Loren Pope and Midwest LACs

<p>Looking at Midwest schools, we keep seeing "Centre College" and "Wabash College" as two small LACs that seem to have excellent academic reputations, frequent placement on "best" lists plus Loren Pope's mentions, but little CC buzz. Seem like great schools for someone looking for a small rural LAC, but we're finding little review commentary aside from that one unreliable student review web-site. Anyone have any better-formed opinions whether the accolades are warranted? Beloit, Lawrence, St Olaf, Knox, Kalamazoo, etc seem to get much more CC coverage.</p>

<p>And, is Loren Pope's book still an accurate portrayal of his selection of LACs?</p>

<p>Loren Pope died at the age of 98 in 2008, so his selection hasn't changed recently. ;) </p>

<p>I think the colleges in in Pope's "Colleges That Change Lives" list (sometimes called the CTCL schools here) are great but I also think it is good to read his books and think about the characteristics of the colleges he has praised rather than thinking about the specific colleges he listed. I think that this is what he wanted - not to say "here is a list of the greatest schools ever" but to say that there are great schools out there that you haven't heard of, schools that are not that difficult to be admitted to but provide absolutely top-notch educations.</p>

<p>We wouldn't have looked at Southwestern Univ in Georgetown, Texas, without the CTCL endorsement. We had a great visit. It is a wonderful school.</p>

<p>Wabash College: It's that rarest of breeds, a men's college. It's teeny, tiny, 850 males, stuck in a tiny town in the middle of the Indiana cornfields. Greek life is huge: 52% of students belong to a fraternity and apparently a majority of them live in fraternity houses. If that's not all one big recipe for testosterone poisoning, I don't know what is. But hey, to each his own.</p>

<p>Centre College: Is Kentucky in the Midwest? I don't usually think of it that way. A bit bigger than Wabash (about 1200 students) and coed.</p>

<p>Academically I've heard generally positive things about both schools, but I couldn't give you specifics.</p>

<p>S was seriously considering Wabash. Yes, it's in Crawfordsville (small), but within 30-45 minutes both of Purdue and of Indianapolis. It's not 10,000 miles from anywhere....</p>

<p>Wabash sends a very impressive % of their men onto graduate school. They take an intense interest in each student, and their students are very involved in college ECs. We attended their Top 10 day and were impressed. We were also impressed with how personal the profs were. They appeared very interested and involved with the lives of their students.</p>

<p>They also have a LOT of merit money, including some full tuition scholarships from their Lilly Endowment. When we were looking (5 years ago), they were also straightforward with a matrix, so you knew the minimum merit money you could expect. In addition, there were other competitive merit scholarships. I believe they either met, or close to, 100% of need. At that time, except for Notre Dame, Wabash gave the most scholarship $$ in Indiana.</p>

<p>I remembered the Greek % as being higher than 52% (post 2). We were told by both past alums and the adcom that it was best to go Greek. They indicated that the Greek activities were inclusive of the entire campus. I attended a fairly Greek LAC close to Wabash, and I found this to be true at my school. I don't think having a Greek presence is necessarily bad.</p>

<p>I do think they have an excellent academic reputation, and I think it is deserved. The size and atmosphere isn't for everyone, but Wabash does many good things.</p>

<p>Centremom needs to join in here. She has first hand knowledge of Centre College.
My S was accepted, and online, on paper, it looks like a great school But, we haven't visited yet.</p>

<p>I agree with MidwestMom that it is more important to consider Pope's criteria for "colleges that change lives", as opposed to the colleges on his list.</p>

<p>As for "CC buzz" (CCB), I think that you will find very little of it for almost any CTCL or CTCL-type college, because the criteria for CCB is about 180 degrees from the criteria for CTCL schools. It seems to me that the criteria for CCB is elitism, reputation and exclusiveness; none of which ranked highly for any of Pope's colleges. Pope wrote his book (and other articles) specifically to counter the arguments for attending CCB schools; that there is more to a quality college, such as, "... a familial sense of communal enterprise that gets students heavily involved in cooperative rather than competitive learning, and a faculty of scholars devoted to helping young people develop their powers, mentors who often become their valued friends." (Why</a> These Schools | Colleges That Change Lives).</p>

<p>I have nothing against CCB colleges, but don't expect them to share much in common with CTCL schools.</p>

<p>My DS is not a jock, not a Republican nor any of the other things that Princeton Review will say about Wabash, but it has been his number one dream school since he was a sophomore. In addition to amazing merit aid, the school has an intense academic environment that continues to drive creative and successful careers. It is a true liberal-arts college, with only 20 or so majors. Surprisingly, 1 in 8 graduates attain the title of President or CEO of a company. What is more impressive is the fact that the students don't necessarily go in with the top grades and test scores. It is a place that can take a young man that skated by with Bs in high school will work his tail off but graduate with honors. In addition to the comment about grad school, they have great rates for medical and law school. They take these young men seriously and the men are better for it. It is my S love of Wabash that lead him to basically apply to other Midwestern LACs but it is most likely Wabash where he will hang his hat for 4 years, since no other school has impressed him more. It is true that there is little buzz, but it a true hidden gem.</p>

<p>ALF, I like your term "CCB schools". </p>

<p>OP, I cannot speak to Centre and Wabash specifically, but my D looked seriously at several of the CTCL schools, and is now attending one of them. I can say that Pope's description of that school, at least, is accurate. I find his approach refreshing because it is an antidote to the obsession with prestige and rank. These schools are gems, from everything I've heard, even though they fly under the radar. </p>

<p>One other resource, if you haven't checked it out already: Get the current edition of Fiske Guide to Colleges and look up several of these schools. Then follow the "Similar Schools" sidebar to find other colleges which share CTCL characteristics, but aren't on Pope's list.</p>

<p>I looked at Wabash with DS#1 and Centre with DS#2.</p>

<p>Wabash--very impressive. I came away believing that they actually do what they promise they will. DS had an interesting talk with a history professor about the whole concept of teaching to a single-sex class. Most of the professors there came from coed schools but prefer this. Sounds like their philosophy is the week is for school and studying (and girls can be so distracting!) and the weekends are for relaxing a little. (FWIW--we live not far from Hampden-Sydney, and the boys there are not lacking in female companionship/interaction. We were at Wabash on a Monday morning and there was at least one girl working out in the gym.) It sounds like a very tight-knit, loyal group of alumni. And isn't this where Loren Pope said he wished he'd gone?</p>

<p>Centre--also very impressive (to me a little more so than to DS). Pretty school in a very cute little town (which is in a county that is no longer dry--hooray!). They guarantee (with very few conditions like passing GPA) that your kid will graduate in four years or they pay for a fifth. Lots to recommend it. And almost midwest-ish--we went straight from Centre to Miami of Ohio on that trip--not a long drive.</p>

<p>I think lack of CC buzz is probably mostly related to size. I envision most LACs at 2,000-2,500, but Centre is more like 1,200 and Wabash is under 1,000. I would have been happy to send my kids to either one. I've looked at several other CTCL schools through two college searches and I think the high praise is still warranted (DS#1 ended up at one; DS#2 decided on a larger school).</p>

<p>There's so little subjective information regarding either of these two schools, but I've noted the frequent "big greek school" description for both. What happens to the students who aren't greek material, who aren't jocks and/or type popular in HS? Wabash seems like a bad fit, probably Centre too, given that social life is probably solidly controlled by fraternities.</p>

<p>higgins2013, my daughter is seriously considering Centre. We're sold on the idea of a liberal arts education. She's applying to eight liberal arts colleges, six of them are better-known and are widely considered among the very finest LACs in the country. And then there's little Centre College. We'd be thrilled if--after all is said and done--our daughter winds up at Centre. A fabulous arts center, a beautiful, new science building, strong travel abroad program. Centre is working hard to diversify its student body. The Brown Fellow program offers eight full rides a year to remarkable students. The full ride is sweet, but the Brown fellowship also offers genorous stipends for two summers and all the faculty support you need to complete a significant Brown Fellow service project while at Centre. Outside of the Brown program, Centre offers very generous merit aid to many students. The campus is lovely, as is Danville. The autumn and spring in Kentucky is usually gorgeous, winters are pretty mild [though bitter cold does happen].
The anecdotal evidence we've gathered is that Centre students work unusually [too?] hard. [We've also heard the same thing about Davidson.] Our daughter is smart and focused, but is also seeking some balance in college.
Our only real concern about Centre is the Greek system. Just a personal bias. We're drawn to the LACs that have moved away from the Greek system. I think that about 70% on the students at Centre are Greek.
We're convinced that if our daughter ends up at Centre that she will fluorish there.</p>

<p>The social life at Wabash has a few obstacles that are bigger than fraternities. In recent years, enrollment in fraternities has been dropping. The campus already feels like a brotherhood to begin with, and more and more of the athletes just don't feel they have the time. Of the 5 guys that Ds knows personally that went to Wabash, only 2 were Greek. Of the three looking this year at his school, he is the only one that will absolutely go Greek. Yes there are fraternity parties, but they are not the big weekly blowouts like the Big Ten schools. It is more like each house has a big signature event at least once a year, then they all have big parties during Homecoming and the Monon Bell weeks. If you read through the multiple years of blogs on the websites (they have 5 or so bloggers each year) even those that are in fraternities don't mention huge bashes. In fact, the scene has mellowed since the days that we would drive up on the weekend to meet college guys when I was in high school. </p>

<p>The typical Greek guy is not what you find at Wabash. That is one school where only one or two semesters in the last few years have had the independents beating the Greeks in highest GPA. Study tables for pledges are nightly and most are held in the library.
What makes Wabash Greek system unique is that pledges live in the house immediately. Recruitment takes place starting at honors weekend when the young man is in high school and continues during the orientation week. During that time kids just live in one of the houses if they thing they are going to pledge rather than move stuff to a dorm room. At most colleges pledgeship is 6 weeks-at Wabash it is over a semester. There are huge pluses and minuses to this arrangement, and not all men that pledge stay until initiation. Also, taking girls out the mix means that "top house" has a different meaning. For my DS he is torn between two houses with very high GPAs. His friend is considering the house that seems to be filled with fun loving LARPers and gaming fanatics. Their older friend only seriously considered the house closest to the baseball field, though he decided not to pledge.</p>

<p>Question: If there is a list of "colleges that change lives," is the change always positive? Is there a list of "colleges that ruin lives."</p>

<p>
[quote]
Loren Pope died at the age of 98 in 2008, so his selection hasn't changed recently.<br>

[/quote]
</p>

<p>If it's possible for him to vote in an election and/or convert to Mormonism, it's possible he changed his list too.</p>

<p>collegealum: Too funny. You are being funny, right? LOL</p>

<p>The colleges that ruin lives are the ones that reject your high school senior...</p>

<p>"If it's possible for him to vote in an election and/or convert to Mormonism, it's possible he changed his list too."</p>

<p>Personally, I would rather see Loren Pope become a Buddhist and be reincarnated so that he could update his list here on Earth.</p>

<p>I keep wanting to click on a "like" button. :D</p>