Request suggestions for LAC matches -- also, chance me for Williams and Swarthmore!

Hi! I’m a rising senior interested in majoring in pure mathematics, potentially double majoring in theatre, and going to grad school for pure math. I also want a strong grounding in English/history/logic/philosophy/etc., so I would like to apply to several liberal arts colleges (LACs) that have good math and theatre majors. (I’m also applying to research universities, but this post is about LACs.)

Anyone have suggestions for match schools in the Northeast that are co-ed liberal arts colleges with good math and theatre?

I would also appreciate estimates on my chances of getting into Williams and Swarthmore (which are already on my list), though I understand that admissions are very unpredictable for such competitive places.

About me:

Academics -
SAT - 800 math, 790 EBRW (one attempt!)
APs - Environmental Science - 5
Statistics - 5
World History - 5
Calculus AB - 5
Physics C: Mechanics - 5
English Lang Comp - 4
U.S. History - 3 (Should I report this one?)

4.0 unweighted GPA
4.77 weighted GPA

  • I go to a science and math magnet school that has us do a hefty research project throughout senior year. I believe mine is the first to be centered on math. Project won't be done until May, but by the time applications are due I might be able to give a description of it. In addition to having 2 class periods focused on this project, I'm taking 4 APs this coming year.
  • Won an award through an essay contest associated with a massive open online course from MIT.
  • Got accepted to a math summer program at another major university -- the program had to be heavily modified because YA KNOW, but now I have a note/rec letter with that university's letterhead that confirms I got in.

Asian (Indian) LGBTQ+ girl. Not first gen.


  • Drama - Involved throughout high school. Acted in 6 productions, did tech for 1. Am secretary for 2020-21. Got awards at a theatre festival attended by schools from my part of the state.
  • Cofounded an LGBTQ+ club and co-led it for its first year. Will be helping supervise new leaders this coming year so that they can gain experience and, in turn, help the next leaders. ("The republic learns to move on... it outlives me when I'm gone..." Hamilton on the brain, sorry.)
  • Volunteered at the library for 6 summers. Have to check the hour total but definitely >100.
  • Am active in local causes and have contacted or spoken in person to representatives at all levels of government.
  • I participate in a mock state legislature. (No affiliation with real legislature.)
  • Am in math honor society.

Thanks for reading and any suggestions!

With respect to your interest in pursuing math, you may be interested in a Princeton Review sampling, “Great Schools for Mathematics Majors,” in which Northeastern LACs such as Haverford, Amherst, Williams, Hamilton and Bowdoin appear. For additional schools to consider based on their strength in theatre, look into Vassar, Skidmore and Connecticut College; Hamilton’s theatre facilities should be seen.

What math will you complete by the time you graduate from high school?

If you will be very advanced (i.e. courses beyond single variable calculus or calculus BC before high school graduation), pay close attention to the breadth and depth of upper level math courses offered at each college.

Whether or not you are highly advanced in math, a good college for pure math should have upper level math offerings in areas like:

  • Real and complex analysis
  • Algebra and number theory
  • Geometry and topology
  • Logic and foundations
  • Numerical analysis
  • Other topics

Some pure math PhD programs are said to be very picky about which colleges they consider good for preparing math majors for PhD study. But it can be hard for a high school student to find out which colleges are seen as “good” in this context and which are not. Posts like suggest that most LACs may be seen disadvantageously in this context, but this is more anecdotal than anything else.

Also, you can compare math programs by popularity through IPEDS. Williams, for example, graduated 23 general math “first majors” in a recent year:

Regarding preparation for graduate school, liberal arts college students can enhance their exposure to advanced topics in mathematics through options such as a Budapest semester or an REU, or both.

Can’t speak to theater but take a look at St. Olaf. It is strong in math. Given your strong stats, it could be a good safety for you and you’d likely get good merit aid as well.

While WIlliams and Swarthmore are excellent choices for math reaches, my first thought as to the best LAC for math would be Harvey Mudd. You should also look at Carleton - their math department is excellent.

If you are interested in attending a women’s only college, Brin Mawr has an excellent math program as well, and it probably a match/high match for you.

Though it’s possible they may not represent strict criteria, note that the OP has requested suggestions for coeducational liberal arts colleges in the Northeast.

Take a look at Union. It’s one of the few LACs that has an engineering school and strong STEM.

Lafayette may be a good choice, too. It definitely has many of the math classes mentioned by ucbalumnus in post #2. It has a great campus and Easton, PA could be considered northeast.

@merc81 True, but HMC and Carleton are, at least IMO, worthwhile expanding the list.

As a Midwesterner, I consider the Philly area to be “NE”, so Brin Mawr is, to me, the NE…

Hi everyone! Thank you for your helpful advice, suggestions, and resources.
I realize “Northeast” was a little vague. Roughly, I mean: NC, VA, MD, DE, PA, NJ, NY, and New England. I can expand a little beyond that but would rather not.

Appreciate the suggestion of Harvey Mudd, which does indeed appear to be stellar at math, but California is just too far out of the area I’m looking at. It’s also a reach (which I already have) and it doesn’t seem to focus as much as I’d like on theatre or humanities/social studies.

Given your interest in theater, I would add Wesleyan to your list. I’m not sure how strong their math department is, but it is outstanding for theater, music, and film. It’s definitely LGBTQ+ friendly.

When researching offerings in math departments, @galileofigaro, I recommend you also look in at physics curricula, in which courses in interesting topics such as mathematical physics and general relativity may be offered without mandatory physics prerequisites.

The OP stated wanting to do pure math.

For applied topics, there could also be math-heavy courses offered under statistics, computer science, industrial engineering / operations research, or economics, if those are separate departments (at some smaller colleges, the math department may include some of these other areas).

@gotham_mom Thanks for bringing Wesleyan to my attention. I see they have some notable theatre alumni!
I checked out Wesleyan’s math major and their style (focused on pure math blended with theoretical comp sci, and – according to an anecdotal 2009 CC thread – very collaborative) appeals to me. I’m not sure how well it prepares students for PhD though. Anyone have any insights? @ucbalumnus ?

This is their undergrad course list: . They have a grad program as well and it looks like undergrads can take some grad courses ( ).

It looks like this list of courses covers many of the usual pure math subject areas (real analysis, complex analysis, abstract algebra, linear algebra, logic, set theory, geometry, topology, number theory), though you may want to check how frequently each course is offered (see!wesmaps_page.html?crse_list=MATH&offered=Y for this coming academic year).

Note that Wesleyan appears in this Princeton Review ranking of top LGBTQ-friendly colleges:

@galileofigaro Congratulations on a very strong record achievement in a range of areas. Williams math department is unique in that it is a larger department than Swarthmore but with the close knit support and hands on teaching in the LAC context. It is also noted for its teaching, has received several awards from the American Mathematical Society for its innovative and student centered teaching approach. This also means Williams attracts a disproportionate number of math majors which makes admissions for top math students particularly competitive; however, your background is very compelling and your interest in drama makes you a good fit for Williams which also has an emphasis on drama and theatre. As a result, you will stand out among the applicants as someone who will thrive on campus and bridge the math and arts departments.

Bard could also be worth a look, but my guess. I really don’t know about their math program.

Thank you, everyone!!