Like Grinnell, but easier to get into/get merit

After a lot of research, and a lot of reading on unigo and niche and college guides, it seems like Grinnell is my ideal school socially and academically and the application is free so I’m applying.

I’m in CA and don’t have any money for visits pre-acceptance, and I realize visits will change things.

I don’t care about reputation or “rigor” but I don’t want to be around a lot of hard core slackers, entitled richie riches, frat boys, or a lot of drinking culture although I realize some drinking and drugs go with dyed-hair types like me.

What schools would be like Grinnell, but easy to get into to?

I won’t post my stats or finances (looking for big merit though) but will say Grinnell would be somewhat of a reach, Mt. Holyoke a target but maybe not for merit, and I would probably get into Lawrence and maybe get some merit, maybe not enough.

Anyways that doesn’t matter since there is nothing too safe I wouldn’t consider and in fact that’s what I’m looking for here! I don’t care about reputation or rigor-- I will make the best of anything.

Look at College if Wooster in Ohio.


What specifically appeals to you about Grinnell? The more specificity you can give, the better recommendations others can share.


Are you really looking for merit or are you looking for need based aid? If you are looking for merit, it is nearly a futile effort because the lists are very different if your GPA is 3.8 or 3.2. Also, if you can afford 60k or 10k makes different lists. People on this site are very helpful, but you have to give them something to work with. They don’t want to waist their time.


Agree with College of Wooster, I would also take a look at Beloit and Knox.

Also, do the optional interview at Grinnell, my son was a low match for Grinnell and after a very good interview recieved significiant merit. He wasn’t a great interviewer at the time, but it was very clear during the interview that he was a great fit for Grinnell. Finally decision came down to Beloit and Grinnell.


I was hoping the simplicity of the question might spark something for the many people here who have accumulated a lot of knowledge/impressions of colleges.

I wasn’t looking for experts to tailor their recommendations exactly to my stats. Once I start talking about such things it kind of kills the spirit of the question.

Hopefully it’s okay for folks here to have fun with the question, “If you like Grinnell, you’ll also like…”

For example, with music you can google “bands like the Marmozets” and many websites will generate a list, or check this out: Music like Marmozets - Similar Bands and Artists

I’m willing to filter any responses through my own chancing and other criteria.

I don’t know if that’s okay with anyone though.

I’m kind of asking, when you think of Grinnell, what other colleges do you think of? (especially if they are easy to get into and the kind that ups the merit for strong candidates).

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I’m curious what made him not a good interviewer and what was it that made him a good fit?

And what did he decide and why?

I think socially it would be the best fit and the vibe is not the things I said I wanted to avoid above.

But I’m also interested in what other people associate with Grinnell.

Maybe google “colleges like Grinnell” or “LACs with big merit offers”. That might spark more than any one poster on CC who could be giving you a list of colleges you can’t afford, or don’t actually find at all like what you like about Grinnell (location? size? specific area of interest? dining?)

If you are interested in LACs, which it sounds like you might be, there aren’t more than 300 or so of them. You can go on Niche or big future and just look up LACs, plug in the size you want, majors, etc and research the Common Data Sets to see how generous they are with merit aid. That might be the best route to take if you don’t want to be more specific with what you are looking for on this board.

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Thanks for the curation advice. I did mention originally that I’ve done a lot of research. So now I’m wanting to tap the hive mind and see what turns up.

I think people can respond or not on a voluntary basis, but I’m not saying the majority or almost all members will not want to respond. I wouldn’t know.

But there’s been some responses and maybe there will be more. So we’ll see.

Thanks to everyone so far.

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What is the vibe that you think Grinnell has? Not everyone who has experience investigating LACs in depth will have necessarily been interested in Grinnell, or will know what the vibe there is that you like. That’s why asking what you specifically like was my question.

“Vibe” doesn’t get me any closer to understanding what you like about Grinnell. We visited dozens of LACs with my oldest and many are very different but I would be able to say something like, “Reed and Lewis & Clark both LACs in the Portland area but totally different vibes. If you are looking for outdoorsy, you can find it at both, if you are looking for intellectual - Reed was the clear choice.”


If you could not debate this I would greatly appreciate it because I don’t think the people who do want to play along will want to read debates.


Thanks. Got some ideas there, from 16 years ago, and without the stipulation “but easier to get into/get merit”

I also got a new suggestion here on this thread so far, plus interesting information about Grinnell and hopefully a follow up conversation.

Hopefully this thread is not already bogged down now in debate–

I really appreciate any ideas from anyone else, and who knows, it could accidentally change my life!

We visited a lot of Midwest LACs looking for merit – and loved Grinnell. Schools which have similar vibes – which for or me would mean an engaged, open-minded, warm community which welcomes difference – would include Knox, Earlham, Lawrence, Beloit and Kalamazoo.

(edited to add, I didn’t include College of Wooster because it had been mentioned, but would include that as similar vibe to the other schools I identified).


I think your question was perfectly phrased and simple to understand. And I agree with the person above who suggested Wooster. It came to mind immediately.

Denison and Oberlin are both midwestern LACs, though Oberlin is a harder admit. This might not be the vibe you’re looking for but I also associate Skidmore and Sarah Lawerence with Grinnel for some reason?


I’d put Whitman on your list of schools with Grinnell crossover potential


I’m keeping a list and one that might work for you is Wheaton College in Massachusetts. It has a fairly open curriculum like Grinnell. I haven’t researched the vibe yet myself.

If you’re open to women’s colleges (saw you mentioned Mount Holyoke) check out Hollins in Roanoke VA and Agnes Scott in Atlanta.

Maybe Roanoke College (might not be as nerdy as Grinnell). Maybe Centre College or Goucher?