preppy colleges

what are some preppy colleges both in the US and abroad? How would I be able to find this out on my own, without visiting (because of the situation with COVID)? Nice campuses with old buildings, access to cultural activities like art, concerts, and performances, good academics without ruthless competition or endless studying, some parties here and there, that sort of thing.

In terms of colleges at which students from private-school backgrounds may be prevalent, this list ranks schools by their concentration of Groton alumni (2015–2019, 5 or more matriculants):

  1. Scripps
  2. Hamilton
  3. Bowdoin
  4. UChicago
  5. Georgetown
  6. Harvard
  7. Dartmouth
  8. Brown
  9. Williams
  10. Middlebury
  11. Trinity
  12. Princeton
  13. Yale
  14. Tufts
  15. Columbia
  16. Northwestern
  17. MIT
  18. St. Andrews
  19. Boston College
  20. Duke
  21. Stanford
  22. NYU
  23. UNC–CH
  24. UVA
  25. Cornell

Though many of these colleges are too academic to appear decidedly preppy, you might nonetheless find that a few match your general criteria.

For additional suggestions, look into Washington & Lee, St. Lawrence, Miami (OH) and Elon.

@libsea I would like you to know you have just described dozens of elite colleges.

I do understand where you are coming from, I also never toured campuses before applying, but surely you have an idea of the kind of environment you would like. And I do mean more specific than what you have provided.

Are you into liberal arts (i.e. a broad based education) or do you want a preprofessional education (i.e. zeroing in on a particular field from the get go?

Do you want a traditional college campus life or the city campus experience?

What extracurriculars and fields of study are you interested in?

Fit, which is one of the most important factors in admissions, is what I am looking for with these questions.

If you narrow this down, then you can figure out a reasonable list of reaches, and even figure out a couple you might consider for early application, where your chance of admission is highest.

Through this process I was able to narrow my college choices down, and receive admission early to the college of my choice.

This was without ever visiting a campus.

Of course, luck played a significant role, as it does with applying to all elite colleges, but I do think fit helped.

Feel free to PM me with further questions about narrowing down options.

Google maps is your friend.

Check out Rhodes College.
Gorgeous campus with beautiful old buildings. Near a lake, where I assume you could sail. One of the “Colleges That Change Lives” because it invests in high-potential” students, not just those who have already proven to be high achievers. Very involved professors. Preppy feel. Very collaborative culture of nice kids. (An astoundingly high percentage of students choose to do community service.) Study abroad programs. Merit $.
Very well known in the South but not that well known by NY crowds you might be seeking to avoid in college.
Check out the website and let us know your thoughts…

Some views of the gorgeous campus:

Here’s some info on studying History at Rhodes:

Check out Washington & Lee. Great school, and does not get much preppier.

I’ve noticed that they are a Presbyterian school. Is that a part of the education? I’m not religious at all and while I don’t mind being around religious people and find religion fascinating, I don’t want to have to take religious classes or follow religious guidelines or anything. I guess I should also clarify that by preppy I mean more like New England summer camps and less neon and pearls if that makes sense, but I don’t mind the latter too much either, and realize that there can be a bit of an overlap.

Most of the oldest colleges (including the Ivies) started out as religious seminaries but are secular now.

@libsea you seem to be describing a lot of New England LACs. Of course, these generally fit within the hidden ivies. I actually attend an ivy (Dartmouth) which seems to fit within what you ask as well.

Is it just because people. you don’t deem good company from your schools go to these colleges that you are averse of them, or is there any other reason you don’t want to apply to these schools?

Hobart William Smith should check all the boxes. Very preppy, on a lake, with a sailing team.

Connecticut College definitely has a preppy element and also has sailing.

Dartmouth and Bowdoin are more selective but fit the description too.


I imagine a college named after a major figure in the Confederacy would be very conservative and maybe even support it? I’m more of a liberal and not white. Other than the politics, it seems like a good school.

by “it” I mean the confederacy

Am considering Hobart William Smith and Connecticut College. will look into the other two.

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@libsea I think I get what you mean. I will say that Dartmouth is the smallest ivy, (about 6300 students, including about 4400 undergrads) and our undergrad focus (unlike some other ivies) does mean we have the close community, small class sizes and great rapport with profs like the LACs as well as the strong research presence of a research uni.

It is also a pretty New England campus, and we have sailing on a lake not too far from here. Being a Dartmouth student is a very campus based lifestyle, with most things to do being on campus. Not that that’s a problem here, there’s always a variety of stuff going on.

Unlike many other elite colleges, we also have a collaborative and quirky rather than cutthroat community atmosphere.

But I’m not going to lie to you. We are still an ivy, and there are expectations that come with being part of a highly accomplished set of peers, and being taught by highly accomplished professors. The social atmosphere here is definitely better than what you said of your school, and I think you’d probably enjoy the academics more too, but there will be weeks where work piles up. You will have to put in a lot of effort into every assignment because that is what is expected of you.

I personally love it here, and think that is worth the cost, but I totally understand if you want to chill out more in college, especially given your high school background. With that in mind, allow me to suggest Wesleyan university and Reed college.

Wesleyan is a small, reputable LAC on a pretty New England campus, in Connecticut, and from what I hear definitely has a more “take the time to enjoy in college and discover yourself” vibe than the ivies.

Reed college is also on a pretty campus but in Oregon, and has the same vibe as I described for Wesleyan, but to a greater degree. From what I hear, that is their focus. It is also tiny (and a close knit community), so you’ll really have the summer camp feel you said you were looking for.

Both should be preppy enough to meet your standards, have pretty good academics, are decently reputable, and are selective enough such that your peers will likely be accomplished, passionate people (which, to my mind, is the purpose of going to a preppy college in the first place).

You have landed on the theme of Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep, @libsea:

whose students the author has already described as having aspects of “excellent sheep,”

Though some of these characterizations may themselves ring of superficiality, these excerpts nonetheless key into an essential topic in higher education.

@Gogreen19 thanks for the insight, I really appreciate it. I think you summed it up well: an accomplished and passionate group of people without the snobbery and cutthroat competition that sometimes comes with it.

@merc81 wow. I just took a look at the book on amazon, and I think it definitely captures and expands on the thoughts that I’ve been having throughout this college searching process. I find the best of the “sheep” to be some of the most irritating and most difficult to communicate with. It’s like talking to a wall. The closest friend I made in high school transferred out because she just couldn’t handle the culture, and there were moments where I almost transferred out myself. This thread has turned out to be much more thought-provoking and deep than I thought it would lol.

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@CaliMex do you know if there actually is a sailing program at Rhodes, club or varsity? I can’t seem to find any information about it online, so I guess not? I also asked one of the admissions counselors who wasn’t too sure about it

I don’t know if there is a formal sailing program at Rhodes… I just know there is a lake nearby