Colgate vs. Macalester?

After being waitlisted at 5 schools (most of them reach, so was expecting that), I thought Colgate was the school I stood the least of a chance at. I totally forgot to even check my portal, but then I logged in to see that I was accepted. I was sort of getting excited about Macalester, but now I have another option (which is a good thing). Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, but this almost makes my decision tougher!

My interests are: STEM, Spanish, (was getting excited about possibly studying geography).

What are peoples’ honest thoughts on Colgate? In comparison to Mac? I’ll do my own research, just curious. I know I didn’t provide much info here but maybe can add more…

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Toss a coin

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City vs. Boonies. Colgate probably the better known name - but you should go where:

  1. You can afford
  2. Works better for you

Colgate has more name recognition than many higher ranked schools - such as Washington & Lee, Colby, etc.


I’ve spent a lot of time at Colgate over the years at athletic events, and I can confidently say it is one the most beautiful campuses in America. Besides that, they are both phenomenal LACs and you cannot possibly go wrong. One bit of advice I could give is don’t choose a school for “prestige” or “selectivity.” Prestige in french is defined as “illusion and deceit” meaning it is only a marketing strategy. Go where you feel most at home, and where you will love all 4 years. You really can’t go wrong! That is where you will receive the best education.


Colgate is very Greek. Political and city activities are the equivalent of Greek Life at Mac. Generally people have a preference.


that’s true - yeah Greek life isn’t really for me, so definitely something to consider…

For a brief opinion on Colgate in the context of other top liberal arts colleges, see reply #12: Differences between top east-coast LACs? (Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Middlebury, etc.).

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thanks!! will look

Thank you for advice - I 100% agree.

Thanks! Yeah I’m trying to make decision based on fit, even though i know that colgate is a bit more selective…

Do you want to ultimately live on the east coast or in the midwest?

Colgate definitely has that cache that’s hard to pass up. Congrats on two wonderful choices!

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That is quite an accomplishment, being accepted at Colgate after the application pool doubled, congratulations.

I have no direct experience with either school but I live in New York State and can confirm that Colgate is not only isolated, but the town itself, while lovely and charming, is tiny and not really a college town in any traditional sense. It’s a 45-minute drive to a Target/fast food kind of retail area. The campus is gorgeous and there are plenty of Colgate kids from Manhattan, DC, etc who deal with the location just fine, but it is a lot different from St. Paul! And the two schools couldn’t be more dissimilar in terms of Greek like, as others have noted.

Good luck with your decision and congrats again.


Thank you! East coast and midwest are both good places, so honestly don’t have a preference as of now. I was definitely starting to get excited about Mac (and still am), as I thought my chances were slim. Just shows that there’s always a chance and sometimes things happen when least expecting it. On the other hand, got waitlisted at school or two I thought I should’ve gotten in. Anyways, I’m worried I won’t fit in at Colgate (also not 100% sure I’d fit in at Mac). But I worry I’ll regret passing up Colgate! (or mac!) I’m very indecisive .

Thank you! It was interesting how it all worked out this year. Honestly thought I stood the least chance at Colgate this year, and got waitlisted at some I thought I could potentially get in but ended up not… Always works out that way!

Yes, these are very different schools I’m choosing between… Still leaning towards Mac, but not sure… I’m so bad at making decisions though I still have time. I’m not sure how seriously I should be taking UNIGO reviews… because I’m a bit worried I won’t fit in 100% at colgate…

Congrats on your acceptance. Two terrific choices. I don’t know a lot about Macalaster so I can’t comment much on that, but my son is a freshman at Colgate and absolutely loves the place, even with the strict COVID restrictions that Colgate has put in place. He doesn’t seem too interested in the Greek scene, and he students can’t consider joining until sophomore year anyway. He’s made terrific friends, enjoys his classes (about 50% in person this semester), loves the beauty of the campus and has a great dorm room. The food is mediocre, but that’s been his biggest gripe. He’s already excited for next fall when (presumably) he’ll have a “true” college experience.

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Thank you! Glad I have a couple options, but it’s going to be a difficult decision… Good to hear a Colgate perspective. Didn’t know that about Greek life… I’m glad he’s having a good experience and I’m looking forward to the fall as well when hopefully college will be more normal!

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Honestly will do that to get a sense of which side I’m hoping for deep down…

Please let me know if you want the invite to the Mac Discord and I can DM you! I’m biased because I love all the folks there, but accepted student chats are a great place to test the waters (hopefully you can find one for Colgate too)!


Colgate campus culture is quite different than that of Macalester College.

Macalester is very liberal & students engage in activist type activities. Not as campus oriented as is Colgate due to their distinctive locations.

Probably uncommon for one to apply to both of these schools due to the different campus cultures.

P.S. Since you asked, Unigo may be a helpful resource for you in making this decision.


They’re almost opposite.
Common points: strong academics and cold weather (colder for Macalester, but Colgate isn’t balmy most of the year either.)
Beside this…
Macalester is urban in one of the best city neighborhoods with close access to public transportation and many company headquarters, Colgate is very rural and isolated, with a lot going on on campus.
Macalester has less drinking/partying (in part due to location: rather than partying together, many students head into the cities), Colgate has a vigorous Greek life with lots of drinking/partying on weekends.
Macalester’s athletic teams aren’t anything to write home about although supported by friends, more insistence on all student participating regardless of skill; Colgate has Div 1 sports and a sports culture.
Macalester is relatively liberal, Colgate is relatively conservative (keeping in mind young people are usually more liberal overall than older people)
Perhaps post on each college’s subforum, so that alumni write back with their impressions. In addition, ask Admissions at each college to get you in touch with current students in STEM and in Spanish. Ask them what they like best and least about their college, (to see if you could live with the “least”), who their favorite professors are and why, what people typically do on Friday night, etc.

Personally, I’d pick Macalester just for the neighborhood, it’s fantastic living there, so many opportunities to interact with different people, access to everything… while still having a real, compact, well-defined campus. But… that’s me and I’m not you :grin: :grin: In reality, there’s no wrong choice! It all comes down to personal preference.