College list suggestions?

<p>My son, a rising senior, has a tentative college list, but having read some wise posts on this forum, I thought it would be a good idea to elicit your opinions early in the summer while we may have a chance to consider and visit schools not on our radar.</p>

<p>Background-stats info: He thinks he would like to be a neuroscience or cognitive science major but is one of those kids who equally loves the humanities. He has an A- average (top 10% of class) at a rigorous school that this year will send the top 29% of the class to Ivies + Stanford and an equal percentage to top 20 UNIs & LACs (no one has graduated w/ an A+ for at least the last several yrs and only 4% graduate w/ an A average). His SAT composite score is in the 99% and his SAT IIs also range from 750-800. His ECs represent his passions and his commitments, and include independent university lab research for this summer and last, the arts, athletics and some college summer programs earlier in high school. </p>

<p>His college criteria: a decent neuro program but strong depts across the board; prefers a small (but not much smaller than 2000) to mid sized school in the northeast or midwest (although he liked Emory but has no interest in any other southern school and has looked at UMich b/c it has such a great neuro program), preferably in an urban/suburban area (only remote schools he's liked so far are Bowdoin and Wesleyan); wants dominant culture to be academic/intellectual, doesn't want frats to dominate (he's not a drinker, partier at all. for fun, he meets his friends/girlfriend at museums, theater, movies and concerts in NYC, plays board games at our house w/friends on a fri nite); we won't qualify for fin aid but if he gets any merit $, he'll have some money for grad school (not a deal breaker).</p>

<p>Schools he researched and we visited: Brown, UPenn, Emory, Wash U, UMich, UChicago, Northwestern, JHU, URochester, Brandeis, Tufts, Wesleyan, Cornell, Bowdoin, Colby, & Bates. Only 2 crossed off are Colby and Bates: too small, too remote, simply didn't like when visited. I feel that the list is top heavy, lots of reaches, but I'm not sure what on this list qualifies as matches or safeties. Spoke w/ his GC who thinks he doesn't need to add a safety to this list but I'm feeling a little insecure. BTW, he loved URoch as much as some of the Ivies he visited and thinks he would be equally happy there. He's not your typical CCer who equates school's prestige to receiving a fine education/personal happiness. He's more grounded than I am, LOL. </p>

<p>Thanks for reading this dense post and looking forward to your help!</p>

<p>I know it's in the south but Rice is worth a look here if you haven't looked already.</p>

<p>He sounds like a wonderful young man. Brandeis and U Rochester will be matches. I don't know what the Brandeis merit aid landscape is like, but he should be a strong contender for merit money with Rochester. Did his PSAT qualify him for National Merit? </p>

<p>Is he planning on applying to U Chicago Early Action? If so, an acceptance there could be his safety. Another safety strategy (though the campus is too large given his criteria) is Pitt, which has neuroscience and rolling admissions and lots of museums. He could have an acceptance in hand by October.</p>

<p>If he does Chicago and Michigan early he'll know after he hears from them if he needs to add in a "safety". I realize that he doesn't need more reaches but what about Swarthmore? Also Middlebury has a neuroscience program ---not much more remote than Bowdoin and a little bigger.</p>

<p>Thanks to both of you^. We attended a 5 college presentation 2 weeks ago which included Rice. He was drawn to it. Sounds like a great school in a wonderful city; his GC had also recommended it back in March. His only reservation is the weather. He doesn't want to live in that heat.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, his PSAT didn't qualify him for NM. He loved UChicago -- the student body fits him perfectly, really liked the campus both in terms of its architecture and its vibe, and loved Chicago. Only downside: doesn't have a distinct Neuro dept. Will have to major in bio and then specialize in neuro beginning his junior year. If he applies to Brown ED, which he is considering, he won't be able to apply EA to Chicago. I've heard that Pitt is wonderful for neuro. Thanks for the excellent suggestion.</p>

<p>Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota would be a safety for your son.</p>

<p>It is in a residential area in the city, the enrollment is approximately 2,000, there are no fraternities or sororities, there are scholarships for National Merit Commended students (if that applies) and it has a Cognitive and Neuroscience Studies major:</p>

<p>All students in this major take basic courses in biology, chemistry, psychology, philosophy, mathematics and (optionally) computer science, as well as introductory, intermediate and advanced courses in neuroscience. Students are required to become involved in a research project while they are at Macalester. There are numerous research opportunities with faculty in each of the participating departments, as well as opportunities at other institutions. The major is completed with an emphasis in one of several areas: psychology, mathematics, computer science, or philosophy. A special exception is the biology emphasis, in which students complete a biology major (with emphasis in neurobiology). The rationale for having multiple tracks within this major is to provide the appropriate preparation for diverse career paths in neuroscience. A neuroscience studies major (with relevant course choices and electives) can provide appropriate training for biomedically-related careers such as medical school or graduate study in neuroscience or numerous subdisciplines, including behavioral neuroscience, physiological psychology, developmental psychology, neuropsychology, neurophilosophy, cognitive neuroscience or computational neuroscience.
(from the web site)</p>

<p>RenaissanceMom, that looks like a good list. It is a little top-heavy with "reach" schools but Rochester and Brandeis seem to be solid "likelies". For a smaller school in a nice urban setting that is a little less selective than most of the above, but still very solid academically, check out Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). This is one of the country's few selective, coeducational liberal arts colleges in a desirable urban location. The down side there is the frigid Minnesota winter.</p>

<p>For full-pay families, an advantage of the Midwestern LACs is that they generally do offer merit scholarships, unlike most of the New England and Mid-Atlantic schools. We're usually talking about a discount of $5-10K or maybe a little more, off a sticker price slightly cheaper than the NESCAC colleges. Grinnell, Oberlin, and Carleton are 3 other good Midwestern LACs your son might like, but they are all more rural and a little more selective than Macalester (and no merit aid from Carleton). Colorado College is about as selective as Mac, or a little less so, and is also in a nice urban setting (and a fabulous natural environment), however, it's a little far from your geographic center of gravity and runs on an unusual one-course-at-a-time "block plan".</p>

<p>I agree with UTPG that Rice is nice, too.</p>

<p>Chicago? O.K., no neuro major. Any interest in Linguistics? Chicago is strong there, and in mathematics, and probably in other areas that sorta dance around the periphery of cognitive science. One can minor in "computational neuroscience". (Interdisciplinary</a> Programs | The College). A file called "CPNS.pdf" is available to describe faculty resources, recommended courses, etc. (Courses</a> & Programs of Study - follow the link to "computational neuriscience".) Chicago's real strength, though, is not in particular specialized fields of study but in its overall approach to undergraduate general education (including the Core curriculum, Socratic teaching methods, support for interdisciplinary investigations, and pervasive use of primary source materials). Chicago does offer a few merit scholarships, but like everything else about this school, aid is a little quirky.</p>

<p>[... Funny, looks like farfellena was dropping the Macalester card just as I was drafting my post. So there you go, check out Mac!]</p>

<p>Another school we should mention is Johns Hopkins (for cognitive/neurosci, small to mid sized, urban).</p>

<p>I would add Johns Hopkins to the list.</p>

<p>Perhaps Carnegie Mellon. Tech school but also strong in humanities, smaller/midsized in the midwest, lots of arts related entertainment in Pittsburgh, overall intellectual culture.</p>

<p>I would put Washington University in St. Louis on your (his) short list.</p>

<p>Johns Hopkins (JHU) was already on the list. I second Rice and CMU. The weather at Rice isn't really a problem because you are there in the winter and not for the hot, sticky summer. CMU will be a match for him rather than a reach. It's really only a reach for Comp Sci and comp eng. Overall, though, sounds like you have a good list.</p>

<p>Case-Western in Cleveland would probably qualify as a safety. For your son it also has the advantage of being in the "Museum District" of the city.</p>

<p>Good add, vinceh. Case has a very serious vibe to me.</p>

<p>It's hard for me to be able to add to the list bc neuroscience is specialized and I simply don't know where there are good / bad / indifferent programs in this.</p>

<p>He likes a lot of schools that are easy to like :-) Can you tell us what he liked about specific schools, so we can try to find others that have those same characteristics?</p>

<p>Thanks everybody. Great suggestions.</p>

<p>He felt most comfortable at the mid-sized schools, roughly 5000-6000. When we visited Wesleyan over Columbus Day (classes were on), it exuded less energy than Tufts, a school he really liked. I think he equates size of student body w/ energy felt on campus. That said, he goes to a small private school and really thrives in class discussions.</p>

<p>He would like to have lab research opportunities as an undergrad but is a little concerned by the pressure-cooker reputation of schools like Johns Hopkins, Cornell or Carnegie Mellon. Other than that, he loved JHU when we visited. He's in a very rigorous NYC school w/ serious grade deflation but it's not a pressure cooker. The kids are, on the whole, genuinely interested in their coursework but are not cut throat competitive. He'd like to find a college that has a similar vibe/culture w/kids who are learning for the sake of learning. The school that he's seen that's most like his high school is Brown and possibly UChicago. </p>

<p>He was also very attracted to Wash UST (have a perfect major for him: PNP (Psych/Neuro/Philosophy), thought the campus was beautiful, liked the city. He's sat in on neuro/bio classes at all the schools we've visited but for one. Thought the one at Wash U was terrific as were the classes at Emory and Penn. </p>

<p>He is also very attracted to Brown's open curriculum, which also exists at URoch. He has myriad interests in all sorts of disciplines and would love to chart his own course. Realizes he can't do that at UChicago (one of the reasons he wouldn't look at Columbia, although the Core there is even more restrictive than Chicago, in that the actual classes are prescribed).</p>

<p>Brandeis has a terrific neuro program and fencing program (S is a varsity fencer and soccer player) but I'm concerned about Brandeis' financial status and how that might impact his education. Read about the administration trying to sell the school's art collection after they lost a lot of endowment invested w/ Bernie Madoff. That's one of the reasons I started this thread. Of his two matches, I'm chary of one.</p>

<p>It's easy finding reaches, the matches and safeties are tough. And if he applies to Brown ED, he isn't allowed to apply elsewhere EA.</p>

<p>A thought: What about Pitt?</p>

<p>I'm going to second Case. With his stats, he will get significant merit aid. I don't know your situation, but in this economy it's always good to have a financial safety as well.</p>

<p>I know you said no to the south, so did my nephew, but he flourished at Rice. I also agree Johns Hopkins is worth looking at. </p>

<p>Case seems like a reasonable safety. You might also look at RPI. It's pretty techie, but has good arts. It has a fencing club. When my son applied they had a priority application that let him know he was in before Thanksgiving, but it wasn't officially EA so not incompatible with ED schools.</p>

<p>Chicago's admissions rate for EA was about twice the regular acceptance rate.</p>

<p>Another school that might be at least a match (especially for a guy) and like Brown in that it has a pretty open curriculum is Vassar. It has neuroscience: <a href="http://neuroscienceandbehavior.vassar.edu/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://neuroscienceandbehavior.vassar.edu/&lt;/a> It's on the bigger end of liberal arts colleges.</p>

<p>Your son and I sound very similar (except his scores are better. haha). I think Rice would actually be an awesome option. I know it adds another reachish school, but it is also really really nice. As for the weather, Im not a fan of heat either, but thats what air conditioning is for! I have heard there is no pressure to drink, peolpe just do what they are comfortable with. So Rice would be a good thing to consider more closely. :]</p>