My family and I just got back from a trip to visit a couple liberal arts colleges in the Pacific Northwest (Reed, Lewis & Clark, Whitman, University of Puget Sound), and plan to visit some East Coast schools (Bates, Bowdoin, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, possibly Swarthmore) in August. I have a pretty solid grasp on the culture/character of the West Coast colleges, but I’m still not sure what the East Coast schools are like.
Quick rundown of my thoughts on the West Coast schools: Love Whitman (might even apply ED), like Lewis & Clark, not a fan of Reed or Puget Sound. Reed seems a little homogenous and bubble-y, Puget Sound seems a little athletic and frat-y.
If anyone is willing to read my thoughts on these schools and let me know if any seem like particularly good/bad fits, or if I’m totally wrong about any of them, I’d really appreciate it!
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR:
- LAC in PNW/New England
- Students/culture not too “granola hipster,” but also not too “rich lacrosse player”
- Lots of study abroad & research opportunities
- Plan to major in Psych and minor in Gender/Ethnic Studies or Politics, also plan to get higher degree(s)
Amherst: The online tour emphasized the strength and rigor of their academics over everything else, and I’m looking for something a little more balanced. Is Amherst culture very tight-knit and supportive or is it mostly academically driven?
Bates: For a while this was my favorite of all the East Coast schools, though it’s lately seemed a little too preppy and athletic for me. I can’t quite pinpoint where it is on the spectrum between “preppy, athletic, Williams-y” and “hippie, radical, Reed-y.”
Bowdoin: Seems a little stodgy and serious — of course no college is going to be full of kids who can’t have fun, but they don’t seem to put a lot of emphasis on community or bonding the way Bates does, at least in their official materials. (And I did look at Colby — seemed too sporty for me. Maybe I’m wrong?)
Mount Holyoke: Not sure if I would even like a women’s college, but this would be the one. Culture might be a little too Reed-y? I’m a fan of the Consortium but I don’t really know how people take advantage of it in practice. Do a lot of people take classes at other schools, or is it more of a second option if, say, a class at your institution is full?
Swarthmore: My dad went here & loved it. Called it the “Whitman of the East Coast” but doesn’t know how it’s changed since he was there in the 70s. I don’t love PA or Philadelphia (would prefer to be further north) but I think the school might be most similar to what I like about Whitman — the right mix of community & academics, lots of abroad opportunities, diverse culture, etc.