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Colgate - Parents' Impressions

PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
edited August 2009 in Parents Forum
Colgate U just came on my kids' radar screens through a friend. I have to admit I know very little about it. Can someone give me an impression of it, compare it to other schools (both academically and in terms of look / feel / type of student who tends to apply)? Looking mostly for parents' points of view.
edited August 2009
41 replies
Post edited by Pizzagirl on
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Replies to: Colgate - Parents' Impressions

  • wjbwjb 2843 replies65 threads Senior Member
    I’m the mom of a former Colgate student. She transferred after her first year. Colgate is a really fine school academically, with professors who care about teaching undergrads and do a great job of it -- just what you expect from an excellent LAC. My D transferred because she wasn't comfortable with the prevalent campus culture. For her, the combination of rural isolation plus heavy Greek system plus strong emphasis on athletics was not a good fit. Although she is NOT a non-drinker, she found the social scene monotonous. Also, we're from the Midwest, and I think she experienced some culture shock in her first encounter with East-coast prep school kids.

    My daughter's experience at Colgate is several years old. Colgate's then-president (Rebecca Chopp has since left Colgate for Swarthmore) was taking measures designed to moderate the campus culture, specifically the emphasis on alcohol consumption. I know there are parents on CC whose kids have more recent experience at Colgate and who are happy there.
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Colgate is on a beautiful but very hilly campus in New York. It is in the town of Hamilton and nearby Hamilton is in Clinton. Confusing, I know. The area if fairly rural but not isolated and Utica is close by.

    The kids are well rounded, slightly more preppy than the usual LAC student.

    One of D's friends just graduated and had a very positive experience. Her young sister is off to Dartmouth -- similar students, similar politics.

    The school is larger than the average LAC and has an energetic feel.

    My kids felt the school was too "pre-professional" but I think many kids would be happy there. There is a fair presence of Greek life, so it wasn't the destination for my kids, but I have known many happy campers there. I would think that the academics are excellent.
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  • ModadunnModadunn 6178 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Do not have a kid who attended colgate, but ...

    I agree with wjb to a certain extent. It has an excellent reputation, has put into place some safety measures when it comes to alcohol and is really quite a beautiful school. However, my s felt like it was very much like his HS up a notch. He has several friends who attend and most (but certainly not all) were fairly active in the party scene. Some friends love the school and their friends, but are not overly impressed with the engagement of the faculty and some thought it was extremely apathetic despite the efforts of the administrations to bring some really great speakers and forums to campus.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27999 replies204 threads Senior Member
    great school, but be advised the 'Gate is need-aware in admissions.
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    Need-aware not an issue, but thanks for the heads up.

    Can someone compare / contrast to Miami of Ohio? I'm dealing with some impressions based on stereotypes and I really want to try to get a better feel.
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  • wjbwjb 2843 replies65 threads Senior Member
    Yes, I forgot to add that the Colgate campus is drop-dead gorgeous. But it is isolated. Utica is a Rust Belt town of 60,000. It's close by, but there's nothing for college students to do there. The nearest city is Syracuse, which is about a one-hour drive. It wasn't much of a destination, either.
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  • 4gsmom4gsmom 868 replies29 threads Member
    Was just talking to someone last night whose child is not thrilled at Colgate. She described it as "beer drinking Westport High School" (a CT high school known for its wealthy, preppy, ultra-competitive kids).

    On the other hand, my brother in law went there and has nothing but praise for it.
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  • mom58mom58 259 replies44 threads Member
    DD and I visited two years ago. She chose not to apply because the town is too small, but she recommends Colgate to her friends.

    I also had a very favorable impression. I liked what they said about the structure of the curriculum, and the campus is beautiful.

    These impressions are based on being on campus for the info session and not much else. I'm glad to see others have responded that have a stronger basis for comment.

    I would compare it to Williams, at least on the face of it, though the same DD who recommends Colgate to friends had zero interest in Williams after our visit. Large-ish LAC in a small town. Smart kids. Reportedly fit/athletic kids.

    Colgate makes a lot of its strong alumni network, I think with some justification.

    At one time Colgate was reputed to be a party school (though not at the expense of academics). I'm not sure whether it still has that reputation. Then again, how many colleges don't?

    I hope others with more Colgate experience will respond to your post. (And they did.)
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  • TheGFGTheGFG 6072 replies213 threads Senior Member
    IMO, their admissions office is superb as far as smarts and friendliness. Their publications are gorgeous, and if you apply a parent of a current student who lives in your area will call your parent to ask if he/she can answer any questions. That was nice. Our impression was that the student body draws heavily from prep schools, which was a downside for us. Yes, the school is very isolated, but the countryside is beautiful and some people like that about Colgate. According to the admissions presentation, the only "big" event in town (if you can call it a town) is the Wed. farmer's market. It got on our radar due to its impressive law school placement statistics.
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Have a kid at Williams and they're very, very different places.

    Colgate has frats, is pre-professional.

    Williams has no Greek scene whatsoever and the kids are quirky, even though they don't have that rep. Heck, they're a bunch of kids in love with a purple, spotted cow.

    If you mean the isolation, well than yes, but Williams is an outdoor campus with kids attracted to the mountains and winter sports. Williams is more similar to Middlebury.
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  • DadofB&GDadofB&G 228 replies11 threads Junior Member
    My D graduated from Colgate this year. I echo most of the comments above. It sounds like your kids may not need (qualify) for financial aid. Although Colgate is not need blind, its aid is generally good. For my D, I'd even say outstanding - the best of any school to which she was admitted. The school met her full need, even when she was in London for a semester and in her final year, there was no loan and no work study.

    There's a strong party scene and a strong Greek scene. There are a lot of kids from Connecticut and Westchester County. Lots of athletes. (Interestingly, a hockey player won the school's most prestigious award this year.)

    My D was not Greek, not an athlete, and not from downstate. She did have some adjustment issues. She eventually became close to several of her professors, made some very good friends, and liked the vast majority of her classes. She was involved in some close-knit ec's and her best friend is from Westport, oddly enough.

    I wholeheartedly recommend the school in terms of its academics, its close-knit alumi and school pride, its physical beauty and facilities (really top-notch science center and library, both gleaming new). The party/frat/athletic thing can't be ignored, though, so your kids may or may not feel comfortable.

    By the way, my other kid's at Williams. The most striking similarity, I think (other than both being rural, very good LAC's), is that both schools churn out a lot of econ majors with some success on Wall Street.

    One final note - Colgate has grade deflation tendencies - this makes the professional school admissions game a little tougher.
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  • BrainCrampBrainCramp - 117 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Not a parent but my partner and his two kids went there- all public hs backgrounds. Colgate garners fierce loyalty among students and alumni. Either they brainwash them or it truly is the most spectacular experience in the universe. Probably the most similar school is Bucknell: outstanding academics, LAC, big on athletics (D1) and a strong greek scene all within a rural setting.
    Princeton review said something like this of the student body - typical student was probably the quarterback, prom king, valedictorian and the nicest person on his/her hs campus - probably extreme but somewhat accurate.
    Miami is much, much larger. It is public, it is in Ohio (student body will fee very different than a NE LAC) and it is not a LAC.
    My daughter fell in love with Colgate and it tops her list.
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  • dntw8updntw8up 1577 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I think Colgate has a lot in common with Bucknell.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23464 replies308 threads Senior Member
    Ok, I went to Colgate, many years ago. We visited the school 2 years ago when D1 was looking at schools. It has changed a lot and it has stayed the same. It is still has the most beautiful campus. Even though it is a LAC, it is probably more pre-professional than other LACs (like Oberlin). Students there tend to be more goal oriented, as in "need to be successful" in life. Career center definitely leverages off its alumni network (I have students call me). It is particularly strong in the NE region. After a few threads I have read about kids not able to get jobs after graduation, maybe it's not such a bad thing.

    Students are still very preppy, but to me it just means they are more clean cut. The dorms, cafeterias are first rate (2 years ago when we visited). We used to call it Colgate Country Club. When I was there we had 2 golf courses and a ski slope (I don't think it's there any more). Greek life was big when I was there and it still is today. When I was there, most fraternity parties were open events (unlike some other schools, like Cornell). It was an easy way for us to meet up and party with our friends, very cheap too if you didn't have to pay social dues.

    The town itself is very small - don't blink or you'll miss the stop light. We went to Hamilton, Cornell, or Syracuse to party or attend concerts sometimes. But Colgate had a lot of its own cultural events, we didn't feel the need to leave the campus. There are some negative things I could say about Colgate, but I could never say I was bored when I was there. The workload was hard enough there was very little down time. Students there were known for study hard and play hard. I don't think that's changed that much. Colgate students have a lot of school spirit mainly because of sports - football, hockey, swimming...It is very similar to larger universities. I probably went to more school games than my daughter at Cornell now.

    I would have been very happy for D1 to go there, but she wanted a larger university after 12 years of small private school. I believe she would have received an excellent education there, strong alumni network, strong math/econ majors, and a target school for many banks and consulting firms.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23464 replies308 threads Senior Member
    One thing I forgot to add is that Colgate has the most wonderful admission staff, from the director to their regional reps. During the college process, every email was responded promptly. D1's acceptance letter was very personal, there was a hand written note from the director. When D1 turned them down via email, she received a nice email back from them to wish her luck.

    One interesting thing Colgate still does is to send student's grades home to their parents. I think I remember a friend telling me that.
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  • MannixMannix 97 replies4 threads Junior Member
    mythmom, I'm pretty new here, what do you mean by "pre-professional?"
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 threads Senior Member
    It's not a criticism or a compliment -- it's descriptive. Pre-professional means the students are focused on careers and their majors lead directly into them. It's different than the idea of learning for its own sake or the "well-rounded" liberal arts ideal.
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  • ModadunnModadunn 6178 replies85 threads Senior Member
    I would not put Colgate and Williams in the same category. And I would also agree with the review of the admission's staff -- you gotta love the ice cream sandwich at the end of the tour even if they are a little bit like grandma telling you to "eat, eat!!"
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 threads Senior Member
    I reiterate GFG's comment's, especially about admissions.

    Two of my nieces ( sisters) are attending/graduated from Colgate.
    Conservative family from suburban Seattle, yet found Colgate to be much more to their liking than other LACs

    They received generous need & merit based aid, but my impression is that Colgate also has large population of students without any need.

    Sports are more of a presence than in many LACs- including strong team spirit.
    Greeks are also more of a presence than in many LACs, which probably prompts DNTWup's comment of comparison with Bucknell.
    Very good tour of campus on website.

    My niece same age as older D, I think suffered socially at Colgate.
    Not outgoing, not assertive enough to work out sexile issues with roommates.
    I think a school in a larger town, with more to do off campus, or a school where the social atmosphere was less dependent on Greeks and sports, would have fit her better.
    Her sister is a bit more worldly and outgoing, although still very conservative and has enjoyed her summer there doing Chem research before her senior year.

    It is really a gorgeous campus, but neither of our kids wanted rural.
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  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon 11830 replies298 threads Senior Member
    My D did not choose to attend but did visit, apply, and was accepted with the most surprising aid package she received (much better than other schools routinely considered "more generous" on cc) .

    I echo the previous comments/compliments on the admissions staff, the campus beauty, the school spirit, the academics. All were outstanding. Since my kid is a pre-med the consideration of "pre-professional" was not a concern of her's ;) but strong, stimulating, eye-opening academic experiences were. She felt Colgate fit both of her requirements (preparation for med school and intellectual stimulation) as did Hamilton and Middlebury (although both of them had more students who appeared artsy/quirky).

    I do want to add that her impression was that the student body at Colgate was the friendliest she encountered anywhere on her visits. I have very fond memories of my admittedly very limited time there. It was hard to see Colgate go by the way-side but they can only go to one at a time. ;)
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