Looking for colleges for quirky artsy S22

Both of these! A acquaintance just toured WW with her very artsy daughter and raved about it.


Both those schools have very low acceptance rates and are reaches for all. A student with stellar stats needs to regard any school with an acceptance rate in the teens or lower as a reach. Those schools will all turn away plenty of high stats kids.

I don’t particularly think of Colby or Bowdoin when I think of quirky and artsy. Bates more so. But there aren’t that many LACS that have dedicated CS majors. There are other good suggestions here which have already been mentioned, but I’m not sure many of them offer CS.

Maybe check out Lafayette and Union. Not quirky, artsy, or super outdoorsy, but they have CS I believe. Both lean a bit more preppy and Greeky, but he can find his people no doubt.

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This resource can be especially convenient for estimating costs:

Do this EFC estimator: Expected Family Contribution Calculator

Then, run each school’s net price calculators (NPCs) to get an estimate of cost of attendance (COA). NPCs may not be accurate if parents are divorced, own a business, or own real estate beyond a primary home…are any of those the case for you?

Here is Colby’s NPC:


Lots of good suggestions so far. Noting that Warren Wilson is a definite fit school, with 700 students and 67% female. As many schools you can visit the better.

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Colby has an interdisciplinary major that combines computer science and music. I don’t know much about it, but S18’s freshman year roommate participates in the program and seems to really enjoy it. Also the new Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence will work across all disciplines. S18 is CS major at Colby and has a great experience, complete with great internships. No merit at Colby, but some great FA programs. I believe someone linked the NPC above. Good luck!

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Would Brown be too much of a reach? More quirky and artsy than other Ivies and excellent CS.

I would second most of the schools mentioned and want to mention University of Vermont and Colorado College, that came up only once on this thread but would be good fits.

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I’d add Beloit to the list

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Here’s a great list that could help you - some names you’ve seen in previous posts and some others.

Start with UNC Asheville, North Carolina’s public LAC.

Then Macalester mentioned b4 - in St. Paul Great life - and will have outdoor clubs. Clark -in Worcester - so the New England you mention. St. Lawrence another.

Lots, like Middlebury, Brown, Tufts - previously mentioned.

Best Colleges for Students Who Want to Change the World (businessinsider.com)

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This is a nice list of outdoorsy colleges: The 20 Best Colleges for Outdoor Enthusiasts | Peterson's

@JBraun I also thought of Warren Wilson. If you aren’t averse to going farther afield, Western Washington University is a midsized public that also has an alternative college called Fairhaven. Located midway between Seattle and Vancouver, the natural beauty of the setting is hard to beat. If your kid applies early, there are merit scholarship for OOS students that bring the cost down.

If your EFC is in the 7-9K range, your child might qualify to apply at Berea. You have to fall below a certain income level to apply. It could be a somewhat unconventional choice. It’s tuition-free for those admitted but students are also required to work on campus a modest number of hours per week in exchange for tuition benefits. It may not be your kid’s cup of tea but it might be worth looking into. It attracts a fair number of international students.

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Regarding Warren Wilson, it doesn’t offer a computer science major, which represents a minimum requirement for schools that would be suitable for the OP’s son.


I realize that is just a matter of terminology and that students should certainly apply to a cross-section of schools based on acceptance rates, reach, range safety. This definition is pulled off of the Princeton Review Website.

A target school is one where your academic credentials ( grades , SAT or ACT scores , and class rank) fall well within the school’s average range for the most recently accepted class . There are no guarantees, but it’s not unreasonable to expect to be accepted to several of your target schools.

With a 1470 SAT score and a 4.0 unweighted GPA I believe both Middlebury and Colby fit this definition of “target” schools. I am not saying that either one of these schools are a lock and don’t turn away students with high stats. However I think this student should be reasonably optimistic about getting into a level of school like these based on high school performance.

Thanks, I am well aware of what a target school is. I think it’s misleading. Harvard is a target school because so many kids who apply have great everything. They can’t all be accepted.

On paper, this student could be optimistic.

In reality, the student’s SAT score is not close to both colleges’ 75th percentile of accepted students. Of course, he should apply, and I agree it isn’t unreasonable to think he MIGHT be accepted to those schools.

For very selective colleges remaining test optional this year, I personally would not submit a test score that isn’t well above the 50th percentile. There can be mitigating factors that might make it worth submitting though, such as for hooked students, and other scenarios.

Too many people (myself included, back in the day) make the mistake of thinking that because their stats match or exceed those of other accepted students, it might mean a better chance for them. Acceptance rate is super important when a student is considering highly selective colleges. Stats without context are just another factor in holistic admissions.


If your ‘target’ schools accept less than 10% of their applicants, it is unreasonable to expect to be accepted to several of them. They are all reaches, which means that your stats only purchase your lottery ticket, they don’t connote a reasonable chance of acceptance.

One of the biggest issues I have seen with high stats students (and their parents) is to not believe the acceptance rates that are published. If a school has a 8% acceptance rate, it would be helpful if more students and parents believed that the vast majority of applications are qualified, and that the acceptance rate is accurate for the vast majority of applicants - meaning 92% will be told ‘No’.

The only times I think students should have a reasonable expectation of a “better than expected acceptance rate, but not necessarily a lock” at a highly selective school is

  1. If that student is a recruited athlete (meaning they have been in talks with the college coach, have had a pre-read of their application, and the coach is supporting their application as long as it is submitted ED)

  2. The student is a Questbridge/Posse finalist.

  3. The student’s parent has made a multi-million dollar donation to the school and therefor the student’s application will be placed into the developmental admit selection pile.

If your target schools have an acceptance rate over 30% and you are in the top 25% in terms of stats, then yes, it is a target school the way you are defining it. But super low acceptance rates should be understood and believed. It is a reach, even if your stats are amazing. Students get accepted to reaches, it isn’t impossible - it just shouldn’t be looked at as a target with a strong likelihood.


Many of us, I’m sure, have read the horror stories of over confident kids applying to 8 or 10 schools and going 0 for. You don’t want your kid to be that kid!!


A couple others to consider would be Union and Bard. First has good merit. Bard sounds like the right vibe although I don’t associate it with CS.

I do think, with the new AI focus, the OP would be attractive to Colby. Schools create these programs to attract a certain type of student, so it could be a right time right place thing for a strong student like this.


Definitely check out Vassar for quirky and artsy. No longer a women’s college and your son would have an admissions advantage being male.


I don’t want to get into these weeds with this over a term. I wish that JBraun’s son finds a good fit and it seems like he has many great options.

If you look at my first post I certainly would advise any student to apply to a well-thought-out cross-section of schools in terms of selectivity; reach, range, and safety. Maybe it’s too much of a glass-half-full attitude but I do believe a student should be reasonably optimistic about getting into a level of school that they are more than academically qualified. Even if these schools have a low acceptance rate.

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Unfortunately, that’s not how it works these days, especially given last year’s transition to increasingly test optional. If a school accepts less than 20% or less than 10% of applicants, one should assume rejection, even if the student’s stats align with students that have been admitted recently. Having gone through this twice and having compared notes with friends and having been on CC for the last five years, there will be qualified kids who get a decent number of acceptances and there will be equally qualified kids who get shut out. I am normally a glass half full kind of person. I have also seen some of my kids’ high achieving classmates (think 4.0 unweighted, strong rigor in coursework, 99% test scores, NMF, state/national level recognition in ECs) denied or waitlisted at the likes of MIddlebury and Colby. By all mean apply to the reaches but don’t consider them targets and have a balanced list.


There’s much more than grades, rigor, and test scores. There’s EC, LORs and essays. There’s geographic, religious and racial diversity. For some schools, even high rated ones like Lafayette, there is a look at how much aid is required. No not at Mid or Colby.

Don’t forget they have their choice of far more qualified kids than just this one. They are looking to build a class so more of the same doesn’t cut it necessarily. If they have 5 kids who did medical research at a university, maybe they want the kid who plays the oboe or joined the car club or took care of his sister or raised money in a walk athon or helped a refugee family.

To build a diverse class, they need a wide range of people, not necessarily the most accomplished kids by quantity or activity type, no matter how impressive those activities are.

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