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East coast / midwest colleges for smart B+ / A- student

MNBNmomMNBNmom 5 replies3 threads New Member
I'm sure this has been asked thousands of times, and I know there's even a book with a similar title, but now I'm at a loss for my own kid. ISO east coast or midwest small to medium-sized colleges for my son. He's intellectual with strong test scores, lots of rigor and APs, but he's not focused on grades (he's very social and a bit disorganized, so gets some Bs when he's capable of As). He loves a good discussion about social justice issues or politics. Also loves music and sports. He wants a diverse, down-to-Earth college with lots of school spirit and fun sports, but not too preppy or focused on Greek life; also not overly counter-culture. Classes with other smart students and excellent professors who will lead engaging and challenging discussions are a must. He's likely to be a social science major; his sociology teacher this year says he's "on fire" during spirited classroom debates. :) Any ideas / suggestions? So far I've got Vassar, Macalester, and Kenyon on the list. My son also would like to visit some medium-sized colleges with active sport teams and lots of school spirit. Right now, Georgetown is his dream school (will be a reach, with his B+ grades). Thank you!
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Replies to: East coast / midwest colleges for smart B+ / A- student

  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 573 replies33 threads Member
    Wooster. It was my Kenyon FY's 2nd choice.
    For medium sized w/ a bit of rah-rah... William and Mary?
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  • momofzagmomofzag 651 replies7 threads Member
    Lafayette College?
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 606 replies1 threads Member
    Some schools that intrigued us that may be matches or safeties: perhaps Clemson for school spirit, sports, academics though it may be larger than you'd like.
    Or how about Clark U for intellectual bent.
    Or Xavier for basketball, service, curiosity.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80089 replies719 threads Senior Member
    As the parent... what are the cost constraints and financial aid situation?
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  • MWolfMWolf 2009 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Knox, Beloit, Denison, and Lafayette come to mind. Who is our resident CTCL expert?
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  • thumper1thumper1 76426 replies3379 threads Senior Member
    I second Denison. It’s a smaller school...but lots of school spirit.

    What about Miami University in Oxford Ohio?
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  • promom4promom4 66 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Dayton or Wabash?
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  • TS0104TS0104 1101 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Miami of Ohio seems to tick the boxes although sports might be a little lacking and check out how preppy/Greek it is, and they give high merit aid. Villanova comes to mind as a medium sized school with bigger sports. William and Mary sounds perfect for him, hard to get merit for OOS and is a hard admit but fits the down to earth intellectual vibe for sure. Notre Dame? Holy Cross? (I find it a bit Georgetown-like but slightly easier admit).
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  • tessahoctessahoc 3 replies0 threads New Member
    I second Holy Cross.
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  • MNBNmomMNBNmom 5 replies3 threads New Member
    edited January 17
    Thanks for the ideas so far! We're Virginia residents so William and Mary would be great, but from our high school W&M only accepts kids with super high GPAs: W&M can be tougher to get into than Georgetown! My son is not religious at all, and would NOT like a predominantly Catholic school. But Georgetown has all faiths and does not seem very religious - it's more focused on ethics and service, which he likes. Denison appears big on Greek life when we visited, with Greek houses right on campus (seems like when small colleges have strong Greek life it's harder to avoid than at medium or larger colleges - just my observation.) Anyone think Dickinson could be a fit? I should add that a strong intellectual life is more important to him than active sports; he'll be happy if the school generally has good school spirit and is fun.
    edited January 17
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 606 replies1 threads Member
    Christopher Newport could be a good safety.
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  • tessahoctessahoc 3 replies0 threads New Member
    edited January 17
    I think Kenyon as mentioned is worth a strong look (if he's comfortable with straight-up rural environment). Culturally and academically it sounds like a good fit. Macalester too for urban environment, if the winters are bearable!
    edited January 17
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  • TS0104TS0104 1101 replies28 threads Senior Member
    FYI, Villanova and Holy Cross are Jesuit, like Georgetown, and it's my experience that the Jesuit schools have similar cultures of diversity/openness to all faiths or no faith, and have more of an ethics/service philosophy like you saw at Georgetown than a strong "religious" presence. Notre Dame is Catholic, different from Jesuit, and does have a strong religious presence. You'll come upon Jesuit schools more in the small to mid range that you are looking at and IMO they shouldn't be written off for a kid who doesn't want a "religious" school. My D17 attends a Jesuit school and loves it; like your son, she likes the Jesuit philosophy of service and "Cura Personalis" (whole person), while being a person who has moved away from our family faith and does not consider herself religious and did not want a strong religious presence in her college.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 606 replies1 threads Member
    "The only Augustinian Catholic university in the nation, Villanova values a personalized experience where teachers and students are partners in learning and scholarly inquiry....". Not Jesuit.
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  • thumper1thumper1 76426 replies3379 threads Senior Member
    edited January 17
    What about Muhlenberg or Union?

    Do you have financial considerations?

    Haverford, and Swarthmore would be reaches, I think but might be worth a look see. What about Colgate?

    Wesleyan in CT maybe? Or Connecticut College? Or Skidmore?
    edited January 17
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  • aquaptaquapt 2281 replies47 threads Senior Member
    "Loves music" as in he's a musician?

    Lawrence U in Wisconsin has a nice combination of being music-centric but also athletic. It's neither preppy nor counter-culture but more artsy+sporty. It's DIII so not big D1 sports, but lots of recruited athletes and a lively athletic side, in addition to a music conservatory with tons of opportunities for non-majors and a constant stream of performances both formal and informal. A decent amount of professional performing arts stuff comes to Appleton as well. Greek life is only a small subset of the social scene. Intellectual discourse gets off to a good start in the first year with a Freshman Studies curriculum that has the whole class cover the same reading list. The Great Midwest Trivia Contest is a popular yearly event. A lot of social science majors take advantage of the London satellite campus. Their sustainability efforts look legit to me, although I'm out of date research-wise (my older D considered Lawrence in 2013). We really liked the vibe when we visited.

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  • taverngirltaverngirl 1317 replies37 threads Senior Member
    D loved Dickinson - was one of her final top choices - but it's not really big on school spirit/sports. Most of the NESCACs would have what you're looking for, though they might be reachy, and some are more preppy than you might like. We thought Hamilton had the most down to earth students; they just all seemed really nice. Greek life but no Greek housing so it was more low key. And it didn't come across as preppy. Colby and Trinity might work too. Make sure to visit Trinity though. It's not everyone's cuppa.
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  • Coun2316Coun2316 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Another vote for Lawrence.

    Loyola Chicago hits for the diversity, school spirit and sports, and they have great merit aid.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2039 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited January 17
    I would look at American, Bates, Bucknell, Brandeis, Colgate, Connecticut College, Dickenson, Elon, Hamilton, Lafayette, Lehigh, Muhlenberg, Skidmore. Some of those may publish an average GPA higher than your sons' but look the scatterplots of who was accepted, it's more informative. Lots of great choices!

    Just as an aside - when we visited Vassar (6 years ago and 2 yeas ago, there's some legacy connection) the admissions folks were pretty clear that high school record was considered as the single greatest factor for admissions because they felt it was the best predictor of how a student would do in college (and I REALLY don't agree with them! ;) )
    edited January 17
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  • soxmomsoxmom 747 replies22 threads Member
    Wesleyan has a great music scene on campus, lots of student bands and performances, which drive a lot of the social life. And I second all the votes above for Lafayette and Dickinson. Oh, and I'd also add Carleton too.

    On some of the schools named above, and given your parameters, I would not look at American (feels like a commuter school, or at least did to us). Brandeis is very tired feeling, and little school spirit. We found Bucknell to have too strong a Greek presence for my daughter's tastes. Colgate has a pretty strong Greek presence, but didn't feel as jocky/lax bro about it as some other schools. Lehigh is very science/engineering oriented -- they say they've expanded beyond engineering into humanities, but when we visited that did not seem to be the case at all.
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