LACs for my daughter to consider

Stats for my c/o ‘22 daughter:
4.0 unweighted GPA
Will have 5 AP classes (predicted 4s/5s)
1300 SAT first time (760 English, 540 math)
29 ACT
Good ECs and volunteering but no leadership

We are a US military family who will have lived in Asia (Korea/Japan) for all her high school years, her brother is headed to Univ or Florida for engineering and both parents are engineers.

She is planing to apply to Mt Holyoke early decision but is realistic that it is currently a reach. She is studying for the math SAT and plans to raise that score by at least 100 points. She is drawn to women’s colleges and liberal campuses in contrast to her childhood in a more conservative, male-dominated culture.

What other colleges should we be looking at with liberal campuses, collaborative vs competitive learning, beautiful campuses, not hot, not in the South or Midwest?

She has access to Bright Futures full tuition in Florida but isn’t excited about anything in that state for cultural and climate reasons. Other backups would depend on where parents move next, possibly Univ of Hawaii.

She is interested in liberal arts in the public policy, anthropology, legal studies, etc arena- but mostly undecided. She has access to her dad’s GI Bill which makes most schools in consideration financially.

Any advice? Thank you!!

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Consider Rollins in Florida. She could use the BF (she’d get about $7000). I’m not sure if she’d get a Florida resident grant (but I think so) which is another $3500. Some of the schools also have the Yellow Ribbon grants but I’m not sure how that works with other GI benefits.

It’s pretty hot and humid in Hawaii too.

There are a ton of LACs in the northeast! Connecticut College and Skidmore come to my mind; Hobart? Gettysburg? Bates?

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Bryn Mawr jumps out (to me) from that comment.


Scripps. Lewis & Clark. Not a LAC and not sure about OOS costs, but Cal Poly SLO? It felt very supportive and focused on undergrad ed when we visited.

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Really important to visit these LACS when they are in session to see if she is comfortable in the environment.


Sounds like a perfect candidate to check out the “colleges that change lives” list for. Lots of colleges in the Midwest on there, but realistically she should have a look because that’s where she’ll find not-hot matches and safeties.

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I’ll add Rosemont College in PA. Small LAC (<1000 students) it used to be all women but is now has about 2/3 women. They also have a co-operative agreement with Villanova (campus sits adjacent to Villanova) where students can cross register and take courses access facilities, etc

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I didn’t mention Yellow Ribbon but it is an important part of our financial plans. For those that don’t know, the GI Bill pays for tuition up to just over $24K/year plus a monthly stipend for housing based on location. Many private schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon which allows the school to contribute additional money towards a higher tuition which the VA would match. For instance, if the school has a $10K number, the VA would match another $10K covering a total of $44K of tuition.

Thanks for mentioning Rollins, we think that could be a good fit too as far as Florida schools go…

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I think she’d be open to many of the 7 Sisters but may not be competitive enough.

I wish we could but living in Japan during a pandemic makes this is a real challenge. We may be able to swing one trip, maybe if she’s trying to decide between a couple that she’s accepted to…

Thanks, good point, we will talk about flexibility on location.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about your D’s rigor…will she have 4 years each of the 5 core subject areas…science, E, M, SS, FL? Are her non-AP classes honors or regular level? What math class is she taking senior year?

For Mount Holyoke and other reaches, she should probably apply test optional (depending on the final test score ranges of admitted students, looking at both Class of 2025 and 2024 stats). Does she have a good GC helping her?

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The former 7 sisters fill an important niche, but are very different from each other and from most LACs in vibe, so I would be sure she understands that. If you have lived abroad for many years, I think you might be surprised by your visits to some of them. Students seems to either love them or hate them.

Yes, she will have 4 or more years in each core subject area, except only 3 years of foreign language. The schools on military bases don’t have honors classes but she has added some extra classes through Florida Virtual School and chosen honors when available. She took Pre-calculus this year and will take Dual Enrollment College Algebra next year. I agree about test optional if she doesn’t improve the math but she’s motivated to do so so she can use the English score. The guidance counselor is serviceable.

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I always suggest students start reading the college newspaper at any school they are considering. They usually reflect the atmosphere on campus


I second Gettysburg and Skidmore! Both have great vibes and are good for humanities/social sciences. Skidmore especially is in a great location in Saratoga Springs, near Albany which has things to do but isn’t super big, and easy access to the whole east coast corridor. I believe both are test-optional.

Muhlenberg, not an LAC but check out University of Vermont for the “vibe”, Brandeis as a reachy option?

I would encourage your D- with the help of a math teacher or tutor- to find out where her math gaps are and fill those, rather than just focusing on test prep. I’m going to guess that with that big a gap between verbal and math there’s an actual “I was out with strep throat that week and missed X” in her history! If she can figure out the kind of problems she typically gets wrong, and then understand why, that’s going to be a LOT faster fix then just drilling to raise the math score 100 points with no focus. It’s amazing how much 4th grade arithmetic slows kids down in math in HS…and the fix is so easy.

Long time posters here know my story- math phobic, always terrible in math, which in the big public school system I grew up in meant I always had the worst math teachers. I had to take a remedial math class before starting grad school- so all the MBA’s, nurses, public health, psych, anthropology, urban planning grad students from across the U got stuck in summer school together. The professor was FANTASTIC- the best math instructor I had ever had. The class started with first grade arithmetic and ended with one semester’s worth of calculus. For all of us- it was our “last chance” to figure out where we had gone wrong in math before starting grad school.

Just an unbelievable opportunity. And this was in the days before Khan Academy, all the online resources to learn math from fantastic instructors! I breezed through the quant classes in grad school once I fixed my math gaps!!!

I’m not a fan of SAT drills- but figuring out where the holes are pays dividends forever…


RD acceptance rate for MHC is 51%. While ED favors hooked applicants, I would guess that the acceptance rates of non-hooked applicants applying ED are no lower than the RD acceptance rates. Your daughter’s GPA is at the top of that of their accepted students, and her ACT is within the middle 50% (27-30), and MHC is test optional in any case.

You say that her ECs are good, and don’t worry about “leadership positions” - that’s not really what colleges are looking for when they say that they are looking for “leadership”.

I do not think that MHC is a reach for your daughter, but a pretty solid target.

PS. I would recommend that your daughter not take the SAT again, but that she repeat the ACT instead. Her ACT scores are better than her SAT scores, so it is probably more likely that she will get a 31 or higher on her second ACT then get a 1400 or higher on her second SAT.


2021 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America - Niche

I think your daughter could apply anywhere - so see the list.

I state this based on two things:

  1. Test Optional - you’re not going to apply to Bowdoin or Colby with a 29. You can to the next tier down - the Skidmores of the world.

  2. The 5 AP could be light - again Skidmore - or not light - depending on what her school offers. If they offer a ton of APs, 5 isn’t great. If they offer few, 5 will be solid.

Florida and Hawaii - will obviously limit you but you simply said not South (which Florida is) or Midwest.

Obviously in Florida you have Rollins, Eckerd, and New College, etc.

Options in Hawaii will be limited although there are some smaller schools - she’ll be in at all those.

The West and Northwest will have lots (in addition to those many mentioned above in the east) - such as your Claremont Schools (Pomona - reach for all and Pitzer), Reed, Occidental, Whitman, Lewis & Clark, Williamette, and Puget Sound.

Good luck.

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