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Transfer Decision - Bates, BU, Colgate, Hamilton, UVa, and W&M

FrydaddyFrydaddy 58 replies11 threads Junior Member
SmallFry is a rising college sophomore trying to make a decision about next year on the schools above. Two key factors for SmallFry are (1) a geology major and (2) a strong club program in SmallFry's sport where SmallFry is likely to get decent playing time. (The sport is very important to SmallFry).

Note: we are in-state for Virginia. Though we can theoretically afford the out of state options, I *know* it is a little bit crazy to be considering paying double the tuition at a private given that we have 2 great in-state options, classes are likely to be online next fall, and geology will likely require grad school which we may not be able to help with if SmallFry does not go instate. Nonetheless, I still want to analyze each school on the merits so we know what we are giving up (if anything) by going to one of the in-state options.

Below are my impressions of the schools. I'd appreciate any thoughts from others (especially anyone who is knowledgeable about geology, which I am not).

Bates - checks the boxes for both sport and major. I love the school but am very concerned about its financial future in this environment. Relative to its peers, Bates has a very small endowment. Departments like geology and a club sport seem like the kind of things that would be among the first to suffer funding cuts. Relative to the other private schools, Bates culture seems slightly more "left" than the others but not significantly so.

Hamilton -- has a geology major and a decently strong club program, but chances for good playing time are not great. Very similar to Bates but seems more financially more solid. Perhaps a little more of a preppy and center-ish vibe than Bates. My impression (perhaps incorrect) is that relative to Bates, Hamilton is a little more strong on the humanities and a little less strong on the science.

Colgate -- has a geology major and also offers astrogeophysics, which I think is similar to BU's planetary geology major (see below). Club sport is offered but is a weak program. Seems super similar to Hamilton except my impression (again, perhaps incorrect) is that it is a little stronger in geology and maybe even a bit more preppy and center than Hamilton.

BU - checks both boxes for sport and major. Additional box checked for major because offers a planetary geology which is of particular interest to SmallFry and not available at many schools. Academically, a solid school but perhaps a tick below the other schools (SmallFry disagrees). Name recognition is good nationwide, whereas other schools may not have good name recognition depending on where you are in the country. The most expensive school on the list. Campus/community a little less cohesive than the others.

William and Mary - checks box for major. Club sport is not strong but SmallFry would likely get substantial playing time. As noted above, this is in-state tuition for us. Academics seem solid. Student body seems a little more nerdy/academically intense/serious than the other schools -- while a plus for me, a minus for SmallFry. In DC area reputation is very strong but outside DC, less so. Even for a state school, not very geographically diverse -- high % of kids from Northern VA -- also a minus for SmallFry.

UVa -- again, in-state for us. Unfortunately, there is no geology major (!) -- just earth science -- but there might be research opportunities in geology and a path to studying geology in grad school. Club sport is also not strong. Probably the so-called "best" school of all the choices in terms of rankings and maybe reputation. UVa is probably slightly more geographically diverse and a better social fit than W&M in terms of the student body, but probably not as good a social fit as the private schools.
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Replies to: Transfer Decision - Bates, BU, Colgate, Hamilton, UVa, and W&M

  • IzzoOneIzzoOne 499 replies0 threads Member
    I don't know geology well, so won't comment much on intended major. Colgate, Hamilton, BU, and Bates are all fine schools, but wouldn't seem to be worth a premium over W&M and UVA unless there is some aid that makes costs closer or there is something else that appeals to your kid.

    What type of school does your kid want? Colgate, Hamilton, and Bates are small LACs in relatively small towns. BU and UVA are much larger, with a very urban location for BU. William & Mary is in between those in size.

    UVA and W&M have very similar demographics (percentage OOS, percentage from Northern Virginia, etc.) I think W&M is a bit higher for international percentage (but both of those might be coming down under the current circumstances). I'm not sure why you see any difference there. W&M usually rates quite high for quality of life (e.g. Princeton Review), so might want to take another look at pre-conceptions.

    If you are considering UVA, I'd look at classes offered and try to reach out to someone there to understand if it fits your kids direction. They have e-mails in department listing and you may get a response. I believe it is under Department of Environmental Sciences at UVA.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43093 replies470 threads Senior Member
    Bates has an extremely strong geology major with some classes that are quite popular (relative to the typical popularity of geology). I don't think it's badly off in terms of endowment per student.
    I'd pick either Bates or W&M (since it's got his major+ decent playing time in club sport).
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27879 replies196 threads Senior Member
    Go for the B.S. at UVa.
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    edited May 23
    Regarding value, it might be of interest that two of your child's choices are included in this Forbes article on colleges worth their costs: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliesportelli/2017/04/26/10-expensive-colleges-worth-every-penny-2017/.

    Note that a Nobel Prize is associated with a graduate of Hamilton's geosciences department: https://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/hamilton-and-the-nobel-prize. Hamilton's curriculum in general is notable for its balance. Mathematics, physics, geosciences, creative writing and economics represent some of its stronger programs, for example.

    With respect to style of education, Colgate, Hamilton and Bates offer an undergraduate focus with associated access to top professors and laboratory equipment.

    Regarding geology itself, Bates offers close access to mostly Paleozoic metamorphic and igneous rocks; at Colgate, Paleozoic sedimentary rocks extend widely to the east and west; Hamilton College rests on Paleozoic sedimentary bedrock and offers proximity to the complex Precambrian metamorphic rocks of the Adirondacks. All of your son's northern choices offer nearby access to Pleistocene glacial features.
    edited May 23
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    You might also consider a College Transitions site, "Best Colleges for Geology," which manages to name most of the country's stronger colleges for the study of geosciences. For context, below is their entire list. For ease of reading, I separated LACs from universities and italicized your child's potential choices:

    Amherst College
    Bates College
    Bowdoin College
    Carleton College
    Colby College
    Colgate University
    Colorado College
    Hamilton College
    Lafayette College
    Macalester College
    Oberlin College
    Occidental College
    St. Lawrence University
    Union College
    Whitman College

    Brown University
    California Institute of Technology
    College of William and Mary
    Colorado School of Mines
    Colorado State University
    Columbia University
    Cornell University
    Duke University
    Lehigh University
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Miami University
    Penn State University
    Princeton University
    Stanford University
    Texas A&M University
    University of Arizona
    University of California, Berkeley
    University of California, Davis
    University of California, Irvine
    University of California, Santa Barbara
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    University of Colorado, Boulder
    University of Florida
    University of Michigan
    University of Minnesota
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pittsburgh
    University of Texas at Austin
    University of Washington
    University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Yale University
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30579 replies194 threads Senior Member
    edited May 23
    Sit down with the degree requirements for the various major programs, and with the specific coursework offered by each institution. Yes, I know that means digging through the websites and the course catalogues, but you have someone who is transferring for a specific major. That makes the process much more like choosing a grad school. Smallfry needs to really look at the details. It is entirely possible that the Earth Science program at UVA is stronger for Smallfry's specific academic interests than any of the Geology programs. Of if not stronger, at least so close to being equivalent that the in-state discount means underpaid summer internships or slightly pricey field programs are much more possible.

    And of course given the pandemic, both you and Smallfry need to be prepared to have at least part of the fall semester spent at home. That's just the way everything is looking right now. For many families it has changed college plans.
    edited May 23
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  • Bill MarshBill Marsh 500 replies5 threads Member
    merc81 wrote: »
    Regarding value, it might be of interest that two of your child's choices are included in this Forbes article on colleges worth their costs: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliesportelli/2017/04/26/10-expensive-colleges-worth-every-penny-2017/.

    Note that a Nobel Prize is associated with a graduate of Hamilton's geosciences department: https://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/hamilton-and-the-nobel-prize. Hamilton's curriculum in general is notable for its balance. Mathematics, physics, geosciences, creative writing and economics represent some of its stronger programs, for example.

    With respect to style of education, Colgate, Hamilton and Bates offer an undergraduate focus with associated access to top professors and laboratory equipment.

    Regarding geology itself, Bates offers close access to mostly Paleozoic metamorphic and igneous rocks; at Colgate, Paleozoic sedimentary rocks extend widely to the east and west; Hamilton College rests on Paleozoic sedimentary bedrock and offers proximity to the complex Precambrian metamorphic rocks of the Adirondacks. All of your son's northern choices offer nearby access to Pleistocene glacial features.

    Really good points.

    I’d go to BU just to take classes with Robert Shoch and hear him talk about rocks and history. But that’s just me, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
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  • apple23apple23 537 replies16 threads Member
    Frydaddy wrote:
    [UVA is probably] the so-called "best" school of all the choices in terms of rankings and maybe reputation.

    Hamilton seems to be the most selective school from this group. By the below ranking, it appears to be more selective than any school in Virginia.

    https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/40090323
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    edited May 24
    To be clear regarding UVA, it doesn't appear to offer a traditional geology / geosciences / earth sciences program at all. It offers environmental sciences, which wouldn't establish the foundation common to comprehensive geosciences programs (i.e., through courses in hydrogeology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, mineralogy, structural geology and tectonics, paleontology, etc.).
    edited May 24
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    edited May 24
    MYOS1634 wrote: »
    Bates has an extremely strong geology major with some classes that are quite popular . . . .

    As an aspect to research further, however, IPEDS indicates that Bates had zero geology "first majors" in a recent year: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Bates&s=all&id=160977#programs. The figures for BU, similarly, indicate zero geology majors and two geophysics/seismology majors: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Boston+University&s=all&id=164988#programs.
    edited May 24
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10429 replies574 threads Super Moderator
    I can vouch that Bates has popular geology courses. As for small numbers of geology majors, I’m not sure that’s terribly unusual at small LACs. It’s endowment isn’t huge, but it’s strong enough to weather this storm.

    Bates is certainly a less conservative than Hamilton or Colgate, but it’s not a school full of social justice warriors and the like. It’s not competitive and students are not uptight. Bates is in a small city/large town and is close to Portland, but also has easy access to the outdoors.

    I would not choose BU. It’s extremely urban and I think field trips in and out of Boston would get very tiresome. For the money, I’d choose William and Mary. It seems to tick all your boxes at a great price.
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    apple23 wrote: »
    Frydaddy wrote:
    [UVA is probably] the so-called "best" school of all the choices in terms of rankings and maybe reputation.

    Hamilton seems to be the most selective school from this group. By the below ranking, it appears to be more selective than any school in Virginia.

    https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/40090323

    I'd add that, with respect to Virginia schools, W&M may be more selective than UVA in at least some years.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/the-610-smartest-colleges-in-america-2015-9?amp
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    After researching further into UVA, I need to reconsider reply #9. UVA does appear to offer sufficient courses in geosciences to replicate the foundational sequence of traditional geology programs. UVA may lack in sub-areas such as paleontology and volcanology, but it does include courses that would compose a solid foundation in geology through available tracks within its environmental sciences major.
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  • Yankeefan20Yankeefan20 189 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Frydaddy wrote: »
    SmallFry is a rising college sophomore trying to make a decision about next year on the schools above. Two key factors for SmallFry are (1) a geology major and (2) a strong club program in SmallFry's sport where SmallFry is likely to get decent playing time. (The sport is very important to SmallFry).

    Note: we are in-state for Virginia. Though we can theoretically afford the out of state options, I *know* it is a little bit crazy to be considering paying double the tuition at a private given that we have 2 great in-state options, classes are likely to be online next fall, and geology will likely require grad school which we may not be able to help with if SmallFry does not go instate. Nonetheless, I still want to analyze each school on the merits so we know what we are giving up (if anything) by going to one of the in-state options.

    Below are my impressions of the schools. I'd appreciate any thoughts from others (especially anyone who is knowledgeable about geology, which I am not).

    Bates - checks the boxes for both sport and major. I love the school but am very concerned about its financial future in this environment. Relative to its peers, Bates has a very small endowment. Departments like geology and a club sport seem like the kind of things that would be among the first to suffer funding cuts. Relative to the other private schools, Bates culture seems slightly more "left" than the others but not significantly so.

    Hamilton -- has a geology major and a decently strong club program, but chances for good playing time are not great. Very similar to Bates but seems more financially more solid. Perhaps a little more of a preppy and center-ish vibe than Bates. My impression (perhaps incorrect) is that relative to Bates, Hamilton is a little more strong on the humanities and a little less strong on the science.

    Colgate -- has a geology major and also offers astrogeophysics, which I think is similar to BU's planetary geology major (see below). Club sport is offered but is a weak program. Seems super similar to Hamilton except my impression (again, perhaps incorrect) is that it is a little stronger in geology and maybe even a bit more preppy and center than Hamilton.

    BU - checks both boxes for sport and major. Additional box checked for major because offers a planetary geology which is of particular interest to SmallFry and not available at many schools. Academically, a solid school but perhaps a tick below the other schools (SmallFry disagrees). Name recognition is good nationwide, whereas other schools may not have good name recognition depending on where you are in the country. The most expensive school on the list. Campus/community a little less cohesive than the others.

    William and Mary - checks box for major. Club sport is not strong but SmallFry would likely get substantial playing time. As noted above, this is in-state tuition for us. Academics seem solid. Student body seems a little more nerdy/academically intense/serious than the other schools -- while a plus for me, a minus for SmallFry. In DC area reputation is very strong but outside DC, less so. Even for a state school, not very geographically diverse -- high % of kids from Northern VA -- also a minus for SmallFry.

    UVa -- again, in-state for us. Unfortunately, there is no geology major (!) -- just earth science -- but there might be research opportunities in geology and a path to studying geology in grad school. Club sport is also not strong. Probably the so-called "best" school of all the choices in terms of rankings and maybe reputation. UVa is probably slightly more geographically diverse and a better social fit than W&M in terms of the student body, but probably not as good a social fit as the private schools.

    Did any of the privates offer FA?
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  • thumper1thumper1 77984 replies3490 threads Senior Member
    edited May 25
    @Yankeefan20 this kid is applying to transfer for fall 2021. So...I doubt any financial aid has been offered yet🙄

    To the OP...Why is your kid transferring?

    You mention BU has that name recognition. I have a kid who is a BU grad, and he got a fabulous education there. He loved the urban lifestyle...Boston was his campus. But I can’t tell you how many people...to this day (he graduated in 2007) ask him why he went to a public university not in his state.

    I’m curious how the OPs son chose his first college, and what went wrong with that decision making process. It might help to know that to help guide a second college search.

    edited May 25
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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    Re #15, since the OP has expressed a concern that "classes are likely to be online next fall" (a concern that presumably pertains to the tranfer-in option), it seems that this decision is imminent, or may have been made already.
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  • thumper1thumper1 77984 replies3490 threads Senior Member
    Ok...I went back and read a ton of this posters previous posts. This year, he indicated that the current college was not a good social fit for his kid. Academically it was fine, and the student as doing well (IIRC, this was written when classes were still in person).

    He further says that the kid chose college 1 using his head and not his heart, and went with the higher ranked better school...or something like that.

    So...it appears that the transfer is because school 1 was not a good social fit. That being the case...I have a few thoughts.

    1. Where does this kid think he will fit in best socially...since that is what he is really looking to change.

    2. What made school 1 a poor social fit? Location? Size? Or what? Which new school(s) will correct whatever this student thinks isn’t right socially about his current college?

    3. How does this student know that a different college will not present the same social challenges as the first?
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  • Yankeefan20Yankeefan20 189 replies6 threads Junior Member
    thumper1 wrote: »
    @Yankeefan20 this kid is applying to transfer for fall 2021. So...I doubt any financial aid has been offered yet🙄

    To the OP...Why is your kid transferring?

    You mention BU has that name recognition. I have a kid who is a BU grad, and he got a fabulous education there. He loved the urban lifestyle...Boston was his campus. But I can’t tell you how many people...to this day (he graduated in 2007) ask him why he went to a public university not in his state.

    I’m curious how the OPs son chose his first college, and what went wrong with that decision making process. It might help to know that to help guide a second college search.


    I think that's incorrect. It sounds as if the kid of this thread's author recently was admitted to each of these schools and they are currently trying to decide which one to enroll at for the upcoming fall.

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  • thumper1thumper1 77984 replies3490 threads Senior Member
    I wish @Frydaddy would answer some of the questions that have been posed here. Maybe he is reading without logging in. If so...@frydaddy...can you look through this and answer some of the questions? It would help folks give better answers.

    And yes....as I reread the OP it does appear that this kid has already been accepted as a transfer to these schools.

    If that is the case, and finances don’t enter into it...let the student choose (even though the first time that didn’t work out so well).

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  • merc81merc81 11656 replies199 threads Senior Member
    Though it might represent an uncommon approach, consider that a student with these options could receive a dream education in geosciences by choosing either Colgate or Hamilton, and then pursuing one or two electives at the other school.

    https://www.colgate.edu/about/campus-services-and-resources/new-york-six-cross-registration
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