Colby vs. Kenyon

I’m a high school senior smack dab in the middle of his college search, and my parents and I have agreed that applying Early Decision is the way to go (increases my odds wherever I apply, makes the rest of the year much less stressful, would be making the same decision a couple months later anyway if I didn’t), and I’ve narrowed it down to Colby and Kenyon. Both amazing schools. Both with things I love.
I love creative writing. Kenyon has that. I care immensely about the climate. Colby is carbon neutral. I love pottery. Colby has a 24 hour studio. I love the Midwest (where I’m from). Kenyon’s got scenic Ohio.
Any advice at all would be warmly welcomed.

Colby College has a new athletic facility. 2,000 fulltime undergrads.

Kenyon College has a gorgeous campus & over 1,700 undergrads.

US News shows that there are no fraternities or sororities at Colby College. Is Greek life important to you ?

Kenyon’s athletic facility is stellar, IMO.

Lots in common with these two schools.

Kenyon is easier to get into and if you’re into creative writing, hard to find a better place. And you’ll have access to pottery.

Colby might be further along in environmental space/carbon neutrality but Kenyon would allow for your own involvement in making strides in that direction. :slight_smile:

College is a time for growth & exploration. Since you are from the Midwest, it might good to experience a different region of the country.

The admit rates are dramatically different. Colby accepts just 13%, while Kenyon College admitted 36% last year.

If your interest is about the same for both schoools, then consider an ED app to Colby College & an RD app to Kenyon College.

However, check to see if either school offers EDII as an application option. Looks like both schools offer EDII.

When considering small schools, 300 extra students can make a significant difference.

P.S. If you are seeking financial aid, Colby College awards financial aid to 46% of all students with a generous average discount of 68% via grant money.

Colby College’s outstanding financial aid is undoubtedly one reason for the very low rate of admission.

Also, Colby College is test optional with respect to the SAT and ACT.

Early decision acceptance rates: Colby, 38%, for Kenyon, 70%.

What does your profile look like (stats, etc)?

In general, though, it seems that you like many more things about Kenyon than Colby.

Thanks so much for your response. I’ve got a 34 ACT, and a GPA around 3.8. My SAT is a bit lower, but if I remember correctly, both colleges superscore, and Colby is test optional (though I’d still definitely submit my ACT).

Kenyon’s distinctive national reputation resides partly in its programs for, and appreciation of, writers and artists.

While Colby does offer a pottery club, as far as I can tell it doesn’t offer much in ceramics through its curriculum, which, if the case, would be unfortunate.

“The admit rates are dramatically different. Colby accepts just 13%”

In fact, Colby’s acceptance rate last year was less than 10%. There is a ton going on for someone interested in the environment but not majoring in it, whether it’s enjoying the Maine outdoors or Jan Plan classes. The art museum is very cool. I don’t know about ceramics (at all!) but do know that the school is, in general, very generous in its support of student arts. In fact, they fund all kinds of things for students (from research to job exploration trips.) It isn’t known like Kenyon is as a “writer’s school” but there are certainly people pursuing this path there. (Gossip Girl author among them!) The new athletic facility looks like it’ll be great. If you wanted to experience a different part of the country, I agree with @Publisher that college is a great way to do it.

Kenyon is a perennial powerhouse in swimming (so no slouch in terms of athletic facilities) and has always been known for its excellent writing programs. It is in a lovely part of Ohio.

Both seem to have tight knit communities. Being from the Midwest could be a bit helpful for Colby which has enjoyed a great reputation in New England for a long time but is a relative newcomer to the rest of the country.

I believe Kenyon offers merit for all students (which is attractive if you’re FP); Colby does not. Colby has very, very good FA including their new program for middle class families. Not sure how $ fits into your decision.

Personally, I like the strategy of applying to Colby ED (if you like it enough to go if accepted) and Kenyon RD if you are deferred. (Unlikely you would be rejected outright at Colby in ED round imo.) I think your odds are good at Kenyon regardless. Colby is trickier just because it’s gotten so popular.

You might want to look at what would be involved in pursuing writing at each (look in the course catalog) as well as fulfilling distribution requirements (and going abroad if that is of interest.) Often, doing that kind of hypothetical planning can reveal something about a program that makes it particularly appealing (or not!) In any case, you can’t go wrong with either of these schools.

Greek life isn’t tremendously important to me. Either way, whether it’s there or not, I tend to think there are lots of pros and similarly lots of cons. But the population thing isn’t something I had considered. As Publisher said, a difference of 300 students in schools this small isn’t exactly a small number. Thanks a ton–every new angle helps in making the decision!

Thanks so much for responding. That’s extremely helpful. I’ve begun combing through the websites, looking at course catalogs, internships, study abroad opportunities, etc. Kenyon (no surprise here) offers an extensive list of creative writing classes, while Colby, though offering some (I sat in on one during my visit), certainly appears to offer many fewer. Much appreciated advice!!

Both are absolutely amazing schools, so I can understand why this decision is a difficult one for you. Both are on my daughter’s list as well, and she will be applying ED2 to Colby if she doesn’t get into her top choice (Bowdoin). She ranked Colby ahead of Kenyon for some of the same reasons other posters have mentioned: slightly bigger student body, Jan term, and new athletic center. She was also impressed by their career counseling department - they have a very dedicated alumni network which is great for internships, etc. She also liked that Colby is looking to strengthen it’s relationship with the town of Waterville, so some great things are happening there. In the end, I think it was about “vibe” for her - she liked the outdoorsy, athletic vibe at Colby a bit more than the creative vibe at Kenyon (but as I said, she loved both schools). You really can’t go wrong either way!

These colleges are more similar than they are different and you won’t go wrong at either one. Kenyon is known for having excellent English and creative writing classes. It’s professors get consistently high marks. The campus is renowned for its beauty, though Colby has the views. Colby’s Jan Plan is a bonus. It’s a shame Kenyon doesn’t offer something similar. Both colleges get an A+ on Niche.

I agree that Kenyon has a somewhat more creative vibe and Colby has a more outdoorsy vibe. Personally, as I only have my daughter’s perspective, I would go for Kenyon over Colby. She applied to Kenyon and was accepted. She didn’t apply to Colby because she felt it was a little too preppy for her.

If it makes any difference, Kenyon might have a little more name recognition nationally than Colby, if for no other reason than a US president attended. Consider also potential future jobs. You’re more likely to have job opportunities on the east coast with Colby, and in the Midwest with Kenyon.

January term is an important factor to consider when attending a small, rural LAC.

It is, in my opinion, a huge positive giving students a chance to take one course for about four weeks that meets daily. Great time to travel abroad.

Try to get a list of the courses offered by, I carefully avoided use of the word “at”, Colby College during January term.

Additionally, when attending a small rural LAC, it may be wise to plan for one year or a semester in a study abroad program.

Another option might be an exchange program with another US college (such as Pomona College).

Or do both.

A benefit to not having a Jan term is a much longer winter break to travel on your own or do whatever you want to do, including short term internships/externships. My kids definitely took advantage of that window to do a lot of interesting stuff while enjoying a break from campus and a different scene. :slight_smile:

I can’t resist adding that if this student loves Kenyon and Colby, he should also consider Bates, if he doesn’t get into the others ED. Those three colleges have many of the same applicants.

January Term–one course that meets daily for about 4 weeks–allows one to experience a different format (similiar to Colorado College & Cornell College in Iowa).

This should be interesting to Kenyon College students as I see several similarities between students at Colorado College & at Kenyon College.

Might be interesting for Colorado College & Kenyon College to work out an exchange agreement similar to Pomona College’s & Colby College’s exchange option.

With respect to overlapping schools:

Bates = Bowdoin, Colby, Middlebury, Williams, Dartmouth & Brown

Colby = Middlebury, Bowdoin, Bates, Williams & Dartmouth

Kenyon = Oberlin, Carleton, Middlebury, Denison, Macalester & Bowdoin

Considering your interests, have you thought about Middlebury?

For creative writing, Midd is better than Colby, though not better than Kenyon.

Adroit Journal’s list of the best creative writing programs: