I’m a big fan of the Colleges that Change Lives.
It was a book by Lauren Pope, and is now an unofficial consortium of schools that were largely “under the radar”, though some of them by now might have national or regional reputations. My son was accepted to three of them for the Fall of 2019, and ended up going to Knox. These schools, according to Pope, often do an equal or better job of the educating the whole student than some of the Ivies. He also wasn’t an advocate of large/mega universities. I’m not here to argue if he’s right about Wooster being better than Yale, etc. Rather, I’d like us to broaden the list.
For the most part, they are:
- Small liberal arts colleges.
- Not extremely selective. Admit rates generally 40% - 75% (with some outliers in either direction). The rule of thumb is they accept half or more of their applicants.
- Often, a little less expensive (sometimes by 10-15K) than their more elite competitors.
- They punch above their weight class - they do an excellent job of education a more broad variety of students, with excellent career and grad school results.
- Low student - faculty ratio, excellent attention from professors, opportunities for mentor-ship.
- Opportunity for research and internships.
- In many cases they offer generous merit aid for strong students (in addition to need based aid), thus helping high-achieving kids from "donut-hole" families get a good education, sometimes at a cheaper price than a state flagship. Donut-hole families are generally not eligible for much need-based aid, but don't have much money saved up to shell out 50K-75K a year for college.
I think Lauren Pope’s book got people thinking differently, bit it was clearly not exhaustive.
I think there are some excellent colleges out there that aren’t on the list that share the general characteristics listed above. I think it would be helpful to get some of these on our radar.
Super well-known schools like the “Hidden Ivies” shouldn’t go here, since they are well-published and very competitive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Ivies
We’ve had an excellent underrated gems thread started by @privatebanker , which covers a broad range of options, from commuter schools to large universities.
I’d like us to focus, for the most part on small-ish Liberal Arts Colleges similar in spirit to the Colleges That Change Lives group.
Let me start:
In general I think Lutheran Colleges, outside of St. Olaf, don’t get much press outside of the Midwest or Lutheran circles. Muhlenberg is fairly well known in the Tri-State Area.
Augustana, Rock Island, Illinois
Luther College, Decorah, IA
Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA
Washington and Jefferson, PA - this one recently showed up on my radar.
Here are some Presbyterian-affiliated schools I hear are good:
Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA
Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Here are some others I’ve been hearing about:
St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
Hobart and William Smith College, NY
Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY - only hearsay, anyone know much about them?