Looking for colleges for quirky artsy S22

Any suggestions for colleges to consider for a quirky outdoorsy socially conscious musician? He’s interested in both computer science and music, so a decent computer science program is a must. 4.0 unweighted GPA so far and will earn an Associate degree concurrently with high school graduation. 730V, 740M on SAT. He’s not interested in Greek life or sports …mostly just likes the mountains and hanging out with theater friends. Not a big city kid, prefer a small LA college with good financial aid, but also open to bigger schools if it’s the right fit. Any ideas? I thought Reed sounded like a good fit, but it’s a bit far from home. Also Colby, Bowdoin, and Middlebury, though those are all reaches, so looking for some “target” and “safety” schools.

You would have to check the CS programs and financial aid but Bates, Skidmore Vassar, Dickinson, Muhlenberg come to mind quickly.


LA like Liberal Arts? Los Angeles? Louisiana?

What state are you in and how far from home does he want to go? He has great stats. University of Vermont?

You could look somewhere like Warren Wilson. I’m not sure how their computer science program is but you can’t get too much more outdoorsy.

Thanks for the suggestions. He looked into Bates, but they don’t have a CS major. We’ve never even heard of Dickinson or Muhlenberg, so will definitely check those out. And silly Gen Xer that I am, I was under the mistaken impression that Vassar was a women’s only college lol!
Edited to add- LA for Liberal arts. He would love to be in New England or Mid Atlantic, but open to other locations if the right fit. Also looking at Carleton and Davidson, but again, those are all highly selective so need to help him identify some more target schools.

I was going to say Muhlenberg and Skidmore but happy1 beat me to it! I would also suggest University of Rochester, Connecticut College and Bard.

Also, you mention good financial aid. Are you looking for need-based aid? Or are you looking for merit? Do you have a budget in mind?


I guess both merit and need based, preferably. I’m guesstimating our EFC would be between $7K-$9K based on FAFSA estimates, not sure about CSS. We do prefer to avoid or minimize loans if possible. He doesn’t really care about prestige at all, as long as the school is the right fit, so I’m wondering if maybe a second or third tier school might give him a great financial aid package.

Thanks for all the suggestions…this is very helpful! Going to check them all out

Oberlin, Denison, St. Lawrence University, College of Wooster, Skidmore (I guess a lot of us thought of this one), Quinnipiac, McDaniel College, Hofstra.


Wesleyan would make a stronger choice for both computer science and music than any of the schools you listed in your original post. Moreover, the influence of varsity athletics isn’t particularly prominent at Wesleyan.

Hamilton has alternative sides to its campus, with the south side generally known for its more individualistic students, with whom your son could choose to live and dine. Its computer science major is reputedly the most rigorous on campus. Hamilton’s flexible curriculum is especially suitable for students with diverse interests.

Carleton generally deemphasizes athletics in relation to academics. It offers an excellent computer science program. Your son would be likely to find it desirably quirky.


Maybe Knox College.

Possibly UNC-Asheville.

Warren Wilson just keeps popping up for me, probably because we have a college tour scheduled. I’m afraid it might be a little tooo outdoorsy for my D22 (also quirky and artsy), but it has a creative writing major and that is her focus.


Agree with Hamilton and Carleton, plus Grinnell. My son sounds similar and those LACs have solid CS programs. Good luck!

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It would probably be worth your while to look at one or two of the good college guide books such as Fiske, Princeton Review, Insiders Guide and read up on the options. You can either buy them or try the library or HS guidance office.

Seconding Grinnell based on the strength of its CS program. Its flexible curriculum also might appeal to your son.

I concur with Skidmore as well based on the strength of its arts programs.

Oberlin, known for its classical music programs, matches the majority of the criteria in the original post.

As a group, these schools are somewhat less selective than those I suggested up-topic.


Muhlenburg is a nice school, but I don’t really see it for an outdoorsy student. Very compact campus with little space to spare (dorms are crammed in cheek to jowl) surrounded by a mostly in-town residential neighborhood on one side and mixed businesses/houses on another (from what I remember), in a kind of post-industrial region with lots of urban sprawl. The campus is attractive, in its way, but the footprint is small with no place to expand. I think an outdoorsy student wouldn’t have very easily-accessible ways to connect with the natural world other than a few nice trees on campus. Theatre is great, though!

ETA, I haven’t visited Skidmore, but it seems to check a lot of boxes. If your son does decide to pursue it, he should really show the school a lot of love. I have read numerous times that Skidmore, to a greater degree than many schools, considers the applicant’s level of interest as a critical part of the application. It seems that much of its selectivity seems to be based on protecting yield by accepting students who will most likely choose Skidmore. Seems to me that its GPA and test score middle range is a little lower than other schools that are similar in selectivity, and prioritizing students with clear demonstrated interest/fit over some higher-scoring applicants with less interest may explain this.

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Eckerd, Oberlin, Wooster, St Olaf…

I mentioned Muhlenberg because it has a very strong theater department and offers merit aid.

One struggle with the question is you are looking for a LAC but most would not be considered strong for CS and you same it’s a must.
Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Carleton, Williams and Middlebury show up in one ranks top 50. So all the schools mentioned are below.

From what cs People write on the website though is that except for 3 or 5 schools like CMU where you go doesn’t matter.

You’ve got lots of feedback but you say the CS must be decent. That’s what yiu have to decide. What u consider decent.

Thanks for all the helpful feedback. You guys are awesome! I’d never even heard of some of these colleges, so this is VERY helpful and I will make sure he takes a look at each of the schools you suggested. We’ve read through college guidebooks and online, but the sheer number of colleges is SO overwhelming…most of the students at his high school attend local community colleges or state colleges, so not even the counselors are very familiar with schools outside of the area.

That’s true of many counselors, especially at large schools.

Not that it’s the same Abd it won’t let me put the link but if you Google most liberal colleges + niche u Will see. Many considered liberal will be socially conscious.

As you want a smaller college you can google liberal arts colleges plus niche and research or look at their rankings. There’s so many great schools from Kalamazoo and Macalester to Allegheny and Flagler that could work, Will have great aid and yep many have never heard of but they provide strong education. Anything too 80, maybe 100 will be fine.

Good luck

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Not sure if you would consider it too far away but Colorado College would be a good fit. It checks off the academics and certainly does if he likes the outdoors and the mountains.

With your son’s stats I would consider Middlebury and Colby target schools. Bowdoin maybe more of a reach. Also if he really can find a clear number one choice, Early Decision I believe would put all three within range.

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