<p>I applied to a number of liberal arts colleges, but these three have become my top choices. I haven't visited any of them, and as May 1 approaches I'm getting pretty nervous regarding which one I'll choose. I only have time to visit two, so I need to get some accurate information on the three, especially in comparison to each other. To put myself in context: I am a quirky, arty intellectual interested in the humanities/social sciences. </p>
<p>I researched all three schools pretty extensively, and different aspects of each appeal to me. I love how academically intense Haverford is, but I don't love the nerdy naivete it seems a lot of the students possess, nor do I know how I'd handle the small size of the school. I am really interested in how strong the arts are at Oberlin, but I'm worried about the supposed "different for the sake of being different" air of the student body, and I've also heard some negative remarks regarding the caliber of Oberlin's academics (though I've also heard some great things, so I'm not sure what to believe). Macalester's city location and warm student body appeal to me, but it seems like their academics are below-par in comparison to the other two colleges. I eventually want to go to grad school, and both Haverford and Oberlin have high grad school acceptance rates. </p>
<p>I know this decision ultimately comes down to my own, wholly subjective experience on the campus, in the classes, and with the students of each college. Nevertheless, any help with this ridiculously hard choice would be fantastic. Thanks!</p>
<p>I think that Haverford is a great choice and offers an undergraduate education that is impossible to top.</p>
<p>With respect to your concerns as a product of the "Haverbubble" I think it was a great thing. It is not so disconnected from the real world that people are naive or unprepared for the real world. My roommates and I (11 people total over four years) went on to graduate from Harvard Law, Harvard Business (2), Harvard Kennedy, Yale Med, UPenn Med (2), Yale Ph.D (2), Berkeley Business, Columbia Law, MIT Ph.D, and Harvard Education. We all managed to "survive" in the real world. In addition, the CPGC which helps supports students travel abroad and work on issues of social justice ensure that students see the real world and learn about real world problems. </p>
<p>With respect to the size, you really have to understand HC to consider that factor. Yes HC is about 1200 students which makes it smaller than most of its peers. But in talking to friends at other LACs, I found that generally speaking they often concentrated friendships with people in the same year (really only using 1/4 of the student body). At Haverford because it's smaller, there's a lot of cross-pollination of friendship between the class years (above you and below you). It doesn't feel small because people really get to know others from the two or three classes ahead of you and then the the two or three classes below you. So, with one quarter of the student body changing every year there are plenty of people to meet and interact with if you have a culture where class year distinctions aren't significant bars to genuine social interactions/friendships. </p>
<p>In addition, you have Bryn Mawr and Philadelphia as release valves.</p>
<p>I am familiar with two of the three and they are quite different from each other. I would suggest you get to all three - what could be more important that you can't get to all three in the next three weeks? Of the two I know - Haverford wins, I would not worry about the size.</p>
<p>Oberlin and Macalester wereboth on my list when I was looking at schools. I didn't get to Macalester, but Oberlin was at the top with Haverford for a variety of reasons (good schools, liberal arts etc..). I applied ED to Haverford and got in and am real excited to go.</p>
<p>I visited Oberlin three times and did an overnight there. Overall, I think it's a great school (I don't think you need to worry about academics really) with a cool spread out campus with a variety of architectural styles. I probably learned the most on my overnight, which overall was very good. I see where you're coming from with the being different for the sake of being different though, that's a very subjective thing but I felt that on campus a bit (it's prolly got a lot to do with individual feel).</p>
<p>I think the best way to describe it is in comparison with the overnight I did at Haverford. It hands down sold me on the school, and made me go for the ED deadline (which was pretty big because the overnight was only like two weeks before the deadline and I had to scramble to write essays and such). From when I met my host and the people he lived with, I immediately felt very comfortable. Everyone was really nice, receptive and welcoming. I had long conversations with some people answering questions I had about the school and stuff like that. I think the warmth I felt from the people I stayed with sold me on Haverford as much as anything. It's subjective, but it's something I didn't feel as much at Oberlin. </p>
<p>I also just loved everything else about Haverford. The campus is much different than Oberlin and both have their own merits but I prefer Haverford's. Oberlin's was much more spread out (and also kind of integrated into a town), which is good in a way, but I think Haverford's has more of a natural kind of oasis feel that I like (only in the sense that it's an arboretum, really lush, in the suburbs near philly). The location was a huge draw for me. I'm from Ohio and live in a town with a liberal arts college. There's nothing wrong with it, but after living here for so long I really wanted nothing more than to get to the East coast and be by a city. Stuff comes to Oberlin because of the college, but Cleveland, Ohio has nothing on Philly or all the other cities within a train ride.</p>
<p>Hope that helped. If you have any questions about either ask!</p>
<p>My older son went to Oberlin - met his girlfriend of seven years there. They both loved it and are trying to convince my high school senior daughter to go there. The positives are many - excellent school, excellent faculty, beautiful campus - too many to list so a brief mention of the downsides - location (cleveland is not that great and not that accessible) students feel a bit isolated by junior year - but there are many great study abroad and internship programs - Students are 'on their own' - not the best as far as good communication and guidance from the administration. Oberlin is also hard to get to, except by car. It was an excellent experience for my son - now working for Apple - and his girlfriend - soon to be attending Columbia for grad school.
My second son is a senior at Macalester. I can't say enough good things about the school - excellent academics, beautiful campus, great location. The one on one with the faculty has been the best part of the experience for him. Also he loves the twin cities and will be staying there for at least a year following graduation. Downside - the cold!
My senior daughter has been accepted at both Oberlin and Haverford and will choose Haverford. It seems to have what she wants - small school, one of the best in the country, beautiful campus, near Philly and only 2 hours from home with good public transportation (we live in MD) Also the honor code resonates greatly with her.
Hope this was helpful</p>