My son is a good student. 1400 SAT, 3.96 GPA, 4.37 Adj GPA. He is undecided on major, but drawn to Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering, and Cognitive/Neuroscience. He is a good writer and a highly sensitive young man. To my mind he still has some exploring to do, so I am drawn to LAC, and the Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) approach at this time.
The goal is not to have any significant debt at the end of undergrad. Personally, I love Whitman, but suspect they will not offer much in the way of merit or need.
What are the salient differences between these institutions, philosophy, experience, and aid packages?
I can provide just some very basic info on W&M (S was highly interested) and LMU (D attends). Obviously, completely different geographic locales and physical campus. LMU (my D attends there) is Jesuit and does have the Jesuit philosophy, in practice that comes through in philosophy and culture and not in strong religious presence or pressure. W&M doesn’t have a religious affiliation, it has a strong palpable culture of history and tradition. Both have friendly students, I believe W&M has a more intellectual/academic vibe. W&M does not award much merit aid and is a hard admit for OOS, although your S has great stats! My D received a good merit aid package at LMU, with 3.7/29 ACT.
I’m not sure that either of these is particularly known for those two specific areas although W&M is very strong for pre med/grad school (not that LMU isn’t, but W&M has great stats here). That said, if you sense that your S will be exploring and you like the LAC philosophy, well neither are a true by definition LAC I believe, but, my D at LMU, has definitely explored, added majors and minors, this has definitely been a large part of her very positive LMU experience.
LAC v Jesuit is an overarching question. If he pursues engineering, the LACs, and St Mary’s have 3+2 programs. USD and LMU I think are 4 year programs, but don’t offer aero engineering (typically the provided by large Universities).
St Mary’s has accepted him and is already offering generous merit money, but their 3+2 is least favorite. But it gets high praise in CTCL…