We’re trying to narrow down college choices, but would like some input because we have fairly unique circumstances.
We live in Kalamazoo, Michigan where we are lucky enough to receive The Kalamazoo Promise, which is free tuition to any public or private in-state college or university. Because my son only went to public school for high school, he is eligible for 65% of tuition.
He’s been admitted to both Kalamazoo College and Oberlin, was deferred at U of M, and was also admitted at some other schools he isn’t planning to attend (Michigan State Honors College, etc). He’s waiting to hear from Kenyon, Wesleyan, Reed, NYU and U of M.
He’s an intellectual, liberal kid, and is most interested in small liberal arts colleges. He plans to study writing- English or journalism, and possibly film, specifically documentary film making.
He’s been the editor of his school newspaper for 2 years, on staff all 4 years, and he has a 4.2 weighted, 3.9 unweighted with 1410 SAT’s (took once). He’s very social in an artsy and musical teen scene locally, and has a passion for music, particularly writing about music. He does play the guitar and dabbles in a few other instruments, but definitely not conservatory level.
In addition to the Kalamazoo Promise, Kalamazoo College gave him enough merit to make him whole on tuition, so we would only be responsible for room and board. He was admitted today to Oberlin, and they gave him a merit scholarship that would make our family contribution about $50,000 annually. U of M would be about the same as K College because of the lower cost of a public institution. I think both K and U of M are about $18,000/year total for us when counting the Promise Scholarship.
We’ve saved about $100,000 per kid for college that goes towards whatever the Promise doesn’t cover. Our daughter is less academically ambitious, so an in-state school will likely be fine. We can afford some additional out of pocket each year, but an additional $27,000 for Oberlin would definitely affect our lifestyle.
My son is supremely practical and likes the idea of graduation debt free and struggles to see the value that Oberlin would offer for the additional $27,000. He loves Oberlin though, and it definitely felt like his kind of place on our all day visit. Their unique arts offerings (musical concerts) are very interesting to him. We also loved their film program, it felt much grittier and more hands-on than the U of M program.
Also, obviously, Kalamazoo College is in our hometown. He seems like a young person ready for an adventure, so I’m hesitant for him to stay here (although he would live on campus). He also has several friends at K College.
The reason he is interested in the small liberal arts colleges is because of the open curricula they offer. He is very interested in deep learning, not hoop jumping for distributional requirements at a large university. If he goes to U of M, he would likely join the residential college to make the experience more intimate. He also loves Ann Arbor. Their film program felt kind of bland to me, but I’m sure the alumni connections would be great.
Lastly, for those familiar with the book, The Alumni Factor, graduates of Kalamazoo College are highly satisfied, while those at Oberlin aren’t overly satisfied.
So, is Oberlin worth the extra $27,000 a year for my particular kid? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.