Colleges worth going

I’m an International student who is finding the right college for me in the US. I’m aiming to go somewhere that could help me to develop myself not just academically but my overall being as well.

With the score of 4.0 Unweighted GPA, 1400 SAT (600+800), 790 SAT Math II and a decent list of EA, I want to ask for some recommendations to choose the right colleges with these criteria:

  1. The quality of the people. I hope to go to an environment in which not just students but also the professors could work together for the sake of one another’s growth.
  2. Affordable to International student since my family total contribution each year is around 20k-30k.
  3. Location. Just don’t be too extreme (way too hot or way too cold).
  4. (Optional) Academic curriculum. It’d be a plus point to experience any interesting program/majors in college like we combining 2 or more majors, dual program,…
  5. The academic is not cut-throat, as I want to have balance between studying and socializing
  6. (Optional). I’d love to go somewhere that has good food!

Right now, here are the schools in my mind:
I. List of schools that I have to try really hard to get in:

  1. Hamilton: Great students, great school for communication programs.
  2. Occidental: Great location and good food.
  3. Reed, Kenyon, Skidmore: Kinda quirky schools.
  4. Denison: Generous Aid
  5. Whitman: Cool facilities+ cool town

II. List of safe schools:

  1. Kalamazoo: Flexible curriculum
  2. Albion: Dual program that allows tranferring to Columbia
  3. Augustana, Gustavus, Juniata, Lewis & Clark - still in research.

May I ask for some selective schools as well as safe schools that are really worth going?

Thank u a lot!

One small thing that stands out on your list is you say you don’t want someplace that is too cold. The town of Clinton, NY (where Hamilton College is) averages almost 100”, or a little over 2.5 meters, of snow every year. That is a LOT of snow, especially for someone looking for a moderate climate. Skidmore and Kalamazoo are also cold and snowy but not quite that much.


Thank you a lot! Hamilton may be an exception as I really like the vibe there. Btw, do you have any school recommendation?

Do you have thoughts on what you want to study?

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I’m really interested in Communication and Product Design right now. However, I care more about the environment more than the study, so that’s why I didn’t mention about these two majors in the post.

As an international student with a limited budget, you are unlikely to get enough aid from any of the schools on your list.


If a school were to meet your documented financial need, would you qualify for enough aid to get down to your $20-30K budget? Some of the schools on your list do not give merit aid at all. And none of them guarantee to meet need for international students. (You might look at Grinnell - no guarantees there either, but they are often relatively generous with international students, and they’re often considered to be in the same quirky/intellectual category as others on your list.)

It might really be worth looking at some public schools as well as private ones. There are public LAC’s that offer many of the same qualities you like in the private schools that you are looking at, but with a lower “sticker price” that wouldn’t require you to get as much scholarship money to get down to your price point. Schools like Truman State, UNC-Asheville, UMinnesota-Morris, and SUNY Geneseo could potentially give you the experience you are looking for.

The other issue, though, is that it will be hard to find Product Design opportunities at most small liberal arts colleges.

You might check out Western Washington U’s Industrial Design program: Industrial Design | Engineering & Design | Western Washington University WWU has more of a smaller-school vibe than most public U’s, and the industrial design program in particular is top notch. (They have Communication Studies as well, fwiw.) Also, Bellingham is a great Pacific Northwest location… and with merit, there’s a pretty good chance WWU would meet your budget.


I second aquapt’s schools. Have you researched U New Mexico and New Mexico Tech that wayoutwestmom recommended on your other thread?

None of your safe schools are safeties because a safety has to also be affordable, and it’s possible (even likely) that those schools won’t get to your price range. Make sure to include travel expenses, mandatory health insurance, and incidentals in your budget.

Have you applied anywhere yet (not sure if you are a senior)? Do you have affordable options in your home country or the EU/UK?

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My daughter is at Kenyon, so I can tell you that this school definitely fits your 1st criterion–excellent professors, mostly small classes, individual attention to students, very warm and friendly student body, collaborative spirit. High academic standards. A very active campus: theater productions, sport events, orchestras, a capella groups, various clubs. It’s quite common to double major as Kenyon, although one has to complete two capstone projects in their senior year.

I can’t, unfortunately, comment on the financial/merit aid for international students, as we’re domestic, but they do have international students and do offer merit aid. One thing to be aware of–the campus is gorgeous, and so is the surrounding area (there are places to hike and bike), but the campus is located in a tiny village; a more “normal” town is just 10-15 minute drive away (shuttles from and to campus are available), and Columbus is about an hour away by car. The food is normally quite decent (the college has its own student farm), but lately it’s become worse, as it has almost everywhere, with the pandemic-related staffing and supply chain problems. We’re hoping it’s a temporary setback.

Good luck!

P.S. You may also want to look at Knox College in Illinois (for a less selective but still very good college with friendly students).


Given your budget private LACs will be hard to find. Check out New College of Florida which is a small public LAC. They are lower cost to begin with and are generous with international student merit aid, and they allow you to get creative with your major. Definitely not cold, I think they’re right on the water in Florida although I have not visited.

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Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida fits your budget. Has approximately 2,600 undergraduate students of which about two-thirds are female.

Most popular area of study is business, followed by social sciences, communications, psychology,and visual & performing arts.

Gorgeous location.

Your SAT score would place you among the top 25% of all students’ SAT scores.

This is a good option is you want to enjoy life while studying a practical subject.


Both Flagler and University of New Mexico fit your criteria…and would be affordable options for you given the budget you preasented.


Are you now a high school senior?

I love New Mexico Tech. Academic is stellar, and I think it should be one of the top notch schools. Tuition is super affordable. The big turn off is its location. There is nothing around the campus.


The thing that’s troubling about Flagler is its relatively low retention and graduation rates. Fewer than 80% return after the first year, and fewer than 65% graduate, even after 8 years. It’s a gorgeous campus, though!


Hi! I’m graduated from High School already!

Thank you for your comment! I’ve already done research about those 2 schools. They are very fine options, yet I’d prefer going somewhere with better raking…

Thank you a lot for the recommendation! I shall do some research about NCoF right away!

Better raking? What does this mean? If you mean ranking…I’m going to say….for engineering and tech, these schools are excellent. You don’t have to graduate from a tippy top school in these fields to be very very desirable for employment.

Of course your issue is….you will need to return to your home country after you graduate.

Thank you so much for your information! Yes, it is ranking, sorry for the typo. Now I’m not limited my options to Tech School only like in the previous post anymore, so I’m looking for more options to consider!