Like Grinnell, but easier to get into/get merit

(there’s a backstory in that conversation about Hollins)

Roanoke College isn’t looking half as bad as Centre as far as lack of diversity and Unbegrinnellnekeit (that’s a word in german I think).

I would look at Wheaton in MA. Good merit. A friend’s daughter who sounds a lot like you started there last week and has really found her people. Also College of Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan. OWU does have frats but it seemed like such a welcoming place when we visited. And their merit aid is great.

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Agree that St. Olaf fits the bill for the OP’s question, similar to Grinnell in many ways but easier to get into. They give good merit to about 50% of students and meet full need if the merit doesn’t get you there. It’s definitely a left leaning campus as the country goes, no question, and puts community values (ie learning how to accept and live well with other humans) right up there with strong academics. It attracts lots of creative students with its strong music department and ensembles but is a dry (students call it damp) campus so will never attract people who think college is a 4 year kegger.

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The mere fact that they have drinking rules at St. Olaf runs against Grinnell’s core tenets. Grinnell is extremely self-gov, anti-establishment. I think St. Olaf is a great school, but it just seems much more mainstream, go with the flow, Minnesota nice than Grinnell.


I’m interested in St. Olaf’s though that perhaps shows the limitations of my question, since there do seem to be some ungrinnellian qualities as others have noted.

I wonder if my interests in music making (rock bands) would be of any help at such a school, or say Lawrence, or if its impossible to know.

I have a freshman at St. Olaf now and have thought about the “mainstream” comment above. It’s possible that as NJ Jews, “Minnesota nice” seems anything but mainstream to us. There is more structure there than Grinnell most likely but the faculty and administration are not working to turn out mainstream people by any measure. There were plenty of kids with creative hair colors and lots of other counter-culture style expressions at drop off last week. Not as many as at Hampshire or Bard for sure, but plenty. What do you mean by your interest “helping?” You mean with admissions?

yeah I’m not as picky as the topic thread I started might imply. It was just a discussion starter.

Yes, I meant “help” with admissions, or rather actually, with merit scholarships. I’m pretty sure I can get in at most of the colleges on my list (not reaching), unless they are need-met need aware. I think St. Olaf’s is both of those things actually or tries to be need met.

Yes, St. O is both “meets needs” and offers merit including music specific scholarships. Merit comes first to about 50% of students and then the financial aid office supplements with institutional grants to meet full need. No doubt your personal involvement with music making will help at both Lawrence and St. Olaf. I know you said you can’t do in person visits and zoom info sessions can start to feel quite the same, but I encourage you to explore these schools on line, info sessions, correspondence with students and professors etc. You’ll start to get a feel.

Yeah so my admission to St. Olaf’s will be iffy since it is need aware and will see me as costly.

I still wonder if, especially at Lawrence, whether they really are in search of non-major musicians or wouldn’t they be looking for more variety. Maybe the same at St. Olaf’s. I could also portray an interest in art.

I have no accomplishments in music, nor in art, nor in any of the other things I do. I didn’t know, growing up, that I was supposed to focus on one thing and get good at it to demonstrate passion for college applications, and I didn’t know about talent scholarships.

I am going to pursue the schools virtually as best I can. I’m “courting” a few others now and it’s a lot of work and time! I could stand to be more organized.

I’m as sold as I need to be on St. Olaf’s but I do need to show interest and I haven’t yet.

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A lot of the schools you are looking at are more interested in you the person than the things you’ve achieved by 18. To me, that’s a great quality. Embrace that you are a work in process and you will find a great fit school. Good luck!


Macalester, College of Wooster and Beloit leap to mind.

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