My son is coming down to the wire on these three schools. Colorado College is a really good match. He found the student body optimistic and friendly, he is an excellent skier and the front range will help him stay active and healthy. The block schedule will work as well. It is very wealthy, less diverse, and costs $7000 more than Amherst and $13,000 more than Carelton. He would need to take out a full loan and we would still be about $6,000 more than our top budget. The money isn’t all in the bank and all is precarious, now. We worry that we would be paying a premium and the return may not be there, financially and educationally.
He knows that “anything is possible” at Amherst, is drawn to its commitment to diversity, socio-economic and racial, the open curriculum and science center, and perhaps, the opportunity to attend such a well-respected school. He knows that he will need to stretch and grow at Amherst socially, while CC will be easy. This both attracts and worries him. He is athletic but not a recruited athlete, “can hang with the nerds” but doesn’t want to be there all day. Doesn’t know where he would fit. Sat in on a virtual class and felt like he was right there with the discussion and appreciated the thoughtful contributions. He loved his first visit in the summer, but when he returned in the fall he sensed that the students were a bit frenzied and stressed, even though it was a Tuesday morning. He would still need to take a loan, but it would get him in the target zone financially. For his parents, we greatly respect Amherst’s mission and its commitment to diversity, but it’s tough to garner from what we read if it actually works. It could transform his understanding of the world in unrivaled ways or not work for him at all. It feels like there is high risk and high return.
Carleton is close to home, collaborative, exceptional, and provided the best aid package. For him, it is familiar and unexciting, the campus felt random, he sensed an underlying current of stress, and he worries that the student body wears its quirkiness label a bit too proudly. For his parents, it is safe and close in a time of uncertainty, financially responsible and we know even if the fit isn’t perfect, it will be ok for him. We know he will receive an excellent education. We would provide the option of not taking a loan this year.
A little more about him - he loved the student vibe and setting of Hamilton the moment he walked on campus, but their financial aid package was not competitive. He got a very nice scholarship offer from Whitman and he knows he would be happy there, but we were not able to visit so it isn’t in the running either. Didn’t like Colby’s campus, soured on Bates on the second visit, and didn’t apply to Bowdoin because he figured he wouldn’t get in and he didn’t get the welcoming feel. He is interested in environmental science or perhaps geology, but he also loves creative writing and reading history. He’s good at it all-a true LAC student.
We “could” make all of the schools work. He hasn’t stated it straight out because of the financials, but he would choose CC first and Carleton last. I think the input I am mostly looking for is process and perspective from parents and students. I have a bias toward prestige which I know makes it harder for me to pay more for CC, even though he would likely be happy because I think he would leave opportunity on the table.
We’re not going to say “no”, but no matter what, we want him to make his decision for all of us to feel like it was the right one for the right reasons. So if you know this kid or this dad, or have been there yourself, as a kid or parent, I would love it if you could give me a kick in the right direction.