hello! so sorry for the late response— finals are currently in full swing at grinnell, so i’ve been quite busy! i want to reiterate and build upon virtually everything @notarobot22 said in their post. it’s super informative, and a good run-down of what people are like here.
the reason i decided to ED to grinnell was a combination of quite a few things.
first, going to a left-leaning college was something i prioritized when doing my search, and the fact one of grinnell’s founding principles is social justice really spoke to me. if it helps, i was “stuck” between whether or not i should choose to ED to grinnell or vassar, but i obviously chose the first one. (imo, i think i was “stuck” because i knew vassar’s acceptance rate for men is much higher than it is for women, and the school obviously accepts more applicants during ED rounds, so i wanted to maximize my chances at getting into a good college as much as possible. i absolutely believe i would’ve been happy at vassar, but I’m uncertain whether or not i would be as happy as i am at grinnell, if that makes sense.)
second, cost and the return on investment were also something i heavily considered. i didn’t want to go thousands and thousands of dollars into debt and/or have my parents help pay for a school that wouldn’t set me up to have a decent future. furthermore, i knew grinnell sends an exceptional amount of its grads into top-ranked grad school programs, so i wanted to go to a school that was known for having a good placement record. because of grinnell’s financial aid, I’ll only be around $10K in debt when i graduate, which, although any kind of debt isn’t ideal, it’s still much, much better than it would have been had i gone to other colleges such as my state uni (where i would have accumulated around triple the amount).
third, i appreciated the fact that grinnell’s student body isn’t very caught up in prestige and isn’t necessarily obsessed with how we’re ranked. it’s a lie to say people don’t care, but i do think people don’t care as much as, say, students at colleges in the northeast. the people who know of grinnell always have incredibly lovely things to say about it, and i appreciated being able to bond with people who are familiar with it because, to me, those are the ones who matter, especially when it comes to graduate school interviewers or random people who will stop me on the street when I’m wearing my GC hat and say, “grinnell college? that is such a good school!” the people here fall closer to the “hippie” side of the spectrum rather than the “preppy” side, and that’s something i liked. the student body kind of exudes a come-as-you-are ethos, as notarobot said, and i really dig it to this day. people are very accepting of pretty much anything (except when it comes to social issues such as racism, heterosexism, misogyny, etc., but that’s no surprise because, like, no one should be accepting of someone who is racist or heterosexist or misogynistic, lmao).
fourth, i loved the characteristics of the college! i grew up in a ridiculously homogenous town, and i appreciated the fact that 20% of grinnell’s student body come from outside the U.S. and white students only make up around 50% of the entire student body. for reference, 60% of carleton’s student body identify as white, and only 11% of the student body are international. furthermore, grinnell is a pretty socioeconomically balanced institution for its size. here’s how google breaks it down:
- 15% come from families who make less than $30K
- 12% come from families who make $30,001-48K
- 19% come from families who make $48,001-75K
- 18% come from families who make $75,001-110K
- 36% come from families who make $110,001+
for reference, this is how google breaks down carleton’s socioeconomic diversity:
- 10% come from families who make less than $30K
- 8% come from families who make $30,001-48K
- 10% come from families who make $48,001-75K
- 15% come from families who make $75,001-110K
- 56% come from families who make $110,001+
grinnell’s endowment is absolutely massive, and that helps to bring in students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the institution, especially now that they instituted the new no-loan initiative. if you’re someone who worries about the financial aspect of things (especially during a time like this), grinnell received an A+ financial health grade from forbes this year (as did carleton), so the institution is doing just fine during COVID while still maintaining the ability to have a financially diverse student body. another characteristic is that i freaking love not having to really satisfy any graduation requirements, lol. i really didn’t like the idea of having to take a certain amount of classes in subjects i had no interest in or that i thought wouldn’t benefit me in the long-run (such as the core curriculums at columbia and uchicago). i haven’t taken an english or art class since high school, and i most certainly do not plan on it, haha.
fifth, i just got that gut feeling that grinnell was where i was supposed to be. i know it sounds silly, but i genuinely do think once you know where you’re supposed to be, that’s where you’re supposed to be. i would look at other colleges (like carleton) with an open mindset and find that i was just comparing them back to grinnell, and to me, they didn’t measure up. i ED’d without ever having visited campus, and i haven’t really looked back since.
there are plenty of things wrong with grinnell, as there are with every institution of higher learning, and i can most certainly speak on that aspect at some point if you’d like, but i really have had three (soon to be four! ah!) of the best years of my life here. it’s going to be difficult to say goodbye when that time comes. it’s a special place, and i would choose it again in a heartbeat.