Holy Cross vs Grinnell

I was accepted to both Grinnell and Holy Cross (and Whitman/NYU, waitlisted Wesleyan/Hamilton) as a transfer student as a major in International Relations (I’ll probably model my degree pathway after Oxford’s PPE), and find that the positives of each school are starkly different. I haven’t yet gotten an aid package yet from Holy Cross, but Grinnell gave me a substantial amount of aid that is ostensibly a full ride.

Financials aside, I am heavily leaning towards Grinnell for several reasons. Grinnell is higher ranked, has more diversity, and a larger international student population. The student body, from what I’ve heard, seems to be one that I would very easily fit in with. Grinnell’s endowment seems to bring a lot of interesting events on campus and provide ample funding to club activities, which seems to add up to an incredibly enjoyable environment – even considering the location. The open curriculum is one of the more enticing elements of Grinnell. The location does seem ideal in many ways, but it does have some downsides. I think I’d like to live in the North East after college, and Holy Cross would simply provide more career opportunities since it is more local.

Additionally, I’m worried when I compare Grinnel alumni average salaries with most liberal arts colleges. To put it bluntly, it’s poultry relative to most other similarly prestigious colleges. Holy Cross has 20k higher in average median earnings, and that’s a data point that is too hard to ignore. I’m aware that some of these median earnings need to take into account the specified career fields of students, but the gap is so high that it’s worrying. I don’t know if I want to go to grad school, which makes me more hesitant when considering these outcomes. If I definitely wanted to go to grad school, I would choose Grinnell without a second thought.

The biggest downsides to Holy Cross are the disparity in selectivity and being a D1 college. I’ve researched a bit into Holy Cross’ athletics and how it relates to the college, and it seems as though athletes are given priority in aid over incredibly accomplished scholars. There was a thread a few years back that pointed out how Holy Cross did not have a single National Merit Scholar. 1/4 of the school are D1 athletes, which also is a huge issue for me, and makes the previous points a bit more potent. Obviously Holy Cross is not easy to get into, but Grinnell simply has a higher aggregate in GPA/Test Scores. This isn’t to say I dislike Holy Cross – I wouldn’t have applied if that wasn’t the case. The academics seem to be very rigorous, the campus appealing, student body seems quite inclusive, etc. As I mentioned earlier the location is a general positive.

I suppose my main concern is Grinnell’s career services, as it seems to be much weaker than Holy Cross’. As a freshman at a public university without using career services, I’ve worked at a startup, interned with the Department of State through a virtual internship, and have engaged in political campaigns. I have some strong skills with Adobe Suite and am a fairly strong writer, and have reason to believe that I should be able to market myself well. This all said, are there positives about Holy Cross I’m missing? Are Grinnell career services as bad as I’m making them out to be? Thanks everyone!

Merged two threads
ED

Congratulations on two excellent choices. A point to clear up about aid. D1 schools are allowed to give scholarships to recruit athletes, D3 schools are not. That’s not really an upside or downside it’s just the way aid works with regard to athletic programs and why you see a difference between D1 and D3 schools.
As for rankings, US News has Holy Cross ranked 27 and I believe Grinnell is 15 among lacs. Both strong rankings.
HC does have one of the strongest alumni networks out there as well as very strong career services.
What are your reasons for transferring? Does one of the schools fill what was lacking in your experience in a better way? That could be a good way to look at it. And of course the finances are important as well.
Good luck

I replaced on your other thread as well.
The difference in aid for athletics is due to the difference in D1 bs D3 athletic rules. D1 schools are allowed sports scholarships for recruits, while D3 schools are not. It’s not an upside or a downside, it’s just a difference in D1 vs D3 schools.
As for rankings, US News has Holy Cross at 27, Grinnell is around 17, so both obviously very strong.
Holy Cross does have one of the strongest alumni networks out there as well as an excellent career services program.
Why are you transferring? Perhaps one of the schools fits this need better? And of course finances are to be considered. Good luck!

I would consider the difference between a D1 school relative to a D3 school a downside especially since there’s a priority to give full rides to athletic students as opposed to academics. It goes without saying that both are some of the strongest colleges in the nation.

Here’s a post I made a few months ago that probably paints an accurate picture out of why I’m transferring: “It feels like I’ve compromised academically so much in this year. Hearing my friend talk about how difficult his Yale writing class is really got to me. I’ve had some great professors, but could thoroughly use more rigorous academics.”

Another huge issue was the lackluster clubs at my previous school. I’m not the most extroverted person, so having an apparatus to meet some more similarly minded people is incredibly helpful. I went to a few clubs at said school, and it seemed as though all of them had no tangible interest in the subject of the actual club.

The final thing is that at my previous school I didn’t think I had the resources to make connections that would be valuable to me personally or career-wise. Both Grinnell and Holy Cross meet these criteria in certain ways.

I would consider the difference between a D1 school relative to a D3 school a downside especially since there’s a priority to give full rides to athletic students as opposed to academics. It goes without saying that both are some of the strongest colleges in the nation.

Here’s a post I made a few months ago that probably paints an accurate picture out of why I’m transferring: “It feels like I’ve compromised academically so much in this year. Hearing my friend talk about how difficult his Yale writing class is really got to me. I’ve had some great professors, but could thoroughly use more rigorous academics.”

Another huge issue was the lackluster clubs at my previous school. I’m not the most extroverted person, so having an apparatus to meet some more similarly minded people is incredibly helpful. I went to a few clubs at said school, and it seemed as though all of them had no tangible interest in the subject of the actual club.

The final thing is that at my previous school I didn’t think I had the resources to make connections that would be valuable to me personally or career-wise. Both Grinnell and Holy Cross meet these criteria in certain ways.

If you want a job in the northeast or tri-state then go to Holy Cross.

I’m aware of that, however, if each of the other points I mentioned in my original post ring true then I think I’d still opt for Grinnell. I don’t like the idea of college decisions being solely based around a pre-professional rationale. I’m curious if I’m overstating Holy Cross’ cons relative to Grinnell, and if so to what degree.

It’s tough to say because it’s really like comparing apples and oranges. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself, interests, personality, etc? How do feel about a Jesuit school vs non? I am an HC alum and can testify to the school’s academic strength, close-knit community of pretty like-minded “good kid”/kid next door types, and well-balance/whole person approach to education (mind/body/social/spirit). I’ve never been to Grinnell, but my perception is that it would feel decidedly more liberal, purely focused on academics, perhaps “bookish”, and of course not religiously affiliated. Of course it is an excellent school. This is a gross generalization, but I’m imagining HC kids going on to standard fare professional tracks (lawyers, bankers, “business people”, doctors, etc) concentrated in the NE corridor, whereas Grinnell kids might be more likely (not exclusively of course) to go onto PhD tracks or perhaps non-traditional professional paths, where I’m sure they will excel. Athletics are a prominent, though not overwhelming I would say, component of life at HC, and core to that school’s DNA. But as a non athletically-oriented student, I was perfectly happy there. Hope that helps. Tell us more about yourself.

I would like to tackle a couple of your concerns: post college earnings and D1 athletics.

First, earnings. Among the many college ranking systems out there, Money magazine has one that is particularly interesting. True to there name, it is based on money - post college earnings relative to the cost of each college. All different types of colleges are lumped together in one list. Both Grinnell and Holy Cross are in the top 30%. Of the 750 colleges ranked, Holy Cross is #155, Grinnell is #205. This is consistent with your research.

What’s revealing is a second ranking that Money dies from which they generate a list of 50 “most transformative” colleges. To do this they evaluate the potential of each college’s freshman class by their admission’s profile and then compare it to later earnings, as reported by Payscale, to see if they overachieved or underachieved their predictions. Holy Cross ranked #15 on this list, Grinnell did not make the list. Money concludes that graduates of schools like Holy Cross realize excellent return on investment.

The second issue is athletics, which I consider a red herring in this decision. I’ll explain.

Holy Cross is a founding member of the Patriot League, which was formed by a group of academically excellent schools so that they could compete against like minded colleges. Sort of like the Iby League principles. It was founded 34 years ago as a non-scholarship conference. Its 6 charter members were Holy Cross, Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh, Bucknell, and Davidson.

Since it’s founding, they have modified their position on scholarships and now allow scholarships in some sports but with restrictions. For example, D1 football schools are peritted 86 scholarships, but the Patriot League limits its members to 60 football scholarships. This is an academics first sports conference in which athletics are de emphasized. To the best of my knowledge, Holy Cross awards scholarships in only about a third of the sports they sponsor. (Check elsewhere fir current information.)

As a point of comparison, the Ivy League is a D1 sports conference. Would you turn down Harvard because it’s a D1 school?

Let’s talk about D3 schools. They compete hard in sports. They want to win. They recruit athletes. Recruited athletes are priority admits. Whether it’s a national merit winner, a top minority student, or a recruited athlete, all priority admits get the maximum available financial aid. (Not all students are offered the max.) It is not an “athletic scholarship” at a D3 school, but it’s still money taken from the pool of financial aid resources that could have gone to other needy students.

While both the Ivy League and the Patriot League are D1 and make some academic concessions in order to get the best athletes they can, they are not bringing in students who they think are not able to do the work. They may be at the lower range of the student body but they are still capable. This is no different than top priority legacies and children of big donors among others. These same practices are true in the Midwest Conference in which Grinnell competes.

Here is the impact if athletic recruiting at these 2 colleges. Grinnell has more than 600 varsity athletes (men & women) in a student body of 1700+, which is about 35%. Holy Cross (men & women) has about 850 varsity athletes in a student body of 3000+, or less than 28%.

I say that D1 sports is a red herring because athletic admits affect the admissions process and the available financial aid at every college, regardless of whether or not they offer official athletic scholarships. I say red herring also because Holy Crosses not a big time D1 school. It limits athletic scholarships and deemphasises intercollegiate sports.

Grinnell is a wonderful school and you should go there if it’s the right fit, the place where you can thrive. Holy Cross is also a wonderful school and you should go there only if it’s a place where you might have a better chance to succeed. Neither the number of National Merit winners or the number of D1 athletes should factorinto your decision.

I wouldn’t let the difference in median salaries sway your choice – I would think a lot of that is self-selection by the student body. Rather than assume, I took a quick look at HolyCross’ job data, and its 2016 graduate report shows that health care and financial services account for about 1/3 of the graduating class’ jobs, with another 9% attributable to careers in education. For its class of '16, Grinnell reports that computing/information systems and education make up about 1/3 of its job placements, and another 13% in health care.

From what you describe about your academic interests, Grinnell sounds like a great fit. Grinnell alums do very well – as I’d say to any college student, attending any college, start working with career services early, schedule meetings this fall, meet your career advising staff, use the college’s resources to help find internships etc.

Congrats, and good luck!

Great post above by @Bill Marsh. Spot on!

I’m not religious, generally quite academic and artistic, and as far left as one can be without being a socialist.

This may come across as combative, but I assure you I’m simply interested in finding the validity of the points mentioned (I will try to do the same for students recommending Grinnell). I agree with the rankings in career salary, and from talking to a current student at Grinnell, @tessahoc 's analysis of Grinnell careers is the right one (Grinnell is in the top 10 for per capita PhD production).

Your point about athletes in the student body is duly noted, and one I should have looked more into. However, your mention of Harvard and the ivy league is a non-sequitur because the ivy league does not give academic scholarships. My issue isn’t simply the school being D1, but taking advantage of athletic scholarships. Grinnell has a massive endowment and can entice academic students with strong Merit Aid packages. I received one of these (as a transfer that is highly unusual). Grinnell didn’t even have a football team last year because of a lack of players, so I think that’s quite representative.

Your premise about fit is the right one, and something I’m considering quite a lot. I’ve been in contact with Holy Cross representatives, and recently learned I would be able to apply for the Honor’s Program immediately – something that would be very beneficial. I thought I would need a year of Holy Cross academics to be able to apply, and since that’s not the case it is something to think about. Thanks again for your in-depth post, I greatly appreciate it! I have a tough decision ahead.

Thank you, this information regarding major demographics is something to consider!

@nibbie…how did you make two posts on the exact same thing?

If your asking how I copy and pasted, if you’re asking why I posted in Grinnell and Holy Cross forums to get a varied opinion.

I don’t find your reply combative at all. I was just trying to offer perspective on two issues you raised:

  1. To validate your point about HC alums earning higher salaries.
  2. To suggest that athletic scholarships don’t differentiate the two schools to the extent you might be thinking.

Just my opinion. You don’t have to agree. It’s your decision and I respect that. I just wanted to get you thinking and maybe include some things you hasn’t Considered.

Grinned actually appeals to me more if I were just talking about me as the potential student. (I too am a socialist.) OTOH, HC is also a terrific school at which I’ve seen some kids have great experiences. And I like the HC location better. (As well as their commitment to social justice.)

Tough choice. . . But that’s because they both have a lot of positives to offer.

@nibbie, you are really not supposed to do that.

To clarify I’m as far left as one can be WITHOUT being a socialist, not that this matters haha (I’m firmly a social democrat).

Hmm didn’t know that, I’ve read the Forum Rules and that doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere. I don’t see why this would be a problem, as there is a valid utility for having this post in two forums.

I was accepted to both Grinnell and Holy Cross (and Whitman/NYU, waitlisted Wesleyan/Hamilton) as a transfer student as a major in International Relations (I’ll probably model my degree pathway after Oxford’s PPE), and find that the positives of each school are starkly different. I haven’t yet gotten an aid package yet from Holy Cross, but Grinnell gave me a substantial amount of aid that is ostensibly a full ride.

Financials aside, I am heavily leaning towards Grinnell for several reasons. Grinnell is higher ranked, has more diversity, and a larger international student population. The student body, from what I’ve heard, seems to be one that I would very easily fit in with. Grinnell’s endowment seems to bring a lot of interesting events on campus and provide ample funding to club activities, which seems to add up to an incredibly enjoyable environment – even considering the location. The open curriculum is one of the more enticing elements of Grinnell. The location does seem ideal in many ways, but it does have some downsides. I think I’d like to live in the North East after college, and Holy Cross would simply provide more career opportunities since it is more local.

Additionally, I’m worried when I compare Grinnel alumni average salaries with most liberal arts colleges. To put it bluntly, it’s poultry relative to most other similarly prestigious colleges. Holy Cross has 20k higher in average median earnings, and that’s a data point that is too hard to ignore. I’m aware that some of these median earnings need to take into account the specified career fields of students, but the gap is so high that it’s worrying. I don’t know if I want to go to grad school, which makes me more hesitant when considering these outcomes. If I definitely wanted to go to grad school, I would choose Grinnell without a second thought.

The biggest downsides to Holy Cross are the disparity in selectivity and being a D1 college. I’ve researched a bit into Holy Cross’ athletics and how it relates to the college, and it seems as though athletes are given priority in aid over incredibly accomplished scholars. There was a thread a few years back that pointed out how Holy Cross did not have a single National Merit Scholar. 1/4 of the school are D1 athletes, which also is a huge issue for me, and makes the previous points a bit more potent. Obviously Holy Cross is not easy to get into, but Grinnell simply has a higher aggregate in GPA/Test Scores. This isn’t to say I dislike Holy Cross – I wouldn’t have applied if that wasn’t the case. The academics seem to be very rigorous, the campus appealing, student body seems quite inclusive, etc. As I mentioned earlier the location is a general positive.

I suppose my main concern is Grinnell’s career services, as it seems to be much weaker than Holy Cross’. As a freshman at a public university without using career services, I’ve worked at a startup, interned with the Department of State through a virtual internship, and have engaged in political campaigns. I have some strong skills with Adobe Suite and am a fairly strong writer, and have reason to believe that I should be able to market myself well. This all said, are there positives about Holy Cross I’m missing? Are Grinnell career services as bad as I’m making them out to be? Thanks everyone!