Beloit v. Lawrence v. Grinnell v. Oberlin

<p>Thinking about visiting. Any thoughts about how these colleges differ from or resemble one another?</p>

<p>We visited Beloit, Lawrence, and Grinnell and liked them all. (I’m a parent.) </p>

<p>We saw Beloit first, and the atmosphere struck as very much like Beloit, but smarter. They make good use of their enormous endowment, and I think that impression had more with the opportunities they were promoting on the visit day, and less about the students themselves, though Grinnell is more selective. They also have a very nice student center and some new housing that stands out some from the Beloit Campus. </p>

<p>Grinnell, Iowa and Beloit, Wisconsin are pretty similar, though Beloit is less isolated and has more life/renewal in the downtown area. The college is involved with that-- the performing arts building is slightly off campus, in the downtown, as is the bookstore, which also serves as a regular Barnes & Noble. I liked that. </p>

<p>Appleton, WI is at least three times larger than the other towns and is part of a larger metro area; that makes a difference. The downtown isn’t exactly pretty, but there are multiple coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and bars as well as a regional performing arts center within walking distance of the campus. </p>

<p>The Lawrence campus (and study body) is a little larger and maybe a little more spread out than Beloit. It has a nice, new-ish student center (Beloit doesn’t). Both schools have newer science buildings (and of course Grinnell is strong in that, too). The housing and so on seems fine, pretty typical. They struck me as nice, comfortable (though not at all plush; some of the grounds and facilities show typical wear) schools full of bright, interesting, involved mostly white mostly midwestern (maybe less so for Grinnell) kids. </p>

<p>Grinnell seems to still have a reputation as crunchy/quirky, but it didn’t really feel that way to me. Self-gov is big, social justice-- the nicer residence halls are not more expensive as a conscious equally-available-to-all (though by seniority) choice.</p>

<p>Beloit is a little bit quirky in a way that’s probably not for everyone, though we kinda loved it. Lawrence strikes me as a little straighter, though they do play up the off-beat in their marketing. My daughter did a science overnight there and found the kids friendly and smart. She applied to them all, got nice merit money from Beloit, will hear from Lawrence by Saturday, and did reg decision at Grinnell. She doesn’t currently think she’s interested in going to school in a small town, so she’s leaning in other directions, but she liked them all well enough to apply, and when everything’s on the table could be happy to choose any of them. </p>

Beloit has the loveliest campus of this trio, and the college has a great intellectual atmosphere.

I thought that Grinnell would be considered the most intellectual among the 3 based on stats and reputation

Wel, achievement/stats is hardly synonymous with intellectualism. I’d agree that Grinnell is in a different category, but whether that makes it the best school out of the lot for a particular kid depends on a number of factors.

We ended up visiting Beloit and going to alumni events multiple times and met any number of bright, engaged individuals. I’ll always be fond of that place.

Funny to visit this thread a year later, though. So much has happened in between. My D ended up getting merit from all 3 plus others and is now a first year student at Macalester-- which was barely on her radar last December.

We visited both Grinnell and Oberlin. S ED-ed at Grinnell. Best friend went to Oberlin. Both wonderful schools and both were very happy with their decisions (they have both subsequently graduated). Grinnell has a huge endowment compared to other LACs, which is reflected in the palatial facilities (including an observatory), generous financial aid, greater diversity (financial aid again - 13% of the student body is international), and lots of money for student events and activities, grants for social entrepreneurship and research, etc…No distribution requirements and top notch sciences, in particular (which is what sealed the deal for S.) Oberlin is a music lover’s paradise. Between the conservatory (600 students) and the LAC, there’s a different music performance every night of the school year. Lots of other performing arts as well - even a small museum. A bit more ‘granola’ than Grinnell perhaps. The town also has a bit more to offer restaurant-wise.

Grinnell is about an hour from Des Moines and Iowa City. Oberlin is about 45 min from Cleveland. Otherwise, they have more in common than differentiating them.

It is funny to be looking at this thread year later! My D’s final top three choices were Oberlin, Grinnell, and Beloit. Although she loved the artsy vibe at Oberlin, she felt like she fit in better with the people at Grinnell and Beloit. I found the two schools very similar, although Grinnell has more high-stats kids than Beloit and seemed less quirky. In the end my D chose Beloit and is now a very happy freshman there.

I felt I had to chime in here although I wonder if OP is still looking at schools. One of my D’s went to oberlin and was happy there. It prepared her well for grad school and she feels the strength of the Oberlin name helped her get into the selective school she is at. My youngest D is at Beloit and is very happy there. While not a social butterfly she is less serious than her sister and Beloit provides a lot of extra-curricular fun which does not involve drinking or drugs. She is in the 609 dorm and loves it. This is the sub-free dorm and the residents like to hang out together in the lobby. There is a video on the Beloit website about the dorm and it pretty much echoes D’s experiences. She is also happy with her classes and professors. D’s best friend from h.s. Is at Grinnell. She chose Grinnell because the students seemed so serious about their studying.

@AllisonMP and @KAMmom, it is fun to be back on this thread a year later. My D’s final two choices were Lawrence and Beloit. She did not apply to either Grinnell or Oberlin. She chose Beloit over Lawrence for two major reasons: the incredible “niceness” of every person she met at Beloit and because she decided Lawrence’s quarter system was not for her. She is an incredibly happy freshman, loving her classes, and making lots of friends, even though, she, too, is not a social butterfly. @tigerfish: Nice to meet up on CC with another 609 mom; I assume our D’s know each other.

@1518mom They probably do, I asked my D over fall break if she knew every one in the dorm and she said she thought she did.

For prospective students: if you are accepted to Beloit and think there is a chance you will attend, send your dorm preference card in a.s.a.p (before you 100% decide). D didn’t send hers in until the end of April and I think is lucky she did get into 609–it is bursting at the seams this year due to the exceptionally large freshman class.

A girl who graduated with my daughter is a first year at Beloit, too. :slight_smile: We were happy to know someone who picked it even though my D made another choice. It’s just like nowhere else in the best way.

Glad to see this thread, since we’re interested in all these schools. I know the OP is an old one, but @AmazingBlue , if you’re around, can you clarify which colleges you’re referring to in your first paragraph? “We saw Beloit first, and the atmosphere struck as very much like Beloit” – obviously one of those is NOT Beloit. (Was it Grinnell you saw first??) Thanks!

I think your question is really intended for AllisonMP, but I’m pretty sure she meant that she saw Grinnell first. Grinnell is the one of the four with a famously enormous endowment. I’ve now seen all four, by the way, and was very impressed with all four.

The descriptions of all four that you can find on College Confidential seem pretty accurate to me. But one thing that might not be obvious if you haven’t set foot on the campuses is that all four attract a healthy variety of students. The stereotypes you hear seem overstated to me. There are musicians, activists, science geeks, jocks and bland Midwesterners at all four (though there definitely are far more classical musicians at Oberlin and Lawrence, and probably more activists at Oberlin).

In terms of each college’s overall desirability, I would not say that any one of them is obviously at the top or bottom of the list. All of them seemed like fun, intellectually stimulating and friendly schools. For any given applicant, any one of them could be the favorite. Each has some unique and very appealing qualities.

I wrote a longer post commenting on Lawrence and Beloit. I don’t have the energy to write one commenting on Oberlin and Grinnell, and didn’t spend as much time at them. But I will say that I was surprised by the huge number of
students from the East and West coasts and from major cities who go to Grinnell (which to my mind has the least interesting town of the four) and Lawrence (which is pretty far North in Wisconsin). I knew that Oberlin and Beloit drew from places like New York and Los Angeles but I hadn’t realized that Grinnell and Lawrence did too. I also was surprised by how much was happening in Appleton, and the downtowns of Oberlin and Beloit were both much more interesting and just plain cooler than I expected.

I recommend checking out some or all of them if you can.

Whoops, yes, @AmazingBlue I did mean @AllisonMP. Thanks for clarifying – that makes sense.

Yes, Grinnell has gained a lot of cache in our east coast metro area over the past decade for some reason. My friends with kids in private schools (our weren’t) tell me that Grinnell is on ‘the list’ of schools commonly recommended to kids and parents looking for a top notch education for smart but non-preppy kids.

FWIW, that nonsense sentence was supposed to say that we saw Beloit first, and that Grinnell reminded us of Beloit – though with certain aspects turned up a notch, and others turned down. Small, progressive, midwestern liberal arts colleges are going to have a lot of commonality. Both places have some very enthusiastic alumni-- that was part of what was persuasive about Beloit, that such smart, interesting, genuinely friendly people were so passionate about the place-- but of course that’s true of all such schools.

For a while, my D preferred Lawrence because of Appleton (we lived in Green Bay before she was born, and I was surprised at how appealing (not necessarily pretty, but very livable) it was when she did a summer overnight thing there. I really like the way Beloit College seems to be driving some revitalization of downtown (“downtown”) Beloit, though the CHEESE FIREWORKS GIFTS gas station out by the highway is still fairly representative. :slight_smile:

In the end, location was one of the reasons she went to Macalester instead. I do think the Cities do provide a certain set of opportunities and definitely affect the school’s outlook and mission, but considering how small her radius seems to be-- with the work load, there is just not a whole lot of time to go exploring, for one thing-- I’m not sure that her day to day or maybe even larger experience would be that different in one of the small-town schools. Not a bad choice in the bunch, just reasons one may or may not suit a person slightly better than the others.

Thanks. Definitely intrigued by the all of the above.

Thanks to all who wrote in - still very helpful thread for a new round of applicants!

I will say that my wife did her undergrad at Beloit as a very young student from tropical Asia(starting in Jan, no less), and they treated her like Gold. She did well enough that she was accepted to very good medical school afterwards. It seems though Beloit is considered to be be in a second tier when it comes to LAC’s, but I would say that it is a very good choice as a school, and that if you want to excel you can do it there as well as at other, more exalted institutions.

It does sound like the town might’ve upgraded since I was last there. Campus was always pretty nice.

“CHEESE FIREWORKS GIFTS”! I am sorry our travels didn’t take us there. This description is awesome. Guessing there is a diner nearby with fabulous pie.