Convincing My Dad (Alum please help)

I was accepted to Whitman with 12k of merit scholarship. I really like the school and have been doing a lot of research and find it to be almost exactly what I want.

The problem is my father is not very happy. He thinks I only applied to go snowboarding, etc. and since he hasn’t heard of the school, he doesn’t think it is good. (I am from philly, he is pushing me toward penn state). he went to Haverford, so the small LAC isn’t the issue. The issue is just in the recognition.

So I ask, If you were to be persuading someone to go to Whitman, what would be your main points, and any reputable sources? Obviously I am looking as well.

Thank you for help!

Is it money? I am sure Penn State is cheaper, even with the merit award. Can you get him to go with you to accepted student days if he has not visited yet? It isn’t the greatest snowboarding location – only place within a few hours is small (just saying).

Just show your dad some of the school’s statistics. There’s a lot of overlap between Haverford and Whitman in terms of SAT scores & GPAs. Also, tell him that a supreme court justice, Nobel prize winning physicist, astronaut, and countless other successful people attended the school. You can probably find a list somewhere online.

Whitman also produces an unusually high number of PhDs and Fullbright scholars per these lists:

@intparent Money is not really the issue as I did not apply for fin aid. @Orangeteacup That is a good idea! Can you give me a quick explanation of what Fullbright is? I’ve seen it a bunch but have not looked into it.

LAC recognition is mostly regional, in the west many have never heard of Haverford! Whitman was recently named by Forbes magazine as the best college in Washington state. If you can talk him into visiting he may change his mind. It has a beautiful campus, in a very charming small city, and the professors are wonderful. Have YOU visited? I think you really should before you make a final decision. There are many really great LACs that don’t have name recognition in the general public, however, if you plan on going to grad school, Whitman is well known in academic circles.

BTW, the local ski resort is Bluewood in the Blue mountains, it’s 1 hour from Walla Walla. My son got a season pass every year and went up on most winter weekends. Yes, it’s a small resort, but loads of fun and there are students to hitch rides from; you need not mention that to your Dad.

Good luck!

Here is an interesting chart that may impress your Dad. I stole it from a post by tk21769 in a thread called “Mathematics at Liberal Arts Colleges” It shows the number of math and statistics PHDs from various schools in the last 9 years. Whitman has quite a bit more than Haverford.

"The list below shows alumni PhDs in mathematics & statistics completed from 2005-2014.
I’ve included NESCAC schools, plus other colleges in the “Baccalaureate/Liberal Arts I” Carnegie class that have 10 or more alumni-earned doctorates, plus a few research universities for comparison. I show enrollments for the NESCAC schools and the top 15.

165 Berkeley (~27K undergrads)
136 Harvard (~6700 undergrads)
116 MIT (~4500 undergrads)
112 UChicago (~5700 undergrads)
79 Caltech (~1000 undergrads)
69 Princeton (~5400 undergrads)
66 Harvey Mudd (~800 students)
60 Stanford (~7000 undergrads)
36 St. Olaf College (~3000 students)
36 Williams College (~2100 students)
30 Carleton College (~2000 students)
29 Oberlin College (~2900 student)
28 Pomona College (~1700 students)
25 Reed College (~1400 undergrads)
25 Swarthmore College (~1600 students)
21 Whitman College
18 Wheaton College, Wheaton
16 Amherst College (~1800 students)
15 Bryn Mawr College
15 Haverford College
13 Tufts (~5100 students)
13 Bucknell University
13 Grinnell College
13 University of Puget Sound
12 Davidson College
12 Lafayette College
12 Smith College
12 University of Minnesota, Morris
11 Wesleyan (~2900 students)
11 Furman University
11 Kenyon College
11 Macalester College
11 Spelman College
11 Wellesley College
11 Wesleyan University (~2900 students)
10 Bowdoin College (~1800 students)
10 College of the Holy Cross
10 Franklin & Marshall College
10 Knox College
10 New College of Florida
9 Bates College (~1800 students)
7 Trinity College, Hartford (~2300 students)
6 Middlebury College (~2500 students)
5 Colby College (~1800 students)
4 Hamilton College (~1900 students)
3 Connecticut College (~1900 students)

Just because you did not apply for aid does not mean he isn’t thinking about the cost. You don’t get in a full pay position by ignoring these kinds of things. Whitman is probably coming in at at least $15,000 more per year – plus travel, and maybe you will need to buy the school health insurance.

What does he say about going to accepted student days?

@bopambo @intparent I am taking my free trip in April, he is thinking about coming with me. He is just very closed minded. I got waitlisted at Bates, and he would rather me put the deposit down on PSU than Whitman. Bates is going to be more expensive than Whitman, but I see the academics at the schools as about equal. Would you agree with that?

Basically, cost aside, I don’t understand why he is putting Bates so high compared to Whitman. Especially considering a lot of these statistics.

I have a few points to add:

Haverford is a top-ten LAC.

Bates is ranked ahead of Whitman, but the chasm is not large enough to equate to a real difference in the quality of education. So I think if you were choosing between Bates and Whitman, you would be best advised to do so based on price, culture/vibe/environment, and the programs and classes they offer.

Finally, the number of students who pursue a PhD in a given program is more indicative of their own choices (academia over employment) than the quality of teaching of the schools on the list. People project their own biases into statistics in order to justify pre-conceived notions; always be mindful of that. (and, certainly, mine is not the only possible inference to make)

I do think the difference is minimal (have visited both, one kid applied to and was accepted to Bates). I would ask him to please come with you to Whitman. Are you in anyplace else? There is a huge difference in size and atmosphere between PSU and a LAC (any of them). Did he dislike his Haverford experience? Does he want you close to home?

I don’t necessarily agree that number of PhDs isn’t a worthwhile measure, but it is not the only measure. A decent sized department in what you want to study is important, course offerings that look interesting to you, and profs doing research that you are interested in are all factors. You will have an opportunity to work with profs at Whitman, much more directly than at PSU, where grad students are a layer between you and the prof.

Do you have any history with your dad where he doesn’t completely trust you? If so, that could be a factor in addition to cost and being far away.

I’d never heard of Whitman either and I live on West Coast. My daughter chose it over other great LACs she got into as well a Berkeley and UCLA (and even U Chicago, although I nixed that due to price). She loves it and has never regretted her decision. If you can get your dad to check it out, I’ll bet he’ll see what a fantastic place it is. If you really prefer a small LAC over the big school, you can tell your dad that you will be much happier and do much better at a place that fits who you are. Big schools work for many, but others hate the two years of huge impersonal lecture halls and aren’t wowed by the big time sports scene.

I would probably score Whitman and Bates as academic peers, and Lord knows they’re both rural and isolated. I would think the only real advantage Bates has is its NESCAC affiliation. Bates, like Kenyon, has to deal with its endowment issue soon. Whitman has taken steps to do that and is in a much better financial position today than it was five years ago.

More people have probably heard of Bates because it’s in the east and people in the east know the LACs. In the West, if it’s not Ivy League, Pac 12, Michigan, Duke, Northwestern or MIT / Cal Tech, they don’t know about it. Much, much different perspective on the eastern seaboard. That, however, is changing, at least in Seattle, which has a very highly educated population.

@tleibman you nixed Chicago over Whitman due to price? If FA was at all involved in the picture, that would make no sense. Whitman is need-aware; Chicago is need blind.

If FA was not involved, aren’t they similarly priced?

LOL. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard Lewiston Maine described as rural!

@Sue22 ,

Let’s go with rural surroundings. I think we’d agree on that point.

The second largest city in Maine with a whopping 37k people … nothing in Maine feels urban to me.

It’s two adjacent cities, the metro area totaling 108,000. Wlliamstown is 8000. Hanover’s 11000. Those gave me pause.

“Whitman is need-aware; Chicago is need blind.”

It should be irrelevant to applicants if a school is need aware or need blind. It doesn’t affect how much you like a school, it affects only the chances of admission, and then only for a few applicants on the cusp. What is crucial for some is that a school meets full need, but check the net price calculator (different colleges defined “need” differently, and may also have different expected student contributions). E.g., most schools are need blind but don’t meet full need (can be a bitter disappointment for those accepted but can’t afford it) and schools that are need aware (can benefit a few who don’t need aid) but meet full need (imagine being needy and being accepted). There are a handful that are need blind and meet full need. Note that the story is different for internationals.

“It should be irrelevant to applicants if a school is need aware or need blind.”

I disagree. It goes directly to the quality of the student body. The more that ability to pay is taken into account, the more talent you won’t get on your campus. Who you go to college with is as important as any single variable in college selection calculus.

“E.g., most schools are need blind …” Is that true among private schools? I have the opposite impression: most private colleges are not need blind. The question is, what % of the applications take ability to pay into consideration. If they’re make 95% of the admissions decisions w/o reference to need, then it probably doesn’t matter.

“The more that ability to pay is taken into account, the more talent you won’t get on your campus.”

How did you determine this to be a fact? The more money a family has, the less able they will be to develop their child’s talent? Or the less inherent talent the child can have?


Is this a serious question? Do you honestly need this explained?

The answer to both of your questions is, obviously, “no”; my point stands.

Think about it… Why do selective school strive to be need blind? Because they’re run by nice people???