Frustrated with College Search, Please Help

<p>This is my first post in this community.</p>

<p>I thought I'd start here.</p>

<p>If you don't want to read my rant skip to the bottom questions....THANKS</p>

<p>I'm a really frustrated with my college search, as indicated above. I'm tired of all the bull***** on the internet and pretty much everywhere on the campus websites it tells you how great their academics are, and how the students love it, they have this and that ranked school, they are an ivy...etc.</p>

<p>I'm tired of "prestige" talk, of getting into the best academic institution because it will "set me for future success," in my humble (and perhaps wrong) opinion, drive, determination, luck and graduate school will ultimately get you into a golden starting job, career or what not. For undergrad, I just want to be happy, really.</p>

<p>I'm looking for a fine institution of learning where: A) The students are happy to be there, B) I want to be wow'd by the college atmosphere, the students, community, spirit etc. C) Nice city and/or college town.</p>

<p>I don't care about the campus buildings really so weekend tours which are all I've gone to are pointless information seminars which I can now see on the internet or by doing successful research.</p>

<p>My parents want me to go to a higher ranked school, Penn and Vanderbilt being sort-of reaches and my top choices right now, but I'm worried that Penn will be snobby and Vanderbilt is "preppy" (which I have no idea what that it good? bad? am I preppy?) which worries me because I don't care as much about the prestige as I do the campus atmosphere and the college life. I will unfortunately likely have to apply ED to one of these schools to get in.</p>

<p>The other schools on my list are-
Penn/Vandy - reaches
Northwestern - Reach
UCLA/Cal - Stretches (you really never know but unlikely....) Note: SoCal Resident
UCSB/UCDavis/UCSD - Good Match
Brandeis - Match/Legacy
UT/UMich - Match
Richmond - Match (again I hear its preppy....)
Case Western - Match (Random much?)
Kansas - Safety (I've read really cool things about this, I'm interested)</p>

<p>MAJOR: Film Studies or Communication Studies
Minor: Econ</p>

<p>So here are my questions:</p>

<p>Where can I find out about the true characteristics of a school and their student body?
Any suggestions of schools to add to my list based on my priorities?
What do I look for in a school in terms of characteristics.
Is Preppiness a bad thing in a school? (Vandy?)
Is there snobbery at the Ivy's? (Penn?)</p>

<p>I apologize if you are offended by any generalizations.</p>

<p>Thanks in advance,

<p>As a SoCal resident, I'm not sure if you're fully aware of how hard it is to get into UT and UMich as an out-of-state applicant. If Berkeley and UCLA are stretches, then UT and UMich are definitely not matches.</p>

<p>Where can I find out about the true characteristics of a school and their student body?</p>

<p>If you go to the individual forums for each of the schools you're looking at, you should be able to find some threads that will shed some light on what the school and its student body are like.</p>

<p>What do I look for in a school in terms of characteristics.</p>

<p>You can look for things like good financial aid packages, small classes, Division I sports, location of campus, greek life, etc...</p>

<p>Is Preppiness a bad thing in a school? (Vandy?)</p>

<p>Preppiness is basically a way of life. It typically refers to people from wealthy families with conservative sensibilities. People that wear polos with khakis and like to look as my grandfather would say, sharp. People that value education and want to maintain their wealth and status for future generations. People that golf and belong to the local country club and have roots in the community. Anywho, Vandy is one of the more conservative top schools.</p>

<p>Thanks for the response.</p>

<p>I list Berkley and UCLA as reaches because I feel like its really a toss up to get into them every year because of the high applicant pool.</p>

<p>I guess I am ignorant on the OOS basis of getting into UT and Mich</p>

<p>Here's a bit of an academic profile if interested:</p>

<p>GPA UW 3.47
GPA W 3.9</p>

<p>Most demanding course load in small jewish private high school.
School does not rank</p>

<p>Core Subjects all honors throughout h.s years.</p>

<p>AP English - 4
AP Chem - </p>

<p>Planned for Senior year - AP Lit, AP Gov, AP Calc BC</p>

<p>ACT: 32 (retaking in September)</p>

<p>EC's: (Highlights)</p>

<p>Youth Group Leadership - 9th - 12th President, Education and Recruitment Chair, Treasurer, Chapter Newspaper Editor, Regional Newspaper Editor.
Pioneering member of Flag Football team (no tackle) 10th-12th. Captain
Varsity Wrestler 10th - 12th
Founder/President Film Club - Coordinated Numerous charitable screenings
Founder/Co-President "Future Trillionaires" Investors club.
Assistant Coordinator Teen Screening for Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival
Reading tutor though "Koreh LA" (minority elementary student, weekly)
Book reviewer
CIT Camp in Missouri. CIT of the Session Award
Student Ambassador - 9th - 12th (Tour Students, Open Houses)
Operation Gratitude Volunteer 8th - 12th</p>


<p>Every Ivy will have some degree of snobbery, but some are probably going to be worse than others. I didn't find Penn to be too snobby, although there were certainly some more snobby social circles...</p>

<p>3.47 uw gpa is a reach for Michigan.</p>

<p>"Where can I find out about the true characteristics of a school and their student body?"</p>

<p>Best way to do that is visit the school when the school is in session. You don't get the same feel for a school if you visit in the summer or on open house days. Go on a regular school day and go to one of the cafeteria's and talk to some of the students.</p>

Every Ivy will have some degree of snobbery, but some are probably going to be worse than others.


<p>You may be surprised by how little the apparent snobbery is at top schools. Anyone who goes to one of them thinking they're really special is likely to have quite a humbling experience in the first few weeks of the fall when they see how special everyone else is. I think you'll find more snobbery at schools a notch or two below on the pecking order where it may be more feasible for an Ivy-quality student to maintain an attitude of superiority.</p>

<p>If you don't mind a big school (which therefore has big classes first year), you'd have to be crazy to miss the opportunity for in-state tuition at UCLA and Cal.</p>

<p>OP, if you're reasonably happy at your current high school, why not start by seeing where the older siblings of your classmates have gone? You should also be floating your list of candidate schools with your college counselor to see if students from your school are getting into the schools you've mentioned with similar stats and ECs. I'd especially suggest this for the UCs. Many, many students were surprised last year to get rejected from UCs they'd regarded as matches and safeties.</p>

<p>You don't mention if you've toured any schools when school's been in session. If you have, giving people here examples of what you've liked and what you haven't liked will help. If you haven't done any tours yet, try to take a few quick local tours. Look at UCLA, USC, the Pomona consortium, Occidental and UCSB, EVEN IF you have no interest in going to some of these. Since you're interested in film studies, go check out Chapman College as well. You might hate the Pomona area, but end up really liking the students at Pitzer or CMC (but not both, since they're very different populations). Or you might love the feel of the USC campus, but hate the surrounding area. Figure out what you like or hate about these campuses and student bodies, and then use that to ask other people here about the schools you haven't visited. </p>

<p>Go check out the Facebook groups for the schools on your list. Look at the discussion groups here. There are video tours of different schools, and admissions blogs. Slog through it all.</p>

<p>One last thing you didn't mention but might want to consider is the presence of a Jewish community. Coming out of a small private Jewish high school in SoCal, this may be something you'd like to have, or something you want to run away from :) Take a look at what's available for Jewish students on campus by looking at the Hillel website.</p>

<p>If you are looking at schools based on your intended major, Film studies, then some of the preppier colleges will not meet your criteria. For example, USC which can be labeled as "preppy" is an excellent choice for your major, and shouldn't be discounted. Don't fixate on what others think it's your vibe about a college that will determine "fit" for you. Good luck.</p>

<p>Like others, I was thinking that Pitzer or USC may be a fit. What about Lewis and Clark in Portland? In my local area (Wash. DC area) many people went to Penn State, and I only hear good about that place, never bad. You are doing the right thing to discount the PR and hype and gunning for the school with the best reputation or status.</p>


Thanks, that's very interesting. I never really thought of it that way.

I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, you must not know of the intense competitiveness to get into Cal and UCLA. I believe the average GPA is 4.2 ish, and with so many applicants I feel they are still reaches unfortunately.

I have toured the Claremont Consortium (specifically Pitzer) and was unimpressed. School was in session and I felt the area was too uneventful for me. D-1 Sports, or school spirit for sports, is a definite plus for me when looking for a college. I don't think that is for me, perhaps a bit too small as well.<br>
I toured Occidental and feel like it was better than the Claremont schools, but still, why not go to a private school OOS and pay the same thing and experience new things. When the tour guide lauds that the beach and Dodger Stadium are close. I am unimpressed because these are common facets of my life already. I want a new experience, I want to press my comfort zone.
I toured USC and while thoroughly impressed by the school of cinema. A) Its too pre-professional for me, I'd rather get a more varied Liberal Arts education because I am unsure for sure if I want to enter that competitive industry, B) The area is terrible, perhaps a bit too urban, and also to close to home again. C) While the sports are great, my family members are big UCLA homers (including myself) and it might create a small problem.
Also, in the summer going into sophmore year, I had the opportunity for a Summer Discovery Program at the University of Michigan, where I stayed in the dorms and learned from actual college professors for 2 weeks along with exploring the campus and area (Ann Arbor). I liked it, but couldn't really see myself there, but I think touring it now might be different after maturation</p>

<p>So if those visits give you any idea, maybe you could suggest more schools.
I don't think preppy may be the worst thing anymore after researching it on urban dictionary.</p>


This is absolutely a factor, and the schools on my list all have a sizable population, and at the same time have many students not under this category so I can have a solid, varied, real life experience.</p>

<p>OneMom and Batllo, thanks for the great advice as well.</p>

<p>So any more college suggestions? I'm gonna check out PSU, but I think I may be a bit more comfortable in smaller schools than that.</p>

Looking for any more suggestions of schools.
Academically intact and strong, but a fun student body and positive spirited atmosphere.
Social/Quality of Life high ranking is more important than presitge.
Any advice when looking at schools (tours) or research (weeding out bull) would be appreciated to.
Or PM me ;)</p>


I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, you must not know of the intense competitiveness to get into Cal and UCLA. I believe the average GPA is 4.2 ish, and with so many applicants I feel they are still reaches unfortunately.


I do. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply, especially since it's all one app (right?)</p>

<p>@ noimagination - I will absolutely apply. Just not relying on that entrance.</p>

<p>Your comments on the visits help a lot. My first suggestion would be to consider some other public universities with big sports programs. Wisconsin, University of Washington (I know, a Pac 10 UCLA rival but it's not 'SC so you should be able to manage :) ), U of Florida. I hear of a lot of kids from he SoCal area heading to Arizona (U of A). A lot also head to Eugene for the U of Oregon, but I don't know if Eugene would be your kind of town. It sounds like your parents may not be overwhelmed with those as choices, but maybe worth a look. Pittsburgh has rolling admissions. Each of these has strong academics if you want them, a lot of school spirit, and an interesting area. </p>

<p>For more privates, I've no idea how these would fit you for reach/match, but Emory, WUSTL, maybe George Washington? Or, see if venturing up to Canada and considering McGill is a possibility. </p>

<p>Also, you could now take your bump post and with an appropriate title like "Looking for schools like USC that aren't USC" :) post that separately and see what you get back from other forum denizens.</p>

<p>Thanks SlitheyTove =)</p>

<p>Pitt actually offerred to pay me to come visit, so we are considering it. And UW and UO are options (honors colleges likely).</p>

<p>I'm satisfied with this and love your idea of a bump post =) I'll try it!</p>

<p>Second the U of Arizona.</p>

<p>Try Florida State.</p>

<p>My idea after reading your post was Michigan, but a 3.47/32 OOS makes it a bit of a reach. I think the same is true for Penn, Vandy and Northwestern.</p>

<p>I agree with the ideas of Wisconsin - great college town, lots of school spirit, Big Ten sports etc. - and Texas (though the OOS thing may be an issue here as well - a big chunk of their slots go to in-state).</p>

<p>Other ideas:</p>

<p>UIllinois - Urbana-Champaign
Boston University - limited big time sports, but the ultimate college city environment
George Washington- some sports, but a great DC location
UVermont - Quirky place but some big time sports (hockey) and a great small city.</p>

<p>I think these schools are more in the match range for you (Vermont and BU are probably safeties).</p>