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Thought we could have some fun and help us figure out the prototypical student usually associated with a college list as an indication of culture at some of these schools. Don’t cheat and look at my other postings.

D22 has the following in her list:
College of Holy Cross

Assume she has done a lot of homework and research.

What are my D22’s likely profile, field of study and other preferences?

Any others she might love based on loving the above?

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Since this is a parlor game, moving to the café.

Hmmm, the same student who loves Brown and Wesleyan also loves Georgetown and Wash U. To me, this seems like a mash up of two different students.

Obviously high grades, probably high test scores, but maybe not because of COVID.
Maybe did IB diploma? Or has taken AP Gov, APUSH, AP art, and AP FL of some sort.
Plays a sport.
Wants to major in political science or double major in something related to art. But also perhaps career oriented, wants to go to Big 4 accounting or a management consulting.
Is from the South.

Am I close, lol?


At first glance, confused was my impression.

“Confused Catholic” ?

P.S. Neuroscience/Psychology/Religion ?

Quite close. Sports is the only one not really applicable; actually dislikes sports.

Also Catholic as Publisher surmised.

Undecided among humanities and social sciences, and academia, policy or law; politically liberal but socially quiet and abstemious; tolerant and desirous of diversity of opinions; no schools under 3000; theater/thespian kid; prefers genuine, not snobby/snooty peer culture


Tufts seems like it would fit the bill, also Brandeis.


She is concerned that Tufts has too much of chip on its shoulder re Tufts syndrome and not quite being Ivy; thinks it attracts a resentful anti system quirky crowd or something like that. She also did not like campus aesthetics. Also not feeling crowd that has gone to Brandeis from her school. I have not found the strength to disprove her on those two. Do agree with you, especially re Tufts, but not sure it would add much if not early decision choice, which it would not be.

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She might be the last moderate pro system liberal standing :slight_smile:

I forgot also BC on the list for the “confused Catholic” observer :wink:

If anyone thinks, someone like her would not be happy at any of these places, please speak up! No pride of anything.

Overall, it’s not a bad list. Given what you’ve said here, I’m trying to decide if Georgetown or Wesleyan or Wash U is the outlier. I think the best fit for her is Holy Cross.

Wesleyan might not be an great choice for someone who is truly abstemious and doesn’t want to be around those who might partake regularly. Personally, it’s my favorite on the list. Georgetown is perhaps the snootiest and not super liberal, though I’m sure others will disagree. Wash U has a bit of a preprofessional vibe. I think she should spend some time looking at the social media for these schools, use a Fiske Guide, look at Niche, try to get a better feel for what she wants.

I feel like this list falls into the clusters of Rhodes/Georgetown/Wash U and Brown/Wes/Yale with Holy Cross in the middle. I’m not super familiar with some of those colleges, so that’s just a generalization.

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Not sure about Holy Cross. A lot of kids from our Catholic hs headed to HC and they were all very sporty/preppy. I’d visit that one if you haven’t to get a sense. Agree with Lindagaf about Wes. Maybe URochester or Case? Lots of great options for her in the 2500-3000 population.


Not sure how Duke & WashUStL meet your daughter’s preferences socially–although both are large enough to find one’s crowd.

If you do not find Duke & Georgetown to have a good bit of “snobby/snooty peer culture”, then what schools do you think have this element ?

WashUStL has one of the wealthiest student bodies in the nation.

“abstemious” ??? If this means abstaining from drinking & partying, then how did Duke & Georgetown make the cut ???

I appreciate both Duke & Georgetown for many positive traits, but visible wealth & partying are prevalent at both schools. I cannot think of any elite universities where these traits are more pronounced. WashUStL attracts lots of wealthy students. Lots.

Academically all 3 are very strong schools.

P.S. I guess that if your daughter wants to avoid the “snobby/snooty peer culture” associated with Fairfield County & Westchester County, then these schools do so for the most part. But, especially at Duke, there will be lots of talk about family wealth & displays of wealth but it may lie mostly in the Greek culture. (FWIW Many Duke students would fit in very comfortably at Pepperdine University.)

Nevertheless, all 3 schools are large enough that one can find like-minded students who prefer to avoid this type of culture.

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It seems all reaches and matches to me. I thought of Vassar. I’m not thinking city but suburbia for her. Is she opposed to Sister schools, like Wellesley, smith, or Bryan Mawr? If she wants co-Ed, then Swathmore. M also assuming east coast but not Maine.

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@taverngirl I was thinking Holy Cross is a mix of all those schools in vibe, but yeah, it probably is quite sporty.

@bookworm she doesn’t want any school under 3000. It is a reachy list. I guessed that Rhodes was a “safety.” But I do think those are good suggestions.

So @gablesdad , is her creative side the more dominant aspect of her personality? Because I definitely don’t feel that Georgetown, Duke and Wash U have enough to of that feeling. Of course they are top schools and probably have excellent offerings. But if I think of moneyed, elite, preprofessional, etc… those three come to mind mores so than the others on your list. Of course, we know there will be rich kids at all of them and they are all elite.

@taverngirl @Lindagaf While we thought Swarthmore would be a good fit for her, and pushed her a bit in that direction, she was turned off by their “we are the smartest people in the world” in their brochures and correspondence and grade deflation “would have been an A anywhere other than Swarthmore” t-shirts they sell in the college shop. It reminded her too much of a culture she has not liked at her current school, even though she has succeeded at it. We also felt the same positive way about Vassar but she thought it was too “partaking” and “alternative” (pointed out Wesleyan same but she seems to think it has other redeeming factors); and Williams, Midd, Kenyon and Hamilton were too in the middle of nowhere. ME, VT, NH, IL, Great Lakes too North.

The humanities academic side is the more dominant aspect of her, and the creative side is very much a structured social/hobby outlet; she is off the charts on academics at one of the most academically challenging schools in the nation, with grade deflation that has not affected here. Her relationship and appreciation with teachers is a big driver, but she wants to avoid the social pressure to fit in at smaller schools (eg Amherst). She is also URM and values diversity and inclusion, and would like to have very strong and unlimited whole-person counseling resources available (as she should remembering how stressful it can be). On Georgetown, our sense is that, while snooty/preprofessional/not artsy, the people tend to be very genuine and diverse/international and DC would more than makeup on arts/theater consumption choices for the lack of school focus on those; also the Catholic/upper middle class thing commonality and moderate liberal politics would help. WashU lacks DC, diversity but seems to have tremendous physical facilities/dorms etc, and has humanities/poli sci and prof access in those in particular more like an LAC without the smaller size; St Louis has impressed on video tours also as a city. Duke is very well known to us parents for reasons I can explain in sidebar; we feel comfortable we will be able to guide her find her place there, and she would be going in with a niche social strategy around major/language/academic/artistic interest communities and not being a campus celebrity or valedictorian (no SLCs). Should be less of an issue once there than if she was a guy.

Our main remaining question is why no more LACs (especially Swarthmore)? But believe me we have tried. I think she is just looking for something markedly different from her present social setup.

Also forgot to mention BC… but sense it’s a much larger HC.

Are any of these particularly cheery not dreary places where you are sought out and school makes big deal of having lots of structured social activities outside of Greek and formal advising or close prof availability to undergrads? WashU for example seemed particularly good in those respects while not being LAC in overall size (arts and sciences undergrad is only 4000).

Any thoughts on Rice? It was on list for long time but then read tons of reviews re hyper competitive in your face culture with humanities and social sciences seen as unloved stepchild…

She wants 40 pct men or higher.

@Publisher Harvard, Princeton and maybe Penn come to mind on snooty

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Yes! Rice is a great choice. Unloved stepchild, no. Her list is still very reach heavy though. And Penn, sure, as snooty as the best of them.

On reachyness, we will defer to her elite fancy prep school CC as it is one of those schools with lots of relationships/reputation nationally that colleges in that middling range seek out. They seem comfortable with HC and Rhodes in view of those relationships. I tried Kenyon, Denison etc but she won’t go there… thoughts?