Good Fit/Bad Fit ?

<p>I think it would help me help my daughter in choosing LACs if you could share some accounts of either very happy or very unhappy children's responses to their colleges. What made them rejoice in or regret their final choice of a school? So far, my daughter will only consider schools located between and including New England and the DC area, so would appreciate hearing more from this region, unless you have a hardsell pitch for the Midwest.</p>




<p>I could go on for hours about how much my daughter loves Swarthmore. However, if I had to boil it down, I would say that the big reasons have been consistent since the first time she set foot on campus for a college tour: community and identity.</p>

<p>By community, I mean that the place is like a big, highly-functional family -- students, staff, professors, administrators. This theme has been apparent in every contact any of us have had with Swatties or staff and clearly evident in my daughter's freshman experience. Very friendly, very supportive, very concerned about each other's well-being. The strong sense of community pervades every aspect of the college, including the way the school is governed.</p>

<p>By identity, I mean that the college, and everyone associated with it, has a clear, proud, sense of the institution. They know what the school is and they like the way it is. This is a very strong thread in the admissions at the school, where the attitude is, "this is what we do, you should decide if you like it. If you do, great, you should come here. If you don't, that's fine, too." There is a very large emotional commitment to the school, something that we saw in the alumni who met with my daughter and something we have seen in my daughter's freshman class. </p>

<p>For example, my daughter described the candle ceremony at the freshman class' traditional gathering in the outdoor ampitheater. I could tell that she was getting a little choked up just talking about it.</p>

<p>I have a nephew at Bowdoin and like ID's daughter, he could (and does!) go on and on about how great it is. Just repeat ID's post, only subsitute the matriculation ceremony where each student individually meets the President and signs the same matriculation book signed by Longfellow, Hawthorne, Chamberlain, and (Pres). Franklin Pierce.</p>

<p>Very great community, great professors that invite you over for dinner and are extremely supportive; the president recognizes my nephew and both his parents at events and greets them by name; just the right mix of preppy and arty, liberal but not fringe. The kids go all out for their sports teams, especially ice hockey, but it's not a jock school. I personally think there are few places on earth as beautiful as the coast of Maine - their sailing center and the islands they own are beyond gorgeous. Absolutely wonderful programs in Environmental Science, science in general, history, and government, to name just a few.</p>

<p>My sister says that whenever she has to contact someone in administration (say, the Bursar's office or whatever) she am always amazed at how very friendly and helpful they are, even in emails! They get back to her immediately and even make friendly small talk!</p>

<p>Always in the top ten, Bowdoin is, I think, under-appreciated because people don't want to go as far as Maine. But it is well worth it. Also Brunswick is a totally cool town - Colby and Bates are very nice schools - not as prestigious but very fine - but Colby is way more isolated and Lewiston (where Bates is) is just not a great place, to put it mildly. It's super easy to get to Portland too (shuttles available) and not too bad to get to Boston. Outdoor sports - sailing and skiing especially - are to die for. Very unique place - a must see (the art museum, the Peary Macmillan Arctic Museum etc). They also have an amazing summer music festival, and arguably the best campus food anywhere (according to several major sources!).</p>

<p>Might want to look at Colgate and Holy Cross-2strong academic schools with great school spirit/high alumni giving rates. Holy Cross is only 1 hour from Boston while Colgate is more remote as is Bowdoin/Colby/Bates.</p>

<p>Hi Pyewacket, Haven't heard from you for a while!
My son is well into his second year at Williams and he's delighted to be there. </p>

<p>He chose Williams because of his interest in Art History and Studio Art. In Art History, Williams has lived up to its reputation of simply the best; in art, he's found a solid program with excellent facilities and talented, accessible instructors. Williams has distribution requirements whereby students are expected to take a balance of arts/science/math/social studies. This loose structure has been really beneficial to my son: he's taken and greatly enjoyed classes that he might not have tried otherwise like Physics of Every Day Life and Sacred Geographies. Williams is also well known for its Oxford style tutorials whereby a pair of students meet each week with a professor to discuss papers or artwork that they have prepared. Although other colleges have tutorials, none has developed them to the extent that Williams has, encouraging every student to take one or two tutorials, even beginning in the first year.</p>

<p>Academics are rigorous but the professors extremely accessible. My son found the first year very stressful -- acerbated, I think, by his tendency to procrastinate -- but he did fine and in his second year he's hit his stride. The school makes it easy to get the help you need. Grades are not inflated.</p>

<p>He's made some wonderful friends -- both boys and girls. Williams kids are in general outgoing. They all seem to be involved in two or three activities -- often a sport plus student government or an arts related interest. They are very social and like to attend whatever event their friends are performing in whether it's a swim meet or a jazz concert. They are not overtly political, but are open to ideas. Some kids drink, some kids don't, some kids drink more than is good for them. Drugs are rare. My son's group tends to be in the middle ground; they drink but not excessively. They study hard, like to do something physical -- like take an evening run or a sunrise mountain climb -- and they like to socialize. Generally speaking, they are nice, smart kids with a an understated, but secure sense of self confidence. There is a sincere warmth among them.</p>

<p>Above all the profound natural beauty of the surrounding Berkshires has been addictive. Although my son's lived in cities his whole life and thought that he was an urban-kid, he now revels in the view out his window. Walking home from the art studio late on icy silent starflung night, has been one of his best experiences.</p>

<p>Thanks to all of you for your really thoughtful responses. I think, however, that Swarthmore or Williams would be real reaches for my daughter. Nevertheless, she is more of an academic type than either a sports enthusiast or party-goer, so I'm wondering where she might be happy and meet smart kids who take their educations seriously.</p>

<p>ALL the schools mentioned are GREAT for academic types!</p>