Is Kenyon a good fit for me?

I am considering Kenyon for ED1 or ED2, but I’ve got tunnel vision for it and I’m not sure if another college would be better. I’m a Hispanic, low income student from NYC. Also part of LGBT community.

Academics - I’ve loved pure math since I was young, but eventually experienced major burnout. Gravitating towards science with interest in environmental bio. Have had fun doing research in labs and field especially. Veeerry interested in political science, and economics. Considering a major in economics. Writing - I have some trouble getting thoughts on paper and writing isn’t my forte, but I’d definitely appreciate the opportunity to improve.

Interests - I’m not quite artsy like Kenyon kids but I enjoy music and theatre as entertainment. I like wrestling, swing dancing, rollerblading. I love nature, being outdoors, hiking. I like to get my hands dirty with outdoorsy stuff – Kenyon’s farm is something I like.

I’m interested in a small LAC, I think. I stayed at Bard College for a few weeks and absolutely loved the campus – being able to step into the woods, experiencing such a different setting, etc. I’d wanna go to a college with a welcoming and homey type of feel, where it might be easy to make strong connections with people. Gonna be honest, I currently have that romanticized view of the college experience – a beautiful campus, lifelong friends, etc.

I would not recommend a small LAC for an LGBT student. And I definitely wouldn’t recommend EDing if you haven’t visited. Sounds like you may have done a summer program at Bard? That won’t give you a good feel for what attending college is like there. As a Hispanic, low income LGBT student, you may have significant culture shock.

You almost certainly would be a good catch for Kenyon College due to the diversity that you would add to the small student body.

A semester or two at Kenyon College should have a significant effect on your preferences. But, for one in need of significant financial aid, you do not have one or two semesters in which to experiment in this respect. Kenyon College would be a major growth experience for you. Could be great or could result in the development of emotional scars.

The campus culture at Bard is quite different from that at Kenyon College.

P.S. Have you considered Vassar College ?

How much culture shock would I really experience? I’m not sure I’d prefer a big uni over a small LAC. And as for Bard, I was referring to the campus setting more than the culture. It’s got that middle-of-nowhere, homely feel that Kenyon seems to have.

A non-binary, African American attended Kenyon and found it tough. Super involved on campus in a number of things (including a varsity sport), working on issues of understanding and inclusion. It can work for you but it may not match the dream and may be hard.

Agree that a place like Vassar or Bryn Mawr (not as rural) might be a more comfortable fit.

It is not necessary to go to a big university if Kenyon College is not a fit.

I cannot quantify culture shock, but can share that Kenyon College is a small community of approximately 1,660 students in a somewhat isolated location. Everyone will know your business within a short time of arriving on campus.

I do not want to discourage you applying to Kenyon College so long as you understand that it will be an immersion into what might be a judgmental community with nowhere to hide or no chance to enjoy a bit of anonymity.

Which other schools are you considering ?

P.S. Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington may be of interest to you. Whitman is smaller than Kenyon College with just about 1,450 students but is more liberal and has strong programs in biology, economics, and environmental science. Lots of outdoor activities including white-water rafting, hiking, biking, etc.

1 Like

Skidmore College, Oberlin College, the University of Vermont Honors College, Middlebury College, Whitman College, Vassar College all might be of interest to you.

Of course college needs to be affordable or it is not an option.

If you would would be comfortable at Kenyon College, then Davidson College in North Carolina might be of interest to you.

This would be a good time for someone connected with Kenyon College to post their thoughts.

My daughter is finishing her first semester at Kenyon (on campus), and she absolutely loves it. She’s devastated that freshmen have to be remote for the spring semester (the college is trying to keep the campus de-densified, and they’ve had great success this semester with only 2 student COVID cases on campus). She identifies as bisexual, and some of her friends are non-binary or have some other nontraditional orientation. My sense is that it’s a very liberal and LGBTQ-friendly community.

The student body is predominantly white, but she has Asian and mixed-race people in her friend group and mentioned meeting more on campus. It’s not as homogeneous a community as people might think. As for academic/hobby interests, again a diverse community: she and some of her friends are into theater and music (or both), some are athletes, some major in natural sciences, some in philosophy, English, or history. The campus is beautiful, the surrounding area is hilly, and there’s a gorgeous long trail along the Kokosing river nearby, great for walking or biking.

They have a writing center to help students with the papers, if this is a concern. The econ major is one of the most popular (second to English, I believe?).

OP–I’ll be happy to put you in touch with my daughter if you want some more first-hand information, just pm me. She’s from the Midwest but my parents live in NYC, so she’s very familiar with the city and its culture, since we spend time there every year (and she was born in NYC).

1 Like

Calling @Midwestmomofboys who I believe has a lot of experience with the Ohio LACs.

Take a serious look at Oberlin - very LGBTQ friendly, a significant % of students from NY metro area, strong in both math (in case you return to this) and environmental science. Music, theatre, swing dancing, check! There is an outdoor recreation club. Cohesive, politically liberal, campus in a small town (but much larger than Gambier!) The student body is also larger than many LACs - about 3,000 students total including the conservatory. Check out the student bloggers to get a feel for the campus vibe.

My thoughts previously were that Kenyon is a welcoming group, with lots of LGBT initiatives and a scholarship group for POC. I think part of why I like it so much is related to their YouTube content – Kenyon seems dedicated to providing a lot of information about itself. It has a lot of ‘personality’ based on what I’ve seen online. I’ve also heard that it offers pretty generous financial aid.

This isn’t me saying ‘no’ to these other schools, just sharing my thoughts: I’ve considered Whitman and really liked it, but NYC to Walla Walla makes for difficult holidays and move in. I’ll definitely apply if I don’t land anywhere ED. Oberlin seems to have a culture that I’m not sure I’d fit in with. While I’m LGBT/Hispanic, I have more moderate views, and being interested in poli-sci, I worry that I wouldn’t have a space to discuss, free of judgment from students more liberal than me.

I’m liking Vassar so far and while my teenage self is inclined to venture into another state and explore, I appreciate that it’s relatively close to me (1.5h) so I could visit beforehand or travel during the school year with ease.

I’d definitely like more info from people on Kenyon, but I appreciate all of the thoughtful comments I’ve received so far. Thanks everyone :smiley: I’ll look into the other schools mentioned too.

I disagree with post #1.

I agree with @mamaedefamilia that Oberlin might be good. Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, and maybe Smith could be good options. And I do think you would be fine at Kenyon, though some others might be better.

I also think Bates would be good for you. Beautiful campus. It’s very accepting, has an excellent environmental science program, strong for economics and political sci. It’s got very easy access to outdoors, very good music and threaten groups, a ballroom dance team, and is close to Portland, a pretty cool small city.

Just read a few comments. Thank you so much @Motherprof for writing about your daughter’s experience, it’s always nice to hear about students’ personal experiences to get a feel for a college. I might pm you in the future if I have more specific questions.

@mamaedefamilia I was a bit hesitant about Oberlin but it definitely sounds like it could be a good fit so I’ll look into it more. Thank you!

@Lindagaf Thank you for the other suggestions, most I haven’t heard of, I’ll be looking them up.

Has the OP run Kenyon’s Net Price Calculator to determine projected financial aid and expected family contribution? The challenge is not whether a specific school is generally generous but rather whether it is affordable for that particular student and family.

I’d encourage the OP to research the Ohio LACs in more detail – Oberlin, Denison and Kenyon – to get a feel for overlap and differences. Investigate zoom info sessions, reach out to Admissions to connect with students/student groups with shared interests.

I’d also encourage the OP to consider why they want to apply ED – is it to get an admissions “boost” in this year of uncertainty? Without having visited Kenyon or any other possible ED candidates, it would be hard to say that any single school is “it” without having been on campus. With LACs, the vibe can make it or break it – schools which look like great fits on paper may not feel like “home” once a student steps onto campus, and other schools which didn’t seem particularly compelling on paper (or online) can feel “just right” when a student is actually there.

There are differences among the three schools which affect the campus vibe, from Oberlin’s more expansive campus which stretches from one end of town to the other and has town streets intersecting campus and the town green serving as its “front yard,” to Kenyon’s idyllic Middle Path, to Denison’s “home on the hill.” Both Kenyon and Denison have non-residential greek life and Kenyon sets aside sections of dorms for members of greek life to live together. Oberlin has proudly never had greek life – like Vassar, Bard, Conn Coll, Bates and others.

Note that all three schools have farms or bio research facilities – Denison has the Homestead, an organic farm and sustainable living community located within the 350 acre Bio Reserve which is used for teaching and research. Kenyon has its Farm, which the OP has researched. Oberlin has the George Jones Farm and Preserve used for teaching and research.

Has OP identified as a female poster ? I ask because some posts suggest single sex schools for OP.

In my view, receiving substantial financial aid might be a primary concern for OP.

Thanks for the info on the farms! Denison is another new school that I’d have to look up.

I did use the net price calculator. I might end up with some loan debt but I think it’s doable. Kenyon also has the KEEP scholarship. I’m eligible, but can’t be sure I’d receive it upon applying. I believe it’d make Kenyon basically free? It would even provide some form of stipend/allowance.

There are a few reasons I’m considering ED. Yes, to increase my chances. But also because I really like Kenyon and I want to be able to relax and enjoy my senior year without having to worry too much. And I’m scared that if I end up applying RD and get waitlisted or rejected, I’ll feel some sadness and regret over not applying ED.

And good point @Publisher, I wouldn’t apply for those single-sex schools.

https://youtu.be/mZED3H0RlKA

I watched this video on Kenyon’s YouTube and the students seem to be friendly and also diverse in terms of personality. I also saw 3 POC. Does this actually do a good job of reflecting the student body? I know it’s only a short video with a few students.

Take a deep dive into the data/demographics on the student population at your schools of interest, there are lots of sources out there, including data from US News rankings, Common Data Sets, NY Times article on economic diversity at colleges and universities, and other sources. For Ohio schools, the data shows both Oberlin and Denison are more non-white, and more economically diverse than Kenyon. Grinnell in Iowa would be another school – diverse, open, community, though travel from NYC would not be simple. Vassar should definitely stay on the OP’s list. Macalester sounds like another good fit, except for the fact it is in St Paul, MN and not the bucolic environment OP is looking for.

I know both Kenyon and Oberlin well because my older daughter is a senior at Oberlin and my younger daughter is applying ED to Kenyon as a sports commit. Given what you write, I would highly recommend Oberlin. My older daughter loves it and she is biracial and a member of the LGBTQ community.

Oberlin is a good bit larger than Kenyon and has a lot of students similar to yourself. If you love arts and music there is a lot to love there as well.

Just my two cents having spent a lot of time at Oberlin and a good bit at Kenyon so far. You could be happy at either but if I were you I’d lean Oberlin.

I don’t have time to watch the video, but in terms of personality and friendliness, my impression is yes, Kenyon students are very friendly and there’s a wide range of personalities and interests. This is based not only on my daughter’s experience; an acquaintance told me her daughter had transferred to Kenyon from another college and found Kenyon students to be both very smart AND kind (her own words; this was in contrast to her previous college where she found people to be too snarky). A current student (from NYC), whom we consulted this spring when my daughter was making her final college decision, said the pandemic was extremely hard for her and her friends: they’re such a closely-knit community, and the separation was particularly painful.

I’m not saying this wouldn’t be the case in other colleges suggested in this thread, I’m sure students there are very nice and diverse (and some are indeed more racially diverse), I’m just answering the Kenyon-specific question. In fact, my daughter was accepted to and seriously considered most of the other Midwestern colleges mentioned in this thread and would probably be happy in any of them, but a mix of various factors tipped the scale in favor of Kenyon.