Need suggestions: Southeastern school for quirky kid who wants liberal arts

We are trying to round out the college list for S21 by adding a school closer to home (we are in the Atlanta area). S21 does not want to stay in this area - he wants to go somewhere in the Northeast (I grew up in Massachusetts, husband grew up in PA, and we have family in both places still) or in the Pac Northwest (where he’s never been). He absolutely wants to get away from Southeastern weather, and he’s also not generally a fit with a lot of the schools his peers are interested in closer to home (he is not athletic, does not like the idea of Greek life, isn’t into a rah-rah-football nor a party culture). My husband and I would like to add a school close to home to the list as a just-in-case option. What if, when the time comes, he isn’t as excited to go far from home as he thinks he would be now ? At this point, the school on his list in closest proximity to home is Dickinson, and that’s an 11 hour drive, so it doesn’t really fulfill our desire to have something on the list that would allow for a home visit once in a while.

His legacy status won’t help him at all as it is at schools that are most definitely out of his reach in terms of selectivity.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a school within about a 5 hour drive of Atlanta that might be a match? Here are some more details:
-He is generally liberal in viewpoint though he does not need to be surrounded completely with like-minded folks (yet a school that is far to the right would be an incredibly poor fit for him, and that has ruled out quite a few schools in this geographic area).

-He leans towards socially awkward - his ADHD contributes to this, I’m sure.
-Math and writing are weaknesses. He has the ADHD plus processing speed issues. He is a hard worker (but fatigues as well since he is always working harder/longer than peers, it seems).

-His main interests are history and social sciences at this point, and he wants a liberal arts school. Latin (and perhaps foreign languages in general) are a bit of a strength but not a particularly strong interest. His list is full of smaller schools for the access to professors, small discussion based classes, strong mentoring and help, etc.
-The schools on the Colleges That Change Lives list tend to be of the variety that we’re looking for, though we haven’t found any of them in the Southeast to be a fit for him in terms of cohort/culture.

-We also want an academic culture that will include other kids who are invested in the class discussions and in the community (very much want a strongly residential campus community).

-A reasonably high graduation rate is important to us as well.

Yesterday, trying yet one more time to find something, we looked again (on paper) at Rhodes, Elon, Guilford, College of Charleston, Furman, Sewanee and UNC Asheville. Then we ruled them all out again. Any culture that leans heavily towards Greek life/partying/drinking or that is especially conservative or has a cohort of kids who are comfortable in the kind of attire you’d associate with a country club is not a good match.

In terms of finances, we’ll qualify for some need based aid and will have some help from grandparents. He won’t qualify, likely, for any merit aid.
His current list is
reaches -

matches -
College of Wooster
Wheaton (MA)

probables -

Others that are on the edge for him - there is something about each that makes it not as strong a fit for him as the list above, so these ones below may not get applications in the end
Lewis and Clark
University of Puget Sound
University of Vermont

We might have added Hendrix, but Arkansas doesn’t work at this point - (it’s southern, which he doesn’t want, but it’s still over an 8 hour drive from home, so it doesn’t really fit the desire to find something closer to home).

With the above list as a proxy for what would work for him, does anyone have a suggestion for a match or probable closer to Atlanta?

Will he qualify for UGA? At any large state school, there will be many different types of students and he could find his niche among the thousands there. Same with U of South Carolina. Surprised he didnt like UNC Asheville, that seems like a good fit, but maybe UNC-W would work. At all of the schools on his list, he should expect to find substantial drinking and partying. That’s just a fact of college life.

My daughter is looking at very similar schools. Take a look at Southwestern U outside of Austin. She just loved it! Easy, quick, cheap, flight for him into AUS. If you look at Southwestern, you may as well look st Trinity in SA and St. Edward’s in Austin, too. But I think he’ll like SU best based on your description. And he would likely get merit at SU or St. Ed’s. Trinity world be a reach based on his other schools.

New College of Florida is only 7 hours… closer, I guess. I like his current list a lot.

Thank you for the suggestions so far. And if there are any glaring omissions from his list for schools outside the geographic constraint, I’d love to know as well. Whitman, for example, is a possible addition, but I don’t know that he needs more reaches, and I’d consider it to be a bit of a reach. He also has interests in politics and possibly environmental studies…and lots of interdisciplinary subjects.

Why did you rule out Guilford? That was the first one that came to mind as I read your post. (Until I got to the part where you struck it out?)

My first thought was UNC Asheville, not sure what he didn’t like. How about Eckerd in FL?

@gardenstategal I hear that! :slight_smile: While Guilford seemed like a fit in several ways, the graduation rate and retention rate were too low for my comfort. I realize those numbers are likely to be higher at the more selective schools, so I wouldn’t compare Guilford’s to Bates’ or Skidmore’s as it wouldn’t seem a fair comparison, but when I compare to Knox, Willamette, and Kalamazoo, for example, I find the Guilford numbers seem like a red flag.

Graduation Rate 4 yrs: Guilford 45%, Kzoo 82%, Knox 72%, Willamette 66%
Graduation Rate 6 yrs: Guilford 53%, Kzoo 86%, Knox 76%, Willamette 73%
Fresh to Soph Rentention: Guilford 66%, Kzoo 90%, Knox 87%, Willamette 86%

I fully admit to being picky and to potentially cutting things I shouldn’t, and I am open to being convinced to change my mind about places I’ve cut. ?

Is Florida too far? Stetson, Eckerd, Rollins good considerations. Maybe Flagler, U of Tampa as week. FSU has a fantastic deal with a first year abroad program that I think is pure gold.

College of Charleston is a great choice too but financial aid an issue. Maybe Elon.

@nichols51 , my son is a rising senior at Roanoke College in Salem, VA. It’s about a 7 hour drive from Atlanta. He is shy, quiet and not into Greek life at all. Is not an athlete. He found his people there and has done very well socially and academically. We are from NJ. According to him, the political vibe is right down the center. He received very generous merit aid. Six year graduation rate around 67%.

@roycroftmom, UGA is popular here, for sure, but not a match for him. I get what you’re saying about the different types of kids to be found at larger schools. I definitely see how that can work for some as they can find their niche wherever. It’s just not a match for the way this kid operates so we’re definitely set on a smaller school for him.

Yes, for sure we expect drinking and partying at pretty much any college. It’s more an issue of how predominant a part of the culture it is in combination with whether the cohort is enough of a match for him. He’ll be fine making his own choices about drinking (whatever those choices may be) among a cohort that is predominantly accepting. My undergrad had a definite reputation for drinking, partying, fraternity culture, etc., and I figured out what worked for me and consider that process a part of growing up, so we’re not at all expecting him to find a college where this doesn’t exist nor are we naive to the fact that he may choose to drink. But we do believe there is variation among colleges in terms of the culture and how well he’ll fit.

Some of the reasons we cut UNC Asheville from the list - the graduation rate (same as the discussion above related to Guilford…UNC Asheville 4 yr 39%, 6 yr 62%) and also the fact that he is looking for a school with a strong residential community - not a lot of commuting students, not a huge percentage living off campus. Additionally he wants a school that isn’t too strongly dominated by students from only one state, so the fact that only 11% of the students are from outside North Carolina makes this school not a great match for what he’s looking for. There certainly seems to be a lot to like about UNC Asheville…just not a fit in this case for S21.

Loving getting so many suggestions including several I haven’t looked at before - will check them out. Thank you!

With the exception of Bates, all the schools on his current list will draw largely from the surrounding region. Few travel from California, for example, for Dickinson or Willamette. Graduation rates are largely a function of the student body’s wealth, as finances are the main reason students drop out. If that doesn’t apply to you, that may not matter much.

Trinity College and Connecticut College in Ct?

Take a good look at Eckerd I think it might be a good fit for your son.

My kid went from MN to Dickinson, and it worked fine. Sometimes schools give more merit to attract a geographically diverse group, too. I think Willamette would have been a great choice for my kid, too, although for various reasons it didn’t end up on her list.

Conn College isn’t really a fit for a quirky kid.

Warren Wilson, perhaps?

Centre College? We did not make it to visit, but know faculty there and we had researched it heavily for my LAC kid. Our impression is, Centre overlaps a lot with Beloit, Wooster type schools.

Georgia College & State University (public LAC) suitable?

Graduation rates mostly reflect admission selectivity, student/parent finances, and financial aid. The first two are selection effects, while only the last is a treatment effect of the school (but can be addressed directly by avoiding unaffordable schools). Your student’s personal academic credentials will be the best predictor of whether he will graduate and in 8 semesters; choosing an affordable school will reduce the risk of failing to graduate due to running out of money.