<p>What exactly are "LAC" colleges...What's their reputation compared to IVY, etc?</p>

<p>Liberal arts college; they usually have smaller amount of students and more student teacher interaction as a result
Some of them are well-respected too, like Pomona</p>

<p>Liberal arts colleges generally do not award advanced degrees. Therefore, there are usually no TAs (classes taught by professors) and students have more opportunities to work on research projects with professors. The reputation of the top-ranked LACs (Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, etc) certainly ranks alongside the Ivies.</p>

<p>Agree with firefly....</p>

<p>The better LACs are on par with the Ivies. You do, however, get more personal attention at the LACs, as they have smaller classes, etc... For me, I prefer the LACs to the Ivies in general because I like the intimacy of the colleges better than the larger schools. It just depends on what the applicant wants.</p>

<p>Some of them have more opportunities than Ivies, as well. Study abroad, example. Tiny fractions of HYP's student bodies go abroad, and they have very few of their own programs (and often charge you extra if you choose to go.) Others (like Smith, for example) place a high premium on study abroad, have the longest standing programs in Western Europe, and more than 50% of the student body goes abroad, usually for a full year.</p>

<p>In the sciences, there are often more undergraduate research opportunities at LACs, as students aren't competing with grad students for available prof. time (after all, that IS what the graduate students are paying for.) Hope College, for example, has a higher rate of undergraduates publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals than Harvard, Yale, or Princeton.</p>

<p>This has been around, but here's an oft-cited comparison between the eight Ivies and eight Northeastern LACs:</p>

<p>In alphabetical order, by Ivy:</p>

<p>Brown - Wesleyan
Columbia - Bowdoin
Cornell - Colgate
Dartmouth - Middlebury
Harvard - Amherst
Penn - Haverford
Princeton - Swarthmore
Yale - Williams</p>

<p>Alsom don't forget Dartmouth is a Ivy-LAC, i.e. lots of personal attention, 40% go study abroad on Dartmouth programs, high grad school placement, etc.</p>

<p>"Brown - Wesleyan
Columbia - Bowdoin
Cornell - Colgate
Dartmouth - Middlebury
Harvard - Amherst
Penn - Haverford
Princeton - Swarthmore
Yale - Williams"</p>

<p>i hate that comparison! wheres the Pomona? i guess you would do Stanford-Pomona? but only because its in california, and i guess stanford isnt ivy, so you wouldnt mention it....</p>

<p>Kosuke, for other top tier university - LAC comparisons, here are a couple more:</p>

<p>Stanford - Pomona
Cal Tech - Harvey Mudd
MIT - Johns Hopkins
Georgetown - Holy Cross
Northwestern - Carleton
Duke - Davidson
Texas - Rice
Virginia - Washington & Lee
WUSTL - Grinnell
Cal Berkeley - CMC
Notre Dame - Villanova
Wisconsin - Macalester
Michigan - Oberlin</p>

<p>Just a clarify a bit further.</p>

<p>Many top universities (I'll use Harvard as an example) consist of several different business units. Undergrads at Harvard go to Havard's liberal arts college, known as the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, Havard University has a Medical School, a Law School, a Business School, a Government School, etc. which enroll graduate students and do contracted research for government and private industry customers.</p>

<p>An LAC offers exactly the same undergrad curriculum, but does so in a setting without the other business units, i.e. it specializes exclusively on undergradate education without all the grad schools.</p>

<p>The term "liberal arts" has nothing to do with contempory definitions of "liberal" or "arts". Instead, it refers to a curriculum that includes a broad sampling of courses in the humanities (literature, arts, etc), social sciences (history, poly sci, econ, etc.) and hard sciences (math, physics, bio, etc). The opposite of a "liberal arts curriculum" would be a vocational school, for example attending a veterinary school to train for a specfic profession.</p>

<p>There are pluses and minuses of a liberal arts college setting and a liberal arts undergrad education at a larger university. Academically, there will typically be more personal attention (from professors, etc.) and a more tight-knit community at the LAC. However, there will be a broader range of options, especially socially, at a large univeristy, just as a big city offers more "stuff" than a small town.</p>

<p>A fair analogy would be a large magnet high school and a small prep school. Both have excellent students and teach basically the same stuff with comparable results, but they are very different experiences.</p>

<p>There's a lot to be said for the idea of doing 4 years of undergrad at a small undergrad college and then experiencing the larger university setting for grad school. But, ultimately, it boils down to visiting both types of schools and making an individual choice weighing the pros and cons of each.</p>