decision on that alone.

So if that was all I wanted from a college, I would easily be able to find a good liberal arts school...but sadly I am looking for more.

I also want a school with a good social atmosphere. I know it is a bit of a taboo on CC but I do like to party. I also love schools with amazing school spirit. I would love to be able to cheer for a Division 1 football, basketball, etc. I am a big fan of the work hard, play hard mantra. I would like my college choice to have a good sense of community. I like to give back to my town, and I would like to be surrounded by students who feel the same.

If I had it my way, I would live in or near a big city at a school with a nice campus (green lawns, gothic architecture). I would prefer to live on either the east or west coast, but again, none of these are decided factors.

I know, I know, I know...a bit of a tall order eh? I don't really want to list too many stats because I can figure out reaches, matches, and safeties later, but to give everyone an idea...
GPA: Fr-3.3, So-3.8, Jun-3.4 .....CUM is around 3.5. BUT I will raise it senior year.
My course load is somewhat rigorous. With many honors and some APs.
SATs:1810 (Will take again)
No SAT2s yet.
ECs are decent. Includes Editor of newspaper, VP of club, Vars sport 4 years, part time job...being the major ones.

I know this was an extremely long and detailed post but I would really appreciate any feedback or suggestions. Thanks in advance for all the help.

^^^That is the end of the original post. I got a lot of suggestions, but most were schools that were way out of my reach. I think I will be able to qualify for some need-based aid, but I would also like to apply to some safeties where I could receive some merit money.

I also want to point out that I REALLY don't care about prestige. I really liked Whitman because the academic atmosphere was much more intellectual than that at other schools. I am not a big fan of cut-throat academics...rather students that are passionate about learning.
edited July 2006
38 replies
Post edited by blawned on
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Replies to: Are there any fun AND academically rigorous colleges? If so, help me find one!!!

  • minimini 26167 replies259 threads Senior Member
    I really do think you likely need a larger school, not a LAC. But a LAC a bit like Whitman, only in/near a big city, with more sports, and much more diverse, though still academically strong (and with an education minor) would be Occidental.
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  • blawnedblawned 72 replies18 threads Junior Member

    About my GPA...

    I started out freshman year really badly. I didn't care about school and I didn't want to go to college. I was not focused, and therefore received quite a few Cs and ended the year with around a 3.3.

    Sophomore year, I got focused. I started with a 3.6, and worked my way up to a 4.0. My final year grade was a 3.8 and I was very pleased.

    Junior year started and I had just found CC. I was soooo pumped up that, despite having 3 of my 6 classes being honors classes, I got a 4.0. I am horrible at math so despite all efforts, I ended the first semester with a 3.8. Then I got side-tracked...I started hanging out with a bad crowd, and after falling in love with a safety school in Feb., I had no motivation to work hard. I got 3 As, 2 Bs, and 1 C both 3rd and 4th quarter (3.3). This brought my junior year GPA down to a 3.4.

    Let's just say that after realizing what I had done a few months into summer, I was horrified. I am more than ready to go into senior year focused and ready to work hard, but I feel like I have screwed up too badly to look at any decent schools. My academic confidence is gone and all my safeties feel like reaches. I could explain my rough start at the begining of high school, but what do I say about my dropped GPA during the second semester of my junior year.

    I probably sound like an overdramatic teenage lunatic, but I have been so stressed out lately that I can't even sleep.

    Please please pleaseeeeeeee help. Any feedback?

    Gahh sorry for the extrememly long double post but I am really stressed out AND really confused.
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  • TarhuntTarhunt 2126 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Well, this is tough, but let's break it down.

    First, you want big-time sports, specifically Div. I football. That narrows it down to just over 125 schools. Based on your stats, you will not get in to some of them (probably) including:

    Georgia Tech
    Wake Forest
    UNC (unless you're in-state)
    Boston College
    Michigan (unless you're in-state)
    Cal Berkeley

    So, the issue becomes "where, among the rest, does one find the best mix of academics/partying. Let's narrow it down a bit more.

    First, you can find partying at any large school. Therefore, the trick is to find the large school where people tend to be serious about academics. It's starting to get tough unless you're interested in the service academies.

    Here is a list where (to my mind) students are relatively serious (at least semi-serious) about studies, where you might get in, and that have big time football. (Note: I may have missed some)

    Penn State
    Miami of Ohio (not the biggest time, but still Div. I I think)

    Breaking down that list to urban campuses, we get the following:

    Miami (Miami)
    Maryland (Washington DC)
    Pitt (Pittsburg)
    Texas (Austin)
    Tulane (New Orleans)
    BYU (Provo = near Salt Lake City)
    Washington (Seattle)

    Of those schools, unless you live in the state with the public schools, Miami, Maryland, Texas, Tulane, and Washington are somewhere between matches and stretches. Pitt and BYU are matches (I think) but I haven't done a careful analysis. You might really want to consider Tulane, because they appear to be a bit desperate at this point after Katrina.

    Good luck.
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  • amdgmomamdgmom 237 replies5 threads Junior Member
    On the surface, this might seem like I'm not paying attention but: University of Iowa.

    It's not on a coast, and Iowa City's population is under 100K. BUT it's a small Big 10 school, which means decent athletics, school spirit, and parties. It's also home to one of the top graduate creative writing workshops in the country. Granted, that's grad school, but the trickle-down exposure to visiting authors and lecturers is fantastic.

    It's an attractive campus, built along the Iowa River. Your stats are in line, and it offers rolling admission, so it could make a good safety. S1 is an English major, and was very interested, but the distance was an issue for him and he stayed closer to home.
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  • sarah_mcsarah_mc 117 replies8 threads Junior Member
    i would look at tulane if I were you. it is where I am headed this year, and i promise the partying is epic. it is also a good school with a lot of cool oppurtunities available. with those stats you would be at a matchy-reachy level, but probably no merit aid.
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  • EgellocaEgelloca 85 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Excuse me but I believe Maryland is located in College Park - (not D.C.)
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  • weenieweenie 5444 replies349 threads Senior Member
    How much can you afford to spend on college? Will you qualify for good financial aid? Or can your parents pay the full amount anywhere?
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  • thumper1thumper1 78275 replies3527 threads Senior Member
    Check out University of South Carolina. It was DD's second choice, and quite a nice place. They give terrific merit aid to OOS students with decent stats.
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  • blawnedblawned 72 replies18 threads Junior Member
    My parents make a combined income of around 60,000 a year, although it has been decreasing over the past few years. They own a small business and I work with them part-time.

    Luckily, I have some very rich and generous family members who want to help pay for my college education. My uncle is willing to give me a total of 40,000, which is incredible and colleges won't see it. So I can pay for part of my college...probably between 20-25k a year (including uncle's donation), but I will need to get finacial aid for the rest.
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  • blawnedblawned 72 replies18 threads Junior Member
    Oh and btw, I'm not from Washington and my state school is in NO WAY an option.
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  • huskem55huskem55 User Awaiting Email Confirmation 4230 replies54 threads Senior Member
    UCONN- college basketball capital of the world, great and rapidly rising academics, and the best parties.
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  • weenieweenie 5444 replies349 threads Senior Member
    You may be in a tough financial aid situation (join the club...). I think the small business makes it more complicated. You should urge your parents to try to fill out the aid calculator. Even if you can afford $20K-$25K per year that can leave you with a very hefty amount left over at schools like Skidmore etc. and your GPA and SATs may not get you any merit money at some of these higher-ranked schools.

    Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that you should pay VERY close attention to cost while choosing schools. It will be a more important factor than you can imagine. Out-of-state state universities can still be a very good value.

    (It would help if you could narrow down a geographic region a bit.)
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20966 replies2052 threads Super Moderator
    My uncle is willing to give me a total of 40,000, which is incredible and colleges won't see it. So I can pay for part of my college...probably between 20-25k a year (including uncle's donation), but I will need to get finacial aid for the rest.

    Keep in mind that your schoool's Financial aid application specifically asks for gifts from relatives. In addition the IRS will only allow your uncle to give you so much as gift with out having to report it. What is done in the dark often comes out in the light.
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  • collegecanwaitcollegecanwait 415 replies41 threads Member
    stanford..nuff said
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  • ctmomctmom 150 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I would have to recommend U of Miami as well (although it should be noted Tarhunt that Coral Gables is hardly "urban").
    You really can't ask for much more in terms of a pretty campus, its very "green", yet just beyond the palm trees is the metro which can get you to your citylife if you so desire.
    Football season is fun - this is bigtime DI football! Students go to the games for free and the student section is packed. Basketball is not quite as well attended, but also free and maybe that will pick up as the team improves.
    The school of Education has a great program that gets you involved your 1st year...very hands on.
    With your stats I'd say you have a good shot.
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  • TarhuntTarhunt 2126 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Egelloca and ctmom:

    I realize that Maryland is in College Park. I didn't know that U Miami is in Coral Gables. Having said that, it didn't occur to me that schools butted up against urban areas wouldn't be considered "urban." I suppose there's room to disagree, but to me, College Park is in the greater DC metro area and that makes it urban enough. But you are correct. If the criterion is actually in the city limits, that further reduces the number of schools.

    Oh, a correction to my original post. Kill the BYU thing. No partying there to speak of.
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  • cathymeecathymee 2350 replies34 threads Senior Member
    If your idea of a green campus can be a desert and the gothic can be modern then take a look at Arizona State U. Its in Tempe,which is part of Phoenix.It has a great school of Journalism(Walter Cronkite School,and yes he does come to lecture there) and publishes a Daily (not biweekly or weekly)student newspaper,which I hear is an important criteria.Plenty of access to internships in the city.Has a student run radio station and TV station,and close ties with Phoenix's public TV station.Meets your criteria for Div 1 sports and party hard. Honors college provides your "work hard".
    If you can get over the idea of greens and gothic,its a great place to cinsider.
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  • TarhuntTarhunt 2126 replies12 threads Senior Member

    You bring up a good point about honors colleges. Depending on the program (and they vary GREATLY), an honors program can be a great way to go.

    I hope you don't take offense but, outside an honors college, I couldn't recommend most state universities for this situation. Unfortunately, most of the state universities I would recommend are stretches.
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  • CheapseatsCheapseats 923 replies9 threads Member
    UMD stresses the best of both worlds thing. UMD isn't in a major city so it actually has a campus and the biggest mall of any school on the east coast(beats UVA by like 6 inches and it may be the biggest in the country but i need to double check that). College park is ugly but UMD isn't. Everything on campus is flowery and open. UMD is, however, just a few miles from DC. It would take no more than 15 minutes to get to once on metro(takes longer if you wait for a bus and then wait 10 minutes for the metro). It is also close to Baltimore(a car would make it much easier and it can be only 25 minutes by car).
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  • cathymeecathymee 2350 replies34 threads Senior Member
    when a student has a specific goal in mind, perhaps you have to look deeper than the label of private U,public U, 1st tier,2nd tier,etc and investigate the specifics more deeply. This person should be looking at the creative writing/journalism/school of education first,the other criteria second.They should be looking at internship/practicum/writing opportunities;competition for editorial spots on the newspaper,readership surveys,radio and TV availability for internships.Should they go to the small LAC who publishes a weekly newspaper with a readership of 2,000 or a large institution that publishes daily with a readership of 50,000 or more,large classified and advertising/marketing departments for business experience? Look at the job placement records.
    They should look into all their options and disregard the status labels.
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