preppy colleges

I’d also research URichmond and Davidson College. Davidson appears to have club sailing, not sure about Richmond.

In addition to those mentioned above:

St Mary’s of Maryland
Rhode Island
Roger Williams
St John’s (Annapolis)
Washington College (MD)

If you might be interested in archival information, *The Official Preppy Handbook/i named preppy colleges under “The College of Your Choice”:

The Top Ten

U of Virginia
St. Lawrence
Lake Forest
Sweet Briar
Pine Manor

The Runners Up

Colorado College
Trinity (CT)
Connecticut College
Wheaton (MA)

(Listed in order of included SAT profiles.)

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thanks for the lists! I’ve looked into some of those schools and will look into the others. If anyone has any personal experience with these schools, I’d love to hear about it too

I think if you narrow it down a bit and ask about some of the schools that most interest you and what you would like to know about them, it would be easier to reply. did any seem to interest you out of the ones you looked at so far?

I attended a zoom info session for Hollins a few weeks ago and up until then, I wasn’t really considering any single sex schools. But during the session, the students seemed really happy about being in a women-only environment. They mentioned how they felt safer and empowered, and while that sounded great my reservations still remained. Single-sex environments are not reflective of the “real world” and I don’t want to come out of college and not be used to working around men. I also don’t want to go somewhere where it’s either extremely conservative or extremely liberal, and I feel like a single sex school would be more likely to be one of those. Also my parents are not too keen on the idea. So I guess I’d like to hear opinions on the vibes at Hollins, Sweet Briar, Bryn Mawr, and Smith College for now, and just overall whether a women only college is worth looking further into

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I’d also like to ask about the social scene at Hobart William Smith. Where are they separate and connected, and what dominates the social scene? Greek life? Athletics? Something else? What’s the typical background of an incoming student? what do students do for fun? Anything an official college rep wouldn’t mention?

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HWS maintains aspects of the once much more common concept of coordinate education. Other remaining examples consist of Richmond/Westhampton, Saint John’s/Benedict and Yeshiva/Stern.

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Reed grad here and it is the most un-preppy school I can possibly imagine (referring to the preppy handbook). I expect that caused no end of amusement at Reed (although they do have a sailing team).

Of the top of my head, of the western schools which I am familiar with, the ones that seem most “preppy” as opposed to “elite” would be places like Gonzaga, Santa Clara, and SMU. Basically schools that attract a lot of wealthy fashionable kids without being super elite and selective.

I can’t comment on any of the east coast schools.

You may have a different definition.

If you want a big sailing club, the UW in Seattle has a really big sailing program. Probably the biggest on the west coast.

The PH also included “for your complete edification, a list of the ten least Preppy colleges—all of them superb institutions academically, but none of them up to the standards of Prep”:

Out of the League

U Chicago
Sarah Lawrence
U Wisconsin
U Michigan

(Listed in order of included SAT profiles.)

You may want to check out Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. I think it fits your criteria, and has a sailing club:

I’m a big fan of Hollins. I have two close friends who graduated from Hollins, one an art history major and the other a creative writing major. Both now work for non-profits in DC and were very happy with their Hollins educations. My sister nearly attended as well but ultimately committed to UNC Asheville, which was a cheaper in-state option.

Bryn Mawr is the most intellectual of the four, Hollins prides itself on its quirky/weird students and unpretentious atmosphere, Sweet Briar is the most traditional of the bunch, and Smith is somewhere in between Bryn Mawr and Hollins in vibe.

Both Smith and Bryn Mawr are very strong in the sciences as well as the humanities. Smith is one of the few LACs with an engineering program, and Bryn Mawr is unusual in having PhD programs. Hollins and Sweet Briar are more lopsided academically and and skew toward the arts and humanities. Hollins in particular has a significantly higher percentage of students majoring in the arts than any of the other three.

Over the arc of this thread it looks as though you are looking for ‘old-school’ more than ‘preppy’- the kind of school where most students are interested in learning / getting a solid education and evolving towards independent adulthood- with a little silliness and fun and good spirits along the way.

If so, then I suggest researching the original ‘Seven Sisters’ (rip Radcliffe, and particularly considering Vassar), and adding W&M, URichmond, Hamilton, and (if you have the stats) Trinity College Dublin (including their Dual Degree programs), Durham University, St Andrews (UK), Edinburgh, Oxbridge.

It seems as if you are in a highly competitive prep school, and the challenge there is that the weight of the name grows exponentially until by spring of Sr it seems as if it is the whole point of life- and yet a few mere months later it’s only a small data point. On a human level I suggest a two-tier strategy: first, resolutely, and consistently talking up colleges that are safeties and matches for you- using specifics: “right now I’m really into the X program at Y college” “I just discovered that Z college has this amazing study abroad specialty”. Never, ever own to having a ‘favorite’ or even share your list. Just keep your own counsel and let them keep guessing. Your reward will come next spring, when you can make your choice based on your own preferences, without worrying about how it will look/what people will say. If you are planning to be a parent one day this is great practice! Second, look outside the mainstream of where your peers are looking.- there are probably a dozen or so colleges that are lots are applying to, and maybe another 10 or so will round out the set! so, look more broadly.

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@Camasite: You can see to what extent Reed’s full entry in the PH — which, as with the rest of the book, counters formal explication — comports with your experiences there:


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Yeah. Some kid showing up with a preppy blue blazer and loafers in the 1980s would have been laughed off campus.

Check out Rice–a school that is probably not on your radar screen owing to its location near the Texas Gulf Coast. It boasts many of the features you desire (beautiful, pastoral campus; “old” buildings [similar in vibe to those at UCLA, Stanford, and Scripps]; intelligent and inquisitive students) while avoiding many of the pitfalls of some traditionally “preppy” schools (e.g., snobbery; an instrumental, stat-padding, purely pre-professional approach to education; lack of diversity; etc.).

While Rice is located in a major city, its feel is completely different from that of a northern urban campus like Columbia or Penn: It sits in a safe, leafy, tree-lined, and very walkable neighborhood, allowing it to combine the relaxed feel of a suburban or exurban campus with the access to a rich array of cultural activities that comes with a big-city campus.

@collegemom3717 you mentioned a few schools in the UK, including oxbridge. Do you have any personal experience or second hand experience to share on those schools? I’m looking at Oxford specifically at the moment since it’s the only one that I actually know anything about, and I’m not considering Cambridge. While the campus is gorgeous and the idea of formal dinners and black tie balls sounds fantastic, I don’t know if the loads of studying and work is worth it. From what I’ve heard, university students in the UK put in on average 40 hours a week, while college students here are doing about 20 hours a week. But then there’s also the shorter terms and longer breaks. As well as the lower drinking age.

The preppy handbook is being brought up a lot. How accurate would you say the information is, considering the fact that it’s nearly 40 years old?


@collegemom3717 I just saw your post in the other thread which answered some of the questions I just asked here, thanks for they help on both threads!