Chance my daughter - Tulane, Davidson and others

Mom of a Tulane senior D and would echo that demonstrated interest is significant there. The “Why Tulane” is one of the most important parts of the application. My D had a 32 when she applied but went EA and got in with merit that covered almost 50% of tuition.

I would agree “urban” is all relative. My D enjoys the atmosphere, culture, food and major activities that take place in Nola and rarely is ever in the tourist trap areas. It has a little bit of everything. My husband and I probably visit every 1-2 months because there is so much to experience and do.

Fair warning though - hurricane preparedness is needed. Tulane has it down to an art but it can be a bit overwhelming for those who are not used to being in the “cone of concern”. We live in a hurricane prone area, so it wasn’t a big adjustment although IDA definitely did a number on the city. That being said, the people there are very resilient which is part of the charm.

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Coming from tornado alley I think she would actually feel better about having more warning.


Yes lots of crossover, that’s interesting on American.

Based on my kid’s search from a few years back with similar intended major and some overlap in colleges: GWU is kind of tricky because it’s quite competitive to get in for polisci/IR, but definitely worth a try. American reasonable chance but show them love. FYI Fordham (unexpectedly) offered my kid a bit of merit with a lower gpa and 31 ACT , not sure of their current stats or if the fact that my kid applied to Lincoln Center affected that. For VA as probable close to safety might also want to consider George Mason.

The Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) schools are so named because Loren Pope, a writer for the New York Times, wrote a book by that title that selected universities that were particularly focused on undergraduate education, where there was a lot of support at all levels for students, where there was greater academic risk-taking because students weren’t worried about maintaining a perfect profile, etc. These were schools that didn’t have the same national levels of prestige but that were academically challenging, usually with lots of writing. Most of the schools were around 2000 or fewer students, and students placed well in grad schools. Also, these were schools that (at the time) usually accepted at least half of their applicants, if not significantly more, so it wasn’t a stressful ordeal to apply for college. After the book became so popular the colleges received permission to form an association with the name. A few of the schools have grown a bit more selective, but they’re still far more accepting than most of the colleges that gets tons of mentions on this board.

There are many fans of the CTCL schools in this forum, so perhaps others can chime in to share their experiences with them.


That’s true - and there’s different levels - your GW/NYU/BU - and then your Pitt/Charleston, etc. which have campuses but are in the ctiy. Arkansas is close to that but Fayetteville is smaller - real nice campus. U of SC is adjacent to downtown but a large, traditional campus.

Tulane is in society - but not the city - when I say city - I mean downtown type.

Elon should be crossed off - it’s rural - in that it has a street of a few businesses and that’s it. American is suburban - but a few train stops from the thick of the action - I guess similar to Tulane - one via the subway and one via trolley or what New Orleans has.

Charleston is mid size (10K) and the International Scholars program (you need two majors - International Studies and #2) - would be a great fit. They have lots of great connections. My daughter has met the Canadian Ambassador to the US (or maybe former) and this week she’s met with Kerry Kennedy, head of the RFK Human Rights organization and ex wife of Andrew Cuomo - and so many more - they have lots of connections - so if it’s not too urban, I think it’s really underrated - mostly small classes, etc.

Good luck.


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I appreciate the perspective on Charleston. I feel like the rankings aren’t as helpful for PS/IR because they don’t quantify the kind of connections you point out here.

That’s why look up the Charleston Fellows and International Scholars - other schools have programs too and/or Honors Colleges.

The way I see it and others may disagree and that’s fine - if you’re at GW or AU, everyone wants to work in politics. If you go to UNC or UVA or William and Mary, everyone is a star - so while you’re super talented, so is everyone.

There is something to be said for being the standout person at a less prestigious or ranked school, especially if they have special programs. Admittedly, my kid loved Charleston - the wonderful program we found came after, not b4. Already - she’s started a club to help refugees - and this is the 2nd year - and they are working to staff up to tutor on a weekly basis 60+ kids - so she’s started a club, has multiple faculty involved, and has met a ton of people…but she’s also chasing it. She’s decided - maybe the party aspect is no longer important.

Washington & Lee - rural - wonderful school - we self toured and bumped into a prof - and he told us on a per capita basis, the top two schools for placing in govt are Sewanee and then W&L. I’m not sure the basis of the statement and both are rural.

I think if a kid finds the right fit, they can create the opportunities - but they don’t just fall in your lap.

And - I’d say - no matter where your kid goes - there’s also Washington Semesters…so my kid as part of the International Scholar had a Maymester paid for (it was supposed to be Republic of GA but due to Covid and Ukraine it became Vieques which is part of Puerto Rico)…and has to study abroad for a semester. She’s also going to apply to the Washington Semester - so that’s exciting too.

No matter where your kid ends up - if they want it, they’ll find great resources and opportunity. The faculty loves those kids that are engaged.

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Regarding location as a factor in selection, in our two searches, besides looking at schools in terms of being Urban, Suburban, or Rural, we also noted if it was walkable. For example, two schools that were suggested on this thread. Richmond big beautiful suburban campus but self contained and non walkable to really anything. Dickinson smaller campus but in a town setting and very walkable, makes the campus feel bigger. We found it to be a distinction worth noting.