Great academics, but not cutthroat -- any suggestions?

<p>I've done a lot of college searching and I've visited a lot of the top-tiered schools in the east, but I haven't really found one that suits my liking yet. I've got fine SAT scores, GPA, etc., and I would have a pretty good shot at getting into some of the upper-crust schools, but I'm having trouble finding a school that suits me culturally as well as academically. I'm leery of going to an Ivy or similarly prestigious school (Swarthmore, among others) because I don't want to go to school with a bunch of kids who choose a place for its name and its prestige -- I want to be with people who are able to look beyond the rankings and whatnot. I want to be at a school where the academic culture is truly collaborative, not competitive, and I feel like "needing" to get into a "name-brand" school in high school can only lead to a similarly competitive, shallow culture in college. I'm also really trying to avoid schools that have a culture of preppiness; I want a school where people are open-minded and willing to be themselves, and don't feel the need to conform to a cultural mainstream of some sort.</p>

<p>Basically, I want a school that's of the same academic caliber of a "name-brand" school (I'm mainly interested in the social sciences, especially political science and economics, if that makes a difference), but isn't plagued by the sort of people who shape their entire high school lives around getting into some prestigious school, and who are genuinely intellectual, rather than just "smart." An example of a school with the kind of culture I'm thinking of is Oberlin (though Oberlin, for a variety of reasons, isn't really an option for me).</p>

<p>Any suggestions?</p>

<p>Have you considered the large state universities? They attract a wide cross section of society. Many of them are very good academically. When you get to the Junior/Senior level, you are typically in a department with a smaller group of people who have their own sub-community. Something for everyone.</p>

<p>Just so you know, "people who look beyond the rankings" tend to only do so after they have been rejected from higher ranked schools.</p>

<p>Post #3 is far from true.</p>

<p>Sylvan -- I've given large universities a bit of thought, but I don't know how well I'd do in one. I'm used to (and I thrive in) really small classes, and also, I really, really value the feeling of community you get in a small campus environment.</p>

<p>Buddy -- While that may be true for some people, I'd like to think, at least, that there are a number of kids out there who, like myself, want to go to college to develop their own intellectual framework and values, and not just go somewhere that sounds impressive. Those are the people I'm looking for.</p>

<p>University of Chicago.</p>

<p>UChicago seconded. It is hard, but it is not cutthroat. The people genuinely enjoy academics, and collaboration is everywhere.</p>

<p>I grew up near Boston and had many of the same feelings you do. I visited all kinds of eastern schools and couldn't shake it.</p>

<p>I would definitely suggest going to a different part of the country. I ended up at UChicago, and it was the best thing I ever did. While that school in particular might not appeal to you, there are many other wonderful, intellectually challenging schools in the midwest and other parts of the country that might have the feeling you are looking for.</p>

<p>I'm not sure why you can't go to Oberlin, but there are many schools like it "west of the corn-cob curtain" (as a friend of mine used to say). I think you want LACs, so I'll suggest Macalester, Carleton, Lawrence U, Beloit, Grinnell, Cornell College, and Kalamazoo, for starters.</p>

<p>I have lived in both the Midwest and the east since I graduated, and I think my "dual citizenship" has been a very important element in my life.</p>

<p>Buddy's screen name and post typify the people you are trying to avoid, perhaps. Years ago, I had to transfer from a small community college to a school with an engineering program to finish my degree. I had a 3.83/4 cc gpa, and was accepted at all 6 places I applied. I visited Bucknell, but did not feel as if I would fit in (kinda preppy). </p>

<p>I visited University of Detroit, which at that time was very, very grubby. Didn't feel comfortable there either. Then I went to SUNY Buffalo, where the students in the department seemed down to earth and friendly. That's where I ended up. Some people were into applying to Georgia Tech, but I heard it was so cutthroat there that people would destroy each others lab setups, or steal their data so they would get a bad grade. Not my style.</p>

<p>wash u has great academics and everyone i talk to about it loves it and says the people are really down to earth and noncompetitive</p>

<p>everyone at washu I know is there because they didn't get into Ivies + Stanford, MIT, and Duke</p>

<p><a href="I'm%20mainly%20interested%20in%20the%20social%20sciences,%20especially%20political%20science%20and%20economics,%20if%20that%20makes%20a%20difference">I</a>, *</p>

<p>Usually universities that have good law schools have good poly sci/econ depts.</p>

<p>I've given large universities a bit of thought, but I don't know how well I'd do in one. I'm used to (and I thrive in) really small classes,</p>

<p>You can get small classes with honors programs - you can get that "small college feel" with honors colleges.. My kids have 15 students in their honors program classes.</p>

<p>There are advantages to larger schools...for one thing, they often have more than one prof teaching a class. So, if you don't like a particular prof, you can often avoid them.</p>

<p>Ca you afford to go any school you want?</p>

<p>
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everyone at washu I know is there because they didn't get into Ivies + Stanford, MIT, and Duke

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</p>

<p>Do you have to be so demeaning? Wash U is an extremely high-quality institution.</p>

<p>I second UChicago, Grinell, and Carleton, NOT WashU I'll add Pomona to the list too.</p>

<p>but...most schools which have a reputation for being very good will attract some snobby people. I don't want to be laughed out of this thread but I honestly found Yale to be incredibly down to earth(based on visits, conversations, etc.) and Brown has some of that reputation too. Don't assume schools are something just based on the name. Schools have brands for a reason, I think the adcoms try to weed out the snobs too.</p>

<p>Where in my post did I say it wasn't high quality? Only that it is filled with students who are as many of you would call "prestige whores" who didn't have the option of going to HYPMS etc.</p>

<p>Most of the Jesuit colleges, except Georgetown. I would emphasize Fordham.</p>

<p>WashU is a very good school.....liked it a lot. (D1 waitlisted 3 years ago). I dont know about being cutthroat. But it is very, very intense and frenetic.</p>

<p>So the people who matriculated to WashU from ED are what then, Buddy?</p>

<p>perhaps you should simply leave this thread for one which is more appropriate for your more esteemed and superior obnoxious ilk instead of being among us plebian masses who value the likes of WashU.</p>

<p>I am thinking Reed.</p>

<p>Davidson and William & Mary come to mind. Brilliant but not arrogant. Truly intellectually curious student body at both schools. Like Haverford but better weather and sports.</p>