Like many here, we are still waiting for those EA decisions! Arrrgggh! The waiting really IS the hardest part! My son has applied to Earlham, Lawrence, Willamette, Puget Sound & Wooster. Last I checked he was planning to apply to Whitman and Colorado College by Jan. 15, however–I believe these are both reaches due to a lackluster math score on the SAT, which brought down his overall score. Puget Sound is an outlier–I seriously doubt they would give him enough financial aid. Although I love the location, the PacRim program and the outdoor-themed housing for freshmen, the administration has actually been rude (at worst) or disengaged (at best) in their correspondence–so I feel like they are not really a contender at this point. My son has a negative impression of Wooster. He’s a big reddit user and there was a huge community discussion there about rape culture that turned him off. Rationally, he knows he shouldn’t judge the entire school based on social media reaction, but we were not able to visit the campus this summer so unfortunately, he’s got few competing images of the place.
We did visit CC, Lawrence and Earlham. We were both underwhelmed by Earlham but loved the first two. My son had originally planned to major in music, but he has an unconventional background (no band, homeschooled for the past 2 years, mostly self-taught) so he did not feel prepared to audition just yet. However, he definitely wants to take theory and composition classes. His second main interest–Japanese–has moved to the forefront in the past month. For this reason, Earlham & Willamette have moved up on his list. In fact, he talks about Earlham a lot lately. I think he likes that it is small & does not have Greek life. He’s also very excited at the thought of doing their August Wilderness program before starting the fall semester. My son is on the spectrum & does not make friends easily. He does best in small groups. As far as the music offerings, between the two it seems that Earlham is the better fit. Because we’ve never visited Willamette, we don’t have the visceral connection that only a live visit can provide. However, we are well aware that the school’s location would put him in a very different (and beautiful) place to explore the outdoors. He has grown up in Austin, Texas so all of these locations would be different for him (which he is thrilled by).
Although this is all speculative since we haven’t received offers yet, I feel like Earlham is a safe bet. We got a call this week that made it sound like they were putting together an aid package. That’s exciting, but of all his schools, Earlham ranks the lowest in terms of graduation rates and student satisfaction (at least according to Niche). My understanding is that it was once a well-respected institution, but that it has declined in recent years. I’m also concerned about their financial health. I think it’s great that they have a large international population, but at the same time, different cultures come with a different set of social cues–which is challenging for my kid. Finally, it seems to be a “safety school” for a lot of students. My son is an intellectual by nature, but he is not competitive, per se. His stats are such that he could have applied to some more well known LACs, but did not because he struggles with anxiety and we didn’t think that would end well.
I’m hoping he can visit his top two choices in the spring and do some overnights, and I know that will tell him more than any responses I get here, but I won’t be doing the overnights! (They don’t allow parents to go, right? Lol) In a way, I feel like it will come down to Lawrence vs. Earlham and there are sooooo many things we love about LU, but Earlham seems to have the superior offerings in Japanese, although I realize LU students have that Waseda connection as well. My understanding is that if he chose that degree at LU, it would be more focused on East Asian Studies as opposed to language/linguistics. Ultimately it will be his decision, but I really can’t get a sense of the student culture at Earlham. I’d hate for him to end up in a place full of students who are bummed out that they ended up at their “last choice” school.
Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide!